Question: The types of suffering and distress encountered by
beings are of a hundred thousand varieties. If [aided by] the Buddhas
supernatural power, why were they not all caused to gain liberation?
Reply: They were all
able to be saved. Now, we merely describe in
summary fashion the major categories. This is just as when, in describing
the many kinds of fetters, we summarily describe them as consisting in the
Question: If one merely
spoke of those who are blind gaining
sight, that would be adequate. Why does it specifically refer here to
those who are born blind?
Reply: Those who are
born blind are so born by virtue of serious
offenses committed in previous lives. Even those who had committed serious
offenses were able to gain the power of sight, how much the moreso was this
the case with those whose offenses were but slight.
Question: How is it
that serious offenses committed in previous
lives result in one's being caused to be born blind?
Reply: [This can be the result] if one destroys the eyes of
beings, if one pulls out the eyes of beings, or if one destroys [another's]
correct views by claiming that there is no such thing as either [karmic]
offense or merit. When such a person dies, he falls into the hells. When
[existence in the lower realms deriving from] these offenses has come to
an end, in one's subsequent lifetimes, one is blind from birth.
If, moreover, one has
stolen the brilliant pearl from a buddha
stupa or has deprived it of the illumination of lamps, or if [one has
taken] the pearl or lamplight from a stupa commemorating an arhat or
pratyekabuddha, or if one has stolen [sources of] illumination from other
"fields of merit," on account of all manner of causes and conditions from
former lives such as these, one [is bound to] lose one's sight (lit."lose
one's light"). In the present life, whether it is due to sickness or
whether it is on account of being beaten, one then loses one's sight.
These constitute the [corresponding] causes and conditions in the present
Moreover, in the case
of the ninety- six varieties of eye
diseases, as for those which cannot be cured even by the physician king
J~naanaakara, only the Buddha, the World Honored One is able to cause the
victims to regain their sight. Moreover, he is able to first cause them
to gain sight and is then afterwards able to cause them to gain the wisdom
eye. As for those who are deaf, their gaining the power of hearing is the
same as this.
Question: If we have
those who are born blind, why does it not
also refer here to those who are born deaf?
Reply: It is because
there are more cases of being born blind and
relatively fewer cases of being born deaf. Therefore this case is not
Question: What are the
causes and conditions for being born deaf?
Reply: Deafness is a result of causes and conditions from previous
lives. If one fails to accept or carry out the instructions of one's
teachers, but, on the contrary, becomes angry, on account of this offense
one becomes deaf. Then again, one may incur this offense if one has cut
off the ears of beings, if one has destroyed the ears of beings, or if one
has stolen ga.n.diis (gongs), bells, or drums from a buddha stupa, from a
stupa dedicated to the Sangha, from virtuous people, or from other
[persons] who constitute "fields of merit." There are all kinds of karmic
causes and conditions such as these [which originate] from previous
existences. In the present existence the causes and conditions may be
sickness or they may be being struck. Circumstances such as these
constitute the corresponding causes and conditions in the present existence
whereby one becomes deaf.
Question: Those who
are mute are unable to speak. What types of
offenses does one commit that one is mute as a result?
Reply: If in a previous
existence one has cut out someone's tongue
or has plugged up someone's mouth or has given them some toxic drug that
has caused them to be unable to speak or if perhaps, on hearing the
instruction and remonstrance of one's Master, or of one's father or mother,
one has cut them off and repudiated their instruction, or perhaps if one
has been an evil and perverse person who has not believed in either
offenses or merit and has refuted correct explanations [of these concepts],
one undergoes [retribution for] these offenses in the hells. When one
emerges into the world as a person one is unable to speak. It is on
account of all manner of causes and conditions such as these that one
Question: It says, "Those
who were insane became normal." Why
does one become insane?
Reply: If one has disrupted
someone's practice of sitting in
dhyaana [meditation], if one has destroyed buildings reserved for sitting
in dhyaana [meditation], if one has employed incantational techniques to
cast a spell on others whereby they have been influenced to become hateful,
disputatious or afflicted with sexual desire, then in the present lifetime
one's fetters will be abundant and severe. Take for example the brahman
who lost his fields, whose wife then died, and who suddenly went crazy and
went running off naked. Another example was the bhikshuni K.rshakaa
Gautamii who originally, when she was still a laywoman, experienced the
death of all seven of her children and who, because she became so
distraught and mournful, lost her mind and went crazy.
There are people who
become so extremely hateful that they cannot
control themselves and so become extremely delusional and insane. There
are also stupid people who, on account of baseness and depravity, smear
their bodies with ashes, yank out their hair, go about naked, and crazily
and stupidly consume feces. There are people who may be afflicted with
wind- based pathology or heat- based pathology who, when the disorder
becomes severe, go insane. There are people who become possessed by
pernicious ghosts. It may be that there are people who under the influence
of delusion make a practice of drinkiong rainwater and who thus beccome
insane. People lose their minds in these sorts of ways. All manner of
afflictions such as these are examples of insanity. On account of being
able to see the Buddha, those who are insane are able to become normal
Question: [As for the passage:] "Those who were mentally scattered
gained mental stabilization," insanity is simply mental scatteredness. On
what account does one make a distinction?
Reply: There are people
who are not insane but whose minds are
mostly scattered and confused. Where one's mental resolve resembles that
of a monkey such that one is unable to focus on anything, this is what is
meant by having a scattered mind. Additionally, there are cases where,
being intensely engaged with responsibilities, one carries on in a hurried
fashion and becomes attached to the various superficialities. In such a
case one may lose one's mental stamina and be unable to undertake [the
practice of] the Way.
Question: What are the
causes and conditions corresponding to a
Reply: When the wholesome
mind grows scant and one follows along
and chases after that which is unwholesome, this is what is meant by the
mind being scattered. Moreover, this person fails to contemplate
impermanence, fails to contemplate the signs of dying, and fails to
contemplate the emptiness of the world. He becomes lovingly attached to
a "life," makes calculations with regard to and is [ever] mindful of
phenomenal responsibilities and in all manner of ways [his mind] runs off
and disperses. It is on these accounts that his mind becomes scattered.
Furthermore, he does not obtain the internal bliss of the Buddha Dharma.
He seeks outwardly for blissful phenomena and so correspondingly follows
along with and chases after the causes of bliss. For this reason his mind
becomes scattered. On account of being able to see the Buddha, the
scattered minds of people like this are able to gain stabilization.
Question: Earlier, it
said, "Those who were insane became normal."
Now it says, "Those who were naked gained clothing." Except in the case
where someone is insane, how else would someone be naked?
Reply: Insanity is of
two types: As for the first type, everyone
knows that they are insane. As for the second type, people may not know
that those individuals who go about naked on account of baseness and
depravity are [in fact] insane. (See "The Monk, the King & the Naked
Ascetics" story which follows.)
Copyright © 2000. Bhikshu Dharmamitra. All rights reserved.