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降魔 Subjugating Demons
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Subjugating Demons


Many people are frightened of demons. In order to drive away negative forces or subjugate devils, humans have come up with various methods, including the wrathful incantations recited by some Buddhists. But regarding demons as evildoers and vanquishing them with animosity run completely against the Buddhist’s basic philosophy.


The foundation of Buddhism is love and compassion; anything that deviates from this basis is non-Dharma. In the animal kingdom, crows are known to repay parents’ kindness by bringing food to them, and lambs take mother’s milk on bent knees. How could we Mahayana practitioners who should have generated the precious bodhichitta, indulge in subjugating enemies and turning a blind eye to the sufferings of our parents of the past? In the secret Mantrayana there are special ways to subdue heretics or demons that commit pernicious acts. However, only accomplished masters can legitimately practice subjugation and transfer the “liberated” consciousness to the Pure Land. No permission has ever been given to common people who lack such capabilities. Moreover, the prerequisite of all subjugation practices is bodhichitta; lacking it, one is likely to call in more and more malevolent gods and demons.


Performing acts of generosity and arousing bodhichitta will render one immune to the harms inflicted by all kinds of demons. The Sutra on Amrita Deliberation states: “Anyone having engaged in the five conducts will be protected from the ills caused by demons or heretics enjoy a long life, and attain Buddhahood. What are these five? They are: having continuously given Dharma; having offered protection from fear to beings; having practiced love, compassion, joy, and equanimity; having mended worn-out stupas, and having always aroused bodhichitta toward beings. By possessing these five qualities one will be impervious not only to a demon’s attack but also to those from the demon’s accomplice.”


In this degenerate period when beings’ greed is raging, people tend to regard misfortunes—having nightmares, losing possessions, being ravaged by epidemics or troubles—as harms inflicted by demons or as a result of being possessed by them. At this critical juncture, we must not engender enmity against external objects, but rather always arouse strong compassion toward all beings involved. If we practice as prescribed in the scriptures, the Buddha’s adamantine words will never fail us. Negative conditions will certainly be pacified while favorable ones arise; nightmares and demonic influences will also disappear. In the end, we will accomplish the two accumulations and attain the two benefits.


But nowadays, fewer and fewer people are willing to perform authentic Dharma practices while more and more are drawn into the fold of perverted views. What a shame it is indeed!


30th of May, Year of RenWu
July 10, 2002

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