The Sword of Wisdom 183

Ananda relayed Devadatta's message to Sakyamuni Buddha, who could easily have gone to hell as did Ananda, said, "How can I possibly go to hell?"

Later, when Devadatta received this answer, he asked, "If Buddha cannot come to hell, how can I leave it?"

The truth is that Buddha is everywhere, so he did not have to go. Devadatta did not leave hell because he realized Buddha was already there, and that there was no place to go. Going and coming are the same. Hell is as good a place as any. Nirvana is not apart from hell; therefore there is no hell to leave.

You might think that Devadatta was evil incarnate, but Sakyamuni considered him a Bodhisattva of the highest order, destined for Buddhahood. If you had the incorrect view ─ the conventional view ─ then you would perceive Devadatta as an evil being who will suffer incredible torment in hell because of his evil deeds, and that Sakyamuni would not go to hell because he is a being of goodness. But if you had the correct view ─ the Ch'an view ─ then you would see it as the Buddha perceived it.

If a person has problems with his practice, you should help him. If he has wrong ideas or perverted views, then you should be even quicker to help him. A person who misunderstands the story about Devadatta should be straightened out. However, you must be sure that you have clear and correct intentions when you correct someone.