Lecturer: Master Cheng-Yan
Subject: When We Eliminate Wrongdoings, Blessings Arise (罪滅福生)
Buddhist practitioners have minds like the Buddha. On the Bodhisattva-path, we cannot abandon sentient beings. With pure actions, we return to the Saha-world throughout space, across all realms, without end.
Let us always make this type of vow. We are already learning Buddhism. More than just learning, we must return to the Buddha’s state of mind. All beings are full of afflictions and ignorance, so we must go back and focus on spiritual practice. Our practice beings with walking the Bodhisattva-path. The Bodhisattva-path is an easy path. Some people say walking it is very difficult. As long as you bring forth the Buddha-mind and have love, naturally all your behavior will be in accord with the Bodhisattva-path. After loving thoughts arise on this Bodhisattva-path, we cannot bear to let sentient beings suffer, we cannot bear to let them be ignorant, we cannot bear to let them create bad karma, and we cannot bear to let them fall. Because of our love, we cannot bear it. We cherish them, so we cannot abandon them. We want to always be among the people; though amidst the billowing red dust, we still must purify our minds bit by bit. We have been constantly talking about repentance. Repentance is a practice of being vigilant and self-reflective. After we repent, we dedicate merits and also make vows. Making vows and dedicating merits shows we are not practicing only to benefit ourselves. In our practice, we must work with people and benefit others. But interacting with people brings defilements. We need to keep our minds pure so we can return to the Saha-world. So the goal of our spiritual practice is purifying ourselves as we help purify others. After attaining purity, we return to the Saha-world. So, Tzu Chi volunteers always say, “Go and come back quickly.” When our affinities here end, we quickly leave this world, and then we want to quickly return. This is our vow, to repeatedly return to the Saha-world to help transform those who have connections with us. How long do we remain here? How long do we endure this world of suffering? We must make a great vow that is not limited by time. Our vow reaches across the universe and all realms, no matter where they are. Cyclic existence is filled with suffering, but if we do not venture into Hell, who will? I hope everyone can realize this. Come, let us look at this next passage.
“Just as all Buddhas and Bodhisattva make vows, cultivate blessings and wisdom and dedicate merits, we will likewise make vows, practice, accumulate and dedicate merits throughout space, throughout all realms of sentient beings, till sentient beings’ karma ends, till sentient beings’ afflictions end.”
Our minds should be like those of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.The vows we make must also be like theirs.So he writes, “as they make vows, accumulate blessings ad wisdom and dedicate merits.”The Buddha did these things.We emulate the Buddha in making vows, and “we practice, accumulate and dedicate the merits.”Practice is spiritual cultivation.Who knows how long ago we created this affinity with all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas!We have been born into the Human Realm and are fortunate to encounter the Buddha-Dharma.
It is because of our karmic conditions that we have this opportunity for spiritual practice.No matter how much we practice, whether a lot or a little, we collect and accumulate every bit and dedicate these merits.We dedicate them to all sentient beings.We have been talking about dedicating merits from self to others.
So let us constantly practice and and benefit others.We do so for the sake of suffering sentient beings.We constantly reflect on ourselves, and motivate ourselves.This is coming “from self”.Let us establish our resolves.When we make this kind of vow, we must first place demands on ourselves.The vows we make are to benefit sentient beings.This is dedicating merits from self to others.“We practice, accumulate and dedicate merits.”Everything that we have been cultivating should be gathered together for the sake of all sentient beings.
“Throughout space and all realms of sentient beings, till sentient beings’ karma ends, till sentient beings’ afflictions end.”
What we pray for is that throughout space, across all realms of reality, the Buddha-Dharma will always be available.The Dharma can cleanse all sentient beings and all realms of reality.
All realms of reality include time, space, and relationships.We can purify these realms of sentient beings with the Dharma, “till sentient beings’ karma ends”.
Hopefully after sentient beings accept the Dharma, they can cultivate good practices.Thus, karma comes to an end.“Till sentient beings’ afflictions end.”Sentient beings experience so much suffering because of their afflictions.How can we fully eliminate the afflictions of sentient beings?We need to make vows and dedicate merits.We make the same vows as Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, dedicate merits throughout all realms of reality, so that all minds may be purified.So, we must make vows, engage in spiritual practice, and dedicate merits until we reach the end of all space.This is a very grand vow.
“We will practice and dedicate merits without end.”
“Having made our vows and dedicated the merits, with deepest sincerity and faith, we pay respect to the ever-abiding Three Treasures.”
“We practice dedication of merits without end.”
Throughout all realms of sentient beings, our spiritual practice and dedication of merits will never end.This is a tremendous vow.We want every thought to be a good thought, every deed to be a good deed.If our direction is correct, every step is correct.We can do this because of the power of the Buddhas’ and Bodhsattvas’ compassionate vows.This why we follow in their footsteps.
“With deepest sincerity and faith, we pay respect to the ever-abiding Three Treasures.”
The Buddha-Dharma relies on the Three Treasures, which are the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.The Buddha is the Enlightened One of the universe.The Dharma He expounds is the ultimate teaching.All truth in the universe is contained within the Dharma.The truth of the Buddha-Dharma is the origin of all truth in the universe.
So, right now we should turn to the truth of the Great Enlightened One. People are needed to pass on this truth. That falls to the Sangha. They make the vows that the Buddha made, they practice what the Buddha practiced.Thus this Dharma lineage is able to continue on and our Wisdom life can abide in the world forever and our Wisdom-life can abide in the world forever. So, when we make vows, we need to be very reverent and sincerely pay respect to the ever-abiding Three Treasures.
Every day we must pay respect to the ever-abiding Three Treasures. Actually, every minute, every second, we need to constantly pay our sincere respect to the Three Treasures of our intrinsic nature. Everyone has these intrinsic Three Treasures. So we need to have self-love and self-respect.
If we look at people with the Buddha-mind, we see everyone as a Buddha. So, we must always respect everyone. That is how we can elevate our pure and undefiled minds. To be close to the Buddha, to closely follow in the Bodhisattvas’ footsteps, all depends on whether or not we can always keep our minds this pure. A pure mind is our ultimate goal as Buddhist practitioners.
So,“ Dharma as Water” is about how we can cleanse our minds. It first help us understand how small evils can accumulate and become great evils. When small habitual tendencies are accumulated, they turn into unforgivable wrongdoings. Thus we know that all evils in sentient beings arise from the defilement arise from the defilements in our minds.We need to wash away these defilements. We must wash our minds clean. What do we wash them with? With Dharma.
When things are dirty we wash them with water. When minds are dirty we wash them with Dharma. The Water Repentance is split into three volumes.The three volumes of the text end here. Although the words are limited, the Dharma is limitless. So, always use this Dharma like water to constantly cleanse your minds. The next passage was written in praise of the Water Repentance.
“Repentance is cleansing thus it is named Water With deepest sincerity we prostrate and clear away the roots of transgressions.When we eliminate wrongdoings, blessings arise. The Wisdom-sun illuminates everything. Our enlightened nature is perfect and clear.
Repenting is like washing something. Thus, we compare the Dharma to water and call this the Water Repentance.We know that repentance is the practice of washing our minds. To wash our minds we use the Dharma. So this classic text, this repentance text written by Master Wu-Da, is named the Water Repentance.“ With deepest sincerity we prostrate, and clear away the roots of transgressions. ”
We must prostrate with deepest sincerity. True repentance is practiced in both body and mind. Regardless of your religion, once you become a follower of that religion, it has certain ceremonies for repentance, prayers, etc. These are physical practices. Though this is only an outward appearance ,we use it to manifest the truth.If we do not manifest these appearance ,
how can we show that the principles are correct ?
So ,these ceremonial practices must be fully expressed to show that we have fully cleansed our hearts. Thus we need to be vigilant and more diligent in our behavior.Clearing away the roots of transgressions requires that we constantly repent intermally and externally.If we can clear away the roots of transgressions,we “eliminate wrongdoings , give rise to blessings”.
Once we eliminate wrongdoings, blessings arise.
This is like putting clean water in a leaky bucket.Over time , dust will cover it. The water will leak out and the filth will accumulate.So ,after we wash away that filth ,the clean water we can absorb is the Dharma.Once wrongdoings are washed away ,the Dharma we absorb is blessings and wisdom.We give rise to wisdom and blessings.
It says ,“The Wisdom –sun illuminates everything,our enlightened nature is perfect and clear. ”We become enlightened with the Wisdom –sun.Once we wash the filth from our minds ,the mirror in our minds is clearly revealed. The Wisdom –sun hangs high.When this mirror faces that light ,it can reflect it towards the entire planet .
Look at people in the past. If a room wash dark,they did not light a candle. They would place a mirror on their rooftop.They put glass among the rooftiles ,which allowed the reflected light to shine in then they used another mirror to reflect that ray of sunlight into dark corners.
Though this mirror did not directly face the sun ,its reflected light could illuminate dark corners. The Wisdom –sun can illuminate everything,both directly and indirectly. Once we clean the mirror in our minds ,we can illuminate the whole world. If all our mirrors are clean ,this illumination will be universal.As for our enlightened nature ,it is as vast as the sea. In particular , it is perfect , clear and very pure. Thus it is pure and tranquil.
Everyone ,there is nothing profound about learning Buddhism. It is all about our daily living.
If our direction in life is correct ,then everything we do is proper, with Right Dharma , Right Thinking , Right Actions , etc.Everyhting will be right.
So , we need to repent the Obstruction of Karma. We face many obstacles of karma.So many of the obstacles in this world are the result of the karma we have created. Due to the affinities we created in the past ,we now face many obstacles that manifest in the things which encounter. These obstacles were not created by other people. We ourselves accumulated them in the past. If a cloth is ripped or dirty,we need to wash it clean,In ancient times , Venerable Kanaka used Samadhi-water to wash away the enmities that Imperial Preceptor Wu-Da created in his past. That is how we came to have the Water Repentance. Master Wu-Da wrote the Water Repentance and circulated it to repay the kindness of Venerable Kanaka ,who washed away his karma with Samadhi-water and helped him create his repentance text.
So ,let us also be grateful for Master Wu-Da.Because he knew to repay grace,we have the words of the Water Repentance to help us be more vigilant.
The words are like mirrors. Each mirror is alerting us. So I hope that the enlightened nature in all of our minds ,this bright and wondrous light,can illuminate everyone and everything.
Everyone , it has been so long. Please do not fail to repay Master Wu-Da’s creation of the Repentance,or the grace of all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas ,who return to Saha – world to save sentient beings.
So, Please always be mindful.
(Source: Da Ai TV 靜思晨語 法譬如水)