We often hear from Buddhist stories that someone has attained Arhathood. They have actually attained a certain level of realisation, a kind of awakening. If you cultivate to a state of non-outflow (uncontaminated), and you mustn’t allow your merit and virtue to leak away, then you succeed.
There are something that you should eliminate. You must eliminate all your afflictions, let all your suffering leak away until there’s none of it left, eradicate all your desires. So you cultivate ceaselessly and in the end, you will gain the clear light of the mind. It is luminous like a dot, just like a ray of light, a sphere. You have a sphere of wisdom light. This is the clear light of the mind. We call it a point of clarity in Buddhism.
This point of clarity is the inner light of one’s mind. “I can resolve any matter, I can solve any problem”. This point of clarity is the light of your wisdom. As time passes, you will be able to discern with your eyes, “This is a good person, that is a bad person”. “This is a good thing to do, that is not a good thing to do”, then you will have light within your heart. This light is a point of clarity.
This point of clarity allows you to see the Buddha light of your ninth consciousness. You will see the true nature of your mind, you will approach everything in this world with equanimity. When you feel that nothing matters to you in this world, your points of light and clarity will accumulate and grow into a bigger and greater mass. Once these points of light and clarity amass into substantial wisdom, a significant amount of Prajnawisdom, there will be a halo above your head.
Many people don’t know why Bodhisattvas have rings of light surrounding their heads. Those are their amassed points of light and clarity, those are their halos. That is the crystallisation of their wisdom, crystallisation of Prajna wisdom.
With this light of your Prajna wisdom, your spirit will be able to ascend to higher realms. That means your soul is able to travel to the Four Sagely Realms. You do not compete for anything in this world. You do not fight to grab anything in this world. You are able to resolve all the worldly afflictions. You are able to travel to the Four Sagely Realms.
Though you still exist in this world, your consciousness is already liberated. Your consciousness has entered the Four Sagely Realms. You have become a Bodhisattva, an Arhat, a Buddha.
There are times when we wish we could ascend to Heaven, but we could only do so in our dreams. If you dream that you are in Heaven, it might be your Dharma body; If others dream about you, it could also be your Dharma body. If you can see your human body, that is the “Retribution body”. You then see your “Transformation body” become your “Dharma body”. Then slowly you use your wisdom to ascend to the Bodhisattvas’ level, that of the Four Sagely Realms. That means you are able to see your true nature.
In neither existence nor non-existence, are you a human or a Bodhisattva here on Earth? Others say they don’t know. Based on the way you behave and things you do, if people call you a Bodhisattva because you are always helping others. You are not petty-minded about gain and loss, you are tolerant, you are able to work for the benefit of others, you are a Bodhisattva.
So if you say you are a Bodhisattva, why do you have a body? You are human being after all. Why is your level of spirituality as high as a Bodhisattva? Then are you actually a human or a Bodhisattva? Neither existence nor non-existence; neither the mind nor the Buddha, this is the elevation of your level of consciousness.
There are some good people, you no longer see them as ordinary people. This kind-hearted person is doing good deeds all day, always helping people. He no longer seems like an ordinary person, he is a saint. That’s the idea. His high spirit cheers you up, makes you feel happy, blessed, no words could ever describe it.
That’s a kind of feeling like Guan Yin Bodhisattva who helps us and cares for us. It is not something we can express in words and it is neither completely a kind of feeling. We feel grateful from the bottom of our heart, because when we pray for even a small favour, The Bodhisattva answers our prayers.
So there are no words that we can use to describe and comprehend the Bodhisattva’s boundless compassion and loving care for us. Those who cultivate must understand what wisdom is. If you don’t understand wisdom you will gradually depart from wisdom; If you don’t understand what compassion is you will gradually become cruel; If you don’t know how to help others then gradually you will be unable to help yourself.
So we must learn to skilfully apply Buddhism in our daily live and transform it into wisdom. The Dharma is the best of human wisdom. It can help us overcome all our mental disturbances.
There was a man from Northeast China. I told him to recite Buddhist scriptures.
He was unable to do so initially, but he liked Totem readings. He said, “Master, your reading is really accurate”. So I said to him, “Take this string of prayer beads. It’s my gift for you, you can wear it around your wrist”. He did so and asked, “Is this of any use?” I told him it could bless him and help him grow in wisdom.
He used to bully his wife at home. After some time he came and said to me, “Master, one day I lost my temper again. As soon as I raised my hand and try to hit my wife, I saw the prayer beads around my wrist, and put my hand down”.
I told him,” Is this not wisdom? After wearing the beads, you have wisdom now. You know our mouths were not just for eating. They are for explaining, to explain things to others, to clarify, to communicate. Our hands are not meant for hitting people”. He learnt to develop wisdom. Therefore, we should understand how to skilfully apply the Dharma to bring about effective transformation.
When it comes to practising Buddhism, whenever we give rise to a thought, we must think like a Bodhisattva. We must cultivate a pure mind. What is the arising of thoughts? As soon as an unwholesome thought begins to arise in the mind, “Oh, no! I mustn’t have this thought, it will cause me harm”. “Oh, no! Misfortune will befall me if I think this way”. Respond this way each time a thought arises.
Let me tell you, if you want to become a successful man and you are going to secure a major contract, you must not conceive of any lustful thought. If you do, you will not be able to get the contract signed. So when many people do business, they must remind themselves, “I must stay away from lust. The Master has said that ill luck will befall those involved in sexual misconduct. Ill luck will cause your business to go bust. How do I feed the staff in my company?” So he managed to exercise self-restraint. He was subdued by the sheer weight of his responsibility. Hence, he observes the precepts.
As I’ve told you earlier, precepts can help to plug your merits and virtues from leaking away. Say you are lucky today, you stop the leakage by observing the precepts. Bodhisattvas are very happy, you are very happy too. Thus, we think the way a Bodhisattva thinks. We must think like a Buddha whenever we give rise to a thought. Over time, there will be a practice place in your heart.
So I hope you all within your thoughts and actions, maintain a Bodhisattva’s practice place. When you frequently have such a place in your heart, we say that practising Buddhism requires a practice place, where Bodhisattvas can come frequently. If you frequently have a practice place within your mind, it’s like an airport, if you have this airport, airplanes can come to your airport and land.
When you have a Bodhisattva’s practice place in your heart, Bodhisattvas can often come into your heart. Then you will always have Bodhisattvas and Buddhas in your heart. If a person has Bodhisattvas and Buddhas in mind, how could they not be successful? How could they not be fortunate and blessed?
I’ll tell you a story during the Buddha’s time today.
The Buddha was then staying at the Bamboo Grove in Rajagaha. One day, the Buddha told his disciples, “In this world, there are four types of good horses. The first type, once you ride it and pull on the reins, as soon as you raise the whip, it sees the whip’s shadow and immediately kicks into gear, whether to speed up or slow down, turn left or right, it would follow the rider’s will (You only have to raise the whip, the whip doesn’t have to touch it, it will run forward on its own). This is the first type of good horse”.
The Buddha went on to tell His disciples, “There is another type of good horse that is unable to detect the whip’s shadow (There is another type of good horse, it can’t see the shadow of the whip when it is raised), but if your whip, slightly grazes its hairs or tail, it will instantly be alerted (It is alerted to sense the rider’s intention), whether to go fast or slow, turn left or right. This is the second type of horse”.
The Buddha said to his disciples again, “There’s another horse that is unable to notice the shadow of the whip, neither can it feel the whip grazing its hair and tail to sense the rider’s intentions. It has to be whipped to sense whether to go fast or slow, turn left or right. This is the third type of good horse”.
“Disciples,” the Buddha continued, “if a horse is unable to be like the first three types to understand the rider’s intentions, it must have an iron awl, injure its skin and bones before it is able to sense the rider’s intentions. And this driver of the cart has to lead the horse and cart on the road, only then can the horse follow the rider’s wishes, whether to go fast or slow, turn left or right. These are the four types of horses in the world”.
During the Age of Right Dharma, there exist four kinds of good men in this world. The first kind of good man, when he hears about people suffering due to an illness or hardship, or even death, upon learning about someone suffering from old age, illness and death, he will immediately feel a sense of fear (that induces a sense of fear in him). Then he will diligently practise according to Right Dharma and Intention (just like the horse that can be tamed on seeing the shape of a whip or its shadow, it will gallop forward).
This is the first kind of virtuous man in this world. This is the analogy used by the Buddha. Those who can tame themselves, or will immediately think of correcting their own shortcomings upon seeing other people in bad shape, will be considered a virtuous man.
The second kind of man on in this world, on hearing about people suffering from illness, hardship or even death, he doesn’t have a sense of fear (that means when he hears someone has died or has fallen ill and in pain, he doesn’t take it seriously). He doesn’t cultivate diligently. He must see it with his own eyes. Only when he sees his colleagues and family members gradually experiencing the pain of ageing, illness and death, will he strive hard out of fear.
This person is like what the Buddha described as the horse which can be tamed only when its skin is grazed with a whip, only then will it follow the rider’s wishes. This is the second kind of virtuous man, who is able to tame himself in the Age of Right Dharma. Some people will change as soon as they were informed.
I sometimes tell you young people, “Look at those who are experiencing misfortune, you must take heed of it”. Some people have no sense of urgency until something happens in front of their eyes, “It’s true! My classmate has fallen ill”. Then they take heed. This is the second kind.
The Buddha continued, if a virtuous man is unable to heed what he hears or what he sees, the suffering from birth, ageing, illness and death fails to induce fear in him and prompt him to cultivate diligently. He must see someone in his neighbourhood or community, someone very close to him, or his friends suffering or dying, only then will he feel a sense of fear. And only then will he cultivate diligently in accordance with the Right Dharma and Right Intention. He is like the third kind of good horse that will not be tamed or be diligent unless its flesh is lashed by a whip. This is the third kind of virtuous man.
What is the fourth kind of virtuous man? It is the kind who is oblivious to ageing, illness and death of others. He turns a blind eye to their suffering. So when people tell him “So and so has died,” he will say, “what’s that got to do with me? It’s not me dying”. When people say, “This person is going through a rough patch”. “What’s that got to do with me? It’s not me suffering”.
Only when something happens to him, when he suffers and gets old, or when he is on his deathbed will he realise the urgency to renounce the world. “I am afraid, I don’t want to die”. It is only at this time that he will cultivate with diligence. Just like many people who are diagnosed with cancer before they begin to perform recitations every day. This is like the fourth kind of good horse.
He has to go through a traumatic agony before he can be tamed. That is, he will not change unless he experiences the pain himself. He won’t change even if his wife falls ill; Even if his children fall ill, he still won’t feel any pain; Only when he experiences the pain himself will he think of going on a vegetarian diet and perform recitations. This is the fourth kind of virtuous man. In fact, only when he experiences the suffering himself, will he correct and tame himself in accordance with the Dharma. These are the four stories which contained in the Agama sutra.
I told you this today in the hope that you will all tame your minds, cultivate the mind until you reach a higher level of spirituality, so that you can gradually liberate yourself from suffering and gradually understand others, understand their suffering, only then will you not speak ill of others; You will know their sorrows and you will not rub salt into their wounds.
Some people will never work hard and stop criticising others until they got deeply hurt. For example, you got into a quarrel, you cursed at the other party, you cursed at their ancestors, so you got assaulted. Only when you were afflicted the pain did you realise that you shouldn’t curse at other people’s ancestors.
The idea is the same, why do you have to experience suffering before changing yourself? This indicates a lack of wisdom. Hence, those without wisdom will experience suffering and sadness.
My wish is for all Buddhists to possess wisdom. We must learn Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s great mercy and compassion. Practise compassion towards all beings and you will be rewarded with a happy life.< Master Lu: Buddhism in Plain Terms < 白话佛法共修分享