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.
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s eighth great action-vow is ‘to always study with the Buddha’. It also means that one should treat the Buddha as a role model, and act in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha-Dharma. What Master is teaching you doesn’t come from him but from the Buddha-Dharma. After learning from his Buddhist lessons, you should be capable of behaving and acting in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha-Dharma. Master has taught you that you must be compassionate, and request the Buddha to remain in this world. Since you are reciting sutras constantly, shouldn’t you be requesting the Bodhisattva to enter into your mind? Master has already taught you many things; you should treat the Buddha as a role model, act according to His teachings and properly do it. If you forget or neglect it soon after you hear it, then you won’t learn properly.
One should think of the Buddha sincerely. Why is that when people hear the story of Gautama Buddha and Guan Yin Bodhisattva, they become teary-eyed? You must know that it isn’t easy for the Bodhisattvas to be in the Human Realm. Two thousand five hundred years ago, it was a very difficult time for Gautama Buddha to propagate the Dharma. There was no cars, no smooth roads, and they could only walk barefooted most of the time. Think about that, during that era, how much hardship would they have to experience? You must harbour that kind of compassion. Think about if your child has to go to a remote countryside for some time, as a parent when you think about how much hardship they would have to go through, you will cry. When we think about how Gautama Buddha descended to the Human Realm to save us two thousand five hundred years ago, and how Guan Yin Bodhisattva descended to the Human Realm to help us compassionately, we would be moved and burst into tears. When that happens, your compassion manifests, and your state of mind, your aura and your kind-heartedness would manifest. Then would you still harbour hatred towards others?
One should think of the Buddha and karma sincerely. If you scold at somebody today, you will definitely receive karmic retribution sooner or later. If you did a wholesome deed today, you would definitely receive karmic rewards sooner or later. It will induce your wisdom and compassion out. To speak plainly, your wisdom manifests because you understand about karma. You understand that if you treat your spouse well, then they will treat you well in return. And if you put in effort in your academic studies, you will achieve a higher examination score in return.
Some people use out-of-date ingredients in the food that they cook for others, and you could smell that there’s something wrong with it. These people aren’t doing meritorious deeds. If you want to treat others well, you must be sincere. In the past, our mothers and fathers always leave the best for their children while they eat the food that’s about to go foul. Nowadays, people leave the best for themselves to eat while giving away inferior food products to others. What kind of people are they? Could they call themselves Buddhists?
You should properly heed Master’s lessons written in the book ‘Buddhism in Plain Terms’. In the future, Master will spread the teachings of the Buddha-Dharma across the world, and let everybody know what wholesomeness and unwholesomeness are. If you give bad food for others to eat, it means that there’s unwholesomeness in your mind. What if the person had a stomach ache after eating your food? Nowadays, many restaurants use leftover vegetables and mix it with the fresh to cool and serve to the customer for money. When you eat it, it would taste strange. What kind of heart do they harbour? That’s why there’s a saying that nine out of ten businessmen are evil. Take note; one should think of the Buddha and karma sincerely and induce one’s wisdom and follow and learn. Because the wisdom in your mind has awakened, you will follow and learn from it. Do it regularly, and things won’t change.
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s ninth great action-vow is ‘to live in accordance with other sentient beings’. Think of it this way, when you’re practising Buddhism to learn to become a Bodhisattva, you must act according to the will of others. A shortcoming of the people nowadays is that they are eager to confront and argue with others in anything. They feel humiliated if they don’t do so. Isn’t that a mental illness? That’s why one must have great compassion and impartialness to benefit all sentient beings. In other words, as long as something benefits sentient beings, then one should do it. If somebody in the family upholds this kind of spirit of a Bodhisattva, would there be any arguments in the household? Would there be any fighting inside the house? That’s what it means to be a cultured individual. If you’re rude and show your disdain towards them, then you’re uncultured. One’s good manners come from self-refinement and cultivation.
You must understand how to use an impartial mind to treat all people and things, and then ‘offer to do all things’. ‘As long as I promised you to do something or help you to do something, I will offer to you’. Isn’t Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s power of vow great? Are you willing to do that? “That person is detestable. I don’t want to greet him.” If you see everybody unpleasant, how could you develop that power of vow? How could you help others and offer things to others? Is that living in accordance with other sentient beings? From when we start respecting our parents, to respecting other people in society and to respecting the Buddha, there is no difference.
Samantabhadra Bodhisattva’s tenth great action-vow is ‘to universally transfer merit-virtues to others’. All the meritorious deeds that Bodhisattvas do are done for the sake of all sentient beings. As a Buddhist, all wholesome deeds that you do should be done for the sake of all sentient beings. The Bodhisattvas wish that all sentient beings could be in constant peace with no serious illnesses. Think about the time when you’re ill and lying in bed. When you wanted to get out to make yourself a glass of water, you feel exhausted and unable to move freely, and you ache all over. Didn’t you look pitiful? When the Bodhisattvas see somebody fall ill, their heart also aches. But do humans share this kind of sympathy with others? Even between some married couples, there aren’t. That’s why you must learn Buddhism and possess the same level of compassion as the Bodhisattvas. Otherwise, you won’t experience this kind of emotion with others.
If you’re a good person, you won’t be able to commit unwholesome deeds. If you’re a good person, would you steal? Would you scold at others? If you’re a kind-hearted person, would you treat others badly? If you’re a Bodhisattva, would you hate others? That’s why all the wholesome deeds you do will be successful. Just like water, if there’s no sand or pebbles, then there’s no hindrance to the flow, and it will quickly get to where it needs to go.
We must block all doors of unwholesomeness interests within our mind. The unwholesome interests refer to things that we think is right or what makes us happy but is in reality, sources of unwholesomeness. And open up the right path of nirvana between heaven and humans.
‘All the merit-virtues accumulated from your deeds are the result of your karma and karmic affinities’. You have to understand that this whole world and everything in it is created from the Dharma of karma and karmic affinities. Why did you like that person and that person liked you too? Why did you get married? Why then did your relationship with that person soured? Everything developed according to the karmic conditions and affinities. And what connection does that have with the Dharma? It’s when you understand the principles and awakened to it, isn’t that the Dharma? For example, when you’re upset, “Why did he hurt me so much?” Then somebody told you about karma, “That’s because you owed him in the previous lifetime. You must have hurt him deeply before; perhaps you might have even killed him before.” You use the realisation of the Dharma of karma to resolve your inner turmoil, and then won’t your mind clear up?
‘There’s no nature to the development of karma affinity; its form is empty’. When a karmic affinity starts to form, it has no inherent nature. That’s why when something happens; it’s not related to anything. Many things cease once it has ended, is that right? When you go and experience or do something, you would feel that it is empty. That’s because the thing that you did today may be gone in a few years time. The affinity that formed today will be gone when you pass away. When people buy their first property with their first mortgage application, they feel strongly about it. They would clean their house every day as they think it’s theirs. But after they sell it, isn’t it gone?
When the Buddha called it merit-virtues, it’s not merit-virtues, but He’s just naming it merit-virtues. That’s because ‘form is emptiness and emptiness is form’, where are the merit-virtues? To the divorced couples, where is their wife? Where is their husband? Did they have one before? Yes, but now they don’t. So in the end, do they really have one? No. So doesn’t that attest the saying ‘form is emptiness and emptiness is form’? Isn’t doing meritorious deeds the same? After you have completed your meritorious deed, isn’t it over and gone? One mustn’t wait when doing meritorious deeds. ‘I will wait for the merit-virtues to accumulate after I have given so much’. That is impossible.