Time : Saturday 2pm-4.15pm
Platform : ZOOM Cloud Meeting
Topic of Discussion : The Six Paramitas (Part 3) | Perfections of Diligence
On 5 September 2020, Guan Yin Citta, Singapore held yet another online Buddhism in Plain Terms (BIPT) Group Study (in English) that focused on the Perfection of Diligence, which constitutes one of the Six Paramitas or Perfections.
Master Lu once said, ‘Buddhism is akin to sailing against the current – if one fails to advance, one will retreat.’
As such, the two-hour session served as a reminder that Buddhist practitioners must remain steadfast in every step of their spiritual cultivation. This message was also effectively conveyed through some light and yet impactful short stories.
The facilitator put the true meaning of diligence in perspective, and debunked certain myths pertaining to the Perfection of Diligence. This allowed the participants to self-examine their level of diligence in their Buddhist cultivation. In a nutshell, one is deemed to be diligent if one is committed to making progress and desires to be enlightened and is filled with pure and righteous energy.
Master Lu once said, ‘Being diligent means not wasting a single minute. In this age of Dharma decline, you will not be able to accomplish anything, if you do not possess this quality.’
One good way to keep one’s diligence in check is group cultivation where one is surrounded by like-minded dharma practitioners. This explains why group study is so worthwhile.
The participants were advised to be mindful of their every word and deed, which is an ingredient for karmic obstacles. Failing to do so could bring about overwhelming consequences due to the law of accumulation.
An inspiring testimony sharing of a Buddhist friend shed some light as to what spurred him on to remain steadfast in his spiritual cultivation. The many instances where such heartfelt and candid testimonies are being shared have been beneficial to other Buddhist friends.
Last but not least, the participants were touched by the sobering words of Master Lu, ‘I have talked to you for so many years, how many more years do I have to talk to you? Essentially, *you can only depend on yourselves. You need to have self-awareness. Don’t muddle through life in this world, and keep falling down. You need to keep up, otherwise, you will be eliminated.’
Let us now look at some comments from participants:
This session has once again reminded me to contemplate on my level of diligence. Don’t wait for any conditions, put your heart in doing – ‘JUST DO IT’. An ‘aha!’ moment for me was that procrastination and laziness is truly the cause of our degeneration.
The most enlightening takeaway I had from the session is regarding a false sense of security. This really describes the stage that I am going through and this session is a wake up call for me. Deepest gratitude to all.
? Join us in our next session
Please contact Loh SX (96978356) / Woan Yi SX (82182248) for more information
⏰ Date and time:
Saturday 12 Sep 2020 (2.oopm – 4.00pm)
Please click here to download the Summary Slides shared during the Group Study:
< The Perfection of Diligence >
Common Terminologies used: 精进
Diligent, Steadfast, Dedicated to Progress, Forge ahead vigorously
Master Jun Hong Lu’s related discourses (cross references):
Diligence is the KEY TO SUCCESS!
Moral of the story:
As Buddhist practitioners, we should persist in being diligent in spiritual cultivation. With that, we will be able to overcome the countless troubles in the world and realise the pure land in us. When we take on the many sufferings in this world, we will usher the clear Buddha nature into our heart.
< WHY DO WE FAIL TO BE DILIGENT? >
< REASON WE FAIL TO BE DILIGENT (i)? YOU ARE LAZY! >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Hong Kong – 24 June 2015
Question: Master once said that practising Buddhism is akin to sailing against the current – if one fails to advance, they will retreat. This is a test every practitioner will encounter.
Is “non-diligent” caused by one’skarmic hindrances (业障的阻碍), lack of faith (道心不坚定), or could it be due to one’s ‘unenlightened’state (没有开悟)? How should we deal with such a shortcoming?
What you mentioned are the three causes for one to fail to be diligent. In addition to these, there is one more reason i.e. laziness. People are physically burdened which causes them to be lazy and feeling tired. For example, you planned to wake up at five in the morning to do chanting but then you feel, “Oh, I’m so tired, I can’t get up.”
I hope all of you will be diligent. At times, diligence depends on one’s power ofdetermination (愿力). That said, it is only when people suffer hardship thatthey willgive rise to this kind of willpower.
This is when they think, “I must do this… I must…”.
Withthis determination they will no longer be lazy nor will they regress.
That explains why “Diligence” is such an important subject. It’s easy to encounter the Dharma but to diligently accomplish this path is an arduous undertaking.
< REASON WE FAIL TO BE DILIGENT (ii)? YOU ARE TERRIBLY LAZY!! >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 86 (An excerpt)
In the past, there was a rich man who owned countless properties in Savatthi. This rich man had only one son, whose name was Nanda. Nanda was very lazy when he was young.
The only thing he did was lie on the bed, all day long. Though lazy, his wisdom was astounding. Even if he was always lying on his bed, he could totally understand whenever he heard the sutra being interpreted by others.
One day, the Buddha observed from afar and could feel that the rich man was very worried about his son. Hence, He and a few of his disciples paid a visit to the rich man. Strangely enough, as soon as Nanda saw the Buddha, he immediately got up, laid a seat and respectfully bowed to the Buddha.
The Buddha proceeded to enlighten Nanda with the essentials of the Dharma and reprimanded him, “You must stop dawdling in bed, leading such an idle life and give yourself to sloth”.
As Nanda was highly respectful of and trusted the Buddha, he began to feel remorseful for his bad habits, and felt very ashamed of himself.
Then The Buddha gave Nanda a sandalwood stick and told him: “My child, if you can be diligent in the future, you only need to tap the stick gently with a sincere heart and it will emit a beautiful melody. When the melody ends, you will see many treasures appear before your eyes from the underground.”…Nanda grew extremely curious and he became more diligent after that.
One day he tapped the sandalwood stick a few times “tap…tap…tap…” and true enough, a blissful melody filled the air. Treasures began to appear before him.
He was overjoyed and thought to himself: “I only put in such mere effort and look at this unbelievable reward! If I am willing to work much harder in the future, I am sure the reward will be boundless.”
From that moment on, Nanda changed his bed-dawdling bad habit. He even invited people to go to the sea to collect treasures, from pearls to agates and emeralds and each journey was a rewarding one.
Nanda also made food and drink offerings to the Buddha and the Bhikkhus.
He transformed himself into a very hardworking person.
The Buddha continued to preach the dharma to Nanda. One day, while listening to the dharma,Nanda felt a strong sense of dharma bliss washed over him. He immediately prostrated in admiration of the Buddha and made the following vows.
“May this virtuous offering be the eyes for the bewildered and ignorant beings in the future“;
“May those who have not taken refuge, take refuge”;
“May those who are helpless, find the help they need”;
“May those under bondage, gain liberation”;
“May those who are in distress, find peace and security”;
“May those who have yet to see the world as it really is, attain true nirvana”.
Hearing Nanda’s vows, the Buddha smiled gently and multi-coloured auspicious lights emitted from His mouth.
At this time, Venerable Ananda who was attending saw the rare smile on the Buddha’s face and he asked respectfully,
“Tathagata is noble and solemn, and never laughs casually. What had caused you that smile, my lord?”
The Buddha asked Ananda: “Did you see the once lazy Nanda, go into the sea to collect treasures, return with a full load every time, and make food offerings to us?”
“Yes, I did, my lord,” Ananda said.
The Buddha went on to explain: “I know that after three great asamkhyakalpas, Nanda will become a Buddha known as The Power of Diligence Buddha and he will save countless sentient beings, hence, I smile!”
Upon hearing these words of the Buddha, all the monks realised the importance of diligence; they rejoiced greatly and started to practise the teaching they received.
Moral of the story:
This story tells us that we can all become Buddhas – all it takes is a sincere heart because it is in the heart that the Buddha resides. We need to act in accordance with our inner compassion. Buddhism teaches us that, we should focus on taking care of our own inherent quality instead of getting ourselves tied up in the affairs of others. Start with our own selves, as only then, we can take care of others.
There is a truth that the Bodhisattva would like us to know and that is, a true spiritual cultivator will never see the faults of others. If we truly wish to accomplish our spiritual cultivation in this life, start by “helping” ourselves, as only then, we can help other predestined sentient beings in the world.
< Debunk the Myth of Diligence >
< Debunk the Myth of Diligence (i): IT IS NOT ABOUT THE TIME SPENT >
Wenda20200510 51:43 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program)
Caller: Master, with regards to the definition of Diligence, does it have to do with the time we spend on Buddhism related effort, besides reciting sutras, such as dharma propagation, studying Buddhism in Plain Terms etc. If that is the case, how much time do we need to spend to be regarded as being diligent?
Master Jun Hong Lu: It is not about the time spent, it is about your heart. If you are diligent in your mind (心一直在精进当中), even if you haven’t done a lot of things today, you are considered to be diligent.
Hence, it is about having a mind that is dedicated to progress (心精进). In everything you do, you should think, for example, “Here I am washing vegetables. Why am I washing vegetables? So that I can earn a living, so that I am able to help more sentient beings and be liberated from the cycle of rebirth (解脱).”
This is what it means by Diligence – where you connect your daily tasks with Bodhisattva. It is not about finding reasons, but rather to have a true understanding. And with such a concept in your mind, you can regard yourself as a diligent person.
< Debunk the Myth of Diligence (ii): IT IS NOT ABOUT TRYING HARD>
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse at Guan Yin Hall (An Excerpt) – 17 July 2018
If you are someone who is diligent in your spiritual cultivation (精进), you will immediately correct any shortcomings pointed out to you – this is what being “Diligent” is about. However, this explanation is not what you would usually hear from other venerableswhereby, “Diligent” is more commonly explained as “try hard not to slack”. Instead, I would like to turn this concept around to encourage all of you – the next time someone makes a comment about your shortcomings, you should immediately transform them because that is what steadfast in one’s practice means.
< Debunk the Myth of Diligence (iii): DILIGENCE IS WHEN YOU OVERCOME THE THREE POISONS >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 2 (An Excerpt)
A person who is able to let go of his shortcomings: the Greed, Hatred and, Ignorance in him, is in essence, a person who has dedicated himself to progress on this path of spiritual cultivation.
< Debunk the Myth of Diligence (iv): DILIGENCE IS WHEN YOU TRANSFORM YOUR THOUGHTS >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 24 (An Excerpt)
Many people say, “When I was little, fortune-teller told me that I will be blessed with good fortune (福气). But, why don’t I see any of these good fortunes now?”
It is because every day, you have too many worries (烦恼) and are living in distress, so much so that they are constantly consuming your good fortune (消耗你的福报). Your mind starts off being negative to being more negative and gets more and more negative to being permanently negative. This is the beginning of a web of evil thoughts with mutual influence.
If your mind goes from negative to positive, and you slowly transform your thoughts:
Every day, you are filled with commitments to make progress (向上精进) and desires to be enlightened (觉悟) and filled with all the pure (干净) and righteous energy (正能量). This is how you will gain self-improvement day by day.
< WHY SHOULD I BE DILIGENT? >
< Aviation Disaster – Spiritual Cultivation Disaster >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s World Buddhist Fellowship Meeting,Singapore – 4 Apr 2016
< WHY SHOULD I BE DILIGENT? (ii) RUN BEFORE YOUR KARMIC OBSTACLES CATCH-UP WITH YOU >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 60 (An Excerpt)
Whatever causes that put you off from spiritual cultivation areyour own karmic obstacles. (业障)
When you think, “Oh, I‘m too lazy to wake up in the morning”- this is the effect of your karmic obstacle! (业障)
When your family members obstruct your practice- this is another effect of your karmic obstacle!(业障)
When you say, “I have children; my hands are full; I am too busy to even pray, go out to help others, etc” – once again, the effect of your karmic obstacle!(业障)
All these hindrances are due to your karmic obstacles. One fine day, when your karmic obstacles erupt (业障爆发) and you suffer a car accident, you cry, “Oh, Master, Please help me!”.
And, there you are wondering, “Where did this karmic obstacle come from?”
This is where it comes from!
Every day you are accumulating a little karmic obstacles, and before you know it, a major karmic obstacle is formed. (大业障)
< WHY SHOULD I BE DILIGENT? (iii) – AVOID DEGENERATION >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 9 Chapter 42 (An Excerpt)
How do you practise diligence? It is the consistent mindfulness to practise (念念在行). That is, every single thought is geared towards spiritual cultivation (每一个念头都是在修行) and every single thought is kind. It also means forcing yourself out of bed in the morning, even if you don’t want to!
You should be telling yourself, “I am going to bite the bullet, perform chanting and transform my own destiny.” A person who has consistent mindfulness to practise will never degenerate (念念在行的人，才不会堕落).
If any one of you is experiencing family break-up or squabbles, it’s because you are not diligent in your practice. You are too lazy!
“I can‘t get up in the morning, I just can’t wake up”. You can’t stop being lazy and in the end, you will enter into a state of degeneration.
Some couples hardly quarrelled when they first got married; both are eager to do their part of the house chores. “You do the dishes; I do the laundry”. They work hard and they are diligent.However, after some time, both of thembecome lazy.” So, you won’t do the dishes? Neither will I!” After some time, even their room starts to stink, and they can’t even find a fresh change of clothes! This is what degeneration (堕落) means.
< WHY SHOULD I BE DILIGENT? (iv) – If you don‘t advance, you GO BACKWARD >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse to Disciple (An Excerpt) – 8 Dec 2013
There is a saying, “If you don‘t advance, you GO BACKWARD! (不进则退)”
In Buddhism studies, if a person fails to create some pressure for himself to make progress, he is considered to be going backwards. Therefore, in Buddhism, one’s dedication to progress (the Right Effort) (正精进) is extremely important where one needs to study earnestly and to advance bravely.
Buddhist practitioners should know the importance of being diligent (making the Right Effort).
All of you who are seated here today, for those who do not study Buddhism with diligence, you are already going backwards in your practice. Always remember whenever, you are not advancing, you are going backward.
Just like a cyclist, if his feet do not peddle on, not only will the bicycle stop, it also goes backward when it goes on an uphill slope. Buddhism studies can only go in one direction, and that is forward never backward. (学佛只有往前进没有往后退)
BODHISATTVA CAN ONLY HELP THOSE WHO HELP THEMSELVES
< WHY SHOULD I BE DILIGENT? (vi) – START BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE >
zongshu20160521 53:30 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radioprogram) – An excerpt
Let me reiterate, it is pointless when people only realise the urgency of becoming a vegetarian, reciting sutras/mantras, and performing life liberation, only upon being hit by serious illnesses.
Why can’t you start practising all these much earlier? You need to understand that prevention is better than cure.
Once fire breaks out, it is all too late and the only thing you can possibly do is to put it out. Can’t you look into fire prevention? Once there is a fire, it is only the question of how much is salvageable.
Do you understand now why I have always advised you to perform recitation of sutras ormantras and to become a good person all this while?
This is to prevent the coming forth of karmic eruptionand the depletion of your meritorious blessings.
< HOW TO BE DILIGENT? >
< HOW TO BE DILIGENT?(i) STOP PROCRASTINATING >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Story Telling – Vol 1 (No.1)
Once, there was a young monk who wished to embark on a spiritual journey. His master knew that he was lacking in his faith, and asked, “When will you be leaving?”
The young monk replied, “Maybe next week. The journey will be long and I will need to make more shoes.”
His master said, “I’ll inform everyone to send you straw sandals.” Hence, people sent straw sandals and even umbrellas over to the young monk. He had enough supplies to fill up an entire room. However, the young monk still did not leave.
His master came over again and asked, “Do some calculations, how many more sandals and umbrellas do you need?” He was trying to prod the young monk into action on his learning journey.
A week passed, and the master came to tell the young monk, “You have enough sandals and umbrellas. You might meet with a small stream on your journey. I will ask everyone to make you a boat to bring along!”
The young monk finally understood the kind efforts of his master. He knelt down immediately and cried out, “Master, I will head off instantly, and I will not bring anything with me!”
When embarking on a task, worldly possessions are unimportant. What’s most important is your determination. As long as you have a goal and set your mind to it, the path is by your feet. Every step you take, every bit of effort you give is a reward to be reaped.
< HOW TO BE DILIGENT? (ii) – Understanding the Chinese word “精” (Forge) >
Wenda20191011 17:03 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radioprogramme)
Caller: Master, can you explain how the Chinese word “进” (“Forge”) in the phrase to “Forge ahead Vigorously” (精进) is formed?
Master Jun Hong Lu: …..This Chinese character is formed by “four persons” which means it is easier for us to forge ahead as a group as it is harder to do the same with one or two persons.
This explains the importance of group cultivation (共修). A bright path is a path that all of us walk together to prevent falling off.
Nowadays, you see how difficult it is for a person to achieve something on his own?
So if you want to make progress, you will have to lead everyone to forge ahead together. If you are alone and making progress, you should know that “A single flower doesn‘t make spring” (一花独放不是春); (while one hundred flowers in full blossom bring spring to the garden).
< HOW TO BE DILIGENT? (iii) – BEWARE OF THOSE WHO UNDERMINE YOUR DILIGENCE >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Singapore 22 April 2016 (An Excerpt)
In the midst of our diligent effort in spiritual cultivation, we are bound to hear all kinds of remarks. We must be persistent. We must quickly learn to get used to the different viewpoints in this world; at the same time, do what you need to do in your Buddhism practice. Do not take others’ comments about you too seriously and most importantly, do not let them impair your steadfast effort.(影响你的精进力)
There is a saying, when we are:
Learn to see yourself clearly; do not think too highly of yourself. “Go to the battle-ground without any burden” (轻装上阵) and your life journey ahead will be much smoother.
Sadly, it always takes a person to reach his life’s final destination to repent and to reflect on his whole life. You should not let your life pass you by in the sighs that you let out.
You must possess:
- the State of Mind (境界) of a 100-year-old;
- the Broad-mindedness (胸怀) of an 80-year-old;
- the Wisdom (智慧) of a 60-year-old;
- the Willpower (意志) of a 40-year-old;
- the Passion (激情) of a 20-year-old; and
- the Innocence (童心) of a 2-year-old.
< WHAT IS YOUR STANDARD OF DILIGENCE? >
< WHAT IS YOUR STANDARD OF DILIGENCE (i): TOP-NOTCH DILIGENCE >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse (Question 401) – 28 July 2020
In the golden circular pavilion near the entrance of the Pure Land, Guan Yin Bodhisattva and Great Strength Bodhisattva (Da Shizhi Pusa) were talking to some children.
Guan Yin Bodhisattva:
Children, you see these worldly people who are buying wet tissues? Although the difference in price is only $0.037, if this variance is multiplied by 1,000, it will be 37 Malaysian Ringgit. The person who is buying will feel that it is too expensive and not worth it.
The same is true in your practice of Buddhism. If you don’t pay attention to your own words and deeds every day, such as committing the act of killing live creatures (活杀), lying (妄语), double-tongue (两舌), curse others (恶口骂人) or become loose in moral (淫荡), commit sexual misconduct (邪淫), etc….over time, don’t you think a major karmic obstacle and karma will be formed? For all of you, Buddhist practitioners, doing this at the expense of your spiritual life is certainly not worth it. All of you, Buddhist disciples, be vigilant (警惕) and practise diligently.
Great Strength Bodhisattva (Da ShizhiPusa):
In order to understand the factors that contribute towards evil consequence, please learn from the metaphor of haggling over the price of wet tissues quoted by Guan YinBodhisattva and be meticulous in your spiritual cultivation. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas fear the law of causation (畏惧因果), while the worldly people are ignorant to it and go all out to create bad karma.
Only when their days are numbered, and retribution is served will they start to fear. Unlike others, all of you are Buddhist practitioners who recite Buddhist scriptures, you must be wise enough to know that you should not commit evil karma.
Master Jun Hong Lu:
The Bodhisattva is telling us the Law of Accumulation (累积).
A small thing accumulated over time can become a big thing, including our evil deeds. Over time they will become great evil (大恶). Conversely, if you continue to accumulate good, no matter how little, over time you will be a great person.
Be wise. The Bodhisattva advises us not to create negative karma. If you apply the worldly “calculative” mentality (斤斤计较), you will realise, we can‘t afford to make any mistakes or do any bad deeds – only then you are truly Diligent (精进).
< WHAT IS YOUR STANDARD OF DILIGENCE (ii): ALL-ROUNDED DILIGENCE >
Wenda20130503 01:11:17 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radioprogramme)
Caller: Master, you often make comments about those who has been very diligent in their cultivation. I am in the opinion that just by being diligent in performing recitation is far from enough. One needs to study the Buddhism in Plain Terms and also to keep the “body, speech and mind” pure, help others, and to constantly reflect on oneself. Can all these be considered as qualities of being Diligent?
Master Jun Hong Lu: Yes, One’s Diligence should be all-encompassing (全方位的精进). For e.g., you cannot deem a child is good, just by him being good at doing the house chores. He must be good at work, study, etc. It should be the comprehensive kind of Diligence.
The Words Of A Loving Father – “Be Diligent”
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse (Question 390) 16 June 2020
Master Jun Hong Lu, “I have talked to you for so many years, how many more years do I have to talk to you?” Essentially you can only depend on yourselves. You need to have self-awareness. Don’t muddle through life in this world, and keep falling down. You need to keep up, otherwise, you will be eliminated.”