Teaching of the month - Jan 2018

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Planting Seeds of Spiritual Development

07WoLian GuanYin

OM MANI PADME HUM

The year begins with great commitments which require sincere prayers for the benefit of many. This is the year of change for many and changes are not what most will desire. They bring about uncertainties and fears and all kinds of sufferings.

But it must happen and all must learn to adapt to new situations and develop new wisdom. Things always happen with a purpose and no one should fear life’s many changes. Joy and Grief, they are but the same, only that the mind has not been able to see their truths!

Let the mind be free from unnecessary thoughts that disturb cultivation. Let each day be faced boldly and meaningfully. Start it well with prayers and sitting, developing calmness and the enlightenment heart. The purpose of life must not be forgotten and evil tendencies of the mind must be carefully watched. Greed, Anger and Delusion are your greatest enemies and they arise within the mind.

Over countless lifetimes they have been cultured with love, out of ignorance, so that each thought that is generated, is often tinged with selfishness. The way to end the rounds of birth and rebirth is to go against the normal trends of mental pulls. Instead of greed one has to develop a generous nature so that selfishness is destroyed, then the “I”-ness will be weakened. Instead of anger, practise patience and loving-kindness so that a calmer mind is experienced. Then there is the great need for contemplative practices which will help to destroy hastiness and wrong views.

What continues in each life is one’s own mind continuum. It is the quality of the mind that counts and this is the most important point to remember. To develop the self one must know how to develop the mind. Buddhism offers everyone the opportunity to develop their minds which brings about peace and happiness. The methods to do so are numerous and the chosen way of practice in this Order is to concentrate on the sounds of prayers, in particular that of the ‘Om Mani Padme Hum’.

Without hesitation teach all who sit before you, this great prayer which can change their outlooks in life. By doing so, you are helping to plant seeds of spiritual development into them which, if developed, can bring about awakenings from the clutches of delusion and putting them onto the righteous paths. This may seem a small task but the fruit of it is immeasurable. Better to help one to enter the path of salvation than to perform all kinds of charitable deeds on them. As you help them, you will also be helping those who are connected to them, and the result will always be a happy one.

Some people may wonder what’s in it for you to be doing this work. Let them have their opinions but know that it is not for any worldly benefit that this duty is performed but the fulfillment of a great vow that has been made in the distant past - the vow that you must be living for the benefit of others. How well you keep this vow will all depend on your own effort. There will be times when your mind may rebel and distractions will come your way in many forms. That is why it is important that the mind must be watched and cleansed each day with prayers and right motivation. That is why you must keep on seeing and wishing to help those who are in pains. May your life be one of great experience that will lead you to develop greater thoughts of compassion towards its end so that again and again, you will live in service and in cultivation. The path to Bodhisattvahood is not easy to tread and incurs great sufferings, but its rich experience and final rewards easily justify all the strenuous efforts that are expanded. It is the noble path of all aspiring Buddhas and it is that which gives hope to the countless helpless beings. To be born into a life which is influenced by the Bodhisattva-spirit is the greatest of blessings. Ensure that this great energy of love is not lost, but develop and increase it so that its sphere of influence and protection can reach the end of the horizon. In your own way persist with your daily practice, righting your mind and living in a manner that is known as Right Living. Who comes and goes should not trouble you but it is your duty to offer assistance in any way possible. Practice is not for the purpose of fame whether for yourself or the Order. Humility is the true essence of practice.

To be able to practise quietly is what is most important otherwise all kinds of distractions will abound. There will be envious people around who enjoy criticising what others do and you will not be free from them. Whenever they make their presence felt, do not be annoyed or easily angered or the poisons of the mind will destroy your practice, instead you should be grateful that there are such people around to put you to test, all that you are supposed to practise or perfect. When such people no longer affect you emotionally, then you know that you have made some progress in subduing your mind, and then you will realise that the world is filled with all kinds of spiritual benefactors who in turn can benefit by your achievements.

Being a difficult year for many, you must be ready to work more energetically. Apart from meeting interesting people you will also meet up with a few who can give you teachings. Several centres may come into contact with you and this may mean more travelling involved. This should be a year of studying more intensively so that contemplation may not be lacking in subject matters. Watch the actions of the disciples and do your best to lead the few who are straying away. Will this be a wonderful year for you then? Spiritually it should be and must be so, materially you should avoid involvement with offers which seems so attractive!

Wednesday, 1st January 1986
11th Moon, 21st Day

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