Human beings follow the natural progression of birth, aging, sickness and death. Material things go through the process of being created, sustaining, changing, and becoming extinct. The universe, likewise, goes through the process of being created, existing, then falling into ruins and emptiness. All phenomena occurs and ends within the law of impermanence. All things will eventually go through the decaying/ruining process. However, when the negative karma is overcome by the practice of Four Luminous Heart/Mind, i.e. Loving/Kindness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, Letting go/Equanimity, suffering and adversity can be reverted to joy and peacefulness.

During the ruling of a very cruel emperor,Jeh, in the Xia dynasty, compounded by a period of prolonged drought, people suffered terribly. Shang Ton led a revolution and successfully overthrew Xia Jeh. However, despite Emperor Ton’s daily prayer at the altar and even a decision to move the altar to a new site in a raspberry forest, the severe drought continued for several more years with no end in sight. A divinatory officer suggested using human sacrifice for the rain praying ritual. The kind emperor immediately offered himself to be the human sacrifice and said that it was he himself who wanted to pray for his subjects anyway. The emperor also reflected and repented on his six possible governing flaws,” Had I made faulty policies? Did I fall short on my duties? Was I wasteful with money and labor on building palaces? Did I allow my wife to interfere with governing the country? Did my officers take bribes? Did I succumbed to ill advices?”. Just as he finished these self-reproaches, the rain fell heavily and his subjects were overjoyed. They believed that it was the emperor’s willingness to sacrifice himself and that the power of his vows had moved the heavenly gods which in turn gave the earth a chance to rejuvenate. “Loving kindness can overpower all ghostly demons. Compassion can give distance to all evil things. Sympathetic Joy can realize one’s wishes. Letting go/equanimity will allow spreading goodness and peace”.

Dr. Masaru Emoto, author of Water Knows the Answer of Life, carried out eight years of experimentation on water’s responses to positive and negative emotions and found that positive emotions directed toward the water resulted in beautifully-formed crystals and vice versa. This scientific experiment proves that “all things in the universe have the capacity for seeing, hearing, feeling and knowing” to be true.

I believe that we can solve various challenges as long as we keep kind thoughts. It is not enough to honor and expand the Buddhist world by one’s good effort alone. It requires one’s deep faith and vows just as the saying in “Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra” that “without the driver of a cow drawn cart, the strength of the cow alone can not get to the destination “.

A person’s pure heart/mind is same as Buddha’s “Pure Land”. Therefore, to honor Buddha’s Pure Land is to honor one’s own Buddha nature. The truth of achieving one’s entire enlightenment journey is to continually deepen one’s own Buddha nature. Master Sheng An had said in his writing Learning To Develop Your Buddha Nature,”on one’s journey to enlightenment, one needs to find a right practice method, and of all the required Buddhist practice methods, making firm vows is of first order because vows will enable us to help all sentient beings to end sufferings, and deep commitment will lead us to reach enlightenment . Without beliefs and vows, despite aeons of long diligent practice, it will only render futile”. Therefore, there is a saying in the Avatamsaks Sutra,”without bodhi mind, all effort in practicing will only lead to evil karma”. Deepening one’s bodhi mind means committing oneself toward self enlightenment and enlightening others. Making strong vows is to study dharma, educate others and help all sentient beings. Without this kind of earnest vows and commitment, one can never end the reincarnation cycles, and will always remain a member of devil’s family.

Master Shang Yen’s motto “Learning from past experiences. Reviewing will lend new knowledge. Putting roots in homeland. Having vision of the world “. These words are a good guide for all of us. With his help,we will be able to accumulate the much needed wisdom and blessings for our dharma practicing journey. We shall all appreciate this precious karma for receiving his dharma teaching. Let’s all follow and practice dharma diligently and make this lifetime worthy of living!

By: Venerable Guo Chii

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