Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Wisdom, Ignorance, Good or Evil Exist in a Though (智愚善惡一念間)
The ignorant who do evil receive retribution in the Three Evil Destinies. The wise who do good receive retributions of great blessings. Wisdom or ignorance, good or evil, all depends on the change of a thought. If those who make mistakes self-reflect and repent in time, they turn disasters into blessings.
Everyone, in the Dharma as Water series, everything that we have been saying all comes back to karmic retribution. “If we sow such a seed, we attain such a fruit.” So we must believe in cause and effect. Ignorant people refuse to believe in this. Since they refuse to believe, they commit wrongs and transgressions and create many evil seeds. These people are the ignorant. As for the wise, they definitely know about karmic retribution. Those who do good deeds attain blessings.
This is the correct perspective. Wisdom, ignorance, good or evil exist in a thought. If we change our thoughts toward doing good, we are in Heaven, in a Pure Land. If we return in the opposite direction, we are in Hell, in the Three Destinies. This happens simply with a change in perspective.
So now, we already know all this. If we made mistakes in the past, before we knew better, if we committed any transgressions, we need to immediately self-reflect. Not only do we need to self-reflect, we need to repent our faults. If we eliminate evil and do good, we turn disasters into blessings. So, we must all constantly be more vigilant. Previously we talked about repenting the retributions of the Animal Realm, etc. We become animals because of ignorant thoughts. Thus we erase our path to the Human Realm.
So if we can truly repent, turn around that ignorance, we can gain illuminating wisdom. In this way we can escape the Animal Realm. Next is the Hungry Ghost Realm.
“With the merits and virtues that arise, in future lives, may we no longer suffer from stinginess, starvation or thirst, and always taste the sweet dew of liberation.”
We know that stinginess is the seed for becoming Hungry Ghosts. If we were stingy in the past, the retribution for stinginess is descent into the Hungry Ghost Realm. So, if we now sincerely repent the causes we created in past lifetimes, we can depart from the pain of starvation and thirst. Then we “often taste the sweet dew.” Since we are freed from constant starvation, everything will taste like nectar. So, let us repent and eliminate the karma of stinginess. Everyone needs to cultivate a loving mind. Right now Tzu Chi volunteers are spread out across the world. Besides saving the poor, needy and ill, we also help the poor to realize their riches. We also teach them the path to wealth. This path is very simple. Just “open your heart, do not be stingy” and give a little love. That love is like the one candle that can light up an entire darkened room.That can light up an entire darkened room.So do not be stingy.
Stinginess closes the heart.If we have the opportunity to open their hearts a little and light that candle, we open their door to love.This is teaching them to realize their riches.This lets them know that love is not about giving a certain amount, it is about starting with the little bit they have.Doesn’t everything start with a single seed?Even a fruit tree begins as a small thing.A very tiny seed turns into a fruit tree.When each harvest season arrives, there are many fruits on the tree.These are produced every year.This all comes from a single seed.
We have always helped the poor; now we promote helping them realize their riches.We hope that this seed of love, this seed of abundance, can be planted in every field, can be planted in everyone’s mind.
We hope that everyone’s mind will have a seed of love.This seed is the source of wealth.Thus the world will be filled with abundance.So, we need to promote this with care.
Next the text says,
“We vow to repent the Realms of Ghosts, Spirits, and Asuras.”
“With the merits and virtues that arise, in future lives, may we be honest and not flatter, escape the seeds of evil incarnations, eliminate the retribution of ugly appearance and enjoy blessings of the Heaven and Human Realms.”
Earlier we spoke of the Ghost and Spirit Realms.We talked about Raksas and Kumbhandas.
Now we repent retributions in the Asura Realm.Asuras easily lose their temper, and are very angry and hateful.They are often seek to flatter and deceive.These are the retributions of Asuras.
Now we are ready to repent.By repenting the retributions of Asura, we can be reborn, and “with the merits and virtues that arise, in future lives, may we be honest and not flatter.”
We need to cultivate our minds.Honesty is a spiritual practice.Do not be suspicious of people doing this or that.
Once ignorance arises in our minds, angry and hateful thoughts will always arise.So we must “be honest and not flatter.”Not flattering means not being devious, but being very straight forward.“We escape the seeds of evil incarnations; eliminate the retribution of ugly appearance.”Our minds and thoughts must be upright.You have probably thoroughly memorized the Seven Factors of Bodhi and Eightfold Noble Path.
We must uphold the right path so we will not fall into evil incarnations.“We eliminate the retribution of ugly appearance.”Normally, ghosts and spirits have no way to look dignified.
If we want to be dignified, we need to maintain honest not use flattery.Do not have evil thoughts, livelihood or actions.Then we can “enjoy the Heaven and Human Realms.”We can practice in the Human Realm and seek to be reborn in Heaven.
“We vow that starting today, wherever we practice we will not suffer the retribution of these Four Evil Realms.”
“Only with great compassion, for the sake of sentient beings, will we stay there tirelessly with the power of our vows.”
We need to vow that starting from today, wherever we practice in the future, “we will not suffer the retribution of these Four Evil Realms.”The Four Evil Realms are Asura, who have heavenly blessings but not virtues, as well as Ghosts and Spirits, plus the Animal, Hungry Ghost, and Hell Realms.These are the retributions of the Four Evil Realms.
As we begin to practice, we need to cultivate our minds, and focus on walking the broad path.
Do not stray towards deviant paths.Thus we will not face retributions of the Four Evil Realms.
“Only with great compassion, for the sake of sentient beings.”Great Compassion is the most important practice.Great compassion is universal. Only with great compassion for the sake of sentient beings “will we stay there tirelessly with the power of our vows”. This means we want to save sentient beings in Hell.
In the Six Realms, only with great compassion can we avoid returning to the Four Evil Realms. Buddha is a kind father to all beings. Hasn’t he always remained in the Saha-world? He is the great kind and compassionate father. The Earth Treasury Bodhisattva vowed to not become a Buddha until Hell is empty. He comes and goes in Hell out of great compassion, for the sake of sentient beings “he stays there tirelessly with the power of his vows”.He remains in the Six Realms without regret. He is tireless because he does it all for sentient beings.
“We have already repented the retributions of the Three Destinies.
Today we again sincerely repent the remaining retribution of the Human and Heaven Realms.”
We have repented for the Three Evil Realms. Now we still need to repent the remaining retributions of “the Human and Heaven Realms”. From Beginningless Time until now, perhaps we have been to the Three Evil Realms and face many extreme retributions.
But there are still unexhausted retributions.Some people created blessings in the past, so they were born into Heaven.
But in Heaven, they will still exhaust their heavenly blessings. Afterwards they will fall again. Some exhaust their retributions in Hell, so they return to the Human Realm and enjoy blessings there.Once their blessings are exhausted they fall again. Some come to the Human Realm bringing their karma, so they suffer endless torment. After they are tormented, the karma is still unexhausted so they fall again. Even if we have heavenly or human blessings, if we make mistakes again and do not immediately self-reflect, in the same way we will fall again.
So in the Human Realms, we need to always repent, self-reflect, be diligent, and walk toward the road of goodness. We should know that blessings and evil seeds are mixed together. It does not matter what kind of seeds they are or even if they are mixed together.After we plant those seeds in the ground, when the conditions are present, we get melons from melon seeds, beans from beans, grass from grass, flowers from flowers. Even if we sow a handful of different seeds in the same place, they will still grow into different things.
So, good and evil are mixed together. As long as we have the seeds, when the conditions ripen, they will bear fruits. So, we must always remain vigilant about our thoughts. When we are tormented by evil causes and effects, do not contaminate good thoughts with ignorance and absorb a lot of negative habitual tendencies. That would be tragic.
So we must seize our time in the Human Realm. Being human and hearing the Dharma is precious. Since we have heard the Buddha-Dharma and understood many examples of karmic retribution, we need to earnestly repent.
Repent the retributions of the Three Destinies, as well as karma in the Heaven and Human Realms. Do not say, “I am human now.”“I haven’t done anything.”“I haven’t done evil , committed wrongs. ”“Repentance is unnecessary.” Perhaps there are unexhaused past remnants.If we exhaust blessed rewards here ,we will descend again.
So ,while we have blessings ,we must do good and be more vigilant.Do not avoid doing good because you are blessed.We must do even more good deeds and cultivate our minds even more,develop and strengthen our sense of vigilance.Do not create bad karma.
Thus it says, “Today I again sincerely repent the remaining retribuitions of the Human and Heaven Relams. ”We need to very sincerely and reverently repent the remaining unexhausted retribuitions in the Human and Heaven Relams.So ,
“the lifespan of those in Jambudvipa should be a hundred years ,but few fulfill it.”
Everyone,we have the lifespan of people in Jambudvipa. The Human Realm is also called Jambudvipa.Although our lifesapan should be a hundred years , few fulfill it. In Buddha’s time they said a life was 100 years. But few live the full hundred years.Even the Buddha , the Great Enlightened One,did not live to be a hundred.
So ,we say that life is painfully short.Previously , I constantly shared this with everyone.
So we must all be very mindful,and seize every moment ,we must not waste them.
“In the midst of this, countless people are cut down in their prime years. “
“The suffering of sentient beings , the pressures on body and mind, the worries and fears , all have never stopped. ”
This passage is very straightforward,easy to undertstand In this world , few live to be one hundred.Think about your prime years. Our prime is when we are strong ,or our childhood,
our youth,or our middle-age.
Just as we feel life is just beginning ,It is “cut down”.That means we die young.It is says “Dying after 60 is not dying young. ”There is a term , short –lived , for a life cut short. This refers to people with die before living for six decades.
So “countless people are cut down in their prime”. This happens to many people. We say that life lasts only a few decades. But if an epidemic hits , it may be too late to save many people，it is the same with natural and manmade disasters. They do not discriminate based on age.In others words,can our life truly be as long as we wish?We cannot predict how long we have to live.
So ,we need to have a sense of impermanence ,as “countless people are cut down in their prime”.This happens to so many people “The suffering of sentient beings”.There is a lot of suffering in this world ,“the pressures on body and mind”.
Even if we are healthy,we have a lot of ignorance and afflictions , and are troubled by passion, cravings , worries , harted that exist in our relationships.So ,in the world ,there are many “pressures on body and mind”.In our minds and in the way that we live,there are many things that ensure our“worries and fears all have never stopped”.They never leaves us.What human has never been worried?What person says ,“I have no worries , no concerns”?We all have. So ,life is truly full of suffering.
Let us always be vigilant about“the pressures on body and mind”and how “worries and fears all have bever stopped”.So ,everyone must truly always be mindful.
Open the door to your hearts and build up this broad path.We must earnestly refrain from evil and proactively do good. If we can do this , we are wise. Then we can trun disasters into blessings.
Everyone , please aways be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)