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.
Why must we practise asceticism? It’s because asceticism can alleviate your level of spirituality and cause it to increase. You keep saying that you are increasing your level of spirituality, then how does one increase their level of spirituality? What is the level of spirituality? One’s level of spirituality can’t be seen and is intangible. Some people had just arrived in Australia; they don’t have any level of spirituality. When they go to public toilets, they take with them other people’s tissues back home. When they add fuel, they don’t pay and drive away. They casually spit on the streets, all of this behaviour indicates a lack of spirituality. After living in Australia for some time, one’s level of spirituality will naturally ascend. Would one still take other people’s tissues? Would one still drive away without paying for fuel? Would one still casually spit on the streets? That is known as the implicit level of spirituality, it’s because the person has learnt that everybody bears responsibility for the protection of the environment and hygiene, that’s why their level of spirituality will acclimatise with the environment (external conditions) and naturally ascend. It’s because a clean place will not have anybody casually spitting in public space, that’s why the person will also learn to refrain from doing it, that is ‘level of spirituality’. It’s because you know that many people are suffering right now, that’s why we must save and spiritually awaken them. When your level of spirituality increases, you’ll possess the same level of spirituality as the Bodhisattvas’, the principle is simple to understand. But one must first increase their level of spirituality, and not concerned with the indulgence in material goods. “Today, I’m already driving a high-quality car; I want to drive something even better.” Or, “Today, I already have something to eat, but I want to eat more,” or, “Today, I have slept already, but I want to sleep a bit more.” Many people who can’t get up, would think to themselves, “Wouldn’t it be great if I can lie for a bit more.” These are all classified as desires.
Good times pass by very quickly, while bad times seem to pass very slowly. That is why time seems to pass slowly in the underworld, while time seems to pass quickly in heaven. In reality, heaven and hell already exist in the human realm. People who are locked in prison would feel that every passing day seems like a year to them. While people who are happy every day and indulge in worldly pleasures would feel that time pass very quickly. That is the human realm’s version of heaven and hell. Ascetism, in reality, is about learning to restrain oneself. It is about restraining oneself so that they can focus their spirit. Just like how a student is doing homework at home, because they aim to qualify and be admitted to a top university, they would tie themselves up, lock themselves in the room and move away all distractions like TVs, video games, telephone etc., all to keep their mind focused on learning, and so they can concentrate.
Master will now tell you a real-life story. A parent, for the sake of helping his child to be admitted into one of Sydney’s best universities, for four years, he hasn’t watched the TV nor read the newspapers. He stored the TV and other distractions away; no one was allowed to watch it, now that is self-restraint. You are following Master to learn Buddhism, has Master required you to restrain yourself? If Master didn’t teach you to restrain yourself, then you will look at other things, and your thoughts won’t be focused, and you won’t be able to cultivate wholeheartedly and single-mindedly. Restraining yourself will cause you to focus, so you’ll be able to attain higher concentration. In other words, people who can practise self-restraint are people who possess the power of concentration. “I want to learn Buddhism so I must practise self-restraint, I mustn’t mindlessly watch, or mindlessly think or mindlessly speak, I must not have distracting thoughts. I pray that Guan Yin Bodhisattva can help me remove my distracting thoughts.” Guan Yin Bodhisattva will definitely help you. Take note that practising self-restraint and asceticism will help you attain the wisdom of suchness, the wisdom of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas. When a person can concentrate, they will develop wisdom.
You must restrain yourself at any moment; you are a Bodhisattva, you have an image, even when you smile, you can’t mindlessly smile, you must learn to control yourself, that’s self-restraint, that’s learning Buddhism. One must have dignity; self-restraint is very important, the power of concentration depends on self-restraint. You mustn’t mindlessly think about something you want to think about; you mustn’t mindlessly eat something you want to eat. When you follow Master in learning the Buddha-Dharma, you must restrain yourself; if you want your cultivation to succeed, you must restrain yourself. Only by controlling yourself can you bring out the dharma-bliss within your mind. It’s because after you have controlled yourself, the kind of happiness you experience is something that stems from within, not the kind of superficial eye-catching happiness. For example, when you eat something you like, that kind of happiness is temporary. That’s because you can only sense and taste the food you ingest on your few-inches-long tongue, but after you swallowed it, you no longer have any feelings, right?
Then it means for the sake of your few-inches-long tongue; you indulged, what meaning is there to this kind of happiness? When your mind is happy, it’s known as tranquil happiness, because this happiness is in a state of tranquillity and peace. This kind of happiness can be maintained for a long period, you learn must these kinds of things. Master has not let down Guan Yin Bodhisattva. If people around the world address Master as a Bodhisattva, then it means he has done it right. If people around the world scolds Master, then it means he has done wrong. Master is devoting his life in exchange for your respects to the Bodhisattvas and love for Guan Yin Bodhisattva, we are saving others, and we are practising a blissful-cultivation. What is blissful-cultivation? It means we must use happiness to cultivate. Although people may see us as practising asceticism, in reality, we are happy, that’s blissful-cultivation. When you are helping others, are you happy or not?
Like how some people say to me, “Master Lu, you’ve been a vegetarian for so many years, life must be very hard for you, you can’t even eat any seafood, you’ve wasted your life here in the human realm.” What’s your opinion, do you think that Master’s happy? Of course, he is. Some people said he looked thin, but he replied that it’s a healthy-kind of beauty, many people want to slim down but can’t. We live very happily, how others see us are unimportant, what’s most important is how happy we see ourselves. If we think that we’re happy, then we are happy, you understand? Saving and spiritually awakening sentient beings are the happiest thing to do, and the greatest thing to do. If today, you can spiritually save somebody, then it’s better than building a seven-storey pagoda. You must live meaningfully, so when you’re alive, others will respect you, and when you die, others will commemorate you.
If we can control, restrain and cultivate the five desires in this world with discipline, then we will experience blissful-cultivation. The five desires were already mentioned previously; we must not desire for fame or fortune, we must restrain and control it. We clearly mustn’t eat meat, but if we can’t control it, then eat less. If we can’t do that, then we must use rules to control it, for example like doing our best to eat a vegetarian diet for a whole day for the 1st and 15th day of the lunar month. That is a kind of rule to control it, so that we start by adopting a plant-based diet for two days a month, and then ten days a month, and then maybe try doing it for a whole month, then finally become a life-long vegetarian. Let the urge to cultivate the mind come naturally, so that we naturally accept like, like becoming a vegetarian, and then one will naturally control their different kinds of desires. That’s blissful-cultivation.
Every day when you wake up naturally from sleep, doesn’t it feel comfortable? If you don’t naturally wake up from sleep but forced to wake up because of the alarm going off, don’t you feel upset? Cultivation of the mind is to cultivate natural things. Treating others are the same, it should be natural, to adopt a vegetarian diet should also be a natural process. “I’m not greedy for money; I do things naturally. I’m not greedy for sleep, I do things naturally,” that’s what cultivation of the mind is about, that’s what cultivation of one’s nature is about. If others didn’t know, they might misunderstand that Master is teaching you the way of preserving one’s health. Cultivation of the mind and preserving one’s health is the same, cultivators of the mind will live long in the human realm. If you avoid making contact with the world’s five desires and six defilements, you’ll live very long. There’s a saying, “Walk one hundred steps after finishing your dinner and you will live up to ninety-nine years old.” That’s a way of preserving one’s health. Don’t get angry after encountering a frustrating incident, that’s also a way of preserving one’s health. That’s why we must seek spiritual happiness, not physical happiness. Physical happiness ends quickly end while spiritual happiness lasts forever.
What we are pursuing is a kind of spiritual love, not one based on the physical, nor is it based on the human realm’s impermanence, nor is it a kind of love based on suffering where true happiness is found. You must understand true happiness is found in a person’s mental state. If you are mentally sufficient, then you are happy. The reason why you are suffering is that you are mentally insufficient. One must naturally produce happiness. When one’s energy is sufficient, they will produce happiness. One’s energy becomes sufficient because one is very pure and happy. When one’s energy is sufficient, they won’t develop illnesses; they are very happy. Just listen to the voices of the people who are sick, their voice is weak, which indicates a lack of energy. Why does lack of energy occur and become insufficient? It’s because of suffering and obstructed thoughts.
That’s why Buddhists should learn how to keep their energy sufficient; then it will bring mental bliss because it’s an expression of what’s within. Master tells you that its internal form of expression is relaxed-peace. Just then he mentioned tranquillity; now it’s relaxed-peace. In other words, when a person is happy, they’re in a state of relaxed-peace, or relaxation. When one isn’t stressed, they are relaxed. Why do people start humming? It’s because they don’t have afflictions, they’re happy.
If a person is illiterate, it doesn’t matter, but they must not be unreasonable. People who are unreasonable are ruining their life. The happiness of worldly people depends on what they encounter, while cultivators’ happiness is dependent on the level of contentment within their mind. When they are content, they are happy; if they aren’t content, then they experience suffering.
Next, Master will talk about the word ‘clear’. We regularly say that one must think clearly, what does it mean? Also, what does it mean to think unclearly? The word ‘clear’ is about how you think, everything stems from the mind, so in the end, it’s how you think. If you don’t think clearly, then you’ll keep thinking about it, and there’s no outlet for it. If you think clearly, then after you think, the thought is gone. What is ‘clear’? It indicates that your meridian channel is clear, your brain, your heart and your whole body is clear, so your fortunes will be good. People who think clearly will not develop any illnesses because their qi channels are clear (all opened).
Everybody must thoroughly know themselves. Many people still don’t know themselves, and also thinks they are extraordinary, “I am this and this.” Who are you? You must thoroughly know yourself, in reality, it’s to get to know of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas. It’s because when you truly understand your inherent nature, which is your original source, then you’ll understand the Buddha-Bodhisattvas.
People who regularly blame themselves are usually able to receive other’s sympathy. “Oh I made a mistake, I’m sorry.” Then others will forgive you. “I’m like this, so what?” Then who would forgive you? If one doesn’t know themselves, and regularly blame others, they will suffer unspeakably in the end; they don’t even know what they’re doing is right or wrong. People who regularly complains that this is bad or that is no good would cause others to say that they’re in the wrong, and they suffer in the end. So don’t say bad about others. Otherwise others will say bad about you. As a result, you suffer. Why would others talk about you? It’s because you talked about others first, so they started talking about you. This is one of the basic principles of the human realm; it is also one of Buddha’s principles. If a person can regularly only blame themselves and forgive others, then this person is a Bodhisattva.
Forbear what normal people can’t forbear, do what normal people can’t do, it’s known as ‘Mahavira (great victor)’ in the Buddha-Dharma. “I’ll do what others can’t do, when others slander me, even if I can’t forbear it, I’ll still forbear it. Many monasteries possess a Mahavira hall when it enshrines representations of many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. What is one of the foundations of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas? It’s that they forbear what normal people can’t forbear, and do what normal people can’t do. After learning Buddhism, if you have separated from your unwholesome habitual behaviours, then you won’t do bad things anymore, you won’t think unwholesome thoughts, you get closer to worldly blessings. Do you want to be blessed? Do you want to improve your wellbeing? If you can change your unwholesome habitual behaviours, then you become blessed.
Buddha-Bodhisattvas are enlightened sentient beings. It’s because when you, a sentient being, become enlightened, then you transform into a Buddha-Bodhisattva, while sentient beings are unenlightened Bodhisattvas. Are you a sentient being? Do you possess Buddha or the Bodhisattvas in your mind? But you aren’t enlightened yet, so you can’t be called a Bodhisattva, only a mortal.
People who are narrow-minded will have a lot of afflictions. If they are also intolerant, their afflictions become greater. People who are greatly tolerant possesses abundant wisdom. Some people like to pick a fight, but if the other person doesn’t quarrel or react, then they are very wise, they are tolerant. If they also argue back, then it means they possess a low level of spirituality. If both couples argue with each other, then it means both of them possess a low level of spirituality.
The Buddha-Bodhisattvas said, “Refrain from committing unwholesome deeds, cultivate all wholesome deeds, purify the mind.” Perform everything that is considered virtuous, while refrain from doing anything unwholesome, and one must properly transform all thought into pure thoughts; then they are a Bodhisattva. If everybody makes their best effort in performing virtuous deeds and not does any unwholesome deeds, where would you find evil in the human realm? Everywhere in the human realm will be filled with love and joy.
愚痴的人，一直想要别人来了解他。这就是愚痴的人，你知道吗？ 我很好的，我过去怎么样怎么样的，只有愚痴的人才会这样做，这样说的，愚痴的人总想让人家了解自己。而有智慧的人，却努力的了解自己。经常了解自己的人，才是一个有智慧的人，因为当他了解自己的时候，他就知道自己应该怎么做了，他就知道自己所做的一切是对还是错，这就是有智慧的人。没有智慧的人，傻傻的，总想让人家来了解自己，有本事自己了解自己，把自己了解清楚。以为自己很聪明，跑出去给人家不停的讲，这个世上没有一个比你笨的，你讲出来，你就是这世上最愚蠢的人, 菩萨不会要一个不肯承认自己错误，而造出因果的人。因果是担当、承受，所以学佛要学要领，学精神。
A foolish person constantly wants others to understand them, that’s an act of foolishness, you understand? “I’m very good, in the past I’m this and that.” Only foolish people will act and talk like that; foolish people generally want others to understand them. While the wise will make the best effort to know themselves. People who regularly understand themselves are people who possess wisdom. That’s because when one understands themselves, they know what they should do, they then know whether everything they do is right or wrong, that is wisdom. People with no wisdom are foolish and want others to understand them. If you have the ability, know about yourself first and gain clarity. They think they are clever and constantly go to others and talk about themselves. In this world, there is nobody who is more foolish than you, but when you act like that, you are the most foolish person in the world. Bodhisattvas will not help somebody who is not willing to admit their faults and constantly create more karma. One must bear responsibility for their karma and accept it. That’s why one must learn and assimilate the spirit of the Buddha.