V 11-45 Discussion about the Four Virtues 谈谈四个“德”
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.
Typically, people cannot avoid suffering from birth, old age, illness and death. You suffer when you’re born, suffer when you age, suffer even more when you’re ill, and death brings the suffering of fear. Nobody can escape from these four kinds of suffering. Even if you’re a billionaire, you can’t escape from it. No matter how great or lowly you are, nobody can escape from the process of birth, old age, illness and death. So, how can Buddhists escape from these four kinds of suffering and attain true happiness? Please take note, the reason we cultivate our mind is to make ourselves happy. It’s to make us give off a sense of tranquillity like a Buddha naturally. Gautama Buddha already taught us the truth of life. As long as we are here in the Human Realm, we will find suffering, emptiness and impermanence. Not only do we suffer, but in the end, everything is empty. We gain nothing. Our lives are impermanent. There is nothing permanent here.
Today, you and another person are buddies and then tomorrow, you become enemies. Today, you are wealthy, but then you become bankrupt after a few days. Today, you and your spouse are sweet couples, but then you divorce after a few years. Everything is impermanent. When you understand this, you will take mental precautions. Since you know everything in the Human Realm is temporary, then you wouldn’t get hurt, develop grudges or become afflicted for something temporary. You are not afraid. Just like a person’s body, when you are ignorant of your health, then you will die easily. But when you are fully aware of your health and take precautions, you won’t die easily.
Understand that there’s no eternal happiness in the Human Realm so that you start to learn the nature of happiness in the Buddha-Dharma. The Buddha-Dharma expounds that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas make us happy. How do they do that? Happiness where? To illustrate this with an example, we are happy when we shower; we are happy when we sleep; we are happy when we eat. Buf after we wake up, we will gradually get tired again. After we showered, we will gradually get dirty again. After we had eaten, we will gradually get hungry again. Think, what is the happiness that the Bodhisattvas give? It’s happiness from within. The Bodhisattvas say, “Go and help others. Then you will be happy.” Then when you go and help others, you will be happy in the back of your mind. That’s because others will constantly show gratitude and respect towards you. So won’t you feel happy? Where did this happiness come from? It came from your inherent nature, and it’s not something that will disappear in one or two days. Because you helped others, others would always be grateful to you. Whereas if you only helped yourself to live better, this feeling of happiness will quickly go away.
What’s the nature of happiness? And how do people become happy? It’s because they aren’t greedy, they don’t harbour hatred, and they aren’t foolish. People who aren’t greedy could observe the precepts. People who don’t harbour hatred could calm down and concentrate. People who aren’t foolish have wisdom as they won’t do foolish things and will be happy. The Buddha-Dharma expounds that there are four virtues. They are the virtues of permanence, bliss, true self and purity. What is the virtue of permanence? It’s the normalisation of one’s moral code. What’s the virtue of bliss? It’s when one accepts their bright, positive and happy state. The virtue of true self is where one behaves morally. The virtue of purity is where one remains in a pure state. These kinds of virtues, when put into practice, will help broaden our minds.
To illustrate this with an example, an ethical person treats others well. Then others treat them well too. So wouldn’t they be broad-minded? ‘Virtue of bliss’, a happy person usually behaves more morally upright, always smiles, is always happy to help, and is indifferent to anything. Wouldn’t someone like that be broad-minded? ‘Virtue of Purity’, if your mind is pure, wouldn’t you behave more morally upright? When a person’s mind becomes broader, it becomes easier for them to maintain inner peace to enjoy the available bliss in the Human Realm. That’s to tell you that if a person is morally upright or distanced themselves from vulgar interests, they will find happiness. For people who constantly develop selfish and distracting thoughts or are calculating and thinks of taking advantage of others, how could they find happiness? Haven’t the Bodhisattvas told you how to make yourself happy? That’s the Buddha-Dharma.
‘Purity leads to untainted. Concentration leads to the state of non-inverted’. Buddhists must learn that when one’s mind quietens down, one’s power of comprehension develops, one’s compassionate thoughts develop, and the wholesome thoughts of one’s inherent nature develops. That way, they won’t be tainted by the defilements of the secular world. Wisdom develops because you concentrated. Then your wholesome karmic causes would induce a wholesome karmic consequence. You won’t harbour any thoughts of dictating other people, and you won’t act crazy. Your compassionate beliefs would become purer. That’s why not being influenced makes you pure, and not acting crazy helps you concentrate. ‘Separate all thoughts from forms’, then your morals and inherent nature won’t be influenced by the form of self. In the end, the false self will definitely become untainted. That’s how all thoughts become unaffected by attachments and become pure. That’s why purity leads to untainted, concentration leads to the state of non-inverted. That’s why Buddhists must learn to keep calm.
When the mind isn’t frantic, pure thoughts come one after another. When the mind isn’t in a state of inversion, there are no afflictions. “Oh, my mind is a mess. I don’t know what to do.” When you think that way, doesn’t it indicate that your mind is going frantic? Somebody like that won’t get things done well. ‘When the mind isn’t in a state of inversion’ – when somebody offended you, you must have revenge. What comes next is that you and the other party end up in a cycle of retaliation, just like in a lawsuit. Although you may have won the current court case, the other party filed an appeal. So you have to face them again. That’s why when the mind isn’t frantic, one won’t be lost. When the mind isn’t in a state of inversion, there are no afflictions.
There’s no right or wrong. Only humans make that distinction, but when one has reached the Bodhisattvas’ and Buddhas’ level of spirituality, there is no right or wrong. They expound about karmic affinities and karmic relationships, not right or wrong. In your previous life, you hurt a person, so he became your child to hurt you in your current life. Would you say that it’s right or wrong? It’s just karmic retribution. If there is no ‘right’ in your mind, there will be no ‘wrong’. If you don’t think that you are right in a situation, then where are the wrongs? It’s because you think that you’re in the right; that’s why you view everybody else are in the wrong. That’s how right and wrong come about.