V 10-14 Ability to Comprehend is the Most Important; The Buddha Nature is the Most Essential
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 the Human Realm, sometimes we want to free ourselves from the entanglements of relationships and money. If you are somebody who views money as being very important, then you won’t be free from greed. If you are somebody who views relationships as being very important, then you won’t be free from attachment. Think, do you have these kinds of problems? Some impoverished people are very generous, while some wealthy people are very stingy. All of it is dependent on the mindset of the individual. In the Human Realm, if you value money strongly, you might be somebody who values relationships lightly. If you value relationships strongly, even though you might value money lightly, you will fall into the karmic affinities of your relationships, unable to get out. That’s why if you want to pull yourself out and be free from it, it requires determination and willpower to break out of your narrow-minded views. If you think your house is unpleasant to live in, then that is due to your narrow-minded viewpoint. Maybe it’s due to the karma from the previous life that has caused you to have this experience in your life. You should be content to be happy. If you still think that your house is bad, then you must bring out your emotions. Go and compare yourself with people who are more impoverished than you to bring yourself out of your narrow-minded view to make yourself feel content and happy.
Cultivating the mind requires the power to reform one’s mental tendency to make mistakes. Why does reform require power? Ordinary people who lack power find it difficult to correct their shortcomings. For example, if Master points out your flaws and criticises you in front of many people, many of you will not be able to handle it. Doesn’t it depend on power? When many people are present, how will you handle it? “I have the power to reform myself,” then you will say, “I’m sorry,” in front of everybody. That is power. Many people can’t handle it when Master criticises them in front of a crowd. They lack power. That’s why Buddhists must have aspirations and must make great vows. That will invigorate them with the power of vows. “I want to criticise myself in front of many people.” A disciple from Shandong, China, did just that. He made mistakes in the past, so he wrote a message of self-reflection detailing all his past misdeeds and sent it to fellow Buddhists worldwide through the Weibo app. He apologised to everybody and Master. After he had done so, his illness disappeared. He possessed sincerity and determination. Determination is required to reform one’s shortcomings.
To cultivate the great path of the Bodhisattvas successfully, you must first be resolute to transforming yourself from delusion to awakenment. In other words, you were deluded in the past, but now you’ve awakened. What is delusion? It’s simple, in the past, you were bewildered by other women and men, but now that you’ve awakened, you’re resolute that you won’t flirt with them or think about them. In the past, you were addicted to watching unwholesome things on the internet. Now that you’ve awakened, you’re resolute in not watching it anymore. Isn’t that breaking delusion and gaining awakenment? In the past, you like to overeat. Now you understand that overeating is bad for your stomach and health, so you no longer do it, isn’t that awakenment? In the past, you like to argue and debate about things with other people. Now you understand that there is no fixed reasoning that one can dispute in the Human Realm. Everything is caused by karmic affinity. So aren’t you breaking delusion and gaining awakenment?
You don’t argue with others anymore. If you can’t hold yourself back and argue with others, then you’re acting like an animal. That’s because animals can’t control themselves. If they want to bite others, they will. If they want to quarrel with others, they will. They do whatever they want. People have a higher level of mental capabilities than animals. We can’t just do whatever we want; otherwise, we might ruin ourselves. Now that you’re learning Buddhism, you must transform yourself from delusion to awakenment. This requires determination. That is the power of vows. “I must reform my shortcomings. I have committed many misdeeds in the past. I’m already in my declining years; why am I still quarrelling? Why am I still doing indecent things? Why am I still fighting with others? Why can’t I control myself?” Think about it. You’re not a tiger where you can eat people because you want to eat them.
People have the capabilities to be resolute. Only with the power of vows could one cultivate diligently without slacking and also remind themselves constantly and correct themselves. Master hopes that, at home, you think about ten things that you did during the day and ponder how many things you may have done wrongly. Regularly correct yourself. For example, “While I was walking down the street, I walked too closely along the road. I have done wrongly there. If I don’t correct myself, I might be run over by a car one day. I was fortunate today that I didn’t do many misdeeds, but my attitude was terrible.” If you could constantly introspect yourself, then you are giving yourself an opportunity to make reforms. And with the addition of the Bodhisattvas’ blessing, you could continue to cultivate yourself down the road. Why do some people abandon their cultivations? It’s because the Bodhisattvas didn’t bless them. They lack the power of vows. They constantly think that they’re always right.
Our Buddha-mind must be firm. Buddhists shouldn’t slack nor forget that they are learning to be a Bodhisattva. They must have a high level of spirituality. They should regularly go to the Buddhist temple to pray to the Buddhas, and cultivate their minds. Why is it preferred to recite sutras and pray to the Buddhas at a Buddhist temple? When you see the solemness of the Bodhisattvas and see so many devout followers praying to the Buddhas, it will encourage you so that you can persevere with your cultivation. When you see others are also cultivating, it will solidify your power. It’s very difficult for a person to cultivate alone. They go to sleep when they’re tired and can’t persevere in reciting sutras. If you see the people around you reciting sutras, you will quickly recite with them. That’s why we can’t separate ourselves from other sentient beings. That is how to solidify your Buddha-mind.
Next, Master will talk about how to cultivate with ease. Many people asked Master, “Master, what does cultivating with ease or unease mean?” Cultivating with unease is when you are forcing yourself to do it. Cultivating with ease is when you do so naturally and freely, that’s when the Bodhisattvas are with you. Only when a person is cultivating with ease, do the Bodhisattvas appear. That’s why the more comfortable you are in cultivating, the Bodhisattva within your mind will be stirred. When you have stirred up the Bodhisattva within your mind, it will bestow you with power and an aura of compassion. Why is it that when many people encounter a great disaster or calamity and go to the Guan Yin Temple and pray, they feel relieved after a while despite crying and feeling distressed originally? That’s because they no longer feel that they can’t be saved. They feel that the Bodhisattvas will help them and won’t let them be in agony for long. They have faith. That is a kind of energy and power. Because you have this power, the Bodhisattvas could channel their aura across to you. Then your sadness gets transformed into good fortune. Their compassionate aura will make you become fortunate.
You must strengthen your power of vows and protect the power of your initial resolve. What does strengthening your power of vows mean? It means to recollect the time when you made your initial resolve regularly. When you started learning Buddhism and showed initial resolve, weren’t you very sincere and kind when kneeling before Guan Yin Bodhisattva? Look at yourself now, aren’t you behaving slovenly? You don’t recite sutras diligently, and you complain frequently. You regularly look sour, and you see everybody as though they had offended you. Think about it, aren’t you behaving completely different from when you made your initial resolve. You should regularly think, “How did I pray to the Buddha for my first time? When I called out the Bodhisattvas at the time, I was very emotional.” That was your initial resolve. Think about your initial resolve often, and you will gain power.
Many people want to be admitted to their ideal university but can’t. So they develop the initial resolve, “I must enter it. I mustn’t be so disgraceful.” So every day, they wake up at 5 am to study, but then they begin to slack after a month later. At that time, they should remind themselves of the moment they had their initial resolve. “What did I do this for? Isn’t it to make my parents proud of me? Many of my classmates are studious. I mustn’t fall behind.” When they regularly develop these thoughts, it motivates them and boosts their energy. So they continue to get out of bed at 5 am. That's why you must maintain your initial resolve in your mind. Don’t lose it. Then when you complement it with your diligence in cultivation and your wholesome thoughts, that’s when your wholesome merit-virtues will bloom.
You must understand that no matter what, cultivation is the first and foremost thing to do in the Human Realm. The ability to comprehend is the most important; other things are secondary. Regardless of what you are doing, cultivation should take first place. The ability to comprehend is the most important. No matter what you are thinking, you must think it through clearly to awaken. In other words, the ability to comprehend means that you can think through everything clearly with broad-mindedness. If you are sitting now with many thoughts in your head that you can’t make heads or tails with anything, it means you’re unawakened, and you lack the ability to comprehend. You’re already facing hardships in the Human Realm, and you still can’t think yourself out of it. The more you suffer, the more you’re fixated, the more withdrawn you become. Then what comes after is even more suffering.
Cultivation and comprehension are not for fun and games. Don’t just look on the surface when looking at yourself and others; the Bodhisattvas can see through it all. That is true. You and other fellow Buddhists should give mutual encouragement. So should married couples who are cultivating together. If you want the other person to cultivate their mind diligently, you must first reform yourself. If you’re not upright, how could you set an example for others? If you want to persuade your wife to cultivate, first look at how you are cultivating. If you want to persuade your husband to cultivate, and your husband looks at you and sees that you’re very lazy, then how would he be convinced? If you want your wife to cultivate with you and respect you, take a look at yourself. Have you respected her?
If you want to understand the true form of the Human Realm, the most important thing to do is eliminate your attachments and distracting thoughts. What are attachments? It’s when you are obsessed and fixated on doing something without a clear mind. What are distracting thoughts? It’s when you want to gain something that’s not within reason. When you have these thoughts, they are called distracting thoughts. People who constantly think about winning the lottery are those who are having distracting thoughts. People who pursue their favourite idols are also filled with distracting thoughts. When some fans cry out, “I love you,” to their idol, aren’t they delusional? They’ve been bewitched. That’s why the state of delusion develops distracting thoughts.