Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Universal Compassion (同體大悲憐憫心)
In our daily living we are safe and do not lack clothing, food, housing or transportation. So, let us recognize those blessings.
If we have full stomachs we are blessed. We must recognize our blessings. When we know that people are suffering from hungry and lack food, great compassion should arise. With universal compassion, we feel their hunger.
Can you view all suffering sentient beings with this heart of universal compassion? We do not lack clothing, food, housing or transportation in our daily living. But many people have no food or water because of natural disasters, or live in poverty because of manmade calamities. They are starving. Can we understand how painful it is to live like that? Their lives are so difficult. How do they pass each day? How do they live? So, we must always be compassionate. We must often think about those who suffer. So in our living, we must be disciplined, diligent and frugal, so that we can help the poor and suffering get through these difficulties. If everyone is willing to give a little love, that will certainly be helpful. Furthermore, we always talk about understanding karmic cause and effect. We must believe in karmic retribution, in the law of cause and effect Buddha taught us. In this world, if we do not focus on our practice, we cannot develop this sense of feeling others’ pain as our own. Without such a mindset, we think that we came to this world to enjoy ourselves. If we think everything is rightfully ours, if we refuse to let go and give, if we ignore others’ suffering, that is a stingy and ignorant way of living.
So, we must cultivate both blessings and wisdom. We must not be ignorant. We know that we need to manifest our wisdom. We all live in this world, and are interconnected with everything. If we weather is favorable, everyone can be safe with enough clothing and food. This is our blessing. So, we are interconnected with everything in the world. If we climate is imbalanced, everyone will be poor and lack food. Then how can we be blessed? So, we all need to arouse our wisdom so we can understand illness and pain. Only then can we give and create blessings. Thus, we cultivate both blessings and wisdom. The next passage in the repentance text is related to this.
“Next we repent the Hungry Ghost Realm, where we starve and thirst for millions of years, where we do not even hear of broth or water as retribution.”
“We repent the Hungry Ghost Realm, where we eat pus and blood, feces and filth as retribution.”
Think about it.This passage is also very simple.We already repented for the retributions of the Hell and Animal Realms.Now we should repent again.We repent because we may have also sowed the seeds for the Hungry Ghost Realm.
Therefore, we need to sincerely repent the “Hungry Ghost Realm where we starve and thirst.”For a long time, we have been hungry and had nothing to drink.Not only is there no food, there is no water.We see this lack of food and water very often in our modern world.
It has been around for a long time.In particular, during the periods of difficulty, the time feels like it goes by even slower.
Nowadays, with advanced communication technology, we are able to know when some part of the world is experiencing famine.There was a report that North Korea was appealing to international charities for help and aid.
Did you know that the North Koreans have a strong sense of pride?They say, “We will fight, starve, suffer to death, before we ask for outside help.”In the past, when we helped them, this is what they would say.But we also saw that the people of North Korea were very diligent.
They were not lazy.They were very hardworking, but they had no control over natural disasters, or over the manmade calamities that created the Korean War.
These disasters created disharmony, disharmony in the climate and among the people.
Thus the people experienced much suffering.In August (2007), there was a flood.It was a large disaster, and we were very worried, very concerned.We wanted to send relief teams.
When we was this article, we knew that North Korea was already experiencing famine, and was seeking aid from outside groups.
Furthermore, we have already received a letter, and now we are in contact with them.
We hope they can provide us with more details so we can understand and will be able to go there and help.
I am also grateful to some Tzu Chi volunteers in Bolivia.Bolivia is the poorest country in South America.There is great disparity in wealth.On average, they earn less than US$1 a day.This applies to about 70 percent of the population.The other 30 percent are wealthier.They earn 40 times what the poor do.How much is 40 times more?US$40.So, we know this country is very poor.Their aqueducts are obstructed, so every time it rains it is a disaster.Thus, there are often disasters.The people are always suffering.There was a flood in October (2007).We went to help them in November and thus we created this affinity.Then another big flood and disaster happened in November (2007).This was a large-scale disaster.So, Tzu Chi volunteers from three countries, Argentina, Paraguay, and the U.s., came together.Most of the food, goods and volunteers came from the U.S.
Our free clinic group met in Bolivia and held a free medical outreach.With the roads blocked it was very difficult .So, they used the railroad tracks. They drove cars over tracks to transport goods and people. It was dangerous!Many roads were cut off. And while the cars drove [over the tracks], sharp rocks punctured the tires. It was very hard work. Tzu Chi volunteers cross mountains and oceans. For what purpose? For those who are suffering.
When they arrived to distribute goods it was sunny .The sun came out. But as they began their distribution, suddenly a heavy rain began falling. Tzu Chi volunteers put on rain ponchos to continue the distribution. After putting them on, they turned around and saw the refugees waiting for goods.None of them had left. They stayed in very neat line as they were being rained on. We could not do anything about it. We had rain ponchos but what about all the people standing in the rain? There was just one thing to do distribute faster.
The road turned to mud as the rain fell hard. But they did not care how difficult it was, they still continued distributing. Everyone, it was hard to watch something like this. On top of knowing that people were suffering from disasters and starvation, it was hard to watch Tzu Chi volunteers face such great danger and difficulties to carry out the relief distribution.
But I was also happy for them. I was glad to see such great kindness, compassion, joy and giving. Isn’t this the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism? Tzu Chi volunteers have these four qualities. They do not fear difficulty, and feel others’ hunger as their own. They feel
others‘ pain and suffering as their own.They demonstrate perseverance, faith steadfastness, sincerity and integrity.
So, they continued the distribution in the rain. The journey was so dangerous. I could not bear it. But they have already finished the distribution, and thankfully once it was over everyone was safe. See, we should know that for those who are starving, even a day feels like a very long time.
So, time in Hell feels particularly long because it is hard to endure that suffering. Thus we often say, “It was a difficult time” A difficult time means that it was very painful, hard to get through it. So, in those places, they have “long starved and thirsted”.How long is very long? “Millions of years”. That is a long time to be hungry. Whether we are talking about Bolivia or North Korea, how do people live through those days? It is hard. In this world people also starve for long periods.
In the Hungry Ghost Realm ,”they do not even hear of broth or water as retribution “
In the Human Realm there are Living Bodhisattvas,humanitarian groups to care for these people. They help and deliver goods. They give out food and water. But this does not happen in the Hungry Ghost Realm. Not only do they not have food and water ,they do not even hear about them.This is also a form of retribution,“not even hearing of broth or water as retribution.”Then “we repent the Hungry Ghost Realm where we eat pus and blood,feces and filth as retribution.”
This is truly pitiable.There is no water or food ,so [in that realm ] they kill each other do drink the pus and blood.This is truly very cruel.We see this in the Human Realm, too.A while back I talked about a man who was anemic.Someone told him eel blood would be most helpful,especially from live eels. So ,he bought an eel and stabbed it in the neck. He held the wound to his mouth and allowed the eel blood to drip into his throat.After being stabbed , the eel was still alive and struggling.It was very slippery so as he grabbed it,it dove into his throat and continued to struggle in his stomach.
He went to the emergency room.His intestines were perforated in many places by the eel’s struggles.Everyone ,this is “eating pus and blood”.Humans are already so ignorant,not to mention hungry ghosts.This is truly unbearably painful.Besides pus and blood,there are “feces and flith” , dirty things. We also see this in the world.Tzu Chi volunteers help the poor and suffering ,and the handicapped or mentally deficient.When we help them clean,we see worms in their food.
“What do you eat?”“I eat that”“What is it ?”When we open the lid, we see worms.They still eat it. This is what our Tzu Chi volunteers have seen in many of these families.Tzu Chi volunteers’love connects them with suffering sentient beings.We see these suffering families first –hand so we help them clean,organize and stock up on household necessities.
When help them stock up on food they can eat.This is the Human Realm.They lack food , but if they have this affinity,they will meet their benefactor,who will help them.As they face this painful retribution,they still have some good and blessed affinities,so they can meet their benefactors in this world. How many people can we actually meet and help ?We do not know how many people,how many families in this world are living like this.
So , we do not need to wonder if we can see these things in the Hungry Ghost Realm.There is no need to go there.But we have to believe that it certainly exists.
So ,we should reflect on ourselves right away. We have enough to eat.Are we wasteful?
If we are , then we must repent at once.Even if we have enough , we can eat less.
Instead of eating until we are stuffed,we eat enough to be 80 percent full .This a path to health.We can also save 20 percent to help others. We are usually wasteful.Shouldn’t we save and collect those savings so we can help these many countries and all the people who are suffering ?How great would that be?
So ,we have to continue to appeal to people to help prevent starvation and suffering.So ,we need to always realize universal compassion , that their hunger is ours.We feel their pain and suffering as our own.
So ,we must all be vigilant.We must always repent our wastefulness.And immediately take action.
Otherwise , the Hungry Ghost Realm ,is not very far from us.
So everyone , please always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)