Explanations by Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: The Benefits and Merits of Upholding the Dharma (聞法修持 功德利益)
“’Merits’ refers to the ability to create blessings and benefits. ‘Ability’ means the virtue of doing good deeds. We must spread the seeds of goodness over the fields of merits, lead all to develop the sprout of Bodhi, plant the Dharma-marrow in the field of our minds and practice with reverence according to the virtuous teachings. The Buddha opened and revealed the Dharma to sentient beings so they would awaken and enter into the Buddha’s understanding and views. He revealed His original intent that He had long concealed and now taught the Lotus Sutra’s teaching of the intrinsic. The Lotus Sutra opens the two doors of the intrinsic and the manifest. The Dharma’s analogies clarify the profound truth and teachings. The assembly that came to Vulture Peak heard [the Dharma] and attained all kinds of merits, virtues, and benefits at that time. This is the Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues.”
The Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues explains how we enter into the Buddha’s understanding and views, how we enter through these doors. We need to be very clear about this. We must be mindful and clearly understand this. If we are unclear, we would have been listening to the previous sutra passages in vain. So, we must all be very mindful. We must be mindful and put [the teachings] into practice in our lives to truly experience them. If we do not mindfully seek to actualize and experience [these teachings], there will be no way for us to comprehend them. We will truly have “no way”. We [must] take the Dharma to heart and transform ourselves, so we must always be mindful.
“’Merits’ refers to the ability to create blessings and benefits.” This word “merit” refers to putting in our own efforts. It is something we must ask ourselves; are we truly being mindful? Have we applied our own minds and bodies to mastering and learning [the Dharma]? If we do not act, but only listen, write, transcribe, read or discuss [these teachings], then there is still no way for us to realize these “merits and virtues”. It is not easy to experience “merits” in our hearts! [We attain] “merits” by speaking to people in such a way that they accept and make use of [the teachings]. Only when the recipients accept and put [the teachings] into practice is our ability sufficient. When we speak and others listen, we may discuss merrily, but [this moment] may quickly pass like a gust of wind. When this happens, it is as though we have merely heard the sound of a gust of wind. When we speak, it is just like a gust of wind, and for those who listen, it means no more than a gust of wind; they have not grasped anything. So, when we teach [the Dharma], we must let people listen to it with joy and be willing to accept it so that they will always remember it. Haven’t I been telling everyone that we need to remember and accept the teachings? If we can remember and have accepted the teachings, then [the teachings] will naturally manifest in our attitude. This is spiritual practice. Through spiritual practice, we accumulate merits and virtues. Mindfulness is extremely important. Previously, we often spoke of the Four Practices, “extended practice, practice with nothing further, uninterrupted practice and practice with reverence.” We must practice with reverence. When it comes to this practice, we must take the Dharma into our hearts and apply it; this requires “extended practice”. Every minute and every second, we unite matters with principles. Whether with people or matters, we can immediately recall the Dharma we were taught. So, having heard this Dharma, we can now face these matters and immediately apply the teachings to deal with them. If we unite matters with principles, then there will be no wrong in what we do. This is “extended practice”. After listening to the Dharma, we keep it in our hearts and do not forget it for a long period of time. What we heard and taught long ago, we still remember. This is “extended practice”.
[We must] “practice with nothing further” and not “practice casually”. We do not only go listen to the Dharma when we have time. We do not only talk about these principles when we have time. We do not only practice the teachings when we have time. No, we “practice with nothing further.” We may not have much time available to us, but we make use of any time that we have. We look back, remember and think about [the Dharma]. We must mindfully contemplate the Dharma. This is to “always be mindful”. We must also engage in “uninterrupted practice.” No matter what kind of place we are in, what time it is or what kind of world we reside in, we need to apply the Dharma. The Dharma will constantly abide in our hearts. Over extended time, with nothing further and no interruptions, it will always be in our minds. So, what we express is reverence.
To “practice with reverence” means to have respect, to practice with respect. Don’t we often talk about “gratitude, respect and love”? When it comes to our attitude, we listen to the Dharma and put it into practice as we interact with people and deal with matters. These are connected; we must be able to do this. This is called cultivating merits and accumulating virtues. We cultivate merits in this way. So, in this way, we constantly accumulate virtue, and only in this way [do we attain] “merits and virtues.” Thus, if we do not put in the effort, how can we possibly accumulate virtue? So, “Merits’ refers to the ability to create blessings and benefits.” When we connect with other people, we need to constantly create blessings. We often say that we advance and teach the Buddha-Dharma, but actually, when we teach the Dharma, we first benefit ourselves before we benefit others. We must first put in effort to attain accomplishments ourselves. Only after attaining accomplishments can we help others do the same. Whenever we speak with others, just as when I am speaking to everyone now, I too have first benefited [from my efforts] before being able to transmit the Dharma in this way. If it was not for teaching the Dharma, then I would not need to spend so much time. In my mind, I definitely must know what this Dharma is all about. I need to search and look everywhere. What kind of world do we live in today? What is the Dharma that the Buddha taught? This world is sick and polluted. What kind of teachings do we need in response to this world? I have to search [for the answers]. “Ah, I have found it!” I myself have found it, and after I have found it, I immediately share [this] with others. After I have sought out these things, I then talk about them with all of you. This requires mindfulness.
We first benefit myself before I benefit others. I am so grateful for having the opportunity to speak to you here. At the same time, I am also grateful for is everyone’s dedication. Very early in the morning, whether it is windy or rainy, [people come listen to the Dharma]. In many spiritual practice centers all over the place, in the recycling stations, the small group study centers and Jing Is Halls, all these diligent Bodhisattvas [come] early. Before 5 am, they are already out the door to meet up to hold group study and listen to the Dharma at the same time. Think about this; how can we not respect them? Every day here at the Abode, before 4 am, we should the wooden board. Actually, around the time when we sound the wooden board, [these Bodhisattvas] have already woken up and gotten ready to head out woken up and gotten ready to head out. Some need to drive and pick people up, serving as a “great white ox-cart.” People carpool together to come to the morning Dharma talk. Aren’t they worthy of our respect and offerings? Aren’t these some people who think, “The board has sounded,” then think, “Let me rest. I am tried.” But for those who are truly mindful and diligent, during this time, they are at peace. As they listen to the Dharma, their minds are without hindrances; they have no stress at all. While we are teaching the sutra outside, people are still sleeping [at the dorms]. People have no stress at all, because in the place where the sutra is taught, those who listen to the sutra are content and at peace. Even in faraway places, with technology passing on the Dharma, people are willing to accept [the Dharma] in this way. Isn’t this what diligence is? Aren’t they putting in effort? They “create blessings and benefits.” We transform ourselves and we [transform] others so that we both benefit from the Dharma at the same time. This is “ability.”
This is accumulated over a very long period of time. So, “’Ability’ means the virtue of doing good deeds.” This is the meaning of “ability.” If we truly implement [the Dharma] in our lives, we will attain benefits while others also follow us. In this way, we interact with one another. “We must spread the seeds of goodness over the fields of merits.” We spread this kind of seed in this way. With the right conditions in the soil, clean and fresh air and water, the seed will grow. This is how we seize [the opportunity] to “spread the seeds of goodness over the fields of merits.” So, we “lead all to develop the sprout of Bodhi.” When there are more and more sprouts of Bodhi, then we are “planting the Dharma-marrow in the field of our minds.” [We plant] the Dharma-marrow. The Dharma is like water, yet it is not only like water. It should also be like marrow. We do bone marrow transplants in our hospitals. If someone has a poor hematopoietic function, then we need to do a bone marrow match [to find] a healthy person for a transplant.
Listening to the Dharma is just like this. Are we rejecting this Dharma? If our understanding of it deviates, then it is as if we have rejected it. If we practice according to the Dharma, however, then we have accepted the Dharma-marrow and grown our wisdom-life. This is just like transfusing blood or transplanting Dharma-marrow. When a healthy person gives it to us, we absorb and make use of it and return to good health. When we accept the Dharma, we grow our wisdom-life. We must mindfully seek to realize this. We must “practice with reverence according to the virtuous teachings.” We must plant the Dharma-marrow in the field of our minds. We must accept this Dharma into our hearts and “practice with reverence.” This refers to the Four Practices, which include extended practice, practice with nothing further, and uninterrupted practice. We must carry forth our practice with great reverence in this way. Only in this way can we attain the Dharma-marrow and plant it into the field of our minds. By “spreading these seeds of goodness” we can scatter them “over the field of merits”. We all must be mindful. “The Buddha opened and revealed the Dharma to sentient beings so they would realize and enter the Buddha’s understanding and views”. The Buddha dedicated His entire life for sentient beings to realize and enter the Buddha’s understanding and views. Sentient beings must realize and enter while the Buddha opens and reveals [the Dharma]. The Buddha safeguarded the Lotus Sutra in His mind. From His attainment of Buddhahood to [His expounding of the Lotus Sutra], nearly 50 years had passed. Only after 42 years did He finally begin expressing His original intent and teaching the Lotus Sutra. So, by this time, the Buddha had already opened and revealed. His understanding and views. This had been His original intent for a long time. Over the course of many lives and kalpas, He awaited the time of awakening when He would begin to teach the Lotus Sutra. Because of the Buddha’s enlightenment and understanding, He was able to know the essence of this Dharma. In the process of spiritual cultivation, He was not yet able to comprehend it. As soon as He attained enlightenment. He perfected [His understanding] of this essence. So, after awakening, His intent was to reveal the Dharma-marrow, the essence of the Buddha-Dharma. Thus, “He revealed His original intent that He had long concealed”; He did this throughout the present. He “now taught the Lotus Sutra’s teaching of the intrinsic”. We have already begun the “the teaching of the intrinsic”. In this sutra, we must mindfully seek to comprehend every word.
Although we may have recited this sutra before, we may only have recited it or transcribed it. Is it really that easy [to accumulate] merits and virtues? When it comes to spiritual practice, people may build monasteries, stupas or temples. Is that all there is to “making offerings”? It is not. As it turns out, after practicing the Five Paramitas, we must still [practice] “prajna”. We must not only make tangible offerings. What is most important is that we make tangible and intangible offerings in parallel. “True emptiness” requires “wondrous existence”. If we only have wisdom but are missing practice, then it is also empty. True emptiness requires wondrous existence, so we need to be mindful.
Although all phenomena are empty, our wisdom truly exists. Wisdom is something we attain from [engaging] with people. We have previously spoken about the Five and the Six Paramitas. We must have deep faith and understanding and put [the teachings] into practice. This is very important.
So, “The Lotus Sutra opens the two doors of the intrinsic and the manifest”. This Lotus Sutra [contains] the teaching of the manifest and the teaching of the intrinsic. The teaching of the manifest teaches us a lot. The many stories contained within it are all about His manifestation. They talk about long cultivations in the past and the karmic conditions existed then. These are “the teaching of the manifest”. Now we are in “the teaching of the intrinsic”. We must not hear and [think] that, by simply reading, reciting and memorizing sutras or transcribing sutras, we are making offerings. No. As for the many tangible [offerings], such as building monasteries and so on, we must not be attached to such things. Some people say that when they built a temple, they donated two pillars and thereby attained merits and virtues. In fact, the Buddha had already [explained this] very clearly; during that time, He told us very clearly that wherever the sutra and the Dharma are, the true body of the Dharma and the sariras of [the Buddha’s] entire body are. He had already spoken of this very clearly.
So, “The Lotus Sutra opens the two doors of the intrinsic and the manifest. The Dharma’s analogies clarity the profound truth and teachings”. This means that He used analogies in the Dharma. [The Dharma] contains true principles or conceals profound meaning within them. [Some parts] are clear and obvious, while some are deep and profound. The Lotus Sutra encompasses all of them. If this were not the sutra, why would the Buddha have taught the Lotus Sutra along for over seven, almost eight, years? So, this is the True Dharma. We need to be clear about this.
The Buddha taught the Dharma throughout His life, including at this assembly on Vulture Peak. “The assembly that came to Vulture Peak” gathered. This is known as the Vulture Peak Assembly. [They] “heard [the Dharma] and attained all kinds of [benefits]. [They heard] all kinds of teachings that speak to all three capabilities, be it the Hearers or the Solitary Realizers. In the past, we spoke a great deal about. Hearers, Solitary Realizers and Bodhisattvas. We have constantly discussed them. When they came to this place, Hearers, Solitary Realizers and Bodhisattvas were able to comprehend the Buddha’s heart and original intent. They could clearly see that there is only one [vehicle]; this is the True Dharma. So, [they attained all kinds of] “merits, virtues, and benefits at that time. This is the Chapter on Distinguishing Merits and Virtues”. It analyzes how we engage in practice and how we accumulate merits and virtues. We do so by going among people to experience and understand the Dharma’s principles in the depths of our minds. The Buddha gives us a direction. The Buddha-Dharma is widespread in the universe. How can all things in the universe be described one by one? It only provides us with a general idea; we must experience it in our daily lives. These are the principles, the true principles. So, when it comes to our faith, it is important that we possess deep faith and understanding. The Buddha has given us this direction, so we must mindfully seek to experience and understand it. We have constantly emphasized having deep faith and understanding.
The previous sutra passage states, “Those with faith and understanding will accept, uphold, read, recite, transcribe or further teach others to transcribe and make offerings to the sutras. They will scatter flowers, incense and scented powder and make sumana, champaka and atimuktaka into fragrant oils and burn them constantly”.
This is what the previous [sutra passage] states. It describes how we must have faith and understanding and accept, uphold, read, recite and transcribe [the sutra]. We must go among people with great reverence. As we read [the sutra], we must apply it; [we must do this] after we understand the Dharma. When we as later generations read [the sutras], we all must be able to understand what we read, and we must employ what we understand. If we understand but do not use [the teachings], then it is useless to read the sutras. In the era when the Buddha was in the world, [disciples] did not need to read [sutras]. Using their ears to listen was enough. What people read in that era mainly related to Brahmanism and so on. As for the Buddhist sutras, at that time, at the Buddha-Dharma’s inception, the Buddha was still teaching; it was only after the Buddha entered Parinirvana that sutras were gradually compiled.
So, in the Buddha’s era, He urged everyone to uphold, read and recite [the sutras]; [He urged] those in the future, us here today, to read and recite the sutras. We must be very mindful of this. [People will] “further teach others to transcribe” [the sutras]. In ancient times, people relied on other’s writing or on those who made careful carvings on wood or stone. In even earlier periods, they made cut-outs materials like leaves. This was what it was like in those eras. In our current era, there is no need to transcribe things. We are now in the digital era; it is a different era. So, we must accept the Dharma into and uphold it in our hearts. This is very important. After we take it to heart, we put it into practice. This was the Buddha’s intention, and it is what we constantly emphasize now.
We must take the Dharma into our hearts and put it into practice. When we put it into practice, we must share our insights with everyone and pass them down from generation to generation. We must express and apply [the Dharma] so that it is useful. We must “have a way”. Only by “having a way” will we be able to use [the Dharma], and will have a path [to walk]. Only then can we apply this Dharma. So, we must pass it down, generation after generation. Having faith and understanding is important, so we must pass down [this sutra] from one generation to the next. Thus, we must teach others to read it.
As long as the sutras and the principles exist, we must maintain great reverence for them. This reverence is part of the Four Practices. We use many kinds of ways to make offerings to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We must always mindfully seek to comprehend this and find ways to express it in our daily lives. We must engage in practice with reverence, extended practice, uninterrupted practice and practice with nothing further. In our minds, we must harbor reverence, gratitude and respect. This is our attitude. So, everyone must be mindful. This is what I usually tell everyone.
The next sutra passage goes on to state, “Those who make offerings in this way will attain infinite merits and virtues. Just as the universe is boundless, so are their blessings”.
If we can uphold the Dharma the Buddha taught, then we are making an offering. We put [the Dharma] into practice to realize the principles and go among people.
Those who make offerings in this way will attain infinite merits and virtues: In this way, they practice and uphold the Dharma that the Buddha taught and make offerings through reverent actions. Thus, they will attain countless blessings.
We must put the Dharma into practical action. “In this way, [we] practice and uphold the Dharma that the Buddha taught”. With everything that the Buddha taught us, we practice accordingly. So, [the Dharma] has applications. We make use of it among people. This is practicing and upholding what the Buddha taught. We actualize the Dharma that the Buddha taught in the world. We need to put [the Dharma] into practice. Haven’t we repeated this over and over? After we listen to the Dharma, we need to put it into practice in our daily lives as we interact with people and deal with matters. This is practicing according to the Dharma. This is called “practicing and upholding”. If we see the words “practice” and “uphold”, we must recall the Four Practices. When we practice and uphold and uphold [the Dharma], we must unite the Four Practices. We must diligently make use of it. We must be reverent, for this is the Dharma the Buddha taught. We must show respect through our conduct. We need to be reverent and make good use of the Dharma among people.
In this way, we make use of the Dharma; there is a use for it. This road is a path. As we walk along and use this path, we go among people to benefit sentient beings. This is “practice with reverence”. We have reverence for the Dharma that the Buddha taught and passed down to us. In this way, we put it into practice. I hope everyone can listen and take this to heart. I wonder if what I said is too profound and if you understand it or not. “They will attain countless blessings”. If we can do this, we will attain countless merits, virtues and blessings.
[The sutra] goes on to state, “Just as the universe is boundless, so are their blessings”.
Just as the universe is boundless, so are their blessings: Just as the universe is without boundaries, for those who uphold the Six Paramitas of Bodhisattvas and engage in practice everywhere, these people’s blessings will also be infinite like this.
[The blessings] are as boundless as the universe. When we look up and gaze at the universe, the universe is vast and boundless. No matter how tall a building is, even if it is several hundred stories tall, the space is still infinitely [higher]. It is boundless and infinitely vast. Such is the universe “The universe is without boundaries”. We uphold the Six Paramitas of Bodhisattvas and “engage in practice everywhere”. This is [as vast] as the universe. “These people’s blessings will also be infinite like this”. We must mindfully seek to absorb this.
This verse describes that those who uphold the Dharma while practicing the Six Paramitas to widely transform others benefit both themselves and others. They will swiftly attain all-encompassing wisdom. This verse only discusses giving and does not mention the other five paramitas.
So, this previous verse almost repeats the prose from before. It tells us about “those who uphold the Dharma while practicing the Six Paramitas to widely transform others”. In our spiritual practice, if we only focus on wisdom, on prajna, we will only try to understand the Dharma and how to purify our minds. We will seek to understand the Buddha’s principles and spend all of our time on this. Then we will not enter the world nor go among people. If we only [practice] the Five Paramitas, then we lace [wisdom]. So, being able to “uphold the Dharma while practicing the Six Paramitas to widely transform others” means that, besides practicing and upholding [the Dharma] ourselves, we must also practice the Six Paramitas in parallel. We must not be focused on only ourselves. We may understand and be able to teach the Dharma but can only do one thing, either transcribe or teach it. This should not be it. We must genuinely be able to do [other things]. We can pick up a hoe or a shovel, just as we can pick up a pen. Whether plowing a field, working in the kitchen or writing an article with a pen, we should be able to do all of these things. This is how we should be, for sentient beings need us to have a variety of skills. So, we ought to “actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions”. Only in this way can we widely transform sentient beings. We “benefit both ourselves and others”. We must first attain a certain amount of skills before we can teach others. Where does the vegetable we eat come from? If we ourselves go out and plant the seeds, we will understand what kind of vegetable it is and where it comes from. The idea is the same.
If we do not cultivate this Dharma ourselves, we will never engrave it into our hearts. So, we must be mindful. Regarding this verse on the Six Paramitas, we need to benefit ourselves and others. We just mentioned this earlier. Before we go out and inform others, we must first attain the ability ourselves. The Hearers [possess] “the wisdom of all Dharma” while Bodhisattvas have “wisdom of all paths” and the Buddha has “all-encompassing wisdom”. If we do not have the wisdom of all Dharma, if we have not listened to [the Dharma], how can we walk this path? Bodhisattvas possess the wisdom of all paths. Only through this extremely long path can they experience the scenery of their own minds and feel the suffering of myriad sentient beings. They have completely experienced both the Dharma-joy and suffering in the world. This “all-encompassing wisdom” is the source of the Buddha’s awakening to the truths of all things in the universe. This is something that is accumulated over time. So, what are “merits”? It is something we accumulate. If we do not accumulate experiences, we are still empty; we have not grasped “wondrous existence”.
So, in order to obtain this “wondrous existence,” we must approach it from not being attached to phenomena. There is indeed an order to this. So, in these verses, “they only discuss giving”. We only know that we need to seek wisdom, but this is not enough; we still need to practice the Five Paramitas. We cannot simply practice walking meditation; [we cannot simply stay] in a good environment and practice sitting or walking meditation. We cannot claim we work hard and read the sutras. This is not how it should be. “The sutras are a path. This path is a road to walk on”. We must pave this road; we must open and pave this path. We need to pave this road and set out on it. Only then are we truly [walking] the Bodhisattva-path.
The sutra passage then goes on to state, “How much more so if they uphold this sutra while also practicing giving, upholding precepts, exercising patience and taking joy in Samadhi”. “They never get angry or speak harshly, and they respect stupas and temples. They humble themselves before all bhiksus and are far-removed from arrogance and pride”.
This requires diligence. So, besides what we discussed previously about upholding the Dharma and also practicing the Six Paramitas, we will now discuss [the passage]. “How much more so if they uphold this sutra while also practicing giving, upholding precepts, exercising patience and taking joy in Samadhi”.
How much more so if they uphold this sutra while also practicing giving, upholding precepts, exercising patience and taking joy in Samadhi: By being able to uphold this sutra, they already have boundless blessings. How much more so if they also practice the Six Paramitas.
For us to completely uphold this sutra, apart from developing our knowledge and wisdom, we must “transform consciousness into wisdom” and give rise to deep faith and understanding. However, this is not all. We also need to accept and uphold it and understand that this sutra is the Buddha’s entire body. So, since [it is] the Buddha’s entire body, [we must] practice the Six Paramitas by giving and upholding [precepts], exercising patience and taking joy in Samadhi. This is an absolute necessity. This is actualizing the Six Paramitas in all actions.
“By being able to uphold this sutra, they already have boundless blessings”. If we are just able to mindfully take this sutra into the depths of our hearts, this is already an amazing accomplishment. “How much more so if they also practice the Six Paramitas”. If we know to love ourselves and take the Dharma of the sutra to heart, it is already quite an accomplishment. It is better than being self-indulgent, ignorant and confused. Yet, is this enough? The Buddha also said this was not enough. We also need to bring benefit to sentient beings. Otherwise, there is no way to become a Buddha. If we have not walked the Bodhisattva-path, how can we possibly attain Buddhahood? To begin, it is quite good for us to attain “the wisdom of all Dharma”; we can “turn consciousness into wisdom”. However, we must walk the Bodhisattva-path. This is “the wisdom of all paths”. When we [fully attain] the wisdom of all paths and clearly understand all [phenomena], we become one with the principles of the universe. In this way, we will have fully actualized the Six Paramitas in all actions. We will have accomplished this. The required process and spiritual practice is to “never get angry or speak harshly” and “respect stupas and temples”.
We return again to [the idea of] “respecting stupas and temples”. This is to tell everyone that we must “never get angry or utter harsh speech”. [We must] diligently uphold the Six Paramitas in our minds. “When they see stupas and temples, they give rise to reverence”. [We need to be] without pride or arrogance. Even though we have done much, even though we engage in practice, we understand that everything is empty in nature. A temple is merely a thing outside our bodies; it is empty [in nature]. It is the union of the four elements. It is the four elements of earth, water, [wind] and fire that form a stupa. Isn’t this how it is? When we are building a house, we need steel bars. Steel comes from ore, which is smelted into steel. During this refining process, water is required. There must be a lot of flowing air and water for the [refining] process to work. Thus, fire itself requires all four elements. Wind itself also requires all four elements. When it comes to wind, without hot air, without such air, there will be no wind. If there is no wind, water does not move. So, water also requires air. Every single thing in and of itself requires these four elements to complement each other. It is the same for the human body and for all things on the earth. So, we make use of [materials] such as earth, wood and so on to build things. This is the union of the four elements. When they are separated, what is left is emptiness. We create something tangible from them, and it is a stupa. We call it “a stupa.” So, when we look at the form of a stupa and we hear its name, then we know the stupa contains sariras within it or perhaps human remains. Thus, we need to give rise to reverence here. This shows our respect and is also a kind of spiritual practice. In particular, in our [spiritual practice], the stupa of treasures in our mind exists forever. We must have respect and reverence for all. Thus, we need to learn humility, to be humble.
So, “They humble themselves before all bhiksus and are far-removed from arrogance and pride.”
We must be very humble. Toward everyone, we must pay respect to them as to all sages. This is the attitude we must have.
So, “When they see bhiksus, they are humble, reverent and pay their respect. They distance themselves from arrogance and pride.”
This represents the direction of our practice. So, we must all be mindful in our practice. True “merits” and “virtues” come together through great [effort]. So, only by bringing benefit to people can we accumulate merits. If we do not put in effort, then there is no merit. We must put everything into practice for it to be possible [to achieve this]. We cannot fake anything. Titles are not useful; what is useful is being able to use our own ability to serve. Only then can we accumulate merits and virtues. “Merits” are something we accumulate constantly, from a single drop to a vast amount. This is merits and virtues.
So, everyone, it is easy to talk about “merits and virtues,” but they require a very long time to cultivate. Thus, we must always be mindful!
(Source: Da Ai TV – Wisdom at Dawn program – Explanation by Master Chen-Yen)