Universal Worthy Bodhisattva expounds upon the Ten Penetrations.
- The penetration of knowing others’ minds.
- The penetration of the unobstructed heavenly eye
- The penetration of knowing past lives throughout all former eons.
- The penetration of knowing eons to the ends of time
- The penetration of the unobstructed heavenly ear
- The penetration of going to all Buddhalands
- The penetration of understanding all language
- The penetration of perfecting countless bodies for the sake of liberating living beings.
- The penetration of knowing all phenomena
- The penetration of samadhi on the extinction of all things.
If one is not a Sage, if one does not have these Ten Penetrations,then it is better to refrain from judging living beings. What does it mean to judge others? It means that one decides on the relative worth of someone, it is to form an opinion about someone. People in general, have a tendency to judge one another based on fault-finding rather than on fact-finding. When we judge another’s guilt, innocence or worth in the private courtroom of our own minds, do we do it based on our own culture, prejudices, mere suspicion, impulsive thinking, emotions, hearsay or on actual facts?
One cannot always tell whether a person is doing a good or a bad deed just by observing him because the determining factor lies in the intention a person has for doing something. The Buddhas and Great Bodhisattvas have great spiritual powers and are therefore able to make correct judgments and truly benefit all sentient beings.
But, an ordinary living being can only speculate and make an educated guess. People judge others based on their words and actions instead of their intentions. One cannot always believe what one sees or hears.
I will relate a story to illustrate this:
One day, Confucius’ favorite disciple got some rice and cooked it to serve the master. When it was ready, some ashes landed on the rice. So the disciple tried to pick up the ashes from the rice. It was difficult to separate them because the ashes adhered very well to the few grains of rice. He did not want to waste a single grain of rice, so he ate those grains with ashes. Someone saw it and informed Confucius about it. (There’s a version which says that Confucius himself saw it. But, that is not an important point of this story). Confucius was displeased that the food was eaten prior to it being served on the table. Soon the disciple brought in the rice to Confucius. Everyone was waiting for their teacher to start. But, Confucius just sat still and said, ‘Just now I dreamt of my late father, and I would like to offer this unserved rice to my father before we have it. What’s your opinion?’
Hearing that, the disciple told Confucius what happened earlier. The custom was that food could only be offered to the gods or ancestors only if it had not been served before. When Confucius learned of the truth, he sighed and said, ‘It has been said that seeing is believing. But, now I know I cannot even trust what I see. It is not easy to fully understand a man.’
Such incidents often happen in our lives, because without the wisdom of the Ten Penetrations, people cannot see the complete picture. And so, it is said,
Beware of a half-truth,
You may get hold of the wrong half.
Can we use reason or rely on logical deductions to judge others? No! I will give an example which is similar to the one found in the book on ‘Mathematical Ideas,’ to illustrate this point, to show that one cannot always arrive at the right conclusion by applying logical thinking.
Someone said, ‘People who jump to conclusion often frighten the best conclusion away.’
What is the next number on the list below?
1, 8, 15, 22, 29, ?
If one uses logical reasoning to tackle the problem, one would most probably deduce that the next number on the list is 36, because one will try to figure out what 1,8,15,22 and 29 have in common. One sees a similar pattern, which is, 1+7=8, 8+7=15, 15+7=22, 22+7=29. Therefore, one concludes that 29+7=36, one thinks that the next number on the list must be 36.If one relies on logic to solve this question, one will obtain the wrong answer. Why? Because the person who made up the list has a different answer in mind. The list of numbers are actually the dates of Tuesdays in June. Therefore, the next number after 29 is actually 6, the 6th of July. From that, we can infer that one cannot rely on one’s mere reasoning ability to judge others.
Bertrand Russell says,
‘Apparent obviousness is not a sufficient guarantee of truth.’
‘An hypothesis, as experience shows, may explain all known relevant facts admirably, and yet may at any moment be rendered inadequate by new facts. For that reason, prudent men give only a very provisional assent to a working hypothesis.’
No matter how convincing an argument may sound, if its premise is defective, then its conclusion will also be wrong. Logic cannot penetrate into the minds of living beings. Can anyone who has psychic powers, ghostly powers, demonic powers or spiritual powers judge living beings? No! Because having some powers does not necessarily mean that that person is an enlightened Sage. Moreover, even the spiritual penetrations of Arhats are limited.
In the Shurangama Samadhi Sutra, the Buddha said, ‘If you falsely evaluate other sentient beings,it will be to your own disadvantage…’
The Ten Penetrations refer to the great spiritual powers of the Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas which are boundless. They can universally appear throughout the ten directions to benefit all living beings.
If practitioners of the Way are greedy for petty states and spiritual powers, they become vulnerable to the deceptive and deviant influences of externalists, ghosts, and demons. If one is greedy for small advantages and likes to take short-cuts, one will lose what is great. Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua exhorts cultivators to take the broad, bright and proper Path, which is, to practice the Six Perfections and the Ten Thousand Conducts.
The Six Perfections are,
- Dhyana samadhi
When the Buddha was cultivating the Bodhisattva Path in the past, he was very honest, sincere, and true. No matter what Dharma Door he cultivated, he did it very honestly. He did not look for a bargain. He applied effort very honestly until he arrived at his final goal. It requires honest toil and proper vigor to purify one’s Bodhi Resolve. When the Great Bodhisattvas are practicing the Bodhisattva conduct or making transferences, they do it very honestly and single-mindedly, they do not strike up false, idle, greedy, arrogant or defiled thoughts.
© 2000 Soo Hoong Liung. All Rights Reserved.
In the Shurangama Sutra on the Fifty Skandha-Demon States, the Buddha explained very clearly that the ten kinds of demons that are connected to the thinking skandha can,
‘…Take over cultivators’ minds, and after as few as nine lives or as many as a hundred generations, they turn true practitioners entirely into followers of demons.’
Thus, practitioners must always insist on taking the broad, bright and proper path and not harbor greedy thoughts. If one craves for spiritual powers, one allows the demons to get an upper hand.
The Supreme Powers of Great Bodhisattvas cannot be obtained through a selfish, covetous, crooked, conceited or impure mind. If one attains some powers, one can still lose them if one is not cautious or humble, and has not certified to the Fourth Stage of Arhatship.