Time : Saturday 2pm-4pm
Platform : ZOOM Cloud Meeting
Topic of Discussion : The Noble Eightfold Path (Part 1)
On 4 July 2020, Guan Yin Citta, Singapore held yet another *online Buddhism in Plain Terms (BIPT) Group Study (in English).* The topic of the week was on the Noble Eightfold Path.
Beginning with an interactive revision on the Four Noble Truths as a method to help one achieve liberation, participants contemplated the nature of suffering. To relate this to the Eightfold Path, the method that leads us to abandon suffering and gain happiness, participants examined Right View and Right Thoughts. Through a vibrant discussion with insightful stories, the important role of right view in eradicating the three poisons of greed, hatred and ignorance was emphasised. Participants also reiterated the value of consciously incorporating compassion in one’s thoughts in order to render right thought instinctual. If the lessons of the session were to be summed up in a sentence, it would be to cultivate right view and thoughts by listening to the dharma, contemplating its teachings, and putting them into practice. As Master Lu said, a person’s behaviour tends to conform to the group they are in. Given that Buddhist practitioners of the group study are all actively working towards correcting wrong views and thoughts, adopting a balanced viewpoint instead, the virtuous and supportive atmosphere of the session definitely benefited all participants in spiritual cultivation.
Let us now look at some comments from participants:
“I used to listen to Master Lu’s discourses on the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path in Mandarin on Youtube but found it harder to grasp and remember due to the language barrier. However, the English session was very good as the concepts were extremely easy to grasp and I now understand better. The sharing by both facilitator and participants were very good, and I enjoyed the stories told. Deepest gratitude to all Buddhist friends and Bodhisattva for allowing me to participate in this BIPT session”
📚 Join us in our next session. Please contact Loh sx/Woan Yi sx for more information
⏰ Date and time:
Saturday 11 July 2020
Please click here to download the Summary Slides shared during the Group Study:
Buddhism in Plain Terms – The Noble Eightfold Path
“The Noble Eightfold Path” is actually the eight Buddhist methods bestowed by Bodhisattva to help us eliminate our worries.
First, “Right View”. That is to say, we need to discern all worldly matter, and to have the right view no matter what we face. We need to have the right view where we look at the good side of others through our positive perspective. This is known as having positive energy.
When people carry tales to you, “Hey, somebody said bad things about you!” What would you do? A person who lacks positive energy, someone who is not righteous will think that, “I knew it! This person will definitely say bad things behind my back.” And you drowned yourself in sorrow. Next, you are unable to get the anger out of your system, you feel depressed for a long time.
Instead, if you look at this situation from a positive angle, you would say, “He will not talk bad about me“, “He is a Buddhist practitioner, he is such a good person. He would not malign me behind my back!” I don’t believe this. And, you just carry on with your recitation.
Second, it’s about having “Right Thought”, where this person has only good things in mind. He looks at others only in positive lights. For example, he will think that, “My mother’s life is tough, my dad is so tired from work , I have to work hard, I have to study hard.” Or, when someone makes a mistake and we start thinking that, “He must have been held up at home, that’s why he is late for this appointment. He must have tried his best, so, I must not blame him.”
When you forgive others like this, you are providing them the space they need and keeping a path for your own retreat in the future. Many people harp on others’ shortcomings and never let go. When there’s an argument at home you will hear him say, “Tell me! Say it! See, you don’t know what to say now, do you?” This is how they seize the shortcomings of others.
Eventually, they couldn’t find their way out of embarrassment. There were also many people who said, “So what if I said so? What can you do to me? See! You are speechless now, right?” Do not push others into a dead end, otherwise, you could possibly lose your own lifeline.
Master Jun Hong Lu’s related discourses (cross references):
< THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s World Buddhist Fellowship Meeting, Malacca, Malaysia – 16 Aug 2019 (An Excerpt)
The Four Noble Truths（四圣谛）are the truths that teach us the way to liberation.
These Four Noble Truths are the methods to help one achieve the ultimate goal of nirvana, where one is absolutely liberated with a profound understanding.
Master Lu’s Discourse at Guan Yin Hall (An Excerpt) – 22 April 2019
Master Lu’s World Buddhist Fellowship Meeting, Malacca (An Excerpt) – 16 Aug 19
1. Suffering 苦谛
We all know what “suffering” is. In Buddhism, it is the fundamental of human life. It is the basis of our existence.
Even if a person has had a blissful life throughout, will he suffer when he faces death?That goes without saying!
At one’s deathbed, he says, “I can’t leave, it’s so sad!” Then he told the living person, “Please live your life well, I shall give my house to you”. But then in his heart he says, “Actually, that’s not what I intend to do so, I have no choice but to give it to you.”
You see? This house belongs to this dying person, and as soon as he dies, the ownership is changed instantly. From here we can see that suffering is indeed the fundamental of human life.
2. The Cause of Suffering 集谛
“The Cause” means the various causes of our suffering – an aggregate of causes which give rise to the greed, hatred and ignorance in us.What does that mean?
When a person undergoes suffering, greed breeds in them. When you suffer, you tend to be greedy. “Look at my pathetic living conditions, I’d love to have a bigger house!” When you get a bigger house, you go, “I’d like to live near the sea.” Isn’t that so? That’s greed.
When you can’t get what you want, that’s when hatred arises. Following that, you start to act out your ignorance, you contend, fight against others and do stupid things. The Buddha says, the cause of our sufferings is the aggregate of these causes. The “build-up” of it.
3. The Cessation of Suffering 灭谛
What does “cessation” mean? It means to eliminate. The Buddha tells us, “The aggregate of causes of suffering” and that all sufferings in the world can be eliminated.
The same applies to all worldly worries. As long as you have the heart of the Bodhisattva, you will attain a cultivated state. You should not regret your past as whatever in the past has been obliterated.
You should not feel remorseful about it anymore. Instead, you should aim to eliminate your negative karma, which means to end them through understanding the truth of the cessation of suffering followed by the truth of The Path to its cessation.
4. The Path to the Cessation of Suffering 道谛
What is “The Path”? It is the Path of the Buddha (佛道). “The Path” refers to our search for the method to be used to eliminate suffering; the method that leads us to “abandon suffering and gain happiness”. The Path is about giving rise to proper knowledge. When you have the right knowledge inherently, that is proper wisdom.
< The Importance of having the Right View >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 51 (An Excerpt)
I want you to study Buddhism so that you can change your own wrong views (邪见) and to eliminate your worries and ignorance with the Right View (正见度). What does that mean? It means, you are to look at situations and things the right way and using proper methods to transform them.
What does it mean by “giving rise to the right dharma” (正法生成)? It means having the proper Dharma generated in one’s mind (正确的佛法生成在自己心里).
One’s right view will penetrate into a person’ speech, deeds. With that, he is a different kind of person, not an ordinary one.
For example, you tell someone, “Though this person is very bad, why don’t you just forgive him? He is not bad all the time and what he did may be accidental.”
Hearing this, if this person utilises his Prajna wisdom (般若智慧), he breaks through ignorance and delusions.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 8 Chapter 25 (An Excerpt)
We need to have the Right View (正见) to properly see through all the wrong views (邪见) and thoughts, our vexations (烦恼) and ignorance (愚痴).
To give a simple example, when you are told your neighbour is spreading a rumour about your family. When you hear that, you immediately give rise to the wrong view and you become unhappy. So, how do you derive Right Views?
First of all, you need to think, “My neighbour has nothing against me, why would he spread rumours about me?”
Secondly, “Could it be someone heard wrongly? Even if he did spread rumours about me, probably it’s because I have done something wrong. All the more I shouldn’t hold grudges against him.”
This is how you give rise to Right View. Instead, the minute you hear someone say something bad about you, you start a fight with them, this is wrong, and it is called ‘evil bewilderment’ (邪迷). Hence, it is very important that you listen to what others tell you with a righteous mind. Do not be obsessed and cause you instant flare-ups. Otherwise, you are someone who isbewildered by evil (邪迷).
Just because he is your husband, you think what he says is always right; just because she is your wife, you believe in all that she says; just because he is your child, you have absolute faith in him. Think about it, we derive thoughts from the people we see which leads us to making a lot of mistakes in life.
Let me tell you this: In reality, one can never be fooled by others, they are deceived by themselves! (人最容易上当的不是别人，而是你自己) Your wrong understanding of things (失误地理解) results in your wrong point of view (失误的观点) which leads you to doing the wrong things(做出失误的事情) and causes harm to yourself.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 10 Chapter 11 (An Excerpt)
When you allow greed, hatred and ignorance (贪瞋痴) arise in you, you welcome the devil into your heart (把魔接进了你的心). These three poisons (三毒) will then continue to reside inside your heart. When this happens, you will start to hate everything that you see.
“Why is he better than me?” , “Why is he….etc. etc.?” and you continue to give in to your hatred. You become ignorant and you go into a confused state of mind.
Go ahead and be greedy. What are you greedy for? All the glory and wealth. The greedier you are, the poorer you become. Be it lottery or trading of shares. Many people wish to make some money from these. What happens in the end? They lose all their money in the share market or in betting. Greed only leads one to poverty.
Therefore, we rely on ourselves to eradicate the Three Poisons in us and that is through having the Right View (正见才能自除这三毒心).
What is the Right View (正见)?
Let me quote you a simple example, your neighbour picked a quarrel with you. You know best that you will not engage yourself in such a dispute. In this case, the Right View is when you tell yourself, “I won’t fight with him. One fine day he will understand me.” In this way, you detach yourself from the hatred (离开了恨) towards him for making your life difficult. This is how the Three Poisons in your heart is eradicated.
< MASTER JUN HONG LU’S STORY TELLING – THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RIGHT VIEW >
Master Lu’s Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 77 (An Excerpt) 23 May 2020
Wrong View can lead to dire consequences that goes beyond our imagination. In this story, the repercussion of the butcher’s wrong view on the Law of causation is unthinkable; In fact, it is even worse than that for a person who is ignorant to this Law.
< What is considered Right View? >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 8 Chapter 42 (An Excerpt)
If you are so full of yourself (为自己想) , you are still bound to the human realm and you will never be able to break away from the six realms (出不了六道).
I cherish all of you. I regard all of you as my children; I want to lead you to the right path, to teach you and to make you understand. I am not here to spoil you; neither am I here to shield for you. You must understand that ‘A strict teacher produces outstanding students’.
Right view is when you are free from all worldly delusions (幻想) and attachments(执着). Whatever you are yearning for now in this world is regarded as attachment. “I want to do this today and that tomorrow”. This is called attachment. “If I fail to get this today, I will go out even if I have to resort to trickery” this is called delusion. Both of these are incorrect views; with that, one is not able to give rise to right views.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 2 Chapter 7 (An Excerpt)
Having the Right View (正见), also known as having proper understanding is when one understands that the nature of all phenomena is empty. It means he has grasped the reality of things that is, EMPTINESS (性空).
For example, when someone tells you “This seafood is really delicious!” But you think otherwise, because you are aware that no matter how delicious it may be, this sense pleasure will disappear in no time as it transforms into another type of substance.
You will not appreciate nor go after it because you understand its intrinsic nature (领悟到它的本质). But, the problem with humans is, we only see the surface of things instead of seeing through its essence. This is what I am trying to teach you.
You must learn to look at the innate character of all things and problems (看本质). You have to see the reality and from there derive proper insights (产生正确的见解).
For example, someone offered you lobster. You know you shouldn’t take it. Firstly, you think “If itake it, it means this lobster died for me!” Secondly, “If I eat this lobster, I will generate negative karma, etc. etc”. When you give rise to such a positive way of thinking, naturally, you wouldn’t eat it.
So, in this world, if you are able to figure out a proper justification to stop your mind from grasping and seeking (阻止自己的思维对它产生执著的追求) , that, is your Buddha-nature.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 8 Chapter 42 (An Excerpt)
You should not hold to wrong views, neither should you give rise to the thought that you are holding on to the right view. When you are free from wrong views, do not even think that, “I am in the right.” or “Look at me, all my life, I have never harmed anyone”.
For a view that is fundamentally right, when you start to think about it, that’s called grasping (执着). Hence, to practise Buddhism is not easy. It is not right to assert on any stand. This is even more true as one reaches a higher state of cultivation, the challenge is even greater.
If you ask any mountain-climber, those whomade it to the peak – what do they rely on? They will tell you it’s Balance (平衡力), that is the balance of the body and mind. Balance is the key!
As far as the mind is concerned, they think, “I know the person before used this method to make it to the top. I am confident that I can make it too”. As for the body, they know that when strong wind blows, they should lean into it; when it rains, they should take shelter. These are all balancing efforts required to make it to the top.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 51 (An Excerpt)
Many people are confused. A person’s behaviour tends to conform to the group they are in.
For example, when others are greedy, they will tend to be greedy; if others are out to harm others, they, too will do the same. In a group of children, if one child is hit by a person, others will secretly join in to hit him. They are the deluded beings. They are really pitiable. You just join in to scold someone just because everyone else is doing so. Doesn’t that make you a deluded being?
When evil thoughts arise
When we are deluded and are unsure how we should go about getting things done
When you are overpowered with ignorance
When there is ill will
These are very effective methods!
< What is considered Right Thoughts? >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 1 Chapter 20 (An Excerpt)
Today I would like to explain to you about the “Deluded Views and Thoughts (见思惑)” .
The “Notion of Self (我见)” is when you make yourself a priority where you always go, “This is what I think…” “This is what I believe, etc”. Everything revolves around the “I”. This is a typical case I often come across when I answer questions from the listeners. Each time, there will be a chain of “I” for example, “I am like this…This is how I am; I think this is how it should be…I saw this…” All of these are one’s “Notion of Self (我见)”.
We have to understand that the “I” in this world is a “False Self (假我)”. It is not real. If we get attached to the notion of self (执着与自身的我) we are a pitiful being. We will be consumed by this notion “I” (堕入“我”这个字) and we will not be able to detach from it.
In fact, all the suffering stems from one’s notion of self. Do you have any idea why it is difficult for animals to gain rebirth? It’s because they are attached to the notion of “itself”, that is, which is their attachment to their form of “self”.
Therefore, you must let go of this sense of “I”. It is only through letting go of this “self” that we can really blend into the society. You say, “I won’t get angry. I know if I get angry, upset, unhappy or start to give rise to hatred, it is thisnotion of “I” acting up (这个“我”在作怪) . If I can give up this “self” I will not be angry nor sad.”
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse at Guan Yin Hall (An Excerpt) – 13 August 2019
What is Right Thought?
We must understand that what we do and think must be righteous. This means what you normally do must be just. Everything you do, must be brought to the light and nothing should be concealed. All your thoughts should be positive; you only think of the good of others and you view them in the light of equanimity (平等心). This is when your thoughts gradually resonate with that of Bodhisattva‘s (与菩萨相应).
What is Wrong Thought?
You are suspicious of this person today, hate that person tomorrow, and get greedy the day after tomorrow – what will happen to you when your thoughts are deviated?
When you see good things, you want to have them; when you see fame and fortune in the world, you become greedy and you see others with aversion. This is what it means by deviation of thoughts and behaviour. Instead, if what you do and think is righteous, you will generate a kind of positive energy in you – your thoughts and the things that you do will be positive.
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse to Disciples (An Excerpt) -4 Aug 2012
Let me tell all of you, when we look at a problem, we must see them in a positive light (用正思维来想问题), which means we need to use a positive line of thought.
For example, you had a fight with someone, and you are very upset. You have to think, “Maybe physically he wasn’t feeling too well these few days, that’s why he is in such a foul mood. I trust he has nothing against me”. This is what it means by seeing others in a positive light. This is the Right Thought.When you do this, you will gain kind reciprocation, which means others will think of you using this positive mental attitude.
Think about this, when a couple quarrels. If one thinks good about the other, for example, she begins to empathise with him – he may be unwell or perhaps something might have happened to him that day. So she treated him well. Following that, don’t you think he will treat her well too? There will be no quarrel, don‘t you think? Hence, it is of utmost importance that one should hold on to the Right Thought, where you perceive others as always the good person; You are happy and free of worries no matter what you encounter.
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 2 Chapter 8 (An Excerpt)
There are two sides to every coin (对事物的看法都有两面性). You can say that something is good but for the very same thing, you can say it is bad too. It really depends on which side your mind is inclined to. For example, do you think an elderly person is good? He is good! The elderlies are people who have rich experience, and they know how to care for young ones and so on.
Conversely, what is not so good about them? They have walking difficulties, their whole bodyaches, they are not sharp in their mind, and so on. For the same thing, one can come up withits good aspects, as well as its bad side. The purpose of the Buddha’s teachings is to transform all Wrong Thoughts into Right Thoughts (正思维). Its purpose is to offer advice, comfort and help others resolve difficulties. This is what having the Right Thought is about.
< How to Cultivate Right Thought >
wenda20160617 20:36 HOW TO CORRECT HABITUAL THINKING AND TRANSFORM THEM INTO RIGHT THOUGHTS
Caller: How do we correct our habitual thinking and transform them into right thoughts, like that of a Bodhisattva.
Master Jun Hong Lu: When your thoughts are frequent enough, it will become your habitual line of thinking (惯性思维). How do you transform them, then? First of all, you have to determine if this line of thoughts is right or wrong. If you think it is right, there is no need to change anything. Otherwise, you will have to transform them. After the wrong thoughts are transformed, do not revisit. Also, you will need to keep the Right Thoughts in your head.
What is right and what is wrong? Let me quote you a simple example. You saw a pitiful person. He is begging for food on the street. Previously, with your wrong thoughts, you tend to think ,”Look at these people, they are not even physically challenged in any way. Why don’t they get a job instead of begging for food”. Or “These people it’s not thatthey are incapable of supporting themselves, why don’t they get a job? Why are they asking us for money?”
However, after a certain time, when you reach a higher spiritual state, when there’s compassion (慈悲心) in you, you will start to feel that they are rather pitiable. You will think, “It’s not right for me to always think this way. I must change this habitual thinking of mine.” And the next time you see them, you start to think,” They are so pitiful. They are suffering from present life retribution (现世报). Their limbs are fully intact, but they refuse to exert themselves, if only they know that labour is glorious and it is a very good thing.” This is how your thoughts are transformed.
wenda20160527 01:15:38 HAVING THE RIGHT THOUGHT HELPS PEOPLE WHO ARE BRAIN-INTENSIVE TO UNDERSTAND THE HIGH SPIRITUALITY OF THE BUDDHA’S TEACHINGS (An Excerpt)
Master, those that are involved in jobs that are brain intensive are good at using rational thinking (脑力工作者) to analyse what they encounter. They tend to believe in scientific practice or things that are realistic. Is it true that generally, this is the group of people who resonates less with the Bodhisattva (感应比较迟钝一些)?
Master Jun Hong Lu: This is not how you should understand this concept. People who are involved in brain intensive jobs tend to be good at thinking. When you introduce the teachings of the Bodhisattva to them, they may not be fully convinced. They tend to use their worldly intelligence (人间的智慧) and method to manoeuvre (人间的方法) and to attempt to understand the line of thoughts of the Bodhisattva (去考虑菩萨的思维).
Caller: Master, does this mean that it’s easier for those brain-intensive workers to have faith in Bodhisattva?
Master Jun Hong Lu: Of course. Take a look at the number of graduates, PhD students, graduate students, professors and those highly acclaimed researchers in Guan Yin Citta. Aren’t these people involved in brain-intensive works? Let me ask you? Do you use your brain? (I do). That means you have your line of thoughts too. The ultimate objective of Buddhism practice is to cultivate the Right Thought in people(学佛学到后来要正思维).
Let’s take a look at this scenario. A professor happened to go to the temple to pay respect to the Buddha. If no one tells him anything about Buddhism during those visits, what can he learn? How would he derive faith in Buddhism after that? He would think, faith in Buddhism is about burning incense, kowtowing towards some mud statues of the Buddha and he would conclude that it is nothing but superstition (迷信).
It only takes a person like Master Lu, someone who constantly talks to them about Buddhism theories and philosophy, to make them understand the line of thoughts, the high state of spirituality and wisdom of the Bodhisattva (讲道理，把佛理、哲学跟他们讲，讲得他们就相信菩萨那种思维、那种高境界、那种般若了). You see, the problem is no one talks to them!
Caller: Master, you mentioned about having the Right Thoughts. Are Right Thoughts the same as having right faith and right mindfulness?
Master Jun Hong Lu: Right Thought (正思维) is about having right faith (正信) , right mindfulness (正念) , right dharma (正法) and be on the right path (正道). It is written in the Buddhist scripture of 2500 years old, Buddha says, what is “Righteous”? It is when the dharma becomes one’s underlying support; when a person diligently studies, researches and reads up on the Buddha’s teachings everyday.
What am I asking you to study everyday? They are the Buddhist texts. And, what do you learn from them? What I teach you are the contents of the Buddhist scriptures. Isn’t this the true dharma? (That’s right).
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF “TO LISTEN, CONTEMPLATE AND PRACTISE”
Master Jun Hong Lu:
“To Listen, Contemplate and Practise (闻思修)” means to listen to the Dharma, contemplate the dharma teachings, and put the teachings into practice. That is to transform what you listened into right thoughts and then start to put what you learn into cultivating your mind. If you didn’t learn about the teachings, how would you start to practise? You have started your spiritual cultivation journey today because you heard about Guan Yin Citta.
ABSENCE OF RIGHT THOUGHTS IS DUE TO EVIL IN ONE’S HEART
Caller: Master Lu’s dharma body gave a discourse: “A person who aspires to become a Bodhisattva, they can’t do without power ofconcentration (定力) and wisdom (智慧).Otherwise, they won’t be able to tell righteousness from evil and good from bad (分不出正邪好坏).”
Master, when some Buddhist friends encounter some other problems, they are able to stay composed and apply the Buddhism theories to contemplate and to resolve their problems. However, when they encounter issues related to slander and their inner demons (诽谤和心魔), their original right thoughts seem to disappear. What is the reason for this?
When you tend to believe what is evil, that’s because there’s evil in you (心中有邪). If you have absolute faith (完全相信) in your Master and in Guan Yin Citta, this will never happen. This shows that in your practice all along, you have been having doubts about your Master and this dharma method. Hence, the minute you hear others talk negatively about them, you immediately become suspicious.
It all stems from your heart.
To give you a simple example, some people are a bit doubtful of their wives. When someone says “I saw your wife with a man”, they will jump in anger and believe what they hear immediately. If you have never doubted your wife and you know that your wife respects and treats you very well, even if you hear others telling you, “Your wife and the man were…” You will go, “Are you kidding me? That’s impossible!” You only have doubts if you lack firm belief(坚信力不够).
Caller: How can we conquer such shortcomings?
Master Jun Hong Lu:
You have to increase your faith and understanding (增加信心，增加了解) .
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Story Telling
“If my mother were to answer like how you did, my achievement today would have been very different.”
< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享