How does negative karma come about?
Let me tell you. Negative karma comes from discrimination and attachment to illusory matters. So, people must not cling on to things. This is mine! That is his! All the people in the world must uphold the law. We Buddhists, who cultivate our minds, must learn to bear responsibility for karma. Do you have karma today? If you sow a cause, is there a consequence?
People need to awaken as early as possible, then you will gain realisation of the truth earlier. But many of those who live on Earth, don’t practise Buddhism. They realise what suffering is, only when they fall sick. Many people think that, they are in good health, “I’m just… I’m not sick.” But see, what happens when they have back pains. Look at people who have strong legs, they go bouncing around. They never think that anything will happen to their legs. One day, when they are unable to walk, unable to move or they are reliant on crutches. Then they come to realise, this is suffering. Once they are well again, they forget about the pain. They never think that, “today, I’m able to walk with my legs, because I have recovered from treatment. I have taken care of my body and I have been rewarded for my effort.” The same principle applies to how we get along with others. I am kind to others, that’s why I have been rewarded, as others also treat me with kindness. So, while you are healthy, you must think of the time when you’re sick. That is a philosophical point of view.
At times of adversity, we must think of better times ahead. If today you experience good fortune, you must consider that one day you might suffer misfortune. Regardless of what happens, you should spare a thought, spare a moment for wisdom. This wisdom will give you a balance in your mind between; pain and joy, happiness and sorrow.
When people are not in eager pursuit of something, things will materialise by themselves. Many people say, “I pray every day and my prayers aren’t answered.” If you put it aside, then one day you may be informed, that you have succeeded. Only if you persist in your effort, eventually the victory will be yours. We only focus on putting in our effort without expecting too much about the rewards. That is a kind of wisdom.
Our lives were originally not that hard, without troubles or worries. However, once our desires become too strong when we become too concerned about personal gains and losses. We begin to bear too much pain, afflictions and worries. We generate too many desires, because when you experience too much suffering, your desires will start to arise.
“How can I revert the situation, so that I won’t suffer so much?”. This is also a kind of desire.
Desires can be good or bad, “I wish to change myself, to become better”. This kind of desire, though it’s not noble is still considered to be a wholesome desire, right?
“Today I wish to help my daughter to get into a selective school”. Is this a desire? Yes. Is it a bad desire? No. It is just a selfish form of positive desire. Let me tell you. If you wish to attain a high level of spirituality, you need to keep your desires to the minimum and only care about putting in your effort.
Help your children with their studies and tell them that, if they can get in it is due to their blessings. If they fail, tell them not to be discouraged and continue to cultivate well. Only those who can control their desires and be moderate in their desires are able to enjoy true happiness in this world.
Think about it! Are those without desires happy and blessed? At mealtimes, they eat anything. Is this not happiness? If someone says, “I won’t eat this, I don’t want that…”. Tell me will he enjoy his food? They all have desires, they will experience suffering. Right? If someone says, “let’s go out and have a good time together”. You say, “I don’t like to go out with you… If he is going, I won’t go”. Look at this desire of yours, it will cause you to lose a lot of happiness you are unable to accept conditions as they are. Only those who know not to be fussy about losses and gains, are able to enjoy themselves.
What is harmony in this world? What is the Bodhisattva’s acting in accord with conditions? It doesn’t matter. Every time we see each other, it is one fewer time we get to see each other. We have become friends today, let’s accord with conditions and work together. It is a form of blessing for all of us. This shows we have the affinity to be together, right? Only those who know how to truly let go, can enjoy ease and composure in life. Ease and composure. Having gained ease and composure, we may progress to another level of cultivation, which is liberation.
What is liberation? Liberation is being free from afflictions.
Many people often hear Buddhist monks say, “you must obtain liberation, you must let go”. Many would ask, “Master, what is liberation? What is letting go? What do we let go of?”. Liberation, as I have said, is to be free from worries. Do you have worries today? You can’t figure things out. If you can think it through, you are free.
What is letting go? Letting go is to stop thinking, don’t think about it. You say that, even if you don’t think about it, the matter still remains. Let me ask you, if you think about it, does the matter still remain? Yes, it does. Can you resolve it? No, you can’t. You can’t resolve it, so stop thinking about it for now. Can you do it? Yes, you can. You can do some chanting first and think about it later. You never know, the matter may be resolved by then. So why not let it go? At least during the time when you weren’t thinking about it, you have let it go, you are liberated.
After I have explained it this way you all can understand better. In fact, Buddha-Dharma helps us solve life’s complex problems and difficulties. Many don’t understand! So, what is the real essence of the Dharma? It enables you to avoid being entangled by your inner vexations. To avoid being controlled by your desires; and to avoid being swayed by your distracting thoughts. Hence, letting go is about cultivating the mind.
If you can liberate your mind, this is wisdom. Those who have wisdom are able to think things through. Without wisdom, how could they straighten things out? Right? Many people say; “Alas! The queue is so long! How terrible! Alas! I have to queue up for so long just to buy one thing! Alas! It’s such a hassle. I’m fed up!”
But some others will think differently when looking at the long queue, “everyone is in the same boat as me. Everyone is queuing up and waiting. If others can queue up to wait. Why can’t I do the same?”. Once they think it through, they will be able to let go and no longer be bothered. This is letting go.
Cultivate to the end and you will master your afflictions control your afflictions. When faced with worries, some may say, “I’m troubled and unhappy. Forget about it, I can work it out”.
You are caught in a traffic jam today, you are already late, you are anxious. In such a traffic jam, how will you get to work? Many people that are anxious, they want to rush. They are agitated; they have no wisdom. Those with wisdom would immediately send a text message, “I’m so sorry, I’m caught in a massive traffic jam. I’m stuck on the road right now. Please tell the manager for me”. That’s it, then he wouldn’t be anxious sitting in the car. He used his wisdom to solve his problem. However, many people would still be fretting, they want to rush there within a few minutes. Despite the fact that they know there are only 5 minutes left before they are running late, they will still bust a gut rushing. When they finally rushed into the office, everyone in the office, all the colleagues, can see you rushing in. They know you are late for work, whereas the person who sent the text, walks in nonchalantly half an hour later. Everyone assumes that this person is just returning from a meeting. This is wisdom. This is why people should learn to let go.
Those who are able to eliminate their negative karma have supranormal powers. If you are able to resolve difficulties, you can be said to possess supernatural abilities. Why don’t you have them? Why can’t you see through things? That’s why you have worries. Why are other people able to straighten things out? Why are they able to solve their problems? They have supranormal powers. The term supranormal powers (Shen Tong “神通” in Chinese), consists of Shen ‘energy’ and Tong ‘thinking it through’. To have energy and see a way through. Isn’t this a supranormal power?
I hope you all learn Buddhism well and can be liberated from your karma. Whether you are liberated from afflictions, or liberated from ignorance, this is liberation. The term liberation (Jie Tuo “解脱” in Chinese), consists of Jie ‘letting go’ and Tuo ‘breaking away’.
If you break away from troubles don’t you have wisdom? If you break away from your negative karma, don’t you have merit and virtue? If you break away from ignorance don’t you have the ultimate ‘Prajna’ wisdom? Of course, you do, only this way can you cultivate with the right faith and intention.
If you practise Buddhism with the right faith and intention then at a certain point of time, won’t you attain the perfect enlightenment? Once you attain perfect enlightenment, you are a Bodhisattva. By cultivating with the right faith, you attain perfect enlightenment. Then as you continue your cultivation with diligence, eventually you attain unexcelled complete enlightenment. You attain Buddhahood.
Cultivating the mind is actually very difficult, but it can be simple too. In fact, it involves cultivating the Four Boundless States.
By cultivating the Four Boundless States, you control yourself. You need to nurture loving-kindness, right? You need to have compassion towards sentient beings. You need to be generous, charitable. Like a philanthropist, being compassionate towards sentient beings. You need to have empathetic joy, always wearing a smile towards everyone. You perform your task happily. Equanimity is about the act of giving which includes the giving of wealth, the Dharma and fearlessness.
As long as you can help someone today you will help them. Aren’t you then performing the actions of a Bodhisattva? Aren’t you then performing the Four Boundless States? Hence, many people say, “I can’t become a Bodhisattva or Buddha, because I’m too selfish”. No. It’s not that you are selfish, but you do not have the courage to elevate yourself and conquer your inner desires. If you can conquer your inner desires, you will possess the Four Boundless States.
We must always keep in mind the suffering of others. Have empathy and share their pain, when others are in difficulty, you feel the pain. When others suffer, you always have them on your mind; “they are suffering, I must help them”. You give others strength. You must learn from the Master; when others suffer, I will always tell them, “you must persevere. You must believe in Guan Yin Bodhisattva. The Bodhisattva will certainly save you”. After I have given them strength, they will have the confidence to live a better life. Right? Furthermore, you must have the joy in helping people.
Many people go to help others but end up frightening people. They say things like, “look, it’s your karmic punishment. You have not cultivated well. Look, this is your karmic result! That’s why you have such a serious illness. You must be more diligent in your cultivation. Otherwise, you could die anytime. Even Bodhisattvas are unable to alter anyone’s karma”. After listening to all this, how could they have the will power to live on? How could they be saved?
People who truly have wisdom are cheerful and happy when helping others. Some like to smile, they help people happily. Actually, this is also a form of giving, to bring joy to others. They would say, “don’t you worry, it will be fine. Many people suffered from the same illness like you. They got well through reciting sutras. Take me for instance, in the past I had such and such an illness. I got well through reciting sutras. It’s true. So, I hope it will work for you too. Cheer up. Be cheerful. Cancer cells fear happy people”. Right?
Let me ask you, would evil things such as cancer cells be afraid of Bodhisattvas? Yes, they are afraid of two types of Bodhisattvas. The first one is Vajra Bodhisattva, they are afraid of the Bodhisattva. So, you must have Vajra Bodhisattva at heart. The other one when Maitreya Bodhisattva comes, they would also be afraid. When Maitreya Bodhisattva starts laughing, they would run helter-skelter.
So, a person with dharma joy can also save people. Many people can change their way of thinking when they are more cheerful. They will no longer feel terrible, sad or miserable. To give our valuable time; to give our money; or even to give our lives to enlighten others to save others, is the true essence of the Four Boundless States. This is their true meaning.
You need to learn from Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s mercy and compassion and persist with your cultivation. How would you not become a Buddha? How can people not become Buddhas? So those who wish to become Buddhas must cultivate with diligence. Those who are diligent are able to become Buddhas.
Alright, I will continue, you must all understand what wisdom is. Wisdom refers to Buddha’s wisdom, not to human wisdom. People with human wisdom are concerned about gains and losses, “Well, as for this matter, if I take this road, I can save a little. By doing that, I can save a little”. It is not like that; Buddha’s wisdom is greatly merciful and greatly compassionate.
Great wisdom. It has nothing to do with human wisdom. So, we must understand what wisdom is. Wisdom is also referred to as the ‘Prajna wisdom that perceives the totality’. Prajna wisdom is the wisdom of Bodhisattvas, wisdom that perceives the totality, it refers to total form knowledge.
Actually, if a person really acquires the wisdom of Bodhisattvas, they will have a total form knowledge of anything. They can give full play to their wisdom, virtue and ability; your wisdom. Therefore, there are some children at school whom others like to play with, because these children can think up solutions to any problem. They are clever at solving problems because they analyse human wisdom.
What is meant by total form knowledge? It is Bodhisattvas’ wisdom. They can tell whether your wisdom is high level or low level, whether it is selfish or selfless wisdom. This is due to the protection and blessings of Bodhisattvas. So, we must work to achieve the ‘Prajna Wisdom of Differentiation’.
That is you possess the Bodhisattva’s Prajna wisdom. It differentiates itself from other forms of wisdom. It is different from human form, you are able to know and understand each person’s habits and their personalities. That means you have total form knowledge. Eventually this becomes ‘Prajna wisdom of all knowledge’.
A truly wise person is able to apply wisdom to any matter. Some people are wise in a particular area but lack wisdom in a different area. So, the ‘Prajna wisdom that perceives the totality’ is a total form of knowledge. Hence, understanding wisdom in cultivation is essential. This is called ‘corresponding to one Dharma’.
Take a look, this one path is certainly corresponding. All those who learn Buddhism. All those that possess wisdom. All those that learn Buddhism possess wisdom. Hence, those with a high level of cultivation and practise Buddhism well, will definitely posses the Prajna wisdom.
Thus, they can penetrate and understand all Dharmas. All Buddhists are the same, it doesn’t matter which school or lineage of Buddhism. Look at their elders; look at their teachers; and look at the senior monks or nuns, they all possess wisdom. Since ancient times, there have been many eminent Buddhist monastics or lay practitioners. Look at the words they speak. The wisdom they share with humanity, that is supreme Prajna wisdom.
So, assess whether you possess wisdom and you will know how well you are cultivating. When faced with a problem, if you are agonized or troubled. If you can’t straighten things out then sorry, you are still a beginner. If you are able to deal with matters as they arise, you might feel a little upset. But you get over it quickly, you have already crossed the threshold.< Master Lu: Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享