V 2-1: To Unite our Knowledge and Actions with the Virtues of Buddha 【谈佛德与知行合一】
Updated: Aug 29, 2019
Disclaimer: My translations are not official nor endorsed by 2OR, so please just treat it as a ‘fan-based’ translation based on my personal understanding of his teachings. The Buddha-Dharma is profound. No matter how you convey it, it won't be completely perfect. Because the Buddha-Dharma is an experience, it’s an awakening 【佛法深奥无比，怎么写， 都不会是究竟圆满。佛法是一种悟】. I am not an enlightened being like Master Lu, but I will treat his teachings with my utmost respect and do my best to convey and translate it to the best of my (limited) abilities for my friends and people who can’t read Chinese. Please enjoy and I hope it serves as a good filler until the official English version comes out.
In our everyday conduct, we must act and behave as if we are a Buddha, and express the character, virtues and nature of a Buddha so that we create the karma to attain Buddhahood. That’s because to attain Buddhahood; you must possess the karmic consequence of becoming a Buddha and also the qualifications of becoming a Buddha. Diligent cultivators who possess a highest level of spirituality would view Buddhahood as something that is also empty. This is because the highest level of spirituality is about pure selflessness. The karmic consequence of selflessness 【’无我’果】 is to be free from karma 【没有果】 because you’re selfless. Thus your nature is empty and unaffected by karma. Hence you will achieve the true karmic consequence of becoming a Buddha 【’真正’有果】. But if you are not completely selfless, you’ll be affected by karma 【果】, and you won’t attain the true karmic consequence of becoming a Buddha 【没果】.
Just thought that it would be best to illustrate this concept using an example. Let’s assume that you were walking down the street and accidentally bumped into somebody. They then decided to scold and shout racist and hateful remarks at you. From a Buddhist philosophy’s point of view, this was just a just a karmic consequence of something you did to them in one of your previous lives.
Because you still have a strong sense of self, you become offended and start arguing back at them and maybe even start punching and attacking each other. Hence you were affected by this karma due to your sense of self. Thus you’ve missed a chance to cultivate the karmic consequence of becoming a Buddha.
Now let us assume that the same scenario happened again but instead, you are completely selfless. The other person starts to scold and shout hateful remarks at you because this is the moment when that karma is triggered. However, because you don’t have a sense of self, you don’t take it personally, and you start thinking to yourself, “Maybe they had a bad day and just wanted to let off some steam. How pitiful, fine let them, I’m merciful. Everything is impermanent anyway; everything will pass.” Then although that particular karmic consequence has been realised, you are unaffected by it. Hence you’re able to accumulate the karmic consequence of becoming a Buddha.
The character, virtues and nature of a Buddha is one with the highest level of spirituality and is thus perfect enlightenment. If we want to achieve this Buddha-state, we must possess both a pure body and pure wisdom. To cultivate a pure body, one must adopt a lifetime vegetarian diet, a mind free from distracting thoughts, and keep the body well maintained regularly. When the body is purified, and after cultivating wisdom (as instructed in Volume 1:1), then you’ll awaken the Buddha-state. If your body is dirty, your mind is dirty, your conduct is dirty, and your spirit is dirty, how can you awaken the Buddha-state? Even Buddha’s light won’t be able to penetrate through.
To clear some misunderstanding, Master Lu here actually talks about two kinds of Buddha. One that is within us (as we all possess a Buddha-nature) and then there are also the Buddhas that exists in the outside world that blesses sentient beings (with light). I translated it as Buddha-state because our Buddha-nature is the qualities of a Buddha that resides within us, but when we can manifest it via our conduct, speech and thoughts, then we enter into a Buddha-state (temporarily).
For example, if you put an object inside an opaque case, how could sunlight reach it? It’s only if the case was made of glass, then sunlight could reach it.
To unite knowledge with our actions 【知行合一】 means that once you understood the principles of something, you must put it into action. If after you learned Buddhism and understood a lot about it, but you don’t practise it, then there is a disconnection between your knowledge and your actions. Conduct and knowledge must work in harmony, what you practise and what you learnt from Buddha’s knowledge must work in harmony. In other words, knowledge serves as a motive force behind your actions, and while practising, you will desire for more knowledge. While doing good deeds and advising others, you’ll experience a few awakenings to certain life principles and expand your knowledge in the process. That’s why you’ll receive knowledge by practising as well. If you know a lot, but you don’t put it into practice, then it’s the same as not knowing it at all. So please take note that after learning Buddhism, you must rescue other sentient beings far and wide.
Buddha once said, “If a person is obsessed with a certain viewpoint and deprecates other people’s viewpoint, then they are despicable.” Unfortunately, in this world, there are too many people who hold on to their view, opinions and what they’ve learnt too strongly, and deprecates other things. The wise and intelligent people describe them as being crippled by their own mind. Buddhist philosophy is not purely about theories and concepts, but a very pragmatic science. If after you learnt it, you don’t practise it properly, then you won’t resonate with the Bodhisattvas.
You must understand, if you are not an idle person, you mustn’t be idle. When you are doing something, you must strive to do the best that you can and complement it with virtues. If you’re only doing a simple and momentary act out of kindness, it doesn’t count as meritorious. If you did something persistently with the best of your abilities out of the pure sincerity and virtues of your heart, because this has exceeded the limits of what can be considered as just a good deed, it is deemed as meritorious.
People should take refuge in the three Dharma treasures that lie within them; they are the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Buddha, as we know, lies within us as our Buddha nature. Dharma lies in the realisation and practise of the Buddha nature. Sangha lies in observing precepts to keep our Buddha nature from being defiled. Thus, why should you take refuge in anybody else? You were originally a Buddha. During our path of Buddhism, we mustn’t indulge in things, because indulgence will lead us astray on to a path of evil. It’s because greed and the need for gratification are able to tempt you to commit evil. A person who’s able to use their wisdom to subdue their distracting thoughts and possess a high level of cultivation and virtues were called a sage in the past. While an ordinary person is ordinary because they let their distracting thoughts overwhelm them. Here is an advice to my disciples: The foolish will pay attention to the flaws of their teacher while the wise will pay to attention to the strengths of their teacher. Thus, there’s a Chinese saying: In a party of three people, there’s always someone whom I can learn from 【三人之中。必有我师】. There must be fragrant grass within ten steps (which means talented people can be found anywhere)【十步之内，必有芳草】.