Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra – Excerpt Thirty-Three

People in the world strive for things of little urgency. Amidst extreme evils and severe sufferings, they diligently work . . . dictated by their minds. . . . Whether they have or do not have, they worry.

“People in the world strive for things of little urgency.” “People in the world” refers to the beings in the Six Paths. “Of little urgency” means of no importance. The beings in the Six Paths all busy themselves with unimportant things and forget the important things such as (1) knowing the truth of life and the universe, (2) understanding the transmigration within the Six Paths, and (3) transcending the Six Paths.

“Extreme evils and severe sufferings” are karmic results. “Extreme” means severe. “Severe evils” refers to the Ten Evil Karmas: the physical karmas of killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct; the verbal karmas of false speech, divisive speech, harsh speech, and enticing speech; and the mental karmas of greed, anger, and ignorance. As the Ten Evil Karmas increase continually, they are called “extreme evils.” When one commits such extreme evils, how can one not suffer retribution! Great suffering is transmigration within the Six Paths; small suffering is the suffering in one’s present life, from birth to death.

“They diligently work . . . dictated by their minds.” “Mind” refers to greed, anger, ignorance, deluded mind, and wandering thoughts. In this kind of environment, people work hard and busy themselves every day simply out of “greed, anger, ignorance,” and for “fame, prestige, gain, wealth,” the Five Desires, and the Six Dusts.

“Whether they have or not, they worry.” When one obtains something, one is afraid of losing it. When one does not have something, one craves it. So one worries both ways: when one has something and when one does not. This is the true picture of society and the world presently.