V 1-10 Methods to Prevent Karmic Obstacles from Forming 阻止业障产生的方法
Disclaimer: The translations are not official nor endorsed by 2OR, so please just treat it as a ‘fan-based’ translation. 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】. Please enjoy, and I hope it serves as a good filler until the official English version comes out.
All our thoughts and behaviours in this life may bring about karmic obstacles. Greed, anger and ignorance, attachment to self and others are all sources of karmic obstacles; how can we prevent them from forming?
First is to rely on moral discipline. That is, to change our shortcomings, habits, temperament and to rid ourselves of greed and anger. Humans have a wide array of habits and temperaments. Some people justify their behaviour, “I am a straightforward person; I always speak my mind.” Is that acceptable? If pretending you know something that you don’t is considered a negative form of verbal karma, then there’s no need to mention showing disrespect to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If you don’t make any changes nor morally discipline yourself and continues to drink and consume meat, how could you cultivate your mind? Moral discipline forms the foundation of the Three Studies: Observing precepts, Concentration and Wisdom. Only when we change and discipline ourselves can we reduce the formation of karmic obstacles; through which we attain concentration so that we can resist temptations and shun ignorance, then from it develop wisdom.
After taking disciplinary actions on our major shortcomings, the next step would be to adopt the elevated application of “eliminating selfish ideas in an instant”. This is a saying in Buddhism which means that while our malicious thoughts or negative intentions are still in the subconscious mind, we should have an instant realisation that it is unwholesome, and nip it in the bud before they come into form. Through this method, we can prevent karmic obstacles from forming. Conversely, should we allow these thoughts to lead us by the nose, malicious thoughts will then take shape, resulting in the formation of karmic obstacles. Seemingly, this step is far more challenging as compared to restraining the consumption of alcohol and meat.
Following this, we would need to face an even greater demon within us. It is brought about by our karmic obstacles, which also serves to perpetuate more major karmic obstacles. It is exclusive to a highly cultivated person. Only by facing it, seeing through it and becoming enlightened, can we bring our inner demon to an end.
Needless to say, to see through the nature of things is not simple. It encompasses skilful cultivation and conceptualisation – for example, being rid of attachment to self and others, eliminating attachment to forms, and perceiving that all sentient beings are equal. However, we can’t resolve our problems simply through learning theories. To quote some simple real-life examples: when one sees a beautiful young woman, an ordinary person will admire her superficial beauty and her outward appearance. However, for one with a certain level of spiritual cultivation, it would be seen as “a sack of skin”, there is neither attachment nor grasping to forms – this is what wisdom is all about.
Wealth should also be perceived the same way, as a “sack of skin”, because there is always a cause for its gains and losses. Just like a professional mountaineer who makes their way up to the top of a snowy mountain. They understand that stamina is invaluable. To avoid any possible wastage, every step they make has to be carefully considered. Even the weights they carry would have to be accurately calculated – not too much and not too little. At the same, they are fully aware that before nightfall or before an oncoming snowstorm, they would have to make their way to a safe campsite. At this moment, if they see the rest of the group taking the wrong route, some enjoying the scenery, others chasing after antelopes, then they would urge them not to waste their energy anymore and to embark on the right route instead. After all, the antelopes they are chasing after wouldn’t be able to save their lives should a snowstorm hit. This illustrates the significance of the ability to see through the nature of things. To do so, wisdom is the key, and it’s cultivated through moral discipline and concentration.
The second tool to prevent karmic obstacles from forming is to possess gratitude. Gratitude here does not simply refer to the state of mind but also a tool to apply in Buddhist practice. With human’s throng of desires (“seven emotions and six sensory pleasures”), every passion and desire form karmic obstacles which can only be ceased through gratitude. Gratitude is the only emotional response that’s able to prevent the formation of karmic obstacles and used as a weapon against greed, anger and ignorance. As you gradually adopt gratitude in dealing with the people and matter around you, your karmic obstacles will be reduced.