My fellow Buddhist friends，I will continue to speak on Buddhism in Plain Terms today.
We should understand that as Buddhists, our mood reflects a kind of feeling. While good mood makes us feel good, bad mood makes us feel lousy.
However, life is not all about the mood we are in, at times our mood can dictate a major part of our life. When we are in a good mood, everything seems rosy. Conversely, bad moods gets our minds messed up. We should not let our mood get the better of us in life. Hence, a Buddhist who has the wisdom to practise diligently understands that, oftentimes, they are not defeated by others, but rather by their own mood. We should not allow our bad mood to undermine our dignity or image as Buddhist practitioners.
Sometimes when you get in a bad mood, you are allowing others to see the limitations in you. It erodes your ability, interrupts your line of thoughts and eventually, makes you suffer from self-defeat. So for a wise person, a Buddhist practitioner, they are able to control their mood well, they understand the circumstances and the position they are in, and what they should say all the time. They are also clear in how to handle a matter no matter they are in a good mood or a bad mood. In this way, you are able to take charge of your own emotions and you shall find peace in all aspects of your life.
In fact, life is never bitter originally, our endless desires are what makes it bitter. Take a look: we want this today and that tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, we need something else. Your heart grows weary with your reluctance to let go of too many things. Our life is not meant to be bitter, it is our heart that is infected with bitterness from our pursuit of the material desires in this world. Our life is reduced to a pursuit of these desires, it becomes a process of constantly increasing and reducing our desires. When your desire in this world increases, so does your vexations and distress. Conversely, when we slowly let go of these desires, we will gradually realise the truth of life – that is suffering, emptiness and impermanence.
We came to this world and we went through so much suffering in life. In the end, when we leave this life, what we have left is just emptiness. We brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. Nothing in this world is permanent, no word that is eternal, no thought that is long-lived, no action that is enduring. Be it from the materialistic or spiritual aspect, we can own nothing. Hence, to have an in-depth understanding about the meaning of life is to understand the truth of suffering, emptiness and impermanence.
We have to learn to let go, renounce and to return to simplicity. Think back to how adorable we used to be when we were young. We used to offer our food to our uncles, aunties or brothers and sisters first, ”I don’t need this”, “Let the sister have it, let the brother have it”. Ironically, as we grow older, our desires also grow with us. We get used to fighting with others over things, we compete and contend and we argue over the most trivial things. This is the life we live, we have forgotten about our inherent quality and our true self. We need to return to this intrinsic character of ours, and let go of our desires in life.
In fact, to give up on our desires is to give up on the many irritabilities and greed in our life, and return to our inherent nature and our inner peace. What does “return” mean in this context? Firstly, you have to cure yourselves of greed, hatred and ignorance. If a person does not perform acts of kindness, they will incline towards doing evil over time. Thus, it is important that we must endeavour to do good. Not only must we do good deeds, but we must also promote mutual interaction of our innate Buddha-nature, that is a rational kind of interaction built on the fundamentals of altruism, universal love and compassion. When there’s interaction with others in such a manner, you will witness your own Buddha-nature.
We have to learn to witness our Buddha-nature through guarding our bodily actions, speech and thoughts. Today, when you aspire to be a Buddha, will you reflect upon yourself to see if you were able to guard your speech? If your thoughts were pure? Unwholesome thoughts will disable you to attain Buddha-hood or Bodhisattva-hood. Your behaviour will demonstrate your integrity and reveal whether you are noble or ignoble. Hence, your speech and your conduct will determine if others look up to or disdain you.
Buddhism teaches us how to gradually achieve a state of calmness. All of us must learn to settle our minds, to calm our mind, so we know that whoever propagates the dharma will be ingenious in their means. When they help others today, they will have the skilful approach of the Bodhisattva. This is because when a person is able to help others, they will always be equipped with ingenious methods, and their approach to liberating sentient beings will be skillful. This is especially important when we know that others are suffering or in distress, and we must make more effort to reach out to them.
While practising Buddhism and helping sentient beings, we must be able to recognise good and evil first, and also know ourselves — “Am I kind or evil today?” If you are filled with kind thoughts today and you go all out to perform good deeds — this is kindness. Conversely, if you are down in your mood today and your mind is filled with negative thoughts, then you should refrain from doing anything.
Our wellbeing on the inside is very important. Considering our physical condition, we have to stay healthy. As Buddhist practitioners, on the outside, we need to maintain mental wellbeing, where the energy of the body is balanced, or what we call — smooth flowing. Why do some people feel overjoyed on some days? This is because their “Qi” is smooth flowing, hence they are happy, as there is no resentment in them. Please remember, the “Qi” of a person without hatred is undisturbed. This is when love will manifest. When your energy is smooth and unhindered, vexations will not arise in you. When you have the skillful approaches to share Dharma with others, all your troubles will leave you.
This is why we have to contemplate and see the emptiness of the Five Aggregates. Do not allow your worldly thoughts to hinder your intrinsic Buddha-nature. Instead we should shine the light on it, to see it and to remove it, to see through them and rise above them. For instance, you plan to do a good deed today and you thought, “But I have no time”. That’s fine, as long as you emulate Guan Yin Bodhisattva in doing good deeds. You will overcome your lack of time. Today you said, “I will go help my neighbours out”, but someone in your family might dislike this neighbour and they gave you a piece of their mind, but you thought, “I should still help them, because I am a Buddhist practitioner”. You remove all the distractions around you, including those in your mind. To contemplate and see means to shine a light and see through the destruction of reality, Illuminate the emptiness of the Five Aggregates, you are allowing the Buddha’s light and energy in you to be integrated with your conduct. Only through this, you can stay resolute in practising The Way. People say, “It’s not difficult to do good deeds”, the challenge lies in persisting in doing good their whole life, in addition to abstaining from evil deeds.
Hence, in the promoting of Dharma, one must know to persevere with diligence and a just cause will receive extensive support. Others will come along to help. When you practise Buddhism, others will support you, think highly of you and they will respect you. You will have people help you in times of need. Hence, we should increase our virtues and blessings when spreading the Dharma.
I often tell you that Buddhist practitioners need to be blessed with good fortune, lacking which they will not be able to practise Buddhism. Many people abandon themselves to a life of pleasure and squander their time. How can they have the blessings to hear the Dharma? When they are in distress, they don’t know the way out. Just like many youngsters who suffer setbacks in their relationships. They can only seek refuge in internet cafes and on their blogs to help them kill time and alleviate their pain. This is a sign that they lack virtues and blessings. How does blessing come about? It is through helping and forming positive affinities with others. That’s how you accrue blessings. How does virtue come about? It is through respecting others always telling the truth, be a good friend to others and be at the service of sentient beings. To be able to help others makes you a virtuous person.
To a Buddhist practitioner, this altruistic and unseen power facilitates their good cause. This is the invisible unseen power that helps them. Take a look at a Buddhist practitioner: there are always people who want to help them, and other people may not be so lucky. Why is that so? Because they only care about themselves, drowning themselves in their own selfishness and never once think of helping others.
All things are created by the mind. If you are sincerely helping others today that makes you a kind-hearted person. If you perform small acts of kindness daily, 365 days, you will have 365 sparkles and kindness, which will suffice to make you a good person. Instead, if you perform some minor bad deeds daily, you will fill yourself up with evil and you will emerge a bad person.
How do we achieve purity of mind? As a spiritual cultivator, we have to aim to cultivate a pure mind, as only then will the evil thoughts and erroneous views from the outside, including those improper matters, not get the chance to intrude and meddle with our mind. This is when purity of mind is found.< Master Lu: Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享