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The Unshakable Imperturbability of Mind

December 10th, 2015

A tranquil mind is a mind which is focused within. With full introspection, one experiences a state of mental bliss, when the mind is still.

Cultivating the transcendental Dharma within the mundane world is full of trials and tribulations. How do we then remain calm amidst the worldly affairs?

In this defiled world, people’s negative habitual tendencies are very common, just like the mud where the lotus grows in. In spite of this, Bodhisattvas still reach out to the masses to eventually attain the Buddhahood. It is inevitable for lay people to stay away from personnel issues, thus one should “treat interpersonal conflicts as opportunities for learning” as quoted in the Jing Si Aphorisms.

When our mind is bright, we will be able to uproot our mental defilements. Problematic emotional disturbances often come in the form of frustration, dissatisfaction and so on.

In the face of disputes, one should remain calm and peaceful. In happy situations, one should realize the impermanent nature in pleasures. In unfortunate circumstances, one should understand the conditioned nature of all phenomena.

When we have the right thinking, we develop a mind that is independent of external environment. Instead of becoming entangled in the complicated personal interaction, we are able to turn this into life’s lessons. This is living out the Buddha’s teachings.

Be it good or bad circumstances, as far as the external situations are concerned, we should have very little to be worried about.

Tranquillity helps us to think more clearly when we start responding rationally and stop reacting emotionally to the environmental stimulations. If we are able to see through all these very clearly, we would be at peace all the time. Otherwise, we would only get emotionally agitated and afflicted easily. A tranquil mind is a mind that can never be disturbed. This is why it is called the imperturbable serenity of mind.

With a mind that is focused within, one experiences a state of mental bliss, free from self-centred emotions, where the mind is still. This mind which is not troubled by the changing vicissitudes of life, enables one to gain in-sights into the true realities of life. When one comprehends the Buddhist philosophy of life, one’s practice progresses and deepens. He/she will not regress in the quest for spiritual enlightenment.

So then, how does one remain steadfast in the Bodhisattva practice? Firstly, maintain one’s initial resolve. This is essential as one’s initial aspiration is most sincere, untainted, gentle and determined.

Master once said, “If one has done Tzu Chi only when opportunity arises, this will not last long. One needs to undertake a solemn vow.” When one makes a conscious mental aspiration to attain Buddhahood, one will persevere without retreating.

Secondly, take the Dharma to heart. Buddhists are not “idol” worshippers. We do not pray to the Buddha but take refuge in the natural wisdom of the Buddha.

When we have the right understanding, our sense of values changes and so does our goal in life. Our mind is then automatically re-oriented and our life begins to move towards this chosen goal.

Thirdly, tread the path joyfully. When one experiences joy, rapture presents in the mind. The body relaxes and feels comfortable, and the mind is calm and still. By giving up self-centreness, one becomes happy and tranquil. However, this mental repose can be lost if the mind gets polluted again.

Last but not least, practise the way diligently; and this is a matter of intelligence and strength of mind. Whether purifying the mind, cultivating patience or upholding the precepts, progress vigorously. Diligence nurtures zeal in one’s spiritual pursuit and is the antidote for laxity, as preached in the Sutra of Innumerable Meanings. Usually when we are not practising, we give ourselves all kinds of excuses.

Master also taught that Lotus Sutra is most precious in shedding light on the Bodhisattva practice. It is a stupendous task that no being, other than a Bodhisattva, could perform, and he has strenuously qualified himself to becoming a Buddha with his final birth in the human world.

In the current declining period of the Buddhadharma, Bodhisattvas have willingly dedicated themselves to helping people, and advanced in the path of enlightenment – just like the lotus rising out of mud. The whole idea is to serve in the multitude and form good affinities with others.

Tzu Chi’s eight charitable footprints have strived to form wholesome affinities with all people and deliver them from suffering. But it is not sufficient to merely liberate others, one must also liberate oneself through realization of the wonderful Buddhist doctrine. A Buddha is perfect in enlightenment, as well as, conduct.

While serving in the multitude, great compassion (Tzu Chi path) must be applied with true wisdom (Jing Si essence). To accommodate people with different levels of receptive ability, one must be able to teach at the right time, using suitable means and according to one’s condition for learning Buddhism. Nonetheless, all skilful teachings lead to the ultimate awakening.

The Bodhisattva Path also leads to the ultimate awakening. To walk the Bodhisattva Path, one must pave a path of giving and benefitting others selflessly. There, one sees the Buddha and the Dharma. Hence, the best cultivation ground is still where the people are.

The Bodhisattva Path is indeed not easy to pursue, thus faith, vows and practices are needed as one in the cultivation. In treading the spiritual path, one must always be mindful and fully aware of the above three being developed as one. Through self-transformation, the absolute freedom from emotional turbulence is attained. Free from all discomfort, it is peacefulness.

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