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.
Everyone is created, or become who they are, by the interaction and formation of their karmic conditions and affinities. Everything you think, everything you hear, everything you do is a kind of karmic affinity. Why did you decide to visit the 2OR radio station? It’s because you have a karmic affinity with the 2OR team and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that are there regularly. Because there is a karmic affinity between the 2OR radio station and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, that’s why there’s a Guan Yin temple inside. That’s why there’s an affinity between you and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas there, and you get together as a result of it. Is that right? Why do you treat somebody well? Why do you get along well? That’s because a positive affinity existed between you two from the previous life, and it merely continued on in the current life. It’s a continuation of the affinity. For example, let’s say in the previous lifetime, you got along well with someone you loved for three years, and then you got into an argument and broke up. Then that affinity has ended. Then in the current life, you met up with them again and got along well for around three years, but in the end, you broke up again. So the affinity has ended. Do you understand?
Something that happens today may be gone tomorrow. If you got caught in a trap by somebody today, maybe some other person will help redress the situation. Somebody may badmouth you tomorrow, but maybe they will compliment you after a few days. Is that right? When a fortune teller tells you to be careful, and you might encounter a serious issue, would what they say really become a certainty? Affinities are subject to change, do you understand? For example, if you have committed unwholesome deeds in the past, but you have reformed yourself and now lead a respectable life, then your employer or senior would continue to treat you well. The principle is the same; it’s all a kind of karmic affinity. It’s because a karmic causation exists, and so an affinity would arise when the conditions for it to manifest meet. But it will also be gone if the conditions for it to be gone have been met. If you like somebody and treat them well, then they will also treat you well. If you suddenly dislike the person, then you will no longer treat them well and start to distance yourself from them.
All of you young adults are like that. When you see somebody you like, then you will talk more with them and also dress up to look smarter or look more beautiful. But when you lose interest with them in a few days, you become more casual about it, and you don’t dress up. It indicates the lack of karmic affinity between you. When the karmic affinity disappears, everything associated with it disappears. If a karmic affinity exists, then the things associated with it will exist. Because you still have the karmic affinity of being alive, you could continue to live in this world. Because you have a life, you can continue with all the affinities that you currently have. But if you lose your life, then you can’t continue with your affinities because you can’t make contact with the people in the Human Realm anymore. If you’re a Bodhisattva that came to the Human Realm, then since you have disconnected from the people in the Human Realm, you might only get worshipped, but you can’t communicate with them.
How do the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas stay permanently within the hearts of so many people? It’s because they have a strong karmic affinity with them, or regularly visit them in their dreams, or give them guidance, and so they are eternally in a state of non-birth and non-cessation. While when a person dies, they are gone. Your mother might have treated you very well in the past, but then she passed away. At the time, you were very sad and depressed. Every time you recalled the pleasant moments you shared, the pain doesn’t seem to go away. But after a few years, because your mother can no longer continue the affinity with you in the Human Realm, the affinity between you will eventually cease. You will gradually move on. The affinity is gone, the consequence is gone, and the Dharma has ceased. If a mother has just passed away, would the feeling of the child be the same to another person whose mother died over a decade ago? Because she hasn’t been in contact with you for over a decade, your affinity has ceased, so there’s nothing associated with it left. Do you understand?
That’s why one must constantly be practising Buddhism and performing meritorious deeds to continue the affinity with Buddhism. If you stop, then things will gradually cease. It’s the same with how parents treat their children. If you plan to do something good, you must keep doing it so that your overall life seems wholesome. Doing a momentary good deed is easy, but doing it consistently for your whole life is difficult. Many people seem very sincere in praying and worshipping the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas when they have fallen ill or meet some kind of misfortune. But when they get better or when their circumstances have improved, then they are nowhere in sight. Do you think that these people have a strong affinity with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?
Many people asked Master to check their Totem and said, “Master, why was everything good in the past, while currently, everything is bad?” He replied, “It’s because in the past life, around that same period, you’ve been practising Buddhism constantly and was very sincere. But when you were up to around your current age in the previous life, for example from the age 34 onwards, you stopped praying to the Buddhas and stopped reciting sutras. Then you should know why from your current age of 34 onwards, you started to experience misfortune as your karmic affinity ceased. Why do you work and endure hardships? What for? Everything revolves around the term ‘affinity’. What is that affinity? It’s money. Money is also an affinity that can be continued. It can be used to buy things for your children, for your family and to live. To live, you must continue this affinity, is that right? That’s why no matter how much hardship you endure, you will accept it. If you had performed many meritorious deeds in the previous life, maybe in this life, it would create karmic conditions that allow you to make money much easier.”
“Now that I know that I have to endure so much because it’s a continuation of the past affinity, then I will just accept it. Because I wasn’t good in my previous life, that’s why I have to suffer in this life. Then all I can do is accept it.” But you must properly practise Buddhism to change your karmic conditions. In other words, you much change the conditions that make you suffer into conditions that make things easier for you. You must adapt your soul with the conditions so that you no longer get hurt by it, that’s called ‘going with the flow in accordance with karmic conditions’. Many people have very extreme views on this concept. They say, “Master, since my husband and I have always been arguing with each other, then I should just go with the flow and break up with him. Is that okay?” Going with the flow isn’t like that. Going with the flow is about acting in accordance with wholesome conditions and resolving unwholesome conditions. It’s not about acting in accordance with unwholesome conditions. If something unpleasant happened in your family and you’re upset, your face would immediately look sour in front of them. The consequence of that is that they might give you the cold shoulder and say that you’re very selfish. Then you have formed an unwholesome affinity. Why must others see your sour face? If you’re upset, why must you make others feel the same way as you? That kind of behaviour is akin to planting a seed of unwholesome affinity. A person who gives unpleasant looks to their family members when they are not happy with them is a selfish person.
Take note; karmic affinities are like metal chains, it will entangle you eternally no matter how many times you die and reborn. If you treat somebody well in the current life, you will continue to treat them well in the next life. If you don’t treat somebody well in the current life, you will have to repay karmic debts to them in the next life. There is no escape from this as everybody is chained together. In one’s family, somebody who is your child is the current life might have been your wife in the previous life. Your sister-in-law in your current life might have been your father in your previous life. It is this metal chain that has entangled you all together for all eternity. Are there any one of you who can escape from these chains? There’s none. So Master is currently teaching you how to escape from these chains and escape from your suffering and afflictions. Everybody must understand, there is no end to these kinds of affinities. Ignorance is the same.
Since you can’t escape from these eternal chains, you will always develop habitual behaviour formed by ignorance. If you didn’t learn Buddhism, then you’ll never understand, and so you will always be pulled deeper within the net of chains, which makes it harder for you to escape. So you will always be ignorance in the Human Realm. Ignorance is the state of not knowing. Is there a child who knows everything in the instant that they are born? Regardless of whether you were a Bodhisattva or someone who didn’t do many good deeds in your previous life, when you were born, did you know anything? You didn’t even know how to walk, how could you know anything? So weren’t you ignorant? That’s why you have no way of ceasing it, nor the afflictions that you develop. Do you understand? That’s why ignorance is the same as old age and death. ‘Non-cessation of ignorance, non-cessation of old age and death’, a person is constantly stuck in the cycle of life and death. Many motivational speaks and leaders give a very philosophical view of things.
There was a story called ‘Yu Gong Yi Shan’. It tells a story of an old man called Yu Gong, who was determined to get rid of a mountain that was blocking their route to the town. Everybody around him laughed and said that it was impossible. Yu Gong replied, “If I can’t excavate the mountain, then my children will. If my children can’t complete it, then their children will. There is no end to my future generations.” In reality, the moral of this story is akin to samsara, is that right? Ignorance and old age and death will always be together with you with no end in sight. Because you will grow old and die, you will always be ignorant. Many elderly people are still ignorant despite having lived for so many decades. If you are reborn as a human again in the next life, you will begin your life again with ignorance. You will not know anything again and live your life again nor knowing. Humans live like so eternally trapped in an endless cycle of life and death.
One’s observation of conditioned genesis must be clear, we must learn a method of reforming one’s shortcomings, and that is to remain clear when observing the conditioned genesis of all things. What does it mean? It’s the ability to see the source of whatever that happens. “Oh, this thing happened, and it caused this karmic affinity or condition to appear. I must be careful since this karmic affinity seems to be of an unwholesome nature.” Do you know how does wholesome and unwholesome affinities develop? Whichever one of them appears, nothing can stop it. That’s why you must be aware of the conditioned genesis. ‘Genesis’ means the beginning. Whenever an affinity begins, we call that conditioned genesis. Any affinity can develop wisdom. If you regularly think about the conditioned genesis, then you will develop wisdom. In layman terms, you’ll regularly think of thoughts like, “Oh, so I shouldn’t have done that as it formed an unwholesome affinity. I must be careful.” Then you’ll develop the wisdom to resist it, and you know that you should recite sutras and be careful so that you can maintain a good relationship with the other person. Is that right? When a wholesome affinity appears, you’re happy about it, and you can still develop wisdom.
So you must understand it and see through the conditioned genesis. What does that mean? Don’t simply know about the conditioned genesis but to see through it, just like seeing through the mundane world. For example, you and your child have an affinity together since you are together as a family member. But you only possess the time from when you were born to when you die. If you see through the affinity, then you won’t overthink about it. If you don’t see through it, you might think thoughts of how your child will or might treat you, and you will think that you will depend on them to take care of you when you’re old. There was an old man who regularly prayed to the Bodhisattvas so that his son would return to his side and make up with his wife before he passes away. His prayers were heard, and his son was by his side. But there was a problem. An analogy is that although you have bought a fridge, it’s being used in a rural house where there’s no electricity. So how could you use the fridge? Although you have prayed and your son has returned to you, but you haven’t resolved the grudges in your son’s mind, so he would only increase your afflictions if he’s close to you. Then the wholesome affinity has changed into an unwholesome one. Do you understand?
Take note that you must free yourself from the entanglements of the twelve kinds of karmic affinities. Master has expounded about the twelve kinds of karmic affinities so he won’t go further in this chapter. (The twelve kinds of karmic affinities are ignorance, activity, consciousness, name and form, six sense faculties, contact, feelings, love, grasping, becoming, birth, old age and death. This is elaborated in an alternative Buddhist page: http://www.drbachinese.org/vbs/publish/321/vbs321p017.htm). You must treat your affinities well and make good use of it, then observe the conditioned genesis of it all and see through it. You must see the rise and fall of the karmic affinity and see through it. For example, let’s say that somebody fancies you. First, you must be able to identify that there might be a karmic affinity between you and that person. Once you have thought about how the affinity might progress, and if this affinity was to be maintained, what might be the result. See through it; then you might think that you shouldn’t set it in motion. In other words, you allow your mind to first imagine how things may go if acting in accordance with the karmic conditions and then see through it.
For example, when your child was just born into this world, you may have thoughts like his life is a part of yours. But when this child has grown up, married and has their own family, then they will be detached from you. That affinity is then broken. If instead, you have already realised that there will be a day when your child will leave you and live their own life, then you will have a more casual and laid-back approach towards your child and won’t be too attached. Then you won’t experience too much hurt, afflictions or lingering feelings in your relationship with your child. Anything that somebody does to you, regardless of whether it’s good or bad, indicates that a kind of karmic affinity exists between you. When you see through the affinity, then you won’t be attached to it. That’s the meaning of seeing through then letting go. Only by seeing through can you let go. For example, when a helium balloon rises into the sky, it seems like an incredible sight. But if there’s a hole in the balloon, and all the air has escaped, then it will fall back down. Isn’t this a good analogy of seeing through and letting go? Only those who are stubborn can’t see through, while those who can think clearly could let go. Do you understand?