Lecturer: Master Zheng-Yan
Subject: The Six Practices: Ten Abiding Conducts Part 1 (六行~十住行一)
Everyone, learning Buddhism is about studying the mind. It is about how to take care of our own minds and not to influence others’ minds. There is a saying, “The river water can move, but the minds of practitioners should not be disturbed. If the minds of practitioners have finally reached a state of tranquility, and we affect their minds, then not only will it disturb them, this act will also damage our own virtue. So we must take care of our virtuous thoughts, and not disturb others’ minds. We must be careful of this.
To learn Buddhism is about taking care of one’s own mind and not to lead others into a negative mindset. When we disturb other people’s minds, it will decrease our virtues.
These days we are discussing the Ten Faiths. These methods are all Dharma-water that can cleanse the defilements of our spirits. Spiritual practice is a way to remove pollution. What is pollution? As we have often discussed, it is ignorance. Where does ignorance come from? It arises from interpersonal conflicts. One by one, the conflicts enter our minds and one by one, they affect our behavior.
Over time, they become our habits. We often say that human nature is all the same; the distinction lies in our habits. Our mind is the same as the Buddha’s. But since we are attached to our habits it seems that everyone’s behavior is different. This is pollution by ignorance, which allows our habits to turn into actions.
Interpersonal conflicts lead to ignorance, which becomes our habits after period of time. These habits in turn affect our conduct and defile our minds and spirits.
So we must uphold the precepts and guard our vows. To make a vow is to abide by the precepts. In terms of conduct, we must have a system of self-discipline. Not only do we need order when in a group, but also when we are by ourselves. We must still follow the rules of the system. This system is the precepts. If we behave in an organized manner, have self-control, proactively do what we should and abstain from what we should not do, then this is abiding by the precepts with ease. If we abide by the precepts, we will forever be at ease in our actions. This is called being at peace.
In our spiritual practice, aren’t we seeking such peace of mind? If we feel free and at ease, it is called liberation. Then in any place, whatever we do, everything will turn out as we wish.
Everyone, we should remember that to attain Buddhahood we ordinary people must master the Six Practices. We have talked about the Practice of Ten Faiths, the second practice is the Ten Abiding Conducts.
The Practice of Ten Abiding Conducts: Spiritual Resolve, Control of Mind, Practice, Noble Birth, Perfect Skillful Means, Right Mind, No-retreat, Childlike innocence, Dharma-prince, Anointment.
These Ten Abiding Conducts lead to a Realized Mind. Being still and unshaken is called abiding. In Buddhism, the Buddha is the awakened one, who has realized the truth. It means that one has already understood the true principles. How does one truly experience all the truths in the universe? How does one achieve a “realized mind?” This is important to know.
If our minds can realize the principles, then we can naturally be abiding and at ease. To do that, we must not lack the Ten Faiths mentioned before. Once the Ten Faiths are established, we can then enter the state of realization. When we enter that state, to abide in it and remain unshaken, we need the Ten Abiding Conducts.
Of course, there are ten ways to help us remain still and unshaken. The first is called Abiding in Spiritual Resolve. To achieve anything we must make a resolution. Without such resolve, the Buddha is far from us. There is a saying, “In the first year of learning Buddhism, the Buddha is right before our eyes. In the second year, Buddha recedes to the horizon. In the third year, the Buddha has disappeared.” This means that when we first make a vow, we are very enthusiastic, dedicated and diligent. Then gradually, our resolve decreases; the Buddha starts to drift away to the horizon, while we remain stuck on the ground, practicing only half of the time. In the third year, everything vanishes and the Buddha is no longer in our minds. Thus, once an ordinary being, always an ordinary being.
We must abide in our spiritual resolve. Once we resolve, we must follow the Buddha at all times. So first is to Abide in Spiritual Resolve. Abiding in Spiritual Resolve is to “apply genuine Skillful Means and the Ten Faiths to merge into One Perfect Mind.”
This is using Genuine Skillful Means. The Buddha expounded the Dharma for 49 years. Before revealing the Lotus Sutra, for 42 years he only spoke the Dharma based on Skillful Means. Since the aptitudes of sentient beings differ, the Buddha used different remedies to treat the various afflictions of sentient beings. This is teaching according to disposition.
He prescribed medication accordingly to treat specific illnesses. Therefore the Buddha is also called. The Great Healer King.
We often say that most natural disasters originate in man-made disasters, which begin with a thought. A few people’s deluded thoughts can easily result in continuous domestic and social conflicts. These are disorders of our minds. The Buddha realized this, and wanted to free sentient beings from the suffering caused by the turmoil of the world. So He came to the Human Realm to teach according to disposition and give medication based on the illness. This was Buddha’s purpose in coming to this world.
To make a resolution is to apply Skillful Means. Despite the expedience, they still contain Truth, which is applied in the simplest way to help guide lost sentient beings. Based on the same Truth, one can use different methods to lure, guide and transform others.
There is another saying: the Buddha treated beings as His children. There are so many sentient beings, yet the Buddha treated them all as His own. This means that the Buddha realized there is only one Truth, but there are innumerable afflictions. So He used the one and only Truth to open infinite Dharma doors. If sentient beings had eighty-four thousand afflictions, the Buddha opened eighty-four thousand Dharma doors. This is called Skillful Means. There is only one principle, but many Dharma doors to treat the various spiritual illnesses.
So we must apply Genuine Skillful Means. Genuine is the Truth, Skillful Means is the method. So the Buddha used many genuine methods to help guide sentient beings. The method of the Ten Faiths that we mentioned before should also be applied and implemented.
The Practice of Ten faiths:
Faith, Mindfulness, Diligence, Wisdom, Samadhi, No-retreat, Dharma-protection, Dedication, Precept, Vow.
Actually, the Buddha, the mind, and all living beings are not different. If they are one, why is the path between them so long? We must follow the path to return to and become one with the Buddha. So we must rely on the method of the Ten Faiths to merge into one perfect mind.
What kind of mind is this? It is the Buddha-mind. It is to merge our minds with that of the Buddha. As I often say to Tzu Chi volunteers, “Take the Buddha’s mind as your own and Master’s mission as your own.” Everyone has the Buddha’s great compassion. We should use our compassion to make great vows. In this way we will be able to complete and perfect our Buddha-mind. In this phrase, “Working together like a clear crystal sphere, the sphere is the heart, which is but a thought. So to Abide in Spiritual Resolve means to start with resolve. Initially, our minds were the same as the Buddha’s but we gradually drifted apart. Some turned into ordinary beings, others, Buddhas.
So to return to the state of the Buddha, we must apply Genuine Skillful Means along with the Ten Faiths to keep moving forward. This is called Abiding in Spiritual Resolve.
Believe in the ultimate Truth. Apply the teachings of Ten Faiths to transform the hearts of ordinary beings into the heart of the Buddha. This is the essence of Abiding in Spiritual Resolve.
The second is Abiding in Control of Mind. We have mentioned the Wondrous Mind and the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom. We have this lucid mirror in our minds. The mirror is perfect and pure. It clearly reflects external conditions. Once the condition has passed, no matter what it is, it will not pollute the mind mirror. This is truly a Wondrous Mind. Such subtle and wondrous workings of the mind mirror become a ground– a Mind-ground for us to walk on.
The mirror is originally perfect. How do we bring ourselves closer to that state? The mirror reflects the surrounding environment. When the reflection disappears, there is nothing in the mirror. But for an ordinary person to reach this state, we must practice and walk the path. In our daily life, every event and person that we encounter passes through the mind mirror, one by one.
Has the mirror in our mind been polluted? Have our minds been influenced or bothered? If so, if there is a shadow that constantly hovers in our minds, this is not wondrous. This means that we have not been diligently wiping our minds clean. Instead of controlling our minds, we allow the environment and mundane conditions to pollute us. We are not controlling our minds well.
Simply put, this is about cultivating the mind. If the mind is well-cultivated, then the external environment will not influence us. Is the mind mirror wiped clean? If so, then it is well-cleansed. The tidiness of our surroundings depends on our diligent cleaning. If we constantly clean our environment, then everything will be beautiful. If we take good care of the mind and use a Buddha-mind to view others, everyone is a Buddha. Thus, we will have a mind of respect. It is all up to the mind.
To Abide in Control of Mind is to keep our minds clean and unpolluted. We must diligently proceed on this broad path, without any contamination. This is Abide in Control of Mind.
Cultivate the field of mind with the Wondrous Mind. Walk the broad Bodhisattva-path with a diligent mind that is without any contamination. This is the essence of Abiding in Control of Mind.
To cultivate the mind well, after we make our resolution, we must remain unwavering and abide in our resolve. We must not slack off. We should apply this principle. To help others, we must help ourselves first. We must have an awakened mind before we can enlighten others.
Remember, in Genuine Skillful Means. Genuine is the Truth, and Skillful Means are the method. What method can we use to control our minds in order to keep our minds clean and walk the Bodhisattva-path? Everyone must be mindful in controlling the mind. So Abiding in Spiritual Resolve and Abiding in Control of Mind are very important Dharma doors for practitioners and all sentient beings. So please always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水).