V 10-23 Bring up One’s Right Thoughts; Awaken and Illuminate One’s Selflessness 提起正念 觉照无我
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.
One must overcome the feelings that develop from their delusion. What does that mean? Everybody has something that they have feelings about. Master wants you to treat your feelings like how you treat the precepts. For example, when you know that you should distance yourself from immoral affairs, you have a very close relationship. Then you might develop delusional feelings and let yourself get carried away with it. Becoming delusional means that you lack self-restraint and are unable to cultivate yourself. You can no longer act in accordance with the truth of the situation and your inherent nature. In other words, when you have a deep relationship with somebody, you will develop a bias. When somebody has a very adverse relationship, they will also be hurting themselves. That is the delusional feeling. It’s the inability to understand something purely truly. When that happens, you mustn’t act in accordance with the situation as you aren’t able to make the right decisions. That’s why one should be careful when encountering new situations and affinities and restrain themselves from going with the flow. You must regularly remind yourself to first control yourself no matter what happens. Like when you hear some bad news, you must control yourself not to be emotionally affected by it. Do you understand? You must first be aware that these are normal occurrences. So when something happens, you are indifferent. For example, when you quarrel with your spouse, you are aware that this is normal; even other families experience it, so you become indifferent to it. Or when the doctors check that there’s something wrong with your body, you recognise that this is normal because other people also contract this illness. So you aren’t emotionally affected and will rationally think of a way to deal with it.
Then, you should realise that your thoughts cause the current state of your body and mind, and they are all fake. When you are angry, you must recall your illusionary mind. Why? It’s because, after a while, your feelings may change. Isn’t that right? When you are happy, you must recall that it is all illusionary. After a while, you might get depressed, isn’t that right? Many people who suffer from depression are like that. When Master explains to them, they have a laugh and then feel as though they’re not ill. But you must realise that it is fake. After a while, they’ll feel depressed again. Just like many people, couples might have a heated argument that makes them want to get divorced. You must recall that this is all illusionary. After a while, the feelings might go away. Why is that? It’s because these are all fake things developed by an illusionary mind.
You must understand that we must possess a real substance and nature. We must live in the present. What does possessing a real substance and nature mean? It means to really experience your real nature. Master hopes that you remain pure. Being pure is your inherent nature. Master hopes that all you disciples who listen to his lessons don’t keep any false things in their minds. Otherwise, you are ruining yourself and wasting your time. You must have thoughts like, “I must be pure. I must practise Buddhism. I must behave morally upright.” You mustn’t doubt it; otherwise, you are wasting your time. Fake things don’t last long. That’s why have a purer mind and let your heartfelt feelings out. Then you are a Buddhist practitioner. “I won’t cause you trouble because I am sincere.” “I won’t resent you because I am sincere.” Then, you must let go of your notion of self because without it, how would you have afflictions? You must not even desire to be at any level of spirituality. Many people boast, “I have a high level of spirituality.” If you don’t even have any notion of self, how could you possibly say what level of spirituality you have? Many people say, “He’s scolding me right now, and I’m aware of it. But I have a very high level of spirituality, so I won’t nitpick with him. I won’t argue back.” Do you think that your level of spirituality is high when you say these words? After you have cultivated to a certain point, one would consider even their level of spirituality is false.
Master illustrates this with an example. If you don’t have a notion of self, and somebody suddenly comes up to you and scolds you, you won’t feel a thing because you don’t have a ‘self’. So how would you be afflicted? Who are they scolding? You don’t feel anything because you don’t know who they’re scolding. Without the ‘self’, what is one’s level of spirituality? It’s this concept. In other words, since you don’t have a ‘self’, you won’t even treat them scolding as an issue to stress about. Sometimes, Master intentionally talks about his disciples. Many disciples would go up to Master and repent after the lesson was over in the past. “Master, I was wrong. I know that you have been talking about me during the lesson.” How could Master be talking specifically about them? What Master talks about is everybody’s shortcomings. But some people take it personally. That’s because they still have the notion of ‘self’, so they assume that Master was talking about them. Even while you’re reading this book, many of you may feel that Master is talking about you. Master could swear to Guan Yin Bodhisattva that he has never talked about anybody specifically, and he was expounding the Dharma. The Buddha-Dharma knows about everybody’s problems through and through. That’s why when Master expounds, many of you feel that Master was talking about you. That’s because you still cling to the notion of ‘self’. It’s just that everybody varies to differing degrees.
You must view yourself as being empty, having no levels of spirituality and having no notion of self. Then you will have no afflictions. Then, how do you treat your afflictions? Just view yourself as being empty, and then you have no afflictions. Where do many people’s afflictions come from? It comes from their inflated ego and thinking that they are superior. They think they have a very strong academic background, but what use is it when they’re knocking on death’s doors? Do people who suffer from senile dementia still think that their strong academic background has any use? Many women who think that they’re beautiful think that it means they have capital. So their ego inflates. It’s pitiful. When one grows old, what does their beauty matter? This family, that family, all of it is temporary. They are no superior to secular Buddhist practitioners. If there’s no steelyard or pillar of support in one’s mind, they become lost in their folly.
Greedy people will never possess pure views. Pessimistic people will certainly develop resentful thoughts. They think that life is meaningless and begin to hate everybody around them. Those with many delusional and distracting thoughts will constantly feel fatigued. Those with bad karmic affinities are susceptible to foolishness as they regularly get themselves into petty arguments and become depressed. They offended others already, but what they say after offends them even worse. They give sarcastic remarks and think that others won’t understand them. Now, do you understand? So how do you improve your karmic affinities? You should treat others better and view them as friends. A person who has many obstructions and can’t think things through clearly usually lack a Buddhist heart.
Who doesn’t have any afflictions in the Human Realm? Nobody will say that they have no troubles. What one should do is regularly try to take precautions. In other words, you don’t give the affliction a chance to develop. For example, you know that you have a high chance of getting into a quarrel with your husband. So how should you take precautions? You could go out so you don’t confront your husband; that’s a precaution. If you know that your child didn’t get good grades in his exams and you will probably lose your temper in front of him, what should you do? A precautionary measure you could take is you should imagine that there will be times when your child may not get the best grades, and instead of punishing him, you should give him a chance and give him a bit of encouragement so that he will perform better in the next exams. If you could clear up your mind, that’s also a precautionary measure. If you can’t clear your mind, you will worsen your afflictions. Those who can’t clarify their thoughts will develop afflictions.
When you naturally encounter a certain environment, your state of mind will come upon the karmic affinities in that environment. So no matter what happens, you should go with the flow of the karmic affinities. If you don’t, what else can you do? Many people said, “Master, he’s profiting in the name of the Buddha.” “What a shame, you could only try to convince him to change, but there’s nothing else you can do.” “My husband is going crazy again.” “Go and properly recite sutras. What else can you do? If you don’t have negative karma, then he won’t go crazy. The worse your negative karma is, the more frequent his mental illness will trigger.” That’s why, when a problem suddenly triggers in a person, you must understand that the cause is because either the foreign spirit or karmic obstruction is triggered. So you must be able to illuminate yourself immediately. As long as you have discovered your shortcomings and problems, you must remain aware of them. So when it does trigger, you can immediately resolve it.
Many girls are aware of their acne, so when they could see that their skin is inflamed even a little, they immediately know what medicinal cream to control the acne to subside after a few days. That is an example of immediate self-illumination. If you have no feeling and allow the acne to develop, it will be a lot larger in size and harder to get rid of by the time you realise it. Isn’t that right? So shouldn’t one immediately become self-aware of their body’s problems? That way, you can quickly discover a problem and resolve it immediately. Why is your face so clean? Look at the faces of actors and celebrities; why are their faces so clean? It’s because they have already self-illuminated themselves. It’s just that they haven’t illuminated their Buddha-nature but their face. What we must do is immediately self-illuminate our minds. So even if a delusional thought, resentful thought or greedy thought slightly develops, you can immediately correct it. Those who observe the precepts strictly mean they have awakened. Those who can persist in cultivating their mind means they are self-aware.