Firstly, we humans must cleanse ourselves of greed, hatred and delusion, that we might have harboured in the past, as well as the foolish things we have done. Transform all the defilements that we have committed in the past, to a state of purity. This is what is meant by cleansing, it will keep our mind and body pure and bright.
Why are there people, whose mind and body are defiled? It is because they are always upset and unhappy. Therefore, their mind is gradually contaminated, this is how defilement is caused. Once your mind is filled with defilement, you will be contaminated by greed, hatred and ignorance. As a result, your innate Buddha nature will be shrouded. Innate Buddha nature, is to show compassion towards others, be kind and not be greedy.
How should a person cleanse themselves of greed, hatred and delusion? The best way is to recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance. Must do more recitations of this mantra. If you don’t like to repent or if you are reluctant to acknowledge your shortcomings you are likely to get into trouble. Once you are in trouble you will find your body, speech and mind do not act in coordination with one another.
For example, if you are unwilling to admit your shortcomings; you will often get upset, often find it difficult to get over things, often be unhappy. How do you connect your body, speech and mind? To be able to straighten out our thoughts to speak like a Buddha to think like a Bodhisattva, one needs to have the Buddha nature.
A person needs to have the Buddha nature which is fundamentally pure. As Buddhists often say, “The mind remains unmoved despite external changes”. No matter what changes have taken place in your environment, your mind remains unmoved. Don’t let the surroundings flutter your state of mind. The ultimately pure Buddha nature is the Amala-consciousness which is also the ninth consciousness. This is your conscience and your innate nature. Regardless of what happens your mind remains unmoved. Once you have the Buddha and Bodhisattvas in your heart, you won’t conceive unwholesome thoughts. This way, you won’t be trapped in the Six Realms of Existence.
Why do some people often say, “Six Realms of Existence”? When a person is in a lot of pain and couldn’t figure things out, they have actually placed themselves in the Cycle of Rebirth. You may ask, isn’t the Heavenly Realm one of the six realms of existence? When you are happy, it’s like being in the Heaven. When the environment changes, your happy time in the Heavenly Realm is shorten. Then you have descended to the Human Realm and begun to suffer.
When your suspicion arises, it is as if you were in the Ghost Realm. In the Animal Realm, you begin do things that harms others. Acting in a way that provides no benefit to yourself, like a demon. You never place others’ interest before yours, only causing harm to others. You never want to help others, then you are in the cycle of the Six Realms of Existence.
People whose mind remains in the cycle of rebirth, they have a great deal of anger and resentment, together with a lot of greed. Their problem is that they are overwhelmed with greed and hatred. It’s all because they have not eliminated their past karma. “Past karma” means karma accumulated from previous lives. On top of that, they commit evil deeds in this life. In this situation, how could they be diligent? How could they be hard working?
Therefore, when some people start to recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, it dredges up memories. In fact, after reciting this Sutra wholeheartedly, we can leave the pain behind us. But for most people, when they start reciting, they start to recall the things they have done in the past. They are repenting for a specific event. You need to view the issue from a theoretical perspective; when we recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, there are so many Bodhisattvas including Guan Yin Bodhisattva and our great Buddha. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are witnessing us reforming ourselves, you are telling them that, “today, I have repented for my mistakes, hoping that the Bodhisattvas will help eliminate my negative karma”. At that moment, your heart should be immersed in Dharma bliss. The purpose of reciting the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance is not for you to look back on your past.
How do we stay away from pain and stop creating negative karma? The key is to make a resolve and great vows. For instances, when natural disaster occurs, your vows could help you eliminate a lot of karmic obstacles. No matter what happens, I can tell you that reciting the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance can eliminate your negative karma speedily. Therefore, it is important to recite more of the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, it will keep you in blessed with safety and peace, many people are not aware.
What does it mean to be “blessed with safety and peace”? it is now the Age of Dharma Decline, one of the ways to stay safe and peaceful as a human being living on this planet, is to always admit our flaws and shortcomings. When you encounter any conflict, you should say “I’m sorry, I didn’t do a good job. I’m very sorry”. This is the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance of the Human Realm. As humans we need to be reasonable. People say, “stop being unreasonable”. Being reasonable is also a way to show politeness. If you apologise often to others, isn’t it one way to keep yourself safe and peaceful? Others will not carry on and your negative karma is eliminated.
One needs to observe the precepts well. What does that mean? It means we should discipline ourselves at all times. We need to understand our mind and see our true nature. People often think they are always right, but they have no idea about the fundamental truth of this world. It is not something based upon argument. Rather, it is based upon a kind of condition, as there is no absolute right or wrong. Everything is due to their conditions.
Many people say, “I have taken refuge in Buddhism”. You can’t regard taking refuge, as making a promise or a commitment. You can’t make it sound like, you are working for Bodhisattvas. This is not how it is. Rather, it is to develop the kindness and compassion in your innate nature.
We make full prostrations to the Buddha every day, our mind is focused when doing so. This way, our mind takes refuge in the Buddha, right? If you are propagating Buddhism every day and helping people and, that is taking refuge in the Dharma, right? Helping others is a means to putting the Dharma into practice. You are practising the Buddha-Dharma, when people see you, they relate your action to that of the Buddha. This way, you are indeed putting Dharma into action.
How about taking refuge in the Sangha? When you see a monk or a nun set them as your role model. If there are no monastics around, set the Buddha in your mind as your role model. We need to always picture ourselves, as a Buddhist monastic who hasn’t fully renounced the household life.
The first and foremost in practising Buddhism is to learn about emptiness. What does emptiness mean? Don’t expect to practise Buddhism well if you have too many wandering thoughts. Emptiness is about finding your innate nature. It’s just like this room, people can only enter when it’s empty. If the room is filled to capacity, others will not be able to get in What is emptiness?
As we are practising Buddhism, we must find the innate nature in ourselves and maintain a state of emptiness in our mind. Our mind is already occupied with too many things. We keep everything in our mind, greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance and suspicion. We must empty our mind, cultivate our minds till it’s completely empty. Supposed you are very troubled, if you keep up your effort, all the worries will be gone at the end. Then you have reached the state of emptiness.
You may be involved in a dispute with another person, if you manage to think straight, it becomes emptiness. In the past, we have no knowledge on Buddhism, and now we are able to apply Buddhist teachings in our lives. We must understand the meaning of Buddhism, we are now different to others. Our thoughts are neither good nor bad. Even when we are doing good deeds, we don’t think much about it. We are doing good deeds naturally, in an appropriate manner. With emptiness in mind, you perform good deeds, you are performing acts of kindness.
However, if you think that I have to perform a good deed, then the good deed is not pure. A true act of kindness is different from doing something under compulsion. If you force yourself to think of the good rather than the bad, then you are most likely acting under compulsion. If you think of neither the good nor the bad, then you are a truly kind person. Your every action will always good. You need not ponder, whether you have done something bad today. You wouldn’t have doubts because you are a good person, do you agree?
Good and evil are relative, somethings may appear good and you believe it’s good, but in the end, it may turn out to be bad. On the other hand, you may think of something as bad, but it turns out to be beneficial to other people. Right? For instance, someone has done something wrong, you think you shouldn’t tell others about it. You are actually doing a disservice to the person. There are things that you must tell me, so that I can educate and help them get back on track. If you keep quiet, his wrongdoings may finally ruin his wisdom-life.
Many of you would think that keeping the secret is the right thing to do. But you may actually be causing more damage. We need to transcend the ideology of “emptiness” and “Existence”. This is very important, what do you have in your mind? If you have greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance, and suspicion in your mind. You would rather it be “empty”. If your mind is full of Buddha Nature and wholesome thoughts. Of course, this is something good and that should exist in your mind. The problem is that most people only keep things such as greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and suspicion in their mind. Things that are related to Buddha nature will go quickly. However, defilements such as greed can’t be cleansed so easily.
As a simple example, if your white shirt is stained with ink you want to wash it. As it is originally white, it could easily be cleaned after washing. Things that are good will remain good. Whereas stubborn stains on the shirt, just like defilements in your mind, they cannot be removed so easily. That is why you will feel miserable. This is the idea of emptiness and existence, when you wash away the existing stain it will be empty.
Our mind was originally impartial, as everyone is equal. Do not assume that someone is a good person or a bad person, because everyone is equal. We all have one head and two eyes. Though some may be better looking than others; some are short-sighted, others long-sighted, that is different concept. In general, we are all equal, we can all be successful as long as we work hard.
Hence, good and bad are an integral part of the law of causality. You need to understand the working of good and bad, from the perspective of karma. Suppose you have done a good deed, but the end result is bad. In reality, a good intention may not necessarily lead to a good outcome. If a doctor only prescribes medications, but not care whether the patients can be cured. Can he be considered a good doctor? You may say, “I was doing this for his benefit, I didn’t expect it to end up this way”.
You must first understand yourself. Many people claim that they understand another person well. But they actually don’t even understand themselves, how can they understand others? When you are about to lose your temper, you need to firstly understand your personality. Think about what you would do when you are angry. You must be aware.
For Example, if your wife is sick today, do you know what she would do next? It’s something that you must learn, when she loses her temper, what would be the result. Knowing the consequence, you would be careful so you do not trigger the cause. When you know that you are about to lose your temper, you need to be calm. Do not try to restrain yourself with words You see, “Calm, calm, calm…” then this person can calm down.
If you try to restrain yourself with words, when you are about to lose your temper, you say, “I won’t sweat over small things with people like you. I’ll control myself and just ignore you. It’s no use arguing with people like you. I couldn’t be bothered talking to you”. These are just retorts you use to restrain yourself. But do they work? They only would make you more furious.
Similarly, if you are lost and couldn’t find your way, whichever direction you go would be wrong, you are still lost. You must understand, you don’t know which direction is correct. When you are on the wrong path, I must guide you back on track. If you couldn’t hold your temper and you flare up, you are wrong, no matter what you say it will be wrong.
Losing your temper is like driving in the wrong direction. Don’t let your tempers flare, otherwise you will be wrong. Whatever you say it will be wrong. You need to first calm down, then think twice about what you are going to say and see if it’s necessary. You may find that your rage will soon disappear.
At times, when you lack the wisdom to resolve a problem, do not talk hastily. Calm yourself first, when you can’t find your way. Don’t simply head towards any direction, it may lead to nowhere. You can call someone and ask for directions; check the map or backtrack on route you took. Perhaps you’ll soon find the right way.
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