Buddhism in Plain Terms

Buddhism in Plain Terms | Karma Is Created With Each Arising of Thought | 9 May 2020

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Time : Saturday 2pm-4pm
Platform : ZOOM Cloud Meeting


On 9 May 2020, Guan Yin Citta, Singapore held yet another online Buddhism in Plain Terms (BIPT) Group Study (in English).

The theme of the week was ‘karma is created with each arising of thought’. Participants first read about how boundless virtues can be obtained, and were reminded to always unconditionally dedicate themselves to the well-being for others. The peaceful atmosphere of the session provided space for all to pause and give rise to introspective thoughts with regards to the emptiness of giving. The discussion continued with questions about distracting thoughts that are hard to control as Buddhist friends gave each other practical solutions to a problem faced by all in their journey of spiritual cultivation. By encouraging each other to overcome such thoughts in order to cease the creation of karma, the group study provided a platform in which all participants reinforced their understanding of Buddhist teachings and were showered with dharma bliss.


Let us now look at some comments from participants:
Since the discussion is conducted in English, I enjoy being able to take down more notes. The Buddhist friends who shared were very good and knowledgeable, and the topics of discussion were very applicable and beneficial. Being cooped up at home, I’ve been having a lot of distracting thoughts myself and am often unmotivated to be diligent in spiritual cultivation so I really appreciate the group study in breaking the tedium and giving me positive energy.


? Next Buddhism in Plain Terms English Group Study:

⏰ Date and time:
Saturday 16 May 2020
2-4 pm


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

09052020 BHFF summary_Episode 1 (Part 2)


Buddhism in Plain Terms – Episode 1 (Part 2)

Karma Is Created With Each Arising of Thought


Topic 1 & 2 – “How do we achieve ‘boundless virtues’? “Why shouldn’t we brag about the good we do?”

Many people constantly say “I want to attain Buddhahood, I want to attain enlightenment in this lifetime, I want my prayers to be answered”. Those needs are in fact not known to the Buddha.  That’s because no matter what we do, the Buddha expects nothing from us.  In our conduct and endeavours, do not allow ourselves to succumb to selfish thoughts. When you truly care about others and live for others, your power of vows emerges. There are many people, you think they do not have the power of vows? They do, but where is it? It resides within one’s mind. It’s not something to brag about. It is when you make the hard efforts behind the scenes walking on the path of fulfilling your vows. When you have the power of vows, you must also take action. Only when you do that you shall be accomplished in your spiritual cultivation. 

That’s why I say to you, the Buddha has never thought about becoming a Buddha, neither has he thought that he needs to help others. But on a daily basis, he does what a Buddha does – helping sentient beings become spiritually awakened. How could he not attain Buddhahood?  If you want to be a good person, as long as you perform good deeds every single day and you never think about being a good person, doesn’t that make you a good person?  Where does merit and virtue come from? It’s by doing and toiling in silence. That’s why if a person could do away with their shortcomings, do away with their greed, hatred and ignorance, this person is already diligently cultivating on the Buddha’s path.

Every person typically has their wants and needs. But if you seek them, you will be concerned about the gain and loss. Hence, when a person prays for something and says, “I have got to have that”, then they’ll harbour a sense of gain or loss. No matter what we do today, let there be no desires. Think, “I ought to be a Bodhisattva. I ought to learn Buddhism. When I dedicate myself to the well-being of others my dedication is unconditional as I expect nothing in return”. You won’t succeed in your practice if you fail to think this way. Why is it that some people give but don’t get what they want? That’s because when they gave, they were thinking of reciprocity.

When a person gets something in return naturally, that is because he truly practised giving. The Buddha has never thought about gaining anything from us, but he has been constantly helping us.  Isn’t that our blessings? Isn’t it like when we perform meritorious deeds and Buddha gives us blessing? That’s why we must learn how to garner boundless virtues and boundless blessings.

How can one obtain boundless virtues? They come from observing the precepts. Where do boundless virtues come from? They come from your unconditional and selfless deeds, when a person selflessly helps others. They have virtues. Hence, as Buddhists, we should be selfless, be morally upright.  Help others. Think about it, when you are helping others, haven’t you also gained something? All these theories may seem empty on the surface. To cultivate a mind that is selfless and without the notion of self isn’t an easy task.

But in reality in our daily lives, many people are indeed making efforts selflessly. That’s what I often say to you that mothers are selfless. They selflessly take care of their child and their family without thinking about gaining anything in return. They just give all they can. This is selflessness.  That’s why mothers are greatly respected.  A common saying goes, “Mothers are the greatest”. Am I right? That’s why, when you do something selflessly, you eliminate the notion of “self”. You’d think, “nothing, I didn’t do any meritorious deed”. Just like when a person has done many good deeds. “Oh you have done so much, boundless merits and virtues”; “No, I didn’t do anything, I haven’t done anything meritorious or virtuous”. But do you have merits and virtues? Yes, you do.  There is no need to blow your own horn. This is the way to conduct yourself when practising Buddhism.

Merits and virtues are in our every thought. How does your merit come about? The moment you have the thought of helping someone, you have accumulated merits “I need to help him, I need to save him, I need to assist him”. These are merits. When you actually do it, you have accumulated virtues. Due to your virtues, you contribute your time, you contribute your energy, you give up so many for the benefits of others. That means you have reached a formless state of spirituality. You do things only for others, not for yourself. That means the Way of Discipline already takes root in your mind. Do you know what’s the Way of Discipline? Discipline as in observing the precepts. Way, as in the Way of Buddhism. If a person aspires to be a Buddha, they must observe the precepts.  When you are able to control your desires and you go and help others, you have mastered the Way of Discipline.


Topic 3&4

– “Why do I have so many distracting thoughts that I can’t even control?”

– “I know that with each thought that arises in me, I am generating karma. But how can I overcome such thoughts?”

In our daily interactions, in our daily lives we have too many selfish and distracting thoughts. We have too many desires every day. All these delusional and distracting thoughts such as “I want this and I also want that”. Delusional thoughts like these show that you can’t control your thoughts and the motion of your mind. Do you know what “setting your mind in motion” means? When someone tells you something, the moment that your mind moves, this is setting your mind in motion. What are thoughts? When you see delicious food or something appealing you want them. This is when the thought arises: ”I don’t understand this”. Thoughts arise again. Hence, when a person gives rise to thoughts, they have already taken action following their karma. Hence, the law of karma is very serious. Karma is like the shadow that never leaves us. We can’t rid ourselves of it.

Hence, if our mind is impure, you’ll definitely sow the seed, and consequences will follow. That’s why people often say “What are the consequences?” Actually, you know the best – if you stole something today, the consequence is that you’ll eventually get arrested. If you bad-mouthed somebody today, the consequence is that you’ll be scolded by that person. Am I right?  You reap what you sow. If you sow the seed of wholesomeness, you’ll reap fruits of wholesomeness. If you sow the seed of purity, you’ll reap the fruit of purity. If you sow the seed of harmony, you will reap the fruit of harmony. So if you truly observe the precepts,  you will attain the fruit of discipline, the fruit of discipline. 

For someone who’s good at following the precepts. People will say: “Oh, you are so disciplined”; “how can you not be angry? how can you let it go so easily?”; “how is that you are always so clear-sighted, and able to let it all go so easily?”; “Why aren’t you angry even a tiny bit?” This kind of person knows very well that today will never be the same as tomorrow and vice-versa.  This is a very wise person. Is today the same as tomorrow?  No, it’s not. Is tomorrow the same as next week? No, it’s not. Is next week the same as next month? No, it’s not. Is next month the same as next year? No, it’s not. Everything is subject to change. Hence, everything dwells in impermanence.

Our weakness lies in our inability to see through the reality of things. We keep digging deeper and deeper into a problem, spending all our time thinking about it.  But we break our precepts whenever we give rise to thoughts. Can you name a day that you didn’t break the precepts? While driving you see a beautiful lady, if you catch one more glimpse of her, you have broken the precepts; Today, you walked past a good-looking guy and if you catch one more glimpse of him you have broken the precepts too. As a Buddhist practitioner, if you feel that you should go and take a little bit more, you have broken the precepts again. Everything stems from the thoughts you give rise to.

< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享