Dragons are one of the four mythical creatures symbolic of propsperity and longevity, namely phoenix, turtle , dragon, and the Chinese unicorn. There used to be a lot of dragons and people could see them. How come now, the dragons do not appear anymore? It is because there are too many people now and the dragons are too afraid to come out.
Dragons live in dragon palaces and their palaces are in the sea, not in the air. Although dragons do not live in the air, when they gather the clouds and let down rain, they will spread out colorful coulds across the sky. At this time, some people might look up to the sky and see palaces in the air, so they presume dragons live in the air.
Dragons belong to the animal realm, but they are different from ordinary animals because they have spiritual powers. What kind of spiritual powers? They can transform from big to small, from small to big. When they are big, they can fill up the entire ocean. When they are small, they can hide inside a mote of dust. They can appear and disappear at will. Their transformations are limitless and inconceivably wonderful. Dragons constantly dwell in a kind of concerntration known as the “Nāga-Samadhi”. Their ability to transform comes from this samadhi.
What do dragons look like? Ordinary people don’t know. Only sages who have opened the five eyes know what dragons really look like. The dragons depicted by Chinese artists have horns, scales, prominent eyes, a large mouth, whiskers, four feet, a long body and a short tail. The artists paint only the dragon’s head and not its tail. The saying, “You can see only a divine dragon’s head, not its tail” refers to the sense of mystery of dragons. Why did the Chinese paint dragons that way? Because there was a Dhyana Master who saw a dragon in his samadhi that looked like that.
So, how did dragons came about? Do not look down on dragons just because they belong to the animal realm. In their past, they were practitioners of the way. Since they “quick with the vehicle and slow in precepts”, they have fallen into the animal realm. What does that mean? When they were cultivating the way, their have a quick temper and would get angry at anything but they diligently cultivate the way, not fearing sufferings and difficulties. Since they diligently cultivate the way, and were quick learners, they had spiritual powers. However, they do not uphold the precepts, they do not take precepts seriously, especially not cutting off lustful thought, they have fallen into the animal realm.
There are different varieties of dragons, such as gold, white, blue, and black dragons. Some dragons are born from embryos, some from eggs, some from moisture. Others are by transformation which are also known as two-horned young dragons, eagle dragons, single-horned dragons, black dragons, celestial dragons, earthly dragons, imperial dragons, human dragons, fish-transformed dragons, horse-transformed dragons, elephant-transformed dragons, and toad-transformed dragons. Those who are born from eggs are the least intelligent while those born from transformation are the most intelligent.
Dragons have such inconceivable transformation abilities, in theory they should be very happy. However, dragons undergo four kinds of sufferings:
(1) the suffering of being swallowed by golden-winged peng birds: the golden-wing peng birds specialize in eating dragons, their eye sights are especially sharp and can see as far as 108,000 miles away, the instant dragons appear, they will swoop down and gobble them up they way we swallow noodles. What happens to dragons when they see golden-wing peng birds? They lose all their spiritual powers and freeze in place, they become motionless and wait helplessly to be gobbled-up. Why? It is because the golden-wing peng birds specialize in subduing dragaon. Dragons becomes very tame once they see the golden-wing peng bird. Although dragons have spiritual powers, they finished once they see golden-wing peng birds.
(2) the suffering of manifesting their original form during intercourse. When dragons are engages in intercourse, they no longer look like dragons with golden-colored scales, golden-colored teeth and golden-colored horns. They assume their original form and look like snakes.
(3) the suffering of having parasites lodge in their scales. Dragon palaces are not warm at all, its always cooling. However, under every scale, parasites lodge there and bite them, making it unbearbly itchy all over.
(4) the suffering of rubbing its body against hot sand: dragons are afraid of being hot, especially when the sun is basking. When dragons come out to play or do something, they are always protected under the shade of colorful clouds. However, when the bites of the bugs become unbearable, what do they do? In broard day light, they will come out of the water and rub their body against the sand of beach. The sand is burning hot from the sun, when they rub their bodies against the sand, their entire body feel like being scorn with fire.
The dragons’duty is to spread clouds and make the rain fall. But there are five situations under which they cannot make rain:
(1) when the fire element is in prevalence,
(2) when the wind is blowing and the clouds dispersing,
(3) when the asuras condense the clouds into the ocean,
(4) when the rainmakers are careless, or
(5) when living beings’ karmic offenses are heavy.
Dragon King Virupaksha gained a passage into liberation of dispelling the burning agony of all those in the path of dragons.
Dragon King Sagara gained a passage into liberation of manifesting the bodies of limitless sentient beings by transforming his own dragon body in a single thought.
Dragon King Banner of Cloud-like Sounds gained a passage into liberation of uttering the ocean of the Buddha’s boundless names with a refreshing sound amidst all destinies.
Dragon King Mouth Aflame gained a passage into liberation of universally appearing in boundlessly many Buddhalands differently established.
Dragon King Blazing Eyes gained a passage into liberation of learning how the Thus Come One’s kind sympathy dispels coverings and fetters of all sentient beings’ hatred and delusion.
Dragon King Banner of Clouds gained a passage into liberation of revealing to all sentient beings the sea of great happiness, joy, and blessings.
Dragon King Taksaka gained a passage into liberation of eradicating all fears by means of a pure sound that rescues and protects.
Dragon King Boundless Stride gained a passage into liberation of manifesting all Buddhas’ bodies as well as the successive stages of their dwelling.
Dragon King Swift Pure Color gained a passage into liberation of giving rise to the ocean of all sentient beings’ great aspirations and happiness.
Dragon King Booming Sounds Carrying Everywhere gained a passage into liberation of manifesting all impartial, delightful, and unobstructed sounds.
Dragon King Free from Burning Afflictions gained a passage into liberation of a cloud of great compassion that overspreads everywhere, eradicating all the suffering in the world.