He goes on...People who eat pungent plants and also cultivate samadhi will not be protected by the Bodhisattvas, gods, immortals, or good spirits of the ten directions. Who is referred to here? Whoever eats the five pungent plants. If you eat them, it's referring to you. If I eat them, it's referring to me. The text leaves the matter open. Why don't dharma protectors and good spirits guard such people? Because they smell too bad.
And also...When their lives end, these people will join the retinue of demon kings. This refers to people who eat the five pungent plants. Because they eat such things, the gods, immortals, Bodhisattvas, and good spirits do not protect them. Therefore, the demon kings who possess great power can have their way with them. The demon king appears as a Buddha and speaks demonic dharma to them, praising sexual desire, anger, and stupidity. Having been confused by the demons, these people lose their proper knowledge and proper views and any real wisdom. Instead, they harbor deviant knowledge and deviant views.
This is all from:http://www.cttbusa.org/shurangama7/shurangama7.aspAnanda, have you been listening? Those who cultivate for Bodhi, anybody on the path to Bodhi, should never eat the five pungent plants. You definitely must stop eating onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, and chives. If you eat these things, you can end up in the company of the demon kings. If you don't eat these things, you can join the Buddha's retinue. This is the first of the gradual stages of cultivation. This is the first step of progress for a cultivator of the Way.
In cultivation, one must get rid of the causes which aid in the creation of bad karma. The five pungent plants are one cause which aids the demon kings. You should not regard them as unimportant. The five pungent plants make you turbid and confused. They make you impure, and your impurity puts you together with the retinue of demon kings, for the more impure one is, the better they like it.
Now I respect the good work that the Master has done to teach/popularize Buddhism in the USA and the world. I just cannot help but find these statement in the commentary about the 5 pungent plants so preposterous that they're hard to take seriously. I also realize that Master Hsuan Hua has also made some controversial statements about homosexuality, divorce, and Tibetans that have been discussed elsewhere on this forum. All things considered, I cannot help but think that Master Hsuan Hua was excessively preoccupied with literalism and traditionalism, although he probably was motivated by genuine compassion and meant well.
1) Do you think it's a good idea to abstain from the five pungent plants?
2) To what extent do you find it possible to respect a Master while still strongly disagreeing with him on some points?