Buddhist Views on Contamination, Part I


The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

Everyone knows that Buddhism is composed of three Yanas, but all three are based on the fundamental truth of Sunyata. The Sunyata view includes an explanation of conditions but does not talk about seeds or causes. Although everything appears under certain conditions, there are no original seeds or first causes. If there were, there might be such things as eternally existing atoms or some kind of Creator God. The Buddhist view of Sunyata avoids all these fruitless concepts by emphasizing a view of conditional phenomena that does not depend on the existence of original seeds.

One may see this in connection with any object, for example a bottle. It has no source, no seeds and no self. There is no entity, essence or self corresponding to what we commonly call a bottle. The bottle is gathered from various conditions such as the glass, the glassblower's skill, the economic conditions of its manufacture, etc. All these factors may in turn be analyzed and seen to be composite and without self. Thus, however minutely you may analyze the bottle, no source or self will ever be found.

There are only certain conditions and sets of conditions in the Sunyata. All things are like this contained within. Even Buddhahood is likewise gathered from certain conditions. So we can see that the philosophy of conditions is a very important part of the system of Buddhism. Conditions are without limit but they all contain and are contained within the one nature of Sunyata.

When a Buddha abides in a static attitude or Static Samadhi he does not see a self anywhere. He sees that everything is void, that everything is the Dharmakaya. Here there are no differentiated objects so how could there be any one-sided view? This is called the Samadhi of Fundamental Nature. When Buddha is in this Samadhi even his own self disappears. For him there are no conditions but only the basic Sunyata nature. In such a Samadhi he sees that all Buddhas, all sentient beings, the Six Realms, the Ten Dharmadhatus, all are included in the Dharmakaya. This is called the Former Samadhi, the Fundamental Samadhi or the Static Samadhi.

But when Buddha arises from that Samadhi he enters the Later Samadhi or the Discriminative Samadhi or the Dynamic Samadhi. These three names all refer to the time when Buddha leaves the silent state and undertakes some action to help others. But even in activity he does not depart from the Sunyata nature.

In the final Truth there are no things at all. There is no psychology and none of the concepts of psychology. There is no materialism and nothing associated with it. All are harmonized. There are no one-sided views. But Buddha does not just stay in the Dharmakaya as if he were dead. He arises to do something for the sentient beings, but still keeps the fundamental Sunyata nature.

The Sunyata is like a sheet of paper, blank on one side and with writing on the other. The Sunyata nature is like the blank side of the paper; it is just pure and void. There is nothing, no form, no color. Only the brightness of Samadhi. The Sunyata conditions are like the side with writing. Many different messages may appear. But really the two are the same just like the two sides of the paper. When we talk it seems like two things, but when Buddha acts in the Dynamic Samadhi to save others he still keeps all the Wisdom of the Static Samadhi but now uses it to help others under various conditions.

Thus one must understand that in the Buddhist philosophy, conditions and Sunyata are inseparable.

Buddha has many Supernatural Powers so he can know every person's mind, Karma and character. He has no one-sided views. In the Later Samadhi of Discrimination, Buddha knows exactly which medicine to use to cure each disease. A common person might just say, "Oh, this one should take Vitamin A and that one should take Vitamin D." But this is just based on some one-sided view. Such a doctor has no real wisdom. Buddha has wisdom because he has identified these two Samadhis.

Every Buddha has Ten Strengths, Six Supernatural Powers and Eighteen Extra Wisdoms. He can know everything in the past, present and future. He can actually know the specific events that have not yet happened. One common name of all Buddhas and especially of Karmapa is Dusen Chenpo. It means "He who knows the Three Periods." When we say "Karmapa Chenpo" what does this "ChenPo" refer to? What does Karmapa know? He knows the differences, the details of the conditions. If he only knew the pure Sunyata nature what good would that do? He also knows the conditions. That is why he can really help people.

The Fundamental Samadhi is like a blank paper. The Discriminative Samadhi is like a paper with many pictures, symbols and messages written on it, but the underneath color is still part of the picture. So we can see that it is very important to learn what conditions we should seek and what conditions we should avoid. We should always reflect on our own heart, mind, habits and character and then figure out how to save ourselves, to cure ourselves, to gather the good conditions and change ourselves.

Actually everybody already has the Buddha nature. Even the sufferers in Hell all have the Buddha nature. So do ghosts and animals. There is no way to increase it or decrease it. There is no need to practice it. It always remains the same and we can neither seek it nor get rid of it.

So obviously just having the Buddha nature is not enough. It is very important to know also the conditions. What conditions are good and which are bad? How can we gather the good and avoid the bad? How can we change the bad into good?

In this talk we only follow the Buddhist view. We do not consider the ideas of Science, or of the scholars, or of Christianity, or of Hinduism. We will only speak of the Buddhist view of contaminative conditions. According to Buddhist tradition every thing may be considered from four points of view: the Outer, the Inner, Secret, and Most Secret.

I. Outward Contaminations

A. Environment

Outward conditions mean our environment. It includes all of the physical world except our own body. in this category too are all our social interactions with our family, friends, other people and animals. We must learn to choose good outward conditions. Especially at the beginning of our practice we must seek out good conditions for meditation.

An ancient Tantric practitioner named Subahu had practiced for many years but had not gained very good results. He asked Buddha what he should do. Buddha pointed out many conditions that should be avoided. His advice was recorded in a Sutra and has been published in Chenian Booklet New Number 45, "Vajrayana Silas, Part One." That booklet contains twenty-six rules on how to serve the Guru. Next there are one hundred and thirty-six rules taken from the Subahu Sutra and the Susiddhikara Sutra and itemized, numbered and classified by myself. They fall into six groups: Character, Dwelling, Eating, Actions, Repetition (of Mantra), and Practice. With regard to outward defilement the following rules extracted from the above booklet may be helpful:

16. Do not keep cats or dogs.

17. Do not kill sheep or goats.

18. Do not put a parrot or any other bird inside a cage.

20. Do not talk about a king, prince, minister, great officer, robber, prostitute, thief, fighting and war.

21. Do not go into any town, village or residence of an outsider (non-Buddhist).

26. Abide in the place of a Buddha or Bodhisattva.

27. If you cannot get such an auspicious place then dwell on the bank of a great river or near a small river or on the slope of a mountain. Do not live where there are wild animals, water animals, or underground animals as moles.

28. Dwell at a place where many good flowers flourish.

29. Do not live near noisy place and with people.

30. Dwell in a cave where there are no fierce beasts.

31. Do not dwell at a place where there are thorns, stone chips, bones or dead bodies, ashes, coal, foul mud, the holes of ants, or a place of dirt in the ground which has no bottom after digging.

32. Do not let a violent wind come into your room.

33. Do not let fleas and ants stay in your room.

34. Do not let your roof leak.

35. You must have windows on your walls and the inside must be bright and clean.

36. Make no door towards the south direction.

37. The residence should not be too far from the village or town.

38. Do not make a hermitage near a place where there are many persons.

39. The dwelling should have no outsiders.

40. Do not live with an outsider, a proud person, a rich man or a foolish man. Do not keep company with a hypocrite, a cheat or one without compassion who takes things from monks with the mind of a viper and oily lips.

46. Do not beg food from outsiders for they may give you some ignorant advice.

49. Eyes, when begging, are better to be filled with sparks and become blind rather than be ravished by beauties.

64. Do not go to a house in which there is a woman or domestic animal just in delivery.

65. Do not go to the theatre or any place where music is performed by male or female singers.

66. Do not go to a brothel, wine-shop, or any profligate place.

67. Do not go to a place where there are many boys and girls playing together.

68. Do not join the celebration of a wedding.

69. Do not go to a house where there is a cur.

70. Do not clap hands, sing songs, or dance.

71. Do not look at a fight among or between human beings or animals.

72. Do not dally or act in a hot tempered manner.

73. Do no gamble on any kind of chance.

76. Do not play in the water.

These are only a few of the Rules that Buddha was so kind as to give us. Readers may consult the above mentioned booklet for the rest. A few more are copied below in the section on food. Buddha taught these rules three thousand years ago, but they are still valid and can be used as models to make our own rules to deal with the difficult conditions now caused by modernization.

Even the Communists forbid their people to go to the Free World because they fear that the people might be contaminated by it. They tell them, "If you were allowed to go there you might learn some bad habits from the degenerate Americans. You would become addicted to all sorts of luscious pleasures that are not available here in your own country. So you must not go. If you do try to go, we will kill you!"

Many Buddhists in Eastern European countries like Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia correspond with me but they have no chance to visit me. Once a Czechoslovakian Buddhist scholar came to visit me in India. When I heard his name I was happy but very surprised. With tears I asked, "How can you come here?" He explained, "I am an official in my country. The government has trusted me to travel so that I may collect some of the Buddhist books for our National Library. That is why I have this chance to visit India."

I asked him, "Would you like to stay in a free country like America? If so, I can introduce you to some friends who will take you to meet the American Ambassador in Calcutta. They can help you to live in America. You need not go back to your country."

But he said, "No. Even though our government is Communist in name, still the leaders are all good men. They do not follow the harsh policies of the Russians. Much less do they agree with the Chinese Communists. Ours is quite different. We can believe in Buddhism or Christianity or any other religion without being punished. There is no need to go to America where everything is so expensive anyway. Besides, I am an official with responsibilities. Finally, my family is still there inside. Thank you very much but I must return to my own country."

Thus he was grateful but did not accept my offer. I just tell this story to show that even the Communists are aware of contaminations from outside. Of course, contamination is a relative term that depends on what you consider pure. They have their own ideas.

B. Theatres

Now we will consider what we as Buddhists regard as a pure or holy place. This is especially for the beginners, not for the Sage. For a sage everywhere is the same; everywhere is pure. I am not a sage but I try. Many ask me, "How is Berkeley?" I like everywhere! Berkeley is also good.

But still one can exercise some discrimination. I was asked by Mrs. Mary who said, "There is a moving picture called "Oriental Prostitute." It sounds very interesting. Will you go to see it with us? We already have tickets." I said, "No. I lived in India in my hermitage for twenty-five years. I have totally lost my interest in the theater, although in my younger days I did pursue it." I also said, "In America there are so many theaters. They all have posters on the walls outside to advertise their motion pictures. Just by walking on the street I can see enough. There is no need to buy a ticket."

As mentioned above, Buddha also in the Subahu Requests Tantra forbad his serious disciples to go to the theater. There was theater in those ancient times too but now it is more highly developed.

Because we want to keep our good health we should not go to the theater. Even the modern health authorities and their families frequent the theaters and movie houses, but if you think carefully, you will understand the following. Do not the scientists and doctors all say that one must have a constant supply of fresh air? In a theater do we not find many people all of whom must continually exhale? When you breathe in there where does the air come from? Do you think that air is clean or dirty?

Because you do not consider such things but just follow your habit it seems that the theater is a good place to get pleasure, a good place to spend your weekend. It seems very nice but does it help your Dharma? Does it help your meditation?

Surely the one who is in an advanced position may be able to make use of defilement. Even I myself once went to see the famous performer Mei Lang Fang. When he visited America he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Arts degree. The music and the action all fed my meditation of Mahamudra. Afterwards I returned to my sponsor and gave a talk on how to meditate in the theater. But this is not for the beginner.

Buddha's teaching is for everybody, not just for the Sage or the advanced person who already has some attainment of Samadhi. So the person who is just starting to practice, who is still establishing his good foundations, who has not yet achieved a real Samadhi and who therefore does not have the ability to purify and transmute the unhealthy conditions, should not go there.

Movies and theaters are of course very common. Everyone goes to them. But the more common a thing is, the easier it is to fall into the common state of defilement. When we see things on television or in movies there is an unfortunate tendency to copy them. A very sad event was reported in the Reader's Digest which is not fiction but actually took place.

Some parents left their small baby in the care of a maid. They told her, "If the baby wakes up and needs anything like food or a new diaper, you take care of it; otherwise, you may just watch television." The servant sat on a couch next to the sleeping baby and turned on the T.V. There was a program about an insane woman who had killed her own baby. The way she did it was to smother the baby with a large pillow. The servant thought, "Is it really so easy?" So she put a pillow on the baby to see if the baby would notice. She had no intention of leaving it on long enough to kill the baby, but just then a very interesting program came on T.V. and when she remembered the pillow, the baby had already died. She was terrified and started to run away but just then the parents returned and she was caught. This is a true story. I only bring it up to show what bad effects movies and television can have on people.

So we see that not only is the physical air bad in the theater but there are many mental pollutions as well. The theater, movies and television give many distorted images that claim to represent pure love. The real pure love is only found as part of the highest teaching. It is only possible in the final stages.

But in the theater one sees all the pure things mixed up and confused with dirty things. This is because the truth is very difficult to accept, so rather than trying to teach the truth they prefer to hold the common person's interest with sex, violence and useless things.

Even Shakespeare used stories of sex, robbery, fighting and quarreling. If even Shakespeare must use these things, what can we expect from modern writers? They cannot help but teach bad things instead of good things. So it is better for us to protect ourselves and not go to see them.

A motion picture lasts at the least two hours. In this period how many times could you chant OM MANI PADME HUM or OM AH RA BA CHA NA DHI? It is much better not to waste our precious time.

Even if you go to the movies again and again, you will never be able to satisfy your desire for them. When you get to this point there is a special kind of theater called "Adult Movies" where you can pay to watch sexual intercourse. You can see on a big screen many people engaged in all kinds of sexual activity. Very interesting. But you have been the star of such actions; you already know how to perform sexual intercourse. It is the same thing. Why should you need to pay to see it on a screen? It would be much better if you used the price of admission to help the Food Project or the Free Clinic. For the three dollars it costs for the ticket instead you could buy thirty fish, take them to the river and save their lives.

There are many places that should be avoided, such as slaughterhouses. Nowadays this is not so obvious because the slaughterhouses are always well hidden from the public. Cemeteries and graveyards are also places of defilement but there is a special reason that one should go to them. It is because in the cemetery one is very aware of impermanence. Thus you can see that some places are best avoided altogether while others may help us to see part of the truth.

Milarepa pointed out three places that should be visited to practice meditation. One is a cave, one is a mountain, and one is among graves. Mountain means a mountain without any people, not like my hermitage in Kalimpong. Although when I first moved there it was very quiet and holy, just part of a small village; gradually many Tibetan businessmen and other residents kept moving in; all the streets were extended and the village became part of the city. My solitude was destroyed.

Why do the Sages emphasize solitude? Because the silence, fresh air, mountain view, and lack of disturbing persons all help one to get good meditation. So Milarepa always emphasized these three places.

I meditated in a cave for two years, in the mountains for many years, and in a cemetery for one year. In the cemetery I was very aware of impermanence and was very diligent in my practice, much more so than when living in other places. To live among graves creats a fear of death and so we become diligent.

If you live in a comfortable hotel with good food and luxurious furniture, the comfort produces a tendency to be lazy. You will then fall into laziness and spend too much time sleeping and being idle. But if you live in a cemetery you will always be aware of the impermanence, the shortness of life and will always fear death. Thus you will be anxious to practice constantly. This is why Milarepa mentioned these places.

Yesterday a friend had the good idea of making a film about Milarepa. I suggested that she goes to Nepal and films the Himalayan caves where Milarepa meditated. It might be inspirational for modern Buddhists to see the places where that Sage actually lived.

C. Dropping Out

Nowadays I am sorry to say that though many young people have dropped out, they have not really renounced in the Buddhist sense.

Some still take money from their parents, and some take money from the Government. If you sit on Telegraph Avenue with your wife and engage in some small business, it is not the action of a real dropout. The real dropout goes to the mountains and meditates. The small businesses on Telegraph Avenue and the big businesses of their parents are in fact the same. Both are based on the exchange of goods and services for profit and are within the realm of selfishness. They are still attached to material things. This way one will never escape from the contamination of the world.

Buddha said that the home is a dirty defiling place. In home life there are so many distractions and obligations.

Nowadays some young people have left their parents and think that they have dropped out, but they still keep their wives with them. In fact they cannot take one step without their wives. They have left their parents but can they live without their wives? This is not yet real renunciation.

This talk may seem very harsh, but I just comment on what I see in America and point out the Right View according to the Buddhist tradition.

D. Animals

Many people always say that animals in the house are good friends. When a lady at one local Buddhist center acquired a cat, the Lama told her to get rid of it. In this matter he was quite in accord with the Buddhist tradition. Buddha forbad his serious disciples to keep a dog or cat or to feed the pigs or pigeons. One should not keep any pet in his home or cave.

Yet some modern students who are trying to renounce still keep animals with them. A student went to live in a cave but he took his dog with him. He also brought his dog along when he visited San Diego and the dog made stool in someone's house. He had to clean it up.

Some Americans treat their dogs better than they treat their own brothers and sisters. Surely I would like to see every one be kind to all animals. But not too kind. Recently I saw a man sitting in his car. On his right was his wife. In the back seat was his dog. First he kissed the dog and then with the same mouth he kissed his wife.

In the East one would never see such a thing. The common view of Westerners is that the West is clean and the East is dirty, but by Buddhist standards, the East is relatively clean and the West is dirty.

In the East to kiss a dog, to embrace a dog or to cohabit with a dog is very rare. But in the West many girls keep wolflike dogs to have sexual intercourse with. This is an example of a very heavy dirt, a very defiling situation.

The ancient female sage named Marje Lun-mo was an incarnation of Dolma, or Tara. She was a very holy being. She was Bodhidharma's dakini. When he returned to Tibet from China he met her. I have translated her biography into Chinese and it will be printed soon. Once she foreknew that some students would come to her. She told her attendant, "Tomorrow two students will come. They will both be clad in dog skins. Admit them but first ask them to get rid of the dog skins." The next day, it actually happened as she had said. Then she gave some teaching. She said, "Do not use any animal's skins for clothing. It is not good to use even tiger skins, but especially don't use the skins of dogs." Thus she warned them against these bad conditions, and pointed out nine bad conditions of the dog.

One is that the dog has karma from past lives connecting him with many ghosts. These ghosts follow the dog around. So if you want to avoid the ghosts, you have to avoid the dog.

Many Tibetan lamas and laymen keep dogs. Especially travellers who have dogs for protection. In Tibet robbers are very common. When the travellers stop for the night they do not have hotels or motels, but have to camp in tents. During the night robbers come and kill them and take all their gold and valuables, so they keep large fierce watchdogs to guard against robbers. These Tibetan dogs are large and vicious. Their mouths are always red with blood and if they bite you, it is always a fatal bite.

I remember even Szudun Rinpoche in Papong had one of those large dogs. He kept it on an iron chain. But it was so strong that once it even broke the chain. A lady that was unfortunate enough to be passing there at that time was bitten and died immediately. Szudun Rinpoche was very ashamed. He confessed his mistake and paid a large sum to her family. But what is the use of money? Can money bring her back to life?

Now some famous Lamas keep small expensive lap dogs. Even one of my own gurus had a small dog with beautiful hair. He fed it tsampa from his own plate and gave it water from his own cup. Even though he is my guru still I cannot agree with this. These are all examples of bad conditions but we see them even affecting those famous Lamas.

A dog follows the human's lead. On the one hand, if you pet him and scratch him, gradually he will be pleased and stand up and kiss you. Then as the dog becomes excited his sex becomes excited too. By and by he starts to smell your private parts. So even though you had no intention of making love to the dog, eventually you become involved in this immoderate relationship.

On the other hand, if you do not scratch and pet the dog but just tell him firmly, "Sit! I will give you food. Sit here!" he will obey. A dog can at least be trained to serve some useful purpose.

The cat is just as bad. The cat's special characteristic is that it is very hard to get rid of. The cat just wants to move his body and to touch you. Actually, he does not love you but just wants to touch anything to relieve the itching of his body. He will also rub against the furniture in the same way.

That lady at the Buddhist center said to me, "Oh, this cat loves me so much! Look how he runs up to me and rubs against me!" But I explained to her that the cat was only easing his own discomfort. I said, "Don't just see yourself, but look more carefully. See how the cat rubs against the legs of that chair. Does he love it too?"

Every animal has its associated problems, not only dirt and ghosts but also fleas. If you stay with animals the fleas will jump into your clothing. If a flea is biting your private parts, how can you meditate then? Actually the flea does not want to be on you, it much prefers to stay on the dog or cat. It is attracted to the smell of the animal, but sometimes the flea is jumping around the room and the animal leaves suddenly. Then the flea has no choice and must settle for your body instead.

E. Smell

Every being has its characteristic smell. You remember in the biography of Milarepa when, after his Parinirvana his body was being cremated, many heavenly beings appeared in the sky overhead. The human disciples called to them, "Come down here with us. Please come down to the earth and join us. Why do you not come down?" But the angels and devas cannot stand the smell of human beings.

Only if your meditation is good and if much of your defilement is removed, and if you burn some good sandalwood, then they might come near you. Even then maybe not too close.

I remember when many gods came to me all my body gave off a very sweet smell like sandalwood. Even when I went to the toilet, I still felt that sweet sandalwood smell. Actually. I smelled two kinds of smells but they were not mixed. When the Dakinis come to you there is also a special smell. If other people are there they can also smell the holy beings. Do not think that when you are alone in your room that you are really the only one there. There are many things connected with your body that are never considered by common thought. If one prays earnestly, the Buddha will be with you, the Bodhisattvas are with you, the Yidams are with you, the Dakinis are with you and the Protectors are with you. These are the pure forms of consciousness.

On the contrary, if one loses his Bodhicitta, if one loses his meditation, if one loses his Vinaya, then the holy beings will go away and the evil ghosts will come.

My friend, Mr. Wan Chi Ko, is a very earnest Buddhist. He has performed the Homa many times. His eyes have developed a special ability and are able to see ghosts. He told me, "When I am in the street sometimes I see good people driving along. Even though their car is moving very fast, still many gods are sitting on it. But the bad people, even though they may also be rich and drive expensive cars, yet following-along behind them are many ghosts."

Because he has such eyes he can really see them. You might not believe it, but just because you who do not have such eyes cannot see them, it does not mean that they are not there. Actually everyone's individual karma connects him with many beings. They may be holy beings, they may be ghosts, or they may even be the messengers of Yama who have come to take your life.

If an evil being comes to harm you, or even one of Yama's attendants comes, how can you know? Even an evil being may not know when he will meet you. Therefore, you must always be careful and choose your conditions carefully. Good conditions cause good to increase and go from good to better to best. Bad conditions cause bad to increase and go from bad to worse to worst.

For example, in my room I have already burned much sandalwood. This causes the gods to come. If you burn the Hindu incense that smells like cheap perfume, the bad ghosts will come to take the smoke as food. If you burn a lamp the holy beings will be pleased with the brightness. If you just leave it dark, they will not be attracted.

Nowadays many restaurants keep the lights very low. They are too dark. It seems to some people that darkness is the same as quietness. So we can talk small talk and enjoy a quiet dinner. Actually this is not good reasoning. Quietness does not follow from darkness.

There are many other things that could be pointed out but now we must go on to the next part.

II Inward Defilements

A. Food

Inward refers to the body and therefore to food. We will later give a special talk on diet, but now a few things should be mentioned.

Some food will cause you to get angry if you take too much. In this class are all hot things like peppers. Others, like turnips, will make you sleepy. Turnips cause intestinal gas, bringing energy down and thus putting you to sleep.

Too much food is a defilement because it makes you sleepy; too much is also bad because it causes disturbed mind. Sleepy mind, disturbed mind and nonsense mind are all disturbances to meditation. If we want to get good Samadhi we must not neglect to regulate our diet. We will speak more on this in another lecture.

B. Drugs

Many Hippies and drug addicts say that drugs are useful for meditation. They say that on a good trip you can meet God, that the ancient sages used drugs. So it seems that drugs are holy. But this is the same mistake again of thinking that the beginner is the same as the Sage.

For the Sage drugs can sometimes be a little helpful, for example Marpa drank wine. This was for developing Tummo, to help him concentrate with great warmth. But Marpa already had achieved an advanced degree of Samadhi and then used the specific function of the wine to make it stronger. Thus the Sage may know how to use a drug to excite a particular function for a particular reason. But this is impossible for the beginner. The beginner should forbid himself the use of any kind of drug. Then he will have a chance to someday become a Sage.

Many cases are on record of those who have taken drugs like L.S.D. and have had bad trips. Much trouble resulted: Some committed suicide, some tried to fly out of windows and were killed by the fall, some became very angry, some very frightened, some suffered heart attacks. From all these examples we may generalize and say that these drugs should not be used by the beginner.

In a final sense drugs cannot be either good or bad. If they are really good why do so many people injure themselves with bad trips so that they can no longer function normally? If they are absolutely bad why do some people have good trips and see God? But in practical terms we should avoid all drugs.

Every dharma is void and without self. Everything depends on certain conditions. What may be good for one person may be bad for another. Since this talk is for those just learning to practice Buddhism, I simply advise them that drugs are harmful.

It may seem that Buddhism is too hard to practice. Hinayana, Mahayana, and then Vajrayana: it takes so much time to practice this and that and go through all the steps. Why not just take some L.S.D. and get the same effects immediately? Just by action of the chemical you can see many things and it seems very good, but there is no certainty and it may also turn out to be very bad for you.

The effects produced by drugs are not the same as that produced by real practice; nor do they become holy merely by talking about "the Yoga of taking L.S.D." A real practice is pre-determined and dependable; it has a certain initial Cause, a certain practical Course, and a certain final Consequence.

For example, when a Buddhist develops the Bodhicitta, the Bodhicitta of Will is the Cause; the Bodhicitta of Conduct, the Bodhicitta of Victorious Significance, and the Bodhicitta of Samadhi are the Course; the Consequence has been demonstrated and exemplified by all the Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas. If you practice, there is a certainty that eventually you will succeed.

On the other hand with drugs like L.S.D. is there any such certainty? What is the Cause of L.S.D.? Does it contain the seed of Buddhahood? Where is it to be seen? No such things will be found. It is just a chemical. It is just a material thing with no consciousness. How could it be a Holy Cause?

What is the Course of L.S.D.? Some take it once every three days, some every week, and some only takes one trip a month. If one trip a month produces a certain realization, does taking it every day cause more realization? No. Who has defined the Course of L.S.D. usage? A course should be dependable, for example, when we go to school we take classes in a regular order and eventually get a degree. Does the drug have any similar dependable fixed course?

Some L.S.D. has one form, some has another. I myself have taken L.S.D. three times. Not for myself but because some young people came to my hermitage and asked me to be their witness and guide as they took it. Since they asked for my help, I had to accept.

The first time it was white powder, the second time it was a purple pill, and the third time it was a small piece of gold paper. This last one was very powerful. There were five people with me at my hermitage. After twenty minutes everyone began to act according to his particular conditions. One began to giggle foolishly like a lunatic. Another one started to sing. Still another felt very warm and took off his clothing. As for me, I just meditated there. I felt that my meditation was very strong. So I determined that it could sometimes help the person who already had a deep Samadhi but not the common person.

That day my friends were under the protection of my hermitage. They just had a little interval of madness without much harm, but this was a special condition. There is no certainty inherent in the drug. If we could depend on certain results whenever we took it, then the taking of L.S.D. would be worthwhile. But its effects are always dependent on conditions that we cannot completely control.

My karma was able to protect them, otherwise they might have had less pleasant experiences. If they had just taken it at their homes, each other's individual karma would have been seen in different results. Some might have become angry and tried to kill other people. Some might have thought, "I can fly!" and tried to fly out the window and had been killed.

These kinds of effects have been reported not once but many times.

In addition to the immediate effects, there are delayed effects. These hide in the nerves until they get a chance and then come out when we least expect them. There is a boy who lives near Berkeley who has taken L.S.D. a great many times. Even when he is not taking it he still suffers from uncontrollable-shaking and fits of rage. He broke a friend's window and a Lama's window. Once a Chinese monk told me that this boy had told him, "You are a holy being, I am also a holy being. We should try to save the American youth." The monk said to me, "I don't want to listen to his mad talk. He might break my window too!"

I have prayed and done some good deeds therefore am protected by the gods. When that boy came to see me, he prostrated himself before me as soon as I came to the door, but I looked at his face and saw that he was trembling. He asked me how he could stop his trembling. I told him, "Don't take any more L.S.D., then you won't get so upset and break people's windows." The sad thing is the windows he broke have been repaired and although they cost a lot of money are now as good as new. But the boy himself continues to tremble more and more and every time he takes more acid his trembling gets worse. Now the windows are all repaired but his disease is far from repaired. He has confessed to me that he knows he took too much L.S.D., and yet, some people say to me, "You don't really understand. How can you say that it is no good?"

Consider the case of the late Alan Watts. He was a long-time Buddhist but then started to take L.S.D. He recently died in his sleep from a heart attack, very peacefully. But most people don't know that to die in sleep is to die in a state of ignorance. When you die in your sleep you have no chance to think about good rebirth, to think about Amitabha, or to do anything to help yourself get good conditions of rebirth. In a case like this a person falls into the lower three states of hell, ghost, and animal. The very best he can hope for is to be reborn as a pig.

Alan Watts was an old friend who corresponded with me. After he became a Hippie he began to emphasize drugs although he still read The Tibetan Book of the Dead and tried to use it to guide his acid trips. But what good did it do to him? As he did not know he was going to die that night, who could read this book to him? Thus both young people and old scholars hurt themselves because they do not carefully consider the Cause, Course, and Consequence of their acts. Poor Alan Watts just received the consequence of death by a heart attack in an unconscious condition. This makes me very sad.

If you have already taken it, what can you do? You must confess and always keep the thought, "I have this condition inside my body. It is a defilement of my body that must be purified." Always reflect on the inner body, the inner energy. Whenever any little excitement of anger arises, it must be stopped immediately. Just go into the forest and do some chanting and sing a good song of Milarepa. Don't let the angry energy grow. There is no need to consider if you are right or he is right--just leave it. Any kind of quarrel can cause a violent reaction in your body. This is very dangerous to you. Never forget that these things are hiding in your nerves ready to hurt you, so you must always watch your mind, watch your energy and always be cooling it down, cooling it down. If you can control yourself for a long time, eventually it might be cured.

We should also forbid ourselves to use wine, spirits, and tobacco. When C. C. Chang was with me he did not smoke, then when he left me he began to smoke. After some time we met again and I asked him, "Why do you smoke those cigarettes? You know they are bad for you." He said, "I smoke for social reasons. Whenever you meet somebody it is so easy to just give him a cigarette. He is happy immediately. It only costs a few pennies and it makes many friends." I told him, "You must stop; otherwise you will have some trouble." But he kept on. After three years he developed heart disease. Then he told me, "If I had followed your advice, I would not have this heart condition." Then he had to stop but the damage was already done. In his childhood he never had this bad habit, only later under the influence of society he began to smoke. And then he became in turn a bad influence on others. Society is like this, it is just a place people exchange bad habits.

A Buddhist must hold firmly to his Right View. The Buddha did not smoke nor did he drink. Whatever he did we must do too; whatever he did not do, we must also refrain from. We must not pay any attention to what society thinks, we must not consider what common people say is right or wrong, and must not care about social intercourse and approval. We must just follow the Buddha in every way.

Buddha's example is plain. Even though he has died, his biography and teachings are still here. His path is still open to everyone. We must copy his behavior completely. That is why I always emphasize the Tradition. If we follow the Buddha we are practicing Buddhism; if we follow the ideas and habits of others we are not really practicing Buddhism. So we must follow the Buddha, the teaching of the Dharma, and those who preserve the teaching, the Sangha.

Not only did Buddha succeed, but over the centuries this Dharma has produced many Sages. The examples of all the Patriarchs and Bodhisattvas prove that the traditional teaching is reliable; there are three thousand years of proof.

But drug use, although isolated experiences may seem good, has no solid record of success. In the few years since drugs such as L.S.D. have been widely used, what have we seen? A few people who have had good trips. Many more have suffered injury of one sort or another. Has the drug L.S.D. produced any Buddhas or Sages? There is no record of permanent good results.

At first even the Government did not know if L.S.D. was harmful. Then when the data began to appear from the courts and hospitals, the Government passed laws trying to protect the people. Actually this Government loves us even more than our parents do.

Today many young people hate the Government. Although they get upset about a great variety of issues, the main reason behind their anger is that the Government has made drugs illegal. "Look! They are putting us in jail and all we did was smoking marijuana!" And so they hate the Government and think that anyone who tells them not to indulge in drugs must be completely bad.

Actually even the worst of the American political leaders are still very good. If they were really bad, they would say, "Oh, you want drugs? You can have drugs but you must pay a heavy tax. You seem to have so much money. Bread is not enough, you must have meat; meat is not enough, you must have wine; wine is still not enough, now you want drugs, too. You must be very rich to buy all these things, so you will be able to pay this heavy tax." The real bad official acts like this. They do not care if you become insane, or if you commit suicide. All they are interested in is getting your money; that is how a bad Governor acts.

The American ones are not like that. The Government here loves you: it protects you and even gives those unable to work some money. In China you would never hear of such a thing. There they would say, "You have only yourself to blame. Nobody asked you to take drugs. If you cannot work and have to suffer in poverty or starve to death because you injured yourself through drug use, it is your own fault. Why should the government worry about you?" Our Government here in America is so kind, and we should act in a good manner towards the Government. We should pray for the Government, pray for the Nation, pray for the Dharma in the Nation.

On the one hand, you should reflect on your mistakes and not commit them any more; on the other hand, you can develop your Bodhicitta towards everybody including your parents and your Government. In the Buddhist tradition in China there are four Benefactors. First is the Guru, second is our parents, third is the Government officials who protect us from war, thieves and other dangers, and fourth is all sentient beings.

Why is every sentient being our benefactor? Because people do so many necessary things for us. The farmers supply us with food. The tailors and seamstresses make our clothing. Even the garbage men carry away our dirt. They love us and so we should love them.

Why do we not recognize these benefactors? Because we give them money in exchange for their work it seems that there is no need to be grateful to them. They have done their job and gotten their wage. If you always think like this, you will be blinded by money and unable to develop your good mind.

Money is never the only consideration. For example, when I lived in Kalimpong, I had no washing machine. I could have paid some Tibetans to wash my clothing for me but all the Tibetans lived too far away. There were many Nepali people living nearby who would have been glad to earn money in other ways. But there is a Nepali custom that the wife may wash only her husband's clothing. If any woman were to wash another man's clothing other than her own husband's, she would be regarded as a prostitute. It is too shameful for them to even consider. When I tried to get one poor Nepali to help me, she said, "I will not do it. Even if you were to give me a hundred dollars for each piece of clothing, I still would not do it."

Thus we see that even when money is paid, it is still not the most important thing. The person must first agree to accept your money. It is not possible to put a price on everything. If someone agrees to take your money and work for you, he is also a kind of benefactor and you should feel grateful to him.

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