The Four Clear Instructions on Purity in the Shurangama Sutra, which say that one must put an end to one's lust, killing, stealing, and lying, are closely interrelated. If you break the precept against lust, it is easy to break the precepts against killing, stealing, and lying as well. Therefore, a transgression of the precept against lust includes transgressions of the other three precepts. Discussed separately, they are four kinds, but spoken of together, they are a single entity.
The Buddha, out of great compassion, earnestly explained the Four Clear Instructions on Purity in detail, but most people do not believe in them. Actually, it's not the ordinary people, but certain scholars, professors, and left-home people who cannot hold the precepts, who do not believe in them. These people cannot reform and get rid of their offenses. They cannot completely break their bad habits, so they decide not to believe in anything and claim that the Shurangama Sutra is false.
The Shurangama Sutra is one of the most important Sutras spoken by the Buddha. Not to mention scholars, professors, or people who break the precepts, even if someone who could perform the Eighteen Transformations of an Arhat and had all kinds of spiritual powers said the Shurangama Sutra was false, I wouldn't believe it. Why not? Because the principles in the Shurangama Sutra deal directly with our problems─our ignorance and our karmic offenses. They pinpoint our faults and urge us to change; they are exactly the right medicine for our illnesses. Most people cannot endure this bitter medicine. When the doctor prescribes it, they throw it away, saying it doesn't work. They just cheat and obstruct themselves and others.
As a result of this, ignorant people then jump on the bandwagon, saying, “This famous scholar, that famous professor, and that renowned Dharma Master all say the Shurangama Sutra is false.”
This is a case of the blind leading the blind. They all sing the same tune, disseminating their deviant theories that everything is permissible: They say that Buddhists need not hold the precepts, nor observe the Four Clear Instructions on Purity, nor pay attention to the Fifty Skandha-demon States. They reject all of that. Think how malicious these people are! If they don't fall into the Hell of Ripping Out Tongues, there is simply no justice at all.
Earlier we were talking about autistic children. These children are undergoing the retribution for having slandered the Great Vehicle Sutras, an offense that merits falling into the Relentless Hells. Not realizing this, people recklessly commit offenses and tell blatant lies. They obliterate their conscience and capibilities, and kill their own intelligence and wisdom. How sad! In their past lives, autistic children slandered the Great Vehicle Sutras and committed all sorts of evil karma with their eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind; and so now that they have become humans again, they have been born with this handicap. Unaware of their own past deeds, they think their miserable retribution is quite fine.
Don't use your false intelligence to disparage the Buddha's words. When a famous scholar, a well-known professor, or a great Dharma Master denigrates the Buddhadharma, he may influence countless numbers of people to lose faith. How great would you say his offense is? If his retribution is light, he may be reborn as a retarded child after hundreds of thousands of eons. But I believe he will undergo the retribution of being a mute forever! He has blinded and misled people too gravely with his words.
Why would he utter such slander? Because he cannot abide by the Four Clear Instructions on Purity. He cannot abstain from lust and killing; he may say he doesn't steal, but some scholars and professors habitually plagiarize the work of others. They steal others' theories, copying a little from this source and a little from that source and piecing it all together. Taking others' belongings is stealing. To deceive students all day long is plain lying. Of course not all scholars and professors are this way, but there are thieves among the virtuous who always act up.
Such people are flustered by the Four Clear Instructions on Purity, because they cannot live up to them. To accept those instructions as true would mean their downfall. They would lose their position. To conceal their weaknesses, they shamelessly claim that the Shurangama Sutra is false. But that claim is a tremendous offense. As it is said,
When one passes into emptiness
And denies cause and effect,
Thus gross and reckless,
One invites calamities.
When they fall into the Relentless Hells to undergo their retributions, they will regret it, but it will be too late.
A talk given on the evening of April 17, 1983,
at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas