Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Create Good Causes, Attain Blessed Affinities (造好因 得福緣)
How can we transcend our afflictions? First, we need to learn to be content. When we learn to be content, we find ourselves in a place of abundance, happiness and peace.
Those who are content are very wealthy. If people can be content, although they live in a crude house, have no bed and sleep on the floor, they will still feel happy and free. If people are not content, even if they live in an opulent house, in great conditions, they still feel discontent and dissatisfied. This is the mindset of people in this world. Suffering and joy, poverty and wealth all depend on our mindset. It all depends on our thinking. We can be content because we believe in karmic retribution. If we did not create so many blessings, we would not have found such an abundance of material goods and wealth. We know that this is good enough, that we have enough. If we have extra, we also know that worldly things will not always belong to us. So if we have extra, we will give. When we give, we feel that this is our true source of happiness. We are happiest to see others at peace, to see them escape suffering. This makes us the most happy. This is what it means to be someone who is content and believes in cause and effect. Create good causes, attain blessed conditions. This is an unfailing truth. If some refuse to believe in cause and effect, then naturally their desires are very strong. No matter how much they have, it is never enough, because they do not believe in cause and effect.
“Why would I want to create blessings? Enjoying my blessings now is more important.” They think they need to enjoy all they have, right now, recognition, wealth, status, fortune. They think this is all rightfully theirs. They do not believe in cause and effect; they are short-sighted until something happens and retributions manifest, and they become lost and confused. Only then do they think of giving to make amends. But by then it is already too late. In life, we always need to believe in cause and effect.
We need to be content and have few desires. If we are content, with few desires, that shows we understand karmic retribution. If we lead such a life, won’t that be the most abundant and happy, and the most peaceful life? In life, where is the most peaceful place? With a peaceful mind, every place is serene and free of disasters. This is the safest place. So, if we can always maintain this mindset, won’t every day be a peaceful day? Every day is a good day for spiritual practice. So, let us always seize the moment, respect heaven and earth, love everything and be grateful for all causes and conditions.
In this way we can have everything we need.Thus, we need to be content.Then we will feel as if we live in Heaven.Do not wait until a disaster arrives before thinking about giving.
That is too late.
So the next passage of the repentance text states,
“We do not know that this body is on the brink of the Three Destinies’ deep trench. If we cannot inhale again, we immediately fall. Friends suddenly advise us to create merits as fuel for future good practices, but we are attached to stinginess and refuse to do it.”
This passage says that people are not content; they only act for their own enjoyment.They wait until their life is over to give, but then it is already too late.They refuse to believe, they do not know that the body is “on the brink of the Three Destinies.”We do not know how long we have to live.Life exists in the space of a breath.We now have people coming to counsel us.
They advise us to do good and create merits and virtues,.Shouldn’t we have some blessings and virtues stored away for the moment when we take our last breath?
I often say to accumulate a surplus of merits, not just balance out negative karma.If we are not willing to spend money to make amends until the last minute, by then it is already too late.
We need to know that life exists in the space of a breath.If we have not done anything, when we stop breathing and our spirit passes on alone and confused, where will it go?Into the Hungry Ghost, Animal and Hell Realms, the Three Evil Destinies, depending on our usual behavior.If we sow many bad seeds and create no blessings, we will inevitably end up in those three destinies.We will drift toward them.When we fall, it is like falling into a deep trench.We cry out, but no one can save us.So this passage of the repentance text says that perhaps in this lifetime, before we stop breathing, perhaps as we are flush with success, a spiritual friend will tell us, “Why don’t you do some good deeds?”
“There are people suffering there. You have the ability.”“Can you contribute some of your strength?”“When you humbly give to others, you can save people.”“Then you will have infinite merits and virtues.”“Saving people creates blessings.”“Please do so.”
Although someone may provide us good counsel, if we are very stubborn, we “are attached to stinginess and refuse to do it.”When people are asked for donations, many think, “Why would I be so stupid?”“I work hard to make money. Why wouldn’t I spend it and enjoy it myself? Why would I give it to others?”They refuse to give.Even if we say, “You are already so wealthy. Just donate a little bit.”“If I donate, then I will donate a lot. Donating just a little would be shameful.”“Great! If you donate more that is even better. You will create great merits.”“I can’t do it right now.”“what until I am even wealthier.”
We see this type of people all over the world.Such people “are attached to stinginess and refuse to do it.”When they are healthy, when they are wealthy they refuse to give anything.
Although a benefactor tries to guide them, they refuse to follow.So, they have no provisions for their future.Then, when everything is dark and hazy, no one will guide them to a better place and they follow their karmic forces.
This is because someone tried to help them change, but they refused to accept it.They only have a greedy and stingy mind so they refuse to believe other people’s advice.Aren’t these people the most foolish?They do not know that this breath might be their last.Then they are in another life.It is completely unrelated to this life They will leave all the money they earned, all their things, all their fame and wealth behind They want to hold on to it and bring it with them, but that is impossible So if a person only creates evil, not good, when they lose human form, it will be hard to regain They have not accumulated any goodness because they are stingy and greedy
So then the repentance text goes on to state,
“Those who are like this are extremely deluded by ignorance. ”
Why is that? How can people be truly ignorant like this? They are deluding themselves. They do not understand the principle. What is the reason behind this?
”In the Sutras, the Buddha said that when we are born we bring nothing with us and when we die we take nothing with us. What we have gathered through suffering and worry does not benefit us and is only left to others. ”
This section states that the Buddha said, while we are alive, we refused to give. We refused to accumulate blessing, to help, to give, to respect the Three Treasures, to comfort those who are suffering. We refused to do all of this, but we cannot take a cent with us when we die.
Modern society is like this. There is a very successful businessman who opened chain stores overseas. When he visited, I asked. “Why do you need to do all this? Why don’t you take some time and do these good deeds yourself?Although donating money is great, you do not truly feel their suffering. You cannot experience the joy of alleviating their suffering in person. You do not attain that happiness. Even if you are blessed and donate money, can’t you try to not work so much?Use this time to truly give. You have already done and attained many things. Why not devote some time to charity? Look at how happy others are to be doing this. Why do you need to keep expanding your business?” He could always respond in this way, “Master, I know, I know.But if I do this I’m also saving people.” I said, “Yes I know you save people this way. You donate money to save them. You expand your business to save people too. I understand this reasoning. If your business expands, then many people will have jobs so their family life can be stable, Right?”
He said,“ Yes, Yes. This is my thinking.” I said, “Do you know, our strength and time are limited. You pick the poorest region in a country, and then develop it .But you need to choose the right way to do so. Look at how global warming happened because manufacturing became overdeveloped.Do just enough. Go there and do everything that you feel needs to be done to help stabilize those families.” He said, “But some of my core staff want me to keep funding projects and doing this.”
I said “Human desires will keep growing.Leave this to your staff.If you keep going , there is no end.If you cannot take care of yourself ,you cannot evaluate whether or not it is right to do something .You just keep investing.That is your entire life.Who can take on your spirit of using love to stabilize families ?With moderm technology we are actually creating more pollution.This direction of development is never ending.”He said ,“This is already beyond my control.”
This was truly unbearable hear. The overdevelopment is beyond his control.Is this beneficial for humankind ?It is impossible to analyze.Will this destroy the land?Truly. If it is only one instance , it is not that bad.If they keep expanding and increasing production,that is truly worrisome. The human lifespan is only so long.Why don’t people take a wider view?
They do not underdtand that when we die ,we cannot take even a cent with us. Afflictions of body and mind are a heavy burden.When can own a big business without much physical labor,but it is actually a heavy mental burden.The labor of the mind is greater than that of the body.“What we have gathered through suffering and worry does not benefit us. “When we take that last breath,how have we benefited ourselves ?When we get sick?what then ?
In the end ,aren’t we subject to the laws of nature?Yes. Our time will eventually come.
So , if we cannot take it with us ,why not take advantage of business success and set aside some time to volunteer?We gain so much with every bit of money or strength that we contribute.We create many good affinities.Isn’t that great ?Why lead a life where you refuse to give ?and cannot take joy in other’s accomplishments?Such a life is busy withour merit.
In the end , everything “is only left to others”.There is no benefit to us.In the end it belongs to others. This is our life. Are we “extremely deluded by ignorance? ”
Some people take money and know to give. But some people earn a lot of money,yet refuse to give. I hope they can earn money , give and also join the effort themselves.If we can do this ,if we can seize our time in this world ,we can develop our Wisdom –life.We can create blessings and develop wisdom. Cultivating both blessings and wisdom is great.
After reading this passage.If we do not know to increase wisdom or create blessings , we truly take nothing with us. Only karma will follow us.
Truly at that last moment we lose everything,Our soul passes on alone and is tormented in Hell.That is true suffering. At that time ,we fall into Hell. Or , at the moment of death,If we did not create and blessed affinities ,when that final state appears,frightening sights will manifest,like people crying,scary Yaksas and evil ghosts appearing. Then our torment gets worse,like a live crab cooked in boiling water ,like a live turtle whose shell is removed. There is so much suffering. Our spirit is tormented in life and death until ends which we have no control over. Where will we go ?We do not know. We cannot take anything with us , only karma. We need to clearly understand this.
So , we must be content. If we are content ,we live in a place of peace and happiness.
So we must learn and practice contentment. Then we are in a place of abundance , happiness and peace.
So everyone ,please always be mindful.