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Doubts Disappear through Unending Practice

April 1st, 2015

When you think too much, you will always have doubts that could go in two ways, that is, this way or that way. Investigate and experience the doubts yourself on the inside, not outside. Then, all the doubting will end. Purity is beyond all doubts.

When we expound the Dharma, it should flow spontaneously depending on the time, place, people and events involved. Every being has different receptive ability; and besides, the condition for learning Buddhism is not the same for everyone. If one method could help every being, there would not be beings of different potential.

To accommodate people with different capabilities, we must learn to utilize the suitable means and perceive the right time to teach a being. This can be achieved through “studying the innumerable paths of Dharma” (one of the Four Great Vows).

All methods are equal, with no one method superior or inferior to another. As long as we can internalize the teachings, it is wondrous Dharma.

Once, Zi Lu (子路) and Ran Qiu (冉求) asked Confucius the same question, “Shall I immediately put into practice what I have just heard?” Confucius’ reply to Zi Lu was, “Since your father and elder brother are still alive, how can you immediately put into practice what you have just heard?” However, to Ran Qiu, Confucius’ reply was, “Put into practice immediately what you have just heard.”

Confucius’ reasoning was, “Zi Lu is rather bold, so I advised him to go and consult his father and elder brother. Ran Qiu is timid and overcautious, so I urged him to be more courageous.” From this, we can see that Confucius had taught his disciples according to their potential in order to mould them into perfect individuals.

During my learning with Master Cheng Yen, the Master is able to preach the Dharma according to different capabilities and use skilful means to guide the disciples to panna (true in-sight). This is indeed the true Dharma taught at Tzu Chi to enable the learner to realize the beautiful teachings of the Buddha.

On one occasion at a camp, I was asked by a volunteer, “The Buddhadharma I learnt at Tzu Chi seemed different from my family’s Buddhist worship of recitations and chanting. How can I re-orientate my mind and reassure them?”

My response to the volunteer was that recitations or chanting have an important psychological meaning and purpose which helps develop an appreciation of goodness within us, and this will aspire us to attain the state of perfection called Buddhahood. Tzu Chi’s practice of the Bodhisattva Way is to serve in the multitude. Recitations or chanting are like a map which points us to the path to tread.

 

In Tzu Chi, it is about seeing through experience, not just through thinking or theorizing. Hence, listening to the sublime teaching is cultivating inwardly; walking on the sublime way is practising outwardly. Together they make up the heart of the supreme Buddhist teachings.

 

Tzu Chi’s Bodhisattva Path emphasizes the bringing of happiness to people. Before becoming a Buddha, one must first develop moral virtue and form good affinities with others. The whole idea is to go and help others out of compassion, just like the Bodhisattva born in the human world to become the Buddha for the benefit of beings suffering in samsara (cyclic existence).

The Master mentioned before that the spiritual cultivation ground for Tzu Chi disciples is to go among the masses in their daily lives. In times of disasters, the Living Bodhisattvas are the ones truly needed to give love and aid to the suffering. It is only when the teachings of the Buddha are assimilated into everyday life that the true value of Dharma is recognized. Otherwise, it is no more than just an intellectual theory.

We should turn Tzu Chi philosophy into an action of body and speech, and share it with our parents and family members. Show them that we are able to practise goodness and filial piety, as well as, handle inter-relationships with ease after joining Tzu Chi, and they will then be able to embrace the teachings. We have to change ourselves first.

On another occasion I was asked by an audience after delivering a talk, “I was hurt when I was young, and I have since carried the resentment into adulthood. Although I have encountered Buddhism and managed to find peace after a Dharma talk or sutra recital, I am still easily irritated and reacted unconsciously to environmental stimulations. I wish to control my emotions, but do not know how to go about it?”

I then shared with the audience that if one frequently thinks and ponders over angry thoughts, he/she has abandoned kindness. The arising of hatred is the arising of discomfort. Be it harm, obstacle or disappointment, bad result is inherited from being bad in the past. This is happening according to the natural Karmic Law of Cause and Effect.

 

As are the causes, so are the effects. As are the conditions, so are the retributions. Through right understanding, allow our old karma to wear itself out. In a bad circumstance, if one could respond to it in a proper way, it can be turned into a happy circumstance as a result.

 

As mentioned earlier, it was evident that the learning and recital could not stand the test, thus the audience was still disturbed when faced with unfavourable situations. This is because it is what people actually do which matters. Confucius also said, “Isn’t it a pleasure to study and practise what you have learnt?”

By putting principles into actions, one makes an effort to help those beings, who are suffering. Seeing suffering, one recognizes one’s blessings. Through spiritual quest for blessings, one liberates one’s heart. This liberation is the source of wisdom and is the true reason for being able to let things be and let things go. When wisdom awakens within, one finds peace of mind independent of the circumstantial vicissitudes of life.

In life, one often runs into many problems and doubts. But what is the real cause? Do not think too much and try to work it out intellectually. Just release yourself and get some silence in the mind. Investigate and experience it yourself on the inside, not outside. Then, you will see the Dharma for yourself.

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