Amituofo! We hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. In these unsettling times, it is more important than ever to continue the Buddhist practice to develop a calm and peaceful mind. Of course, we benefit ourselves through practice, but we also benefit others as we learn to react to any situation with compassion. 🙏
What is the relationship between impermanence and suffering? Does impermanence necessarily cause suffering? Recognizing suffering is the first step to end suffering and bring true happiness.
從苦中解脫 - 2
Separation from the ones we love
八苦中第五是「愛別離苦」，每個人有種種執著、情愛；有父母之情、兒女之情、同學之情、朋友之情。古人說：「人有悲歡離合，月有陰晴圓缺」、 「天下無不散的宴席」，人無法永遠在一起，有生必有死，有聚必有散，到了分離時免不了要痛苦，這就是愛別離苦。而且愛太深了，煩惱就容易現前，所謂「愛就是恨，親就是冤」，例如有些人，成了好朋友，不到一星期，忽然彼此仇恨起來了，為什麼？因為看到對方和別人要好，心裡生起了嫉妒心，愛就變成恨，親就變成 了冤。而與自己非親非故，沒有因緣的人，反而很難成為冤家。
The fifth of the eight sufferings is “to be separated from loved ones.” Everyone has many attachments and loved ones. There is the love of parents, of children, of schoolmates, of friends.The ancients say, “Man has sorrow and joy, parting and meeting. The moon can be clouded or clear, a full moon or a new (partial) moon.” And “there is no feast that never ends.” We can never be always together with those we love. Where there is life there is death. Where there is meeting there is parting. When we part with our loved ones, it is suffering. This is the suffering of “being separated from our loved ones.” When our love is too intense, vexations can easily arise. Thus “love is hate; the loved one becomes the enemy.” For example, some people become good friends with each other, but before the week is over, they start to hate each other. Why? It is because when they see the other party befriending someone else, they become jealous; hence love becomes hate, loved ones become enemies. Yet when people are neither our friends nor our relatives, when we do not have any affinity with them, they will not easily become our enemies.
明白愛憎冤親的痛苦，就要將這種「愛」轉過來，不能每天都沉溺在情愛的執著中，佛法不是不要愛，而是要將這種小情小愛提升，成為能愛一切的慈悲心。菩薩有 四無量心：慈無量、悲無量、喜無量、捨無量，把這種情愛轉化成慈悲心，更能護念利益所有的人；能夠作到心性平等，沒有分別取捨，心當中海闊天空，自然就沒有煩惱。儒家說：「老吾老以及人之老，幼吾幼以及人之幼」，無論是出家、在家都是一樣，要把自己的心量擴大，不僅對自己的子女慈愛，對於別人的子女也要 慈愛；對自己的父母要盡孝道，對別人的父母也是一樣，這個心就是平等了。「老吾老以及人之老」，遇到跟自己父母年紀相當的人，對待他們就如同自己的父母一 般尊敬；與自己同輩的，就當做自己的兄妹來看待，這就是一種平等心。
When we understand the suffering of “love and hate” then we can transform “love.” We must not be bound by the attachment of this “love.” The Bodhisattva has four immeasurable states of mind: loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. We should turn our “love” into the mind of compassion, care for and benefit all people, and harbor a mind of equality, without discrimination, without grasping or rejecting. Having a mind as large as the universe, we naturally will be free from vexations. The Chinese scholars say, “Care for the parents of others as we care for our own parents; care for the children of others as we care for our own children.” No matter whether we are at home or have left the homelife, we must all have a magnanimous mind; we must not only be merciful and compassionate to our own children, but we must show mercy and compassion to the children of others. We must not only be filial to our own parents, but should be filial to the parents of others. We must treat our peers as we treat our own brothers and sisters. This is the mind of equanimity.
But the truth of Buddhism is more encompassing than the teaching of the ancient scholars. Buddhism speaks of causality. That means all sentient beings are our past relatives. We have parents in this lifetime as well as parents of previous lifetimes. So we should be filial not only to our parents of this lifetime, but also to our parents of previous lifetimes. The saying goes, “If one person attains the way, nine generations will ascend to the heavens.” Therefore, in this lifetime, we must aim to attain enlightenment, we must practice diligently. To attain enlightenment is to transcend life and death, to transform vexations, to end the cycle of life and death. We not only should work toward our own enlightenment, but should transfer these pure merits to our parents of all past generations so that they also may be liberated from suffering.
Desiring things that we cannot get
八苦中第六種苦是「求不得苦」，人生在世，求不到的事情很多，例如學生在學校裡希望要拿第一名，雖然是這麼想，可是始終無法稱心如意，心當中就 起了煩惱。面對學業、事業懷抱很大的期望，期望達不到，就是苦。人心是貪得無厭的，有了一萬想十萬，有了十萬想要一百萬，有了一百萬想要一千萬，甚至於整 個台灣、世界最好都是自己的。但是，即便是得到了整個世界，也許還想要征服太空，可見人心的慾望沒有窮盡，這個就是求不得。得不到自己希求的，苦就現前 了。
The sixth of the eight sufferings is “desiring things we cannot get.” In this life, there are many things that we cannot get. For example, the student wishes to be at the top of his class. Even though he thinks about it, he cannot always achieve it. Therefore vexations arise. When we have great expectations in our studies or in our work and they do not materialize, that is suffering. There is no end to the mind’s greed. When we have ten thousand dollars we want one hundred thousand; when we have one hundred thousand we want a million. We even wish that all of Taiwan or the whole world were ours. Yet, even if we get the whole world, we still want to conquer space. So you can see that there is no limit to man’s greed. This is “desiring things we cannot get.” When we cannot get what we want, that is suffering.
所以，佛法強調要「知足常樂」。知足常樂不是消極，而是要我們知足、安住，從因中努力；不要這一山望到那一山高，在果當中追求、比較，讓貪心充斥我們 的心靈，因求不得而痛苦。以讀書來講，覺得能讀書、學習是很大的福氣，用這種態度把學問研究好。至於未來會如何發展，是未來的事情，如果一直分別比較，反 而會為自己帶來種種困擾。修行人也是一樣的，心要時時保持安定，人在那裡、心在那裡。只問耕耘，不問收穫，一切都是有因有果的，能夠腳踏實地去努力，未來 一定會有很好的結果。
Therefore Buddhism emphasizes “contentment is happiness.” This is not being passive; it means that we should be content, we should abide in peace, work hard from the cause. When we are on top of a mountain, we should not feel that the other mountains are higher. We should not look for the effect (fruit) or compare out lot with others, or let greed fill our mind and suffer because we cannot get what we want. When we study, we should feel blessed that we have the opportunity to study; we should therefore have the proper attitude and perfect our studies. We should not be worrying about future effects. If we are constantly comparing and discriminating, this can only bring us problems and vexations. It is the same with cultivation. The mind should maintain tranquility. Wherever you are, that is where the mind is. Only think of planting, without seeking the fruit (effect). In everything there is a cause and effect. If we can work hard and realistically, we will surely have good results.
“To seek is to suffer; to seek nothing is joy.” (To have desires is to suffer; to have no desires is joy.”) If we are always only seeking for things, when we do not get them or do not get enough of them, vexations will arise. This is the suffering of “desiring things we cannot get.” Buddhism teaches us, “Enlightenment is simply when the deluded mind rests.” When the deluded mind rests, the pure and lucid mind naturally manifests. The Chinese scholars also say, “The man of superior character has no desires.” When our mind is free from desires, our character is naturally perfected.
有人會問，如果什麼都不求了，不是消極悲觀嗎？其實，真正心中達到無所求，亦不妨礙有求，因為有求就是用，無求就是體。這念心無欲無為，有求就是這念心的起用，心中安住正念，起用就是慈悲喜捨四無量心。求，要從因上去求，求自己時時刻刻起善念，不起惡念；求自己要不斷精進、發大願，修一切善，斷一切 惡；求自己要度一切眾生，無一眾生不度。所以求了以後，又歸於無所求，就是真正的菩薩行，真正的般若智慧。如此，我們的心就安定下來了。心安定下來了，我 們的智慧、定力，乃至於福報無形當中就會增長。
Some people may ask, if we do not seek anything, wouldn’t that be pessimistic and passive? When the mind truly seeks nothing, it does not obstruct the desire for things, because desiring is the function, not desiring is the substance. When the mind has no desires and is wu wei, desire is the function of this mind. When the mind abides in right mindfulness, its function is the four immeasurable characteristics of kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. We should desire from the cause, desire to have good thoughts at all times, not to give rise to evil thoughts. We should desire to cultivate unceasingly, to make great vow, to do all good, and extinguish all evil. We should seek to liberate all sentient beings. Yet, after we wish for all these, nothing is desired. This is the true Bodhisattva Way, true prajna wisdom. This way, our mind becomes tranquil. When the mind is tranquil, our wisdom, samadhi power, and even our blessings and retributions will naturally increase.
If we wish to have no desires, we must be free from seeking fame, wealth, and sex. The mind must be master of itself, not be influenced by external circumstances. After we let go of our attachments, greed, and desires, our mind will become tranquil, our original pure and lucid wisdom will naturally manifest. This is samadhi, wisdom, liberation, and freedom. At this time we can have desires, because this mind is always unmoving, always master of itself, whether seeking or not seeking, one is always mindful. This is freedom and liberation.
For example, the aim of meditation is to seek liberation, to see the true nature and to become a Buddha. When we have right understanding and perception, we will benefit from our practice of meditation. But many people who practice meditation do not understand this principle. They only seek for good feelings, for supernatural powers. When one has such thoughts, the supra mundane method becomes mundane. Thus one not only does not achieve liberation, but can fall into deviant paths. This is all because one does not have proper perception, because the mind is not pure and lucid.
From this we can see that even though we are practicing the same method, but because the perception differs, the results will be different. Therefore we must constantly reflect and examine ourselves, make sure that in our daily life and in dealing with external circumstances, our mind does not harbor greed and the fear of gains or losses. If we have committed offences, we should correct them immediately, return to this mind of no desires and wu wei. In all things we must work on the cause, and not seek the fruit (consequences). This way we will be free from the suffering of “desiring things we cannot get.”
Being with people we dislike
The seventh of the eight sufferings is “being with people we don’t like.” We inevitably run into our past enemies or people we don’t wish to meet. This is “being with people we don’t like.” For example, when we have quarreled with someone in the past, or wished them harm, we hope never to see them again. But it’s a small world; especially with modern means of transportation, the whole world is our neighbor, so it is hard to avoid seeing these people again. When we meet them again, we feel uneasy. This is “being with people we don’t like.”
In our dealings with others in this world, we should maintain good relationships; this way there will not be any uneasiness if we meet old acquaintances in the future. The Buddhist teaching says, “Before becoming enlightened, first establish harmonious relationships with others.” If we have bad relationships with others, when we see them again and cannot avoid them, it will increase our vexations. Therefore we should always praise others, appreciate their good qualities, not pick on their defects, and not interfere with their endeavors.
Some people are very narrow minded. When they see others enjoying good fortune and success, they become jealous. Or, they hold grudges for little things, and sue other people, all because of their own attachments, hatred, and thoughts of revenge. These are the minds of lowly people, the minds of sentient beings. These are the causes of entering the evil realms, the causes of future bad karma. Therefore we should have a magnanimous mind, and not seek revenge or haggle with others. This way we will not have enemies.
Buddhism teaches that we should treat all sentient beings with equanimity whether they are friend or foe. The ancient Chinese scholars teach the same thing; that is, to treat all people with a magnanimous mind, “Be strict with oneself; be lenient toward others.” When dealing with others, we must learn to forgive them when they harm us. But when dealing with ourselves, we must constantly reflect, examine, and correct ourselves. This is true cultivation. If we can act this way in our relationship with others, we will not suffer from “being with people we do not like.”
If we have faith in Buddhism and follow the practice, we can transcend the mundane and achieve sainthood. Yet even to those who do not believe in Buddhism and have descended into hell, the Bodhisattva is infinitely merciful and will descend into hell to liberate them. The Earth-Store Bodhisattva vowed that, “If the hells are not emptied, I vow not to attain Buddhahood.” He wished to liberate all sentient beings from hell before he became a Buddha. If we have this kind of vow, this great capacity of mind, with no discrimination between friend and foe, then all our vexations will transform into purity. Thus, this mind will naturally achieve liberation.
Buddhism does not just talk about Zen, or just presents principles. It is a practical teaching. Whether we put in a one percent effort or a ten percent effort, we will reap the benefits we deserve. Therefore, in our daily life, we must cultivate the habit of treating friend and foe equally. Then our mind will truly be free from the suffering of “being with people we do not like.”
There once was a company chairman who was very generous and made large offerings to build monasteries. One day, a lay supporter visited the monastery. When he and the chairman saw each other, they were very surprised. Later, in conversation they said to each other “So you are also a student of Buddhism…. So they smiled at each other, shook hands, and became friends. Actually, these two had an argument in the past. They never thought they would meet again after all those years. This is “being with someone you don’t like.” So, based on the strength of both being students of Buddhism, these two men immediately ended their enmity and resolved their differences.
Therefore, when we have bad relationships with others, it is important that we harbor the mind of ‘not making enemies.’ We must always cultivate good relationships with others. This way, no matter where we go, we will meet with people we like. Thus we will never suffer from “being with someone you don’t like.”
The last of the eight sufferings is “body-mind imbalance (mental irritation).”
人可分為精神與物質兩大部分。精神是指心的活動，歸納為受、想、行、識四種心理狀態，這是屬於心法。物質是指身體，可分為地、水、火、風四大，亦即色法。色、受、想、行、識合稱五陰。我們的身體是由地水火風四大所組成，如頭髮、指甲、骨頭為固體型態，屬於地大；身上的水分，如唾液、小便、血液，屬於水大；身上的熱量屬於火大；出入 息屬於風大。所以說身體是四大假合，隨因緣聚合的假有。但是，眾生認取這四大假合的色身為真實，因而產生了執著，認為這個就是「我」，起了我執、我所，就 是眾生境界。一旦產生我執、我所，就開始分別、計度，起種種煩惱，讓身心不得自在，這在佛法來講，就稱為五陰境界、五蘊境界。
A person is both a spiritual and a physical being. The spiritual is the function of the mind; it consists of feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness. This belongs to the mental dharma. The physical is earth, water, air, and fire, the four great elements—the dharma of form. Form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness make up the five skandhas. Our body is made up of the four great elements of earth, water, fire, and wind. Hair, nails, and bones, are solids and belong to the earth element. The liquid part of the body such as saliva, urine, and blood belong to the water element. The heat of our body belongs to the fire element. Our breath belongs to the wind element. We therefore say that our body is the illusive combination of the four great elements, a result of the coming together of causes and conditions. But sentient beings take these four great elements as real, thus resulting in attachments. They think the body is the real “me.” This is attachment to “me” and “mine.” This is the state of sentient beings. When there is attachment to the self, discriminations arise, leading to all kinds of vexations. The body and mind cannot be at ease. In Buddhism this is the realm of the five skandhas, or five aggregates.
The five skandhas are also known as the five aggregates. “Aggregates” means accumulations; that is, our body and mind is the composite of form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness. “Skandhas” has the meaning of “obscuring,” that is, these five dharmas obscure our original nature, that is why this mind is filled with defilements and afflictions. These are the origins of life and death. No matter how long we live, we are influenced by the five skandhas.
This is especially true in the teenage years, as this is the time when the body is undergoing physiological changes, and due to the stimulation of these changes, the body and mind cannot calm down; when sitting we are restless; whether sitting or moving, we feel uncomfortable. This is “mental irritation.” Because the mind is restless, one feels hollow (lacking), prone to vexations, and does not know how to transform or rectify these. When these feelings are strong, people will look for stimulation, create bad karma, and pursue many unlawful activities and pleasures; they run away from home, or skip classes, and develop bad habits. Their studies and character deteriorate. Eventually these will cause problems in family life, in education, and in society. The cause is not that young adults wish to develop these bad habits, it is due to physiological and mental forces. This is the suffering of “mental irritation.” Form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness are like a raging fire, preventing the mind from achieving peace and tranquility.
我們心當中有三把火，第一個是瞋火，所謂「無明火高三丈」，有些人常常喜歡發脾氣。在學校裡面與同學發生了爭執，或是受了老師的責備，心中悶悶 不樂，回到家裡借題發揮，向父母、兄弟姊妹出氣，這就是瞋火。第二是飢火，肚子餓了，想要吃東西，可是卻沒有錢買眼前所見到的食物，這個時候想吃吃不到， 肚子裡就像有一把火在燒，燒到很難受，就去偷、去搶，甚至綁票勒索，如此愈來愈多的煩惱，這就是一種惡性循環。儒家說：「富貴不能淫，貧賤不能移，威武不能屈，此之謂大丈夫。」面對心中的飢火，就是要忍耐，假使無法忍耐，一旦面對貧窮的生活，吃也吃不好，住也 住不好，就會去偷、去搶了。在佛法來講，對治瞋火、飢火的方法就是要忍，忍心不動，經常誦經、持咒，時時檢討反省，起了一念瞋心、貪心，馬上慚愧、懺悔， 五陰熾盛的火自然止息。第三把火就是欲火，男女之間，男眾看到女眾，女眾看到男眾產生一種貪愛，此即欲愛、色愛，這念貪愛的心，就是一把火，欲火一燒把人們的理智都燒掉，心中迷糊顛倒就會做錯事。假使心念一動，馬上覺察發起一個慚愧心，這個火就燒不起來了。
There are three fires of the mind: the first is the fire of greed. It is said that “the fire of ignorance is 20 feet tall.” Some people have a tendency to lose their temper. At school, if they have and argument with their schoolmates, or if they are chided by their teachers, they feel unhappy and take their anger out on their parents, brothers, or sisters when they go home. The second is the fire of hunger. When people are hungry, but do not have the money to buy the food that they see and cannot eat what they wish to eat, then there is a raging fire in their stomach. Therefore they will steal, or rob, or even kidnap, thus increasing their vexations. This is the endless turning of one’s evil nature. The Chinese scholars say, “When rich, one should not be extravagant; when poor, one should not be influenced; when powerful, one should not yield; this is to be a superior person.” When the fire of hunger arises in our mind, we must tolerate it patiently. If a person is not tolerant, when he becomes poor or lacking in good food or proper housing, he will steal and rob. Buddhism teaches us that to combat the fire of anger or hunger, we should be patient and tolerant, we should recite the sutras often, be remorseful and repentant, then the fire of mental irritation will naturally subside. The third fire is the fire of desire. When men see women or when women see men, craving, desire, and lust can arise. This craving is a fire. When the fire of desire arises, it can burn one’s rational perception, it clouds and deludes the mind so that one will do the wrong thing. If we transmute our thoughts, immediately feel remorseful, then this fire will not arise.
可是一般人缺乏定力與智慧，愛欲的心念一動，時時刻刻遷流，一直在想這個事情，念念不忘，甚至晚上做夢也在想，就會愈來愈糊塗，這個火愈燒愈厲害，失 去了智慧，無法作主，就會闖下滔天大禍。社會上亂倫、性侵害等事件，或者男女間不正常的關係，都是因為這一把欲火，把自己的智慧都燒光了，自己作不了主， 所以這些業障通通都現前了。要想熄滅瞋火、飢火、欲火，就要經常檢討反省、慚愧懺悔，誦經、持咒、靜坐，養成這些習慣，自然能熄滅這三把火。我們心當中有瞋火、飢火、欲火這三把火，這個就是五陰熾盛。佛法裡面有很多名相，這些名相都有著真實的義理，我們要自己去體悟，明白了以後，還要依照佛經上的道理，時時刻刻觀照，落實在生活中，這樣就是在用功、就是在修行、就是在學佛。
But most people are lacking in samadhi power and wisdom. When lustful thoughts arise, they become continuous, they cannot be stopped. Even in dreams, one thinks these thoughts. So the mind becomes more and more confused and deluded. This fire burns more and more intensely until one is bereft of wisdom and is no longer master of the self. This can lead to great disasters. The sexual offences in society are all due to this fire that destroys one’s wisdom; one is no longer master of the self, therefore all these karmic obstacles will manifest. If we wish to quench the fire of desire, of hunger, craving, and lust, we need to reflect constantly; we need to be remorseful and repentant, recite the sutras and mantras, practice meditation. Developing these good habits, we naturally will extinguish these three fires. The three fires of the mind are the fires of hatred, hunger, and desire. These are “mental irritations.” There are many terms in Buddhism. They all contain the true principles. We need to realize and understand them; we also need to follow the teachings in the sutras, constantly contemplate and reflect on them in our daily life. This is to study diligently, this is to practice the Way, this is to study Buddhism.
色、受、想、行、識五陰熾盛苦，不但是人有，動物也有，例如小牛出生後幾個月快速的成長，因為發育得很快，膨脹得很厲害，身體就會發癢，癢的受不了，便把身體往樹上、石頭上摩擦，擦到皮破血流還在繼續摩擦。我們人也是一樣，心裡面很煩惱，找不到解脫的方法，就會用欠缺理智的行為來舒解。社會上的不良少年，不是他天生就是這樣品行不端，而是由於不懂佛法的 道理，父母親、親戚朋友也不了解，沒有薰修善法的機會與環境，一不小心便走錯了路。假使了解五陰熾盛的道理，用佛法修定、修慧、誦經、懺悔、禪坐、修善法 的方式來轉化，慢慢地心當中的五陰化除了，煩惱自然就沒有了。修行學佛是很大的福報，如果不知道佛法的道理，就會被這三把火燒到身心不安，最後只有墮落。所以學佛要發長遠心、發大心，修戒、修定、修慧。能夠得到定慧、證到三昧，就沒有煩惱，生死也就了了。
The sufferings of the five skandhas: form feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness, are common to all people as well as to all animals. For example, after a calf is born it grows very quickly; due to the expansion of its body, it feels itchy. When it cannot bear it any more, it will rub itself against a rock until its skin starts to bleed. We humans are the same way. When there are vexations in our minds and we cannot find relief anywhere, we may do irrational things to alleviate them. The wayward youth in society are not born with bad character. But because they do not know Buddhism, they do not understand their parents, relatives, and friends; they did not have a good environment in which to practice, so when they are not careful they will take the wrong road. If they understand the truth of “mental irritation” and follow the Buddhist teaching to cultivate samadhi and wisdom, recite the sutras, repent, and practice meditation, transform their thoughts by virtuous practice, then the five skandhas of the mind will disperse, and vexations will naturally disappear. It is a great blessing to be able to study Buddhism and practice the Way. If we do not understand the truth of Buddhism, body and mind will be disturbed by the three fires and we will regress in the end. Therefore, in studying Buddhism we must persevere, have great aspirations, uphold the precepts, practice meditation, and cultivate wisdom, until we attain Buddhahood. Then we will no longer have any vexations. Then we will transcend life and death.
一般人常說「無明火高三丈」，因為過去的業力、煩惱、習氣，使我們行住坐臥都無法作主，身心不安，這就是無明火。無明火是過去的業，因為我們心當中存在無始以來的業，平時如果不知道靠佛法調身調心，落實修行，因緣成熟便只能隨業流轉。例如，過去生中殺了一個人，這一生業報現前時，就算自己是在家裡，這個時候突然會覺得坐也不是、看書也不是、看電視也不是，東走西走，這念心始終安不 下來，忽然心血來潮，乾脆出去走一走好了。誰知，才一踏出門，突然來了一部飛車，或者是撞斷一隻腿、或者是喪身失命，正如一般人所說的「飛來橫禍」。這個 就是業、就是無明火使心定不下來，只能隨業去受報。心念猶如電波，過去殺了人，對方和自己的電波頻率相感應，因緣成熟，過去的冤結今日相遇，就是要去還債；無明火一燒，使人無法作主，就要去受報。因緣成熟，業報現前的時刻，如果我們正在家裡，誦經、持咒、禮佛、打坐，知道調伏這一念心，靜坐時一念不生，清清楚楚、明明白白，心就像虛空一般廣大，如如不動、處處作主，不和過去的累劫冤親相應，自然能消災免難。
Most people say, “The fire of ignorance is 20 feet tall.” This is because our past karma, vexations, and habits prevent us from being master of ourselves, and prevent our body and mind from achieving tranquility. This is the fire of ignorance. The fire of ignorance is due to past karma. We have this karma from beginningless time. So if we do not rely on Buddhism to regulate our body and minds and practice diligently, when cause and conditions ripen, we will be swayed by our karma. For example, if we killed someone in our past life, when karmic retribution manifests in this life, even though we are sitting at home, we will suddenly feel restless, our mind cannot settle down, we feel agitated, so we decide to go out for a walk. However, as soon as we go outside, a car hits us. Our leg may be broken, or we may lose our life. This is “disaster hits us like the wind” This is karma. The fire of ignorance prevents our mind from settling down. We can only reap the retribution of our karma. The thoughts of the mind are like an electric current. If we killed someone in the past, the current of the two parties will connect. When cause and conditions come together, we meet the former enemy. Former debts are to be satisfied. When the fire of ignorance flares up, we are no longer master of ourselves and we have to accept the retributions. When cause and conditions are ripe, when karmic retribution manifests, if we are at home reciting the sutras and mantras, prostrating to the Buddha, and know how to subdue this mind; if we are meditating with no thoughts arising, with clarity and comprehension, with the mind as large as empty space, unmoving, master of the self, without thinking of past friends and foes, we will naturally be free from disaster and adversities.
這念心和虛空一樣廣大，虛空沒有邊際，當中包含萬物、萬法、形形色色，但是都不能妨礙虛空。我們修行、打坐，運用佛法調身、調心，體達一念不生，沒有 無明火、饑火、欲火，什麼火都止息了，心中沒有煩惱、妄想，達到一個絕對的境界，所謂「淨極光通達，寂照含虛空」；契悟到本具的這念心性，便能了解我們的 心量廣大，如同虛空遍周沙界，含容一切又不礙一切，「境由心生」心中沒有障礙，自然沒有外境的障礙。假使我們這念心能夠達到不動的境界，聽到什麼聲音、境界都不動，冷、熱、痛、癢也不動、看到光也不動、看到佛也不動、看到魔也不動；這念心始終作主、清楚明白，一念到底，所謂感而遂通，能夠做到寂然不動，心性本具的神通智慧自能顯發。
This mind is as infinite as the vast space. The vast space is boundless; it contains all things, all dharmas, all forms and colors, yet these cannot affect the vast empty space. When we cultivate the Way, sit in meditation, regulate the mind through Buddhism, arriving at no thought, without the fire of ignorance, hunger, or desire, when all these fires are quenched, the mind becomes free of vexations and deluded thoughts, we arrive at an absolute state. This is “The light of purity pervades and illumines the vast space.” When we realize this original nature of the mind, we will realize how immense our mind is, how our mind contains the vast space and all the worlds, how it contains all things yet is not hindered by all things. All objects arise from the mind. When the mind is free from hindrances, we will naturally be free from external circumstances. If this mind can arrive at an unmoving state, when we hear any sound, we can still maintain stillness. Whether we are cold, warm, in pain, or itching, everything remains still. When we see light, see the Buddha, or the mara, we remain unmoved. This mind is always its own master, clear, lucid, and always mindful. When we can arrive at this tranquil and unmoving mind, our original supernatural powers and wisdom will naturally manifest.
Meditation helps the mind to be tranquil and still. When the mind moves, delusive thoughts and vexations arise. To have vexations is to suffer. All dharmas are illusive and unreal; they are the illusive coming together of cause and conditions; they are impermanent, so why should we constantly be attached to or cling to them. We must realize the truth that “all forms are illusive.” When the mind is still, that is wisdom. Therefore, if we wish to arrive at this state of stillness, we must practice the Way diligently, increase our understanding, regulate our body and mind, let go of our attachment to the five skandhas. The sutra says, “Perceive the emptiness of the five skandhas” When we dissolve the five skandhas, we will achieve tranquility and stillness. If we cannot accomplish this, “mental irritation” will overcome us, and we will only suffer karmic retribution.
The “ego” resulting from the illusive combination of the five skandhas is the result of dharma of form and dharma of mind. The dharma of form pertains to the material world. The body is made up of the illusive combination of the four great elements: earth, water, fire, and air. The mind dharma is the clinging mind, the transformations of feeling, conception, volition and consciousness that result from birth and death. When we are not master of our mind, we are swayed by the outer environment, cannot abide in peace, and this creates all kinds of vexations. The Heart Sutra states, “Perceive the empty nature of the five skandhas.” Form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness obscure the original nature of our mind. They prevent the manifestation of our pure and lucid wisdom, good deeds, and merits. So we must transform the five skandhas, see the empty nature of the five skandhas, and turn our consciousness to wisdom.
Therefore, the 84,000 dharmas help sentient beings transform the delusion of the five skandhas so that we can realize that form, feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness are illusive and unreal. This way we can transcend our vexations and be freed from life and death. Through our practice of meditation, our samadhi power increases, wisdom and samadhi manifest, we constantly abide in clarity, reflect on our delusive thoughts and attachments, then the vexations of the five skandhas will not manifest. We should follow the teachings of Buddhism, repent sincerely, diligently cultivate good deeds, recite the sutras, practice meditation, and calm the mind. When this mind reflects and is aware, clear, and lucid, then we will be free from the suffering of “mental irritation.”
Recognizing suffering to end suffering
To practice Buddhism, we must first understand the eight sufferings: birth, aging, illness, death, separation from loved ones, desiring things we cannot get, meeting people we don’t like, and mental irritation. Furthermore, we must understand that these sufferings are a form of retribution, that they are due to the cycle of birth and death. Because of these karmic retributions, we must now endure the torment of these eight sufferings. Therefore, to transcend life and death, we must diligently practice the supra mundane dharma, the pure dharma, the unconditioned dharma. If life and death is not a cause, then we will not suffer the effects of life and death.
Buddhism says, “Because there is this then there is the other; if there is no this then there is no other; if this arises then that arises; if this ceases then that ceases.” Whenever a thought arises, that is a cause; when the cause is ripe there will be consequences. Therefore in our dealings with people and the world, we must be cautious of our rising thoughts. In Buddhism there are the four right efforts—“When good thoughts arise, let them increase; before good thoughts arise, let them quickly arise; when bad thoughts arise, eradicate them; before bad thoughts arise, quench them.” If we wish to transcend birth and death we must reflect inwardly, we must not let bad thoughts arise, only let good thoughts arise. All our actions, speech and thoughts should have the four right efforts as their model. “Effort” means diligence. “Right” means that in diligent cultivation we must have right understanding, then we will not take the wrong road. If we do not have right understanding, if our efforts are not correct, we not only waste our energy, but all our efforts will become obstructions, ignorance and vexations. These will cause us to descend to the lower realms. We will suffer karmic retribution in the future.
If we wish to be free from suffering, to transcend life and death, we must begin with a mind of awareness and reflection. We must constantly examine our thoughts, only harbor good thoughts and avoid bad thoughts, follow the principle of the four right efforts, then our practice will be successful.
Once there was a saintly patriarch who, after enlightenment, said, “Practicing the Way is very simple: one is in action, one is in stillness.” This means to “only let good thoughts arise.” Whenever we have any thoughts, they should be virtuous thoughts, meritorious thoughts. “Only speak kind words.” We must not say things that are not beneficial to sentient beings, or say things that cause vexations to others. The sutra says, “Guard your speech, your thoughts, and do not violate the body; do not annoy sentient beings; free yourself from useless suffering, this way the practitioner can liberate all beings. (transcend the world).” This means that in our every thought and action, we must not cause vexations to anyone, and we ourselves should not be deluded or have vexations. This is to practice the Way, this is to benefit all sentient beings, this is to establish good relationships with all people before we attain Buddhahood.
The sutra says, “When in stillness not a single thought arises; when in action all virtues are perfected.” Making prostrations to the Buddha, reciting the sutras, sitting meditation, chanting mantras, supporting the monastery…these are all virtuous acts. Cultivating virtuous acts can increase our blessings and merits. This relates to our actions. When we are in stillness, not a single thought arises in the mind and we can enter deeply into samadhi. If we can practice this way, understand the Buddha Dharma, then we will achieve Buddhahood in this life.
人生的苦從什麼地方來？就是從我們起心動念種因而來，現在能夠不起心、不動念，將來就不會感招惡的果報。人生有八苦：生、老、病、死、愛別離、 求不得、怨憎會、五陰熾盛苦，靜坐時經常思惟這些道理，時刻警惕自己，我們的身、口、意三業就不會再去種苦因，未來自不受苦的果報。而面對過去所種的惡業，要靠現在精進用功轉識成智，有了智慧和定力，才能將無始以來的業障化除。佛經上說：「三昧加持力，定業也可轉」，修禪定就是修習三昧，三昧就是正定， 三昧修成功了，過去所造的業就能夠轉化。
Where do our sufferings come from? They are due to our thoughts. If no thoughts arise now, we will not create bad retribution in the future. There are eight sufferings in life: birth, aging, illness, death, separation from loved ones, desiring things we cannot get, being with people we don’t like, and mental irritation. During meditation we should often reflect on these principles, constantly admonish ourselves not to let our body, speech and mind create a cause of suffering, then we will not suffer retribution in the future. When we face our previous bad karma, we must depend on our present diligent practice so that we can turn consciousness into wisdom. When we have wisdom and samadhi power, then we can eradicate all our karmic obstacles from beginningless time. The sutra says, “the power of Samadhi can transform our previous karma.” Practicing meditation is to cultivate samadhi. Samadhi is right concentration. When we achieve samadhi, all our past karma will be transmuted.
When we contemplate the doctrine of impermanence, suffering, and emptiness, we can deeply realize the importance of life and death and the swiftness of impermanence. Then we will be free from deluded thoughts and drowsiness during meditation. Otherwise we will easily be confused, disturbed, and unable to practice diligently. If there were no suffering, we would not think of practicing diligently. It would be like Uttarakuru and the devas who spend their whole life in pleasures and never think of cultivation. In the human realm, suffering and joy are equal, and we can hear the Buddha Dharma. The human realm is the best place to cultivate the way. When we realize this truth, we must constantly arouse our awareness. We must maintain this mind of clarity, and abide in right mindfulness. In time, we will deeply perfect our samadhi and wisdom, then we can truly be free from suffering. ☸︎
What are the eight kinds of suffering? Which affect you the most? How can we avoid them? Think about what cause these sufferings.
Sending Sweet Water to the King
典故摘自《百喻經》Translated from Sutra of the 100 Parables
In a village about one hundred kilometers from the King’s palace, there was a spring which provided sweet drinking water. At the King’s order, the villagers had to carry some of this water to him everyday. It was hard work and the villagers began to think they should move away to escape the tiresome burden.
But the mayor of the village said to the villagers, “Don’t you go away. I’ll report to the King and suggest that the distance be shortened from one hundred to sixty kilometers. Then when you carry the water to the King, the distance would be shorter and you would not feel so tired.” So he went and reported to the King who agreed to shorten the distance as he had suggested.
When the villagers heard the “good news,” they were elated. Someone pointed out, “Nothing has been changed, the distance remains one hundred kilometers.”
Although the villagers heard this comment, they persisted in carrying water to the King, thinking what the King said must be true. ☘︎
Reflections on the story
“Buddhist liberation consists of three levels: the way of the arhats, the pratyekabuddha, and the bodhisattvas. But ultimate liberation is “Middle Way Reality,” which is the dharma of ‘no thought,’ ‘no abidance,’ and ‘no form.’ Everyone possesses Buddha nature; everyone can attain enlightenment; everyone can become a Buddha or a bodhisattva. “
Dharma Giving 法布施
Share your practice 心得分享
Pledge to Dedicate Merits through Our practice
Abide in Right Mindfulness
join us !
“When The Mind Is Pure, The Land Is Pure.”
During this difficult time, it is easy to feel restless and impatient. We might consciously or unconsciously manifest feelings of suspicion and intolerance towards others. However, we can replace these negative emotions with tolerance and caring through understanding how difficult it is for those who are infected.
Let our compassionate hearts bring forth healing, starting with our kind thoughts and tolerance. We can mindfully chant the sutras and meditate to pacify and purify our minds. Let’s dedicate the merits of our cultivation to world peace and wish for everyone to be free from suffering. ⚖︎
Misfortune-Dispelling and Blessings Mantra
Misfortune is derived from the mind and is extinguished by the mind. All so called misfortunes are sufferings from retribution caused by past negative karmas. When karmic obstacles are cleared, the mind is relieved and realizes blessings.
To uphold this mantra, one should abide by Three Contemplations in One Mind. Contemplate emptiness (the empty nature of everything in the world) to expel misfortune; contemplate provisional existence to realize blessings. The former two contemplations are from one thought: expel misfortune and blessings will be realized. They are provisionally existent in the Dharma realms. This is Middle Way contemplation.
When one is deluded, blessings may be perceived as misfortune. When one is enlightened, misfortune may be perceived as blessings. The Tiantai Fourfold Teachings and Six Identities of the Buddha are applicable, and if you contemplate these teachings, you are on the way.
回向 Dedication of Merits
願一切眾生遠離災疫．皆成佛道 May all sentient beings be free from diseases and calamities, and all attain buddhahood.