Some Recorded Sayings of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

From Lotuses in the Spring Sun
(Chwun-er Lyan-hwa)


Edited by Tu Sying-jr and Jang Gwo-fu
Chinese Edition printed by Wisdom Source Publishing, Kao-Hsiung, 1995.
6/98 Beta Translation by Dharmamitra

 
Translator's Note: These sayings by no means exhaust the profundity and breadth of Master Hua's statements. However, since this little collection (70 quotations) focuses so nicely on very practical pronouncements related to what is most important for the cultivator in day-to-day practice, I couldn't resist translating them. It often seems as if the very simplest truths are the most impactful and hence the most meaningful. The original editors are therefore to be thanked for their tastefulness and sensitivity in plucking these simple gems from the vast sea of Master Hua's spoken legacy.
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Part One: The Road of Cultivation

In cultivating one must be "free of any particular motives in one's actions." Don't have thoughts of greed. Don't be thinking, "I'd like to have it be this way or that way. I'd like to become enlightened. I'd like to get spiritual powers." How could it be so rapid as this? Take the seeds and plant them down in the soil. Then it's necessary to wait for them to slowly grow forth. When the time arrives, then they will naturally ripen. (p.100)

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In cultivating, one must look upon it as one's basic responsibility. It's not necessary to be greedy. After a time then one's merit will naturally become perfectly full and the result of bodhi will be able to be perfected. Originally, it may have been that one should have experienced success, but because of excessive greed, on the contrary, one's unable to even chew it all. When one eats it's necessary to eat one bite at a time. If one takes a whole bowl of rice and stuffs all of it in one's mouth, jamming it into one's mouth so that there's no space in there at all, you tell us, how are you going to eat it? When you go to chew it, you won't even be able to move your mouth! How much the less would you be able to swallow it down. Eating is the simplest of similes. This is what's meant by, "When one's too greedy, one bites off more than he can chew." (p.101)

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People who cultivate the Way need first off to not be selfish. This matter isn't one which should be undertaken solely for the sake of insuring one's own security, but rather it should be out of the need to benefit the entire world. It's necessary to let go of one's self. It's not that one thinks, "In this respect and in that respect I'm really incomparably great!" Rather one must act out of concern for preserving the larger state of affairs. (p.102)

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In every single moment, people who cultivate the Way should take the problem of birth and death and hang it right at the level of their eyebrows. In every single moment, one must always be motivated to put an end to birth and gain liberation from death. (p.103)

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In every single movement and in every single action the beings of the Saha world act entirely out of greed, entirely out of hatred or entirely out of stupidity. In the methods typical of the world they use greed, hatred and stupidity as they go on about cultivating their conduct. Now in taking up the methods for transcending the world, they still use greed, hatred and stupidity as they go on about cultivating their conduct. In cultivating they become greedily attached to becoming enlightened. They sit in dhyana meditation for two and a half days and figure that they ought to become enlightened then. They cultivate a dharma for two and a half days and figure that they ought to have gotten spiritual powers. They recite the Buddha's name for two and a half days and then figure that they should gain the mindfulness-of-the-buddha samadhi! You just take a look at how huge a mind of greed is involved in this. These are all manifestations of the ghost of the greedy mind. (p.105)

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In cultivating the Way, if one is unable to change one's faults, then this is just the same as not cultivating the Way at all. In studying the Buddha Dharma, if one is unable to realize one's own faults and the necessity of change them, then this is just the same as not studying the Buddha Dharma at all. In this connection, there is the so-called, "Having gone through fifty years one then realizes the forty-nine years of faults." If one realizes the points where one has been wrong in what one has practiced and done in the past, anyone who experiences this kind of feeling is a person who possesses wisdom. The road of the future is full of an immeasurable amount of brightness. If on the other hand one does not realize where one has been wrong in the past, this person will remain confused for the rest of his life. One who seeks after an empty reputation is just being confused by the dust of the sense objects. People of this sort are so very pitiable! (p.105)

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Those who leave the home life and cultivate the Way must make vows. The making of vows constitutes the vigorous cultivation of the Way. The making of vows serves to alert one to change the bad and bring in the good. If one cultivates the Way and yet does not make vows, then this is the same as a fruit tree bringing forth blossoms and yet producing no fruit. This just doesn't happen. If one has already made vows, then it is best that one make them over again once every day. It is on account of refreshing the old that one realizes the new. One then succeeds in remembering the vows which one has made and in remembering what endeavors one should be engaged in. Then one won't be able to make vows which are only empty vows. One won't be able to cheat oneself while also cheating others. And one won't be able to take those vows which one has made and just forget them. (p.106)

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We people are all of the opinion that we are engaged in doing good works. But in reality, it is not certain that they really are good works. Why is this. It is because the seed is not pure. If you employ greedy thoughts in your doing of good works, this is what's known as a case of the seeds being impure. If you use a mind which takes pleasure in supremacy over others in the doing of good works, this too is a case of the seeds being impure. Then what is one to do? One just needs to be "free of any particular motives in one's actions." Whatever we are doing, it's just our basic responsibility. Don't engage in externally-directed seeking. Don't have anything which you are seeking to get out of it. (p.107)

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When one has false thinking, what should one do? One just needs to sweep it clean. What method should one use? Just use the cultivation of dhyana absorption. The meditative skill employed in cultivating dhyana absorption is able to cleanse and purify one of false thinking. When one cultivates dhyana absorption, it is necessary to use vigor and patience as aids. Afterwards one also uses giving and the upholding of precepts as aids. Thus one is able to bring one's mission to completion. (p.108)

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Once one has completed a repentance, one must make a vow: "As for all of those things which have gone before it shall be just as if I died yesterday. As for all those things which shall come afterwards, it shall be as if I was just born today." Afterwards one must absolutely not transgress again. If one acts accordingly, then one will be able to cause his offense karma to melt away. (p.109)

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When one is cultivating one must direct one's thoughts to this problem of birth and death. One should take whichever demons one encounters as Dharma protectors. They have come for the sake of assisting you in cultivating the Way. If someone scolds you or hits you, he is helping you cultivate the Way. If there is someone who speaks about your rights and wrongs or gives you trouble, he too is helping you cultivate the Way. To sum it up, if something comes which goes against you, just take it by going along with it. In every case just take them to be friends who are simply helping you in your cultivation of the Way. In such a case, then as for afflictions, there just aren't any. If there are no afflictions, then one gives birth to wisdom. If one has genuine and correct wisdom, at such a time all of the demons are left with no way of coming and rattling your mind. (p.110)

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A person who cultivates the Way is just as pure as one's eyes are clean. They are unable to accept the entry of even a single grain of sand. If one's eyes have gotten even a single grain of sand in them then one will definitely be uncomfortable and one will do whatever is necessary to find a way to get it out again. Otherwise, neither one's body or mind will have any peace. Cultivating the way is also just this very same sort of situation. What precisely is this grain of sand? It is just thoughts imbued with desire. If one has thoughts which are characterized by desire, then in every situation a transformation occurs. Originally one was pure. When one comes to have a thought associated with the mind of desire then it generates a chemical action whereby the water [of the mind] which was previously pure becomes polluted. Then not only is one unable to benefit others, on the contrary, one harms even oneself.

The primary aim in cultivating the Way is that it be for the sake of putting and end to birth and becoming liberated from death. It is not for the sake of seeking a response that one cultivates the Way. One must certainly remember. One cannot have anything which one is seeking for in one's cultivation of the Way. If it is done for the sake of seeking some success or if it is done for the sake of seeking a response, that is among great mistakes an especially grave mistake. (p.111)

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When the ancients studied it was because they wanted to understand principles, to clearly understand the path-principles important to being a person. [They wished to understand] how to refrain from any form of bad and how to uphold the practice of the many kinds of good. They studied filial piety, brotherly respect, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, humility, and a sense of shame. Those who pursue studies in this present era all do it for the sake of fame and profit. The "ming-li" which means "to understand principle" and the "ming-li" which means fame and profit" are about the same in sound, but in their implementation they are complete opposites and are separated by one hundred and eight thousand miles. Those who study for the sake of fame and profit are just figuring that if they study some particular subject then they'll be able to make lots of money. For instance, if one plans to study medicine or perhaps the sciences, they can always make lots of money. But they never think, "I'm going to follow this course of study because in the future I want to be able to contribute to the good fortune and blessings of humankind." If one takes up the study of medicine it ought to be in order to rescue the world and save people so that one can benefit others while also benefitting oneself. (p.112)

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Patience is the most important. It serves to tell you to endure situations which you don't wish to endure. For instance, I may not want to undergo a scolding, but still there are those people who scold me and so in every case I should delight in it. Or perhaps I don't want to undergo a beating, but still, there are those people who beat me, and so I should just delight even more in that. Or perhaps I don't want to be killed by someone. One's life is considered very valuable. But nonetheless there are those who want to kill me. [And so one should think], "This is an opportunity for me to completely escape the karmic obstacles of this entire lifetime. Such a person is my genuine and proper good and wise friend." So, each of you! In studying the Buddha Dharma one must turn things upside down as he studies. In cultivating the Way one must also turn things upside down as he cultivates. How is it that one turns things upside down? It's just that whatever thing you don't want, it's just that very thing which you must come to want. However, as for those things which you don't want, it's not that you are supposed to pass them on to others. (p.113)

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As for the very most genuine of techniques for cultivation, there is a three-fold secret formula:

The first is truth. One is unable to be false. No matter what endeavor it is, in every case one must do what is true.

The second is sincerity. One is the most ultimately respectful and the most ultimately reverential. One is very sincerely earnest. One is not lazy and one is not careless.

The third is constancy. One is constant and unchanging. One is constant [and thus] far-reaching and non-neglectful.

In every single action, every single movement, every single word, and every single step one must possess these three minds of truth, sincerity and constancy. If one maintains these three types of mind in everything one does then in the future, one will definitely be able to have success. (p.114)

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One should do more meritorious works. Whatever endeavor stands to be of benefit for beings, one exhausts ones strength in the doing of it. This constitutes the cultivation of blessings. The recitation of sutras, the investigation of the sutras, the so-called "deeply entering into the treasury of sutras and the developing of wisdom like the sea,"--- This constitutes the cultivation of wisdom. Blessings and wisdom come forth from intentionally cultivating them. If one does not intentionally cultivate them, then one will never possess either blessings or wisdom. (p.115)

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The thing that cultivators of the Way most fear is having afflictions. Hence we say, "Afflictions are endless. I vow to cut them off." For those who cultivate the cutting off of afflictions is an urgent and obligatory responsibility. No matter what state of mind comes up, one does not generate afflictions. If one acts accordingly then one possesses the power of meditative stabilization. If one does not generate afflictions then one will have fewer selfish desires. Selfish desires find their source in afflictions. And so one brings forth ignorance and then one experiences a kind of pathological pain. Now not having afflictions is certainly not just a case of not having anyone come along and make trouble for you so that as a result of that you have no afflictions. Rather it is a matter of even if someone comes and stirs up confusion for you even to the point of running into you or striking you, you still don't generate afflictions. In this case then one truly possesses the power of meditative stabilization. (p.116)

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As for the precepts, at root there is just one. It is simply not being selfish. If people possess a selfish mind then they are able to transgress against the precepts. If one does not have a selfish mind, then one will be unable to transgress against the precepts. By the same principle, if a person possesses a selfish mind then he is able to commit crimes. If one does not have a selfish mind then he will be unable to commit crimes. (p.117)

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The precepts constitute the very life of a person who cultivates. If one transgresses against the precepts, then it is just the same as having one's life cut off. It's every bit as mournful a situation as that. When the World Honored One was about to enter nirvana, he told the Venerable Ananda, "Take the precepts as you master." From this one can prove the extremely important nature of the precepts. (p.118)

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Most people are of the opinion that a person's fate has a fixed arrangement. This is illustrated by the saying, "When one's fate only allows for eight feet, it's difficult to seek for ten." Not bad! However, this is only spoken with reference to ordinary people. If one is a cultivator of the Way, then one doesn't fall into this sort of fate. Those who cultivate the Way shouldn't be consulting The Book of Changes. That's something which is used by the normal run of common person. Those who cultivate the Way are even able to put and end to birth and death, how much the more so are they able to deal with other forms of "fate." There even more able to leap over such things. So, don't pay any attention to those things. (p.119)

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Part Two: Vowing to Study Buddhism

What's meant by Buddha Dharma? The Buddha Dharma is just the dharma of the world. However, it consists of those dharmas which people of the world don't wish to put into practice. People of the world are busy here and preoccupied there. They bound around and bustle about. The most obvious point about them is that there is nothing that they do which isn't a function of selfishness. It's all done for the sake of ensuring the security of their very own life, valuables and possessions. The Buddha Dharma on the other hand is greatly public and devoid of selfishness. It is something engaged in for the sake of benefitting other people. When studying the Buddha Dharma, one should be focusing one's thoughts on the welfare of others in one's every movement and every action. One should view one's self as an insignificant matter. One should relinquish oneself for the sake of others. One should avoid causing others to generate afflictions. It is this which is the Dharma of the Buddha. (p.120)

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Why is it that the Buddha wishes to cross over beings to liberation? It is because the way he looks at it, "If it is a man, then they are all my fathers. If it is a woman, then they are all my mothers." His fathers and mothers all abide in the wheel of the six destinies where they undergo suffering. So no matter what else happens he is always motivated by the necessity of crossing over beings to liberation, hoping that his fathers and mothers will be able to leave behind suffering and achieve happiness. (p.121)

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The Buddha is one who possesses great wisdom. We, on the other hand, possess great stupidity. Therefore, we should study the Buddha. We should study the great wisdom of the Buddha. We should take the mind of the Buddha s our own mind. We should take the vows of the Buddha as our own vows. In every moment we should be studying and practicing the four immeasurable minds of loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and even-mindedness. In every moment we should be cultivating the Dharma gateway of "being able to endure that which is difficult to endure and being able to practice that which is difficult to practice." (p.122)

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When we study the Buddha Dharma we shouldn't be drawn to lofty and profound places as the focus of our study. This is what is meant by, "The ordinary mind is the Way. The straight mind is the place for cultivating the Way." Use a straight mind in cultivating. (p.123)

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Those who study Buddhism should cause Buddhism to grow and spread and become more brilliantly great each day rather than causing it to deteriorate and grow more decadent with each passing day. How does one make it grow and spread and become illustriously great? First of all one must nurture those of excellent character. One must establish a good foundation. If one establishes a good foundation, then when one constructs a tall building it won't be able to fall over. In a multi-story building with an endless number of levels built one atop the other, there is not a single one of them which is not constructed on the basis of a solid and stable foundation. In the sphere of cultivation and nurturance the creating of a good foundation is just that foremost necessity of esteeming character as important while establishing oneself in virtue. (p.124)

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No matter whether one is discussing the great vehicle, the lesser vehicle, or the Buddha vehicle, at the outset they all instruct people to get rid of bad habits and character faults, to get rid of ignorance and afflictions, and to get rid of greed, hatred and stupidity. If you are able to get rid of all character faults, then you are able to naturally harmonize with the meaning of the sutras. It's only if you fail to get rid of character faults that you will never be able to clearly understand the meanin of the sutras. (p.125)

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Everyone should bring forth a genuine mind in practicing mindfulness of the buddha. When one recites a single phrase of in mindfulness of the buddha then in space there appears a single ray of light. If one is able to earnestly and extremely sincerely engage in mindfulness of the buddha, this light then universally illuminates the worlds of the trichiliocosm, causing the atmosphere throughout the worlds of the great trichiliocosm to transform and become auspicous so that the atmosphere of defilement, violent temperaments and disasters becomes changed. (p.126)

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Every day we are mindful of Observer of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva (a.k.a.: Avalokiteshvara, Gwan-yin), but what is the meaning of Observer of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva? As for "Observation," it refers to his observing and investigating all of the sounds of the world. "Observing" also means "looking," but this is not a case of looking outwardly but rather is a case of looking into the minds of beings. (p.127)

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When we practice mindfulness of Observer of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, one should not allow one's head to droop as one recites. One should raise up the head as a manifestation of a kind of heroicly vigorous spirit. One shouldn't be manifesting a gloomy and deflated appearance. (p.128)

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If you wish to study Buddhism, you must have a kind of heroic vigor. You should be like a tiger leaping down off of a tall mountain ridge and [pounce on] your karmic obstacles and devour them. (p.129)

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You must remember! You must remember! The very first step in studying Buddhism is that you definitely must cultivate patience. Even if someone is really about to kill you, you still shouldn't give rise to an angry thought. (p. 130)

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For people who study Buddhism, it's essential that "Genuinely recognize your own mistakes. Don't discuss the wrongs of others. Their wrongs are just my own wrongs. [To realize that] one is of the same substance is the great compassion." (p.131)

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Those who study Buddhism should ask themselves, "When I practice giving, is it out of a desire to get a reputation or is it out of a wish to help others? When I uphold the precepts, or cultivate patience, vigor, dhyana absorption or wisdom, is it out of a desire to show off to others or is it on account of a genuine mind of cultivation? When one cultivates it's not a matter of putting on a mask. It's not a question of creating a fake appearance especially so other's can see it. In cultivating the Way, one relies entirely on one's own application of spiritual skilfulness. When one contributes a single measure of spiritual skilfulness then one gets a single measure of results. If one brings forth a single measure of sincerity of mind then one will have a single measure of spiritual response. In absolutely everything, one must be genuine and must not be false. No matter what, don't cheat yourself and cheat others as well. (p.132)

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When one studies Buddhism one should be willing to take a loss more often. Great Master Yung-jya has stated: "I contemplate harsh words. These are a form of merit. Through doing this one becomes my good and wise friend. One doesn't because of slander make distinctions between enemies and intimates. How would that manifest the power of loving-kindness arising from the patience associated with the cognition of the unproduced?" (p.133)

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If somebody scolds you, this helps you become better, so it should be that "whether it's agreeable or disagreeable one is always vigorous; whether it's blame or praise, it doesn't move the mind." Don't let it be that on account of slander one gives rise to thoughts of deep resentment. It should be the case that whether it's an adversary or an intimate, they are viewed equally. They are beheld with a single gaze and treated with an identical measure of humanity. Otherwise, how could this be a demonstration of the power of kindness and compassion arising from the Dharma patience associated with the cognition of the unproduced? (p.134)

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Why is it that when we apply effort [in a particular type of spiritual cultivation] we still don't achieve success? This is because the habitual karmic propensities which we have accumulated across the course of an incalculable number of aeons have become too deep. Hence, when we decide in our minds that we want to walk along the road of bodhi, in fact we paradoxically don't wan't to move on ahead. There's still always this thought to turn back. One should realize that when habitual propensities are heavy and karmic obstacles are deep, one should then be even more resolute about putting down one's false thinking. And this is really not a difficult thing to do. It only requires that one just forget about oneself. Then there will be no more false thinking. (p.135)

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When one cultivates the Dharma gateway of mindfulness-of-the-buddha, then one must continue on in every moment in reciting this single phrase of "Namo Amitabha Buddha," and not have any point when one ceases. When one is awake, he recites it, and when one is asleep, he recites it. The illustrious six-syllable name continues on such that even if one tries to hold it back, one can't hold it back, and even if one tries to break it off, it can't be broken off, and even if one uses a sword to chop it off, it can't be chopped off. Its power is even more solid than a diamond. You have absolutely no method whereby you are able to destroy this single phrase of "Namo Amitabha Buddha." This then is referred to as "the mindfulness-of-the-buddha samadhi." When one is reciting the buddha's name, then this is the way it is. When one is reciting sutras, then this is also the way it is. And when one is reciting mantras, this is the way it is as well. (p.136)

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Once when the Buddha was in the world he grasped up a bit of earth and asked his disciples, saying, "What would you say? Is the amount of earth in my hand of greater volume or is it that the amount of earth in the entire world is of greater volume?"

The disciples said, "Obviously, the amount of earth in the entire world is of greater volume whereas the amount of earth in the World Honored One's hand is much less."

The Buddha then said, "Those beings who have succeeded in getting a human body are like the amount of earth in my hand. Those beings who have lost the human body are like the amount of earth in the entire world." Those who have lost their human rebirth are comparable to the amount of earth in this immense world. (p.137)

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This gateway of the dhyana lineage points directly to a person's mind. It is the Dharma gateway of seeing one's nature and realizing buddhahood. It is also the sudden teaching. The sudden teaching is perfected through diligent cultivation of the gradual teaching. This is what is referred to in the saying, "As for the noumenon, it is something to which one can suddenly become awakened. As for the [specific] phenomena, it is essential to engage in gradual cultivation." Now, as we walk, stand, sit and lie down, this is just gradual cultivation.

Just wait until one day when one has reached a genuinely clear understanding and then suddenly awakens. This is precisely what is meant by "sudden." "Sudden" is not something which is apart from that which is "gradual." And it is the "gradual" which serves to assist the "sudden." As for most cultivators, whichever dharma they specialize in cultivating, then they say of that dharma that it is the best. It is number one. If it wasn't seen as "number one" then one wouldn't be able to delight in it and wouldn't be able to take it up and cultivate it. If you succeed in reaching a genuine understanding, then you will realize that all dharmas are the Buddha Dharma and that none of them can actually be gotten at. Then one finds that there is nothing which one can get attached to. (p.138)

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Sudden enlightenment is just the result of one's normal application of effort in cultivation finally reaching the point where one succeeds in making it effective. Then one is able to suddenly have a breakthrough which brings a clear understanding. If one doesn't ordinarily engage in the application of effort in cultivation, then it will be impossible to experience a sudden awakening.

This is similar to the situation after a child is born. Every day he undergoes a sort of slow transforming influence. Then when the time comes he is able to speak. When he speaks his first sentence, then this is like experiencing an awakening. When the time comes, he is able to walk. When he takes that very first step, that too is like experiencing an awakening. How is it that he is able to take that very first step? It is because every day he watches adults walking around. It is by undergoing the slow transformative influence inherent in this environment that he naturally becomes able to walk.

Our application of effort in cultivation is just like this. One applies effort today. One applies effort tomorrow. One applies effort both coming and going and then one's application of effort reaches the point where it becomes effective. Then not a single thought arises. There is not any false thinking. And so one is then able to experience an awakening. (p.139)

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A fault which we have developed is delighting in the praise of others. We enjoy being highly esteemed. If somebody offers even a single sentence of praise then we feel blown about, dazed and confused. How do you achieve buddhahood? One doesn't know how oneself and what's more one's gotten all befuddled. If one is able to uphold the precepts and cultivate meditative stabilization, then one will have some wisdom and will then be able to reach that point where "Whether it's slander or good reputation, it doesn't move the mind." No matter who slanders you, there's no displeasure in the mind. If somebody praises you, there's no delight in the mind. The fact of the matter is that praise and blame are a kind of worldly wind. This is what is referred to in the saying, "The eight winds blow but do not move me."

What are the eight winds? They are praise, blame, suffering, bliss, gain, loss, slander, and good reputation. If it happens that when one is blown by the eight winds one's mind is shaken, then that's a case of your foundation not having been well laid. What is it that we refer to as the foundation? It's just virtuous conduct. If one's virtuous conduct is insufficient then one's anger is very great and one's ignorance is extremely heavy. If one possesses virtuous conduct then there is no anger at all and ignorance has been transformed. It's been transformed into wisdom. Therefore, when we cultivate it's necessary to nurture virtuous conduct. (p.140)

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Whoever is able to conquer the six sense faculties, six sense objects and six consciousnesses so that these eighteen sense realms are prevented from rebelling, it's he who is a bodhisattva. Whoever is able to clean up his own emotional sentiments so that there is nothing trashy about them, it's he who is a bodhisattva. A bodhisattva doesn't tend towards crying and laughter. At all times and in all places he is sovereignly independent. He is unrestrained and unfettered, is not hung up, is unobstructed, undistressed, and unafflicted. He [doesn't perceive things as] either produced or destroyed, either defiled or immaculate, or as either increased or decreased. Those who study Buddhism should apply their efforts in this area. (p.141)

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We must create a land of ultimate bliss. How do we create it? First, we must do without the seven emotions. What are the seven emotions? They are joy, anger, grief, fear, love, aversion and desire. Take these seven kinds of sentiments and overcome them so that they are prevented from rebelling. At this time the mind becomes peaceful and free of concerns. There are no anguishing experiences whatsoever. Why is it that one experiences anguish? It's simply because the mind is not at peace. If there is no form of suffering whatsoever and one thus only experiences the many varieties of bliss, then this is a land of ultimate bliss here within the human realm. (p.142)

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When one cultivates mindfulness-of-the-buddha, this just amounts to sending a telegram to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. When one recites the Buddha's name once, then this is sending a single telegram. When one recites the Buddha's name twice, then this amounts to sending two telegrams. Every day one sends telegrams to Amitabha Buddha.

Amitabha Buddha in the Land of Ultimate Bliss also possesses a telegraph and he also possesses a receiver. What precisely are the receiver and telegraph? They are just the lotuses in the seven-jewelled pools. When you recite the Buddha's name one time, then the lotus grows a little bigger. When your every thought is focused on Amitabha Buddha, then the lotus becomes as big as a cart wheel.

When you come to reside in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss then your single noumenous buddha nature, your single noumenous genuine nature, is drawn to the lotus blossom wherein you are reborn through transformation. Hence it is said, "I vow to be reborn in the Western Pure Land where the nine grades of lotuses will serve as my parents. When the blossoom opens, I shall see the Buddha and awaken to the unproduced. The non-retreating bodhisattvas will then become my companions." (p.143)

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When we have faith in the Buddha, this is able to cause us to achieve [genuine] permanency, bliss, self and purity, an ultimate type of bliss. Because of this we should have faith in the Buddha. But this is certainly not to say that one need only have faith and that then that alone will do. One must also rely on the Dharma and cultivate on that basis. If one only has faith and yet does not cultivate, then this is just like talking about food [without eating any] and like counting [someone else's] jewels [without obtaining any oneself]. It has absolutely no benefits for one's own person at all. Therefore the ancients said, "As for the Way, that's something which one must travel along. If one does not travel along it, then what's the point of even having a Way? As for virtue, that's something which one must cultivate. If one fails to cultivate, then where is the virtue to come from?" Therefore we should personally practice this and genuinely enact it. One should take the two words "birth" and "death" and hang them right between one's eyebrows and take the two words "Way" and "virtue" and place them beneath one's feet.

Why is it that we say that one should take the two words "Way" and "virtue" and place them beneath one's feet? It is because [the concepts represented by] the two words "Way" and "virtue" constitute the foundation of what it is to be a person. They are just like the roots possessed by a tree. If we possess the Way and virtue, then we are able to succeed in standing upon on our own two feet. As for the opposite situation: If we have no foundation beneath our feet, then there is no place on which we may stand and so it is a matter of "whether advancing or retreating, there are only ravines." One is unable to have anything which one may accomplish. If we are able to take the two words "genuine" and "enactment" [and implement them] then one's individual character can become established and then one will naturally be able to successfully accomplish everything else. (p. 145-6)

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Part Three: Planting [the Seeds of] Bodhi

Karma is extremely equitable in its dealing out of punishments. Whether one falls or does not fall is on account of the degree to which one makes distinctions under the influence of the passions. As for that sort of person who only recognizes the existence of emotions and does not recognize the existence of wisdom,--- in the future he will certainly fall into the three wretched destinies. This is a matter about which there cannot be the slightest doubt. Whichever sort of mind you maintain, you'll go on to precisely that corresponding destiny. (p.146)

*****

Whatever you just can't see through and just can't put down, that's a matter of karmic obstacles. They obstruct you so that you are unable to ascend. They may even obstruct you so much that you can't emerge from the three realms. Wherever one encounters a situation and then generates a kind of attachment to it, that's just a matter of emotions. Seeing a situation and then developing an attachment,--- this is the function of emotions. (p.147)

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What is ignorance? Stated simply, it's just darkness. One isn't clear about anything. Because one is not clear about true principle, one locks up the mind so that one is unable to experience (lit. "open up") an awakening. (p.148)

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It is because beings possess a discriminating mind that there exist good and evil, beautiful and ugly, right and wrong, black and white, and all sorts of problems. Therefore the Buddha adapts to the minds of beings and thus he manifests many kinds of bodies and causes beings to be able to see the body of the Buddha. This is what is referred to in the saying, "There are the waters in a thousand rivers and the moons [reflected] in a thousand rivers. For ten-thousand miles there are no clouds and for ten-thousand miles the heavens extend." The Buddha adapts to the different types [of beings] and transformationally manifests bodies accordingly. (p.149)

*****

What is it that determines the right Dharma's continuing to dwell in the world? If you earnestly and honestly go on about your cultivation, if you do not become enamored of an empty reputation and false benefits, and if you do not develop a desire for offerings,--- this amounts to the right Dharma continuing to dwell in the world. (p.150)

*****

What is the bodhi mind? I have a very simple analogy. When one hasn't yet brought forth the bodhi mind, it's like [in bread-making] when one has flour but hasn't yet added the yeast. After that day when one has brought forth the bodhi mind it's like adding in yeast. After a while the dough is able to grow large. If one were to ask what it is that the bodhi mind looks like, originally it has no shape and has no appearance. It's just the Way of enlightenment. "Enlightenment" means "awakening." It's just understanding clearly. It's just clearly understanding the principles of the Way. It's not just clearly understanding alone. One still must cultivate this Way as well.

Then again one can use a jeweled stupa as an analogy for the bodhi mind. Now as for this jeweled stupa, no matter how high it is and no matter how big it is, it's essential to begin construction at the ground. The ground is just our mind ground. One must construct this jeweled stupa beginning from the ground and then cause it to grow taller with each succeeding level. The establishment of the bodhi mind also begins from the level of the mind ground. The more one brings it forth, the bigger it becomes. The more one brings it forth, the more lofty it becomes. Originally, there's just a little bit. It's very small. But then gradually, it swells up and becomes large. When one's meritorious qualities become perfected, then at the very last one is able to achieve buddhahood. (p.151)

*****

The mental situation of so-called "sovereign independence" is one in which there are no persons, there is no self, there are no beings and there is no one who possesses a lifespan. Now where is it that there is this "sovereign independence"? In what place is one sovereignly independent? And in what place is one not sovereignly independent? It's just at the station of the sage (i.e. arya) that one is able to become sovereignly independent. At the station of the common person one is not sovereignly independent. (p.152)

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Stupid people don't realize the severity of cause and effect and so they casually commit errors in cause-and-effect even to the point where they do not believe in cause-and-effect and argue that there is no such thing as cause-and-effect. People who possess a measure of wisdom realize the severity of the retributional response involved in cause-and-effect. And so they are fearful about making errors in cause-and-effect. No matter what endeavor one is about to do, "Contemplate it thrice and then proceed." (p.153)

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The ancients said, "The errors of the superior man are like an eclipse of the sun or moon. Everyone sees them. If he immediately changes them, then people all look up to him." When a superior man has committed a transgression, its just the same as when there is an eclipse of the sun or an eclipse of the moon. Everybody is able to see it. If he is able to immediately change it, then everyone will respect him and look up to him with admiration. (p.154)

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As for intelligent people, when they have committed an transgression, they are certain to change their ways. As for stupid people, when they have committed a transgression, they do not change their ways. (p.155)

*****

The three kinds of disasters are divided into greater and lesser categories. The greater three disasters are just conflagrations, floods and winds. The lesser three disasters are military attack, famine and plague. The causes for the three greater disasters are as follows: It is because people possess minds afflicted with greed that there arise conflagrational disasters. It is because people possess minds afflicted with hatred that there arise flood disasters. And it is because people have minds afflicted with stupidity that there arise wind disasters. Thus the three disasters arise on account of the three poisons. We all have minds afflicted with the three poisons of greed, hatred and stupidity. These types of mind become greater with each passing day. When they reach a particular level then they manifest in the form of an approaching disaster. (p.156)

*****

The dharmas of the world are analogous to a huge net which entraps everyone. Those who love fame become trapped by the net of fame. Those who are greedy for wealth become tied up by the net of wealth. Those who are enchanted by sex become bound up by the net of sexual desire. In short, people are ruled by the nets of the five desires of wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep to the point where they are turned totally upside down. They become so tightly tied up by them that they can't even draw a breath. One can only pity most people, for they haven't even come to a clear understanding of the situation. Although they are bound up by the net, they still don't even realize it and so aren't the least bit aware of it. Although those who have clearly understood it at least realize it, they still have no way to escape from it. They only helplessly utter a few more sighs, that's all. (p.157)

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Part Four: All Beings Are [Potential] Buddhas

The Buddha has said, "All beings possess the nature of enlightenability. Every one of them can become a buddha." Everyone has the right to become a buddha. Whether or not they believe in the Buddha, in the future, they can still achieve buddhahood. One may verify from this that Buddhism is not an autocratic religion, but rather is a democratic religion. (p.158)

*****

I unite all of the religions together into a single family. And so I refer to Buddhism as "the beings teaching." Because nobody is able to escape outside of empty space and the Dharma realm, everyone is a "being." And so Buddhism therefore is the teaching studied by beings.

I've also taken Buddhism and changed it into "the people's teaching." This is because everyone has the right to become a buddha. It only requires that one develop a singular focus in one's cultivation. Then one will finally be able to become a buddha.

I've also taken Buddhism and changed its name to "the teaching of the mind." This is because everyone has a mind. Cultivation involves getting rid of the false mind and retaining the true mind. Those who possess a false mind are common people. Those who possess the true mind are buddhas. (p.159)

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The bodhisattvas take benefitting beings as the point of departure. They don't take benefitting oneself as the primary topic. It is precisely this which defines the spirit of a bodhisattva. (p.160)

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From the onset of history onward Buddhism has never started a war. This is because in the moral code of Buddhism the very first prohibition is that one not kill. Not only must one refrain from killing people, but one must also refrain from killing other beings as well. What's more it is also necessary to liberate beings and protect the safety of beings. Therefore there have never been [Buddhist] wars. (p.161)

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As for all of the sufferings of beings, I take them all on as my own. As for all of the happinesses of the present life, I take them all and transfer them to all beings. (p.162)

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Most cases where there are terrible diseases such as malaria, cancer and so forth are all cases where there are ghosts involved which drive them along, causing a person's five organs to become imbalanced and causing the four elements to become unregulated. These are all cases of the ghost of karmic obstacles stirring up trouble. Because people have karmic obstacles rooted in previous existences, when the time comes, ghosts show up and demand repayment.

It may also be because a particular person is deficient in yang energy or because the yin has become abundant and thus the yang has deteriorated. Then the ghosts are able to take advantage of the situation. If you are able to always remain without afflictions and cause wisdom to manifest then ghosts have no cracks through which they can enter.

But one need only generate a single thought characterized by lust or ignorance and then the ghosts find it easy to drill their way in. Extrapolating from this example one can see that the eighty-four thousand sorts of diseases all involve a kind of previous cause and later effect, even to the point that when a mosquito bites you, a bee stings you, or you encounter any other such situation, they all involve the mutual interaction of causes and effects.

If people understand this principle then they won't dare to involve themselves in even the smallest wrong deed. Even a single mistake requires that one undergo a corresponding retribution. This is especially the case for those who have taken up the cultivation of the six perfections and myriad practices and who therefore have to be even more resolute in taking a stand on genuine ground. One cannot even engage in the slightest degree of falseness. This is what is meant by "If the causal ground is not genuine then the effect becomes distorted." (p.163)

*****

In this world, no matter whether it's a good situation or a bad situation, they all serve to teach people to wake up. Good situations just serve to teach you to awaken and become aware of those things which are good. The bad situations just serve to teach you to awaken to and become aware of those things which are bad. (p.164)

*****

We should be just like a lamp which comes in and illuminates the room inside our own minds. When one possesses the power of contemplative illumination then one is able to produce the capacity for action inherent in the ultimate cause of the buddha nature. (p.165)

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You should open up your own eyes and correct your thought processes. Just take a look: As for those people who commit crimes in the world, they are actually all brought on by a selfish mind. (p.166)

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As for the greatest enmity in all the world, none surpasses that which arises from the killing of beings. Thus it is said, "When one kills a person one pays with his life. When one owes a debt he has to repay the money." If you kill someone's father or brother, people will certainly kill your own fathers and brothers. This sort of cruel slaughter of each other never comes to an end. It can happen that because one has killed too much the retribution comes extremely swiftly. This is what is meant by "receiving present retribution in the present life." (p.167)

*****

Why is it that people of the present era develop all of these strange and bizarre diseases? To put it in a single statement, it comes from the killing of beings. If you kill beings, then being will come and demand that you repay the debt with your life. These sorts of strange disorders are such that a physician's hands are tied and he has no useful strategy. What can one do about something like that? This is something with respect to which one must employ a genuine mind of repentance and proceed to change one's faults and renew oneself. One should perform more merit of the sort which benefits beings. Then one will be able to melt away the karma manifesting from previous existences. (p.168)

*****

The key to the good and bad in the world resides with the family. If the education provided by the family is good, then the road ahead for its sons and daughters is bright. If the education provided by the family is not good, then the road ahead for its sons and daughters is one of darkness. Although one can't generalize from this to all situations, still, in most cases this is more or less how it works. So for those who are fathers or mothers, in every single word and in every single action, in everything one does and with every move, one must be extremely careful. One cannot be casual about this. (p.169)

*****

There is someone who asked me, "Ultimately, is there such a thing as the hells or not?" I'll tell you, right when people are alive, they are in the hells. You just look: Most people are full of afflictions, fighting and disputing. There is no rest from it. There is no stopping to it. Isn't this just being in the hells? What kind of meaning does this sort of human life have? What's more, there are floods, tornadoes, wars and human calamities which also are hells within the human realm. And again, consider the terrible diseases which tie up the body so that one suffers so much that one can't describe it. When cancer develops, one may hurt so much that he does not even wish to live anymore. Is this not just the hells?

But people still don't see through it and they still can't put it down. They still can't let go. They remain greedily attached and what's more they entertain no thoughts of loving-kindness or compassion. When they see a benefit for themselves, they forget about any principle, even going to the point of committing arson and engaging in theft. But at the very end, they still remain on the wheel [of birth-and-death] where they continue to turn about without any prospect of a time when it will come to a halt. (p.170)

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The End

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6/98 beta translation copyright by Dharmamitra. All rights reserved.