Barriers Set Up By Angels To Confine
Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai,
Hsihu Center, Formosa
December 28, 1991 (Originally In Chinese)
The other day, didn't I tell you a story about how we are being shut up in here, locked on the outside, and watched by the angels and celestial guards? (A: Yes) Perhaps you would ask me how they can confine us. They use the three realms!
The first barrier -- like the prisons in our world, there are three or four gates. When I went to Hualien to visit the prisoners and to deliver a lecture, I had to pass through several gates before I could reach them. On the outer most wall, there is a barbed wire on top. Heavy criminals were bound by iron chains, and they couldn't even leave their own cell, never mind walk out through those gates. However, some prisoners could move about freely; they could work sweeping the floor, planting and watering trees. They had greater freedom; some of them could pass through some gates and go out until they almost reached the outer most wall!
The situation is similar for us spiritual practitioners. Some pass through three or four gates and reach the fourth realm, but they are stopped by the wall. Only when they have gone out of the main gate and the great wall, they are truly free. That is how we are imprisoned within the three realms. Then, how are we confined by the first realm, the so-called Astral world?
Bound By Feelings Of Affection Of The Astral World
What is the situation within the Astral world? Here they use affection and feelings to bind us. There is no need to use force, scolding or iron chains. Can you understand the situation? Therefore, all human beings here are involved in affection. It could be between man and woman, or even woman and woman, or man and man,
Affection is a much better tool than iron locks and chains. Most of us cannot escape when we are bound by affection! It is difficult for us to leave when we want. It takes tremendous willpower, intense penitence generated from within, or very great courage, very sincere longing, to get help from the enlightened beings. Then they will give us a push so that we
can transcend the Astral world.
If any of us are still bound by affection and have lots of love affairs, we know we are still within the Astral level. Then we'd better stop boasting, and try to realize that we still have not overcome the first barrier. That is why since ancient times, people always respect monastic practitioners.
They think they have at least gone beyond the Astral level -- the first gate.
Like the inmates in the prison, some of them have committed very serious crimes, so they are confined in a cell so small that they can't even stand up straight. Some even more serious criminals are even bound by chains, and they can never pass through the first gate. Some inmates can go out of the first gate and join the work on the prison grounds, so they are more free. Naturally those jailed in small cells envy them very much. In their cells, they can't even see the sun or other people. Even their relatives and friends are not allowed to visit them, not even the lawyer. They are waiting for death -- their execution. Of course, they really envy the inmates who can get out of the first gate, and move about freely.
Similarly, we think that monastic practitioners have surpassed the level of affection and are free of these feelings, so we respect them. Otherwise, what is the difference? They cannot be regarded as monastic practitioners unless they have surpassed the level of affection. This is a kind of lock!
It is very difficult to pass through the first barrier, but once we have overcome it, the other barriers are easier to surpass. Only when a prisoner has behaved well would the guards allow him to move around and join the work. After a while, observing that he is doing well in his work, they have more confidence in him. Very soon, he can go out of the second gate easily. If his behavior continues to improve, it would be easier for him to get out -- not out of the prison, but to be allowed to work more, and earn more confidence from the guards. He wouldn't be heavily locked up, beaten, or reprimanded.
Realm Of Karma
-- Difficult To Escape The Law Of Karma.
We call the second barrier the realm of karma. How does it bind us? What have the angels created for us? Even after we have passed through the first barrier, the angels have prepared a second one, so we cannot go up immediately to attack them, create trouble, make a mess of heaven, and ruin the peaceful atmosphere of the universe. Therefore, there are barriers after barriers to stop us, and to let them observe us. If we could reach the Heavenly Kingdom right after we have conquered the first barricade, they would be in trouble. So, there is another barrier.
What method do they use this time? They control us with the low of cause and effect. But how? The way is: whatever we do in this world, no matter good or bad, will yield fruit. Therefore, we must come back. If we have done bad deeds, we come back to suffer; if we have done good deeds, we come back to enjoy. While enjoying, we might do evil things by the way. The more we enjoy, the more likely we will fall in the trap. When
the situation turns bad, we suffer and become frustrated, and so are more inclined to do bad deeds. Whatever situations are deadly for us, these are the traps!
We created this situation because we were bad. Previously, the deities, celestial beings and angels felt sympathetic to our backward and painful conditions after we had been condemned to earth, so they spoke to God: "Let us go there to educate them again, or at least to minimize their suffering." When God first kicked Adam and Eve down here, Hes meant to let them suffer! They had to work hard to earn their daily bread. By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread, as mentioned in the Bible. God "blessed" them!
After a very long time, as their offspring didn't commit any sin, and the evils had only been committed by their ancestors, the angels and celestial beings were sympathetic to them. Not able to stand the great suffer on earth, they beseeched God: "Please let us go to help them. They have been behaving well. They are only their children and grandchildren, and they are no longer malicious. The guilty ones were their ancestors; please give them a chance..."
God, being merciful after all, said "Okay!"
The angels came and taught us many magical powers, and ways to improve our lives--how to make efficient machines to make our lives more comfortable, and less painful. Some more advanced scientists came from above to teach us scientific technologies that were secrets of the universe. Unexpectedly, after we had learnt part of it, we wanted to learn all. Before we had learnt it well, our evil thoughts and greed emerged. We
were proud of being able to produce many things. Thinking that we were comparable to the angels, we forced them to teach us everything.
The angels said, "Take it easy! Concentrate on doing this first and let us see how you do. The other things can only be used when you have improved in morality and wisdom. It is not the time yet. We cannot teach
you the superlative magical powers of the highest realm now." However they insisted and threatened the angels: "We know how to do many things now! We can produce all kinds of weapons, and we have many
magical powers. Since you refuse to give us more, we will rob you." They were like the martial art students who want to fight with their master. Though they were only novices, they thought they were powerful enough to challenge their teachers.
Naturally the angels refused. "No way! Superlative magical power and wisdom must go with great virtues. Otherwise, you will do evil things, or you simply will not be able to use them." They wouldn't listen, and decided to rob. They had all the weapons ready, and then charged up to threaten the beings there. They really succeeded in reaching there, so the guards of the universe reacted. They used more forceful magical powers and weapons to destroy our weapons, and then sent our people back to where they belonged. Some of them didn't make the return trip, and died there. The story was roughly like this.
Since then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas didn't trust us anymore, and would not give us anymore magical powers. However, the magical powers that were learnt in previous lives had not been eradicated, so there are still some traces remaining in some of us. This is why some people can suddenly perform madras or magical incantations though they have not learnt them. These are impressions left over from their previous lives. They include those who can make atomic bombs, black bombs, white bombs and so on; they are all bad guys! (Master and everyone laugh.)
After destroying our cosmic weapons, the angels locked us in here. How did they manage to lock us up? They couldn't use chains, nor could they use ordinary magical powers, because we had learnt them all. We knew
how to break through and escape. Therefore, they devised a flexible way to subdue our forces -- with feelings affection and karma. They created a system of karmic laws in which we are born and destroyed. They virtually don't have to have anything to do with us; it is truly incredible! Whether you may have done good or bad things, you must come back, reincarnate. This is really great! Since then, we have been chained until now. We can never escape; no matter how hard we try, we just can't go
Like the main gate of a prison, you can only get out by going through it. Dig a tunnel or try anything, sooner or later you will be captured by the police. Once you are caught, your penalty will be increased, and you will be locked up more tightly. That is why most people fail to get liberation
practicing and meditating on their own. They try to dig a tunnel or make a hole in the wall, but that only leads to more serious consequences. We say they are possessed. Therefore, the law of karma is a chain, a lock or a gate keeping us here. That is how it works. It is devised by the angels. Otherwise, how can they keep us here?
Wow! We used to have great magical powers. It took us just minutes to go to Jupiter, Mars or the sun. Equipped with powerful weapons and great
magical powers, no one could stop us. We had great wisdom, but we only used it to do evil things. The human beings then were still barbarious and immoral. They wouldn't listen to moral teachings!
Perhaps the angels thought that we were as benevolent as they were, so they didn't pay much attention to morality. They didn't teach people to observe the five precepts and get the initiation before they practiced
meditation. They only taught them how to meditate. Meat eating was not prohibited, and the precepts were not observed, so people didn't develop their moral and benevolent aspects. If a person is immoral and holding a high position in the government, the greater his power is, the more harm he could do to the people.
In the olden days, the angels made a mistake by neglecting to develop our morality, and concentrating solely on taking care of our material aspects. They saw human beings in great pain, shedding tears and sweat
the whole day long yet didn't have enough to eat, not knowing how to use fertilizers in farming, and ignorant to most civilized things. They gained very little in whatever they did, because God had sentenced, By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread. Hes didn't say that we could save up something and put it in the bank; Hes only said "Eat just enough to
survive." Anyway, there were no banks then! Hes didn't think about it; Hes said it was good enough that we had enough to use. God was truly honest and clean. Hes never thought about banks or loans. (Master laughs.) Such a system didn't exist then.
So, when the celestial beings saw human beings in great pain, they cared only about the material aspects, and forgot that morality was more important. If people have no morality, they would only become worse when given many material things. They could neither cherish it, keep their wealth, nor share with other people. When they have the power and wealth, they would use it to do evil things.
If you watch the television, read newspapers or books, you may find that our history was full of high officials who were corrupt. They exploited the people and stole their wealth. The higher their position was, the worse they became. Eventually, the whole government was corrupted. If those people were not high officials but poor farmers instead, they wouldn't have the chance to do so much harm. At the most, they could only do minor things like cheating their neighbor out of a piece of land, or earning more money from people through dishonest transactions. Since they were officers, they could deceive many people. The higher their rank was, the more people they could intimidate. Therefore, it is very dangerous to have a high official who lacks morality.
Similarly, no one taught our ancestors about ethics. The angels were so benign, merciful, and virtuous themselves; so they never thought that we lacked ethics. There must be a reason for God to condemn us to earth; the lack of morality was precisely the reason. Otherwise, we would be eligible to live in heaven! We came here because of our flawed quality, just like a student who has to stay behind for another year.
Observing we were short of material things, the angels took pity on us and quickly gave us help, just like when we go to give relief to the disaster victims. When we went to help the victims in the Philippines, we also gave priority to material supplies, because we worried that they might starve. Therefore, when we went to the Philippines, Au Lac or Mainland China to ease the disastrous situations, we seldom talked about other things. I only reminded them: "Our material help rendered to them is only temporary. At least take care of their soul, and teach them to pray inwardly to God for help, so that they can be liberated from suffering forever. Furthermore, advise them to be a good person, and try to be a vegetarian, and so on. Introduce some teachings to them to help them to understand."
Otherwise, they would think that it was good enough just to take along rice, food and money. It might be good for a couple of months, but only to sustain the physical body. We might have the body today but may lose it tomorrow; it cannot be saved permanently. When we help people, it is really not important to take care of their body, because it is ephemeral. It may be lost in a traffic accident tomorrow, or in an earthquake, or washed away by a flood. There is nothing we should be proud about in doing the relief activities. It is really nothing to help sustaining their physical bodies for a couple of months!
If these people died later, they would still suffer the same painful things when they come back. If they managed to escape the flood here, they could run into a huge fire in another place. Or they would be born again and then run into a fire disaster... nothing is for sure! So we took the opportunity to tell them about the way to liberation, advise them to become a vegetarian, or to sincerely repent and pray to God for help. Then perhaps they will meet an enlightened Master when they come back next life. This is the genuine disaster relief. Otherwise, we may have saved them this time, yet they might soon meet another disaster. Who can guarantee there won't be anymore floods, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions?
That was the first time for the angels to get in touch with humans, so they didn't give it thorough enough thought! Previously, when our monastic disciples went to render relief, they also didn't think things through thoroughly. God also doesn't think too much about it, because Hes is enjoying grape wine and delicacies in heaven! If human beings are in great pain, it is their business; God doesn't suffer, so Hes doesn't know! That is why you may notice some wealthy people who are apathetic to the poor. They are not particularly vicious or stingy, but they don't know what sufferings the poor have that need their help. Being healthy ourselves, we cannot discern the pain of people who are ill. It is just like what people say: We cannot realize the painful intent of parents without ourselves giving birth to babies. This is very true.
I also have the same experience. Only when I am ill will I think about the pain of ill people. Therefore, when I am ill, I won't pray for my own recovery, because I fear I might forget the pain of the ill people when I have recovered. So, I just let it be, and I won't pray! When I do pray, I would ask God, "If it is possible, let me fall ill for other people, if only my illness or suffering could be exchanged to give them happiness."
After the angels taught us some magical powers, the viciousness and brutality within us emerged, and it was too late to restrain them! We didn't develop our morality at the same time. They only taught us magical powers but not the ethics, so it was too late then! We already got the magical powers and power, and it was too late to train our morality. Therefore, the angels had to use these methods to bind us.
You may ask me: "The first barrier is feelings of affection, and the second barrier is karma. That should be sufficient, but then why is the third barrier necessary? And what is the fourth realm for? It is for safety's sake! Observe the prisoners in a prison. They are chained, and there are many gates inside reinforced by barbed wire and an outer wall guarded by many police officers. They also have a system that can stop escapees immediately, like the electric fence for instance. When someone climbs it, he is shocked and fall down! There is no need to catch him. They also have radar and alarms. If someone crawls out, the alarm screams, letting the whole world know.
No Exit From The Three Realms Before The Ego Is Eliminated.
Similarly, people on earth are already in great pain for being shut behind two gates and not being able to escape. Yet they still put up a third gate. What is the third gate for? Is's in case a person is very clever, and knows that bad deeds will lead to bad retribution, and good deeds will also lead to good retribution, what if he didn't do any good or bad deeds, and so enters the third realm? If there wasn't another wall in the third realm, he would have gone straight to the Heavenly Kingdom!
Though he didn't do any good or bad things, it didn't mean that he was benevolent. Perhaps he had conceived a very good plan, as he knew that he would be bound by whatever he did. He decided not to have any feelings of affection! "We can always wait until we get up there. There are beautiful celestial ladies above, so why be confined here? From today, we decide not to have feelings of affection among ourselves, refrain from doing any good or bad things, and see if we can go out or not." We still couldn't get out, because the angels had thought of it. They are smarter than us; perhaps they were afraid of us, because we were really "terrific".
So, there is a third barrier after the second one. How does the third barrier stop us? We have no feelings of affection, and we have not done any good or bad things, then what else can confine or control us? Do you remember what is the characteristic of the third realm? It is the power of Creation. The Brahma is the creator within the three realms. The so-called creator that we know is only within the three realms. The creator recognized by most of us is this Brahma.
How can the angels bind us while giving us this power of the creator at the same time? It is because, though we have reached that level, we still have the ego. We still remind ourselves not to do good or bad things. Since we have the power, intelligence and will to control ourselves, we still have the ego. If we have the magical power to create something, we'll be even more arrogant. Although this arrogance is a nobler one, it is still arrogance.
"Wow! I am great! Now I can write poems, play the piano, paint, and do anything. Many of my abilities have emerged!" Consequently, we become more arrogant. As we are still within the three realms, we cannot control the ego. We have not trained our morality, suppressed the ego everyday, and learnt to be humble; so the more we have achieved or created, the greater is our arrogance. That is how we are stuck there.
Or, we will be very proud if we have become wiser or more fluent in debating. "I am better than he, as he lost the debate to me. I am a graduate, he is not. I can do this while he can't..." Just for example, or: "I am remorseful, he is not. People say that Master loves people who are remorseful! You see I am remorseful. I am really great!" Can you imagine that even repentance can lead to arrogance? Anything that we can create can make us feel proud. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for us to transcend the third realm. Everyone just keeps transmigrating within the three realms, thinking that they are supreme and very great.
People who are humble would say: "Wow! I am very humble; I am humbler than he. Who is humbler than I?" People who are close to Master would think that they are great. "Master trusts me! There must be something special about me." Those who cannot get close to Master would console themselves: "Those people close to Master are demons. (Master and everyone laugh.) I am not seriously ill, so Master doesn't call me to Her side. (Master and everyone laugh.)
The angels were really ingenious; I truly admire them! This is the only way to control human beings, because we are extremely clever, aren't we? We can make anything. We can go to the bottom of the sea, traverse outer space, and land on Mars. We have not even spared the moon; only the sun is too hot, (Master and everyone laugh) so we don't dare to get too close. Otherwise, the sun would soon be trembling. It fears that we might go and rob its heat energy, (Master and everyone laugh) and leave it frozen to death. (Master and everyone laugh.) We have already started to steal its heat, haven't we? (A: Solar energy) We are making this and conceiving that. The sun is beginning to shiver.
Wow! It is horrible! Who can stop us? We even massacre our own kind, so who can intimidate us? People of this country are killing those in another country; this person is killing that person; it is an atmosphere of struggling for life and death! Fighting is going on everyday. We don't even have sympathy on our own kind, who else would we be afraid of? The angels are invisible to us, and they also have no relationship with us, so we'd just steal from them if we could. The system within the three realms that confines us here is truly incredible, and is more powerful than any magical powers that we have learnt. Otherwise, with the magical power that we had learnt then, we could break through thirty realms, not to mention only three! Previously, we could tear open the defensive layer of the planets and go up.
Originally, each planet had its defense shield. People couldn't break through if they didn't know the method. The angels were so stupid that they taught us how to dissolve the magnetic field; subsequently we managed to break through. Otherwise, we could never do it. It is just like each nation has its frontier guarded by the customs and police officers. Only when you have a visa will they allow you to enter and live there for a limited period of time.
Originally they didn't mean to strike our earth so forcefully. As they wanted to destroy our powerful weapons, they had to use very great force. Not only our earth was affected, several planets close to us or on the same orbit as us were influenced by the blow. Consequently, the plants on some planets completely vanished. No humans could live there, and the soil became unfit for agriculture. It become very dangerous on these planets, because there was no air or protective atmosphere. Humans would die if they lived there, so they dug holes and lived underground. Even the trees and flowers were moved underground. Houses were also built there, with a protective shield above them. If they wanted to go out, they had to open the gate quickly and rush into the UFO. When they came back, they again rushed down from the UFO. They could not expose themselves to the air, or they would be killed. The atmosphere was so highly toxic that it was lethal to both plants and humans.
For instance, we know that some gases are poisonous and lethal. We will get ourselves killed if we are careless. Those planets affected by the blow produced a toxic atmosphere that was lethal to life forms. Of course, the situation would improve after several thousand years, but not recover fully. Therefore, we cannot say that, when we alone or our planet has done something, we are the only ones to bear the consequences. Sometimes, other people are also affected.
At that time, we went up to attack several planets, and naturally they retaliated. Though the Buddhas told them not to do it, that was their natural reaction. As a result, they also incurred karma that they had to repay later. This was really troublesome.
The Fourth Realm -- A Safety Zone Shielding The Pureland.
Finally, there is the fourth realm -- the last safety zone. It is similar to the prison that we put the prisoners in. Though they might have gained more freedom, learnt to be smarter, and look better outwardly, we cannot let them loose on the streets because they are still prisoners! They have not paid for their crimes or served their term. Having too much freedom may make them feel restless and act rebelliously. So, we still need an outer wall. They are free to pass through several gates without the guards interfering, but they must go back to sleep in their cells at night, to keep them from doing bad things. They are not sure what they are thinking of inside. They only look good on the outside, but we cannot read their minds. That is why the wall is necessary.
Similarly, we have supposedly become very benevolent when we have reached the third realm. For instance, we are not bound by any feelings of affection, we can control ourselves, we have wisdom, eloquence in speech and the power of the creator. However, no one knows whether or not we are virtuous within, and have reached the egoless state. So, we are not allowed to go up at will. What if we learn some reckless things, and then come back to hurt people? We might even attack the angels like what we did before. Therefore, it is not safe enough to have only three barriers!
We will regain our freedom at the fourth realm. We are more free since we have no karma, and we have power and wisdom. However, our inner soul is still under observation. Therefore, the higher we go, the more trials we will encounter. Sigh! The Gods/Buddhas dare not trust us anymore. What if we attack their thrones with guns and knives? (Master and everyone laugh.) We might threaten the Quan Yin Bodhisattva, or demand Shakyamuni Buddha to surrender: "Quickly summon all Your disciples (Master and everyone laugh) and tell them to obey our orders!" Seeing that Shakyamuni Buddha was being held hostage, they wouldn't dare to do anything, and all the angels would surrender. Can you imagine what kind of situations could happen?
That is why the fourth realm is so vast and dark, so long and difficult to pass through. It is the last protective zone of the superior worlds. When we reach the third realm, we are already something. We have magical powers, are clever, able to invent things, and free from the bondage of feelings of affection. Wow! We have strong willpower and incredible power! If we go up to plunder their world, the Buddhas would be in grave trouble. It would be too late to stop us!
Therefore, the fourth realm is the most difficult to pass through. Without an enlightened Master as guarantor, we can never make it. We are allowed to roam about freely in the third or even the fourth realm, we can stay there. We can fly around freely, and enjoy the light of sixteen thousand suns; but that is all, nothing more. We can go anywhere except upwards. The hidden passage will not appear to you unless you have an enlightened Master guiding you. It is like a secret door that requires a secret code to open. Only one or two persons know it, just like a national defense secret. Some buttons or secret codes are known only to a limited number of people in the Defense Department. No one else knows; because they fear it will be found out by enemy spies, then they will be in trouble.
Now you know what the four realms are for? Isn't it a very logical system? (A: Yes) It is nothing mysterious. You don't have to guess blindly or doubt my words. "Why is it like this? Is it really like this?" Do you have anymore doubts? (A: No)