Making Progress Means Having the Courage to be Kind

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Voice of Longquan     Time:2017-11-12 16:38:40
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Diligent practice of the Dharma is not just about reciting sutras or chanting the name of Amitabha; it is more about perceiving one’s own afflictions and constantly uplifting one’s mind with the help of the Dharma.

Q: Greetings Master! I am a stubbornly negative-minded person. I worry that I may have some serious disease, that my boss may think poorly of me, or that I might speak improperly. This mindset does me no good, but I just cannot help it. I’ve tried to use past experiences to remind myself that things are not as bad as I think, but I have not had much success in this. Master, how do I become more positive? Thanks!

A: The force of your habitual over-worrying, which has been ongoing for dozens of years, overwhelms the force of your occasional positive thinking. No wonder you find it hard to overcome the negative thinking. Your approach to the problem is correct, but only a massive effort can bring about a thorough breakthrough. On the one hand, you need to contemplate the harmful effects of negative thinking; on the other hand, you need to train yourself to think positively and make this a long-term habit.

Q: Master: what is the true meaning of “diligent Buddhist practice?” Does it mean nonstop, round-the-clock recitation of scripture? If so, then how can we lay Buddhists practice diligently when we have work and family to tend to? 

A: Diligent practice of the Dharma is not just about reciting sutras or chanting the name of Amitabha; it is more about perceiving one’s own afflictions and constantly. 

Q: Master, I have a few questions. Do Bodhisattvas know that people in the earth-quake stricken area of Sichuan are suffering? Do they know how many lives were lost in the disaster which happened overnight? How many monks went there to join the relief efforts? The money people have donated to repair a temple could have been used to build several primary schools. How much money do monasteries spend every year in practicing charity and providing relief?

A: Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are not omnipotent and cannot determine people’s birth, death, weal and woe; rather, they are compassionate and fully enlightened beings. A disaster caused by many factors cannot be prevented by a single effort; so we need to give rise to an immeasurable amount of good karma and create favorable conditions in order to put an end to the disaster. Therefore, spreading the Dharma constantly during ordinary times is equally as important as rescuing people, doing relief work and making donations during a time of disaster. The contribution made by Buddhism to society has material aspects. However, its contribution is principally spiritual and involves purifying, pacifying and enlightening people’s minds. Charity is not just about material donations.

Q: Master, how do I get rid of the bad habit of quarrelling with my parents? How do I avoid harsh speech?

A: People say that harsh words arise out of inner resentment, so you need to alter your thinking first. Contemplate your parents’ kindness in bringing you up, and learn gratitude instead of finding faults in your parents. If there is a long-term conflict between you and your parents, you can begin with practicing gratitude to people who are on good terms with you, then spread this practice to others. In a word, learn to observe people’s efforts on behalf of yourself and others, and be grateful.

Editor:Bella Liu
Tags:Diligent practice, spiritual contribution, practicing gratitude

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