Master Lu: Buddhism In Plain Terms

Master Lu | Buddhism in Plain Terms | Episode 13 | Let our thoughts neither increase nor decrease

My fellow Buddhist friends, Buddhist friends around the world, today I will again speak on “Buddhism in Plain Terms”.

Our interpersonal relations are dictated by karmic affinities. Sometimes they are positive, but other times they are negative. When positive affinities arrive, we must cherish them, so that they will continue, because positive affinities have the capacity of being extended; When negative affinities arrive, you must not exacerbate their negative karmic effects, causing them to ripen sooner. Instead, you must learn to be patient, then the negative karma will not come immediately. Thus, interpersonal relationships, be it positive or negative, are all attributed to affinities.

If you are unhappy today, it is certainly a karmic result taking effect. When a karmic effect comes into being, you will experience it regardless of whether it is positive or negative. Buddhist scriptures say, “When karmic conditions arise, we will experience the results of our own deeds.”

This tells us that, when you come to the realisation, whatever happens is the fruit of karma coming into effect, so you will come to terms with it and not be fixated on it. When you know that a positive affinity has come into being today, you must not be overjoyed, because it is merely the fruit of what you have sown. On the contrary, if a negative affinity comes today, you must not feel too miserable, because it is also the result of your past actions. No other people can suffer in your stead.

For example, a person develops a grudge against you and someone says, “I will bear it on your behalf”. It’s impossible. That person will still come after you. He will not let you off; Suppose you have a good affinity today, and someone wants to reap the fruit of your good karma. No way! What’s yours is yours, because that is the good karma you’ve had sown. So, this is exactly like what we often say, we should learn to bear any karmic results, no matter what affinity arises. We must accept it first, then we can slowly change it, bear with it and eventually resolve it.

 


Now I would like to talk to you about what is meant by observing the precepts in the Buddhist practice? By observing the precepts, we prevent our blessings from being depleted. Are you blessed with good fortune? You might have seen a fortune teller when you were young. The fortune teller might say that you were blessed. But why it is not the case when you are grown? You were told you would have a big fortune and become a government official when you were grown. But why then in the end you are neither an official nor a wealthy person? It is because you have frittered away your good fortune.

We must understand firstly, we mustn’t commit the act of killing. Because the karma of killing has debilitating effects on us. It will deplete all your good karma. When a person commits killing, they are actually breaking off the seeds of their great compassion. In other words, they are destroying their seeds of great mercy and compassion. I hope you all understand, even if you say you will resuscitate these seeds of great compassion, and restore them by practising recitations and making vows,  and to make amends for the karma of killing committed in the past. However even after one lifetime or two lifetimes, the negative karma is still there, because it is very difficult to eliminate the karma completely.  In your next life, when Bodhisattvas or other sentient beings come to enlighten you, the spirits will cause obstruction to your deliverance from suffering. You are keen to hear and learn the Dharma, but the spirits will do everything possible to stop you from hearing the Dharma. This is how karma works.

 


Buddhists must understand that no matter what we do, we must not create negative karma, we must not act without kindness.

Arhats and sages eliminate their attachment to self, but they fail to eliminate their attachment to dharma. That is to say that when you have cultivated to a certain level, even if you reach the level of Arhats and Sages, and cultivated to the level of having no misapprehensions associated with views and mentation, (afflictions arise from seeing something, afflictions can also be induced by mental activity.  That is attachment to self. Arhats can have no such attachment.

It’s possible for Arhats to eliminate attachment to self.)  But they have not eliminated their attachment to dharma.  That means even if we can eliminate that attachment in our minds, but we are unable to resolve it perfectly. That’s why ignorant people are unable to break the attachment to self, let alone the attachment to dharma. It’s because they lack compassion. They do not know how to help other people. They only care for themselves, so they are unable to help others.

They become more distant from blessings but find calamities near at hand. Others do not have such misfortune so why do you? It is because you have gotten closer to calamities.  “Why would calamities get closer to me?” It’s very simple, because you have not nurtured compassion, and you have committed the karma of killing in the past.

Therefore, we must educate our Buddhist friends, when karmic conditions ripen, the fruit of karma will certainly take effect. When the karmic conditions of your prayer to the Buddha ripen today, your karmic result will come into being; If the karmic conditions of your prayer have not ripened, you won’t have your prayer answered no matter how hard you pray.

Thus, Bodhisattvas often say that when conditions are ripe, success will arrive. If you pray every day, will the Bodhisattvas not know about it? This is very important to know that how many meritorious and virtuous deeds you have performed, and how sincere you are when you pray.  Why do we have worries? It is because karmic conditions have not arisen, so of course you will be worried. You have prayed to have a certain wish fulfilled. Your prayer is not answered because the conditions have not matured, so you suffer and you feel miserable.

 


That’s why I tell you to take Buddhas as your role model, to learn to be both compassionate and wise. What does it mean to be both compassionate and wise? Be greatly merciful and compassionate, have pity for all sentient beings, and help others. While helping others, you need to help sentient beings fulfil their wishes at the same time – Use your wisdom to help sentient beings fulfil their wishes.

More often than not, many of you find someone pitiful, but you are unable to think of ways to help them. This shows you have only compassion but not wisdom; If you have sympathy towards others, and you have the wisdom to resolve their problems, then you have both compassion and wisdom. Tell me, Those who have wisdom, how are they not able to save others? Think about it, for those who have wisdom, how could they be foolish and deluded?

We must know how to purify our mind,  we must purify our thoughts. How do we become purer and purer?

Firstly, we need to practise calming and contemplation.  That means our mind must always be free of hindrances.  Just like a room in a house, if you don’t fill the room up with things, it will be spacious. You will feel comfortable when you enter the room; Just like a large living room in a house, many people fill their living rooms full, there is no room to sit anywhere. If you fill your mind with worldly concerns, such as fame, wealth, fortune and benefits, and it is filled to the brim. How can you stop your thoughts from arising? How can you stop observing what is going on in the world?

 


Calming and contemplation is practising Zen. What is practising Zen?

That is to contemplate everything in human life and understand it with an awakened mind: “Why did someone do such a thing?” “Why do you like this person so much?” “Why do you dislike that person?” All this requires the practice of Zen. It is to contemplate.

So people may ask “How to contemplate?”

Meditative concentration — the sort of reflection that emerges, not by visualisation, but by practising meditation. 

What is Zen? It is a kind of natural, awakened state of mind, that allows you to experience the existence of a certain matter, and its impact on you, as well as the perception that arises in your heart. This is what it is meant by practising Zen.

More often than not we pray to Bodhisattvas every day: “Bodhisattva, please bless and protect me”. But in reality, we have so many distracted, wandering thoughts. We have so many mental disturbances. Every day, our minds contain all sort of things except the Buddha. “What to eat and what to wear?” “What should I do to be better?”  and so on and so forth? Every day, we exist in a mass of distracted thoughts, which causing us to lose a lot of wisdom. Very soon frustration will be on our heels. It is said that eight or nine out of ten people are faced with frustration. Everyone experiences many frustrations, unhappiness and miseries.

 


How to control our frustrations? How to practise self-control?

Bodhisattvas tell us to treat it with patience. Those with forbearance will slowly overcome their frustrations. Many people are able to patiently endure unhappiness and continue to laugh and smile. Even when their husbands pick fights with them, they can still put on a smiling face. They know that it is temporary, and it will soon be over. Patience is the remedy, so she will patiently endure it. When you are happy, when happy times arrive, treat it with equanimity. The best approach is to treat it with equanimity.  So, don’t go overboard when you are happy, don’t be excessively sad either.

 


Avoid frequent rises and falls in mood.

In other words, you need to exercise control over your mind without any fluctuating rise and fall in your mood. When you are happy, your sense of happiness rises. You are in a joyous mood; When you are unhappy, there is a fall in your mood. When you have no energy, your mood is low. When one is full of yin energy, or full of negative energy, they will show no interest in anything. They are always low in spirits in anything they do, and they are not interested in anything they think.

People say, “You seem low today. Come on, I’ll take you out for a walk”. ”No mood”. “Regarding the matter, forget it, don’t want to think about it anymore”. “I’m not in the mood, I don’t feel like going out”. “I don’t want to go out”. This means you experience rise and fall in your emotions.

 


The Heart Sutra tells us “Neither increasing nor decreasing.

In reality it refers to our lives, when good things happen, don’t let your emotions rise; When bad things happen, alas, I’m in low spirits the whole day! As if this whole world, brings you nothing but trouble. Hence why philosophers in the past said: “Stand up and you can’t see a single ant, squat down and ants are everywhere”.

There is no rise nor fall in our true mind, neither increasing nor decreasing. It actually refers to Buddhists who have embarked on the path — this means you have gained a little realisation of the truth. Hence when people in ancient times talked about whether you were awakened or not, they weren’t actually saying you were awakened, they were saying you have found the path. You have entered the path. Entering the path means you have just gained some realisation. Attaining the path means you have already attained enlightenment. Therefore, the inspiration and guidance that Dharma gives to people is very, very important.

 

We must learn to be tolerant of each other’s mistakes. No matter what wrongdoings others have done, you must be tolerant towards them. Because they were not you, your mindset is not representative of theirs, nor are your actions representative of theirs. If you are unable to tolerate others, it means your mind is intolerant. It’s because many things that people do, are not considered satisfactory to you.

Things fail to go as smoothly as you have expected, but you must understand that all the people and matters in this world are not there for your benefit. They are not meant for you. They exist either to settle an old score or repay your kindness. Those who have grudges seek revenge. They come to this world to attend to what they are supposed to do.

They are not to be owned or used by you. In this world, there is nothing you can use forever or possess forever. If you have this kind of thought, the Bodhisattva’s wisdom, you will gradually understand that desires in this world will never give you complete satisfaction.

Do you think there is anything in this world which can give you contentment? Even if you are contented, and say, “Today, I am contented”.  But the next day you are discontented again. “I am satisfied with this matter, but I am not satisfied with that matter”. Hence people are forever trapped in insatiable desires. They live in suffering.

I will tell you why you cannot be satisfied. Many people ask, “Why can’t I be contented?”   It’s all because of your desires. If your desires are insatiable, how can you be contented? Then where do desires come from? Desires are like viruses which have the ability to proliferate.

Since desires lead to more desires, they have the ability to proliferate. For example, you already have a car, and you are quite happy with it. As soon as you see someone else driving a better car, your desire arises immediately — Desires have the ability to grow.  So you bought yourself a new car of the same model.  But when you see another car, you think that car is better, your desire arises again.

Why do many marriages break up? Because their desires are not fulfilled. When they see this one, they think that one is better, after seeing that one, they think this one is better; When they look at this house, they think that one is better, many people purchase houses this way. “I like the structure of this house”. “I like the structure of the rooms in that house”. “I like the interior, I don’t like the exterior”. Some say, “I like the exterior of their house, it’s very stylish. But the house seems particularly small once you walk in”.

The same thing goes when you stay in a hotel. Some rooms are very large, but the hotel entrance is particularly unattractive, and you feel embarrassed about it. When your guests offer to send you back to the hotel, not wanting them to see the small hotel you’re staying, you would turn down the offer. If your rooms upstairs are very large, you don’t have to bother how unattractive the entrance is, you would say, “Come, come with me. Come, come to my room”. Let people have a look at your hotel room. It’s especially spacious. Actually this is also a kind of desire. Because people are always occupied with their desires which are growing stronger.

Desires are addictive, just like people who become addicted to food. Some people do things they like and become addicted. For example, when we were young, there was this pupil in a class. When the teacher came in, he would say out loud, “Please rise!” The class would all stand up. Then, all the children would say, “Good morning teacher”.  The teacher would say, “Good morning class, please sit down”.  That pupil thought that saying “Please rise” was a great honour to him, that makes him feel proud of himself. It becomes his desire and he’s got addicted. If you tell him to let someone else do the job, he would become upset. If everyone gets the chance, he would be unhappy too.

Let me tell you, according to Buddhist scriptures, the objects of illusion are empty and unreal by nature. Things that are impermanent are referred to as objects of illusion. When you force yourself to distinguish them or even cling to them, you force yourself to distinguish or cling to something which is illusory by nature. Due to the discriminatory mind, “You see, I am different from other classmates”. “Look, I’m the class leader”.  What is he attached to? This is my position, it is for me to announce it. Actually, it only comprises three words, “Please stand up”. In some classrooms there are only two words, “Stand up”.

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