The Great Mind of Bodhi

Written in Chinese by Dr. Yutang Lin
Translated by Stanley Lam
Edited by Dr. Yutang Lin

I. Clear and Bright Great Mind

Self-serving entanglements and considerations arising from personal favor or malice are difficult to avoid in life. People are thus constantly lost under the thick clouds of sorrows, without clarity of mind but engulfed in endless cycles of sufferings. Actually all sentient beings are suffering from this very same problem, and their transient existence is besieged by all kinds of struggles and competitions. Sentient beings would never get out of such sufferings without the salvation of the Buddha Dharma. With this in mind, one therefore abandons one's self-centered considerations, and instead devotes oneself to the practice of benefiting others even at the expense of one's own interests, and serving others with tender patience and tranquil tolerance. This right view and aspiration is far from the biases of individual views, free from the shadow of personal interests, and extends to all sentient beings without the limitation of space and time. Therefore, it is naturally fresh, bright and clear; it deserves to be called the "clear and bright Great Mind."

The great mind of Bodhi (Enlightenment) is limitless, and naturally clear and bright. However, there would be no means to experience the great mind of Bodhi and to develop such aspiration without the clear and bright teachings of the Dharma and the sober moments of the practitioners. Therefore, we could say, "Great Mind is clear and bright; clear and bright state yields Great Mind." Most tests that practitioners face in life are basically conflicts between the Great Mind and personal considerations. The key to one's spiritual growth lies in one's ability to see through and persevere in this awareness: One can save oneself and others only by following the idea of "Clear and bright state yields Great Mind; Great Mind is clear and bright" to proceed, step by step, firmly on the path of Bodhi. As soon as personal considerations slip in, one would be trapped within confusions and would fall a victim oneself, not to mention to relieve others from predicaments.

The best way to remind oneself of such a clear and bright state is to frequently observe impermanence in depth. Life is as transient as morning dews or floating duckweed. Illness, senility or death would confront us in no time, and yet there is absolutely no guarantee of safety and tranquillity. The older one gets, the harder it is to evade from asking oneself questions like: "What is the purpose of this life? Has it any meaning?" If, at this instant, one could understand the significance of the Great Mind of Bodhi, why wait any longer to put it into practice in one's daily life? Fundamentally, safety and tranquillity root in the clear and bright state of mind of oneself and others. If one does not follow the clear and bright path but remains stagnant in the lost path led by selfish considerations, it is only a matter of time when one would be overwhelmed by too much confusion and sink into lowly darkness, then it would be too late to regret.

The annual Chinese festival for worshipping ancestors and cleaning their graves is called "Qing Ming" (Clear Bright). The underlying meaning of this name should be to remind generations of descendants through the facts of impermanence that the clear and bright state of mind is indeed the foundation of human existence, and that one should not go astray from it! Besides, in order to maintain constantly this clear and bright state, one needs to devote one's life to practicing and propagating the Dharma, which teaches to eradicate selfishness and ignorance forever!

May all who come across this article often goad themselves by the motto: "Great Mind is clear and bright; clear and bright state yields Great Mind" to follow the clear and bright path, and adopt the Great Mind of Bodhi as their guiding principle in life.

II. Fearless Great Mind

Every step in life leads one toward the unknown and unplanned. Even though death is understood to be inevitable, one would not know in advance how one will experience it. Social structures and cultural upbringing make ordinary people live with certain expectations. However, the ever-changing world makes us awake in time to the fact that all sorts of expectations are unwarranted. What follows are unease, attachment, and calculations; one would try by all means to obtain a sense of security out of that which is not securable. If one cannot cope with the evolution of reality, one could even get lost in the pursuit of sensual pleasures, fame or wealth, or even become insane, depressed, or commit suicide.

How should we seek stability when confronting the fact that all is impermanent and beyond grasping? How can we prevent this life from degenerating into an extemporaneous show which is meaningless and inconsequential? Self-deception cannot last long; suicide is only an evasion. Therefore, neither constitutes a path to liberation. First of all, we should firmly recognize that reality is impermanent and cannot be grasped or pre-arranged, so as to become able to abandon all biased and narrow-minded self-serving endeavors. Once all personal interests are given up, only then would one be able to devote fearlessly one's lifetime to Dharma practices and services, and thereby give meaning to this human existence and yield tranquillity, joy and maturity of mind. Dharma practices and services could yield such results because their fundamental principles are entirely about broadening one's perspective, helping one to face reality, increasing one's capacity for tolerance, and benefiting all sentient beings. One is to broaden one's perspective so that it is not limited to any time, place, kind, or side. One is to face reality so that it is not distorted or evaded but observed in details of its conditional interdependence and of the dictation of causation. One is to increase one's capacity for tolerance so that it is not limited to any race, species, generation, or region. One is to benefit all sentient beings so that loving kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity would spread equally to all beings of the four kinds of births and of the six realms of transmigration.

If one can realize that private interests cannot really be maintained, and hence switches one's devotion to Dharma practices and services, and perseveres with the great mind of Bodhi, then, although life still fluctuates as ever and remains impermanent, such a practitioner would always stay calm and fearless. The great mind of Bodhi originally transcends self-attachment, which is the root of the cycles of life and death. Therefore, it is fearless, and might be called the "Fearless Great Mind." Once a practitioner generates the great mind of Bodhi, constantly maintains and cultivates it, and lives his or her life accordingly, then he or she will gradually experience the peace and fearlessness that is inherent to it. Hence, it might be said that "Great Mind yields fearlessness."

May all those who come across this article adopt the motto: "Great Mind is fearless; Great Mind yields fearlessness." May they thereby generate the great mind of Bodhi, cultivate it, and put it into practice. Consequently, may they enjoy and spread such fearless tranquillity in this world of much suffering.


"Clear and Bright Great Mind" was written yesterday, and "Fearless Great Mind" today. Both were works of inspiration and fluently accomplished from start to finish within a very short while. May all beings cultivate Bodhi in the light of "Great Mind is clear and bright; clear and bright state yields Great Mind. Great Mind is fearless; Great Mind yields fearlessness."

A Study for the Cultivation of Harmony
March 25, 1998

Translated in Hong Kong
June 21, 1998

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