V 3-33 Asceticism. Heart of Devotion. Increase in Spirituality. Benefit Sentient Beings. 苦修行 虔诚心，境界增
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.
Guan Yin Bodhisattva told Master that even if a great calamity doesn’t appear, or appears much later in life, in reality, the true calamity happens within one’s mind. What are mental calamities? It’s when people behave or thinks in a self-destructive way, like the thought of committing suicide, for example. Or feeling depressed and anxious every day. A person was originally well, but then they suddenly develop cancer or other serious illnesses due to the physical strain caused by their mind. It’s a calamity brought by themselves. It’s not like you should be happy because you haven’t experienced a flood or earthquake yet. In reality, you don’t know that the calamity on your body has already appeared.
When you experience depression for a long period or experience any mental obstacles, that in itself is a calamity. Master helps check other people’s Totems daily; there was one young lady who slit her wrists three times, which Master was saving. Everybody puts their effort into saving and spiritually awakening other sentient beings. Reflect on how much you have done and how much meritorious deeds you have done. You should be sensible. When you see others putting in the effort while you don’t, wouldn’t you feel ashamed if you face Guan Yin Bodhisattva or Master? Can you still get back the day that you wasted? No. That’s why Master wishes that you could look out for yourself to avoid calamities.
Master continues to talk about the cultivation of one’s behaviour. In reality, it’s a kind of skill. If you can cultivate well, then it means that you’re skilful. Cultivators do not look down on others. Many people feel proud of themselves as they’re young, have a good academic background, have some money and look beautiful or handsome. They think that these are all their assets. But that’s because they haven’t cultivated, and so act arrogantly regularly. Because they haven’t learnt Buddhism, so they regularly badmouth others. Only those who truly understand Buddhism won’t look down on others.
That’s why Buddhists look at others with merciful eyes instead of arrogant ones. The monks and nuns in Buddhist temples are always friendly towards others. Master is compassionate towards you, but also very strict because you are one of his disciples. That’s why he must be strict. But he treats older people friendly, this you could see. Master is mainly disappointed at those who don't improve. They’ve cultivated and listened to his teachings for a long period, but they still do unwholesome things. Will it be ok if they don’t change?
Cultivation of the mind requires hardship. Only those who are suffering will think of cultivating. Otherwise, they won’t. That’s why it’s called asceticism. Those who perform meritorious deeds ascetically are kind-hearted, and so will treat others with kindness and won’t look down on others. Those who regularly look down on others won’t be a good cultivator. In Buddhist places of worship, if you don’t act politely towards the people who came to pay religious homage, then they won’t return. Those who pay religious homage all possess a heart of devotion. If you don’t treat them well, and casually send them away, then you are a bad role model. It’s considered blasphemy towards the Bodhisattvas, and that’s a sin.
Every one of you is a representative of the Bodhisattvas. Regardless whether you are a writer or somebody who take calls, every one of your conduct mustn’t let down Guan Yin Bodhisattva or other sentient beings. That’s because you’re a Buddhist. It’s because you’re not compassionate, and you look down on others, that’s why you feel annoyed/ What is asceticism? Asceticism is about suppressing and restraining oneself, and that’s it’s hard. But when you get into the habit of it, it’s no longer hard. Transforming suffering into bliss is the same principle. Every sentient being possessing a Buddhist nature; they are all Bodhisattvas and Buddhas. When you treat them aggressively, don’t you feel ashamed when you look at the Bodhisattvas? Sentient beings come to pray to Buddha, not to be abused.
A normal person doesn’t look down on any life form, like kicking or shouting at a dog. Not to mention that you’re a Buddhist. If you continuous shout and scold at a cup of water and then put it inside the fridge. When you take it back out when it’s frozen and examine its molecules, it will look distorted. If you continuously compliment the cup of water and freeze it. When you take it out and examine, the water molecules would look pretty. Even inanimate object have emotions, so you must understand this principle. Buddhists must be honest. If not, then you’re doubly guilty. It’s not that Master detests it, but it’s the Bodhisattvas who detest it. It’s because every person’s life is inherently temporal and illusionary; that’s why they must do real things.
For example, you have bought yourself a sandwich. You don’t eat and leave it out. After a few days, it will start to decay and decompose, then it disappears. Isn’t it illusionary, isn’t its existence temporary? When you returned home, you didn’t want to have an argument. But then, after being triggered, you argue again. Is it real, or is it empty? Everything in the Human Realm is false; everything is empty. When you ingest something, the food feels real at the moment you ingest it, and you’re very happy about it. But when you’ve finished the meal, then the feelings are gone. That’s because it’s empty. There is a process involved in the transformation of reality to emptiness. People were born as an infant, then they develop into an adult, and after a period, they become old and then soon, they die and disappears. Isn’t their existence temporal and empty?
What is real in the Human Realm? What can be gained? Master has said time and time again that everything is empty. When you die, you lose everything. Many people don’t want to die. If you don’t die, then people will treat you like a monster. If an old lady lives to 130 years old, can you imagine how they would look? It’s an inevitable law. The Human Realm is like a travel destination; in reality, it’s illusionary and not real. The physical body and the mental state are also illusionary and not real. Just like how you had a thought one day, and then the next day, you had another thought that quickly negates the thought of the previous day.
Today, you’ve just said that you were going to do this and that. Maybe a person beside you gives you another suggestion; then in an instant, your thoughts may have changed. Doesn’t that mean you’re empty? When Master sees you kneeling before him, he also sees you as something illusionary. That’s because you may be sincere today, and then do something unwholesome in a few days later. What’s the benefit of you kneeling before Master? It would only increase Master’s burden and his negative karma. It’s because your mind and body are not pure; that’s why you must properly cultivate to eliminate your negative karma.
Everybody is inherently illusionary and unreal, that includes their speech. They might have spoken well in the beginning, but then it got worse in the end. That’s why we must allow our Buddha-Nature to materialise in a real way. Although you’re empty, you can make it seem more permanent. In other words, although you may be changing, you do your best not to change it. That’s why true Buddhists are humble, just like when you want to be initiated into a Dharma Door and learn all the cultivation methods associated with it. But regardless of which Dharma Door, you’re initiated into, you mustn’t look down on or defame other Dharma Doors. That’s turning your nature real.
Master says once again, whether you are his disciple or a listener, never speak ill of another Dharma door. All Dharma doors are good. For example, if Master is a doctor, you must still respect other doctors. Just because Master might be a famous doctor, don’t talk about other doctors as though they are incompetent. Never do that. Never think that you’re infallible, even if you’re Master’s disciple, when others praise you, don’t feel proud. What’s there to be proud about? There are plenty of people who cultivates better than you. Although you’re listening attentively, you may not behave like a disciple of Master. It’s useless, just look at all the fellow Buddhists across the globe. They help perform life liberations for Master and diligently perform meritorious deeds. Master’s Dharma Door is now blooming around the world, and have a Wayplace of Guan Yin Citta. This is all thanks to Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s mercy.
The suffering we face is self-induced. That’s what Guan Yin Bodhisattva said to Master. This is true from a macro point of view, like the destruction of the natural environment of Earth, and from a micro point of view, like the destruction of our personal environment. Many people are aggressive, aren’t they destroying their personal environment? Many people don’t properly eat or sleep. They regularly feel depressed and afflicted and practise self-harm. That’s why they develop illnesses, both minor and severe. It’s because people continuously destroy their personal environment habitually, which then transforms into a great calamity.
Why do people feel arrogant? That’s because they regularly think only of themselves. Why do people feel that they’re amazing? That’s because they regularly think about their accomplishments, their popularity, and think they should be this and that. Everybody thinks that they’re the greatest. They think that wherever they go, there should be a red carpet for them, and other reputable and distinguished individuals should invite them. If they don’t, then they quickly become aggressive and leave. In the past, there was one Chinese member of Parliament who was like that who think he was the boss. Now that you’re currently learning Buddhism, you know that you must let go sooner or later. When you’re lying in bed due to old age, would you still be saying things like you don’t want to leave? You must let go regardless, so why not do it sooner? If you let go sooner, maybe you’ll live longer.
Why can’t you let go? Such defiled spirit and negative karma are in your body, which had muddled up your brain. Many people live for the sake of saving their face, and in the end, they’re the ones who suffer badly. They lose everything and yet still want to save face, so they commit suicide in the end. The desire to keep up appearances has ruined so many people. Keeping up appearances does not resolve any problems.
The real way to resolve problems is to let oneself go. “I don’t have an ego; I don’t have any appearances to keep. What I want is to live a wholesome life. What I want are my prospects. What I want is to be cultured. What I want is to be at a high level of spirituality so that I can transcend to the Western Pure Lands or the Four Sagely Realms. What I want is what’s important to my spiritual being, not wealth, fame or glory.” You must become more indifferent to gains and reputation, and see yourself lightly. How much do you worth? Who are you? What’s so amazing about you that you can’t apologise?
Now you know why Master points out your flaws regularly? It’s to lighten up your ego. When Master tells you off in front of so many people, and you say, “I’m sorry,” it indicates that your level of spirituality is on an incline. The more humble and courteous one is, the nobler they are. So they’re more respected by others. Those who are adamant in keeping up their appearances and not willing to admit their wrongs would not be respected by others. People will scold at them behind their backs. They’re fine as long as they don’t hear it. If you say, “I’m sorry, I’ll change,” others will view you in a positive light.
What kind of thought process do you have? When you make a mistake, you let it slide and wants to shift the responsibility. Are you really a Buddhist? You must view yourself lightly. When Master points out your flaws, it’s to make you learn to let go of your ego. What do you truly possess in your life? Your life can end in an instant. If you have neither money nor fame, then aren’t you free? That’s because you’ve abandoned your desires and your ego. If others scold at you or beat you, you feel indifferent, then aren’t you free? Like wheat, the taller they grow, the lower they bend. Why do people die unnaturally? Why do they fall ill? Why do they get angry? It’s because they think the past was the best time of their life, and they wouldn’t let it go. The past is the past; the present is the present. That’s why the Bodhisattvas said, “The past can’t be grasped, the present can’t be grasped, and the future can’t be grasped.” In reality, it only says one thing, that is nothing can be gained, and everything is empty.
Lower yourself. If you look down on others, then you’re looking down on yourself. Just because somebody works as a cleaner, you must still show respect towards them. They didn’t steal nor burgle. They’re down to earth and are marking hard-earned money to support their families. They are the most respectable, unlike some parasites who only cares about making money and have zero concern for others like some corrupt government officials. They’re less than the cleaners. They won’t be respected. Everything Master expounds is the Buddha’s words of wisdom that’s for the Human Realm. He wishes that you will properly learn it. Don’t think that because you made a mistake, you are inferior. As long as you’re human, you will always make mistakes. Even at the final hour of your life, you may make a mistake. But as long as you change for the better and awaken, then you are a wholesome person. You must watch the sentient beings; they are all by your side. Their suffering is our suffering. That’s why you must first learn to let go of your ego and be willing to face hardships. Suffering is also an exercise to eliminate negative karma.