Part Two: Dharma Discourses

Chapter Five: Foundational Principles


52. The Master said to his students during a lecture on the scriptures, “Imagine you are the ten kings of the Dark Realm of Yama (who judge the fate of the deceased) and answer my questions with the language of Heaven. The language of Heaven is free from any partiality or deficiency and is utterly fair and selfless.”
He then asked, “What would happen to people who do not understand the duties, propriety, and honor of human beings but instead behave as they please?” Pak Ŭn’guk replied, “Since they haven’t fulfilled the duties of human beings, they become people who are hardly human; when their lives are over, they will fall from the human destiny and be reborn in the evil destinies (of hell denizens, hungry ghosts, and animals).”
The Master asked again, “What happens to people whose bodies are committed to a religious order but whose minds drift toward the secular world?” Sŏ Sein answered, “One’s affinities with the Buddha will gradually weaken and they will eventually fall back into the secular world.”
The Master asked again, “What happens to ordained devotees who, rather than rendering benefit to the public, cause only moral, physical, or material harm, or create much mental anguish for the leaders by such acts as pursuing private gain under the pretext of serving the public?” Yi Ŭnsŏk answered, “In truth, the debt owed to the public is so much greater that it will be difficult to pay it back fully. Those who have intentionally done harm (to the public) will have to pay it back by being reborn as a cow or a horse in the next life. Those who have caused the leaders much mental anguish will be reborn into murky states.”
The Master asked again, “What would happen to those who steal from the Buddha’s enterprises or those who unjustly take others’ possessions no matter how insignificant?” Kim Chŏngyong answered, “The Founding Master said in a dharma talk, ‘Do not even pick up something dropped on the street,’ and, ‘By picking it up, you will take along with you both the object and the misfortune of the owner’s injury from the loss of his possession.’ Hence, they certainly will suffer the retribution of being reborn as cows or horses; but even if they were to be reborn as human beings they will be poor and lowly and will frequently lose their possessions.”
The Master asked again, “What would happen to those who, without knowing the facts, speak indiscreetly and cause calamities in the Order, or those who, by recklessly revealing others’ secrets, hinder others’ progress and spoil many people’s faith and public-spiritedness?” Kim Yunjung replied, “Since they have made bad karma through their speech, they will in turn suffer from malicious gossip. Their progress will be blocked because of their transgression of interfering with the Buddha’s work. If their transgressions are extremely serious, they will receive the karmic retribution of being reborn as a deaf mute.”
The Master praised them: “All of your words are the words of Heaven!”