V 11-25 The Three Dharma Seals; Awareness of the Nature of Emptiness 三法印 知空性
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.
We mustn’t keep developing desires. We must think about that even if we get what we want, we will eventually lose it. Even if you don’t want to lose it, you will eventually lose it. Sometimes if you don’t want it, you actually get it. Life is like that. Isn’t that the same in relationships? When you are dating, you would be focused on your girlfriend or boyfriend and say to them, “Please marry me.” At that moment, perhaps they won’t pay attention to you. But if you don’t pay attention to them for three or four days, they would start to get upset and contact you first. They also don’t want to lose you. Isn’t it like that? People suffer because they constantly don’t want to lose what they have, so they try to grasp everything. That includes their physical form, such as not wanting to grow old. In reality, it is delusional. Many actors are already very old, but they still take botox or put on face masks. How long could they stay that way? When you’re eighty-years old, could you return to the way you looked when you were thirty? It’s impossible. Even if we assume that you can, your bones would be fragile, and when you extend your arm, your hands look like it belongs to an elderly person. These are things you can’t cover up. You must know that we are living in a realm where everything exists within a cycle of birth, existence, decay and emptiness. So we mustn’t be attached to temporary things. These things only exist because there’s sufficient karmic affinity.
Karmic affinities develop and will eventually cease; it is only a matter of time. As a person is born in this world, they will also lose this world. That’s why don’t be envious of the things you don’t possess; it’s all karmic affinity. There is plenty of things that you don’t have, is there any one of you who could proudly say that you’ve travelled to all the countries in the world before you die? Have you been to Western Africa? You may have been to other countries, but you may not have been to Western Africa. That’s why, when you don’t have something, it means that your karmic affinity isn’t sufficient for you to have it. If so, then you should be open-minded and think about things clearly. It doesn’t belong to you, so why must you insist on having it?
Everything in this world is like fleeting clouds. Things can suddenly change and suddenly disappear. Think about it, Obama will step down from office in a few years, and it’s over, isn’t that right? Even if you’re the president now, so what? Think about the chairman of the Australian Council for the promotion of peaceful national reunification of China (ACPPRC); he had a good relationship with Master. Master was his vice chairman for many years, but he is gone now, and Master feels bad. He is somebody who contributed a great deal towards the country and its citizens. Master had advised him to be wary of his health before. If he could still live for a few more years, he could’ve contributed even more to the country. If we say that something exists, then it exists. If we say that it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. We must be understanding and learn from Buddhism. We must understand this wisdom in order to act in accordance with karmic conditions and go with the flow. When one acts in accordance with the karmic conditions, then everything goes smoothly, is that right? If you’re sailing against the current, then your ship will never reach its destination. So you must go with the flow.
When one has the basic understanding that everything in the Human Realm is empty, then you could see that everything is empty-natured. Even you are empty. There is nothing in this world that lasts forever, is that right? Everything exists in a cycle of birth, existence, decay and emptiness. If you look at your house, would it still exist in a few hundred or a few thousand years? No. What about the chair that you’re currently sitting on? Would it still be there after a few hundred years? It would’ve been tossed like trash by then, is that right? What about the pot of flowers in your room, where will it go in a week’s time? It’s empty. Everything in this world is empty; that’s why even people are empty. Everybody possesses an inherent nature, and that nature is emptiness.
Since everything in this world is empty, everything will eventually turn into emptiness. In other words, everything material will become empty. In contrast, the supernatural consciousness will remain in existence. Think about it; when you’re asleep and dreaming, your body doesn’t move and remains still. But how come your thoughts can still move and run about, feel pain or joy? That’s because of your supernatural consciousness. That’s why when one has cultivated to a certain level, and their level of spirituality has reached a certain level of enlightenment, you will gain a greater understanding of a person’s inherent nature. You will understand that the person’s physical body and everything material is empty-natured. When that comes, then you become a truly enlightened person.
What does that mean? If a person is truly enlightened and could see through the nature of all things, would they get upset from a single word? Would they still try to fight with others for the sake of ten dollars or a few hundred dollars or get upset about it? That’s why we mustn’t fight for fame or gains. Just like in many different societies, people constantly embroil themselves in conflict for the sake of being the chairman. So what if you’re the chairman for a few years? Everything in the Human Realm is empty. Master regularly tells the story of Alexander the Great, who conquered ancient Europe, Asia and Africa. In his last moments, he wished that both his hands be kept dangling out of his coffin. His gesture was to serve as a message to others who wanted to conquer the world like him that when they die, they will still leave empty-handed.
The minds of awakened people are not restricted. Once they are awakened, their mind will expand limitlessly. They won’t be concerned with any petty matters or be burdened by any unpleasant experiences. They have no limits; they are incredibly broad-minded. That’s why there’s a Chinese saying called ‘A prime minister’s mind is big enough to contain a boat’. Maitreya Buddha laughs at the heavens and the earth and at those who are laughable. Think about it: how many people get flustered by a single word? And how many people get upset throughout the day because of a few dollars? When we lost a few dollars when we were young, we would get upset for a period. Now, if you lost a few dollars, you won’t get upset.
You must understand that we might not be mentally hindered by anything and anybody. You must keep it to memory that ‘all phenomena are impermanent, all Dharma is non-self, nirvana is tranquil silence’. That is the ‘Three Dharma Seals’ or the ‘Three Universal Truths’. The Buddha-Dharma that Master teaches is explained in plain terms so that you could understand. So everything Master talked about was that ‘all phenomena are impermanent’, everything in this world is impermanent. ‘All Dharma is non-self’ means that all the things we do in the Human Realm are not done by the ‘self’ or ‘self-identity’ because when we die, we don’t know where we would go. When you were born, if nobody gave you a name, then you won’t even know who you are. After you do, who are you then? When you look at the names engraved on the tombstones, Master asks you, di you still remember your great grandfather’s name? Do you still remember your grandfather and grandmother’s name? Ok, now do you understand? Once you understand these things, then you will realise there is no entity of self. In other words, there is no self because after we came to this world, we borrowed a name and borrowed a physical body to live. After we have lived out our lives, we would have to return our name and body that we borrowed back to Earth. When we leave, we leave with nothing, and only our spirit can leave. Thus ‘all Dharma is non-self’. ‘Nirvana is tranquil silence’, it means that everything is tranquil; there’s nothing. What is nirvana? It means possessing wisdom and quietly leaving.
In every conditioned and unconditioned Dharma in this world, there is no real form of self. The absence of a real form of self is ‘non-self’, so what are you? Master asks you, if you lose your physical body, then who are you? Where are you? What makes you ‘you’? That’s why you must realise that all Dharmas in this world is constantly in a cycle of birth, existence, change and cessation. When somebody is born and grows up, they exist in this world. Then a change happens, and then eventually, their life ceases. It’s just like that. When a person lives, their body undergoes gradual changes, and they get older, and their health deteriorates. They become to get more depressed, and eventually, their life will end. Nobody could live over 150 years in this world. If there was, then it means they were born and lived through historical events. People would cage them up and let others observe them as if looking at a monster. People are actually in a lot of pain. As long as you were born, then you must face the suffering of death. Can we not die? Of course, we’ll die. Are you upset about it? Yes. Death is the most painful thing. That’s why those who learn Buddhism knows about impermanence. So we must now start to live with the level of spirituality of the future.