The Buddha said that one can go off course because of four reasons:
- Because of desire
- Because of anger
- Because of stupidity
- Because of fear
- Because of desire: such as those who practice Tantric Buddhism because they seek special powers.
- Because of anger: such as those who practice Chan Buddhism and like to use their spiritual strength to impose their will on others.
- Because of stupidity: such as those who practice Pure Land Buddhism but never learned how to recite the Buddha’s name properly and yet believe that they can certainly go to the Pure Land.
- Because of fear: such as those who never dare face their own inner fear. They fail to comprehend that fear is a very subtle manifestation of a self. Without seeing the root cause of fear, they continually revolve on the Reincarnation Wheel.
It is much safer to follow the pathways charted by the Patriarchs. Let us study the Patriarchs of old and use their teachings as reference points to compare the teachings of modern day teachers. That way we are less likely to go off course.