Time : Saturday 2pm-4pm
Platform : ZOOM Cloud Meeting
Topic of Discussion : The Noble Eightfold Path (Part 2)
On 11 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.
The session of the week was a continuation from the discussion of last week. Participants contemplated Right Mindfulness, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort and Right Concentration. With poignant personal anecdotes, Buddhist friends were treated to an easy-to-digest explanation of this foundational concept of Buddhism.
The session thus provided much food for thought in relation to improving one’s mind and self through rigorous spiritual cultivation. As Master Lu said, one should strive to be an unadulterated person, a person with morality, and a person who is free from inferior preferences.
Indeed, such a seemingly lofty goal may be difficult to achieve of our own accord as reflected by participants, which is why it is vital to carve out a small piece of time from the hustle and bustle of life and integrate the learning of Buddhist teachings into daily living, adopting such a practice as a staple of one’s week along with a community of fellow eager learners.
Let us now look at some comments from participants:
“A community of like minded individuals is more powerful than your individual effort to spur you forward. Hence, the session helps one to elevate one’s understanding of Buddhism in a more expeditious manner compared to solitary self-study.”
“For English educated Buddhist Friends, this is definitely the right platform you should be joining to know more about Master Lu’s teachings. The facilitators shared about Master Lu’s Buddhism in Plain Terms in a manner that can easily be grasped, and the cross references are really helpful and truly beneficial in our path of spiritual cultivation. Questions by other Buddhist friends can also bring ‘Aha!’ moments to others!”
? Join us in our next session. Please contact Loh SX/Woan Yi SX for more information
⏰ Date and time:
Saturday 18 July 2020
Please click here to download the Summary Slides shared during the Group Study:
Buddhism in Plain Terms – The Noble Eightfold Path
Third, is about having the “Right Mindfulness”, that is to observe your thoughts when faced with matters or situations. We need to observe the thoughts that arise, by continuing to do so, we will derive a good understanding of the chain of cause and effect.
“Right Speech” means to refrain from telling lies, scold or mock others. That is to refrain from unwholesome speech or being sarcastic to others. Instead, you should only say good things about others. “To utter lotus with every word” is when you say good things about others. “I haven’t seen you for a while, your face has the best glow!”, “I haven’t seen you for a while, you look so high-spirited!”, “Congratulations! You are into spiritual cultivation now into vegetarian, chanting and making great vows! That’s just awesome!” This is what it means by “uttering lotus with your every word”.
On the contrary, a person who doesn’t practise “Right Speech”, they will go, “What is so great about him? I can be just as good, if not better, you know?” We have to remember people are willing to listen if the words you utter are righteous. Otherwise, what you say, will only fall on deaf ears.
Right Action, What is “Right Action”?
For example, you cannot steal, be promiscuous, what you do for your living should also be of good karma. Many people asked me, “Master Lu, we work in a restaurant , we are involved in the act of killing, we don’t have a choice, it is our livelihood. Is that alright?”
Let me tell you, your career choice shall be your choice of destiny. If you are in the wrong profession, your fate will not be fantastic. If you are involved in the act of killing today, this is considered NOT the Right Action. If you are in a trade that helps others, that is called Right Action.
To have the Right Livelihood, is about adopting the right method to extend one’s life, standing righteous in the vastness between heaven and earth, instead of scheming against others harming or getting jealous of others. Strive to be an unadulterated person, a person with morality and a person who is free from inferior preferences.
“Right Effort”, “Right” here means, everything is done right. “Effort” here means putting in the hard work. For Buddhist practitioners, it means promoting righteousness, recognizing what’s evil, concentrating on cultivating the mind, being single-minded in our practice and being bold in our ascend to the Four Sagely Realms.
“Right Concentration” means to have proper control of one’s mental state and not to be affected by the worldly fame and fortune that cause confusion and derangement in us. This is when you have the right concentration. A truly composed person is able to control his own concentration and concentration is reliant on being disciplined.
I hope, as Buddhists, we are able to observe the precepts, perform your recitation daily to save us from wrongdoings or creating karma. From there, you will be carrying out the deeds of the Bodhisattva every single day.
Master Jun Hong Lu’s related discourses (cross references):
Baihuafofa171128 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio programme)
The basic doctrine of Buddhism is to show us the way towards liberation from Birth, Ageing, Sickness and Death (解脱生老病死) that is through understanding The Four Noble Truth that is, “Suffering, The Cause of Suffering, The Cessation of Suffering and The Path towards the Cessation of Suffering (苦集灭道)”. Though we have a tremendous amount of Buddhist scriptures, none surpasses The Four Noble Truth. In fact, most of the Buddhist teachings are derived from the Four Noble Truth (四圣谛).
The Noble Eightfold Path (八正道) on the other hand, is to prevent us from doing the wrong thing and create karma in the many aspects of our undertakings. Based on the law of causation, when a cause is created, you will give rise to an undesirable consequence. Therefore, it is important that you need to do the right thing in Buddhism practice. Otherwise, you will become obsessed and deranged.
< The Importance of having Right Mindfulness 正念>
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk, Auckland, New Zealand 20161106
Once, during the Spring and Autumn-Warring States period, Confucius was travelling around the country. At that time, the army was barren and the journey was difficult. Food was hard to come by and the troop had been without a grain of rice for seven days.
One day, one of Confucius’s disciples, Yan Hui managed to bring back some white rice to cook. When the rice was almost cooked, Confucius saw that Yan Hui lifted the lid, grabbed some rice and stuffed it in his mouth. When the rice was ready, Yan Hui politely invited Confucius to the table.
Confucius pretended that he did not see what just happened, stood up, and said: “I just dreamed of the ancestors. Since the rice looks clean, I would like to offer it as a sacrifice for the ancestors and eat it later.”
Yan Hui replied in a hurry: “Please don’t Master! There was some charcoal ash that fell into the pot and stained the rice. I thought it would be a waste if I threw it away so I ate it. I am sorry Master, I didn’t eat the rice on purpose.”
Hearing this, Confucius felt so ashamed that he had allowed himself to judge his most trusted disciple mindlessly (没有正念).
He sighed and said, “Yan Hui has been my most trusted disciple, but I still doubt him. It is said that people should trust what they see. But even what the eyes see is not necessarily the truth if they do not practise Right Mindfulness (正念). People trust with their hearts, but even the heart is sometimes not reliable. Indeed, to truly understand another person is never easy!”
This story tells us even a sage could misjudge and doubt his most trusted disciple, not to mention ordinary people. There are even people who lead a painful life right to the end, haunted by such misunderstandings and eventually die with regrets because of one single deluded thought (妄念).
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse to Disciples (An Excerpt) – 1 December 2012
The more you practise Mindfulness, the lesser delusional thoughts (妄念) you will have.
With this practice, the devil will not be able to enter your Seven Apertures (七窍) i.e. (two) eyes, (two) nostrils, (two) ears, and mouth.
Conversely, when you can‘t seem to see the reality of things (想不通), when you lack mindfulness (正念少) and are full of deluded thoughts (妄念多), it is a sign that the devils have entered your Seven Apertures with no plans to leave (魔进去了不肯出来).
Take for example, your daughter told you: “Actually, the comments my boyfriend made weren’t aimed at you. In fact, he has only good things to say about you in front of me all the time.” Hearing this, you groaned, “Humph!” and gave your daughter a look of dismissal.
See! This is a typical example that something has gone wrong with the apertures of your eyes and nose; your lips curled, and your ears refused to listen to what your daughter has to say. All of these happened because the devil has entered into your heart – the words of others have failed to penetrate you. What’s more? When the devil enters a person’s Seven Apertures (七窍), he will go into a frenzy (发颠发狂).
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse at Guan Yin Hall (An Excerpt) – 7 Aug 2010
A mind full of deluded thoughts (妄想) is a devil’s playground. These devils are like the thieves that steal your heart away (偷你的心). That is why it is called the ‘Thief of Hearts’ (偷心). It robs you off all the kindness, leaving you with unhappiness, hatred, feeling unsettled and disturbed.
Where does all the unhappiness and uncomfortable feeling come from? It all starts from your heart. Hence, you should completely remove this “thief” from your heart which are your deluded thoughts (把自己心中的这个“贼”彻底除掉).
Everyone has deluded thoughts. The best way to get rid of them is to ignore them and enhance your level of mindfulness (把正念提起). As long as there is mindfulness, your delusions will decrease. Mindfulness is the best way to rid ourselves of delusions (正念是驱除妄念的最好方法).
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Buddhism in Plain Terms Radio Programme Chapter 21
10 May 2011 (An Excerpt)
When a person goes into a frenzy (发癫发狂), even the Buddha is not able to save him as he is already in a very different spiritual state (境界不一样). He has lost the Right Mindfulness and faith (正念、信念遗失了). This is when the devil enters him. He is like a derailed train that got out of control.
As I often tell you, you are frantic when you are confronted with the demon of ill-health (病魔) because they have the scariest look – the look of cancer.
However, if you have the Right Mindfulness, you will think “I am a Buddhist practitioner, I have not done anything bad in my whole life, I have the protection of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. I am sure I will live on. Guan Yin Bodhisattva will surely save me”.
With the Right Mindfulness, the devil will be driven away by you (有了这种正念，魔就会被你赶走). With that the Bodhisattva can then save you. If you have no mindfulness, you go, “I’m doomed! I am finished this time!” And, you forgot about Bodhisattva altogether.
Hence, Bodhisattva is not able to help you and neither can the Buddha. Therefore, we must reign over the two demons in our lives, one is the demon of ill-health and the demon of the mind. (要克制两魔，一个是病魔，还有一个是心魔)
Buddhism in Plain Terms Vol. 8 Chapter 21 (An Excerpt)
With constant presence of Mindfulness (正念), it enables us to increase our wisdom and merits (智慧、功德) on this Bodhi Path (菩提道上). As long as a person is righteous (正), you will always be blessed with wisdom and merits on this Buddha’s Path. Furthermore, their wisdom and merits tend to increase rapidly.
< What is Right Effort ? >
Buddhism in Plain Terms Episode 24 (An Excerpt)
Many people say, “When I was little, fortune-teller tells me I am 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.
Instead, if your mind goes from negative to positive, and you slowly transform your thoughts:
Evil –> Kindness (由恶转善)
Unrighteous –>Righteous (由邪转正)
Being Bewildered –> Awaken (由迷转觉)
Deluded –> Purity (由染转净)
This is the concept of “Diligence” (精进)
Every day you are full of your commitment to making progress (向上精进), desire 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.
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 the 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 i.e. 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)
Shuohua20171013 24:38 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s Call-in Radio Programme) – An Excerpt
Caller: There is a saying that goes, “Uncrowded is the path to the lotus pond in the West” (西方莲池路上不拥挤) because there are too many who drops out from this path of spiritual cultivation due to:
1.The disappearance of a batch who are hypocritical and show phoney mercy; (伪善、假慈悲)
2.The drop out of a group who holds on to demonic view and thought; (邪知邪见)
3.The cessation of a group whose cultivation is at odd (离心求法)
4.The lost of a batch who lacks the Right View (没有正知正见)
5.The downhearted group who suffer objection from their close relatives to their practice
6.The backslide of a batch whose friends obstruct their spiritual quest
7.The lost of a group who killed themselves with their own blind cultivation and training (盲修瞎练)
8.The elimination of a batch who does not put effort into their practice
9.And deferment of a group who never practice what they learn
10.The invalidation of a group who is self-opinionated (自以为是)
Conclusion: Don’t ever regress in your spiritual cultivation – “Persist like no other so you can achieve like none other” (坚持别人不能坚持的，才能拥有别人不能拥有的修行)
Master Jun Hong Lu: Very good! Spot on! This is how it is. Perseverance (坚持) is key. In Buddhism terms it means “To dedicate oneself to progress”. In fact, in the Six Paramita we have the “Paramita of Diligence” (精进波罗蜜).
What was mentioned just now are the Ten Reasons that contribute to your going backward in your spiritual cultivation.
It highlights the importance of being diligent on this spiritual journey. What is the opposite of “Diligence”? It is to fall backwards.
Diligence means you have to forge ahead vigorously, making great effort to move forward. The minute you stop making progress, that’s when you fall backwards. (一不精进就倒退)
< Right Concentration: Why is it important? >
Zongshu20190105 09:06 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program)
IT IS IMPORTANT TO ACHIEVE THE POWER OF CONCENTRATION (定力)
Master Jun Hong Lu: In life, having the power of Concentration is of the utmost importance as when one develops this ability, he is able to eliminate most of his worries (去除很多的烦恼) and overcome a lot of pressure (克服很多的压力). From one’s Power of Concentration (定力), wisdom is born. Hence, The Threefold Training of Morality, Concentration and Wisdom (戒 定 慧); that is to say, wisdom can only be reflected by virtue of Concentration. (定了之后才能生慧)
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse to Disciples (An Excerpt)
5 November 2011
What is the Power of Concentration (定力)? When one encounters difficulties, one must be able to stay composed (定得住), keep to the moral precepts (守住自己的戒律) and be steady (稳得住). Nowadays, there are many people, when something unforeseen happens to their family, they become distraught.
How does the Power of Concentration / composure come about? It is from being disciplined. Being disciplined here means restraining yourself from doing what you shouldn’t do or eating what you shouldn’t eat.
Let me tell you a story. A director of a company was diagnosed with diabetes. During his check-up at the hospital, he was advised by the doctor to stay away from the food and drink that he normally consumes.
He managed to restrain himself for one week and his blood sugar index went under control. The doctor said that he has made good improvements.
One night, he was feeling very uneasy, he couldn’t take it anymore and lost his sense of discipline. He went out for a meal, overindulged himself and caused stress to his pancreas. He died the next day.
Think about it, just how important it is for one to be disciplined. You can’t even control what goes in your mouth. Same when you quarrel with others, it is because you lost control of your mouth too. You just can’t restrain your words, can you?
Think about it, if only you practise a little restraint, all will be peaceful, right? Because of your failure to hold back, all hell broke loose, with lawsuits, etc. Therefore, it is important that a person must practise restraint (一定要克制好自己), somehow or other never allow yourself to act at their whims and fancies. (不能纵容自己的行为)
< How do I cultivate Right Concentration? >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse (Question 253)
6 September 2018
Master Jun Hong Lu: In order to gain wisdom and the power of concentration (定力), one must be disciplined (必须有戒律). In fact, the level of wisdom that one gains is in proportion to their strictness on discipline. Lacking in discipline makes the attainment of wisdom and Concentration impossible (没有戒律就没有慧力和定力).
< What is Right Speech? >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk Paris, France – 8 September 2019 (An Excerpt)
When you cannot live up to your words, do not speak flippantly (不要乱说);
When you know what you say is going to harm others, do not speak (不要去说);
When met with unfavourable conditions, speak targeting the issue not the person (对事不对人地说);
When there is good news, read the room before speaking (要看场合说);
When there is sad news, don‘t be so ready to tell all (不要见人就说);
For the affairs of others, speak with care (小心地去说).
For more information on Right Speech, please refer to 13 June class notes on “Understanding the Karma of Speech”
< What is “Right Action”? >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Public Talk Singapore – 21 April 2017 (An Excerpt)
For example, you cannot steal, be promiscuous, what you do for your living should also be of good karma (善业). Your career choice shall be your choice of destiny. If you are in the wrong profession, your fate will not be fantastic (选择职业就是选择你的命运). If you are involved in the act of killing today, this is considered NOT the Right Action. If you are in a trade that helps others, that is called Right Action .
< What is Right Livelihood? >
Master Jun Hong Lu’s Discourse to Disciples (An Excerpt) – 5 July 2012
Question: May I know what is Right Livelihood (“正命”) means?
Answer: Right Livelihood (“正命”) is about being an upright person (正直的人)in this world. You are someone who accords with the conditions (随缘) and you go where your fate and destiny leads you and never go against it. If you insist on going against what your fate and destiny dictates (跟命运拧着干), then that is not right. For example, a person is leading a hard life now, he may try to change his fate and destiny, but he should not contend against it (硬要拧着做).
Have you all read the novel “Red and Black” 《红与黑》(Le Rouge et noire) . The character in the story was born in poverty, but he aspired to make it to the upper class in society, and he was eventually killed. This story was made into a novel and the man was ridiculed by even the future generations. This shows that everyone has his own fate which we should first accord to, and then we attempt to transform it, little by little (按照这个命来走，然后来局部地改变命). This is called the Right Livelihood (正命).
If your life is destined to be unfavourable and you are adamant in transforming it, you will not succeed. Instead, you should learn to endure (承受) and understand that it is because of the karma that you have created in your past life.
There are many who accepted the sufferings in their life; they have faith Guan Yin Bodhisattva is here to save them and help them to be liberated from the sufferings. However, they will need to repent, only then Bodhisattva is able to help them turn things around. This is Right Livelihood. Therefore, it is not about you being adamant by saying, “I will not bow to fate!”(我就不认命!).
Master Jun Hong Lu,
“Be diligent! Only then you can truly liberate yourself from Sufferings”
< Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享