When people encounter problems, the first thing they do is to blame others, “It’s all your fault”. They even slander other people. They always blame others no matter what they do. They want others to give in, but they never compromise. Keep in mind that if you always expect others to compromise, you will gradually become paranoid and be obsessed with the concept of self. As time goes by, you would lose your Buddha mind. Therefore, after some time, you will slowly quit your Buddhist practice and spiritual cultivation.
I want you to understand, the reason for sowing irretrievable evil causes is that you have been sowing evil causes every hour, every minute and every second. You may question “How did I offend him?” This is what people often ask, ”How did I offend him? I really don’t understand what I have done? Why did he treat me so poorly?” You didn’t give him a smiling face. Your way of speaking was quite nasty. It’s all because of something you just said.
You have been keeping on about a particular person but fail to consider the feelings of someone else by your side. What we say unintentionally can be taken personally by others. And they would think you are trying to insinuate about them. You would have now sown a bad cause without knowing.
Imagine that a husband and a wife have been quarrelling for quite some time. One asks, “Why are you picking up a fight with me today?” The other one says, “Because of something you just said”. “When did I say this?” “You don’t even know what you just said?” “You don’t even want to admit what you just said?” “When did I say this?” People sow many this kind of causes due to ignorance. These negative causes will have a negative impact on your future and career.
I have always told you that our greatest enemy is ourselves. To correct our shortcomings is to conquer ourselves. People live in suffering. We should learn to correct our shortcomings in order to conquer ourselves, so we could then overcome all difficulties and pains in life. I am not asking you to conquer others. You just need to overcome all obstacles in life. You won’t be troubled by affliction or suffering, once you are able to overcome yourselves. You have simply overcome the obstacles you are supposed to encounter. In this case, you don’t need to bear the suffering any more.
For example, as for most of you, it is normal to get angry when others are yelling at you. However, if you are able to overcome yourself and take control of your temper by telling yourself, “I mustn’t get angry because I myself will suffer”. “He can slander me all he likes, but I know I’m not like what he described”. “It doesn’t matter”. This is how you can overcome yourself. You will not feel upset anymore. You are no longer frustrated. Otherwise, you will be sad and distressed.
I will elaborate on the concept of pain and happiness. Pain and happiness are merely the feeling and perception in your mind— sensation. Pain is a kind of feeling. Happiness is also a kind of feeling/bearing. You laugh when you are happy, and you can feel the happiness in you. After you finish laughing, what’s left? “I was laughing so hard just now”. How many of you can still remember the details once the laughter is gone? There are a lot of funny matters in our everyday life. They would make us laugh whenever we think of them. But are we going to keep them in mind all the time? It disappears when the laughter ends. It is merely a feeling or perception.
Haven’t you been happy when you were young? Haven’t you been agonised when you young? It becomes an experience at present. Sometimes these feelings are very strong. For example, once you have been in intense pain and you were unable pull out, then your turn into depression over time. Once you have experienced immense happiness, you will be like Maitreya Buddha.
So let me talk about the sensation of human mind. Our mind is nowhere to be found sometimes. It’s the mind that creates pain and happiness. If you are happy today, it’s because you want to be happy. There you go, you are happy. Some people refuse to find a way to be happy. When others comfort them and tell them to be happy: “Come on, let’s hang out a bit”. “No!” “Come on, you’ll be happier once you go out”. “No, I’d rather stay unhappy”. Have you ever behaved such way? Especially when you were young? How about now? Were you not being silly when you were a child? Are you still being silly now? You haven’t really changed.
Therefore, I would like you to understand, to see, to feel and take control of the invisible perception in your mind. The perception starts to feel and react when you are upset. When you are unhappy, act fast to change, tell yourself to change: “Be happy! Be happy! Be happy!” If you find yourself to be over joyed, watch out and beware. However, one of the weaknesses of humans is that they fail to sense their unhappiness before it’s too late. They yell at others to unleash their anger. They want to vent their bottled-up emotions regardless any consequences. They just want to take it out on anyone that comes their way. When they are happy, they get crazy and excited. In the end, they lose control and get into trouble. The Bodhisattva tells us that all these are a kind of invisible perception.
We are helplessly bound by things beyond our control in our everyday life. We feel helpless. What options do you have? There are many natural disasters these days, what can human beings do to prevent them? We are helpless aren’t we? People are tied up in deep loneliness. Don’t you think people are lonely? Don’t you feel lonely when you are at home all alone? Moreover, you need to cook, and you have to endure some suffering. You may feel distressed. You have no one to talk to. Very lonely!
Reality is always harsh and hopeless. Look at the reality nowadays, Don’t you find it cruel? The reality that everyone has gone through makes us realise how cruel it is. “Ouch, how was that possible?” “Ouch, how did that impact so many people?” “Ouch, why is there so much suffering?” Have you ever heard that a lot of people are suffering? Have you heard? Alas, it’s so pitiful. You’ll feel helpless. That’s how it is. People are fragile and helpless.
In our short life journey to this world, what do you actually want to possess?
Why do you want to shoulder so much burden? Once you shoulder the burden. It causes so much suffering. It’s so depressing. It’s so worrisome. You’re so lonely. Such is life, there is so much burden to bear. Where can happiness be found? Where is pain? The moment you breathe your last breath, where is pain and where is happiness?
You are fully aware that everything is unreal and impermanent. When there is no perception in your mind, you won’t feel anything anymore. The perception in their mind simply don’t exist when people are about to pass away. Only before you depart this world and you get enlightened, can you truly understand that our life is unreal and paradoxical. People feel as though they were dead even when they are alive. Our life seems to exist but not quite so. People’s minds are intriguing. Can you see that?
Someone appeared to have a good mood and you spoke to him. Another person said to you “Hey, I heard he was upset”. “No, he didn’t seem unhappy”. “I just spoke to him and he seemed happy”. “How come he got upset after a short while?” Life is full of surprises. Why do I say so? You own something now and lose it the next minute. You find happiness at the current moment. Soon the happiness is gone. You feel sad all of a sudden. Not long later, the sadness is gone. We live between gain and loss, between making a choice and having no choice, between sorrow and joy. People are living a life filled with impermanence.
Therefore, people’s mindset changes all the time, it can change from peace to panic easily due to the impact brought by our surroundings. It is very difficult for me to try and help people. I always give guidance on mental health to many Buddhist practitioners. I help free them from their afflictions. I advise them to utilise the Bodhisattva’s wisdom to resolve the vexations in their mind. After the conversation, they said, “Master, I have straightened out my thoughts”. “I’m happy now. I have figured things out”. “I’ll listen to Master’s advice and correct my shortcomings”. The next day, ”Oh, how come I’m back to my old self again?” It is always easier said than done, the concept of impermanence prevails.
I have told you this before. A couple had been quarrelling for years. In the end, they made up their mind to file for divorce. “Let’s go to get it done”. “There’s no end to our arguments”. “Let’s go to the court together and file for divorce”. In the countryside, the court was nearby. It’s only a short walking distance. In those days, there was no public transport. They were walking to the court. They arrived by a pond which obstructed their path. The husband said, “I’ll carry you on my back”. The wife had no choice as she didn’t want her shoes to get wet. Then the husband carried her on his back and waded through the water to the other side. The pond became deeper after heavy rain. The husband put the wife down after crossing the pond. The wife said, “My dear, let’s go back, I still appreciate you”.
This is what our life is like. It is impermanent and keeps changing. It never stops changing. We’ll be hurt if things keep changing. Think about this. The dishes we ate may taste too salty or plain. When you find a dish to be too salty, you add some sugar. Then it tastes too sweet, you add some salt. You add some sugar again, then a bit more salt. After a few times, the dish becomes “salt and pepper”. This is what we are like.
Our relationship works the same way. So does our mentality. It is most important to live in the present. The happiness you feel at the present moment is real happiness. The pain you suffer right now is real pain. The Bodhisattva wants us to know that human beings are amazing. Sometimes they are anxious, sometimes they are peaceful. They are impacted by the surrounding environment.
People can get sick any time. This is all because of external influences. If you get sick all the time, it means you are impacted by the external environment. Think about how much you are impacted by a few words said by others. Your emotions can fluctuate greatly. Think about how much you are influenced by the surrounding environment which could easily stir you up. When your mind is stirred up, your desire is aroused, ”Wow, go shopping now”. “This is good stuff, very cheap!” “The price will go up in the future”. Then you go and buy it. This is how the carrier of desire comes into effect. After this, within this carrier, you will work tirelessly and find every means to satisfy your desire. In the end, you’ll be trapped by your desire.
I have been talking about Dharma for an hour now. How time flies! I hope you have enjoyed it. Time goes fast when you are happy. If I ask you to sit quietly, it is like a punishment to you if you can’t sit still. If you can sit still and remain calm, it is a form of meditation. Do you know you are practising Zen meditation now? Meditation requires you to calm your mind and to clear all thoughts. You have been listening to my Dharma talk for an hour. Your mind is empty. Therefore, time went fast.
If you keep thinking about things that are troubling you, about your work, your child, your family as well as things that you want to buy. Your mind can never be at peace. If you can’t sit quietly, you can’t practise meditation very well. What do you think meditation is? If you can sit still and cultivate your mind, it’s called Zen meditation. If you can calm your mind, you will attain meditative concentration. At the end of your meditative concentration, you’ll obtain meditative wisdom—The Bodhisattva’s meditative wisdom.
BUDDHISM STORY TELLING by MASTER JUN HONG LU
There was a young monk stopping by a practice centre in a village. Someone offered him two monastic robes. (In the past, people can make any kind of offering to monastics. It’s like people offering food to monastics nowadays. The person happened to have robes at home to offer to the young monk, the monk who had left the household life. As a monk, he could accept such an offering.) After this, the monk decided to offer one of them to a senior monk. (The senior monk was his mentor, also a senior monk in the temple the so-called master in modern term. The senior monk was the young monk’s uncle.)
After the retreat, he returned to the monastery the young monk visited the senior monk and spoke to him who was the young monk’s uncle. The young monk offered the robe to his uncle. The senior monk said, “I have enough robes already, I have a lot of them”. So he declined the offering. The young monk earnestly requested a few times, but the senior monk declined his offer firmly. He made it clear that he really didn’t want the robe. The young robe was very sad. He believed his uncle declined his offering because his uncle didn’t like him.
(You all know that in our society nowadays when others turn down your gift you’ll feel uncomfortable. When you offer a gift to someone sincerely, it is a gesture of respect when others accept your gift. Do you understand? Some people would inspect carefully when others give them a gift. After inspecting the gift, they turn it down. Isn’t it embarrassing to others? If you don’t wish to accept the gift you should straight away decline it without any inspection. That would make a big difference. If you decline only after inspecting how would others not be embarrassed? No matter what gift it is, you should be cheerful. A gift is a token of appreciation. Do not let others down. )
Back to the story, the young monk was very upset. He believed his uncle disliked him. He even thought to himself since his uncle refused to share the necessity with him. Robes are considered to be a necessity for monastics. The young monk decided to resume secular life. ”Now that my uncle dislikes me, I would return to secular life”. “If you don’t like me, why should I follow you?” “I might as well live a secular life and quit being a monastic”.
From then on, he was bothered by all distracting thoughts. He was thinking what would become of him after resuming secular life. His mind was in a mess and full of wondering thoughts. He was thinking to sell the robe after resuming secular life and to buy a sheep. The sheep would soon breed a lot of lambs, so that he could earn sufficient income. He could then marry a woman and have his own child.
After this, he would bring his wife and child to visit his uncle in the temple. He would say, “Look, they are my wife and my child”. “Look, I have everything now”. He also imagined telling his wife that, he would take care of the child on their way there. But the wife insisted that he should drive the carriage and to leave the child with her. However, he was persistent in taking care of the child. He went and grabbed the child. In the end, the child fell off the carriage and was run over by the wheel. He was extremely angry and wanted to hit his wife with a stick.
These were all imaginary scenes. At the time, he was fanning his uncle to cool him down. He was occupied with all these wondering thoughts. He was holding a fan at that time. As he was imagining hitting his wife with a stick he hit his uncle’s head with the fan in his hand. The senior monk was very wise. He possessed great wisdom. He knew what his young nephew was thinking. He said to the young monk,” Hey, if you can’t hit your wife, why are you hitting me for?” As the senior monk could read his mind the young monk was surprised by the mind-reading ability of his uncle.
He was totally astonished and walked away with great anxiety. He left the monastery. The senior monk managed to take his nephew to see the Buddha. It was during the Buddha’s time. You can see how fortunate they were. Just because of a small matter the senior monk took his nephew to the Buddha.
After hearing about what had happened the Buddha said to the young monk with great compassion, “People’s mind is unsettled, distracted with too many wondering thoughts, even including things in the far future. Your mind could go wild. Therefore, we should strive to liberate ourselves from the Three Poisons of greed, hatred and delusion”. In the story I just told you the young monk was entangled by greed. Therefore, we need to be liberated from that in order to succeed in our cultivation.
That’s all for today’s Buddhist teaching session, I wish you could practise Buddhism with diligence. I wish you could calm your mind. What I want to tell you today is that no matter how much the surrounding environment has changed, our mind should remain as it is. Only when our mind stays tranquil, could it be as still as water. Thanks everyone.
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