All the disasters in the world happen because people don't hold the Five Precepts and practice the Ten Good Acts. If everyone could hold the Five Precepts and follow the Ten Good Deeds, then all the disasters in the world would disappear. Just consider people's killing karma. The spirit of killing has really reached to the heavens. It is not just the killing karma of one person which has reached the heavens, but the killing karma of everyone has soared to the heavens. It's as if everyone harbors an atom bomb which is about to blow up. What's meant by the "atom bomb" that each person has? It's that person's afflictions. The momentum that has gathered from the afflictions of everyone is greater than the energy of an atom bomb. Just take a look. A11 the people throughout the world now have big tempers, they have lost their decency, and they've all turned into asuras. Asuras are solid in fighting. From morning to night they don't think of anything else but how to wage war against people - how to set off some type of weapon in order to destroy the opposition. It's the case that almost everyone in the world now has this type of thinking. They all want to destroy the other guy. And because of this, a killing energy pervades the three thousand great thousand worlds. This evil, vile energy fills up the atmosphere and causes many people to get weird sicknesses. Once they contract these types of diseases, they can't get well. No matter how progressive science is, there's no way to come up with a cure for these illnesses. Why is that? It's because the karma of killing has grown too heavy. Because the karma of killing is so heavy, it contributes to both man-made disasters and natural calamities. Earthquakes and other kinds of violent phenomena appear. Weird and incurable diseases abound. Once one contracts them, one cannot be saved. The karma of killing is the basis of all this upheaval and turmoil.

Again, notice how many people are blind, deaf, or mute. People who can't hear or talk are those who have created too much killing-karma. This killing-karma does not begin and end with this present life, but extends back to all the evil karma that has been created since beginningless kalpas. When such people created killing karma, they fell into the hells. Then they turned into hungry ghosts, and eventually they became animals. After being animals for awhile, bit- by-bit they recovered their higher capacities and finer intelligence and became humans again. But even after being reborn as humans, their six faculties are not complete. Perhaps they are completely without eyes or ears. Or they may have the sense organs themselves but not their functions. Perhaps their noses are defective, or their tongues do not work properly. In general, the six organs of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind are not perfect and complete. They must undergo that kind of retribution. Mutes don't know how to speak, all because of excessive killing-karma created in the past. Various different kinds of causes and conditions combine and lead to the retribution of being mute in this life.

One of the major reasons is that in the past they did not get to meet the Orthodox Buddhadharma, nor did they get to study under a Good and Wise Teacher. Without such opportunities, they fell further and further down. Once one falls into the six paths of rebirth, it's very hard to get out. The six paths are: gods, humans, asuras - the three good paths; and hell beings, hungry ghosts, and animals--the three evil destinies. When one does good and creates merit and virtue, then one is born into the good paths. But when one makes offenses and bad karma and transgresses, one is born into the three evil paths. The ancients put it very well in verse:

Out of the horse's belly, and into a donkey's womb,
How many times have you gone back and forth
before King Yama's Ha11?
You've just passed by Lord Shakra's Palace,
Only to end up being fried in the pot of King Yama.

People in this world are not born as people every time. Sometimes they are born as horses or donkeys or cows. They continue to "hang out" at King Yama's Ha11, like a guest who seems unwilling to leave. It isn't known how many times you have passed by his place. On the other hand, Lord Shakra's Palace is really luminescent and you have occasionally been by this royal palace, too. How did you happen to pass by Lord Shakra's Palace? It's because you were on your way to being born in the heavens. However, eventually you always end up in the frying pot of King Yama again. There, King Yama fries you in oil. And so it goes, as you revolve around the six paths.

It's really dangerous! There is no guarantee that in every life you will be able to practice good and create merit and virtue. There will certainly be times when you create offenses, transgressions, and evil karma. So sometimes you are born high, and sometimes you fall. Even as people, we are very muddled, we can't discriminate things very clearly. Nor can we tell exactly which direction we are headed in.

There are many different heavens included in the path of gods. The Heaven of the Four Kings, the Trayastrimsha Heaven, the Suyama Heaven, the Heaven of Peace and Comfort, and the Heaven of the Comfort from Others' Transformations. There are many different levels of heavens, and the living beings in each of them enjoy different kinds of blessings and rewards. But even the worse kind of suffering in the heavens is better by far than the best type of enjoyment found in this realm. Therefore, when people rise to the heavens, they don't want to come back down.

Then there's the path of the asuras. They are born in the heavens and have heavenly blessings, but not heavenly virtue, and therefore they don't have heavenly authority. They don't have the virtuous conduct of heavenly beings, so they don't have any power. And their name also means "no wine." That means that in the heavens they don't get any wine to drink. Because of that they want to fight for some wine. They are always battling with Lord Shakra. They want to usurp his position as King. So you could say that asuras are just the brigands of the heavens. We have bandits in the human realm and the heavens have their bandits too.

Asuras revolt against Lord Shakra, the Jade Emperor, who is just Lord God. They are always waging war against the heavenly troops and heavenly generals and often they defeat the Jade Emperor. Wars do happen even in the heavens. You shouldn't think it's a11 peaceful up there. After being born in the heavens, and completely using up their blessings, the beings there still have to fall. Then they might become cows or horses—it's not known for sure. Therefore, revolving within the six paths is absolutely too dangerous! You shouldn't linger on for the rewards of the heavens or the enjoyments of the human realm. The rewards of the heavens are not reliable, and even less so are the rewards of the human realm. So don't wait until you fall into the three evil destinies to think about cultivating, because then you won't get the chance. It's easier to cultivate in the human realm to become a Buddha. But once outside of the human realm, it's not easy at all.