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.
Where do one’s high spiritual ideals and thoughts come from? It comes from the Buddha that resides within you. You must unite your inner Buddha with your mind and save and spiritually awaken other sentient beings. That way, we are of the same mind as all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and we benefit all sentient beings far and wide, open up all doors of wholesomeness, accumulate merit-virtues. When people are of one mind and heart, they can overcome anything.
Buddhists must seek refuge within themselves. In reality, all knowledge of Buddhism lets you see the exterior forms first. Then when the Buddhist has practised well, then they start focusing on cultivating their inner Buddha, their inherent nature. That’s why learning Buddhism from others is temporary. You will reach a point where you must introspect and contemplate your inherent nature and wholesomeness. In the end, you’re the one who becomes a Buddha, not others. Many people just do things for the sake of showing off to others, “Look at how much meritorious deeds I did. I’m doing good deeds. I’m very sincere when I’m praying to the Buddhas.” These superficial acts are useless. You must use your Buddha-nature to fulfil your accomplishments so that your inner Buddha manifests. People who have done many evil deeds in the past may, one day, discover that what they did was wrong. That’s when their Buddha-nature starts to appear.
What does it mean to seek refuge? It’s to seek refuge in your Buddha-nature. Many people seek refuge in this and that, what’s the point? To illustrate this with an example, today, you learn from this teacher, and then tomorrow, you learn from that teacher. In the end, you have experienced nothing, and you didn’t comprehend anything. So what’s the point of learning from so many people? You should seek refuge within yourself and depend on your own efforts. Take your teacher's advice, but you still have to put in the effort yourself to become accomplished. Look at other accomplished individuals. Their teachers might not be accomplished, but why are their students accomplished? It’s because they depend on their self-nature, they sought refuge within themselves, they relied on themselves to succeed.
Cultivators mustn’t let themselves too loose. When they sit, they should sit properly. When they stand, they should stand properly. When they are listening to the Buddha-Dharma, they should behave as though the Bodhisattvas are present. Buddhists must behave orderly and be strict towards their actions. That includes their physical and mental actions. Buddhists should learn to see both sides of something and focus more on other people’s strengths than other people’s flaws. One should learn to be both firm and soft. You mustn’t treat others too hard, but you should be hard with your discipline in observing the precepts. “I’m determined to be like so. I mustn’t go against the precepts. I mustn’t kill, I mustn’t lie, I mustn’t commit sexual misconduct, I mustn’t intoxicate myself, and I mustn’t steal.” There’s no excuse; these are all things that a morally upright person should do. But when you see the deep-rooted bad behaviour of other sentient beings, you should softly persuade them to change.
You must learn to pray to Guan Yin Bodhisattva to bless your fundamental core. You could say, “Guan Yin Bodhisattva, please bless my fundamental core.” What is your fundamental core? It’s your inherent nature and Buddha-nature. After Guan Yin Bodhisattva has blessed your fundamental core, you would gain the Bodhisattva’s compassion, and your Buddha-Nature will manifest. You would then have the wisdom to resolve everything. Then, you must protect your fundamental core to nurture it. Then you will see your Buddha-nature. That is ‘clearing your mind to discover your Buddha-nature’.
You must seek refuge in your enlightenment. The Buddha-Dharma’s fundamental core is enlightenment, so you should seek refuge in your cultivation of the right Dharma. What is the right Dharma? Many people’s mind possesses both right and deviated thoughts. When they recall all the things they did in the past, they could distinguish whether what they did was right or wrong. But if the person doesn’t know whether what they did was right or wrong, it indicates that their minds have already deviated. To illustrate this with an example, you want to fly to Australia. At the very least, you need to book a flight to travel to Sydney because you wanted to visit Master. But you don’t know where to start and how to book it, so you just randomly go to whoever can help you do it. Then it means you’ve already deviated. If you are confident that you should book the flight that way, then it means that you have learnt the right thing. Everything you learn from the Buddha-Dharma is in accordance with reason and the law. Isn’t compassion your inherent nature?
You must seek refuge in your precepts. For example, what is considered right? If you don’t have greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance and doubt, aren’t you right? If you become greedier after learning and practising Buddhism, “I must make money. I hate him. I want this and that.” Haven’t you deviated? “When I’m in front of others, I need to be respected. Even if I’m wrong, I can’t admit it. I must save face.” If you think like that, that isn’t right.
Do you know what the term ‘Buddha’ means? Its translation means enlightenment, right and pure. Enlightened and not deluded, right and not deviated, pure and not tainted. We must go to the Western Pure Lands and gain fruition in our cultivation of Buddhism. In other words, we must liberate ourselves from samsara. Who should we rely on to liberate from it? We must depend on ourselves. Is there any successful person who didn’t rely on themselves? Who did Tu Youyou, a Chinese pharmaceutical chemist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, rely on? She relied on herself. She constantly worked hard, and finally, she succeeded.
We must perfect our knowledge of Buddhism. The sutras regularly expound about ‘exactness’, which means to be completely thorough and knowledgeable about everything about themselves. So what is it about themselves? It’s one’s original inherent nature and refuge in their self-Buddha.
One must learn about Zen concentration when they’re cultivating their mind. If their mind can’t concentrate, then how would you reach the spiritual level of enlightenment? Only when your mind is pure could you adjust your frantic mind. If your mind has too many distracting thought, you can’t calm down, and your wisdom would be lacking. Wise people can concentrate if they will it. The Buddha-Dharma calls it ‘compartmentalising one’s mind’ – compartmentalise your mind to one place; when you recite sutras, you concentrate on doing so. When you’re eating, you concentrate on doing so. When you’re sleeping, you concentrate on doing so. Master had mentioned a story before, a monk asked his master, “Master, currently you’re enlightened. What did you do before you were enlightened?” His master replied, “I recited sutras, I slept, and I ate.” “What about after you became enlightened?” “I still recite sutras, sleep and eat.” “Then what’s the difference between before and after you were enlightened?” The master told the monk, “Before I was enlightened, when I was sleeping, I was thinking about reciting sutras. When I was reciting sutras, I was thinking about what I should eat after. And when I was eating, I was thinking about when I should sleep. Now that I’m enlightened, when I recite sutras, I recite sutras. When I sleep, I sleep. When I eat, I eat. I am now single-minded when I’m doing something. That is enlightenment.”
You are currently reading this chapter; if your thoughts are elsewhere, doesn’t it indicate that your mind is scattered? Then how could you become enlightened? When you are reading and learning from Master, you should forget about everything else. The elderly should forget about their age and feel that they are a Bodhisattva like everybody else, learn without any mental inhibitions so that you forget about your age. That way, you are using the method of Zen concentration to adjust your mind and overcome all the unwholesome habitual behaviours that you have developed over your past lifetimes. Many people’s habitual behaviours are developed from many lifetimes. Everybody’s current life has connections with their previous lives. It’s the karma accumulated over the previous lifetimes that cause you to be who you are in this life.