V 3-6 Fame and Fortune are Sources of Suffering; Suffering and Happiness are Empty 名利是苦，苦乐是空
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.
Today, Master will talk about cultivation, asceticism and blissful-cultivation. Do you think cultivation of the mind is arduous? Or do you think it’s blissful? What is considered arduous? What is considered blissful? Master is very strict with you, you may feel that it’s very arduous, but in the end, it will be blissful, happy and joyful. Firstly, let me tell you, pleasure in the eyes of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are empty. It’s because your happiness is temporary and not long-lasting. Let me illustrate this with an example, you are holding a banquet, and as the host, you are very happy. Everybody is sending you gifts, congratulating you and complimenting you, but in a few hours later when the banquet is over, you are still yourself. Where did that happiness go? Can it be retained? The happiness in the eyes of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are empty. That’s because all happiness in the human realm is empty.
Today, you went to watch a movie, you’re really happy, but when the movie is over, there is nothing left, everything is empty. What follows is real suffering. In the eyes of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas, all happiness in the human realm is empty. What Master is expounding now are concepts. Secondly, all suffering in the eyes of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas is also empty. When a person suffers a lot in the human realm, like being bullied by others, or lied to by others, or when a person feels insufficient regarding money or fame, or when their health isn’t good etc., all experiences of suffering are empty in the eyes of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas. It’s because everything is temporary. Would you suffer for a whole lifetime? When would suffering reach its end? When you die, perhaps then you’ll be liberated, and become free from samsara.
Assuming you’re 60 years old, or 70 years old, you have already suffered for so many years, tell me, do you still feel the hardships and suffering that you experienced when you were young? For example, when you were young, you carelessly fractured a bone in your leg. At the time, it was extremely painful, but could you still recall the pain of that incident? If you can’t recall it anymore, do you still feel the suffering of that incident? You don’t. That’s why Bodhisattvas perceive both happiness and suffering in the human realm as being empty. What Master just told you was only a part of the concepts of Buddhism, it’s to help you resolve the problems you face in your everyday life. I feel that every time I mention the level of spirituality of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas, not many of you could understand completely. I could only expound the Buddha-Dharma in laymen terms, so you can understand and then improve.
Master has uploaded his explanation of the level of spirituality associated with Bodhisattvas of the second ground and third ground on to his blog. Many viewers gave their feedback saying that they don’t understand. If one could expound the true essence of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas and could resolve the grudge within their mind, this person is a Bodhisattva. When Master talks about suffering and happiness, it’s for you to treat both concepts as equal, that suffering equates to happiness, and happiness equates to suffering. It’s because when you become too happy, in reality, what follows it is a kind of suffering, you understand? You have watched the New Year’s Gala before, why does the director play clips of places where disaster had occurred during the Gala? For example, when an area was flooded or affected by earthquakes, the director would play the clips and express their condolences to the victims. Why aren’t they allowing the full evening to be solely filled with happiness?
In the human realm, what is your happiness founded upon? Most of it is founded on suffering. It’s because you have experienced great suffering before, that’s why you know what happiness is. A person who doesn’t know suffering will not know what happiness is. If a child were treated like a king since they were born and had never gone through any hardships, they wouldn’t know what happiness is. When a person, who had struggled financially before and finally has money, they will feel that they’re very blessed. In the human realm, what is the feeling of suffering and happiness? Many people think that they’re very happy while there are also many people who think that their life is hard.
For example, when you were on holiday, did you have fun? Yes. But when you travelled over to the destination by car or by plane and had to sit for 5 to 6 hours, did you find it hard? When you start to ache and hurt all over from sitting for too long, was it arduous? What kind of suffering isn’t accompanied by happiness? What kind of happiness isn’t accompanied by suffering? Cultivation of the mind is the same. When you have yet to cultivate successfully, you’ll experience suffering. But when you have finally cultivated successfully, then you will feel very happy, isn’t it like that? When you recited sutras, you felt extremely vexed at the time, but after you have recited and your difficulties and problems are resolved, can you tell me whether you’re happy or not?
In the human realm when we have not realised yet, in other words, when a person hasn’t yet felt any feelings of happiness, then this person will still view suffering and happiness as being different, But once you have awakened to the principle, then you won’t perceive suffering and happiness as being different. Earlier, Master has mentioned that experiencing hardship is happiness, and when one is happy, it implies that one is experiencing hardship, that’s why there’s a saying, “Within suffering, there’s happiness, the happiness within is unlimited.” By tasting a bit more suffering, you would understand that happiness shouldn’t be taken for granted. By tasting a bit more suffering, you would understand the value of this sweetness. If you didn’t recite sutras today, where would your happiness be? That’s why one must have the right views of their suffering and happiness, that’s a very important foundation in Buddhism.
Next, Master will slightly say a few more things, don’t we have to view suffering as emptiness? In reality, it’s called ‘suffering-emptiness’, as suffering is emptiness. Happiness is also emptiness, it’s called ‘happiness-emptiness’. Both suffering and happiness are empty. When you live in this world, your existence is inherently empty, what is there to be happy about? What is there to complain about? All the suffering you experienced up to now are empty, so what can you complain about? Today, the happiness you experience is temporary, so what is there to be happy about? That’s why the Buddha-Dharma realm expounds that suffering-emptiness and happiness-emptiness are just phenomena.
All happiness in the human realm is derived from desires. What is happiness? Isn’t it just a fulfilment of a desire? When you eat something you like, you become happy. When the mouth craves for something desirable, that’s called a food-desire, that is the desire for food. Money, sex, fame, food and sleep are known as the five desires. When you have lots of money, you become happy. That’s known as money-desires. When you don’t have money and is unhappy about it, that’s also a money-desire, as it’s a desire. When you want to eat well, that’s a food-desire. Fame is about wanting to be a high-ranking government official or a famous person, that’s known as fame-desires. Sex here is about sexual relationships. Thus it’s called sex-desire. Sleep is also a desire. Some people don’t love money or fame but love to sleep, sleep is also a kind of desire, and it’s not good. If somebody wants to sleep all day and not willing to move, then it’s a desire for indulgences, it’s to seek peace for their mind and body. This kind of greed will make you waste a lot of your precious life and time in this world.
It’s because when you sleep, a lot of your precious time that could’ve been used to perform meritorious deeds, or to save and spiritually awaken sentient beings, is wasted. An older person who sleeps 6-7 hours is enough from a medical point of view. If an old person could sleep for almost a whole day, that’s considered as lethargic sleep. When Master is expounding the Buddha-Dharma, don’t mistake me as expounding medical knowledge. Money, sex, fame, food and sleep are all desires of the human realm. Happiness in the human realm is also a kind of desire, this kind of desire can appear today and disappear tomorrow, what it brings you is temporary happiness. This kind of happiness is worldly, and the nature of worldly happiness is temporary and narrow-minded. Narrow-mindedness consists of shallow-minded views and not enough tolerance.
A frog in the well is narrow-minded. Because inside the well, when somebody asks it, “Have you seen the sky?” It replies, “Yes I have, the sky is a circle,” that’s why it’s called a frog in the well. What should we learn in Buddhism? We must learn about possessing broad-mindedness that’s as vast as the sea, we must learn about its wisdom. Master regularly tells you to learn from Buddha-Bodhisattvas’ wisdom, but you haven’t learnt the true essence of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas. That’s why Master must use basic Buddhist general knowledge to guide you, so you can truly understand. Otherwise, it is pointless.
Firstly, Buddhists should reduce their worldly happiness, in order words, to slightly reduce the amount they sleep, to slightly reduce the amount they eat, to slightly reduce the amount they interact as a couple, and one must possess a pure mind and few desires. Take fame and fortune lightly, don’t pursue it. If there’s sufficient money to use, then it’s fine. One must understand that the pursuit for money is endless, the pursuit of eating desirable foods is also endless. When one has fame, they desire more fame. When one has a position as a government official, they want to reach a higher rank, when will this desire come to a halt? Today, you’re with this girl (or guy), and tomorrow you’re thinking about another girl (or guy). These kinds of desires will always expand unwholesomely, that’s why the Buddha-Bodhisattvas wants us to know that to learn Buddhism, one must be able to control their desires. One mustn’t possess these kinds of worldly desires. That’s because when your worldly desires are reduced you’ll develop a kind of mindfulness, where you’ll be able to sense the happiness that’s inside the mind, one that emanates from within.
“Today, I won’t desire this thing; my mind is content and happy. Today, whether or not I’m chosen to be the chairman, I’m indifferent. My mind is at ease.” At this moment, it’s when you truly feel blessed and happy. “Today, whether I have a lot of money or not, I will still properly cultivate.” If you can think like this, then you are a very happy Buddhist. Take note; you must reduce your desires, it is very important. We must be able to sense the happiness within our mind. When we can do this, our physical body, our vigour, everything you have and everything around you will change according to your state of mind. A person’s vigour emanates from within the mind, if it were the other way round, then this person would be considered mentally unstable.
A person who’s truly happy is somebody who’s able to smile, and this smile is something that emanates from within. “I’m content, I’m happy, I have no hindrances, I can let go.” Of the five desires, even if you can let go of money, you can let go of fame, you can let go of sex, and you can let go of food, you still have sleep that you can’t let go. Many people like sleeping; excess sleep isn’t good, do you understand? If you sleep for too long, you’ll become lethargic. If you don’t believe it, try and continually sleep for five days non-stop, when you get up you would feel like you’re directionless, maybe to the point where you couldn’t even remember anything. That is also a source of suffering.
Excess sleep is also a desire; this desire has to be removed as well. If you sleep too much, where would you find the time to recite sutras? If all you want is sleep, where would you find the time to save and spiritually awaken others? Take note, those who indulge in the five desires will not want to cultivate their mind properly. If you’re busy pursuing these desires, can you tell me how you would have a good state of mind to cultivate? Take note that we must practise self-discipline, what is self-discipline? It is to be strict with oneself. Many people think that what they’re doing isn’t wrong in the human realm. That’s correct; you are not wrong, that’s because you are human. What I want to do is how to transform you into a Bodhisattva, if you don’t have high standards for yourself, then that’s not enough, you must work hard to accumulate merit-virtues. Take this as an example, when you’re climbing up a mountain, don’t you have to put more effort? Then when you have put in a lot of effort, you still feel like you’re going up too slowly. That’s the principle. If you don’t move forward, see for yourself whether you’ll then retreat. Either you are forging ahead, or you’ll fall behind. Buddhists who have already walked on this Way must advance. Otherwise, they’ll be falling behind.
Those who desire for worldly pleasures won’t have time to cultivate their mind. You must set yourself high standards; you mustn’t have a bit of greed. Life is limited, and your vigour is limited. Only by committing your limited life to perform meritorious deeds like spiritually awakening others, would your life become limitless. Let me illustrate this with an example, and you’ll understand. There’s a teacher who worked in a nursery, and she was very old. But when she saw the children and played together with them, she didn’t feel tired and felt happy. She used her limited years and transformed it into the same innocence as the children. When this happened, she didn’t feel that time was too long. When we learn from the Bodhisattvas to save people, your life will automatically extend. When Master normally tells you off, it’s for your sake, just like how parents treat their child, if he doesn’t tell you off then it means he doesn’t treat you well and doesn’t feel that he has fulfilled his responsibility for you.
如果没有人讲你们，你们怎么学佛呢？你拜观世音菩萨，你们能悟得出来吗？观世音菩萨现在就是用师父在人间，来告诉你们，教你们如何修心修行。所以贪图世俗之乐的人，根本没有时间去修行，那么我们为什么要苦修行呢？我们不能快快乐乐的修行吗？苦修行就是要推动你进入修行之路，因为你知道苦了，因为你节制了，你才会找到光明，才会找到方向。举一个简单的例子，很多人在酒吧里喝酒，喝醉酒之后快乐吗？哈哈哈的笑。一出酒吧，路在哪里呀，找不到方向了，找不到回家的路了，对不对？ 如果在酒吧里没有喝多少酒，自己节制了， 头脑清醒的走出来，就会知道自己在哪里，知道自己该往哪里走，喝酒喝过头了，太开心了，就找不到自己的路了。
If nobody tells you off, how can you learn Buddhism? When you pay respects to Guan Yin Bodhisattva, are you able to naturally awaken? Guan Yin Bodhisattva is now using Master in the human realm to expound to you and teach you how to cultivate the mind and behaviour. If people desire for worldly pleasures, they don’t have time to cultivate. Why should we practise asceticism? Why can’t we cultivate happily? Asceticism is to propel us on to the path of cultivation. It’s because you understand suffering, that’s why you learn to be moderate, and then you’ll be able to see the light and the direction you should be heading towards. Here’s an example, many people drink alcoholic beverages in the pub. After they drink enough, aren’t they get happy afterwards? They laugh merrily. But when they exit out of the pub, they wonder where they should go. They have lost their sense of direction and unable to find the road home, am I right? If they drank in moderation inside the pub, they would still be clear-headed when they come out of the pub and would know where they are and which direction they should go. If somebody drinks in excess and become too happy, they won’t be able to find their path.