Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: Good Thoughts Arise Each Day(善念日日生)
In this world, who has never made a mistake? If we recognize and correct faults, we do not lose our goodness. Those with wisdom can discern good from evil. Be careful and avoid doing all evil. Be reverent and good thoughts will arise each day.
Everyone, if we have wisdom, we can discern good from evil. Every day our practice reminds us to be cautious and careful, and to thoroughly uphold our precepts. In our daily living, we need to clearly discern good from evil. We must do only good things and avoid doing any evil. We must refrain from doing even the slightest evil. If we think small acts do not matter, they will become habitual tendencies. In spiritual practice, we must break these habits. We have habitual tendencies in our speech. We have habitual tendencies in our actions. If they are negative habits, we must correct them. Even if our negative habits are small, if we allow them to constantly build up, these negative behaviors will be hard to change. So, even if it is a small evil, we must not do it. We need to immediately correct bad habits. Thus we must be careful. Do not give up on doing small good deeds, even if it is just a word of comfort. When we see someone worrying, locked in misery, we can talk to or smile at them. This gives them a feeling of friendship, a sense they are supported when they are suffering from afflictions. Although these are small gestures, when they accumulate, we create good affinities with everyone. So be reverent, and good thoughts will arise every day. Even if they are small kindnesses, we should just do them, just express them. We must not even touch small evils and always correct our habitual tendencies. People can do who this have wisdom, they can clearly discern good from evil. If we make a mistake, we need to correct it right away. Out of compassion, the Buddha told us that we all have the Tathagata-nature hidden inside. So, if we just get rid of our old habits, we will see that our original good nature still exists. Therefore, we must not lock down on ourselves. Let’s look at this passage of the repentance text.
“Those with weak roots of goodness have a lot of bad karma. For this reason whatever they want to accomplish will not go their way. Now we know that this is caused by residual retributions of past negative karma.”
If someone dies young, in their prime, we say, “They are still so young; it’s not fair. How could they die like this? Why would someone so young get this illness? They are so young…,” and so on. There is still so much that they wanted to do. They had just started to change, just started accumulating good deeds, but their time was cut short. This is because they have “weak roots of goodness, a lot of bad karma.” They have a lot of karmic obstacles, so now “whatever they want to accomplish,” whatever they try to do, “will not go their way.”
We hear many people say, “I am working hard. Why doesn’t anything go right? Everything I do loses money. Nothing I do succeeds. There are so many obstacles.”
We should not resent others for this. It is we who did not create blessings in the past. Things do not go our because of “residual retributions of past negative karma. Therefore, we should repent today.” Since we were like this in the past we really need to repent now.
We repent, from beginningless Time until today, all for our countless present and future residual retributions in Heaven and Human Realms.
Now, we begin to repent again. We repent from “Beginningless Time” from the past until now, and on into the future. Perhaps with some blessings, we will being the Heaven or Human Realms. Perhaps in the past we were born in Heaven. Once we exhausted our blessings we fell and are now in the Human Realm. Regardless of our past travels in the Six Realms, right now we have attained the human form. Only in the Human Realm can we hear the Dharma. So, we really need to seize this present moment to repent the past. If things do not go our way in this lifetime, it is because of countless residual retribution that we brought to the represent.
If we are very successful in this life, but still lack good relationships, this is also residual retribution from the bad affinities we created in the past. Although we do well in this lifetime, we lack affinities with others. So the retributions for the good things we do will come later on. We cannot instantly change the bad affinities. That we brought from the past. So let us happily accept them, accept that we created these negative affinities in the past. We created negative karma. Wherever we are in the Six Realms, when we come to the Human Realm, it is time for us to practice. So, we always need to be cautious and vigilant and repent often.
We repent the Human Realm, where we wander from place to place, suffer disabling infirmities, many illnesses and have incomplete Six Roots as retributions.
Some in this world “wander from place to place. An example of this is all the refugees we hear about right now. They were originally born in one country. But manmade disasters and other calamities have displaced them. So they “wander from place to place.” This was caused by disasters. This is collective karma. There is also “infirmities, illnesses, having incomplete 6 Roots.”
In the Human Realm, besides environmental disasters, some are born with “disabling infirmities and illnesses.” Some people are born missing limbs or are born disfigured, etc. these are physical disabilities. Besides disabilities, people can contract many types of illnesses. Sometimes accidents damage the Six Sense Organs. These are all illnesses in this world. So, we also need to repent for them. We need to repent for what we did in the past. If we still have unexhausted karma, we come back and face many types of retribution. those “disabling infirmities and many illnesses” are innumerable.
So, we must try to earnestly understand first-hand the suffering in the world. We says, “Witness suffering, recognize blessings.” Disabling infirmities and illnesses are direct retributions. Some are just born this way. Some are mute, blind or deaf due to “incomplete Six Roots.” Some are born this way. They cannot make a sound, cannot speak. Or they may not be able to see, etc. These are disabling infirmities and illness. There too many to be counted .Next,
“We repent the Human Realm, where we may be born in remote areas with deviant views, with the Three Evils and the Eight Difficulties as retributions.”
“We repent the Human Realm, where illnesses emaciate our bodies and shortens our lives as retribution. We repent the Human Realm, where we cannot see our family members often nor protect them as retribution. ”
We should know these things.We have talked often about remote areas. Many people are born in uncivilized places, or have faith in deviant beliefs. Places which are very underdeveloped are what we call remote areas. Some worship the sky, earth, etc., see spirits in grass and woods.They always worship grass, tress, water, spirits and ghosts. They still live without a trace of modern civilization. These are “remote areas with deviant views”. The “Three Evils” are the Three Evil Realms. The retributions of the Eight Difficulties prevent us from hearing the Buddha-Dharma.
There are eight states that hinder Buddha-Dharma. They are Hell, Hungry Ghost, and Animal Realms, Uttarakuru, No-thought Heaven; being blind, deaf or mute, mundane cleverness; and being born before or after a Buddha.These are states where we cannot hear Dharma.
In remote areas with deviant views there are obstacles created by these Eight Difficulties. In Hell, or as Hungry Ghosts or Animals they face extreme pain so they cannot hear Buddha-Dharma.They can barely process the pain; when do they have time to listen to Buddha-Dharma? Uttarakuru is to the north of Mt. Sumeru. People there enjoy a long life, and a lot of happiness. It should be a heavenly realm. They have long lives and lots of joy In No-thought Heaven, it is the same.There is a lot of mental enjoyment. In these places of extreme wealth and luxury, they do not think to listen to Buddha-Dharma. Also, there is no Buddha-Dharma. In the past we said that there is no Buddha-Dharma to practice in Heaven.It is difficult for the rich to learn the Way.
These are all obstacles. In the Human Realm, some are blind, deaf, mute Blind people cannot read Sutras, see images of the Buddha, or see the appearances of the Three Treasures as they are blind.The deaf cannot hear .They cannot hear the Buddha-Dharma. What is Buddha-Dharma? They have no way to understand. Some are also mute. They cannot hear it, cannot express it. So, it not easy to the hear Buddha-Dharma and to practice it.Even if they see it face to face, they still cannot understand.
Then there are those with mundane cleverness. They have been born human and heard the Dharma. But they think they are very talented, very knowledgeable, so they do not think that the Buddha-Dharma is better than their beliefs. Or, when they encounter Dharma, they can talk about the concepts, but they do not truly accept it.
This is mundane cleverness. Some may also be born before a Buddha comes into this world. Remember, when Prince Siddhartha was born. His father invited Asita to tell His fortune. Afterwards, Asita cried “What happened? What’s the matter with my son?Will something bad happen to my son ?”“No, I am sad for myself .This prince will have a great destiny.If he takes over the kingdom, he can be a Wheel –Turning Sage King.In the world , he will be a blessed voice for our people. If he leaves the secular world to engage in spiritual practice ,he will be the Great Enlightened One,Teacher of Humans , supremely respected. But sadly for me ,I am very old. I can’t wait for him to attain the Way.I have no way to hear to Truth he will speak. ”
So ,this was before the Buddha’s enlightenment.The Enlightened One had been born ,but had not attained Great Enlightenment,had not expounded Dharma.This was “before a Buddha” “After a Buddha” is after the Buddha departs.Are we living in a time before or after a Buddha?As long as we have the Buddha in our minds .He still abides in the Human Realm.
He is the Fundamental Teacher of the Saha – world. If there is no Buddha in their minds,
even if the Buddha appears before them .He will be looked down upon.
This is because they lack the affinity.Those without affinities cannot be transformed ,like those born before of after Buddha.If , in our hearts ,we know to form connections with the Buddha,or if we have wisdom;even if we are born remote areas ,we will find a way hear Buddha-Dharma.
This is the truth of the universe.Is there really such a thing as a remote area ?But it is their karma to be born in a place where Dharma is undeveloped.Even if our lives are short,we still see those who practice even when ill.Some are woken up by their illness,so they seize every moment.
Look at our recycling centers.So many people are seizing the moment,not wasting any time
Everyone is mindful. This is how we can inject Dharma into our hearts. So ,we really need to seize this moment.If we can do so,there will be no places with the Eight Difficulties.So , please always be mindful.
“We repent the Human Realm , where we lose relatives and friends ,and are parted from loved ones as retribution.”
“We repent the Human Realm, where we face a gathering of enemies and are anxious , worried ,and fearful as retribution.”
“We repent the Human Realm, where we face panic and fear from water , fire , thieves ,wars and disasters as retribution.”
This text is very straightforward.We should all be able to understand it.Relatives and friends die.Our best friends and closest relatives die one after another. There are Eight Sufferings
Besides birth , ageing , illness and death , there is parting with those we love , meeting those we hate ,no getting what we want ,and the flourishing of the Five Aggregates.
There are also“water , fire and thieves”.These are all natural and manmade disasters often make us anxious and uneasy.So ,we need to seize our time in this world to create good affinities and good causes when we can.We should diligently do these things
“We repent the Human Realm,where we face loneliness and difficulties,displacement and losing our homelands as retribution.”
“We repent the Human Realm, where we face jail and enclosed spaces ,and are isolated , whipped and beaten as retribution.”
In this world we may be elderly and alone ,or displaced from our homes. Or ,we may be a refugee or a fugitive from the law ,etc.Maybe we committed a crime and are locked up in
jail to face torture , etc . as retribution.These are all results of actions in past lives. So everyone , be mindful.
We need to repent all these karmic obstacles.We cannot say , “I’ll practice tomorrow and
create affinities the day after.”We cannot waste a moment.If we hear this now ,we must begin now to work for our future , to accept these present , create blessings for the future
So everyone , please always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)