V 1-25 Discussion about the Thoughts of Sentient Beings 谈谈“众生的念头”
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.
Distancing one’s mind-body from thoughts is considered a virtue; we should perceive the mind as a kind of container. If you can make the mind devoid of thoughts, that’s a virtue. You must know your mind, what does it contain within? What does it do? If the thoughts that flow inside are wholesome, then your mind is that of a Buddha. If the thoughts that flow inside are impure, then your mind is that of a demon. You must understand your mind; you must understand what your mind does. That’s why the Buddha-Dharma says one must ‘distance one’s mind-body from thought’. In other words, your mind must be completely separated from your thoughts. Whenever you do, you must do it single-mindedly. If what goes inside your mind is wholesome, then it’s a virtue. That’s because after wholesome things go inside and are accepted, you will realise your virtues and that you’re a virtuous person. If unwholesome contaminants enter into your mind, then you are virtuously-flawed.
What can you do to be free from distracting thoughts? First, you must distance yourself from all thoughts, that is known as ‘non-thought’. That’s also a virtue. When you have any thoughts, your mind will fluctuate. Just like a pendulum, when you have thoughts, it’s like the pendulum going back and forth and unable to settle. When you have no thoughts, the pendulum becomes completely still. That’s why thoughts will create deviations in one’s mind. That’s why you must take note that having ‘non-thought’ is a virtue because if you are frequently devoid of thoughts, it will transform into another kind of thought called ‘Non-non-thought’. If one has any thoughts, afflictions will arise. Afflictions arise because of thoughts. The ability to transform thoughts into non-thoughts is a virtue. The truth of the universe is that despite the myriad of different changes, the principle remains the same. That’s the same as samsara. Humans are trapped in the endless cycle of rebirth, unable to get out. You must have a dedicated teacher to guide you out of it. It’s because life is like a great vortex. When you manage to come out a bit, you get sucked back in again. Please take note; you must transform afflictions so that it’s ceased. Then your virtues are brought forth.
All sentient beings have thoughts, but thoughts don’t interfere with the Buddha-nature, and the Buddha-nature doesn’t interfere with our thoughts. The reason why your thoughts don’t affect your Buddha-nature is that it can’t reach the deepest part of your mind, which resides the inherent nature and Buddha-nature. The Buddha-nature which you inherently possess will not interfere with your thoughts; regardless of whether those thoughts are wholesome or unwholesome, the Buddha-nature remains in the same original form. Even if somebody has been put to jail, their Buddha-nature still exists. That’s why the Buddha-nature should be maintained frequently; positive things should be often held inside the mind. ‘Thought of non-thoughts’ is a virtue. You already have no thoughts, and you don’t even want to think of any thoughts. For example, when somebody says that they don’t have any opinion on something, in fact, their opinion does exist. That is called ‘thought of non-thoughts’. The thought of non-thoughts is the Buddha-nature. If you don’t distance yourself from your self-nature, then you will never be separated from your inherent nature, never be separated from your Buddha-nature. That’s merit. If the Buddha-nature of the inherent nature is not defiled, and you apply it freely, then it’s considered a virtue.
Just then, Master has mentioned two different meaning with merit-virtues: 1) Merit-virtues are emanated from within. You must possess the Buddha-nature and learn from the merits of the Buddha-Bodhisattvas. 2) Your Dharma body must possess merit-virtues, in other words, a merit-virtue body, and it must be true merit-virtues. The merit-virtue body is the true merit-virtue, then the true Buddha-nature will appear. It’s because after your mortal body has created something from your inherent nature, the true Buddha-nature from the depths of your mind would appear. The Buddha-nature that appears is the foundation. That is the foundation of the Buddha-nature that comes from practising Buddhism. Only with the true Buddha-nature as the foundation for the deeds that you perform, would it be considered meritorious. Otherwise, everything you do is considered benevolent, and you receive worldly blessings.
Buddha-Bodhisattvas bless those who are willing to help themselves. In other words, Buddha-Bodhisattvas bless those who are willing to correct their shortcomings. People who aren’t willing to correct their shortcomings will never receive the blessings from the Bodhisattvas. This person must harbour repentance to be saved. They must first repent, then they can be saved. If you don’t even know that you must earnestly reform your bad habits, how can you be saved?
Buddha is the world’s most ordinary person. That’s because he has recovered the original state of the Buddha-nature. Because we are kind-hearted people, once you have cultivated towards the end and the Buddha-nature has been cultivated, then you would recover the original state of the Buddha-nature, that is Buddha-Bodhisattva’s primordial soul.
Every phenomenon that occurs in this world, everything, all of it is a prison. If you believe in the delusion and you perform deluded actions, then it’s likened to being entrapped inside a prison, imprisoned by this phenomena, unable to get out. It is a prison that we enter and lock ourselves in. For example, somebody treated you badly, so you then develop hatred towards this person plus you also keep thinking about how they will hurt you. Didn’t you just enter your own prison? To treat others with respect is to become dignified yourself. You are a refined and cultured person; you know about the Buddha-Dharma, and you know about courtesy. So you are dignifying yourself, and you benefit from it, as well as elevating your character.
Finally, the Buddha-Dharma is a complete method to attaining self-realisation. You must realise, you must hurry and wake up. This method is the Buddha-Dharma; it will help you understand the truth of the universe and life.
Here’s a quote from Master, ‘This world is one big joke’. This world is a stage for you to form your own joke. Think about your seniors, think about your past, think about the future, think about everything that you’ve done up till the present. Isn’t it all a joke? Everything is false. When one single breath ceases, everything is gone. Everything in this world is false. You came empty-handed, you will leave empty-handed. Today because of time constraints, Master will finish here.