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Dharma Is in and around Us

May 6th, 2015

Tzu Chi is about practising the sublime way, and the path is to go among the masses. Dharma is about seeing the sublime teaching, and the essence is to deeply comprehend the sutras. Thus, tread the spiritual path in accordance with proper understanding. The more we follow the way, the more we understand the way. The more we understand the way, the more we begin to follow the way correctly. When the teachings of the Buddha are assimilated into everyday life, the full penetration of the Dharma is achieved.

If one always feels more superior to others and that everyone should listen to him/her, this will make one a cold person, hard to get along with others and become socially isolated. As a result, this would lead to a lack of spiritual friends, thereby hindering one’s spiritual growth.

Once, I accompanied a Dharma sister, who is a young and promising General Manager with a big firm, to see Master Cheng Yen. Despite being in a senior position, the sister has volunteered at Tzu Chi regularly and wholeheartedly. She even thought of taking a career break to become a lay monastic practitioner at Jing Si Abode in Hualien. Hence, I arranged for her, and a few other like-minded sisters, to stay at the Abode for three days for practical experience.

Prior to their departure for Taipei, a sharing with the Master took place. When it was her turn, she shared emotionally, “Moving from corporate world to monastic life, and to live a life of discipline, diligence, frugality and resilience, is like falling from the fourth floor to ground floor.” At the end of the sharing, Master said to all, “One should not feel like falling from fourth floor, but rather climbing from ground floor!”

 

Master further elaborated, “We should never think very highly of ourselves. If we always feel head and shoulders above the rest, no one dares to get close; and we would be distanced by others.”

 

There is a Chinese adage that says: “Man strives to move up in the world whereas water flows downwards naturally.” However, for one to ascend he/she must begin at the bottom; for one to go far, he/she must start from near. If not, the higher one rises, the harder one falls. It is fine to work the way to the top, but one must keep oneself humble and grounded. Learn to bow out with dignity when the time comes.

In life, it is good to proceed steadily and carefully because haste makes waste. Deal with things coolly and patiently as a little impatience can upset great plans. Keep a low profile whilst doing a highly acclaimed job will help to go a long way. This is resonated in the famous quote by Zhu Ge Liang (诸葛亮), “One cannot show noble ideals without a simple living; one cannot have lofty aspirations without a peaceful mind.”

 

When one has nerves of steel, one can develop endurance into concentration. But when one loses one’s head, it could result in all efforts going down the drain.

 

There is a volunteer from Entrepreneurs’ Group, who is able to rise above business intrigues and market competition with his smart strategies. Following his success, he becomes very confident and conceited. At times, he can be opinionated and headstrong without realizing it. Thus, he felt extremely odd and frustrated to be in a spiritual group, which emphasizes humility and gentleness.

Arrogance and temperament will make it difficult for one to communicate with others, or in an organization. Although one may have good and valid reasons, others may just turn a deaf ear and as a result, driving him/her to loneliness and seclusion. This is due to the sense of pride and ego, which are going in a totally opposite direction to the Buddha’s teaching.

 

The delusion is attachment to views. So often we think we have the right view and force others to accept it. That is the problem! So, be selfless and abandon this sense of me and mine. The less “self” we have, the more things disappear and delusion vanishes. Let go of the sense of self to enter the sense of stillness.

 

Too much self-esteem is unhealthy as a conceited person may assume that his/her work is always the best when he/she may have no real skill or ability. Contrary to the above would be modesty and listening with an open mind.

Right after Prince Siddhartha’s birth, he sang this beautiful verse, “Highest in the world am I; Oldest in the world am I; Greatest in the world am I; This is my final birth; Never will I come into being again.”

The pronoun “I” in the verse, did not indicate Prince Siddhartha but implied the very profound doctrine of “self” in Buddhism. When the Prince awakened from the dream of existence, He experiences a state of mental bliss, free from emotional excitement, where the mind is still. He ceases to “be” forever.

A critique might comment: “There go the words of a conceited ego.” An ego he certainly was, but not a conceited one. These words point to an important Buddhist concept – Prince Siddhartha, a normal human being who was still an “ego” but was destined to eradicate the “ego” hence, rising to a supernormal state. Each one of us can, in fact, cultivate the same qualities within us.

In awakening, the Prince stopped identifying himself with the body, feelings, sensations, mental constructs, perception, cognition, emotions, actions and everything experienced. He stopped personalizing all elements of experience. Therefore, He ceases to experience a “self” existence. Through this process of waking up, the Prince was transformed into a “perfectly selfless” Buddha.

When the mind gains in-sight into the true realities of life, this is the teaching of the Buddha, and the teaching that leads to liberation. As expounded in the Lotus Sutra’s Chapter on Skilful Means, all wondrous provisional teachings lead to the ultimate pinnacle of Nirvana.

Tzu Chi is about practising the sublime way, and the path is to go among the masses. Dharma is about seeing the sublime teaching, and the essence is to deeply comprehend the sutras. Thus, tread the spiritual path in accordance with proper understanding.

The more we follow the way, the more we understand the way. The more we understand the way, the more we begin to follow the way correctly. When the teachings of the Buddha are assimilated into everyday life, the full penetration of the Dharma is achieved.

Every place offers an opportunity for cultivation, and every person serves as a mirror of reflection. See the Dharma everywhere and in everyone around us.

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