Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: A Big Heart Is Better Than a Big House (屋寬不如心寬)
You should know that those who have many desires seek many benefits and thus have many afflictions. Those with few desires seek nothing and have no such worries.
I want to share this passage with you all. This is something everyone should know. All suffering comes from having many desires. Over these last few days I have constantly said that Hell is painful. The suffering there is inexpressible; it cannot be described by words. So, we describe the methods of torture and those who suffer. Actually, Hell is not far away from us. We often see it in the Human Realm. So many people are already suffering right now. We hear stories from faraway places. The accumulation of natural and manmade disasters creates infinite suffering. Whether people face disaster on top of poverty, on top of crop failure, on top of…. The face a combination of things so they suffer greatly. Some people say, “These people are innocent. Why were they born in such a place?” They are constantly suffering in this life. They are tormented by hunger, cold, illness and pain, and suffer from natural and manmade disasters. Think about it. Could they have created all that karma this life? No. But we do not know about their past lives. We have no way to tell them they did this-and-that in a previous life.
But with the Buddha’s teaching, the truth about the past, present and future, they can understand. He is the teacher of the Three Realms, compassionate father of the four kinds of beings, and has infinite lives. His human form was just an incarnation, used to teach us everything He learned in all His past lives. I have said human life is not very long. The Buddha spent 80 years in the Human Realm. Does that mean the Buddha’s life was 80 years? No. His life lasts for infinite Kalpas. His life is infinite. That form was just an incarnation. I have also said, a life of 100 years here is just one day in Trayastrimsa Heaven. The Buddha has already surpassed that He is the Great Enlightened One of the universe. He clearly understands the truth of the universe, He just came here to embody it. So, the Buddha knows the past, the infinite, countless kalpas of the past. He told us that we have been accumulating karma over many lifetimes. With strong bad karma, we descend to Hell. With moderate bad karma, we are born into a place with mush disaster, suffering and difficulty. We are led to that place by collective karma. When we end up with this collective karma, it is beyond our control; the pain is unspeakable. We wail, but no one responds.
Everyone there suffers. No one responds to the cries for help. Whatever karma people created is related to having many desires. In the Sutra of Bequeathed Teachings, the Buddha also told us “those with many desires seek many benefits, thus have many afflictions.” Having many desires and seeking many benefits brings many afflictions. “Those with few desires seek nothing and have no such worries.” If we have few desires, we will not face such retributions. As I said, very serious karma brings us to Hell. With moderate karma, we follow collective karma to the Human Realm. If we have very mild karma, with a mix of pain and joy. There is still suffering. If we created bad affinities in the past and are with that person now, we suffer. If we hindered others in the past, in this life we will be very unsuccessful. This is suffering. But we have a chance to listen to Dharma, to practice, to create blessings for humanity. Although we are practicing now, we have some slight bad karma from previous lives that we brought back to this world. So, we still have our negative habitual tendencies. These tendencies create so many afflictions.
We being all of this to this world.In the Three Realms and Six Destinies, we all have some amount of karma. Karma mainly originates with desires. Therefore it is said, and ignorant thought causes the Three Subtleties, external states lead to the Six Coarse Marks. An ignorant thought comes from desire. When desire arises, we seek many things, like wealth, beauty, recognition, food, etc. External states cause the Five Desires to flourish. So, if we know the source of the illness, we can treat it accordingly. Therefore the Buddha told us, “You should know those with many desires seek many benefits.” They keep seeking so they “have many afflictions.” Those with few desires seek nothing and have no such worries.” They do not have these afflictions or bad habits. If people get in our way or hinder us, etc., but we have ne desires, we will be at ease. We will be peaceful and free, because we do not have these coarse afflictions.
We have already said this in the past. We already know so much about sentient beings in Hell. If we can be repentant, then we can escape that type of hell. We can even be liberated from our mental hells. Then all suffering becomes joy. So, we must remember to sincerely pay respect and repent. We should know that all suffering is created by the mind. All negative karma originates in the mind. Everything is in the mind. So, I often talk to you about the mind. Wrongdoings arise from the mind, so repentance must also arise from the mind. We need to repent, to sincerely repent in front of the Buddha. Let us remember to repent with our purest Buddha-mind. everyone before us is a Buddha.
If we offend someone with our attitude, words, etc., we should repent before them. This is very important. Do not just come to the monastery and tell Buddha, “Oh Buddha, I repent, etc.” Everyone is Buddha, so it is best if we are always grateful, respectful and loving.
If we always feel gratitude, we will be grateful when we see others. We all live together, so we help each other succeed. Therefore, let us be grateful for helping each other to achieve something. We need to be respectful, because everyone is a future Buddha, and a Bodhisattva now.
So, respect everybody. Love even those who just made their vows. We seek the Dharma as we help others In our daily living, if we have gratitude, respect and love, we will not make mistakes. If we cannot take good care of our thoughts, we must prostrate deeply and repent right away.
We have already paid respect to all Buddhas; now we repent again. We have repented the retributions of Hell. Today we repent the retributions of the Three Evil Destinies. In the Sutras, the Buddha said those with many desires seek many gains, thus they have many afflictions.
“We have already paid respect to all Buddhas; now we repent again.” We have paid respect to the Buddha, but we still need to repent.“ We have repented the retributions of Hell. ”Although we have already repented the retributions of Hell, “today we repent the retributions of the Three Evil Destinies.”There are still the Three Evil Destinies. In addition to Hell, there are retributions from the Evil Destinies. “In the Sutras, the Buddha said, In addition to Hell, there are retributions from the Evil Destinies In the Sutras, the Buddha said, those with many desires seek many gains, thus they have many afflictions. ”This passage was spoken by the Buddha. The Buddha said we all have many desires, so we seek many things, there foe we have many afflictions. Next the text says,
[b]“Those who are content can be peaceful and happy even when lying on the floor.
Those who are discontent can be in Heaven but still feel dissatisfied. But when those in this world face an emergency, they are willing to give whatever it takes.“[/b]
People spend money to eliminate disasters. We all do this. Before disasters arrive, we need to know and be prepared. If we are content, we will not be worried about anything, not even money, not at all.We are happy and free. In the past, monastics traveled far and wide with only one alms bowl. We can live with three robes and a bowl. A monk can travel far and wide with one alms bowl. How carefree and at ease! Although the way we live right now requires us to give and work hard, we have no worries in our minds.
Wealth does not entice us or obscure our minds. So, we must be content. If we are content, even when we sleep on the ground, which is very austere, we can still be happy .Every day I watch “Grassroots Bodhi”. These Bodhisattvas are filmed by our staff or our community media volunteers these recycling Bodhisattvas.
What are their living conditions like ?Some people live very simply , very austerely,but they are very happy and joyous.I saw Bodhisattvas whose kitchen happens to be a covered part of the alley.Under the window is a countertop for cooking and gas. Across from that is a shelf with kitchen gadgets. She is squeezed into this alley.When she turns this way she faces the gas stove.When she turns the other way she does not need to even stretch out her hand for kitchen gadgets ,bowls , plates ,etc.It is organized very neatly.The space is very narrow , but she is very happy.
Someone told her “Your place is so narrow”.She said, ”Master says ,”“A big heart is better than a big house.If my heart is open, it does not matter how narrow this is. Having a place to cook is good enough. Some people have leakly roofs. Some have no homes.I am already very content .”
Look at how carefree and at ease she is !Her heart is very open. This is a content person.
If her kitchen is like this ,we can imagine how simple the rest of her living space is.So “those who are content can be peaceful and happy even when lying on the floor”.They can be very happy.“Those who are discontent can be in Heaven but still feel dissatisfied.”
If people are not content,no matter how opulent or beautifully decorated their house is,they feel that it is not enough. They have plenty of things ,but are not content.Isn’t that suffering ?
So ,they “still feel dissatisfied.But if those in this world face an emergency”they will quickly pray“I do not care how much money I spend. I will hold sacrifices or ceremonies to change my luck”.Trying to make things right at the last minute is already too late.Look at those who break the law for profit and end up in jail.Now ,they spend a lot of money to hire lawyers , etc.Can this make things go their way ,so they can be released?They spend even more money on bail,and perhaps return to jail after a few days.
So , it is best we do not break the law.No matter how much money we spend to avoid disasters,sometimes ,not only can we not eliminate them ,we face even more disasters.
So ,one word embodies the source of suffering,desire.If we are not greedy ,we can avoid disasters.So ,we always have to be mindful.That is truly the safest way to live.
If we can walk on this safe path,we form aspirations and make vows so we can create blessing for the world,and have a mind free of desires. Then we can unlock wisdom and realize the Dharma.
So everyone ,to understand the Buddha –Dharma,we need to keep our minds calm.If we do not seek fame ,desires, wealth,we will naturally not contend with the world ,so we are peace with the world.
We do not fight others ,so everyone is at peace. If we do not fight over anything ,our minds will always be peaceful.Those who are peaceful will have wisdom.The key is desire,so we all need to know that those with many desire , seek many gains ,thus thay have many afflictions.
The more we seek ,the more afflictions we have. Those with few desire can sleep peacefully.
They are peaceful , happy and free.
So everyone ,there is nothing special about learning Buddhism just calm your mind ;do not let it make mistakes and stir up desires.
Always maintain peace and harmony in your minds ,see through your desires for gain.Then there will be no disasters. If we are all like this ,this world will be a Pure Land.
So everyone ,please always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)