V 11-18 Control One’s Thoughts; Cultivate Wholesome Thoughts 控制意念 修善念
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.
The precept is the foundation of a Bodhisattva. A Buddhist who aspires to do well must first learn to observe the precepts. The various hardships we experience are due to our inability to control our desires. It developed because we are unable to observe the precepts. Think about it, when family members are divided, isn’t it because they haven’t observed any precepts? If they did, and if they learnt how to control themselves, and learnt how to forgive each other, then they won’t commit unwholesome deeds. That’s why those who don’t observe the precepts are mentally restless. It can be compared to somebody who doesn’t observe and abide by the law, and so they would regularly let themselves commit crimes.
In reality. ‘precepts’ are akin to the feeling of a Bodhisattva watching over us. Many people’s problem is that they don’t feel that God or a Bodhisattva is closely watching them in their mind; that’s why they casually let their unwholesome thoughts develop. If a Buddhist regularly alerts themselves that a Bodhisattva is constantly watching over them, then they won’t recklessly develop greed, hatred and delusion, and commit the sins of sentient beings. The sins of sentient beings form negative karma. That’s because when you hurt other people’s feelings, then negative karma has already formed within your mind. Many people think that the precepts didn’t specify clearly regarding the conduct of hurting other people’s feelings. But in reality, you have already accumulated negative karma because you didn’t observe the precepts and have hurt others.
We require a great compassionate and merciful mind to get rid of the impurities that linger within our mind that contribute to the development of negative karma and karmic retribution. In the age of Dharma decline, if somebody doesn’t observe the precepts or if their mind isn’t regularly pure, then they will experience two kinds of karmic retribution. These two kinds of karmic retribution are things we regularly see. The first kind is a short lifespan, and the second kind is to be plagued with illness. Think about it, if somebody constantly kills or slaughters other sentient beings, or if they constantly eat meat from freshly killed animals, then aren’t they going to develop some serious diseases? Many people develop bowel cancer or other kinds of cancer because of that. Many people don’t observe precepts and constantly throw their temper or constantly embroiled in hatred or depression. When you try to persuade them to let go or try to resolve their issue, they still act the way they do. In the end, they fall ill. These illnesses or shortened lifespan, in reality, is the result of you violating your precepts. If a Buddhist who recites sutras throw a large temper suddenly or suddenly find themselves unable to control themselves, then they have also violated the precepts. That’s why Buddhists must not throw their temper, nor have selfish thoughts. They must also think in the best interests of other sentient beings.
Master always wants to mention that those who develop unreasonable thoughts are also considered as violating the precepts. You may haven’t hit somebody nor scold at somebody, and you may have even kept your mouth shut. But if you are imagining yourself hitting somebody, or if you are scolding at them in the back of your mind, then you have already violated the precepts. Buddhists cultivate by cultivating their mind. They sought to purify it. If you develop any kind of desirous feelings towards something, in reality, that’s already a violation of the precepts. That’s why, when you look at a fellow practitioner or person of the opposite sex and develop some kind of desirous feelings, then you have violated the precept of sexual misconduct. Master has mentioned that Buddhists must not look at people of the opposite sex too much, as that is the root of violating precepts. There’s a past saying called ‘the six sensory faculties are impure’; what it refers to is that the mind is impure. That’s why the less you see, the fewer afflictions you’ll develop. Many people say that they only heard others make indecent jokes, and they’ve never contributed to it. But if you laughed at the joke inside your mind, then you have violated the precepts. That’s why it’s so difficult practising Buddhism. In the end, it’s all about transforming one’s spirituality and consciousness. For somebody to become nobler or a Bodhisattva, it depends on the person’s inner mind, not external influences.
One must control their thoughts well. They must even eliminate the major and minor lies that occur in those thoughts. Many people like to lie. For example, if somebody says, “Yes, I really do like you,” but in their mind, they actually hate you a lot. That’s a major lie. That’s why anything that isn’t consistent between one’s mind and action is a lie. All of that are things that the Bodhisattvas manage. One must understand that to maintain their thoughts pure is difficult because not only does it affect their mental process but also their behaviour. Then their behaviour will also affect their verbal karmic vehicle and bodily karmic vehicle. Think about it, doesn’t it all begin from one’s thought? Everybody thinks about something first before taking action. Some people ponder very deeply before taking action. That is why people must regularly repent. One must repent in the course of practising Buddhism, and they must repent greatly in order to recover their purity. If a person doesn’t thoroughly repent their shortcomings and problems, then they would never be pure.
It’s very difficult to learn Buddhism in the Human Realm. When you hear the news, if you didn’t verify the authenticity of the source of that news, and you spread it, then that’s also considered a lie. Many people don’t understand. They thought that lies only consist of boasting or bragging, but in reality, if you spread whatever you hear without verifying or thinking whether that’s the truth or not, then the problem lies with you, and you will develop negative karma. That’s why those who are dedicated and serious in the practice of Buddhism find it difficult to even speak because they know that by speaking, they will develop karma. That’s why the higher the level of spirituality a person cultivates to, the less they speak. Why do monks only say the words ‘Amitabha’ when they open their mouths? That’s the reason. They are speechless; they have no ways of speaking because when they do, they will have negative karma. Putting aside speaking, if you hear something and your mind starts to think, then you have already violated the precepts. That’s why many wise people say, “Don’t tell me, I don’t want to listen. Otherwise, my thoughts will wander.” This ‘wander’ refers to distracting thoughts. When one’s distracted thoughts increase, then that person won’t cultivate well.
What’s the most difficult is to stop oneself from listening, from saying, from and from overthinking. How does one create something out of nothing? By thinking. The more one thinks about something, the more it seems to be like so, and one begins to think that what they imagined is real. Then, in the end, they make a fool out of themselves. That’s why humans are pitiful. They think that they’re always right, and they constantly think of concepts and ideas that suit themselves and their way of thinking, so they feel comforted. But these concepts and ideas may be deviated and are trash, but because it’s useful to them, they keep it in their mind. That is the reason why so many people ruin themselves in the end. The problem with many sufferers of depression is that they constantly think about the things that they think are right, even though it may be wrong or misunderstood. But what is the most dangerous is that they may keep thinking about something that is fictitious and untrue, but they think that it’s real.
You have to understand, just because we already created a karmic cause, we shouldn’t just follow with and accept the karmic consequence. If your unwholesome karmic consequence is about to trigger, you must find a way to change it. Some people’s financial circumstances aren’t poor, but their mind is impoverished and hurt. If one’s spirit isn’t grounded, then it means they’re mentally impoverished. When a person feels that there’s no hope in this world, in reality, they have lost this world. When a person feels like there’s no meaning to life in this world, it means that they have lost this world. Many people are poor in the current lifetime, but if they continue not to help others or be in contact with others, then you are sowing the karmic cause of being poor in the next lifetime. That’s the reason why so many people don’t have many wholesome karmic affinities.