Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Transcend Delusion to Attain Enlightenment (精進脫迷入正覺)
Establish a vow to practice, take refuge in the Right Path. Follow the Buddha's teachings, diligently walk the Bodhisattva-path. Guide sentient beings to escape delusion and attain Perfect Enlightenment.
We have all formed aspirations and made vows. Since we have the will to practice, we must walk the Right Path. Since we have mentally taken refuge in the Right Path, we must practice the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha taught us to diligently walk the Bodhisattva-path. The Bodhisattva-path is a very broad road. As stated in the Lotus Sutra, the earth, grass and trees need rain and dew. Whether it is a heavy rain or a light dew, it will cover the land. Whether a tiny blade of grass or a big tree, everything is nourished by the rain. Of course, if we make a great vow, and have great capabilities, we are like a big tree that absorbs a lot of water. Not only will we use it, we can also nourish the land. When we make a great vow, we will be like the big trees. But for a small flower or blade of grass, heavy rain is too much and not very beneficial. Perhaps they will be washed away by heavy rain. Therefore, our capabilities need to match the Dharma. The Dharma needs to suit our capabilities. Depending on our aspirations and vows, we receive that amount of dew and rain. We are the only ones who know that suits us. But the Buddha hoped that we sentient beings can be like trees and receive great Dharma, because big trees can protect the land. If there is a flood, trees can absorb the water. They take in the rain above and slowly release it below. Nowadays we hear about so many natural disasters like landslides. Why does heavy rain cause landsides? Why does the water in the reservoir disappear if it does not rain for some time? This is because the ecosystem is damaged. It is damaged because after we cut down big trees they can no longer protect the soil. So, big trees are very important. Since we have made a great vow, let us absorb great Dharma, practice the Buddha’s teachings and diligently walk the Bodhisattva-path. We seek the Buddha’s way and transform sentient beings. If we want to inspire sentient beings to develop loving thoughts and put them into practice, to instill self-discipline and revive courtesy, or to return to human morals and ethics, we need to guide them.
If people are lost in the Five Desires, they will easily go astray and deviate from morals and ethics.That is delusion.When we learn Buddhism, we use wisdom to help all beings escape delusions.This was the Buddha’s goal when.He came to teach sentient beings.
Since we have made a vow, let us practice the Buddha’s teachings.It is our turn to help transform those lost in the Five Desires.We need to guide them, and lead them out of theirs delusional dream-state.Helping them escape and attain Perfect Enlightenments is our mission.Everyone, please be mindful.
We humans are often deluded by the Five Desires.Earlier, I talked about how “Our wives, children and family members, will no longer be our relatives.”People may in intimate relationships.Some of them make sacrifices or even die for love.Is that right?This is the influence of karma affinity.
Without it, people will not come together.With good affinities we help each other succeed.With bad affinities family members become enemies.In the end, nothing will belong to us.“Our treasures and jewelry will belong to others.”In the end they belong to others.
Society places value on objects, making them precious and expensive.No matter what they are, when we stop breathing, they no longer belong to us.Other people get to enjoy them.
They are not ours.
Therefore, everything in the world is karmic retribution.If we are blessed, we can attain an abundance of material goods.The blessings we created in past lives allow us to enjoy plenty of things in this life, like luxury high-rise apartments, beautiful and wonderful spouses, pleasant families and relatives.These affinities were created by past blessings.
But will they last forever?The Buddha told us,
all conditioned things are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, shadows.
Everyone memorizes this from the Diamond Sutra.Truly, all conditioned things, all things that are created, are nothing more than dreams, shadows or bubbles.
Life is so short.Why are we so attached?Since we do not need to be attached, let us be enlightened.We need to enlighten ourselves and also enlighten others.Only by accepting the Buddha’s great Dharma, by seeking Dharma and helping others, can this world truly be calm and peaceful.Then, this world is a Pure Land.I hope that Buddhist practitioners have this sense of mission.
The repentance text continues to say that，“since neither wives, precious objects, not anything else belong to us, why be deluded?Why be attached? ”
“The Buddha told Subhadra, Your teacher Udraka Ramaputra was highly capable and smart.He could tame afflictions and was able to attain the Samadhi of Neither Thought not Non-thought.After he died, he was still reborn in the Animal Realm in the form of a flying squirrel.So what can be expected of others?”
This passage was spoken by the Buddha, before He entered Parinirvana at the Sala Grove.
At that time there was a person called Subhadra, which means Good Virtue [in Sanskrit].
He was a Brahmacarin from Kushinagar.He was also a spiritual practitioner.He had taken refuge with the Buddha, and was the Buddha’s last disciple.He was 120 years old that year.
This 120-year-old Brahmacarin previously followed non-Buddhist practices, but felt that he had not found the ultimate.
The Buddha was the Great Enlightened One. Only the Buddha’s teachings could allow him to attain the truth of ultimate liberation. So, when learned the Buddha was he rushed to ask for teaching and to take refuge. The Buddha taught the Eightfold Noble Path for him.
At the moment, his mind and thoughts were freed. In the moment, he attained the First Fruition. So I often tell everyone, the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Noble Path are both found in the 37 Practices to Enlightenment.
We must always use these 37 practices in our daily living. When this man came to take refuge, he received the Eight Noble Path and Four Noble Truths. These allowed him to attain the First-Fruition. So, this is a story from that time.
The Buddha told Subhadra, “Focus on seeking and obtaining the Right Dharma. Do not only crave the liberation of meditation” He told him, “Your teacher, Udraka Ramaputra, was highly capable and very smart.He could tame afflictions, In his lifetime he was able to attain the Samadhi of Neither Thought nor Non-thought, which is the highest state of meditation.After death, this Samadhi led him to be born in Heaven with a lifespan of 80,000 Kalpas.Because his level of Samadhi was very high, when he is born into the Heavens, he will stay there for 80,000 Kalpas.” When we talk about Kalpas, everyone should know it is an incalculable, astronomical length of time.
Think about how long 80,000 Kalpas is. Yet after he dies, he will be born a squirrel. He will descend into the Animal Realm. Look, even though he had already attained such a high-level of Samadhi and could be born in Heaven, where he would have a long life,eventually he would still descend into the Animal Realm.
He was only attached to practicing Samadhi, but lacked wisdom. There must be wisdom with Samadhi. There must be love in wisdom .So, Bodhisattvas have enlightened love. Enlightenment is wisdom.They have enlightened love, so they feel for sentient beings, just like the Enlightened One who would not abandon them, always returning to the Saha-world.
No worldly desires can influence His mind. This is true Right Samadhi.If one only trains his mind to seek certain states if certain states appear, he will follow them and will eventually descend, even though he attained a high of Samadhi and a life 80,000 Kalpas.There will still be a moment when he falls. If it is finite, there is an end .So the next passage states,
“Before they attained the fruit of realization, they have already returned to transmigration”
Those who attain Samadhi of Neither Thought nor Non-thought can attain a long life. But they still remain in the Three Realms. They have not attained true liberation. They only reached a level of virtue ,not the level of full realization.
So ,they are still transmigrating，thus ,
“going through all Evil Destinies.If we are not careful,suddenly one day we will experience such retribution.Then won’t we be filled with regrets ?”
We need to practices to be free of transmigration in the Six Realms. We must attain the supreme fruit of realization to transcend the Three Realms and liberate ourselves from cyclic existence. If we still remain in cyclic existence no matter how long we live ,we are still transmigrating in the Three Realms.When our blessings end ,afflictions will arise ,it is like a seed covered by a rock. If we remove the rock causes and conditions will converge and the seed will grow again.
The principle is the same.So ,in our practice we must completely eliminate the seeds of aflfictions ,not just suppress them. If we lose our temper and try to suppress it ,we may lose it again.
We should endure as if there is nothing to endure ,that is truly great patience. If we are still suppressing things ,the seeds of affliction still remain. So ,we need to understand the truth ,
or we will continue to transmigrate. When blessings end , or if our Samsdhi wavers ,we remain in that cycle and “go through all Evil Destinies “.These Evil Destinies are still within the cyclic existence of the Three Realms. So ,we go through all Evil Destinies.“If we are not careful , suddenly one day ,”a thought stirs , and our Samadhi wavers ,“we will experience that retribution”.
What is “that retribution”?Transmigrating in the Six Realms.If not enduring pain as a human ,
we are in the Hell ,Hungry Ghost , or Animal Realms.These are all within the Three Realms.
So ,this transmigration is truly terrifying.
How can we not repent ?We did things in the past. Whether we do anything today or not ,
we must have done many things in the past. Whether or not we created enmity and resentment in this lifetime,we must have done so in previous lives.
So do not say ,”I didn’t do anything in this life“.Actually ,in previous lives we already created the causes and conditions. This life is just a karmic retribution.Since we are facting karmic retribution，we must let go to our afflictions. Do not continue to create entanglements , resentment,enmity.Instead, resolve all your grievances. If we want to resolve all grievances ,
we need to constantly repent.
When retribution comes ,ebdure it willingly;do not suffer mentally. Do not stay afflicted over these matters. When we face retributions , we must let go. Do not create more resentment and enmity.
What about the future ?For the future, let us create blessed conditions. Otherwise , even if our lifespan is 80,000 kalpas ,when that is exhausted we have no blessings and descend straight into the Animal Realm.
So ,do not just say ,“I meditate , I attained liberation” .Meditation calms our minds. It is just a helpful condition.It allows us to develop Samadhi.But we must have the Roots of Wisdom.
Then we cannot bear to see sentient beings suffer,and we will naturally work to help them.
We must cultivate both blessings and wisdom.
If we can do so ,We will not descend into the Evil Destinies. There will be no affinity to lead us there ,unless we are vowing to return to this world to save and relieve sentient beings.
When we learn Buddhism we must be careful and not allow ignorant thoughts to arise.
Once we begin to waver,karmic manifestations appear and we will descend.Since we have resolved to practice,we take refuge in the Right Path,practice the Buddha’s teachings ,
diligently walk the Bodhisattva-path , and guide sentient beings to escape delusion and attain Perfect Enlightenment.
That is our mission.
So everyone ,please always be mindful