Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: A Continuous and Unceasing Bodhi-mind (常續不斷菩提心)
We practice the Buddha-Dharma by vowing to give rise to the Four Immeasurables, and practice the Six Perfections. With infinite manifestations, we will help the poor transcend difficulties and teach everyone to be wealthy and happy. With liberated senses, we attain Dharma-joy.
This state of mind is so wonderful. Don’t we practice and learn Dharma in the pursuit of this mindset? We vow to practice the Four Immeasurables, also known as the Four Infinite Minds, loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. Infinite loving-kindness, infinite compassion, infinite joy and infinite equanimity are the Four Infinite Minds. Tzu chi volunteers know these four very clearly. We also need to practice the Six Perfections. Everyone understands these even more. Giving, upholding precepts, patience, diligence, Samadhi, and wisdom are the Six Perfections. We transform ourselves as well as others. We also need infinite manifestations. We do not practice and learn the Dharma by ourselves or for our own benefit. We also need to pass on the Buddha-Dharma. We always pass down this Dharma-lineage. If more people understand the Buddha’s teachings then more people travel the Bodhisattva-path. Thus, there are infinite manifestations. Look at how many people are now Tzu Chi volunteers. They are all manifestations. With infinite manifestations, we can help the poor transcend their difficulties. So many people are willing to be involved with [Tzu Chi’s] work. We are all willing to share our experiences of our spiritual practice. We all bring more people onto this broad Bodhisattva-path and help them cross from this shore to the other.
By practicing the Six Perfections, we form a vast procession with countless numbers of people who travel the Bodhisattva-path together. Together we help the poor transcend difficulties, and teach everyone to be wealthy and happy. When our Six Senses are open and clear we attain Dharma-joy. These actions make everyone happy. If we ask volunteers, “Are you tired?” “No, happy and grateful.” Their Six Senses are liberated. The Six Senses are the Six Consciousnesses of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. If we can liberate ourselves from these cravings, everyone we see with our eyes is a Bodhisattva who can walk the Bodhisattva-path with us.
Wherever we see sentient beings in poverty and difficulty, we will be unable to bear it. With universal compassion, we feel their pain as our own. We all share this thought, the same great kindness and love, and work together to help everyone. So when the Six Senses are open and clear, we can fully express our love, our infinite and boundless wisdom. Infinite Dharma-doors appear before us, so no matter what we do, we attain Dharma-joy. What a great state of mind! Can we do this as we learn Buddhism? We are doing this every day. Every day Tzu Chi volunteers maintain this state of mind.We practice the Four Immeasurable and Six Perfections.We have infinite manifestations because everyone can become a Tzu Chi volunteer.You are one.So am I. Everyone is a Tzu Chi volunteer.Thus we have infinite manifestations.We all share the same goal.Haven’t we accomplished this?Haven’t we all helped the poor transcend difficulties?This is not difficult.Everyone can do it.Do we teach everyone to be rich and joyous?All sentient beings are equal.We teach the rich and help the poor, and inspire the poor to realize their riches all with an impartial mind.So, this next passage of the text says,
“in every lifetime, in every place，may we be looked after by all Buddhas, be able to defeat Mara and all heretics, gather together with all Bodhisattvas, and have a continuous and unceasing Bodhi-mind.”
Looking at this passage, we hope that we can always be looked after by all Buddhas and defeat Mara.We all have an inclination toward goodness.But Karmic forces and affinities constantly bind us.If our hearts are closed and we cannot let go, although we clearly know that something is good, that this is what the Buddha taught us, though we clearly know that we should eliminate evil and do good, that we should awaken our love and nurture our compassion, we are till bound by our surroundings.This is a form of karma.
Because we are “looked after by all Buddhas, the Buddha is in each of our hearts.”Because we learn Buddhism, the Buddha has entered our minds.With this Buddha-mind, we will always awaken our love.Thus we are looked after by the Buddha.“When we first listen to the Buddha-Dharma, it enters our hearts and minds.”“When we see the world outside, and hear the sounds of the world in our own hearts, we remain constantly mindful of the Buddha.”
So, we are looked after by the Buddha.As long as we have the Buddha-mind, we can guard our behavior and all our thoughts.Although we are ordinary beings, and still have many serious habitual tendencies, as long as we have the Buddha-mind, as long as the Dharma enters our minds, naturally we can quickly defeat Mara, deviant thinking and deviant views.
If we encounter others with deviant thinking and deviant views, or evil teachings that delude people, as long as we have Right Mindfulness, we will not be seduced by them.So, we must be very grateful.
First we listen to the Dharma, then the Buddha enters our minds so we can defeat Mara.
Whether it is external difficulties or our own mental states that bind us, we can defeat them all.We overcome them.We always hear people say, “I finally overcame all these difficulties.”
“That’s how I made it to where I am.”
To overcome means to defeat Mara.We know that external entanglements come from the negative affinities we created with others.Thus good friends cannot influence us, but we follow bad friends wherever they go.We are easily seduced because we do not have good karmic conditions.Or perhaps we have not yet eliminated our habitual tendencies.
Therefore we have no way to be diligent and cannot develop Right Thinking, Right Mindfulness.This is due to our habitual tendencies.If we can overcome these habits, we can overcome external conditions.Thus we “conquer Mara and other heretics.”Once we conquer Mara and cannot be seduced by deviant thinking, we will always gather together with all Bodhisattvas.
See, we have the affinity to have joined Tzu Chi. Tzu Chi volunteers will call on us, “Today we are going to help an old man clean” Can you join us? Yes, I can. Then together we quickly help clean up the old man’s surroundings.See, after we finish cleaning, we are very happy. When we see all ill old man in a filthy environment, we have to overcome our mindset to be able to help him. After we overcome it, we will be together with all bodhisattvas. If we all help clean, after we are done, the surroundings will be brightened.
I believe when I say this, all Tzu Chi volunteers feel the same way, because we have all done this. So, with Bodhisattvas, with all of us together, although the process is tiring, when we finish our work we are very happy.So Tzu Chi volunteers do not they are tired, they say, “I am that I have strength, that I am accompanied by so many Bodhisattvas. Together we help the poor transcend difficulties. This is something to be truly grateful for. We are blessed. ”So “we will be together with all Bodhisattvas”. We will always be with Bodhisattvas and “have a continuous and unceasing Bodhi-mind”.
We will always arouse our Bodhi-mind, so it is continuous and unceasing. Sometimes, if we want to be lax, a Tzu Chi volunteer next to us will ask, “What are we doing today? There is yard work or a volunteer assignment”.“Fine, since someone called me, I had better go”. Once that thought arises and we take that first step and join everyone, our will to cultivate arises. So we “have a continuous and unceasing Bodhi-mind”. This environment is an environment where Bodhisattvas can gather.
So, here we can develop our Wisdom-life and extend the roots of our spiritual practice.
“In every lifetime and in every place, I vow to promote the Buddha-Dharma and practice the Mahayana vehicle, to help save and transform sentient beings with infinite manifestations, until no one in our training ground will turn back.”
Look at this state of mind. We are making vows again. We make vows because after we repent, We make vows because after we repent, we dedicate our merits and make vows, then make vows and dedicate merits. We pray for the future and for right now.We vow that “in every lifetime”, no matter which lifetime, whether past, present, or future, and in every place, no matter where we are born, we will be willing to “promote the Buddha-Dharma”. We will promote the Dharma. No matter where we are, we will vow to pass down the Dharma so that in this world the Way will not lade.
The Dharma is the truth of the universe. If we do not earnestly pass it on, it would be tragic for people in the future. They would be in darkness, without light. Only the Buddha-Dharma can give light like the sun and moon. So we must pass down this wisdom, this light of the sun and moon. No matter where we are, in any place, let us vow to promote the Dharma.
So, we do not practice to benefit only ourselves. We must “practice the Mahayana vehicle, help save and transform sentient beings with infinite manifestations”.
Didn’t we just talk about having infinite manifestations?There is only one name for so many people. With the same spirit and intentions，we do the same things.With many people we can reach many places.With infinite manifestations we can “help save and transform sentient beings”.
In Taiwan ,In northern , central ,southern , and eastern Taiwan.Tzu Chi volunteers are all promoting.“A Street of Great Love ,”“A Street of Good Words ,”“A Street of jing Si Aphorisms”.
Everyone walks up and down the streets and posts Jing Si Aphorisms in every store. When people see them,their minds are educated cleansed. I have heard great results from
“A Street of Great Love ”.
People with bad tempers see these phrases and think ,“I want to change”.Some people were apathetic , but after seeing these aphorisms,they knew they were needed to help the world.
So they joined our ranks.This is in Taiwan.
In the U,S .,on March 8,2008,all Tzu Chi volunteers across the country promoted environmental protection together. They shared jing Si Aphorisms and promoted environmental protection.They gave people reusable shopping bags to carry with them. They translated jing Si Aphorisms into English and shared them with others. It was truly touching to see. On March 2 ,2008,our collegiate volunteers in San Diego also held a gathering and came together to develop their Wisdom –roots.They also did environmental protection work.Their gathering was held in conjunction with collegiate volunteers in Taiwan.
They also promoted “Wake up and smell the Dharma”.They said that they do not really understand what I say ,especially those born in the U.S.But they vowed to join with their counterparts in Taiwan. Although there is a time difference ,they do it based on their local time.They smell the fragrance of the Dharma through their computers and also wake up before daybreak.See ,that is very touching. They want to mirror the youth in Taiwan.Though it is not at exactly the same time ,they all get up before daybreak. When I read this , I was truly moved. They also cleaned up their school campuses. It is not easy to pick up garbage and separate the recycling.To them , this is truly a big challenge.But they have this sense of determination.
Since they made the vow,they have the willpowder to develop loving minds and protect this Earth. They are Tzu Chi volunteers. They all dedicate themselves to Tzu Chi’s work.When we do Tzu Chi’s work , we “help save and transfoem sentient beings ,with infinite manifestations ,until no one in our training ground will turn back”.
Everyone ,learning Buddhism is not just listening to Sutras or speaking Dharma.We must put it into practice.As long as we put it into practice,we can join together with many good people and always make good vows. Whether the Four lmmeasurables ,the Four Grand Vows of the Bodhisattva, etc.,every day Tzu Chi volunteers share the same thoughts.They are spread across many countries. They promote these ideas and give to help others. They help the poor transcend difficulties ,teach everyone to be rich and joyous,teach the rich to help the poor ,and help the poor to realize their riches.We give and love without discrimination.
Our actions make us happy. If all six senses , eyes , ears ,nose，tongue ,and body , are open and clear,we are happy every day.Everything we hear ,everything we see,and everything we do makes us happy. Thus our Six Senses are liberated and we attain Dharma –joy.We are happy with what we do every day.
Everyone , we are truly fortunate to gather with all these good people in this large community of Bodhisattvas. So , always cherish your blessing. Of course , this is a result of creating blessings. Do not be lax , be diligent every day.
Please always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)