V 1-31 Essentials of Learning Buddhism – Insights of the wise (1) 学佛要旨——智慧语（一）
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.
The insight of the wise can lead sentient beings to break away from delusion and obtain awakenment.
Today, I will use everyday language to elaborate some of the teachings of the Buddha-Dharma to guide everybody to break away from delusion to attain awakenment.
Everybody must understand that we only gain from what we cultivate ourselves. Everybody must practise Mahayana Buddhism and cultivate the most fundamental things, and practise with sincerity. The purpose of having me as your Buddhist master is to learn more skills to save more people. The purpose of having you as my disciples is to help you awaken and improve the level of spirituality of your state of mind. If your level of spirituality is high, then it’s easier for you to remove deluded thoughts and attachments. The higher your level of spirituality, the fewer afflictions you will experience.
On the contrary, the lower your level of spirituality, the more afflictions you will experience. Thus, whether or not you become my disciple or pay respects to Guan Yin Bodhisattva, you only have one goal. That is to cultivate diligently and get rid of your ignorance and bad habits. Paying respects to Buddha, performing recitations and cultivation of the mind is a natural process. Ultimately it depends on your potential to awaken to cultivate.
The flesh of the human body was given by our mother, while the bones were given by our father. Injured skin and flesh are usually the results of karmic obstacles of the mother, while broken bones are from that of the father.
Life begins with a few cries and ends with a sigh. Think about it. What is there in life that we can grow attached? With a blink of an eye, everything has passed and can’t be recovered anymore. Life’s sorrow began with crying at birth and ends with a sigh at death, and we don’t know where we will be going next. That’s why you must know how to cultivate your mind and recite sutras to extend your longevity. And the reason to extend your longevity is so you could save more sentient beings and help them pay off their karmic debts, not for selfish reasons. Even if it is to save your child, they are also considered as one of many sentient beings. "Life is but a breath; happiness is but a thought".
When we breathe no longer, our life ends. Happiness is but a thought. If you think of something happy, you’ll become happy right away. If you develop hatred towards somebody, the thought will make you unhappy. The principle is simple. Joy or sorrow is all but a thought. It’s all because people made a slight error in their thoughts, that they commit foolish deeds. That’s why we must learn how to restrain ourselves.
“To make the flower of our life comes to fruition, it must be watered and sprayed with a rain of tribulation. On the contrary, the branches of the flower of life are feeble in the air of ease. In the event of an accident, it will break easily.”
If a person doesn’t undergo any tribulations in life, they will not mature; they won’t develop the potential to awaken. Only those who have endured hardships would cherish everything they have. Those who live in a comfortable environment would not want to cultivate their mind. It’s a blessing for us to experience setbacks and hardships. It tempers our will and improves our capacity of discernment. There is nothing permanent in this world. Regardless of what happens, if you sincerely recite sutras and ask Guanyin Bodhisattva for Her blessings and help, your life will change for the better. While reciting sutras, you must visualise, and recite sincerely. Visualise that Guanyin Bodhisattva is sprinkling sweet dew upon your head. Whatever you do, be sincere at what you are doing, then it will go well. Everybody knows of many examples of this occurring in their everyday life. When you are experiencing hardships, you must see that there’s hope. Over through hardships can we attain happiness. Happiness itself also contains suffering, as extreme joy transforms into sorrow. All of you must comprehend the principles behind it.
"The greatest wisdom of a person comes from knowing their shortcomings."
An intelligent and wise person is one who knows their shortcomings and not covers it up constantly. In truth, to cover up one’s shortcomings isn’t a good thing, this is only regarded as a kind of shrewdness. A person must first know their shortcomings, covering up is usually what we do next, but then afterwards we must correct it. Correcting one’s shortcomings is the most important. Then the next step is to resolve it. A wise person can resolve their shortcomings after correcting them. Many Buddhist practitioners started with implementing these three steps.
"A person’s value lies in their determination to fulfil their obligations."
What is the obligation of being alive? It’s to save others. It’s to let the people around you know that such a great Buddha-Dharma exists, and know that such a great Guan Yin Bodhisattva is here saving others. There is a wide range of people that need saving. From a macro perspective, there’s society, from a micro perspective, there’s a family. At home, each of you respects the elderly, cherish the youth, cook, clean, and doing all sorts of housework. You are all fulfilling your obligations. Saving people is also one of the meanings of life.
"The Happiness that stems from an equanimous mind is more valuable than all the wealth in the world."
There are many kinds of happiness. Drinking alcohol is happiness. Having dinner with friends is happiness. Some elders also enjoy a kind of happiness by playing mahjong. However, do they count as happiness that stems from an equanimous state of mind? What does it mean? It means being in a state of peace, security, harmony, free from the afflictions of greed, hatred and delusion. That is happiness stemmed from an equanimous state of mind. Only by being ‘selfless’ can we become truly happy.
An equanimous state of mind is one that can face impermanence and all kinds of changes in life with open-mindedness, indifference and a ‘go with the flow’ attitude. The painful and distressing emotions are reduced to the minimum, and every passing moment is the feeling of joy and satisfaction. There is only peace of mind, no dissatisfaction, suspicion nor complaints.
“Greed, hatred, foolishness, arrogance, doubts, and bias affect a person’s speech and conduct. Over some time, they develop into a habitual behaviour and also become a sort of energy field that attracts afflictions. Thus it becomes the cause of suffering for all sentient beings.
Think about it. When you become greedy, when you become angry with somebody, when you are foolish, when you are arrogant, when you are sceptical and when you are biased, does it affect your speech and conduct? Let us talk about ‘bias’. ‘Bias’ is a negative and deviated perception. For example, a compassionate and devoted Buddhist were paying their respects to Buddha. A person who stood next to them, who does not like Buddhism and holds prejudice against Buddhism thought to themselves, “Oh! Pretending to be pious, are we?” Is this considered bias? Therefore, any biased opinions or grudge that somebody possesses are exposed in their speech and conduct. As time goes by, it will develop into a habit and becomes difficult to change. These are the cause of distress, leading to suffering for all sentient beings. Thus, the cause of suffering for all people comes from greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance, doubts, and bias.
A compassionate mind is the most important thing. If a person lacks basic compassion, then don’t even bother talking about cultivation with them. Guan Yin Bodhisattva is Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate. If somebody always treats others with hatred and jealousy, it means that this person is devoid of compassion and wisdom. Therefore, we should nurture compassion regularly, and over time, benevolent karmic causes are sowed into our Eighth consciousness. When these benevolent karmic causes ripen, then positive karmic affinities will come.
Buddha once said, "For those who have begun to live a life of spirituality, it is likened to bringing a torch into a darkened house and dispelling the darkness instantly.” As long as you persevere with this lifestyle, your mind will surely become a bright world. ”
What Master has told you is how the Buddha-Dharma can be applied in your everyday life, and let you know why we must learn the Buddha-Dharma. And also by learning the Buddha-Dharma, how you can become a virtuous person.