Buddhism in Plain Terms

Buddhism in Plain Terms | Controlling Our Thoughts, Letting Go and Cultivating Our Mind | 16 May 2020

< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享    

Time : Saturday 2pm-4pm
Platform : ZOOM Cloud Meeting
Topic of Discussion : Controlling our thoughts, letting go and cultivating our mind


On 16 May 2020, Guan Yin Citta, Singapore held yet another online Buddhism in Plain Terms (BIPT) Group Study (in English).

The theme of the episode was about controlling our thoughts, letting go and cultivating our mind. The group study delved headfirst into how our thoughts shape our lives and explored a tenet of spiritual cultivation — true cultivation is not about seeking something external but the cultivation of our mind. Participants also shared about the relationship between unmoving suchness and genuine cultivation of our thoughts where a Buddhist practitioner should aim to be free from all attachments. This thus inspired all Buddhist friends to strive to be liberated from any obstructions of the mind.

Next, the group also touched on how morality is actually the absence of evil thoughts, reinforcing just how important one’s thoughts are in our journey of spiritual cultivation. Finally, the session came to a close with a timely reminder to live by the precepts in order to allow for an equanimous mind. All in all, the group study provided much food-for-thought as we look forward to another mindful session next week!


Let us now look at some comments from participants:
“I am really grateful to all Buddhist friends who enriched my learning of Buddhism through this platform. I find that I am able to concentrate better through online learning and it can also accommodate more people. Hence, the online group study not only benefits Buddhist friends like me who are less well-versed in Chinese, it also allows those whose circumstances made it inconvenient to come to the practice centre to join in the learning and discussions online! It’s really true that spiritual cultivation and time will allow us to gain wisdom and start to see things differently, and I hope more Buddhist friends will participate in the study.”


? Next Buddhism in Plain Terms English Group Study:

⏰ Date and time:
Saturday 23 May 2020
2-4 pm


Please click here to download the Summary Slides shared during the Group Study:

BHFF_Summary_Episode 2 (Part1)_160520

Buddhism in Plain Terms – Episode 2 (Part 1)

Control Your Thoughts, Let Go And Cultivate The Mind


Topic 1 – “Cultivation of the mind – the face is the index of the mind”

True spiritual cultivation is not about seeking something external. Instead, it is the cultivation of your mind. Whatever your mind has received, it will surely reflect on the external appearance. When your mind fails to receive tolerance, forgiveness or happiness, you will appear fierce and aloof. Many people appear to be indifferent because deep down they couldn’t figure things out. They fail to observe the discipline of expression. There is such a discipline, when you see what you are not supposed to, you can’t allow your excitement to be written all over your face. Those unwholesome things, once you look at them and the joy is reflected on your face, then you are wrong.

Those who observe the precept should know the mind is not affected by the appearance, neither should it be affected by the precepts when being disciplined becomes their second nature. Just like when you stop your car at the red light. Will you still think that you are following the rules? When you see red light, you may think “Why do I stop here?” Why don’t you try moving and see what will happen?


Topic  2 – “The concept of “devoid of thought”

We should actively cultivate our thoughts by not thinking about it. What does that mean? When you have no thoughts, that’s when you are truly cultivating your thoughts, having no thoughts here, means you are devoid of any thoughts and you have to be active to practise it, to cultivate the thought. In other words, only when you have no thoughts, can you actively cultivate this very thought. If you are filled with thoughts, how do you cultivate these thoughts? “Not observing precepts in your heart.” What does that mean? If you cultivate while having thoughts, then you are not observing the precepts in your heart.

Hence, this is not the right path. The right path allows you to let go of afflictions and see the true nature of things where there are neither worries nor obstructions in the mind.  The mind is not attached to any form which means there is no notion of the mind. Some people ask if a person as the notion of the mind. A true cultivator has no obstructions in their mind, there is no such mind that I am going to cultivate. However, there are people who’d say that “I want to cultivate my mind with my utmost sincerity”. They say this because they are not sincere enough. That’s why they need to emphasise their sincerity when it comes to cultivating the mind. Do you understand? If you are already a devoted practitioner, would you still say that “I will cultivate with my utmost sincerity?” If you are a good person, would you still need to prove to others? You are a good person; you don’t need to make the announcement: “Hi the good man is here.”


Topic 3 – Morality is the absence of evil thoughts and greed

Please remember there are certain criteria for good and morality. What is good? It means the absence of evil thoughts and greed towards others. This is what good is about.  Have you been greedy today? Will a greedy person be wholesome? If you mistreated someone today, you hated someone badly, do you think you are a kind person? Hence, there is a term “fake do-gooder”. Such hypocrisy.

So, what do merit and virtue mean? What is the standard of morality? When you argue and fight with others, are you a virtuous person? No, you are not. That is why some people say, “You are immoral”.  Being immoral means a lack of morality. This is how “morally wrong” comes about. When a person claims that you lack morality, that’s because you are morally wrong. Just like some people who have no furniture in their house. But you have no morality. You are morally wrong. This is how immorality comes about.

Hence, you should practise Buddhism without having the notion of it, which means, spiritual practice has become your second nature. You should not even feel that you are cultivating the mind since you are already on the path of cultivation, you are already a good kid, you already know how to recite Buddhist scriptures. You don’t need to tell people that you are a practitioner.  Similarly, you are doing good deeds. Why do you need to tell others that you are a good person?

Many people do not even have basic morals, they are crooks. Though still alive, they are no different to those in hell. Think about it. Are we like this?  We scold others and they scold back. We hate others, and the feeling is mutual. We suffer when we hate others. That’s right! It’s typical of a scene in the underworld. When you are berated, you become angry, you are back in the underworld again. Just like this, you have been revolving in and out of the underworld, and with the final judgement, hell is exactly where you end up. Hence, just a thought can determine if we are a Buddha or a demon. That’s how it goes.


Topic 4 – Live by the Precepts”

As Buddhist practitioners, we should live by the precepts. Ultimately, to abide by the precepts is not an easy task, just like giving is not easy to practice. What is the true meaning of giving? When you feel that you have the right to this item, you simply refuse to give it away. It is the same logic as having a shortcoming if you refuse to deal with it, you will have to live with it. If you enjoy bad-mouthing others, and you refuse to give up this bad habit, you go on bad-mouthing others all the time, then you become an evil person in the end. Hence, when it comes to spiritual practice, how can we be successful? How can we accomplish this path of cultivation? It all comes down to your mind.

< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享