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REBIRTH VIEWS 
 IN THE SURANGAMA SUTRA
(Fifth Edition)
Dr. Bhikkhunī Giới Hương

doahong

 

CHAPTER XII
TEN HABITUAL CAUSES OF HELL

Ānanda, all seven realms come from the karma of creature beings who themselves receive the retributions for what they invoke. For example, if they have created ten habitual causes, so they must bear six corresponding results.

POINTING OUT TEN HABITUAL CAUSES

What are ten habitual causes? 

1. Ānanda, firstly, the habits of the LUST and touching interactions generate the mutual rubbing. This rubbing is endless. It arises as big fire as two hands rub each other to produce the warm feeling.

 Because these two habitual habits burn each other, there arise the iron bed, the copper pillar, and other such forms.

 Therefore, all Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the sexual lust as the desire fire which bodhisattvas avoid as a fire pit.

2. Secondly, the habits of GREED and calculation produce an attractive force. When this attraction becomes dominant without ceasing it generates an inward cold. It turns into freezing which seems to crack in shapes. For example, a person feels cold as he inhales the wind into his body.

 Because these two habits confront each other, the forms of chattering, whimpering and shuddering, blue lotus, red lotus, white lotus, frozen lotus, and so forth come into existence. Therefore, all Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the extravagant greed as the water of desire. Bodhisattvas avoid it as a poison ocean.

3. Thirdly, the habits of arrogance and competition generate mutual bullying. When it becomes dominant without stopping, it produces passionate moving which is collected as the water current. For example, saliva runs stimulating the tongue itself.

 These two habits hit each other, so the forms of the blood river, the ash river, the hot sand, the poisonous sea, the molten copper which is poured into the mouth are created.

 Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the arrogance and avoid drinking the foolish water. Bodhisattvas avoid it as a huge abyss.

4. Fourth, the habits of ANGER and conflict produce mutual dissent. When it becomes dominant without end, it turns so hot that it makes the fire burn the air into metal. It produces the knife mountain, the iron baton, the sword tree, the sword wheel, hammers, halberds, spears, saws, and so forth. For example, when a person earns resentment, he rouses his anger to react.

 These two habits clash with each other, so the violent instruments of neutering, cutting, beheading, depriving, thrusting, sticking, beating, and others are established. 

 Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the anger as sharp knives and swords. Bodhisattvas avoid it as killing.

5. Fifth, the habits of DECEPTION and enticing produce mutual cunning. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates the rope, tree, string, thread, cord to hang the pole like water penetrated into a field, and then the grass and trees grow.

 These two habits compete with each other, so the punishing items, such as handcuffs, fetters, cangues, locks, whips, clubs, sticks, cudgels, and so on are formed.

 Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize deception as the deceitful culprit. Bodhisattvas avoid it as the evil wolf and tiger.

6. Sixth, the habits of LYING and DECEPTION produce mutual cheating. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates  Dust, dirt, excrement, urine, filth, stench, and impurities come into existence. It is as if the dust is flying on the wind on which we cannot see. 

These two habits conflict with each other, so the sinking, drowning, jumping, tossing, pitching, flying, falling, floating, flooding, and other movements are formed.

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize cheating as the robber and murder. Bodhisattvas avoid it as stepping on a poisonous snake.

7. Seventh, the habits of MALEVOLENCE and hostility produce aggression. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates forms of tossing rocks, throwing stones, containers, closets, cages, jars, bags, and covers. It is like the evil cherishes and nurtures the wicked behavior.

These two habits swallow each other, so the throwing, tossing, pitching, seizing, catching, beating, shooting, casting, pinching, and other forms are established. 

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize aggression as the harmful devil. Bodhisattvas avoid it as drinking the poisonous wine.

8. Eighth, the habits of EVIL VIEWS and quarrel such as self-craving , wrong views, the solid insisting on precepts  the deviant insights leading to the bad karmas, cause conflict with each other. The court officials are presented to check the documents. It is likes a huge crowd people who travel back and forth on a road and meet each other.

These two habits interact with each other, thus there comes into existence the official forms of investigations, interrogations, disclosures, craftiness, research, requests, the strict youths who analyze the record books for understanding the matter clearly, and so on. 

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the evil view as the devil pit. Bodhisattvas avoid it as standing at a poisonous ditch.

9. Ninth, the habits of BLAME and HARM to others generate the wrong charges. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates the crushing between mountains or rocks, the rollers, rinders, harrows, and so on. It is like an offender who blames unfairly the innocent persons.

These two habits face each other, thus the catch, beat, the blood squeezing, the body strain, and so on.

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the wrong allegation as the deceitful perpetrator. Bodhisattvas avoid it as the thunder. 

10. Tenth, the habits of LAWSUITS and THE DISPUTATION produce the unrevealing. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates the mirror and the bright fire. It is like in the daylight; the shadow is not hidden.

 These two habits are displayed to each other, thus the bad friends, the karma mirror, the flaming pearl show the past karma to ascertain and experience, and so on.

 Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize unrevealing as the secret enemy. Bodhisattvas avoid it as bearing the high mountain on one’s head while stepping in the ocean.1

The Buddha explained that the habits of the internal aspects and the external aspect can be cause to establish seven worlds.2 In this chapter, the Buddha measures these habits in detail by putting them on a scale from one to ten. For example, ten emotions means the whole false feeling which creates many hells in ten directions.

11. The habits of LUST: The habits of sexual lust and touching interactions generate the mutual rubbing. The course of this rubbing is endless. It arises as a big fire as two hands rubs each other to produce the warm feeling.

Because these two habits burned each other, there arise the iron bed, the copper pillar, and others. 

Therefore, all Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize sexual lust as the desire fire which bodhisattvas avoid as a fire pit.

It means that if sexual intercourse is conducted and touches each other without ceasing, it produces a tremendous raging fire. It is like the heat that comes from both hands when they are massage each other. Because these two lustful habits burn each other, the iron bed, the copper pillar and other punishing forms come to present in the hell. Therefore, the Buddha in ten directions called it the desire fire. Bodhisattvas avoid it as a flaming pit. In America, people call their lover a new flame. Flame is fire, because as a man touches a woman, it will produce the lustful fire.

 What is the habit? The habit is a thing that we do so often that it becomes our characteristic or behavior. In fact, it has not ever arisen. Due to our wrong view, the false conduct is produced as follows: Without thinking, we do it daily a little by a little for so long that it becomes a habit and is hard to stop. This habit constitutes our nature.

What is the habitual presence and what is the habitual seed? Today, we think or do something one time. Tomorrow, then after tomorrow, we think or do it again, so the consciousness will save it and make the seed of something deeper and stronger in our brain which is called the past habitual seed. Once the habitual seed is displayed it is called the habitual presence. Here, habits indicate the craving habits which are deep in people’s mind. For example, a man will marry a woman in order to seek sexual intercourse.

 How do the habitual presence and the habitual seed burn each other? The old habits or the habitual seed from the past will ignite when the root meets the present habits. Dry wood touches the fire and produces a big flame. Likewise, the present and the past habitual lustful seeds have touched each other to cause the fire hells and burn the victims, but people do not realize that. They keep seeking and enjoying the pleasures of the flesh. In Buddhism, it is said that when a woman is ready to get married, she is ready to tie herself to the burdens of family or throw herself into the big fire. Bodhisattvas avoid sexual desire as they avoid a fiery pit while mundane people are madly fond of it without ceasing.

12. The habits of GREED: The habits of greed and calculation attract each other. This attraction becomes dominant, ceaseless, and generates an inward cold. It turns to be freezing which seems to crack into shapes. For example, a person feels cold as he inhales the wind into his body. Because these two habits conflict with each other, the chattering, whimpering, shuddering, the blue lotus, the red lotus, white lotus, freeze and other forms are established.

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions look upon excessive desire as greedy water. Bodhisattvas avoid it as a poisoned ocean.

When two lustful bodies touch each other, it produces the fire of desire. When a person is greedy to accumulate wealth and properties, it generates cold in him. There are many kinds of greed, such as greed for fame, praise, position, food, sleep, and so on. For example, desire for compliments belongs to the self-craving, because we favor raising the egoness upwards and accumulating the illusory sound. Greed of property is wanting to collect the material for ourselves. Greed for position means being fond of having privileges and receiving people’s services. Greed for eating is to feed the body and satisfy the flavor at the tongue. Greed for sleep is being lazy, leisurely, and enjoying doing nothing, just resting.

Because we desire for material, there seems to be the suction or attractive force as breathing in the cool wind, there seems to be the cool hells of chattering, whimpering, and shuddering. The greedy seed in mind and the present desire habit of collection have interacted with each other, so that the hells are created. Because living beings are executed in so cold a hell that their teeth clash together to produce the shaken sounds of chattering, whimpering, and shuddering all day and night, so it is called the chattering, whimpering, and shuddering hells.

Once living beings stay in the hells, their skin and flesh are do cold as they stay in the ice. Therefore, they become as follows:

– Their pale skin is like a blue lotus, so there is the blue lotus hell.

– Their reddened faces are like a red lotus, so there is the red lotus hell.

– Their white faces are like a white lotus, so there is the white lotus hell.

– Due to the extreme cold, their faces turn into ice and there seem to be a lot of cracks. This is the icy hell.

What surrounds living beings comes from their minds. There is the cold, hot or double suffering environments (the external misery). They undergo the torture of extreme cold, not only in their minds, but also in the circumstances around them.

In spite of undergoing such cold and ice, living beings cannot die easily. They must be subjected to execute for their offense which is created from their karmas.

Such execution comes from the conscious mind, so it is not called death. This body is decayed but it reappears in other places. Living beings have no body to bear it in the hells, only the karma.

Is it true that those who are usually sick or feel cold in their bodies is because they have just come out from the hells? Is their retribution still maintained a little in their bodies? We can realize this thing is very deep. However, through the Buddha’s insight teachings, we comprehend the road of causeeffect clearly in this world. Hence, if in the present we often get sick and lack the inward heat, we know that our retributions from past life still remain in this life.

Bodhisattvas avoid it as the poison ocean while we grasp material as much as we can. Bodhisattvas consider greed as the bottomless sea because the more we have, the more we want without end. If we have one, we generate the desire to seek the second, third, and so on. There is a saying that “After we have an elephant, we again want to have the angel.” We have not experienced that the desire is the main cause to bring the misery.

We are fond of sexual intercourse or fleshy touch which is the first habitual cause. We seek for money, property, and fame which is the second habitual cause. People keep thinking how to earn much more money which is called the habitual seed to be the habitual presence. Most people day and night dream to be rich. That is called the habitual seed. If they work hard to save money to become rich, this is the habitual presence. If we engage in sexual pleasure, it causes a lustful flame to ignite. If we have the habits to collect material or property, it produces a form of icy water.

13. The habits of ARROGANCE: The habits of arrogance and competition generate the mutual bullying. When it becomes dominant without stopping, it produces passionate moving which is the water current. For example, saliva is produced and stimulates the tongue.

 These two habits hit each other, so forms of the blood river, the ash river, the hot sand, the poisonous sea, the molten copper which is poured into the mouth are created.

 Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the arrogance as drinking the foolish water. Bodhisattvas avoid it as a huge abyss.

The self-pride and override generate false thought, intimidation, and competition. Our mind wanders everywhere so much and we think we are better than others. The mind of self-satisfaction emerges as we look down on others and speak harshly to them. The more self-satisfied we are, the more arrogant seed we have in our mind.

The Buddha provides a good example of a foolish person who keeps trying to stimulate his own tongue. This effort produces saliva. Similarly, arrogance means planting the delusion seeds. The more we are proud, the more we drink the foolish water. The arrogant attitudes from the past combine with the self-satisfaction in the present, and there comes into being many kinds of hells and suffering pits.

Bodhisattvas stay away from arrogance because they fear to fall into the hell, while we foolishly push ourselves into the hells of the blood river (Vetarani niraya). The more arrogant we are, the deeper the hells are. The dangerous hollow is deep at the bottom.

14. The habits of HATRED: The habits of anger and conflict produce mutual dissent. When it becomes dominant without ending, it becomes so hot that it makes the fire burn the air into metal. It produces the knife mountain, the iron baton, the sword tree, the sword wheel, hammers, halberds, spears, saws, and so forth. For example, when a person earns resentment, he rouses his anger to react.

 These two habits clash with each other, so the violent instruments of neutering, cutting, beheading, depriving, ing, sticking, beating, and so forth are established. 

 Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize anger as sharp knives and swords. Bodhisattvas avoid it as the killing.

The anger habit and conflict give rise to mutual resistance. When resistance is developed without ceasing, this person becomes so bad tempered that fire is produced. Due to burning the air, it turns into metal. The air is our breath or wind (four elements of earth, water, wind, and fire). All materials which come from the spiritual are shaped to be the form.

It is solid and turns into metals. In the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, in  Chapter V of “Five Impurities” and “the consecutive world, living beings, and karmas” define it as accumulating ignorance to produce the form. Because the hatred seeds and present habits clash with each other, there come into being violent items, such as the knife mountain, the iron baton, the sword tree, the sword wheel, hammers, halberds, spears, saws, tools used for beheading, depriving, thrusting, sticking, beating, and others. The bad temper generates the fire of ignorance. That kind of energy is so violent that it turns into metal and then, the hells of sword and knife to cut the body in pieces are established.

The hatred karma causes many disasters to appear. From the conflict between two people, two groups, two families, two countries, deadly war can to happen, which in fact, come only from the human’s hatred.

 How is the habit of hatred formed? Once we are not satisfied, we will easily become angry. We are angry today, and tomorrow we will be annoyed again. When we are misunderstood, we are also disturbed by the unpleasant. Likewise, we accumulate the hatred habits day by day without knowing until one day, we cannot control ourselves and serve as a slave of fury. Hatred is the reason why we fall into hell. Hence, the Buddha taught that as we contact objects, we do not chase after the external objects and that will help us be awakened.

The angry mind produces fiery air which is burned to be

the metals. Therefore, there are retributions, such as the sword, knife, gun, hammer, iron pole, and so on. The murdering face means a person’s face is cruel and angry. It seems that he desires to kill or harm the opponent. The retribution of this rage does not only appear in the present, but also has effects in the future. At this time, his consciousness is subjected to burning and later he will be hurt from the metal weapons.

When we conflict without harmony, day by day, we collect the bad habits in order that we create karma.

All Buddhas recognize hatred as sharp knives and swords. Bodhisattvas avoid it as the execution.

15. The habits of DECEPTION: The habits of deception and enticing produce mutual cunning. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates the rope, tree, string, thread, and cord.

 These two habits compete with each other, so the punishing items, such as handcuffs, fetters, cangues, locks, whips, clubs, sticks, cudgels, and so on are formed.

 Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize deception as the deceitful culprit. Bodhisattvas avoid it as the evil wolf and tiger.

Cheating and misguiding generate mutual slyness. When such maneuvering continues without ceasing, it produces ropes, woods, the hanging string, the needle, the prick.

Two habits have been perpetuated by each other, so the handcuffs, fetters, cangues, locks, whips, clubs, sticks, cudgels, and other instruments of punishment are established. The Buddhas in ten directions realize deception as a treacherous crook. Bodhisattvas fear it as a wild wolf and tiger.

Because of false thought, people deceive others to obtain benefit for themselves. They think their knowledge is so correct that they insist on keeping it without ever making changes. However, the more they go inside, the worse they get lost. Deception is the shape of cheating. Telling lies causes suffering once the truth is discovered. The deception seeds from the past and present habits have interacted, thus the punishment instruments of handcuffs, fetters, cangues, locks, whips, clubs, sticks and cudgels, and the hells of chaining, stringing, and hanging are formed. Such experiences come from our mind alone.

Once we deceive others, not only others suffer but also we incur our offense many times. The Buddhas contemplated with insight as an enemy tying us in chains. Bodhisattvas views these cheaters as cruel animals They need to keep a distance for safety. If we cheat other people and make them suffer, in fact we ourselves face the miseries or disasters  hundreds of times. It is our alaya-vijnana as a fair judge. We create karma; we will incur such karma. We tell a lie with other people, but we cannot cheat ourselves.

16. The habits of LYING: The habits of lying and deception produce mutual cheating. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates corruption. As a result, dust, dirt, excrement, urine, filth, stench, and impurities come into existence. It is like dust flying in the wind on which we cannot see. 

These two habits conflict with each other, so sinking, drowning, jumping, tossing, pitching, flying, falling, floating, flooding, and other movements are formed.

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize cheating as the robber and murderer. Bodhisattvas avoid it as stepping on a poisonous snake.

Due to habitual lying, at the time of death, the king of the hell asks his servants to bring that person to the hell. At that time, his mind is unclear and he feels that he is pulled by a strong wind.

Due to interaction between the past habitual seed and the present habit of lying, the movements of  sinking, drowning, tossing, pitching, flying, falling, floating, submerging, and so on are established.

With insight, the Buddha showed us that if we still tell a lie, we will be covered by dust and dirt, excrement and urine, filth, stench, and impurities. The filthy hells (milhakupa niraya) of excrement, urine, stench, and impurities are formed. 

Because we create dirty karma, we encounter such retribution, while all divine beings in the heavens do not encounter such results. The Buddhas realize lying as the robber and murderer that kills our good heart while bodhisattvas regard it as a venomous snake in our heart without conscience.

If we still cheat using sweet words to take advantage, we can gain what we want from others, but we cannot estimate what terrible punishment we have to undergo in the future.

Once we harbor the idea of telling a lie, it means we stepped on a venomous snake which is created by ourselves.

The fifth is the habits of deception, misleading, and involvement.

The sixth is the habit of lying, cheating, or and fraud.

Both these kinds of habits appear in different shapes, but they have the same roots and lead us into the hell.

17. The habits of ANIMOSITY: The habits of malevolence and hostility produce aggression. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates the forms of tossing rocks, throwing stones, containers, closets, cages, jars, bags and covers. The evil cherishes and nurtures the wicked behavior.

These two habits swallow each other, so the throwing, tossing, pitching, seizing, catching, beating, shooting, casting, pinching, and other forms are established.

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize aggression as the harmful devil. Bodhisattvas avoid it as drinking the poisonous wine.  The animosity gives rise to the grievances. From this, there come into being flying rocks,  stones, caskets, closets, cages, jars, containers, bags, rods, and the hells of kalasutta (victims are tied and dragged to die by black threads) are established. The habits of malevolence and hostility are conflicted, so the throwing, tossing, pitching, seizing, catching, beating, shooting, casting, pinching, and other forms are established. It is like someone harming others secretly—he harbors, cherishes, and nurtures evil.

The Buddhas in ten directions look upon animosity as a harmful ghost. Bodhisattvas regard it is as drinking poisonous wine.

The animosity refers to resentment and making  false accusations. From the heart, we nourish resentment so that we like to vex other people. Then there come into existence flying rocks,  stones, caskets, closets, cages, jars, containers, bags, and rods. We are kept in cages or prison owing to the resentment.

The more we suppress resentment, the more it permeates deeply in our blood. If we can express our anger through words, everything is ended with nothing left behind. The resentment is burning so strong in the mind that it demands us to find a way for revenge. If the resentment can be displayed with words, it will be released. The Buddha teaches that we should contemplate the emptiness of five skandhas so that we can recognize the body, mind, and environment which are voidness, and then the revenge is also empty.  In other words, if we harbor animosity, it is like that red smoldering fire that one day will burst into  flame. In addition, the punishing instruments of flying rocks, thrown stones, caskets, closets, cages, jars, containers, bags, and rods are performed to satisfy the evil mind. The Buddhas consider revenge as the devil that harms our mind and body while bodhisattvas regard it as the poison snake that destroys our insight body and pure precepts.

18. The habits of EVIL VIEWS: Habits of evil views and quarreling, such as self-craving, wrong views, solid insisting of precepts, deviant insights leading to bad karma, which cause conflict with each other. Since then, the court officials are presented to check the documents. It is like a huge crowd of people who travel back and forth and meet each other on a road.

These two habits interact with each other, thus there comes to existence the official forms of investigations, interrogations, disclosure, craftiness, research, requests, the strict youths who hold the record books to analyze for convincing the matter clearly, and so on. 

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the evil view as an devil pit. Bodhisattvas avoid it as standing at the poisonous ditch.

The evil views are self-craving, wrong views, solid insisting, deviant insights, and they conflict with one another. When we are covered by these wrong views, we often feel opposition and antagonism with other persons.

We think that we are intelligent and enlightened, but in fact, we are deviants, heretics or the false enlightened person. If we have not attained arahantship but we tell a lie that we have, to destroy the good root in our mind.

Some people have evil views as they think that animals are born to be served for people to eat. Thus, they are willing to kill animals to enjoy their meal. There are some people who do not care about the cause-effect doctrine because they hold the view that death is the end with nothing left behind. Because of their evil views, they create bad karma. They do not listen to other’s advice; they even fight those who are trying to stop their work. They create ugly karma non-stop. So then, the hells of investigation, testing, and questioning are formed.

19. The habits of INJUSTICE: The habits of blaming and harming (others generate the wrong charges. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates crushing between mountains or rocks, rollers, rinders, harrows, and so on. It is like an offender who blames innocent persons unfairly.

These two habits are faced on each other, thus the catching, beating, the blood squeezing, the body straining, and so forth are formed.

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize the wrong allegation as the deceitful perpetrator. Bodhisattvas avoid it as thunders. 

The habit of blame is the result in the false charges and libeling. Since then, it produces mountains, rocks, rollers, grinders, plowing, and pulverizing, and so forth. It is like a slanderous villain who blames the innocent people. Because these two habits join each other, the form of violence, such as pressing, pushing, bludgeoning, compulsions, squeezing, straining, weighing, measuring, and others are established. The wrong accusation means to sue someone without cause or reason. The former karmic seeds of blame are combined with the present habits to generate the terrible torture instruments on the body, such as pressing, pushing, beating, squeezing, and the hell of sanjiva (repeated birth and death many times during the punishing process) are formed.

The Tathāgatas in ten directions consider the wrong accusations as a cruel tiger. Bodhisattvas avoid it as a thunder to keep their bodies secure.

20. The habits of LITIGATION: The habits of lawsuit and the disputation produce the unrevealing. When it becomes dominant without ending, it generates the mirror and the bright fire. It is like in the daylight, the shadow is not hidden.

These two habits are displayed, thus the bad friends, the karma mirror, and the flaming pearl show past karma are established. 

Therefore, the Tathāgatas in ten directions recognize unrevealing as the secret enemy. Bodhisattvas avoid it as bearing the high mountain on one’s head while stepping in the ocean.

The lawsuit and argument give raise to the covering. It produces a mirror and flame in the world. It is like there is no way one can hide his shadow in the daytime. Because these two habits are displayed, there come into existence bad companions, the mirror of karma, the fiery pearls which are exposed as a result of the past karma.

All the Tathāgatas in ten directions look upon the covering as a “secret villain” while bodhisattvas regard it as a person carrying a mountain on his head while walking in the ocean.

Due to the habits of lawsuit, it generates the unrevealing. What is the unrevealing? Both in the pagoda and the mundane world, people always have the deep habit to cover their mistakes but they like to disclose other’s mistakes. The lawsuit means we hold that we are right while others are wrong, so we keep the mutual dispute going. So, the hells of pressing, pushing, beating, squeezing are established.

If we do not provoke other people’s errors, we will keep silent without suing. If indeed people commit mistakes, there will be the court or the cause-effect for them; we can kindly show the sin in order that they can correct. In contrast, they are innocent, we blame on them which is the false accusation.

In conclusion, we study ten habitual causes to reflect our mind. The past habitual seeds appear and combine with the present habits, which push us to create karma. The strong seeds meet the external conditions as soon it becomes the action. For example, we like so much a gold watch that when there is nobody looking we steal it and put it in our pocket. Due to the former habitual seeds and the present habits, there are results. Because we have not recognized the dangerous root of both habits, we spend a long time in ignorance as their servants.

Hence, the past habitual seeds push the present habits which in turn nurture and support the former habitual seeds in order to establish the consequences of many hells.

As a result of accumulating bad habits for many lives, they finally become our nature. Once we cultivate, we can transform the bad qualities in our mind and body. In reality, we do not have such bad habits; our nature is originally bodhi nature. It is because we have accumulated a little day by day until it becomes too close to us as “our-ness,” our flesh or substance. Now we turn to have ten habitual causes, such as the habits of lust, greed, conceit, hatred, deception lying, animosity, evil views, betrayal and litigation. Then, according to ten habitual causes, ten destinies of hells appear in our mind.

If we see people who have ten habitual causes and they fall into hell, we should recite the Amitābha Buddha’s name to pray for them. Their nature is originally Tathãgatagarbha (the source of all phenomena), the Tathāgata Store, and the reality of all Buddhas. Thanks to the Buddha’s blessing, merit, and virtue, they can escape from the hells.

We do merit for those who have undergone torture in hell. They will be affected by our prayers if we sincerely concentrate in our holy cause. It is like in Chapter III, part 33 of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, where twenty five bodhisattvas present twenty five methods of enlightenment. Candraprabha (the Moonlight) Bodhisattva contemplated water in his room. Based on Candraprabha Bodhisattva’s samādhi, his novice attendant sees that the room is filled entirely with water, without anything else. The samādhi of Candraprabha Bodhisattva has a very powerful effect on the surrounding environment. Likewise, based on our devoted prayer, contemplation, and meditative energies on the Western Pure Land, living beings in the hells can see Buddha-lands. Not only one person is blessed but also other victims in the hells are affected by the Amitābha Buddha’s merit and blessing.

It is the cultivator’s vows, good heart and altruism. He really wants to save all living beings in different realms to be freed from the suffering torturous consequences of ten habitual causes.

 

SUMMARY OF CHAPTER XII

Chapter XII explains ten habitual causes of the hell which sentient beings create and receive bad consequences.

Ten habitual causes are as follows:

  1. Due to lust, it has the hells of flame pits, iron beds, and copper poles.
  2. Due to greed, it has the cool hells.
  3. Due to arrogance, it has the hell of the blood river.
  4. Due to anger, it has the hells of swords and knives to cut the body in pieces.
  5. Due to deception, it has the hells of chaining, stringing, and hanging.
  6. Due to lying, it has the filthy hells of excrement, urine, stench, and impurities.
  7. Due to malevolence, it has the hells in which victims are tied and dragged to die by black threads.
  8. Due to evil views, it has the hells of investigation, testing, and questioning.
  9. Due to blame, it has the hells of birth and death many times and punishment by rocks, rollers, rinders, and harrows.
  10. Due to lawsuits, it has the waterfall nail hells.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. What are ten habitual causes of hell?
  2. Describe in detail how a habitual cause leads to the fruit of a hell.
  3. What is the “habitual presence” and what is the “habitual seed”?
  4. What kind of practice avoids ten habitual causes of the hell?
  5. List ten examples of ten habitual causes that all Tathāgatas must keep a far distance from.

 

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