V 11-31 The Fundamentals of learning Buddhism is learning the Foundational Wisdom 学佛的基础是学根本智
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.
Doing wholesome deeds should eventually become natural to you, and cultivating your mind is about doing it naturally. Do you know why Master tells you not to compete or fight for things in this world? It’s because everything is karmic affinities. Take note, everything and anything we do has its karmic affinity. If you could properly and constantly act in accordance with your karmic conditions and don’t complain about things, then you would quickly accumulate wholesome affinities and accumulate merit-virtues. That is because you have achieved a selfless level of spirituality. Many people constantly sow wholesome karmic seeds and till a field of blessings. They don’t talk about the rights or wrongs of others; they only work hard to do meritorious deeds until they finally succeed. That’s why they could achieve a selfless state of mind and gain fruition in the Bodhi Way. Some people sow unwholesome karmic seeds within their karmic affinities, and they would only accumulate negative karma. The Bodhi way is the path of a Bodhisattva; one should cultivate until they see that everything will eventually return to emptiness. When that happens, it means that they are close to comprehending Prajna wisdom.
That is the preface to cultivating transcendental Dharma, which will be explained in this chapter. To cultivate transcendence, where are you trying to go? The answer is that you must cultivate yourself out of the three realms to transcend. In the Buddha-Dharma, it expounds that transcendence is jumping out of the three realms and no longer confined to the five elements. The three realms refer to the Desire Realm, the Form Realm and the Formless Realm.
Heaven is a complicated place. It is already hard for somebody to reach any one of the thirty-three levels of Heaven, let alone jumping out of the three realms and not confined to the five elements. If you can go beyond the three realms, then it means you have transcended and is liberated from the six realms of samsara. When people say that they are cultivating transcendental Dharma, they refer to cultivation to go beyond the three Realms. Whereas when people are cultivating worldly Dharma, they are still confined to the six realms of samsara. In the past life, they might be an animal while in this life, they’re reborn as a human. But because they frequently behaved like an animal, so they might be reborn as an animal in the next life.
To illustrate this, the six realms of samsara could be described as the ocean where you are constantly bobbing up and down in it. When your head is above water level, you’re in the Human Realm or Asura Realm. But when your head is below water level, then you’re in the Animal Realm, Hungry Ghost Realm or Hell Realm.
Transcendental Dharma is about reaching the shore on the other side via nirvana. It’s about finally getting out of the sea of suffering and reaching dry land. That’s why if you can jump out of the three realms and leave them, then you have transcended; you are an enlightened being and is no longer lost. If a person sees somebody fighting and persuades them not to do so, then they are definitely clear-minded. But if they join in the fight, then it means that they’re still lost. Those who are involved won’t see the big picture clearly while onlookers do.
Master hopes that you won’t remain confused and won’t live an inverted life. There’s actually a Dharma door called ‘Not to be confused and inverted’. Why are there many people who become confused when they encounter something, but there are also people who have a lot of wisdom? No matter what you ask them, they could remain very calm, and everything they say makes a lot of sense. These kinds of people are not lost nor inverted, and they won’t overthink things. ‘Non-awakened’ is the second Dharma door. People may ask how being unawakened is a Dharma door. It’s because you are unawakened, and that’s why you are cultivating to become awakened. That’s why the Dharma door of unawakenment is the second Dharma door. The first Dharma door is awakenment and not to be confused. That’s why there’s a saying in Buddhism that we must cultivate the ‘non-second Dharma door’. Do you understand?
That’s why cultivation must be a ‘non-second Dharma door’; in other words, don’t cultivate the Dharma door of unawakenment. Because you don’t cultivate the second Dharma door, you are only cultivating the Dharma door of awakenment. Many people constantly sway around all their life in Buddhism. They learn a bit of this from that Dharma door and learn a bit of that from another Dharma door. They keep thinking to themselves, which Dharma door is better. In reality, they are lost. They won’t be focused and diligent. Those who are will never be swayed. Some people are like that. When they encounter a problem, they would look for a psychic or fortune-teller or go and pray to different deities. As long as they hear that its good for them, they will do so. They don’t know about the ramifications of it. So they won’t get better.
Buddhists must grasp the foundation. What’s the foundation? It’s about not being confused; then, you will grasp the Dharma door. It’s like building a house; as long as the foundation is made well, how high you want to build the house is a different matter. If you don’t build your foundation, then no matter how you build the house, it will topple. For example, you are currently practising Guan Yin Citta, so you should perform life liberations, make vows and recite sutras properly. If you could do these three basic things properly, then you could gradually go and learn other things. If you don’t perform life liberations and simply make vows and recite sutras, then it won’t build a good foundation. If you simply perform life liberations but don’t recite sutras or make vows, then you won’t achieve Buddhahood. These are all the foundations. If you can grasp it, then you will succeed quickly. Many people who first approached and learnt Guan Yin Citta knew nothing. All they did was do what they learnt, like performing life liberations, make vows and recite sutras. Their merit-virtues were great, so when they prayed to the Buddhas, their prayers were efficacious.
The fundamental reason why we practise Buddhism and make vows is to save and spiritually awaken sentient beings. Where do you find them? They’re in the Human Realm. The Bodhisattvas and Buddhas are already in heaven. The Bodhisattvas have already achieved the level of the First Ground and Second Ground. If they could become Bodhisattvas of the Eighth Ground, then they have the qualifications to become a Buddha. If they want to become a Buddha, then they must go and spiritually awaken sentient beings. Where could they find them? From the Human Realm. The Heaven Realm also have sentient beings. That’s why if a Bodhisattva wants to become a Buddha, they must come to the Human Realm or Heaven Realm to spiritually awaken sentient beings. If they don’t, where could they look for sentient beings? That’s why in order to cultivate transcendental Dharma, they must first cultivate worldly Dharma. On the surface, if you want to cultivate to become a Bodhisattva, you must cultivate transcendental Dharma. But if you don’t have the foundation of worldly Dharma cultivation, then you won’t be able to succeed. Do you understand? If you don’t save others, you won’t become a Buddha. That’s why you must go into the world and save others in order to transcend beyond the world.