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.
In this chapter, Master expounds the affliction due to ignorance. There are many kinds, one kind is not knowing, which is ignorance. Another kind is an affliction that develops for no reason, that is also classified as ignorance. Another kind is where one is unreasonable due to ignorance, that is also an affliction due to ignorance. How does one get rid and permanently cease afflictions due to ignorance?
Getting rid of it is possible. Just like when one throws a temper, and after a while, they calm back down. But can you cease it permanently? For example, there has been a forest that has been set ablaze. You may extinguish the fire in one large area of the forest, but if the fire has not been completely extinguished, even a small fire could eventually set the whole forest ablaze again. In other words, one will constantly suffer from afflictions. It might temporarily go away for a while, but it will still continue if it’s not completely ceased. That’s one when one affliction is gone; another affliction develops to take its place. That’s why it’s like samsara - a beginningless cycle of repeated births, mundane existence and death. Do you understand?
When you encounter an affliction, and then finally resolve it, you’re happy that you got it done and you can forget about it. But in the following week, another affliction develops. It’s because you haven’t ceased it completely as you haven’t truly understood about the source of your afflictions of ignorance. If you don’t understand, then how can you eliminate it? That’s why you can’t thoroughly eliminate it so that everything is pure again. Think about it, today, you have this affliction, now think back about the afflictions you had when you were young. All of you have been going through an endless stream of afflictions up till this day. Why do you still experience afflictions?
It’s because your sensory faculties aren’t pure; that’s why you invite and cause trouble for yourself. For example, let’s assume that you have a bad habit of badmouthing others. In the past, you didn’t know that was wrong, and now after learning Buddhism, you understand that you must apologise and repent. “Sorry I shouldn’t have done that. I hope you could forgive me.” Then the other person would say, “Ok, that’s fine.” Then the incident has reached a conclusion, and the situation has temporarily ceased. But have you changed your habit? No. When you encounter someone else you dislike, you still have the habit of badmouthing them. Eventually, they will sue you and scold at you. Then your afflictions begin to develop again. That’s what it means to not cease it permanently, do you understand?
There is no old age and death. That’s because it’s repeated in perpetuity, so there is no true ‘old age’ and ‘death’ in that sense. When someone dies, they are reborn again, isn’t that right? That is called ‘Non-cessation of old age and death’, there is no cessation of it, people will be reborn again within samsara. Today, you die. Tomorrow, you live. It’s just like day and night. When is there ever a day when the sky remains bright for the whole day? When is there ever a day when the sky remains dark for the whole day? It is akin to the cycle of samara, do you understand? When you shave your facial hair today, it will regrow again tomorrow. That is also akin to the cycle of samsara. When you’re in pain and say, “I will never do it again,” that is just a temporary cessation and a temporary state of mental clarity. Just like it is with many smokers, when you ask them not to smoke, they may not smoke today, but they’ll smoke tomorrow. Could they change themselves thoroughly?
Many gamblers chop off their little finger and swear that they will never gamble again in front of their wives to that they would forgive him. But after a while, they begin to gamble again. Just like those who take drugs, they beat and hate themselves for doing it, but there is no end to it. There is also no end to old age and death. No cessation of old age and death, no suffering, no origination, no cessation, no way. Suffering is also limitless and endless. Think about it, when somebody says that their suffering has ended when they die, it doesn’t. After they die, they still have to suffer in the unwholesome realms. Is there anybody in the Human Realm who can proclaim that they are enjoying their life and is blissful? Is there? Aren’t there many of you older listeners who have thought that you could enjoy a happy life when you’re old? Or could enjoy life in Australia? Then do you still have afflictions? When you think about your children and your grandchildren, could you let go? You still can’t let go? Is there any of you who could let go? It’s very difficult. You may understand today but don’t tomorrow. Then you understand again and don’t again. People are always repeating themselves in a cycle of samsara. What could you understand?
That’s why one must end even old age and death permanently. In other words, one no longer has the notion of life and death; then they’ll be liberated. You may ask Master, “What do you mean that there is no birth and death? Isn’t my birth real? Isn’t my death real?” But all of it is an illusionary phenomenon; they are fake, could you regard it as real? When you were young, you did many things, could you still recall it? It’s gone. But if you can’t liberate yourself from these distracting thoughts, you will always be thinking about the past unpleasant events, and you will always be burdened by it. Do you understand? You must let it go.
You must let it go. What is permanent cessation? It’s to completely get rid of it and forget about it. There’s no birth, “I don’t want to be reborn as a human again in the next life,” then there’s no death. Is that correct? Isn’t that ‘non-cessation of old age and death’? Cease birth and death; when you cease all material things in the Human Realm, then you’ll be liberated. If you were very greedy in the past and you’re not greedy anymore, then you have ceased your greed, and you won’t get greedy for things anymore. When you have decided to quit smoking because your lungs have been damaged due to such bad habits, then haven’t you ceased your habit of smoking? Afterwards, would your lung become worse? It’s the same as ending the development of your lung disease.
Because there is no birth, there will be no death. You can’t take anything in the Human Realm away with you when you die, so there is nothing to be grasped. Master is now expounding the ‘Heart Sutra’, you must have memorised it very well by now, but you must also understand its meaning. Why is Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s sutra so wonderful? Why does the ‘Heart Sutra’ help people develop wisdom? Many people’s heart condition isn't very good; the reason why it’s so is that they are under too much stress. Even if it’s hereditary, their heart condition is so because the chambers in their heart are too restricted. But other than hereditary causes, if you eat too many fatty foods, it creates the preconditions for a sudden heart attack if the heart was originally weak, do you understand? Of course, it may not happen definitely. So for people with a weak heart, what Buddhist scripture is the best to recite?
It’s the ‘Heart Sutra’, it helps to untangle the afflictions and knots that reside your mind. It’s to help you understand the world; it’s to develop your wisdom. When one is wise, then they won’t be afflicted, and they don’t be depressed. You cease all the unpleasant things in your mind. When you do, would you develop afflictions? “I wasn’t afraid of being born and not knowing what one is about and came to this world. I don’t want to be born again; I want to liberate from samsara.” Then where would death be? Just like when you became single after you were divorced, your previous marriage had created a lot of pain for you, so you have no interest in getting married again, and you won’t suffer again from relationships. Marriage is a karmic affinity; if it’s not an unwholesome affinity, then it’s a wholesome affinity. The problem is that you haven’t gotten rid of your previous thoughts; you still want to try to get into another marriage. Then what awaits you is another stream of afflictions and karmic obstructions, and then you’ll continue to argue again.
There was a female listener whose husband left her. It was supposed to be a positive outcome, as her quarrelsome lover has left. But she can’t bear it and recited sutras so that he would return. When he did return, they quarrelled and developed afflictions again. Isn’t that a cycle of samsara? Do you understand? Every one of you must listen as this applies to all of you. If something unpleasant has disappeared from your daily lives, but you recall it again, then you’ll develop afflictions again. Only crazy people would keep recalling their past unpleasant events and keep talking about it. This symptom is a classical precondition for people developing mental illnesses. Do you understand? Learning Buddhism helps one to awaken, it’s to help them cease all unwholesome things in their mind. Why do older people always develop some sudden illnesses? That’s because they keep recalling their past unpleasant memories, so they become ill more often.
All ignorance, old age and death are phenomena associated with samsara. In reality, ignorance is only temporary. Many of you had tried to suggest others to learn Buddhism and recite sutras, but they didn’t believe it, is that right? But when they are about to die, the foreign spirits will look for them, and then they realise that ghosts do exist. When they do pass away and changed into a spiritual form, then they regret that they didn’t learn and believe it sooner. So ignorance is temporary, and the afflictions developed from it are also temporary. Everything is temporary. Today you have it; tomorrow, you don’t. Think about it, when you were young, weren’t there many things that made you think that it’s the end? Like when you worked in your previous job, you got fired by your employer. At the time, you got depressed and thought to yourself how you would survive. But now that you look back, didn’t you overcome it? Then when you got investigated, you thought that it was very serious and didn’t know what to do. But in a few days later, wasn’t it resolved? Is that correct?
That’s why you must understand that everything is an illusionary phenomenon, and it’s associated with samsara. What does that mean? It means that everything has a cycle of existence and non-existence. If you have a boyfriend, then it implies that one day, your boyfriend will be gone. If you currently don’t have a boyfriend, then it implies that one day, you will find a boyfriend. If you were full after eating your lunch, it implies that you will eventually go hungry. Then when you do get hungry, it implies that you can eat until you’re full. Isn’t that a cycle of samsara? That’s why everything is a kind of karmic affinity. If you have something, that’s because you have a karmic affinity for it. If you don’t have something, it means you don’t have a karmic affinity for it. If you have a meal to eat, it means that you have the karmic affinity of having a meal in that given time. If you don’t have anything to eat, it means that you lack the karmic affinity to be full in that given time.
That’s why samsara is a karmic system. You’re a human in this life because you have this karmic affinity. If you die tomorrow, it’s also because of karmic conditions. If you arrested, that’s also due to karmic conditions. If you can’t think clearly, that’s also due to karmic conditions. Many people look for trouble themselves by searching for others to get into a relationship with. But the problem is whether that relationship will be a wholesome one or an unwholesome one. Why doesn’t Buddhist monks want to get married? It’s because they don’t want this kind of karmic affinity. It’s because they have understood after learning Buddhism, so they’re indifferent. They think that the relationships between people are just a kind of karmic affinity. If it’s not unwholesome, then it’s wholesome. But even wholesome affinities will eventually come to an end, so they rather not have it. Why could they think so clearly? It’s because they understood that this world is inherently a karmic system of births and cessations.