In ‘Possessed’ is an interesting scene of how a ‘sha-(C)on-man’ persuaded a (D)evotee to part with her money. As follows is the dialogue with comments between… C: You need to throw one. D: Are you talking about ‘gut’ [ritual for clearing bad fortune]? C: Gut! Very good! Being quick-witted will get you far. [She was however not quick-witted enough to not go for his services in the first place, or to discern his quicker-witted trickery.] D: I hear it costs a lot though. C: Lady, what nonsense are you spewing? Your husband will finally get promoted after four years, and your precious son will get into a prestigious college. How dare you say chump change is not worth it? [If these promised boons do not come true, he will say that something else is not right, that needs another ritual.]
D: I mean, if only what you say comes true, then… C: Wait, are you doubting me? D: No, not exactly. [It is right to doubt the doubtful though, especially those who insist they should not be doubted.] C: I won’t force you. The choice is yours. Sigh… I will say this though. Luck has made its way to your family this year. A huge amount of luck is circling around your family. However, a tiny amount of bad luck came along with it. If you don’t stop it while you can, the huge amount of good luck will vanish into thin air. [There is no luck, but only karma, that is shaped and reshaped by one’s efforts. There is emphasis on good fortune coming, which already promises glad payment of his services, while there is opportunistic greed for more by fear-mongering speak of potential bad fortune.]
D: Like you said, it is only a tiny amount of bad luck. Maybe the good luck can overpower it. [Major and minor ‘units’ of positive and negative karma can alternate. Only when the form of positive karma ripening in the moment is adequate for countering the form of negative karma ripening in the moment, can the first overpower the latter. Fresh karma can be created for this effect too.] C: Nonsense! Hah! So this is what it’s like to talk to an ignorant ‘soul’. Lady, look closely. (Thumps a bottle of water on the table) Here are two litres of good luck…
(Opens a bottle of ink) Just like your ignorant mind thinks, here is that tiny amount of bad luck. It’s one or two grams at most. (Holds up ink dropper and adds ink to water, which quickly diffuses throughout the bottle, as he grins) D: Oh! Okay, fine, I’ll do it. Perform the gut. C: Wire a big one by the end of the day. D: A big one? One million won? C: Hahahaha. That ignorance of yours must have swallowed up a digit. D: Wait… you mean, ten million won? (C silently agrees) [D’s ignorance let S swallow up ten million won.]
This happens to be a good analogy on how a little ignorance is already enough to ruin one’s existing good fortune. It can also be used to demonstrate how a little ink (which represents poisonous wrong teachings) can corrupt a full bottle of water (which represents pure teachings), which is why problematic teachers who give no room for reasonable enquiries or suggested corrections should be renounced immediately. Worse than black ink that is easy to see, colourless ‘spiritual’ misconceptions are hard to filter away, with it subtly mixed with what seems ‘alright’. The most cunning poison will appear sweet as nectar, enticing more of it to be drunk, till one is so severely poisoned that one defends the poison as pure.
While those discerning enough will be able to filter away the poison, those not tend to assume they are discerning enough, which is why they keep drinking it. Those discerning enough will realise the tiresome effort needed to filter, and thus stop taking even a sip. However, those not discerning enough will not see the filtering needed, and happily drink it all up, thinking they are being well nourished. It is thus best to stay totally clear of even the subtly poisoned, to only learn the true teachings in the sūtras and their commentaries by great masters.
A minute spent on wrong teachings is a minute not spent on true teachings. One of Māra’s ways of destroying our attention on the right Dharma is by distracting us to no end with pseudo-Dharma, making us believe it is right Dharma, or that there is still some right Dharma within worthy of attention. Māra also wastes the time of those teaching the right Dharma by getting them to pick apart wrong teachings point by point, even though doing this is sometimes crucial when there are many misled by them. Time is better directly spent on the right Dharma!
Verse On Buddha’s & Patriarchs’ Teachings
(Who Should We Learn The Dharma From?)
How To Discern What To Believe In?
Verses On The Ancients’ Adequacy
Not ‘Possessed’ Of Enough Compassion & Wisdom