V 10-22 The Three Powers of practising Buddhism 学佛三力
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.
‘Everybody should know of Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s Holy Name, so one should foster other people’s thoughts’. In other words, one must understand how one can receive the karmic fruits of learning and practising Buddhism. If you can cultivate the karma of purity, you should foster other people’s thoughts. Thoughts of what? One’s thoughts and intentions must be pure, and one should think of the pure Buddhas and cultivate their inner Buddha of purity. Do you understand? Apart from thinking about the Buddhas, one should also think of Guan Yin Bodhisattva and introspect. Then you would become a person of resolve. If you’re not resolved and haven’t vowed to become a Bodhisattva and a good person, you should concentrate more on your recitation. Then think of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. Let your mind and recitations become one, then think of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. That way, your prayers to transcend to the Western Pure Lands will be fulfilled.
Master tells you, people who recite the Buddha’s Holy Name and Buddhist scriptures should focus on what they are reciting with their ears. That is the pure way of listening to the Bodhisattvas propagate the Dharma through the scriptures. You mustn’t have the feeling of missing something out. People whose minds are unfocused will develop this feeling. They will create outflows, and it becomes an empty exercise. Master asks you, when you say something that you know you said, and when you say something that you don’t remember, do you think it’s the same? Of course not. That’s why you mustn’t develop a feeling of missing something out. If you can use your mind and ears to listen to your recitations attentively, then after a long period, your mind and body will harmonise as one. Then in the later stages, your mind, mouth and thoughts will be the same. When people say that you are like a little monk who recites Buddhist scriptures with their mouth but has no heart (sincerity) in it, it means that although you talk about Buddhism every day, your actions are unlike that of a Bodhisattva.
It’s very important to use your ears and listen to your recitations because people who recite scriptures accumulate boundless merit-virtues. When people who have merit-virtues can properly listen to the sound of recitations, they will only benefit from it. When you visit the Guan Yin Temple to recite one full scripture, and you do it properly and listen to your voice attentively, you won’t feel like a long time has passed. Why do some people think that time passes slowly when they’re reciting scriptures? It’s because they didn’t listen. Master asks you, when you were listening to his lecture attentively, did you think that time was long? No, because you paid attention. If you use this method to listen to your own voice when reciting sutras, you won’t think that time is long. Those who focus won’t think time is long. Those who don’t focus will think that time is long. They are only thinking of when they could leave, becoming increasingly frustrated. That’s why many people who succeed only do so because they work hard and focus on one thing, so they think that time passes quickly.
One must believe that the powers of the Dharma are incredible. It is what makes you believe in the existence of the Bodhisattvas, so your prayers are fulfilled. That is its manifestation. For example, when you can’t find your keys and you’re in a hurry to get to work. You immediately recite sutras to pray to the Bodhisattva and think that they will definitely help you find it, and then you find the keys after reciting. You then respond to the Bodhisattvas with gratitude for their blessing and know they will help you no matter how major or minor your prayer is. You must believe that their powers are incredible. When you visualise the Bodhisattvas’ faces, their incredible power manifests. When you look at Guan Yin Bodhisattva, are you still afraid? When you look at Guan Yin Bodhisattva, do you still have thoughts that you can’t clear up? Think, what things are there that you can’t overcome? Guan Yin Bodhisattva resides within our minds. She’s by our side, so what is there to be afraid of? The Bodhisattvas will help us resolve our problems. That is why Master overcame all of his hardships and persevered with his ideals of spiritually saving others. When Master sees Guan Yin Bodhisattva, his energy increases because he believes in Guan Yin Bodhisattva. He believes that She will definitely save us, help us overcome all of our problems, and help us escape from suffering and attain happiness. The happiness that the Bodhisattvas give us is inner bliss, not the temporary happiness that we get from eating and playing.
The powers of self-natured merit-virtues are also incredible. What is it? It is the power of faith. For example, you believe that the Bodhisattvas will save you when you're ill. Or you believe that you’re a good person and haven’t done any unwholesome deeds. And you believe that Guan Yin Bodhisattva knows it. Then your self-nature develops merit-virtues. “I believe that I did many wholesome deeds, so I will definitely get better.” When you believe, then your merit-virtues develop. Many people don’t believe in themselves or others, so how could they accumulate merit-virtues? Master tells you, one must possess the powers of faith, vow and action to discover the powers of the Dharma, Buddha and self-natured merit-virtues. In the past, Buddhist practitioners and venerable monks won’t directly tell you this. They would only ask, “Do you have faith? Do you have determination? Have you taken action?” They would make you think about what kind of powers may develop and then let you set off to awaken yourself. The exams at Buddhist schools would regularly have the question ‘which three powers will let you discover another three incredible powers?’ Then you must answer it and then elaborate on the three incredible powers of the Dharma, Buddha and self-natured merit-virtues. Then you succeed. What you are learning now are the same teachings and principles as other Buddhist schools. Do you think that Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door is simple? And all you do is tell others to recite Little Houses and Buddhist scriptures when you propagate Buddhism? If you are bewildered when others casually ask you about the deeper topics, then how could you awaken them spiritually? Master tells you, you must rely on the powers of faith, determination and actions to discover these three powers.
The essential part of cultivation is cultivating the mind to treat one’s afflictions and deeply-rooted unwholesome habitual behaviour. Many people ask, “How does one treat it?” It’s to resist and fight against one’s habitual behaviour. When cultivators can lessen their afflictions by one part, they are improving themselves by one part. Master tells you, many people habitually rest their leg on top of their other leg when they sit. When you are at Master’s lecture, if you see somebody resting their leg on top of their other leg, and you tell them not to do it for one hour, they will feel uncomfortable. That’s why if you have self-control, then you are treating your afflictions. You must possess an inner drive in your cultivation. What does that mean? You must cultivate a type of energy or drive that enables you to control your shortcomings and unwholesome habitual behaviour. If you could control it, then it means the Way of the Buddha resides within you. If you can control your shortcomings, then you possess a Way. When you have a Way, you will gain the logic behind it, and that is why with both, it’s called reason. You must find the door in order to enter it. If you can’t enter the door, then your reasoning is invalid.
In the process of practising Buddhism, you are clear in the beginning, and you feel that what you’re doing is right. You were filled with Dharma bliss. But then, after a period, you think there’s something amiss, and you begin to doubt. At this stage, you must have a teacher to constantly give you guidance for you to discover your inherent nature in the end. Just like how when we were little, we had never committed any crimes. When we were little, we were happy and kind. Why is it when we’re older and become more educated that we think of committing suicide? Or go out to steal? Scold others? Harbour grudge towards others? Be jealous of others? It’s because we slowly become lost. That’s why when people first practise Buddhism, they seem very dedicated and clear. Then slowly, after gaining some deeper knowledge, they become conceited. Then lastly, they lose sight of the Bodhisattvas. That’s why there’s a saying that the Buddha is right in front of them in the first year of cultivation. Then in the second year, the Buddha is far away in the sky. Then in the third year, they make money in the name of the Buddha. That’s why Buddhists must have a teacher or master to guide them. Otherwise, they will roam recklessly like wild horses. In the past, Master used the analogy of birds to describe this. If the bird keeps flying, it will eventually tire out and fall from the sky.