Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: In the Human Realm, Good and Evil Are Mixed (善惡參半人道中)
When people are entangled in love and desire, their minds become turbid so they cannot see the path. Craving and desire cause people to be unclear and foolish.
This is a passage in the Sutra of 42 Sections. We need to know that ordinary people continue the cycle of birth and death in the Six Destinies due to craving and desire. We are led by craving and desire, which cause turbidity to flourish in our minds. I often say that people possess the same tranquil and pure nature as the Buddha, but a single thought of desire stirs up all our ignorance. The mind is like a pool of water. This pool is very clear and still. If we look at this pool of water, we can see that it reflects like a mirror. But if even a slight breeze is blowing or a tiny pebble is thrown into the water, the water stirs. The reflections of our face changes completely. In the same way, if our minds are tranquil and clear like that pool of water, then we can clearly see all external conditions. But if craving and desire arise, when they converge, ignorance will arise. I often repeat a phrase, “An ignorant thought causes and Three Subtleties”. Just one ignorant thought can give rise to three subtle types of afflictions. When greed, anger and ignorance arise, external conditions enhance their growth so they nurture the Six Roots, Dusts, and Consciousnesses. When these things converge and interact, everything becomes blurry. The road ahead is unclear; where do we go, where do we come from? We follow our karma through the Six Realms. We cannot clearly see the path we should walk, the right direction. When our minds are turbid we cannot see the path. After ignorance arises, we cannot see the truth. We truly have no way to understand the truth. We cannot see it. So the passage says, “Craving and desire cause people to be unclear and foolish.” Why are people so foolish? Why are they always so ignorant? The truth is clearly placed before them. Their benefactor is also in front of them. Why do they not accept the guidance of these kind people? This is like very well-educated and knowledgeable parents having a child who is very foolish and slow-witted, one who wanders around in ignorance and cravings. Even if the parents have doctorates in psychology and know how to counsel him, he cannot accept it.
They are too close, so he rebels against them.Although the parents can guide others, they cannot teach their own child.Is this their fault?No.Is it the child’s fault?Part of the reason is his mental state.He avoids his parents on purpose.This is ignorance.This happens when foolishness obscures his mind.
We see this often in modern society.We see many well-educated parents who cannot do anything about their child.They have a method for counseling others.They are very successful with others, but helpless with their own child.Besides ignorance in the child, the turbidity in his mind, the next greatest cause is the power of karma, the karmic affinities between parent and child.
If their affinities are good, even if the parents are not smart, or have low mental capacity, or if they are so poor that they cannot educate their children, they can still have a good child.
This child understands his parents’ situation, wants his family to escape poverty, difficulties, and being belittled by others.He knows the only way to do so is to diligently study, set an aspiration, and have self-respect.He remains filial to his parents, does not disparage them and also has self-respect.His gratitude and thought of repaying them reflects the affinity between parents and child.
Although the parents may not be smart, they created good affinities in a past life and gave birth to a good child who repays them.This is also karmic retribution.Whether we look at relationships between parents and child, or among any people, they cannot be separated from craving and desire.With pure love we can create good affinities.
As we often say, Great Love is unselfish.We give to all sentient beings without seeking anything in return.We give with undefiled and pure Great Love.If we add desire into the mix, when love and desire interact, desire will turn love into cravings, selfish, emotional and lustful cravings.When these or other cravings arise and mix with the pursuit of love, our minds will be disturbed.
So we need to maintain this type of love.Even if the parents are not capable, the child can still have self-respect.So he will repay and not disparage his parents.The other child we talked about earlier has knowledgeable parents and a great family environment, but his craving and desire have converged, so he is constantly seduced by external conditions.
Thus ignorance has arisen in his mind.This is also related to the affinity between parents and child.I often tell everyone, we must always be vigilant of karmic retributions.We need to always protect our minds.Keep love in your minds, but not desire.If love mixes with desire, our minds become turbid.
This is like when a bit of sand falls into a pool of still water.Then entire pool becomes turbid and the reflection of our face is distorted.In summary, the minds of ordinary people are very fragile.After much effort, we are finally able to maintain a pure mindset, but once cravings for external tings arise, this mind is quickly destroyed.
So during this time, we keep talking about the appearance of Hell. Everything is actually created by the mind.Though there is certainly a hell where we suffer, this hell begins with our mental hell If our minds create ignorance, we attract the suffering of afflictions, or of people and matters in the world, etc. We cannot attain all we seek.We meet those we hate, part from those we love. All of this suffering arises from our experiences in life.
Earlier we heard that much of the suffering in Hell is related to the intermixing of love and desire. If we can understand that love and desire mix to create turbidity in the mind, that this evil turbidity is produced from our minds and creates many karmic retributions, if we can understand this, we can self-reflect.
Next the text says, “Namo Buddha” We are beginning to take refuge with the Buddha Namo is to take refuge, to rely on. After we endure so much pain we then know to take refuge with the Buddha, to entreat the Buddha for help. So it says,
“Those who are here today, ourselves and others, parents and family members that we have had since Beginninless Time.”
Here we need to begin to self-reflect, begin to awaken “Those who are here today” refers to those who are suffering in Hell today, or ourselves and others, meaning you, me, him, everyone, parents and family members we have had since “Beginninless Time”.
These few days we have been talking about Hell, the painful retributions in Hell. Perhaps those who are suffering in Hell include your parents and mine, and those of others. Perhaps all our relatives are there. So we must remain vigilant, especially because we are in the Six Realms, specifically in the Human Realm. This realm is a mix of good and evil.
The good can guide us to be close to the path of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, to approach their enlightened path. If evil affinities appear and entice us, perhaps we will follow them. So, the Human Realm is a mix of good and evil, therefore we must be very vigilant.
Hell is full of suffering.Today we are in the Human Realm. But we do not know if our loved ones are in Hell. We really need to think about this Next, the repentance text says,
“For all of us, after our lives end, perhaps we will fall back into Hell. ”
Today we cleanse our minds and sincerely pray, bow our heads and prostrate deeply. To the Buddhas of the Ten Directions, the Bodhisattvas of the land, we sincerely repent so that all our negative retributions can be eliminated. ”
We need to sincerely pray. For all of us,“after our lives end”, though we are now in the Human Realm, what about the future?We have accumulated so many mistakes in our past lives. In this life ,have we achieved realizations early on and accumulated more good affinities ?If not ,we continue to sow many seeds and affinities for Hell.Even if we do a tiny bit of good in this lifetime,can the counterbalance what we did in past lives and in this one ?
Good and evil are in a tug of war.Heaven and Hell are also in a tug of war. So when this life ends,“perhaps we will fall back into Hell “.Perhaps we will fall again,and return to the most painful suffering.Maybe we finally came to this world from Hell.Perhaps after this life,we may once again return to Hell.There are many unknowns. It deponeds on how our love and desire converge on how turbid our minds are and how much karma we created.
So , perhaps we will still descend to Hell.“Today we cleanse our minds and sincerely pray”.
Today we must seize the time while we are human ,while we can be close to Buddha-Dharma,can listen to Sutras ,and understand the appearance of the Six Realms.
Everythings is created starting from this realm. The practice of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas beings here in the Human Realm.Those born in Heaven also did good and created blessings in this realm. Those in the Realms of Hell ,Hungry Ghosts,and animals , also created the karma to descend to these realms while they were in the human world.
Everything beings in the Human Realm.What we create here then relegates us to each of the Six Realms. Depending on what we are doing now ,in the future we will be categorized like how we separate recycled material.If you are this kind of thing ,you will be sorted here.If you are that kind of thing,you will be sorted here.This is all created in the Human Realm.
Only by practicing Buddha-Dharma,can we transcend this world, the Six Realms.
Our minds will not be affected by the Six Realms or by the desire for heavenly luxuries,
or fall into traps and be led into Hell , or become Hungry Ghosts or Animals. If we can maintain this mindset,this pure undefiled Great Love,we can return to the Buhhda’s intrinsic nature.We are luckly to encounter Buddha-Dharma so we should “bow our heads and prostrate to the Buddhas of the Ten Directions ,the Bodhisattvas of the land”.
We need to openly repent.Let us “sincerely repent”.This means we open our hearts and
wash away our ignorance and afflictions. We repent in this way so“all our bad retributions can be eliminated”.
Everyone , we need to eliminate karmic retributions.Otherwise ,our afflictions will be unending.If we are afflicted , we will create bsd karma then our retribution will be fixed.
This is a circular dilemma.To return to our pure nature,we cannot give rise to afflictions.
Afflictions will cause karmic retributions.To eliminate them all , we need pure minds ,
So we open our minds to wash away our ignorance and afflictions and return to our Tathagata –nature.
Everyone,we learn Buddhism so we can return to our Tathagata –nature.So ,we should repent with the utmost sincerity.Thus we can return to purity right away .
Remember , when love and desire converge,our minds become turbid and we cannot see the way The path in front of us becomes hazy and is destroyed by us in this way. So we need to know that love and desire cause people to be unclear and foolish.
When they mix,our minds are completely disrupted.
So we must always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)