Disclaimer: For non-Muslims or Buddhists only unless if you are reading this for knowledge purpose. This is a Q&A with HH Sakya Trizin.
This is a continuation from part 4.
Q: Are the hells metaphors for states or amounts of suffering or do they really exist as described in the Buddhist ‘Sutras’?
A: Something really exists, I think. Actually it says in the Sutras that they really exist much more terribly than they are described because, it says, the Buddha didn’t fully describe them. If he fully described them, people would have fainted.
Q: How real are they?
A: They are real as the life we have today. Yes, many people think that they are not real, like a dream. But actually, we are happy and unhappy in dreams, just as real as we are when we are awake. This present experience also is not real, but we think everything around us is real. Hell is as real as this. Of course hell, also, in reality, is not real. This is also not real. What is this, then?
Q: Do the Buddhas suffer?
A: No, they never suffer. They are absolutely free from sufferings.
Q: Do they see suffering?
A: They don’t see suffering, either.
Q: Then how can they help people who are suffering?
A: They don’t suffer. This answer is one of the differences between the Sakya and Gelugpa orders; the Gelugpas say that the Buddhas do see suffering and we say that they do not. The man who has awakened from sleep doesn’t have dreams. This impure Samsaric scene of suffering is like a dream; it’s like an illusion. So the man who has awakened from this illusion can never dream again. But, due to his Bodhicitta, (Enlightenment-mind) and his compassion, help for others spontaneously arises. But the Buddha himself never sees suffering. For him, all things are transformed into pure appearance.
Q: Is the Buddha involved in ‘Karma’?
A: He has achieved the final Karmic result, the highest and the best possible results of Karma.
Q: Can anything happen to us that is not the result of our own actions?
A: No, never.
Q: Can the Buddha perceive the results of his or other’s acts?
A: Yes, for instance, there have been many prophecies, but I don’t think the Buddha sees or perceives these results. Where there is a need for a prophecy, it just arises spontaneously.
Q: Can we modify the results of past acts?
A: Certainly. The Vajrasattva meditation can purify many of our past bad actions, but in any case, the creation of good causes and merit is very helpful and necessary.
In the next part, we will get more answers from HH on Buddhism.
Disclaimer: This interview was taken from the book "Pointing Towards Vajrayana" published by The Singapore Buddha Sasana Society Sakya Tenphel Ling. The Palden Sakya Centres of American Buddhism Sakya Shei Drup Ling actually holds the right of this text.