Q1: From the previous session, Master Lu gave a very interesting illustration of the ‘worldly entanglement’. Describe the illustration.
A1: Karmic debts emit black threads that trigger obstruction and are connected to your karmic creditors; while Karmic rewards emit white threads that generate support and are derived from your karmic debtors. This, in essence, is Karma.
Q2: Our souls are trapped right in the middle of this karmic net that is bound by ________
A2: Our souls are trapped right in the middle of this karmic net that is bound by affinity (受着尘缘的牵制shòuzhe chényuán de qiānzhì), which controls the onward direction, thereby resulting in ups and downs of life.
Prior to our birth, our parents who are tied to this 'karmic net' have already started repaying their debts.
After we were born, this 'karmic net' is then attached to our siblings, friends and relatives, and teachers and classmates when we started schooling, and subsequently friends, spouse, children, colleagues and so forth. Each of them repays or claim their karmic debts one after another.
This 'net', in fact, represents the worldly entanglements.
Every day, at every moment, we are creating or experiencing new karmic affinities that stem from our heart (时时刻刻制造着或接收着新的缘分，缘由心起 shí shíkè kè zhìzàozhe huò jiēshōuzhe xīn de yuánfèn, yuányóu xīn qǐ).
Bodily actions, speeches and thoughts are the roots of karmic debts. New karmic debt will be initiated by any evil thought, evil deed or cursing of others, even if it is just a one-off. We will then be trapped in an even more tightly woven karmic net.
Q3: In this chapter, Master explained that the degree of one’s karmic debt and karmic rewards will have an impact on his life. How so?
A3: The greater the karmic debts or karmic rewards, the thicker the threads will be
The greater the karmic debts the greater the obstruction in life;
The greater the karmic rewards the greater the support one will receive.
Q4: According to the preceding chapters, we understand that repaying karmic debts is in fact to eliminate karmic obstacles and the key to doing this is to ____________.
A4: The key to eliminating karmic obstacles is to avoid the formation of new negative affinity through Dharma practice and cultivation.
Q5: In that case, should we avoid doing charitable good deeds since it will also succumb us to the ‘karmic net’?
A5: We must first understand the difference between charitable deeds and merits (善事和功德的区别shànshì hé gōngdé de qūbié). For charitable deeds to be recorded as virtues, the following criteria are to be fulfilled:
i. Make a vow in front of Bodhisattva.
ii. Perform the deeds with a pure heart. Do not hold any expectations to be rewarded. (心中并不期望得到回报，因为你的心是清净的 xīnzhōng bìng bù qīwàng dédào huíbào, yīnwèi nǐ de xīn shì qīngjìng de)，。
In this way, positive affinity will not be formed, and so does the karmic ties (不会结成善缘，也就没有尘丝 bù huì jié chéng shàn yuán, yě jiù méiyǒu chén sī.).
Q6: Name the methodology of Guan Yin Citta’s practice and why is it unique?
A6: It is a “practice of present life” (今生法) that focuses on repayment of karmic debts even prior to their maturity by means of virtues.
Cross reference 1 <Repay karmic debts even before its maturity)>
Wenda20180615 43:41 (an excerpt) (Master Lu’s call-in radio program)
REPAY KARMIC DEBTS THROUGH LITTLE HOUSE IS TEN TIMES BETTER THAN THROUGH OUR PHYSICAL BODY
Caller: Is there a proportion to the karmic debts that we could repay through Little Houses and through our physical body? How much can Little House and our physical body repay respectively?
Master Jun Hong Lu: The difference in proportion is too great. For example, you are able to repay 10% of karmic debts through Little Houses, the amount that you are able to repay through the physical body is only 1%.
Caller: Little Houses can repay so much? That’s 10 times more than the amount we could repay through our physical body!
Master Jun Hong Lu: That explains why some women get battered by their husband every day. They may have suffered a great deal physically, but it seems like their karmic debts are still not able to be cleared their whole life. It may very well be carried forward to their next life even. If they choose to recite Little Houses, it will spare them from this bodily torture. Hence, they would rather perform recitation than get beaten up.
When you get beaten up or scolded by others, these are also meant to repay your karmic debts. That said, nobody likes to be ill-treated so they would rather recite scriptures.
Caller: I get it now. No wonder there are many Buddhist friends...for example for a woman who is karmically indebted to her husband, after she recited many Little Houses for him, in the end, if its negative affinity between them, they will go separate ways. Otherwise, they would have to repay even more in real-life?
Master Jun Hong Lu: That is right. There is no end to the repayment otherwise! They will be bullied, ill-treated, scolded, suspected and battered their whole life, there is no end to it. If you rely on repaying your karmic debts through your physical body instead of Little House, when do you think you will ever pay-up?
Cross reference 2 <Repay karmic debts even before its maturity)>
Wenda20190201 39:29 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program)
DO WE HAVE TO REPAY OUR KARMIC DEBTS WITHIN A GIVEN PERIOD OF TIME
Caller: Is it true that we have to repay our karmic debts within a stipulated period? For example, a karmic creditor may be attached to a person to redeem the karmic debts for two years, causing him illness. Regardless if he offers Little House, when the two years are up, his karmic debts will be considered as cleared. Is this how it works i.e. based on the length of time involved?
Master Jun Hong Lu: That is right. It can either be within a period or on a permanent basis. With regards to the latter, the person may be expected to pay back for three, four or five lifetimes. This is also considered a time period.
Caller: Yes. For example, the time frame is supposed to be two years. If we will continue to offer Little Houses to them. Recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, make great vows, perform life liberation, recitation - by doing this, automatically this time frame would be reduced. Is that right?
Master Jun Hong Lu: Yes, that’s right.
Q7: What are the two “topic of assessment” of the Entrance Exam to Heaven?
A7: i. State-of-Mind (境界）
ii. Virtues （功德）
Q8: What is the “result” of mind-cultivation (修心的成绩Xiū xīn de chéngjī)?
A8: High State-of-mind (境界Jìngjiè)
Q9: In this chapter, Master Lu gave an illustration of how even a seemingly major act of kindness is not able to qualify the doer to ascend to heaven. What happens to the good this person did? and why?
A9: He will be rewarded with huge blessings (福报会很大).
In this illustration, he does not practise spiritual cultivation, he is hot-tempered and greedy, hence, he is still unable to ascend into Heaven.
Cross reference 1 <Importance of having a high state-of-mind (高境界Gāo jìngjiè）>
BUDDHISM IN PLAIN TERMS (Vol. 9 Chapter 20) - An excerpt
Master Jun Hong Lu: The cultivation of mind and morality (修心修行) is the only way to the path of Buddhahood. However, how do you get down to doing it? You must elevate your state-of-mind (一定要把你的境界提高Yīdìng yào bǎ nǐ de jìngjiè tígāo).
This is because you are not able to bring along your physical body with you, neither can you be represented through your words that you are a Bodhisattva. What you could take with you is your consciousness (意识 Yìshí), philosophy (理念Lǐniàn) and your state-of-mind (境界Jìngjiè). These are the things that warrant you the entry into Heaven and be a Bodhisattva.
Therefore, your mind should always be kept pure. Over time, your spiritual cultivation will ennoble you; your state-of-mind will be elevated, without you knowing it and you will become more and purer. Each time you come across someone who holds impure thoughts in their mind, you will immediately sense it. Do you understand? My aim is to cultivate all of you to be future Bodhisattvas in Heaven, AH!
Cross reference 2 <Importance of having a high state-of-mind (高境界Gāo jìngjiè）>
Master Jun Hong Lu: Confucius said, “The root of the world is in the state, the root of the state is in the family, the root of the family is in cultivating oneself (天下之本在国，国之本在家，家之本在身。这个身就是你自身 (Tiānxià zhī běn zài guó , guózhī běn zàijiā, jiā zhī běn zài shēn.)”. Therefore, we have to persistently elevate our state-of-mind and to perfect ourselves. A true sage will never get himself worked up over matters. No matter what is the issue at hand, with the wisdom in him, he will be able to clear them in an orderly manner.
Cross reference 3 <Importance of having a high state-of-mind (高境界Gāo jìngjiè）>
Wenda20171119A 40:41 (An Excerpt) (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program)
KIND DEED PERFORMED BY A PERSON WITH A HIGH STATE-OF-MIND IS VIRTUOUS. HOW TO TRANSFORM KIND DEEDS TO VIRTUE?
Caller: For a person with a high state-of-mind, he doesn't need to make a vow in front of the Buddha prior to performing any kind deeds for it to be automatically taken in as virtues.
Master Jun Hong Lu: Yes. This is because he is very pure and his mind is virtuous like a Bodhisattva. Therefore, whatever he does is virtuous and will result in meritorious blessings.
Q10: What is the “fruit” of behavioural-cultivation? (修行的结果Xiūxíng de jiéguǒ)
Wenda20170616 01:15:08 (Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program)
NOT ALL KIND DEEDS (善事) CAN BE TRANSFORMED INTO VIRTUE (功德)
Caller: Through reciting the mantra - Gong De Bao Shan Shen Zhou it can turn all our kind deeds into meritorious blessings (功德) with the condition that the deeds were done with all our hearts. Is there a certain proportion to this? Does it involve all kind deeds or only those kind deeds that are close to virtuous deeds in nature?
Master Jun Hong Lu: What you think is correct. Not all kind deeds can be transformed into virtuous deeds. Only those which were performed with a heart of compassion and a heart that goes all out to help sentient beings can be turned into virtuous deeds.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KIND DEEDS AND MERITORIOUS DEEDS (善事和功德的区别Shàn shì hé gong dé de qū bié)
What is the purpose of meritorious blessing ((功德))? All of us know the implications of karmic obstacle (业障Yèzhàng) and negative karma (孽障Nièzhàng). They are like viruses in a computer hiding in a person’s Alaya Consciousness (阿赖耶识Ā lài yé shì). When the right time comes, it will be incited and takes effect on the person. This explains why a perfectly healthy person would suddenly become critically ill, got involved in an accident or meet with a catastrophe. There are some whose negative karma is so weighty that their whole life is unfavourable, their complexion is dull. They are always blaming everyone and everything but themselves and continue to commit evil deeds and acts of killing in this life.
Even supposing that they have a residual karmic reward, their evil deed will also transform into negative karma, which will be deposited in the Alaya Consciousness. Alaya Consciousness is the Eighth Consciousness - the fundamental consciousness. In this level of consciousness, there are numerous seeds, which has the chance to trigger a person’s kind or evil behaviour (predominantly it refers to a person’s line of thought and behaviour).
For negative karmas stored in the Alaya Consciousness hereto, ONLY meritorious blessing is able to penetrate and counteract of which the effect of its purification. Like the stanza which states:
“The body is a Bodhi tree, (身是菩提树Shēn shì pútí shù)
The mind a standing mirror bright. (心如明镜台 Xīn rú míngjìng tái)
At all times polish it diligently, (时时勤拂拭 shíshí qín fúshì,)
And let no dust alight.” (勿使惹尘埃 wù shǐ rě chén'āi)
We are reliant on our meritorious blessing to brush away the dust in our mind. Hence one of the most important functions of meritorious blessing is to eliminate and counteract negative karma and that should be the primary objective of our Buddhist cultivation as only when negative karma is eliminated our heart can be tranquil and peaceful. Thereupon we gain wisdom, through which we stand a chance to be enlightened.
shuohua20131115A 08:32 (an excerpt)(Master Jun Hong Lu’s call-in radio program)
HOW TO DO TO OBTAIN GOOD FORTUNE (福报Fú bào) WITHIN THIS LIFETIME
Caller: A proverb goes, “If you want to know your past life, look at your present condition. If you want to know your future life, look at your present actions”(“欲知前世因，今生受者是；欲知来世果，今生作者是 Yù zhī qiánshì yīn, jīnshēng shòu zhě shì; yù zhī láishì guǒ, jīnshēng zuòzhě shì)”.
We wish to perform more virtuous deeds in this world, but unfortunately, we lack good fortune. Is there a way to hasten the materialisation of the blessings we have accumulated in this life, so that we do not have to wait only to be rewarded in the next?
Master Jun Hong Lu: To achieve that, the deed that you perform must be massive and profound; It has to be formidable. There are two types of karmic rewards/retributions that will take place within one’s lifetime: One is that you are an extremely good person, extremely kind, and the virtuous deed （功德）you perform is extremely great. For this, the karmic reward will come about this lifetime. For eg, you will see a sudden improvement in many aspects of your life.
Another case is, someone who is not supposed to be shot dead, but because he continuously does bad things or has many romantic partners - just like the emperors in the olden days. They should have enjoyed long lives. But, they have so many concubines, that’s why most of them do not live to a ripe old age.
There are two types of present life retributions/reward （现世报Xiànshì bào） - one is a great evil, the other is a great good. As for most of you, your just average in doing both good and evil, you can only go along with your fate and destiny （按照命运走Ànzhào mìngyùn zǒu）. To expect reward within this lifetime for such little kind deeds that you do is impossible.
Caller: That means, if we wish to transform our fate and destiny (命运得到改变), we will have to work hard to change ourselves.
Master Jun Hong Lu: Working hard is not enough. You have to work extremely hard. Only through dedication to progress (精进), extremely hard work and doing your utmost will you get to enjoy karmic reward within one’s lifetime (现世报).
Master Jun Hong Lu: Deeds performed after practising Buddhism are considered to be virtuous （功德）。 When you perform the deeds in the capacity of Bodhisattva, it is entirely a different concept from when you do it to cultivate good fortune and long life (修福修寿).
Virtuous deeds are deeds performed on the path of enlightenment, which means they are the deeds of the Bodhisattvas. Also, they are deeds that must accomplish the realm of Sound-Hearer, PratyekaBuddha, Bodhisattva and Buddha （成就声闻、缘觉、菩萨道和佛道Chéngjiù shēng wén, yuán jué, púsà dào hé fú dào）.
What does this mean? For the kind deeds performed in the human realm, we know that “Virtue has its reward (善有善报)”. Once rewarded, it will be over (报掉了，就没有了). Many people are into doing kind deeds. However, when calamity strikes, their kind deeds are not able to help them counteract the catastrophe （没有办法抵消掉灾难Méiyǒu bànfǎ dǐxiāo diào zāinàn.）.
Many people do not know the significance of meritorious blessings (功德）. They only know that these blessings can help eliminate calamities （消除灾劫Xiāochú zāi jié）. Hence, those people who survived car crash are those with meritorious blessings. On the contrary, if you were doing lots of kind deeds, you will not be able to escape such calamities because you have used up the fortune you gained.
The deeds you performed in the human realm is known as “virtue of the secular world (入世功德Rùshì gōngdé)” It is considered worthless. In performing any deeds in the human world, it has to couple with an ‘understanding of one’s mind and seeing one’s true nature’ (明心见性Míng xīn jiàn xìng). This means you will have to perform the deeds of the Arhat, Bodhisattva and Buddha for it to be regarded as virtuous.
We have to cultivate to discover our Buddha nature - this is true Virtue. Even if you are just making a meal, you have to think that, “I am a Bodhisattva, the ones I am cooking for are Buddhist practitioners。 I would have to take care of them“。 With this, the meal you prepared is virtuous.’ Instead, if you think “I am just helping them to cook a meal, then this will just be enjoying good retribution (善报) as you did not perform the deeds with your Buddha-nature. The reward you get may just be others telling you, “Someday, I will cook a meal for you too”.
Q11: Master Lu mentioned that behavioural and mind-cultivation are two-sides of the same coin. How is that so?
A11: Behavioural-cultivation (修行Xiūxíng) is a means to cultivating one’s mind (修心Xiū xīn) as it leads to further inspiration along the way that in turn help to improve one’s state-of-mind (提高了心的境界Tígāole xīn de jìngjiè).
Q12: Name the process one needs to undergo prior to being eligible to participate in the admission test to Heaven?
A12: i. Dharma learning and practice
ii. Clear karmic debts and disassociate ourselves from karmic affinities
iii. Gain eligibility to participate in the admission test to Heaven
Q13: What is the purpose of merit accumulation and spiritual cultivation?
A13: The purpose of merit accumulation and spiritual cultivation is to gain 'Wisdom', which in turn enables us to welcome new challenges and accumulate even greater merits along the path of cultivation.
Q14: Why do we have “Dream Test”?
A14: Dream Test is meant to help us gauge our level of practice so that we can adjust our direction accordingly along the journey.
Cross reference 1 <Dream Test (梦考 Mèng kǎo)>
Buddhism Your Questions Answered
Q: Master Lu, what kind of dream is considered a “Dream Test”?
• Dream Tests can be presented in many different forms. Generally, you will encounter a Dream Test after making a vow to observe certain precepts. Along the path of your Buddhist practice, Dream Tests are considered to be “pre-qualifying tests”, meaning that they help you understand the current level of your practice and guide you in adjusting the direction of your practice.
• For example, one may have a Dream Test after making a vow to adopt a vegetarian diet on the 1st and 15th day of every lunar month or for the rest of their life; to never steal again, or to refrain from sexual misconduct going forward.
• In Dream Tests, there may be scenarios which present fresh seafood or your favourite meat dishes to see if you give in to the temptation, or money on the ground to tempt your greed.
• If you are able to pass your Dream Test, your level of practice will rise, meaning that your wisdom, power and spiritual state will reach a higher level. Also, part of your karmic obstacles would be eliminated. However, once you have passed a Dream Test, you will still encounter other Dream Tests in the future. Passing one Dream Test does not mean that you will never be tested again.
• Suppose a person vowed to never go fishing again but broke
the vow in his dream, e.g. he dreamt that he went fishing and ate the fish that he had killed. This would then be a typical example of failing a Dream Test. While awake, this person might have consciously convinced himself not to go fishing. But doing the opposite in his dream reveals that his subconscious self has failed to resist the temptation. Although he broke his vow only in a dream and not in reality, he has still broken the law in the spirit world. As a result, he will experience some misfortune in the near future.
• When you fail a Dream Test, your level of practice will be downgraded. Since you have broken precepts in the spirit world, you should repent by reciting the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance. Generally, 49 times is sufficient. In particularly serious cases, you need to recite more, e.g. 108 times.
The most common Dream Tests are those related to eating meat or non-vegetarian food. If you consume meat in a dream, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 49 times; if, before swallowing the non- vegetarian food, you realised the error and spat it out instead, you are considered to have passed the Dream Test.
• If you have a Dream Test in which you commit killing of animals, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 49 times, as well as the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra to help the spirits of the deceased animals in your dream to ascend to a higher spiritual realm.
If you have a Dream Test in which you kill a person, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 108 times, and recite 21 Little Houses addressed to the “Karmic Creditor of <your full name>".
• If you have a Dream Test in which you commit a particularly serious case of sexual misconduct, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 108 times.
• If you dream about relatively minor wrongdoings such as lying or deceiving others, you can recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 27 times.
• On the day you fail a Dream Test, (within 24 hours after the dream starts), you can complete more recitations of the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance to specifically repent of this. For example, you can recite it 49 or 108 times within 24 hours.
• If 24 hours have already passed, then you should not do these extra recitations of the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance in a day. You can only split the total number into smaller portions and spend several days finishing them. Do not recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance over 7 times per day, as it will be difficult to cope once the karmic obstacles are activated. Therefore, it is best to split the total number of recitations over several days. You could also temporarily stop your daily recitation of the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, and instead, recite it 7 times per day to specifically address the issue of failing the Dream Test.
• After repenting, you should make the same vow again in front of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.