V 3-45 Discussion of ‘Conditioned Arisal’ and ‘Conditioned Genesis’ in the Buddha-Dharma 谈佛法中的缘生缘起
Updated: Sep 29, 2021
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.
Conditioned genesis is the birth of a karmic affinity or condition. When there is a beginning, there is also an end. That is what the current age of Dharma decline wants you to understand. It is only when the Buddha-Dharma is practised in one’s daily life, could it truly show the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas’ wisdom. If the Buddha-Dharma is only used at school or in class, then it’s akin to the many things we learnt at school that becomes useless when we go out to society. Aren’t there many university graduates who still couldn’t find any job after they graduated? That’s because what you've learnt may not be practical in one’s daily life. But the Buddha-Dharma we are currently learning is something that’s practical in one’s daily life. That’s the true Buddha-Dharma of the Human Realm, and it is inseparable to the things that occur in the Human Realm. It teaches one to borrow the false to cultivate the real and to practise the Dharma to benefit oneself.
When there’s conditioned genesis, which is when the karmic affinity was just born, then there’s conditioned arisal, where the karmic affinity seems to have manifested. Before Master had accepted you as a disciple, there was a conditioned genesis. What was the conditioned genesis? It was when you were willing to dedicate yourself to learning Buddhism, is that right? It’s because you learnt Buddhism that you developed a kind of wisdom. “I learnt Buddhism because I was afraid of being lost and remaining ignorant; I must search for a good master.” That is why the condition arose. Until the time when Master has cultivated you to a certain level, some will learn very well whiles others may slack. Then, those who didn’t cultivate well will leave Master while those cultivated well gets better and may go to heaven to the Western Pure Lands or the Four Sagely Realms. Then eventually, even Master will pass away, then the karmic affinity would end.
All Dharma doors are the same. You must first have a conditioned genesis before you have conditioned arisal which will mature slowly. When something is born, then it will eventually mature, once it has reached its prime, then it will gradually decline and cease. All Dharma doors are a path for you to learn about the Buddha-Dharma, but when you have reached the end of the path, then the karmic affinity is gone, do you understand? If the TV wasn’t invented in the past, then how would there be the ultra-slim OLED TV that you see today? There was a process involved. If our ancestors didn’t do what they did during their time and propagated traditional Chinese culture, how would it still be relevant and passed down to the current generation? There was a process involved. If laws didn’t exist in the past, then we won’t have the updated laws that we have today. But are the past laws still useful? It is, it can still be used as reference and learning material, but can it still be used in today’s society? Because society and the world have fundamentally changed from before, the past laws would be unsuitable to use in today’s day and age. In reality, it is a process of conditioned genesis, conditioned arisal, maturation of karmic conditions and cessation of karmic conditions.
That’s why to take note; it’s very important to be careful when entering into a karmic affinity. Is it a wholesome karmic affinity or an unwholesome karmic affinity? For example, you are currently following Master to learn and practise Buddhism, so you have already entered into a karmic affinity. But after conditioned arisal, how long could you continue it for? Could you learn and practise Buddhism well? What follows is that it created another kind of conditioned arisal, and another kind of karmic affinity is born. “Oh, I like Guan Yin Bodhisattva. Oh, after learning Buddhism and reciting sutras, things got better.” When you get better, and your Buddhist practice has improved, and your level of spirituality has risen, then this karmic affinity is maturing, and your relationship with Master deepens. You become more willing to perform meritorious deeds, and your level of spirituality will rise to a level akin to the beings of the Heavenly Realms. Then when you die, that karmic affinity is ceased and disappears.
It’s also the same with your children. When your child was just born, you would hold him or her in your arms and every day would seem like something to look forward to. But when the child grows up and eventually reach adulthood, get married and a family of their own, then the relationship between you will gradually distance. Then when you finally pass away, the karmic affinity between you and your child ceases and disappears. Life is like that. After hardship ends come happiness, then after a while, hardship returns. It’s a cycle of hardship and happiness, that is the cycle of conditioned arisal and cessation and the endless cycle of samsara. That’s why when a person is experiencing hardships, they must think that they will eventually get to enjoy life. Many motivational speakers talk about principles that are very similar to the Buddha-Dharma. For example, when you are under hardship, you must look for the silver lining. When you are about to die, you must think that you will be able to be reborn as a human with better conditions. That’s because since you haven’t done any unwholesome deeds in your life. While you are living, you must think about how it will be when you die. The principle is the same. That’s why you must use wisdom when practising Buddhism.
When karmic affinity arises, then ignorance ceases. When you know more, observe more and ponder about it more; then ignorance will cease much quicker. For example, when you keep feeling that a certain someone will come to you, at that time, you are ignorant. When they do come to you, and your acquaintance becomes a reality, then you understand. Not knowing is ignorance; even feelings are a kind of ignorance. Do you understand? But when you are entangled in karmic affinities, ignorance also develops. That’s why one must be clear-minded of all Dharmas. Birth and cessation are the nature of conditioned arisals. Where do your karmic affinities come from?
It came from the births and cessations of other karmic affinities and conditions, do you understand? Today, you have it, and tomorrow, it’s gone. Today, your relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend goes swimmingly well, that’s the conditioned genesis. But then after a few days, you get into a big argument, and then you break up, that’s the cessation. In the ‘Romance of the Three Kingdoms’, the very first verse is ‘Those long divided shall be united; those long united shall be divided’. That’s why you must understand that whenever something goes over the top, it will create estrangement. That’s why the aim of learning Buddhism and cultivating is to understand that everything is impermanent and not long-lasting. Even the very best thing will gradually deteriorate. Could you tell me what object that exists in this world that doesn’t deteriorate over time?
For example, even stainless steel good would start to wear and rust when it’s used for too long, is that right? Doesn’t your brain also ‘rust’? Today, you are clear-minded, but then in another day, you become stubborn, is that right? When your mind is clear, you are very happy. But when you’re stubborn, you become overwhelmed by your afflictions and become sad, is that right? Think about why you aren’t receiving wholesome karmic rewards after you have done so many wholesome deeds. You have recited sutras for so long, why are you still encountering so many obstructions and hardships? Master is also going through the same hardships when he is saving and propagating to other sentient beings. Additionally, Guan Yin Bodhisattva constantly overlooks and blesses Master, so why does he also have to suffer so many hardships? Many others slander and criticise him too. It’s simple. If there is no bad, how does one know what is good? If you think like that, wouldn’t you be able to overcome your mental block? If everything is good, then there is no comparison, then what is good and bad? Then you can’t differentiate.
If others don’t spit on the streets, then it wouldn’t show your good manners of not spitting on the streets. When you go to the rural towns in China, everybody spits on the ground. If everyone spits on the ground, nobody knows what’s bad about it. Just like some people who have done so many things, but when they receive an unexpected remark, they develop afflictions. That’s because they don’t have a mental steelyard, they can’t discern what is good or bad, and the weight of it. Buddhists must erect a bright, distinct and untoppable pole flag within their minds. What does that mean? It's to possess an attitude that no matter what others do, they won’t bother you. “What’s the big deal? What could I do? What could you make me do?” In the end, isn’t everyone the same? Isn’t that right?
When you encounter something unexpected, and your mood gets affected, and you develop afflictions, it means that your mental pole flag has toppled. That’s why your mind changes according to the external environment. It should be that the external environment changes in accordance with your mind, but your mind is the one that changes instead, that’s why you develop afflictions. How does it develop? It’s because others criticise or badmouth you, it’s because others don’t understand you, that's why your mind changes in accordance with them. That’s you feel upset and uncomfortable, and your mood is bad. Master has the attitude where if you criticise him, he will do better. Is he someone who would collapse if others speak ill of him?
If that is so, how could he travel around the world to propagate Buddhism? What’s there to be afraid when you are propagating the Dharma to benefit others? You see everything clearly, and you could give away anything, what’s there to be afraid of? When ordinary people encounter something unexpected, they would panic and feel as though the sky has fallen. For example, when dark clouds surround your area, the sun is hidden, and the sky is dark. You might feel troubled because you planned to dry your laundry under the sun or go outside and do something. But then, the dark clouds pass, and the sun reemerges, then you’re happy again. “Oh, so I panicked for no reason.”
Many of your greatest afflictions exist because you could only see the dark clouds and not the sun. When the dark clouds pass, the sun reemerges again. So go through mood swings between happiness and sadness. When you’re depressed, you act as though you’ve gone insane. That’s the problem. You think that the sun and moon have disappeared. But when the dark clouds and you see the sun again, you mentally recover back to normal. Isn’t that a kind of mental disease? It’s just like taking drugs. All Dharmas have births and cessations. Today, it exists, tomorrow, it disappears. Everything is impermanent. That is the true nature of all things, take note of it.
Next, Master expounds about the birth and cessation of karmic affinities. When it’s born, a Dharma is born. What is Dharma? The Bodhisattvas refer anything and everything that can be observed in the Human Realm as a Dharma, it is an aspect of reality. For example, if you start to be friends with somebody, you create a Dharma, you create a kind of affinity, and this will give birth to even more things. For example, you suddenly develop an intent on cooking fried eggs for your guests. Eggs do not exist as a fried form naturally right? Because of that thought, you started to cook it. When you are frying the eggs, the affinity for it is maturing. Once you have finished cooking it, this karmic affinity has succeeded, and the fried eggs have become real and can be seen as a Dharma object. That’s why the birth of affinities also gives birth to Dharmas. Do you understand?
When karmic affinities cease, the Dharma also ceases. For example, let’s say that you and your spouse have a really good relationship with each other. So what is the Dharma of it? It’s love. Neither wants to part ways with the other. But when one of them passes away, then the Dharma ceases. Why? Dharma is something that can be observed. What can be seen is that originally there were two people, but now there’s only one, so the affinity that existed between them has ceased. That’s why when affinity ceases, the Dharma also ceases. Whenever an intent arises in your mind, an affinity is born. All the thoughts that occur in the mind are also Dharmas. When you suddenly think that if only you could win the lottery the next day, then after much thought, you may go out to the shops in the following morning and buy a lottery ticket. Then the Dharma has ceased, which is the affinity of buying the lottery ticket has ceased. Do you understand? That’s why Dharma and affinities will cease. In fact, everyone is created, or become who they are, by the interaction and formation of their karmic conditions and affinities.