V 2-2: Master Lu talks about the Buddha-Dharma and Karma 【卢台长谈佛法与因果】
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.
I will discuss with you about the Buddha-Dharma and the power of the Dharma. Many people know that the power of the Buddha-Dharma is limitless, but if so, some people will ask the questions: Why are there so many natural and man-made disasters around the world? Why doesn’t the Bodhisattvas show mercy by saving the victims of these disasters? Why doesn’t the Bodhisattvas prevent these disasters from happening in the first place? It’s because the Bodhisattvas don’t tamper with karma. The karmic seeds we sowed that created the karmic consequences, either on a large scale or on an individual scale, are something we have to bear. No matter how great the power is of a Bodhisattva is, those who don’t have a karmic affinity with them can’t be saved by them. There are three circumstances where Bodhisattvas aren’t able to save a person:
1. If that person has no karmic affinity with Buddhism, then the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas aren’t able to help them. If the person has a karmic affinity with Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, then they can help them, and their powers can bless them. However, if a person with no affinity with Buddhism, in their hour of peril, prays to the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, a new karmic affinity with Buddhism will be born out of this, then it gives Bodhisattvas the ability to give help. If you don’t, they can’t help you.
I thought I would just elaborate on this as Master Lu mentioned that Bodhisattvas don’t tamper with karma, but disasters are a karmic consequence (collectively or individually). So why now does Master Lu say that Bodhisattvas can help you despite it is karma? In actual fact, the Bodhisattvas uses their power to convert the merits that you’ve accumulated from the previous lifetimes (which you’ll be unaware about) or cultivated in your present lifetime to save you. Everybody has different levels and kinds of cultivation, merits and karma when they were born into this Human realm, which is the reason why no life is the same. But this will be touched in a later chapter.
Here’s an example, if a selfish so-called Buddhist (who believes in Buddhism but doesn’t practise it) who had done a lot of bad things and prays for Bodhisattvas for help, although they have a karmic affinity with the Bodhisattvas, but because their merits would’ve been depleted and their negative karma is too great, they can’t be saved. Whereas, if a non-Buddhist who had accumulated merits in the past (in the present lifetime or previous lifetimes) decided to give it a go and pray to the Bodhisattvas for help, then the Bodhisattvas can use their merits to save them. That’s why accumulating merits are so important for a Buddhist practitioner because it not only helps them in the present lifetime but also in the future lifetimes.
2. Bodhisattvas can’t resolve karmic consequences that are predestined to happen in your present lifetime. What we had sowed in the previous lifetime is what we will reap in the present lifetime, that is fixed karma, which the Bodhisattvas can’t change.
3. Bodhisattvas are unable to rescue every single sentient people because not everybody has a karmic affinity with the Bodhisattvas. For example, today Master invites you to listen to my class, but you respond that you don’t have the time. Then how can I help you? The reason lies within affinity.
Just to add an extra point, although all sentient beings possess a Buddha nature, so everybody has the potential to awaken and enter a Buddha state, but everybody’s maturation of their karmic affinity with Buddhism is different due to karma and the degree to how much they are defiled by greed, aversion and delusion. So for those whose karmic affinity hasn’t matured, then Bodhisattvas aren’t able to rescue them.
In Buddhist philosophy, those who don’t display an affinity with the Buddha-Dharma are called ‘the soil of the great earth’ 【大地土】. Those who do display affinity with the Buddha-Dharma are called ‘the soil that rests in the palm’ 【掌中土】. As described in the name, thus, those people are already in the hands and protection of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. Fixed karma can’t be changed because it is something that was predestined from what you did in your previous lifetimes. What’s fixed can’t be changed. However, luck can be changed, although it can only be changed on an annual basis.
Illustrating this with an example, let’s assume you were destined to be collided by a car due to somebody’s negligence in a particular year (who would be considered as somebody you also accidentally hurt in the previous lifetime in Buddhist philosophy). This collision can’t be changed because it is fixed. However, in Buddhist philosophy, you possess the ability to influence how that collision or that negative karma affects you, which is by accumulating merits. Why are there some people who get killed immediately when collided by a car, while some were fortunate that although they got hit by a car, they were left unharmed?
Although Buddha’s power is limitless, it must still adhere to the law of karma. If you committed a lot of malicious deeds, the Bodhisattvas aren’t able to resolve your karma. Don’t think that just because you did some good deeds today, it would offset all the malicious deeds you did in the past. That’s impossible. Nothing can substitute the karmic consequence of something you did. To reject the law of karma is to reject the absolute truth of the universe and all realms, it is the law of Heaven. Just like if you committed evil deeds, you will definitely suffer from karmic retribution and suffer the agonies of Hell. Hell is just a place to carry out the law and punishment of Heaven. The Bodhisattvas are merciful, so why when they see so many spirits suffering, they don’t rescue them? It’s because of karma, and it can’t be tampered with. That’s why remember not to commit any bad deeds, do not sow negative karma seeds, if you do it, you’ll definitely suffer karmic retribution. You reap what you sow. When the Buddha-Dharma says that the power of the Buddha-Dharma is limitless, it’s only under certain conditions that it’s limitless. If it was used to rescue benevolent people, its power is limitless. If it was used to rescue sentient beings with a karmic affinity with Buddhism and possess goodness within them, its power is also limitless. There’s a Chinese saying, “The capture net of Heaven although is sparse, never leaks” 【天网恢恢，疏而不漏 】. Its meaning is that Heavenly retribution is slow but sure. As long as you commit a crime, you won’t escape from the punishment of the law.
As long as a person is sincere, they will resonate with Buddha. As long as they sincerely change, the Bodhisattvas will definitely resonate with them. All the disasters of the world are the effect of collective karma. When collective karma is triggered, and disaster happens, the Buddha and Bodhisattvas will save the victims who are good people. Why is it that some people who have the same sickness as others, some live while others die young? It’s because these young people have no affinity with the Bodhisattvas. The Buddha-Dharma must comply with the laws of Heaven, and comply with the law of karma. Karma can’t be tampered with; karmic consequences can’t be tampered with.
One’s karma is already written within one’s destiny. You can’t not cultivate. If you don’t change your destiny, then you’ll possess prejudice, greed and ignorance. Prejudice is where one feels they are right, greed is a desire for possessing anything and everything, while ignorance is not understanding the truth, and ignorant about things. We must learn to give and be charitable; this will subdue our greed. If when cultivating, you don’t totally get rid of your prejudice, greed and ignorance, then there will definitely be outflows.
Master tells you, your state of mind determines your future. A positive state of mind will create a positive future while a negative state of mind will create a negative future. Let us encourage each other in our endeavours.