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 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.
Following on, please take note of these three things to do: to seek the Buddha-nature, to pursue the Buddha-nature and to realise the Buddha-nature. The Buddha-nature is about finding the inherent nature of the Buddha. Only when you seek, can you see and finally realise the Buddha-nature. I’ll illustrate with a slightly inappropriate example. When you’re pursuing a boyfriend or girlfriend, the same applies. You first heard that this girl was kind-hearted. Hence you called her to ask her out, isn’t this called ‘pursuing’? After you met her, you found out that she really was kind-hearted. Then when your relationship developed and you gained her support, and you’re happy, isn’t this ‘realisation’?
Next, I’ll talk about what has merit-virtues and what doesn’t have merit-virtues. Many people like to say, “You’ve done this, so you have boundless merit-virtues.” Master has said this before, what are merit-virtues? When you say you have merit-virtues, then you have no merit-virtues. When you say you have no merit-virtues, then you have merit-virtues. When somebody says to you, “Oh, you have merit-virtues”, and you’re very happy about it, alright then you have no merit-virtues. To have merit-virtues is to have no merit-virtues, to have no merit-virtues is to have merit-virtues. Master tells you, merit-virtues must not be said casually, what is real can’t be said excessively. You must respect the Master. Pay respects to master and pay respects to the Way, and diligently cultivate, these are all meritorious deeds.
Birth is suffering. That’s because the moment of our birth is the beginning of suffering. When humans first came into this world, the first sound they make is the sound of crying. Life is the foundation of hardships. Humans came to the human realm to experience suffering. Here’s an analogy, even if you got a few pimples on your face, you already suffer. When soldiers stand up straight and their backs itch, they’re sweating a lot and unable to make a move, don’t you think that this is hard? Nowadays there are many tourist spots where people pretend to be wax statues, and they have to stand there and not move just for small earnings, isn’t this hard? Which job isn’t hard? Where in the human realm is there no suffering? Life is about separation from the people you love. Life is emptiness; suffering is emptiness and impermanence. In other words, when you came to this world, you were empty, and when you depart from this world, you’ll also be empty. You have endured and suffered so much, but in the end, all you receive is emptiness. Everything is impermanent. When humans die, Black and White Impermanence will catch them. Why is it called impermanence? It’s because it’s not long-lasting, you will disappear.
Life is the place where birth, old age, sickness and death and rebirth alternates. Here’s an analogy, a person is born, then becomes old, then becomes sick, dies then become reborn again. Anything, in reality, is just an alternation. Today we’re born, tomorrow we become old, the day after tomorrow we get sick and then the day after that we die. Then we arrive in the Underworld and wait to be reborn again as a human, then a new rebirth cycle starts. Life is just part of the rebirth cycle. That’s why don’t think that just because we are reborn as humans, we can enjoy life. In reality, it’s just the start of afflictions and hardships, and also nothing in this world is permanent.
Today Master will tell you a very simple principle, but it will be thoroughly analysed for you. That principle is ‘finding happiness in suffering’. To find happiness in suffering is a state of mind that arises from wholehearted cultivation. Wholehearted cultivation is to sincerely and honestly cultivate the mind. How does one transform suffering into happiness? Only by minimising desires can our mind become pure and possess an optimistic and non-seeking attitude to life. Only when a person’s desires are minimal, can their mind become pure. One must understand that contentment leads to long-lasting happiness, then you won’t suffer as much. To be honest when we are praying for a good career, good health and improvement in our family’s well-being, we are using our merit-virtues to pray. So it will expend our merit-virtues, just like how we are reciting sutras and offering Little Houses to repay karmic debts. To use merit-virtues to pursue wealth and worldly blessings is the most foolish action, it will create a loss of merit-virtues. Also, using merit-virtues to pursue wealth may not certainly lead to riches because wealth comes from one’s cultivation in the previous life.
There is a principle among heaven, earth and the universe. What is that principle? Master will explain using layman terms. When somebody is experiencing suffering, karmic forces will gradually transform, and our karmic obstructions can be gradually be diminished. Experiencing suffering can diminish karmic forces, thus this why Master tells you that you must transform suffering into happiness. When your karmic forces are diminished, don’t you become happier? The more somebody suffers, the quicker their karmic forces can diminish, then the worldly blessing will naturally come. That’s why there’s a saying called ‘when bitterness end, sweetness begins’. What’s so scary about experiencing suffering? People are here in the human realm to experience suffering in the first place. So what if you have to experience a bit of suffering every day? Many people aren’t able to endure it, people who can’t endure can't concentrate. If everybody can grit their teeth and experience a bit more suffering, and at the same time exert their utmost strength to perform meritorious deeds, then their prayers to the Bodhisattvas would be efficacious.
Master came down here with a mission, and am here to cultivate the mind in the human realm. At the same time when Master is helping you, Master is also helping himself. Many people learn and advance when they save others and propagate the dharma to others.
When people are enjoying their worldly blessings, they are depleting their blessings. When it’s gone, and during the period if they haven’t experienced suffering, haven’t performed wholesome deeds but created negative karma, what follows is misfortune and calamities. Take note, when experiencing suffering, you are transforming your mind. Only when people are suffering, would they think about changing their destiny, would they think of praying for Bodhisattva’s blessings. Transforming the mind is equivalent to transforming karma, and to take all the suffering in their everyday lives and transform it into happiness. There’s a saying that ‘there’s happiness within suffering, and that happiness is endless’. To perceive suffering as happiness requires a very high level of spirituality in the state of mind. Suffering is the cause of happiness; happiness is the consequence of suffering. It’s very hard going to work, but when you receive your salary, then you become happy, you can use the money to pay for the mortgage or go on a holiday. Only when you have planted the cause of suffering, would you think about praying to the Bodhisattvas, then when it becomes efficacious, you become happy, then doesn’t that mean that consequences have appeared?
To practise Buddhism is to be understandable of involvements. It’s by understanding that we practise Buddhism and expound it. Involvements require a kind of cultivated state of mind that propels us to take action. What we are learning right now are theories, so how do we manifest this in our actions? How do we manifest it when we are propagating the dharma and spiritually awaken others? Everybody must understand, that our understanding and involvements must be done in harmony. In other words, what we think and what we do must harmonise with each other, where mind and words unite as one. Practitioners must be able to perfectly express verbally and in action what they are thinking in their mind. To put simply, words and deeds must be consistent, that is very important.
The Buddhist practice and methods that Master is teaching you aren’t empty words. We must correct the universe, heaven and earth within our mind. Inside everybody’s mind resides a micro-universe, which is what we normally refer to as broadmindedness where we possess great aspirations, and great concern to our motherland, and great concern to the world. What Master is telling you is to cultivate the universe within you and become somebody who dares to venture to new territories and see how great the world is. Yesterday there was a listener, Master advised him to make a vow, and then he responded, “Master, what if I can’t fulfil the vow that I make, then what?” For these kinds of people, they lack the mental foundations to make vows. If you wish to vow, and your mind is confident that you’re able to fulfil it, then do so. Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva vowed, “Until hell is empty, I will not attain Buddhahood.” Is hell empty now? But because of this vow from a Great Bodhisattva, it allowed many spirits to be freed and reborn. But He has sincerely and honestly vowed, and he has attained Buddhahood. If you make a vow, your mind must be thinking that you can fulfil it. If you vow that you would do something to save others, then you must put it into action. If you aren’t able to accomplish it, that’s a different matter. But you must sincerely and honestly put your vow into practice; then you’re a Bodhisattva.
Master once said that as long as I live, as long as I still have a day to live, I must propagate the Buddha-Dharma, and spiritually awaken everybody in this world who has a karmic affinity. That is the power of my vow. Do you dare to say this in front of Guan Yin Bodhisattva every day? Master tells Guan Yin Bodhisattva every day that I must save all sentient beings in this world that has a karmic affinity. I can offer my life to make the vow to propagate the dharma. The greater the vow, the greater the merit-virtues one receives. The greater the vow, the greater the feedback. Master’s dharma powers are so great, do you know where it came from? That is the result of merit-virtues. The more people you save and the greater the vow, then your dharma powers and merit-virtues will increase in the same proportions.
Cultivating mind and behaviour is to cultivate the universe within our mind. If you haven’t experienced what real cultivation and what realisation is like, in other words, if you haven’t sincerely and honestly cultivated your mind nor realised the consequences of the cultivation, but you feel that you have cultivated successfully, then you are still limited to the bounds of understanding. You are still limited to just understanding theories, but you haven’t yet applied it in real life. Solely practising the techniques in the Buddhist practice but not cultivating the mind, will make one become more attached the more they cultivate. They won’t even know that they have deviated. For example, there was somebody who frequently says, “This person can see (something supernatural), that person can see, it would be great if I can also see.” There are two types of dharma; one is the Buddha-dharma, the other one is the demon-dharma. Just solely cultivating one aspect of the dharma, how do you know whether it’s the Buddha-dharma or the demon-dharma? If you don’t cultivate the Buddha-dharma, then doesn’t it imply that it’s a demon-dharma? If you cultivate the demon-dharma, then doesn’t it imply that you can’t possess the Buddha-dharma? The difference between right and deviations are very minute, likened to a clock, if it’s inaccurate then it’s not a good clock. That’s why you must also cultivate the mind and not just solely cultivate techniques.
If your cultivation of the mind has not yet been completed, in order words, it has not yet been corrected completely, then your mind is still transfigured, or even worse you might have gotten lost from the right path of cultivation. So you must constantly pay attention to it and keep your mind from being lost. Otherwise, you will always be trapped within samsara. Why is it that somebody can be so enthusiastic towards a certain person? They become kind of like in an obsessed state. Enthusiasm is fine, but when it’s in excess, it becomes an obsession, then one won’t be able to find their real self. Master tells you that you mustn’t let your mind become lost.
In reality, cultivating the mind is more important than cultivating the dharma. Cultivating the dharma is just something on the surface, for example, you can articulate the Buddha-Dharma fluently, sometimes you compliment this Buddhist practice, sometimes criticise another Buddhist practice, today you went to this temple to pay respects, tomorrow you offer incenses etc. If one doesn’t cultivate their mind, they won’t even know the most basic principles to be a moral person, then how can they truly understand the dharma? Master would rather prefer that you cultivate your mind than putting on a superficial show in front of Master. Cultivating the dharma is inferior to cultivating the mind because all dharmas stem from the mind. That’s why things that exist in the human realm are known as human-realm dharmas, all of it is created from the mind. What your mind thinks determines how your world appears to be.
I’ll illustrate this with an analogy, some people, when they go to a meeting, they might think to themselves, “Today, I have to bear with the leader’s criticisms.” When they enter the meeting room and sees other people’s faces, they would feel that everybody in the room is ready to gang up on them. Everything in this world is created from your mind. When you think that business is good, in reality, business is really good. Some people feel that their Feng Shui is bad, so they keep moving around objects inside their house and still feel uncomfortable about it. They don’t know that they should recite sutras to adjust and make changes. There’s a saying called ‘blessed people live in a blessed location’, that’s the principle. When a person’s mind is bad, no matter how great their Feng Shui is, it’s still useless. The mind is the dharma and dharma is the mind.
People who learn the dharma think of cultivating a variety of different things, but in fact, that’s not a good thing. Only Buddha-Bodhisattvas possess an innately-classless-right-dharma, so whatever dharma they cultivate are right. That is something beyond the three realms, and not confined within the bounds of the five elements. If a person who learns the dharma also learns these things, they will turn into a demon. It’s because this knowledge is too profound for them. For example, if middle school students want to learn in a class catered for PhD students, they wouldn’t be able to understand. But they insist on doing so, can they still learn? Yes, they can, but they will deviate. Finally, let me say this, a single thought, a pure mind, calm your mind down then everything will seem to have never happened.
To attain any level of success in cultivating the mind, it depends on the base of the mind. Only when a person’s mental base is kind-hearted could they be reformed. If a person’s mental base isn’t kind-hearted, no matter how much they cultivate, what they get is something deviated. Why is it when somebody is trying to cultivate benevolence what they cultivate out of it is malevolence? The crucial area that one must put most effort on is the mind. Cultivators of the mind must know how to use their mind to manage their benevolence and obstruct their malevolence and use Buddha’s wisdom to practise mindfulness of their conscience. Mindfulness is to your our mind’s eye to keep a close eye on one’s conscience and see whether the deeds one had done today were wholesome, unwholesome, or filled with fear etc. ‘Follow Buddha’s dharma-intentions and investigate one’s Buddha-consciousness’. One must regularly think to themselves, “Are the thoughts of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas present? Did the deeds that I performed today embody the consciousness of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas?”
Consciousness is thoughts. If you performed a deed today and your consciousness thought that what you did was good, for example, you were cultivating the mind, performing meritorious deeds etc., then you had embodied the consciousness of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas, called Buddha-consciousness. You must pay attention to your state of mind; the mind fluctuates when something occurs. A person’s consciousness is the thing that controls the physical body. That’s why you must remember to retain Buddha’s consciousness within your mind. You must take control of the consciousness and the behaviour within the mind. You must take control of the state of mind; you must learn how to adjust your mind, control it, then you can purify, transform and spiritually awaken your mind. To spiritually awaken is to gradually get rid of contaminants of the mind. Everybody possesses a demon within them, just like how everybody has some cancerous cells within their body. Only by defeating the demon within us, can we attain Buddhahood.