Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Mind Is Lost and Mired in Mud (心靈冥途陷泥沼)
Everything is in the mind. Is our mental state in darkness, or in the light? Is it pure or is it turbid? This is all in our minds. So, if we do not take good care of our thoughts, our minds become defiled and lost. We will lose our direction and be mired in mud without means to extract ourselves. We beg to be saved, but no one can help us. We yell in great pain, but no one can hear us. This tells us that if our minds are in darkness, then we completely lose our direction. The world is filled with traps. It is like a primeval forest, with dangerous paths everywhere. Maybe there is a stream in the forest. What kind of stream? It is a quagmire. It is filled with mud and clay. Over the years, no matter what steps into this soil, it slowly and continuously sinks. If people step into this mire, they will just keep sinking. This is different from water. If we fall into water, a person who knows how to swim can rescue us. There is hope. But that is impossible in the quagmire. Anyone who gets close will also start sinking. This happens because we strayed from the path. We did not know the direction of the path, so we fell into a mud pit. Not only can we not extricate ourselves, we cannot be saved by others. We yell and yell, but we keep sinking further. No matter how we cry for help, no one can do a thing because anyone who approaches will also become stuck and start sinking. So at this juncture, even if someone wants to save us, it is impossible. This description sounds very painful. Indeed, we call out in intense pain, but no one hears. We wail as we remain stuck and keep sinking. The people we see cannot help us. Or, if we are suffering from some difficulty, our minds are yelling constantly, but perhaps no one can see or hear us. We keep yelling, but to no avail. Why is this so painful? Why? Why can’t anyone save us? Why can’t anyone hear our inner struggles, our mental cries? This is a spiritual hell. Sometimes people say, “Tell me what is on your mind. Then I can help you.” But we already know [what to do]. We know it before they say anything. We know all the principles; we just cannot pull ourselves out of it.
We clearly know there is darkness ahead.Others tell us, “That road is dark.”
“That direction is wrong. That place is dangerous.”We clearly know, but we cannot turn back.
We walk forward despite ourselves, even though a voice tells us, “Don’t go.”We still walk forward.This is our human mentality.We knowingly commit wrongs.
So where is suffering found?In these wrongs we knowingly commit, in our lack of self-respect.If we do this, we cannot help ourselves.If we do not know how to respect ourselves we approach the darkness or the mire with each step.We cannot help ourselves.Thus, we knowingly do wrong.Smart people basically know this.They think they know it all, so they cannot accept guidance from others.People who do not know say, “Why haven’t I heard this before?”“Now that I know, I will change.”They will turn back before it is too late.This is what we call Hindrance by Knowledge.We knowingly do wrong because we know so much.
Then on this dark journey of the mind, on this dark road, we naturally lose our direction.
Once we get lost, even if we experience great inner struggles and know this is wrong, we cannot correct ourselves.Even if we keep yelling, we make no sound, so others cannot hear us.This kind of mental hell is unbearably painful.
On a dark mental journey, we lose our direction.
We cannot extricate ourselves from the mire.
We beg to be saved, but no one can help us.
We yell in intense pain, but no one hears us.
Like falling into Hell, we suffer unbearably.
So, let us all take good care of our hearts.In each of our hearts there is a very bright and penetrating inner light.Do not let this inner light be extinguished by a wind of ignorance.
If the inner light is blown out, even if the lamp is still in our hearts, the light has already gone out.A wind of ignorance always blows through our minds.If we light the lamp, ignorance immediately extinguishes it.This all happens in our minds.
So we must have self-respect.We must protect he candlelight in our minds so we can illuminate our journey forward; so we know how to walk that path.We each should have a direction, a way to illuminate our intrinsic nature.If we lose our intrinsic nature, our minds are truly in the dark on our journey.We will keep getting g lost and feel unbearable pain.
Let us look at this passage,
“We repent the Hell of Fire Pits, where we are roasted as retribution.”
”We repent the Hell of Two stones Crashing, where our bodies are crushed as retribution.”
“We repent the Hell of Crashing Black Ears, where we are butchered as retribution.”
“We repent the Hell of Darkness and Mountains of Flesh, where we are cut and chopped as retribution.”
Look at these Hells.
The Hell of Fire Pits is where we are roasted as retribution.Fireballs are shot out from within the fire pit.You can see human bodies become meat paste, get split open and mangled get lplit open and mangled.This is a hell of roasting.People are blown up or exploded with fireballs.
This is truly, unbearably painful.Does it just happen once? No, it happens again. If their karma is unexhausted, they will be revived to be killed again. They live and die like this, forever in the Hell of Fire Pits. They face retribution in this hell of roasting.This is painful. Does this only exist in Hell? This is actually not far from human minds.
Then we must also“repent the Hell of Two Stones Crashing” It is like two huge stone mountains crashing together so our whole body is crushed, turned into a bloody mess
Our body no longer looks like a body. So “our bodies are crushed”. This retribution completely crushes the body. Then “we repent the Hell of Crashing Black Ears”. There are so many sounds, but we cannot distinguish them or tell what they are.
This can be truly painful. This “Hell of Crashing Black Ears” is like a disease of the ears. We cannot hear anything, but everything sounds noisy. This is truly painful. Sometimes we hear people say, “I cannot hear anything”.There are too many noises, very loud noises. There are such diseases. In this world people will try to treat the illness. But in Hell it is a retribution for transgressions. In the Hell of Crashing Black Ears it is very noisy and painful.This is also a type of hell. It cannot be described with words. How do we describe these Crashing Black Ears? Let us compare it to something in this world. Some people do not hear good words, but collect lots of bad ones.
These are noisy and harmful to body and mind. They will follow those words. In the past, people said, “Those who cannot listen to people follow the call of ghosts.” This happens when sounds crash together. This is not what we want.We were once very pure. We once had truth in our minds. But we allow our minds to darken. We have strayed from our clear direction. When someone is guiding us, another force, a wave of sound, seduces us. This is “the Hell of Crashing Black Ears.”
There are very complicated sounds that seduce us to create a lot of karma. Thus we descend into this Hell where “we are butchered as retribution”. We must be more vigilant. But we cannot do so because there are so many complicated sounds in the Hell of Crashing Black Ears.So we cannot become more vigilant.
Then, we also need to repent the Hell of Darkness and Mountains of Flesh, where it is very dark, and flesh is piled up into a mountain in our relationships,do we interact with impure hearts ?isn’t that like being on this mountain of flesh?Contemplate the body as unclean;contemplate sensations as suffering.
If we have a lot of lustful desires,we are forever in the Hell of Mountain of Flesh.This knife of sexual desires if very dangerous.When it is above our heads ,a slight misstep can cause tremendous injury.In this Hell of Mountain of Flesh,“we are cut and chopped as retribution”.
This knife forever hangs above our heads.With lustful desires comes sexual misconduct.
Sexual misconduct is like two rocks grinding against each other;in the end they lose their shapes.
We once had a very pure nature.But an ignorant thought arose,so we attract filth and defilements. Once we lose human form it is difficult to regain.Then we will remain cycling in Hell.That will truly be painful.Then there are many other Hells. Next we need to
“Repent the Hell of Swing or Nailing the Body where body parts are chopped off as retribution.”
This is all suffering of the body.If we walk into the hospital,we see how people’s limbs are
amputated or fastened back together.We see a lot of this in this world.Hell goes beyond this.
This happens in our world as treatment,to save people.
In Hell ,no one can save them. There is only punishment ,no rescue.So this “sawing “breaks apart the body.Then the pieces are nailed together.So “body parts are chopped off as retribution”.Each piece is cut off and then nailed back on.The body parts are chopped off as retribution.Then we need to
“repent the Hell of lron Rods and Hanging Upside Down ,where we are slaughtered as retribution.”
People are beaten with iron rods and then are strung up. Instead of bamboo,they use metal bats.Then people are raised and hung upside down.When we talk about the seventh lunar month,we say we “release those hanging upside down,”Hanging is extremely painful.
Saving the sentient beings in Hell is called “releasing those hanging upside down,”
We try release those who are hung upside down. Clearly this Hell is full of pain,“where we are slaughtered as retribution”.Not only are people hung upside down,they are slowly killed and sliced.The suffering is truly unbearable.
“We repent the Hell of Fretful Yells,where we are wronged as retribution.”
This fretfulness is like tremendous anxiety.They are helpless , completely surrounded by fire
whether they are on an iron column , iron bed or surrounded by flaming iron walls.The cries in these situations are full of suffering.
There is a Chinese phrase that describes such a state of mind,crazy and fiery.This is also a type of Hell.In summary,there are many more such Hells.
“We repent the space between the great and small iron encircling mountains,”
“where the long night is dark and “
“we cannot see the Three Lights as retribution.”
This represents the darkness in our minds. Everyone ,when our minds are dark,we lose our direction on this dark journey and sink deeply into a mud pit,so that we cannot extract ourselves. Not only that ,thought we beg to be saved, no one can help us.Even when we yell in extreme pain,no one can hear us we should be alert for this pain, this torment.
Do not end in the Hell of Crashing Black Ears,where no matter what others say,we are still not vigilant and blunder into the darkness and mire,and continuously sink down.
That is unbearably painful.
So everyone ,please always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)