Lecturer: Master Zheng-Yan
Subject: The Six Practices: The Abiding Conducts (Part 5) (六行~十住行五)
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.
Yesterday we discussed Abiding in No-retreat. In our practice, how do we single-mindedly keep our thoughts without retreat, day and night? As long as we have chosen the right path, we just keep moving forward. This is called diligence. Diligence is No-retreat. Possessing a mind that does not turn back is called Abiding in No-retreat.
The body and mind should improve and grow with the passing of time. The body should remain diligent, the mind should abide in No-retreat. With diligence, we won’t become indolent, and our Wisdom-life will continue to grow. This way, nothing will be lacking and there will be No-retreat.
Choose the right path and go forward. This is diligence. Our bodies should remain diligent, our minds should not turn back. In doing so, we will enhance our Wisdom-life.
Next is Abiding in Childlike Innocence. “Buddha’s Ten Auspicious Bodies are all complete, as precious as a child’s innocence.” What is Abiding in Childlike Innocence? Childlike is purity without defilement. As I often tell you, we should have a childlike mind. If we have a childlike mind, our inner world is pure and true. If our parents or elders scold us, we should feel that it’s quite natural. We must be receptive. We must learn. We should not hold past grudges.
This kind of mindset of not holding grudges is a mind without defilement. To one with a childlike mind, it is natural for others to teach what one does not understand. So one does not hold grudges. This is childlike innocence.
I often say to everyone that, as practitioners, we must have the heart of a child, the endurance of a camel, and the courage of a lion. If we can combine these three qualities then we will not retreat in our spiritual cultivation.
The Buddha manifested Ten Auspicious Bodies. The Buddha appeared in the world in a multitude of forms and manners. I often mention that in the Jataka Sutra, it is said that the Buddha appeared in all Six Realms. Sometimes He manifested as a Heavenly Being, sometimes He manifested as an ordinary person. Sometime He appeared rich, sometimes poor. At times, He manifested in auspicious forms, other times in inferior forms. He appeared in many forms in the Human Realm, and as a hungry ghost, animal, and even in Hell. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas appear in every Realm.That is why the Buddha taught us that we must constantly practice Buddha-mind. See every person as a Buddha; do not look down upon anyone. Perhaps the person you treated with contempt was the manifestation of a Buddha or Bodhisattva, who was trying to teach you.
So in the Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters, there is this passage. A Sramana asked the Buddha, “What is benevolent? What is the greatest?”
He was asking the Buddha what is most benevolent in the world and what is the greatest. “I wish to practice and enter through the best door directly. Buddha, can you please educate and guide me? Which direction is the most expedient for spiritual cultivation? To cultivate benevolence and understand the great principles, which is the best?”
The Buddha answered, “To practice and to uphold truth is benevolent.” In our practice, it is most important to uphold a thought that is most true and sincere.
Which thought is the most true and sincere? Upholding your initial resolve leads to Buddhahood. This means to maintain the feeling of the moment you were most touched, your initial thought of wanting to practice. That thought is the truest and most benevolent.
The initial moment of thought, when we first made our resolve to engage in spiritual practice is the most true and benevolent.
Spiritual practice is to safeguard this thought of genuine goodness and sincerity.
Then Buddha stated, “Aspiration uniting with the Path is greatest.” What is the greatest principle? The Buddha taught us that if our aspiration and our path can be united, then this is the greatest principle. This phrase should be very simple. Why do we choose to practice? It is so that we can be moved and gain realization. Ordinary people and the Buddha are equal in wisdom. The most genuine thought comes the moment we gain insight and resolve to practice.
But for ordinary people, realization is very short and brief. If we can safeguard this thought of realization, it is the truest thought. After our realization, we make a resolution, and safeguard it. This is the best mindset. So, to practice and to uphold truth is benevolent. The intention is crucial. We should uphold this resolve. In our everyday life, as we interact with people and things and face all things in the universe, everything we do should be united with our mission. Our mission is our initial resolve. Our daily interactions with the world, whether with a group of people, individuals or objects, in silence or speech, action or stillness, etc., are all in accordance with our resolve.
In Tzu Chi, we call this a spiritual mission. People who commit to this spiritual mission, without asking for anything in return, are called volunteers, or living Bodhisattvas. The key word is mission. We work because of our sense of mission. That’s the definition of a volunteer and a living Bodhisattva.
Around the world, so many Tzu Chi volunteers vow to become living Bodhisattvas and follow the path. The greatest is aspiration uniting with the Path. This is the great Truth.
It is greatest to have our spiritual resolve united with the Path. Abide in this heart of awareness. Let your determination and your direction in life unite as one. This is the great Truth.
We witnessed the disaster in New Orleans, a place where fun never ended. When people cross paths with impermanence, they lose everything, including their families. We really must learn to align ourselves with the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha taught us about impermanence. Everything in the world changes. There is not one person who will never change. That would be impossible. We should quickly evoke world-awakening realizations, not just fleeting realizations.
In daily life, we already hear Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha taught us that all things in the world are impermanent and forever changing. The desires we have in life are but bubbles on water that burst very quickly.
If we can all understand the Buddha’s teachings, be mindful in whatever we do and resolve to practice, even if disasters are happening far away, such as in New Orleans, we will still be alert.
We heard of a case where a family of three generations was living in New Orleans. They were very blessed. When the water flooded in, the mother, who had diabetes and high blood pressure, could not more around very easily. During the flood a rescue raft saved her, but she was separated from her son and grandchildren. After many days, this mother’s only wish was to see her son and grandchildren again. Through Red Cross, she was finally able to get in touch with them.
But as soon as they met, they needed to part again, because her son had gotten very ill from days of fatigue. By the time they met, his illness had developed into pneumonia. He left one sentence with the volunteers, “Please take care of my mother.” Then he was quickly carried away in an ambulance. But which hospital was he sent to? They lost contact again.
This old woman took care of her two grandchildren, who were both very young. Staying in the shelter, she cried every day, worrying about the whereabouts of her son. She was truly tormented. Our volunteers were divided into groups, and some were helping in the hospitals. One hospital volunteer noticed a middle-aged man. When this man saw our volunteer, he said to him, “I have a mother and young children. They are now staying at a certain shelter. How are they?"
Based on this, our volunteers began to search, like looking for a needle in the haystack. Fortunately, she had recognizable features: she was quite heavy and sat in a wheelchair. Nonetheless, the volunteers had to sharpen their sight to look for this person. Then they found a chubby lady sitting in a wheelchair, crying. She was holding two pairs of pants and trying to cut them with scissors, while crying.
Our volunteers got close to this elderly lady. One asked, "Are you Helen?"
She lifted her head. "Finally, in this crowd, someone knows my name." She was very surprised.
The volunteers began talking with her. She said, "I have nothing now, everything is gone. Your son is in the hospital, he is fine. If I can't see him, can I hear his voice?"
Our volunteers hurriedly made the call to the hospital to let this old woman hear her son's voice. But the phone was busy for three hours. So they gathered all the volunteers to come over to this lady to interact with, sign for and comfort her. Her two grandchildren looked so pitiful on the bed. No one had changed their diapers and they were wet. So Tzu Chi volunteers took care of the two kids, and changed their clothes and diapers.
Why was the grandma holding two pairs of pants? Since she was big and heavy, she was unable to fit into the pants given to her. She was trying to cut the pants with scissors to piece them together and make one pair. Can you imagine making two pairs of pants into one? How can it be done? The volunteers were very thoughtful, and they quickly found more tools to help her make two pairs of pants into one. We can imagine how miserable she was.
Did she finally talk to her son? Yes. Her son said to her, "I'm much better now, don't worry." She said, "How can I relax till I see you out of the hospital?" This is the heart of a mother. Even when she was in such a desperate state, homeless, with all her possessions gone, all she hoped for was to see her child. The love between a mother and child is so intimate and close.
In actuality, can this relationship last forever? No, it cannot. The Buddha told us that nothing in the world is permanent. There is only the mind, which seeks enlightenment. If we are able to analyze the principles, everything the Buddha taught us is the Truth. It is very simple - the universe is impermanent, everything is illusory. Such a simple principle! We should abide by the Truth and benevolence. Practice the Path, and uphold the Truth. Be committed to study such wholesomeness. After we've professed our resolve, we follow it and walk the Path. When the Path and our resolve unite, it is the greatest of all principles.
Nothing in this world is permanent. Only by being unwavering in our heart to practice Truth and goodness can the Path and our mission be united. This is the Truth that will remain forever.
Everyone, everything in life comes together as one. What is real? What is there to hold a grudge about? We should develop childlike innocence. Such a mind of innocence is the best mindset for cultivation. We should treat everyone as a Buddha, and as our elder. Whatever they teach us, we should practice accordingly. Do not allow the Truth that the Buddha taught to leave your minds. When other people teach us about ways of living and methods to interact with others, we accept them humbly. This is Abiding in Childlike Innocence.
The Buddha has Ten Bodies, I will explain them later. If we have childlike innocence and a pure mind, the Ten Bodies will naturally appear and be complete. Of course, this requires one to be mindful. Childlike innocence is precious. We need to return to such innocence and simplicity of mind. We should always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)