V 10-13 To Enter the Pure Lands; First be Pure in Mind 欲得净土 当净其心
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.
In this chapter, Master discusses how it isn’t an easy task for a person to cultivate. Many people say, “Here in the Human Realm, I think that there’s too much suffering, and it’s very hard to gain fruition in my cultivation here. I can cultivate when I ascend into Heaven.” Master tells you, it’s only here in the Human Realm that people would think of cultivating. Because there’s suffering in the Human Realm, people would think of liberating from it. If a person never suffers any hardships, they would never think of liberating themselves. The Human Realm is like a transfer station. You can ascend straight into Heaven and attain Buddhahood via this transfer station if you properly cultivate. You are the one who dictates where you go in the afterlife. In other words, if you cultivate well in the Human Realm, you will ascend. If you cultivate badly, you will descend.
Those who can dictate where they do in the afterlife can liberate themselves from the suffering in the Human Realm. What does that mean? In other words, you must properly cultivate. If you don’t, then you can’t liberate yourself from any suffering. How can you liberate yourself? By thinking clearly and having mental clarity, one can be free. Many people understand that by coming to the Human Realm, they are here to face and endure hardships and repay karmic debts. What will happen after you’ve endured it? Then you understand not to create any more negative karma. Those with no negative karma can liberate themselves from the Human Realm. With this kind of thinking, the person will properly cultivate their mind. The problem is that people prefer to indulge themselves in various entertainments and don’t properly cultivate. And not only do they don’t cultivate properly, but they also create much negative karma. Take note, when a person doesn’t cultivate properly, they will quickly create negative karma. When it matures into a great sin, they will descend into the Hell Realm to endure their punishment and suffer. In the future, they will still remain in samsara. The Human Realm is a very sensitive place. If you can cultivate properly, you can liberate yourself from samsara. If not, you will continue to suffer in the Human Realm and maybe even descend into the lower realms to suffer.
That’s why the Human Realm is a place of karmic debt repayment after contact. After a person makes contact with another and begins establishing relationships, in reality, they are beginning to repay karmic debts. The karmic affinity from the previous life starts to connect and bind both people together. In the previous life, he may be your this or that, and in this life, he is your this or that. You owed him karmically in the previous life, and he’s the one who owes you in this life. So you owe each other back and forth, and it’s this karmic interaction that keeps you binded together. All the suffering you experience stems from what had happened in your previous life. Why are you enduring hardships? Why are your relationships painful? It’s because you haven’t cleared up your karmic debts in your previous life. That’s why cultivation is the only route to liberate yourself.
Next, Master will talk about a more advanced topic. If a Buddhist have views, then that is an attachment to forms. What do we mean by views? It’s when you’ve done a few things and think that you’re a cultivator. When you’re reciting sutras, you think that you’re a Buddhist. Then you begin to look down on others and think that you’re cultivating better than them. Then you have views. Having views in Theravada Buddhism is considered an inferior type of cultivation. In other words, even no views aren’t considered Mahayana Buddhism. When people say, “I am doing wholesome and meritorious deeds, and giving away with disregard to views,” even that isn’t Mahayana Buddhism. Think about it, what’s the point of displaying pride and arrogance? The absence of views isn’t Mahayana Buddhism, not to mention with views. As long as views exist in your thinking, you’re just an ordinary person when you have views.
What does having views mean? For example, when I say that I’ve done meritorious deeds today, you don’t say that I’ve done meritorious deeds. Like that, it seems like there are no views involved, right? But in reality, you have still grasped on to your views. Do you understand? As long as you grasp on to views, you are an ordinary person. That’s why when a person does a few meritorious deeds or wholesome deeds, the best cause of action is to maintain a pure and tranquil state of mind. To enter that state, you must think that you haven’t done anything. Even the desire to tell others that you haven’t done any meritorious deeds is considered attachment to forms. Instead, you should think, “These are things that I should do. If I do it, I do it.” Those who enjoy a pure and tranquil mind will act like those from the Pure Lands. The purer and more tranquil your mind is, the closer your mind is to the Pure Lands.
The Buddhist scriptures expound, “If one desires to go to the Pure Lands, be pure in mind.” If your mind is very pure, that you’re already in the Buddha’s Pure Lands. If your mind isn’t pure, then you’re not in the Pure Lands. You must understand that if your mind is pure, you’re in the Pure Lands no matter where you go. Like how if a person is kind-hearted, no matter what they think and do are always wholesome. Or if a person is a businessperson, what they think, say and do are always about doing business. Or if a person is selfish, then what they think, say and do are all out of selfishness. For us Buddhists who have a peaceful mind, what we say are about the Buddha-Dharma, what we think is all about Gautama Buddha, what we do is Bodhi. That’s why we have a pure mind and are in the Pure Lands.
How do we learn to be peaceful and pure in the Human Realm? It comes from realisation. Those who have awakened will gain a pure mind. Those who’re not awakened will not gain it. People who can’t think things clearly are unawakened. For many readers, they still can’t think clearly about things; that’s why they haven’t gained a pure mind and are still ordinary people. Their mind is not in a state of the Pure Land, that’s why they can’t be pure. The mind must be empty and have no choice but to be empty. In other words, if you can’t think clearly, then, in the end, you have no choice but to think clearly. Why is it that he isn’t ill, but you’re ill? You’re obsessed with that train of thought, and in the end, you’re still an ill person.
Why is it that other people’s wives are decent, but my wife is bad? You keep thinking about it, and in the end, you’re still left with a bad wife. He still has a good wife. So at the end of the train of thought, it is still empty. You might as well not think about it. Only with an empty mind can a person be in a state of pure emptiness. When their mind understands everything fully, they become pure and be empty in the true sense, called pure emptiness. There’s nothing in their mind, and they harbour not a shred of worry or hindrances. They have no fixed concepts or ideas to make them feel attached. They are awakened people. If you still have many things in your mind, “This is mine, that is theirs,” then you’re still unawakened.
Master tells you, in this world, when you badmouth others, you will immediately gain one thing. What is that thing? It is the fruit of arrogance. That’s why don’t badmouth or criticise others. When you do, you immediately gain another unwholesome fruit derived from the fruit of arrogance. That is attachment. Can’t you resolve it yourself? When others make a mistake, if you fix and correct their mistake, isn’t all is well? If your husband comes back home and makes a mess, and haven’t tidied up the bed after resting in it, then what? Can’t you just tidy it back up? How is his mistake related to you? You should just tidy it. If you regularly keep over-obsessing about it and think, “Why can’t he tidy everything back up? He’s so lazy,” you will get depression. You will never awaken if you remain attached. Then you will always be an ordinary person and only remain stressed.
You must understand the principle that you can’t be so narrow-minded. As long as you feel rubbed the wrong way when you see something unpleasant, then it means that you’re narrow-minded. If everybody sees things from their point of view and does not try to look at them from the other person’s point of view, you only know how to criticise. That’s because you’re looking at it from your angle; you feel that they’re wrong because it conflicts with your ideas, so you’ll quickly criticise others. When you criticise others, then it shows that you have biased views. Master hopes that, whether or not you’re a cultivator, you remain morally upright, broad-minded, and a person who’s willing to forgive others.
If we use a different perspective and rationale to view a problem, we will gain a different understanding and view of it. If you keep thinking, “This is what I believe,” you will never listen to other people’s opinions. That’s why never be adamant that what you think is correct. That way, you still have a chance to hear and gain another person’s ideas and understanding of the subject. When people use a fixed view and rationale to view a subject, they will gradually be deluded within different aspects of the Human Realm. When they’re unhappy at home and think that their spouse is inadequate, then they will constantly be displeased by their spouse. That’s because they have deluded themselves within the afflictions of the Human Realm. They always use their view to see others. There was a child whose mother was very diligent. So he used his mother’s standards to view other females around him. Whether he sees his wife or other people, he thinks that everybody is inferior to his mother because they weren’t diligent. So he wasn’t satisfied with everyone and became attached. As a result, he distanced himself from other people and relationships and wallowed in the Human Realm’s narrow-minded and selfish thoughts.