My fellow Buddhist friends, Buddhist friends from all around the world and also the disciples of Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door, Good evening everybody Today, I would like to touch on Buddhism in plain terms.
All the sufferings in this world are empty and impermanent. There is a story of a Brahmin family in India. Brahmins belong to the highest-ranking of the social classes. One day, a boy was born into this family. He looked very handsome and dignified. His parents doted on him very much. From a young age, he was very clever and was completely different from his peers. His life was filled with happiness, and he had no worries. His teen years were blessed. In short, he led a very good life. Sadly, people are often deluded by desires and pleasure. During happy times nobody wants to think about the possibility of suffering in the future. Just like many people nowadays, when times are good, they won’t think that they might suffer one day. All of you have enjoyed good health before. But have you ever thought about your body failing you when you age? No. It is the same with this Brahmin.
The child in this Brahmin family was exceptionally wise and very intelligent. As he was raised in a wealthy and peaceful environment, you wouldn’t imagine that this child could understand the sufferings of life and the many bad things that people would do. He was just a child. But he already knew what to do and what not to do. When he reached adulthood, he left home to become a monk. See, what does ‘leaving home’ mean? It means bidding farewell to one’s family members and leaving home to become a monk.
Once, on his way back from teaching dharma in a very dark and dense forest, he encountered a merchants’ caravan. They are businessmen from other towns and were passing through the woods. When they reached a mountain, the sky had turned dark, and the businessmen had no other choice but to camp there for a night. They set up the tents and flocked together. The monk saw these merchants with their big carts filled with goods but he was not concerned, it was as if he didn’t see anything. The monk was not far away from them, wandering around walking back and forth alone. At that moment, a group of bandits appeared from the other side of the forest. They are robbers from the mountain and have come to steal and rob. They heard that a group of merchants will travel this route so they planned to take action at night to steal all their wealth and possessions. As the bandits sneaked up on the merchants’ camp, they saw a person strolling around outside the camp. “Gosh! There’s someone on watch duty! Or is he just walking around?” They feared that the merchants were geared up, so they decided to wait until everyone went deeper into their sleep. The bandits hid at the edge of the mountain. The person walking outside the camp was actually the monk, who had stayed up throughout the night without sleeping a wink. He just paced up and down, walking back and forth. Of course, unlike all of you, I believe he must be reciting some Buddhist scriptures while pacing.
As the day dawned, the bandits came off their horses, walked up to this side of the mountain and waited for a chance to strike, but to no avail. The bandits couldn’t find the right time to strike, so they retreated with anger and frustration. The merchants who were sleeping in the camp went out to check and saw the large group of bandits rushing up the mountain with wooden and metal batons in their hands, leaving in anger, cursing aloud and galloping. Only the monk was standing outside the camp.
The merchants went over to ask the monk in horror:” Venerable master, did you see the bandits?”; “Yes, of course. I saw them much earlier. They were already here since last night”. Then the monk calmly explained the situation to them. “Venerable master, with so many bandits, why weren’t you frightened? You were alone. How did you defeat so many bandits without showing any sign of nervousness?”; The monk calmly replied:” Sir, only the rich are afraid of the bandits. I am just a monk without even a penny in my pocket. Hence, I have nothing to be afraid of. The bandit are after money and treasures and I have none of that. So it doesn’t matter if I live high on the mountain or deep in the forest, I have no fear.”
This story tells us how foolish and ignorant many people are. People today desire illusionary things such as wealth and fame, things that may come to them today but gone tomorrow, something that can disappear in an instant or fall into the hands of others and yet, they refuse to part with them. Instead, they risk their lives in mad pursuance, while turning a blind eye towards their kind nature, a peaceful life, a mental state that is calm and at ease, all of these we choose to neglect. This is why we say “to be safe and well is a blessing”. For you to be able to safely and peacefully sit here today is a blessing. Imagine how many people out there are suffering, imagine how many people become disabled after a car accident, imagine how many others who have died of cancer. Hence, for a true Buddhist practitioner, you should be like the monks who appreciate the meaning of suffering, emptiness and impermanence in this world. You were born with nothing, and you shall leave this world the same way. When you hold on to the wealth, which is impermanent in reality, it’s just a burden.
Therefore, we must correctly recognise that everything in the world is suffering and empty by nature. Nothing lasts forever, and everything is illusory. So that you can let go of your ego and diligently cultivate yourself. That’s why no matter what we do, we must learn to be virtuous and resolve all moral issues that we face. The intentions and thoughts that we have every day will bring us a lot of karmic obstacles. We don’t need any of that. We must not allow our defiled thoughts to destroy our inherent nature and purity.
It’s just like the natural beauty of your mind. Many people are intoxicated with greed, hatred, delusions, arrogance and doubts. They want to get their hands on everything, and they madly pursue fame and fortune. Their actions only bring them natural disasters deep within themselves. Hence, for every episode of natural disaster, we have our share of contribution in the karma collectively. It’s collective karma.
We must recognise how impure our soul is before we can aspire to be a Buddha. We have to eliminate the defilements. Be diligent in learning and understanding the Buddhist teachings. Do not put the blame on others casually. Neither should you be arrogant. That’s because the minute you point the finger at others, you have set the karma in motion. You are fully responsible for this karma. At times, the ramifications can be so massive that you may end up in hell. To be accomplished on this spiritual path you should first return to The Path. By that I mean, to get back on the path, just like when you want to drive to a highway. Before you arrive on the highway, you have to drive on the small roads first and gradually make your way onto the highway. This is what it means for one to “return” to the path. This path is the path of enlightenment. It’s a kind of wisdom. When someone says “You have attained The Way.” What does that mean? It means you understand all the principles. You’d say, “I get it” as you know exactly, as a person, what you should do in your practice of Buddhism and in your everyday life, and how you should live in this world.
So within your perception, you should be able to see this world with utmost clarity of understanding. Do you know your own mind? Many people don’t really know themselves. Hence, I want you to know that you should set aside all your cluttered thoughts and focus on propagating the Dharma and help sentient beings. What is the meaning of “Attain the Way”? It’s about distancing yourself from all selfish and distracting thoughts. You shouldn’t be swayed by whatever happens in the dharma realm, referring to the ten dharma realms, or this human realm. Hence, it’s called the dharma realm. Sometimes, your pursuit of material gains, fame or fortune might turn you into a stranger to even yourself. That’s why many people, let me use a simple example, look at those TV show addicts, bread and jam become their staple food. They binge-watch episode after episode, become couch potatoes and even give up their jobs. They are resolute to get to the finale of the show and end up watching too much. As a result, their eyes and lower back become sore, and they also put on weight. This is what happens when a person sits for long hours every day – weight gain is inevitable. We should aim to be a person of morality, learn to be selfless. And keep thinking about sentient beings, with that, the world you own shall be boundless. Thus, we have to be diligent in our practice of Buddhism and be sincere when praying to the Buddha. We have to learn to see through the reality of things and let go.
I hope you will put in the best effort in your spiritual cultivation. Life is impermanent. I often tell you, what’s transient may seem to be permanent to us. As we live in this world, there are many things beyond our comprehension. We must learn to understand them. If you don’t have the patience, then you will never understand them. Hence, having patience is an important trait. Impatient people will never attain Buddha-hood.
What is patience? It is about being steadfast in making preparations. Preparation is getting ready. Just like when we were in school, “Ready, Get set, Go!” Right?” Are you ready?” “Have you prepared?” Right? Preparation requires patience, readiness comes from diligent preparation and it is through patience that one becomes diligent. An impatient person will not achieve much in their Buddhist practice nor will they be diligent in their practice. The aim of practising Buddhism is to attain wisdom. Be diligent in practising Buddhism. Learn the Buddha’s wisdom well. Reflect on how the Buddha promoted Dharma during His time, how He helped us to understand such profound Dharma. That’s why people must understand that all phenomena in this world are brought about by man. In reality, all circumstances are empty and idle by nature unchanging, and it is only the people themselves who stir things up and thus create a lot of afflictions.
If one’s mind remains unmoved, everything remains undisturbed. It does not matter how other people behave if your mind remains in an undisturbed state. Nothing can change you. Let me give you a simple example. You are busy taking selfies at home, and you don’t care what other people are saying. You are indifferent. Aren’t you in a state of undisturbed mind? People say: “Do you know? This product is really good, and it can make you rich, help you do this and that.” You look at your reflection in a mirror or in the lens. If you remain calm and not affected, then what effect does it have on you? Nothing at all. However, once your mind is moved, it will start to show on your face. You start to feel like a millionaire, a billionaire. This is because your mind has been affected by it.
At times, it is best to speak less. If you speak too much, you will invite troubles. Speak only when it is necessary. What doesn’t need to be said should be refrained. Don’t say what you shouldn’t say – if you say them you will invite enemies, do you understand? Because you are not supposed to say it. This is how a person invite rivals in their life. Am I right? If somebody is speaking and you suddenly interrupt them. Why did you do that? Aren’t you creating enemies in then? Am I right? When you are not careful with your words and say something you shouldn’t say, the words coming out of your mouth are just nonsense and such nonsensical words will invite troubles, am I right? We must be cautious with our speech in our daily life. That’s why I hope everybody will make the best effort.
Alright, This is Buddhism in Plain Terms for today. When I get the chance I will get in touch with you through videos and give more talks on this. I hope that everyone can practise Buddhism with diligence and stay undisturbed no matter what happens. Here I am in Australia, though faraway I really miss you all. I hope you will benefit more from practising Buddhism that will inspire you to work even harder. Let go of all affinities, be patient and diligent in your cultivation. In the future, I will give more talks on Buddhism in Plain Terms. So that you will be able to stay clearheaded and wise at all times and cope with life’s troubles and tribulations. Where there is a will, there is a way. As long as you have wisdom, you will surely be able to break free from the cycle of rebirth in this lifetime.< Master Lu: Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享