V 3-37 Use the Power of your Mind to control the Obstructions from your Afflictions 用心力克服烦恼障
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.
Master continues to expound the essential points of cultivating one’s mind. Firstly, aren’t you frustrated about the number of afflictions you have? You experience it daily. What about your bad habits? Are there a lot? These bad habits include scolding at others, getting angry, give sarcastic remarks, taking advantage of others, only wanting to eat well, etc. Do you understand? You must be able to minimise your afflictions and bad habits. That’s the first step in cultivation. In plain terms, if you experience fewer afflictions, you will be more focused in your cultivation, and you will gain more power. People with few afflictions have greater power. People who are stressed daily won’t be able to cultivate well. For example, when you’re listening to Master’s lecture, doesn’t that count as cultivating your mind?
If you keep being distracted by your afflictions, could you listen properly? Could you cultivate well? Your mind is occupied with things like issues with your children, family, work etc. Although you’re sitting in Master’s lecture, your mind isn’t concentrating, could you cultivate well? Master expounds that if you’re physically here, but your mind is absent, then it means you are obstructed by your afflictions. That’s why you must cultivate your bad habits and afflictions to become less. There’s a principle in that called ‘terminal lucidity’. Master illustrates with an example. There was a person who was ill in bed for a year. Suddenly the person woke up and was very clear-minded. Everybody thought that he recovered, but he quickly passed away. His case is what’s known as terminal lucidity.
You have been muddle-headed all your life and then suddenly you become clear-minded and filled with energy. That’s called terminal lucidity. Every person is typically pitiful, but then they suddenly become clear about everything and starts to laugh at the world. That’s terminal lucidity. When you are learning Buddhism, there’s a period where you don’t really understand nor comprehend the principles expounded by the Buddha-Dharma. But afterwards, when you look back at what you did, you will finally understand. “The wisdom I learnt from the Buddha-Dharma was actually talking about my past habits, I now know.” Just like if you were smoking in the past, for example, do you still smoke after practising Buddhism?
You regularly lost your temper and mocked others in the past. Now after following Master and learning Buddhism from him for a period, and you reflect what you did in the past and knew what you did were wrong, that’s also considered as terminal lucidity. Use Buddha’s light to reflect on your past mistakes and your defiled spirit, who hasn’t made mistakes before? When you see somebody drop their money on the ground, would you take it for yourself? If you will, it shows how defiled your spirit is. Master expounds that those who take advantage of others regularly suffer the greatest losses. Those who give to others actually gain the most. In plain terms, since Master has given out the most, he gained the love and respect from hundreds of thousands of people.
People are respectful towards Master when they see him because he regularly donates. If he demanded $100 every time somebody sees him, what would that do for his reputation? Everybody must have some backbone, especially in cultivation. Master mentioned before that the 2OR Guan Yin Temple is like a clean and pure lotus pool where people can bathe in the Buddha’s light. If a person who was very defiled and have many skin diseases bathed in the pool, would there be anybody willing to step in? If Master didn’t have any powers, how could he immediately go to the families who recited sutras and help them? In reality, it’s not Master’s powers that are boundless, but it’s the Buddha and Bodhisattvas’ powers that are boundless. Do you understand?
Don’t get greedy for petty gains. Otherwise, you will definitely suffer a huge loss. Aren’t there plenty of stories about it already? When you take somebody else’s things, you will be forced to do their bidding. Then might force you to do some crime and then you get punished by the law. Don’t try to take advantage of others, Buddhists must know about the principles, do you understand? You must control your delusional thoughts and feelings. When you do something that shouldn’t be done, it’s because you thought about something unwholesome, do you understand. Have you thought about something that shouldn’t be thought about before? Have you done something that shouldn’t be done before? Who dares say that they’ve never thought about it or did it? When you think back, don’t you feel regretful? But it’s too late. Master hopes that all of you take note to have complete faith in the boundless power of the Buddha-Dharma. You shouldn’t be doing things that shouldn’t be done. Only foolish people have delusional thoughts.
You mustn’t cultivate while being attached to forms. In other words, if you cultivate while being mindful of the circumstances happening surrounding you, you won’t cultivate well. For example, if you can’t give birth and you’re attached to it, then your mind will dwell on this issue. Then you desperately pray and cultivate for the sake of giving birth. When you do finally give birth and fulfilled your aim, you then begin to slack on your cultivation. That’s why you mustn’t cultivate while being attached to forms, do you understand? If an old lady simply cultivates for the sake of extending her life span, once she passes away, there wouldn’t be any merit-virtues left as the merit-virtues accumulated from sutra recitations had already been used on her longevity. So when she passed away, her level of spirituality still remained at the original level. That’s being penny-wise but pound-foolish. So what should the elderly cultivate for?
They should properly cultivate and purify themselves so that their level of spirituality increases and could ascend to heaven after they pass away. If they cultivate with this mindset, their life span will naturally increase anyway. There’s no need to pray explicitly for it. And when they do pass away, they have something to rely on because everything they had cultivated had reached the heavens and did not remain on Earth. If they simply prayed to extend their life, then it could only extend so much as there’s a limit to the human lifespan. Assuming humans could only live up to the age of one hundred, could you carry on living in it? Your house only lasts for one hundred years, could you carry on living in it afterwards? When it rains, water will seep through the walls, and there’s a lot of problems. The house would require to be demolished and reconstructed from the ground up. You couldn’t continue to live in it as it originally were. The human body is the same. A person’s faith is like the foundations of a property. If a property lacks the foundations, it will break down when it’s shaken. If a person lacks faith, if they hear some kind of slander, then they stop reciting. The principle is the same. So one must have complete faith in Guan Yin Bodhisattva that She will definitely save them.
Master has never let you pray for money, what did he let you pray for? He let you pray for a better career and prospects. That’s because it’s correlated with each other. But only secular people pray for these things. For people who cultivate well, they shouldn’t even pray for it. Let’s illustrate this with an example. Those own small businesses work very hard. If they pray for their business to prosper every day and it goes very well, they will get so busy and become so exhausted physically and mentally, is that right? If you don’t pray for your business to go very well, you’re indifferent to it; then if it goes well, it happened naturally. If it doesn’t go well, then it doesn’t matter as long as you have enough. If you’re adamant about it, then you have to use significantly more of your energy to get it. For example, you might have to work overtime to get more money, and you have to work harder than others by a lot. The more you work, the more energy your body consumes, and your body will deteriorate quicker. Is that right?
Next, Master expounds that one must go with the flow and reconcile oneself to one’s situation. If somebody suddenly treated you badly, or if some misfortune occurred, then it is what it is, and you just go with it. “Today I accidentally tripped over. At least I got through a tribulation; it’s okay; it is what it is.” That’s called going with the flow. “If the external environment and conditions change, then I’ll go with the flow. If you’re willing to continue dating me, then we can continue doing so. If you’re not willing, then it’s ok, we can still be friends. Maybe one day we’ll be together again. What’s destined to be mine will eventually be mine.” Youngsters should possess this kind of mindset when they date, and not just break up whenever they feel like it and create some kind of drama. Do you have some problem? That kind of drama only exists on TV. In reality, don’t think about it too much. If you’re destined to be together, you’ll be together. If not, no matter how desperate you cling on to the other party, you might divorce in the future. Do you understand?
You must understand the principles. You must learn to suppress shortcomings and bad habits and not lose temper. You must regularly think about your mind and body. Your mind and body are filled with illusionary distractions. Everything you think about with your mind and everything you enjoy with your body is all illusionary. It exists for a moment and then disappears. Just like when a small child received $100, they become very happy. But after they bought something with it, all that’s left are some coins. That’s an illusion. You can’t permanently hold on to your money, your life can’t also hold on to your money, so it’s illusionary. That’s why you must keep things real.
In other words, you must remain consistent and morally upright. It’s very hard for people to let go of their ego. When you forget about yourself, then your ego disappears. If you don’t think about yourself, where will there be afflictions? There’ll be nothing troubling you anymore because there is no ‘you’. “He hit me.” Because of this ‘me’, you have taken it personally, and you develop afflictions. A rather unfitting example is that when someone becomes insane, and they don’t know who they are. So when somebody scolds at them, they just laugh. Do you think they have any afflictions? They don’t.
Of course, Master is not telling you to become insane. He wants you to be someone who forgets about their ego and become selfless. A selfless person is somebody who’s wise yet acts like a fool. They won’t develop any afflictions. Master is currently very happy, he’s selfless, and he’s only here to serve others. If one is selfless, then their mind is broad and open to many things. How could they develop afflictions? They become indifferent. It’s because you still have an ego, and that’s why you lose your temper. If you don’t have an ego, you’ll remain indifferent to anybody who scolds at you. That is the level of spirituality that you must aim for, do you understand? Finally, Master expounds that one must view themselves as being empty. That way, they can confront their afflictions. How to do so? You must regularly have thoughts like, “What’s so great about me? What do I have? I have nothing. I originally have nothing. If you want to scold at me then you’re free to do so, I don’t care.” Then you are completely empty, do you understand?