To correspond with Buddha's teachings is crucial in Buddhist cultivation

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Voice of Longquan     Time:2018-03-11 07:27:36
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To correspond with Buddha's teachings is of crucial importance in Buddhist cultivation. To correspond means to be whole-heartedly devoted to the teachings and be resonant with them.

Q: Master, I often feel unconfident about the prospect of the road I take, and become pessimistic whenever I meet frustrations. Failing to handle my emotions well, I am prone to attribute all problems to evil in human nature whenever I encounter anything unsatisfactory. I often feel that even the goodness in people is not genuine and it comes with a purpose. I find myself short of positive energy and resistant to social contact. How do I improve my situation? 

A: What the world is like depends on our mind. A bright and tender mind sees Buddha nature in all living beings, which is just obscured by ignorance and afflictions, and sees that all beings deserve compassion and help. A gloomy and chilly mind finds various problems in itself, sees no hope and becomes weak. 

Positive energy inside needs to be nourished by virtuous teachings outside. Try to approach a team of teachers, dharma, and fellow practitioners, do more dharma listening, take regular Buddhist learning, and read good books; all these are sources of spiritual food and help to increase inner brightness. If we do not take meals, our body becomes weak and hungry, and even falls sick. Likewise, we also need to nourish our mind every day to keep it fit. 

Q: Master, I have too many interests and want to try everything. Yet the problem is, I don't know what I truly want. What kind of life do I wish to live? What should I do? Another thing, once I made a stupid choice in the past that I regretted, so now I dread making choices lest I should regret again. 

A: Interests cannot determine what you are going to do. Without a deep understanding and faith about what you’re interested in as a backbone, an interest itself is apt to change. And many interests are associated with the five desires of wealth, sex, fame, food and sleep, and of no value to yourself and others. 

We should, first of all, have a vision of the overall situation, which consists of a consideration of how extensive and broad our life can be, and a clear view of value. Only when we have a determined view in the overall situation, can we know how to make choices in the daily life. 

Q: Venerable Master, you often say that to practice is to correct our behaviors, speech and thoughts in accordance with Buddha's teachings. No matter what we want, be it secular gains or spiritual growth, we should work hard at cultivating ourselves. Then why should we pray, recite sutras and chant mantras? Sutras also admonish us that we should recite sutras more. Here is my confusion: if I gain something only through my practical hard work, why should I recite sutras? And it seems there is no response to my recitation. 

A: Chanting Buddha's name and reciting sutras are methods to make you a better person. Buddhism is not about improving external circumstances solely by reciting some mantras; instead it encourages us to improve our minds, which is the cause for better circumstances. 

To correspond with Buddha's teachings is of crucial importance in Buddhist cultivation. To correspond means to be whole-heartedly devoted to the teachings and be resonant with them. Take watching movie for example. When you are immersed in a movie and oblivious to anything else, you feel as if you were living the characters' lives and even sharing their destiny; you are moved and carried away by ups and downs in the story. This is a kind of correspondence. If you come to this extent of correspondence when reciting sutras, you are correcting your mind. If there is no correspondence and your heart is left unchanged, how can you expect any response? 

Q: Master, is renouncing the secular life and becoming a monastic in conflict with being filial towards one's parents? 

A: The monastics renounce the secular life for the sake of a better or ultimate filial piety towards their parents. Believing there is a conflict between the two matters is a huge misunderstanding in the secular world about Buddhism. Monastics are free to look after their parents when the latter fall sick; their parents are welcome to live in the monastery, do volunteering work and cultivate their merits through Buddhist practice; their cultivation not only ensures a better present life, but also benefits their lives to come. Therefore, the conflict does not reside in the two matters, but in our heart. 

Editor:Bella Liu
Tags:mind, positive energy, making choice, renouncing the secular life

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