Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Everything in Life is Created by the Mind (人生苦樂唯心造)
Life’s pain and joy are all created by the mind. Once created, karmic forces attract retributions. When those effects manifest, we suffer greatly. A mind with afflictions creates Hell.
I am sharing this passage with everyone. Truly, the pain and joy in life are actually created by the mind. If a thought arises, a good thought, we will be grateful for everything we encounter, and be willing to contribute. This is a mind of goodness. These simple thoughts are free of complications. No complications means no evil thoughts. If we are kind and simple, we will only encounter blessed people, good conditions and good karma. As a result, everything will go well. If an evil thought arises, we will attract a lot of karma because whenever those thought arise, our actions will tend toward evil. When we commit an evil act, a karmic force will form. The karmic force will attract conditions which lead us to commit more evil. This is karmic retribution. Once created, karmic forces attract retributions. When these effects manifest we suffer. After something has been done, the effects of karma manifest. We will truly be tested by a lot of suffering. I remember, many years ago I received a letter one day. It came from a jail in Tu-cheng. The letter told a story of wrongful imprisonment. The man had been a taxi driver. One day he took two passengers to a certain location. They told him, “Wait a little while. We will need this taxi later.” So, the two of them got out. After a short amount of time, they returned and asked him to drive away. It turned out they had committed a murder. They killed a family of three. They left an item in this taxi, wrapped in newspaper. They got out of the car at another location, but they left the wrapped item in the car. When the crime was discovered, people pursued leads. A witness said they saw two people get in this type of taxi. The investigators started checking the taxis. They discovered this taxi and when they searched the car, they found a bloodstained knife wrapped in newspaper. So they took the driver into custody and charged him. He felt like he was wronged. “I don’t know where these two people are. I don’t know. They were customers. They hired my taxi so I drove them.”But those two were nowhere to be found. So in jail, he continued to appeal his conviction.
Every time he was found guilty.After many years, the case was closed.He was sentenced to death and thrown in jail.He was just a taxi driver.They repeatedly sentenced him to a serious crime.His wife continued to work on his behalf and had lawyers file appeals again and again.
She also suffered deeply in her quest.She sold the house, went in debt.It was very difficult.
In jail, he knew things were tough for his wife, so he willingly gave up his appeals.
Around that time, someone brought.Jing Si Aphorisms to the Tu-cheng jail, along with our “Tzu Chi Monthly” magazine.
When he read the Jing Si Aphorisms, he recognized this as karmic retribution.He read many people’s stories and saw different ways of life in the magazine.So, he let go of everything.
He began to study Buddhism.He began to pray every day, as there was a Buddha-hall in the jail.
He thought that since he was sentenced to death, he would die soon, so he wrote a letter and asked to take refuge.The story that the letter told was very tragic.During this process, he wanted to take refuge, but I could not go there at the time.I asked Master De Xuan to take the certificate of taking refuge to the jail with Tzu-huei and other commissioners.
When they came bake they said the man seemed so kind.He wore a black robe and regular shoes.He truly looked like a lay practitioner.When they saw him it was heartbreaking.They comforted him, “Don’t worry about your wife and children.”Aside from the certificate of taking refuge, they also brought books for him.We also started working with his family.A few days later, he was executed by firing squad.
At that time, nothing could be done.I can only wonder if karmic forces attracted retributions.
Did he create some karma, have some entanglement with those two in a previous life?
They committed the crime, but he was the one convicted for it.
At this time, when karmic forces manifested, he faced so much hardship and suffering.
He spent many years in jail, filing appeal after appeal.His wife at home also suffered with him.During that time, both the convict in jail and the family outside were afflicted and felt like they were in Hell.
When it comes to pain and joy in life, some say, “I’ve never done anything bad, why would this happen?”Yes, many things are out of our control.We can only say they are past karmic causes resulting in retributions in this lifetime.When karmic effects manifest, we will truly suffer.
So when we learn Buddhism, we must always take good care of our minds.If we face a lot hardship and torture, let us treat it as karmic forces from our past.Otherwise, as there are taxis all over the place, just why did they happen to get into this one?There are passengers everywhere. How did he happen to encounter these two? Karmic affinities attracted them. Karmic causes, conditions, effects, retributions are simply our actions of the past and present. So, what we do now affects the future.Let us be very careful.
The next passage in the repentance text states,
“Today those who are prosecuted go to the courts.This is already a minor suffering.”
This is an analogy to a person being prosecuted, like the story I just told.See, those who are being prosecuted already “go to the courts”. Perhaps they are locked up in jail, perhaps they have not been convicted and are still appealing. This is called “going to court” “This is already a minor suffering”.This suffering is small. We heard that person say, “I was wronged!” This injustice causes unbearable suffering to those in jail and their families. But this is minor suffering. This is just a part of life. Haven’t I said, “The splendor of life is fleeting”.
One day in the Heaven of Four Heavenly Kings is over 50 years of our world .I remember that the taxi driver was not yet 50. I think he was around 30 or 40. Think about it. In the Heaven of the Four Heavenly Kings, not even one day would have passed.In the Human Realm, he faced hardship and suffering for many years. But to those in the Heaven of the Heavenly Kings, this is just a short part of one day. So, it is considered a minor suffering. If we compare it to the Trayastrimsa Heaven, that time seems even shorter
Therefore, “Going to court is already a minor suffering”.
“Their emotional state lies in fear and turmoil, their families are frightened”
The case we mentioned illustrates this passage “Emotional state” refers to our feelings.
All sentient beings have emotions and feelings. Sentient means the ability to feel. For those with feelings, whether they were wrongfully accused, or created the karma themselves, when effects of transgressions manifest, their “emotional state lies in fear and turmoil”.They are frightened. It is not only that individual, their families feel the same. When prosecuted, they do not know what the sentience will be. They do not know .Their families are even more anxious, frightened .This is torture.They “seek all kinds of help”. This is because before the final verdict, there is still some hope. They keep appealing to one court after another. During the appeals, they beg everyone. So they “seek all kinds of help”. As long as there is a bit of hope, they seek help, to see if anyone can help them.So, this is very difficult for the families, too. Though it is very painful,
“Compared to these people, the beings in Hell, if you were to compare them, suffer a hundred- or a million – fold worse.There is truly no comparison “
When we compare human suffering with that in Hell，a hundred or million-fold increase in
human suffering still cannot compare to one bit of the hardship and suffering there.So on small bit of painful retribution in Hell is a million times what we experience here.
So ,maybe someone can escape prosecution and jail and evade legal responsibility in the Human realm for what they did ,but with evil thought , they continue to create karma,which accumulates continuously over many lifetimes. So，they just keep going , keep accumulating.
When they exhaust their blessings, they descend into Hell.They face retribution from the
karma accumulated over many lifetimes ,all at once.This is how it works.
Someone people wonder,“Since this person created so much karma and ,has been punished by the law and sentenced, then is that it ?”
No ,not yet .After their suffering on Earth ends ,they still descend into Hell.Therefore , we must be very careful , very cautious.Every thought we have ,Every move we make , every word we say will accumulate karma. Therefore , we must all be very mindful and increase our vigilance. The text further states ,
“The transgressions we have committed over countless. Kalpas would pile up as tall as Mt.Sumeru”
We just said that karma accumulates continuously over many lifetimes. Then ,when we reach the end of our lives , we have bad karma from many lifetimes. We may have also created some blessings as well. We came to the Human Realm because of blessings. But we did not know to change ,so we created more karma. When our blessings are not yet exhausted,it is not yet time go to Hell.
So while blessings are unexhausted ,before we descend into Hell ,in this time ,however many lifetimes it is ,we keep accumulating karma. If we do not change evil ,ignorant thoughts,
we commit more wrongdoings over those lifetimes.
Thus we accumulate a lot.So as I have said ,the more time we have ,the more bad karma we accumulate. If we do good ,the more time we have ,the more blessed affinities we accumulate.
So I always say,we must be very vigilant with our time and our relationships. We must always create good affinities.When a disorderly , evil thought arises ,we must quickly eliminate it. We must also quickly create good thoughts. This is truly our practice.It is very important to understand karmic cause and effect. If we do not recognize cause and effect ,we just do whatever we desire.The suffering that will find us in the end is all created by us.
When you encounter joy or suffering,do you want to create the causes of Hell ?Or be a human ?Or learn Buddhism and attain liberating ,transcendent joy and happiness?
This all beings with our thoughts. Life’s pain and joy are all created by the mind.
The Bhddha also said ,“All Bhddhas of the Three Periods are solely created by the mind.”
Don’t you say this during evening recitations ?Everything is created by the mind.
When created , karmic forces attract retributions. The karma we create will attract karmic retributions.
When effects manifest , we suffer. When karmic forces manifest and become entangled with conditions，we will face hardship and suffering. A mind with afflictions creates Hell. Everythings is the workings of our minds.
Our minds create the seeds of Hell and retribution.So , we must always be mindful. Learning Buddhism is a reminder that we all must have the Buddha in our minds.We must cultivate compassionate hearts. We can change karmic forces in the lifetime,by repenting , making amends ,and accumulating blessed affinities.
We hope that with strong blessings we can eliminate past karma. Eliminating karma does not come from creating blessings. That does not exhaust karma. No.
We must willingly and happily accept [our karma ].Evey bit that we accept will be eliminated.
So everyone ,please always be mindful.