Thursday
Jul202017

Correcting faults is cultivation.

Three ways to correct faults are to (1) change by catching them before we commit them; (2) change through understanding why our faults are so harmful; and (3) change from our heart, thus ensuring faults do not arise. The first method, trying to catch faults one-by-one demands vigilance as we struggle to weigh every thought before we speak or act. The second method, to change by understanding, necessitates an in-depth understanding of cause and consequence. The third method, the most powerful, does not require us to weigh every thought as they will already be proper being focused on completing tasks and interacting with others. Or, ideally, chanting the Buddha-name. With our focus on correct thoughts, our erroneous, wandering thoughts will gradually fade. Neither does our understanding need to be so thorough with this method. With “Amituofo,” our heart will become serene and pure, empty of faults, naturally wise.

Sunday
Jul162017

When goaded, 

not fighting back takes courage. 

When surrounded by people with nothing to lose looming over you, their barely suppressed anger radiating off them in waves as they goad you into fighting back, it takes courage to remain composed, and not retaliate. Courage. Not a word we usually associate with the Buddha’s teachings. Perhaps we should. It takes courage—steadfastness in the face of fear—to forgive when wronged, to respect when derided, persist when overwhelmed, and, yes, stand peacefully when goaded. We need courage to overcome our fear of being unworthy of the trust the Buddhas and our teachers have placed in us, and courage to overcome our fear of trusting the Buddhas and our teachers. Our fear is yet one more obstacle to overcome. We need to remind ourselves, if the man in the above account could be face up to and overcome his fear, how can we, experiencing far more favorable conditions, do less? 

Wednesday
Jul122017

Too often, 

we not only repeat our mistakes, 

we seem to be trying to perfect them.

Anything worthwhile takes time, patience, and attention; call it stick-to-itiveness. The same holds true for correcting our mistakes. We need to keep chipping away at them like a sculptor steadily working on a block of marble, eliminating the useless bits to reveal the perfection within. Like the sculptor chiseling away every day, we too need to keep chipping away at our faults, even when we don’t feel like it. This must be easier said than done because those who know us might well declare that not only are we not cutting down our mistakes, we seem to be refining them, like the sculptor polishing his finished statue. We need to follow his example and do things in order, daily finding and eliminating faults. Initially, we will make little progress. But as we improve, we will flake off larger and larger faults until, finally, we reveal the perfection within ourselves.

Sunday
Jul092017

An Introduction to the Amitabha Sutra: Chap. 48: Amitabha Sutra Spoken by Buddha

Amitabha Sutra Spoken by Buddha

In the Amitabha Sutra, Sakyamuni Buddha urged us four times to seek rebirth in the Pure Land. First, “When sentient beings hear these teachings, they must take a vow to be born in this land.” Second, “I have seen this benefit, and so I speak these words. If sentient beings hear what I say, they must make a vow to be born in that land.” Third, “All of you should faithfully accept what I say and what all the Buddhas have said.” And fourth, “All good men and women, if they have faith, must make a vow to be born in that land.” Again and again, the Buddha urged us to seek rebirth in the Pure Land.

Why so often?

Seeing the suffering that all beings in samsara are subject to, the Buddha compassionately strove to do everything possible to teach us how to end our suffering. And encouraged us to do so as quickly as possible. How? Through the Pure Land Dharma door. Through the incredibly wondrous practice of Buddha-name chanting. For when one chants the Buddha-name, one accords with Amitabha Buddha. And as Great Master Ouyi said, “When one accords with Amitabha Buddha in a single thought, one attains rebirth in that thought. And when one accords with Amitabha Buddha in every thought, one attains rebirth in every thought.”

When we finally accomplish this, no obstruction will remain between us and the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Our mind will be in accord with Amitabha Buddha’s mind. Thus, our mind is the mind of Amitabha Buddha.

Our vows are the vows of Amitabha Buddha.

Our practice is the practice of Amitabha Buddha.

Our thoughts are the thoughts of Amitabha Buddha.

Think about this: Will you be able to attain rebirth in the Pure Land?

Yes, definitely.

Saturday
Jul082017

When about to complain,

remember “That’s my karma.”

Unappealing events assail us all the time. When they do, it can be very tempting to grumble, “Why me?” To which we might raise an eyebrow and query, “Who else? Everything that happens to us is a consequence of the causes we created, the seeds we planted. Having planted onion seeds last year in our flower beds, it would be silly to wander out the back door of our house this year and demand, “What are all those onions doing in my flower beds!” We planted them. No one snuck in under cover of darkness and sowed those seeds in our impregnable back yard. We’re the only person in the universe who can plant seeds in our private garden. No one else. Similarly, no one else can tend our garden. Planting, watering, fertilizing, and weeding depend on us alone. So the next time something unexpected pops up in the garden of our life, we can wisely nod and acknowledge, “Yup. That’s my karma.”