Those who fear and keep on fearing even before actual suffering has arisen are the foolish ones. They have increased their length of suffering and become worrisome ones over sufferings which may not even arise! The year may be bad but this does not mean that they should go around with a face full of grief. How will it help to bring confidence and cheerfulness to others? In the life of every being, there are always good and bad times, good and bad years, but how is one to determine whether good times will not be there for him in any particular year?
It is much more important to live life fully each day because it offers opportunities to practise and accumulate causes of happiness for oneself and others. One has all the potentials to develop one’s being to the highest status - Buddhahood! Life offers this opportunity! So develop all the good qualities as best as possible and to do this, one cannot choose “a good year” to do so. Actually there is no good or bad year when one has really understood the Dharma. Good and bad are only terms and illusions. When one has the wisdom to look deeper into what is good and bad, one will see that there is nothing good or bad in the ultimate sense. However, for the average person, suffering is always taken as bad! This is the greatest problem that most will not be able to transcend. For this reason, you will see the difference between a well cultivated person and one who is not. It is not for him who has Dharma knowledge to go around telling others to feel bitter with the world even at the worst of times. Such a person, who has the Dharma wisdom, is even glad that suffering has come! This can be mis-interpreted that Buddhists love to suffer and must suffer in order to become one! See how one is spurred into contemplating over situation of life? With right understanding, one is able to see the goodness that exists in the seemingly ‘evil’ conditions and vice versa. It makes one into a practical person who is able to remain calm in the moments of great anxiety for others. When the karma of the past bears fruit, one has to accept it and be glad that it has finally happened! Glad? Yes, glad because soon its force will be spent and this particular seed of pain will then be swept away! Glad because the opportunities has come for one to see whether he has fully understood the teachings and ready to put them into practice or not!
A weak mind will easily be enveloped with fear and remorse, with anger and confusion. Then all that one has understood intellectually is of no avail. That is why Dharma is not to be read and understood with the intellect alone but to be experienced. And life is this great opportunity for one to experience - all kinds of experiences, happy and sorrowful ones! When one has Dharma wisdom, one is therefore glad that such ‘bad seeds’ which were generated by misdeeds of the past, have at last matured under favourable conditions in the form of some minor pain or even an incurable disease which is nothing as painful as being the causes of propelling one into the lower realms where sufferings are unimaginable! What’s more, this provides a wonderful opportunity for one to create good karmic links with others. Through one’s own experience it is easy to realise that all beings too fear suffering and pain, so that one will gladly accept one’s present circumstances to be taking on the pains of others with the thought or wish that “while such a pain is maturing upon oneself, may all others not experience it!”
This is the practice of a noble mind, a Kuan Yin Mind, and one immediately becomes karmically linked with countless beings and then it is no more just a mind training exercise, no more aspiration Bodhicitta, but a direct practice that will bring about positive result! Then the pain that one has to bear is reduced by the balm of compassion and loving- kindness, it will be borne with patience and calmness and it may not even disturb the mind at all! This then, is the highest practice! But the fear for pain is so real, it will take a great mind to be able to overcome it. One way is to go back into contemplation and recall how many others have faced similar situations each day and through nobility of the heart and love, they have not allowed fear to shatter their resolve.
The scriptures provide many examples of great ones who have sacrificed their lives without fear for the sake of bringing others to safety. Many Bodhisattvas have sacrified limb and life to save hungry beings too. But why look for that? Look at the birds, the way they protect their eggs or young ones. Even animals who are without the ability to reason like human beings are able to perform such great sacrificial deeds when danger to their young is present.
The fear for pain can be reduced by analytical thinking, it can be done. In the first place, worldly pains must be expected as part of life and they can either be moments of fear or learning. There are countless forms of pain which are there because each have caused them for themselves. Still, such pains are nothing compared to those which one has gone through in the past for all have definitely been through the “rounds of sufferings” many times over! As a worldly person, one has to face and accept all kinds of worldly pains in the forms of material and sensual pain just as a spiritual one too suffers a different set of pains. So pain is really painful!
There is no real difference between one set of pain and another, and each must eventually learn to face all of them and transcend them with wisdom - not just intellectually but actually going about taking up the right practice to extinguish them! How? By taking up the Path of the Buddhas through practising the Dharma. Countless ones have already succeeded and so can any human being because he has all the potentials to develop himself! Thinking in this manner, life is wonderful and really meaningful. That is why it is said to be more precious than the most precious jewel! Eight years of experiences, some learning and teachings have brought you to a new station in life. What is before you should not be a cause of fear or joy. Keep in mind that the life which you are having now is filled with right opportunities to practise the Buddhadharma. Appreciate it and live it to accumulate as much positive results as possible and never be content (to create causes of happiness) with whatever you have or accumulate! This is not greed. Developing causes of happiness for oneself and others is the right practice of Diligence. It is Right Effort! It is the true purpose of being alive!
Every day is filled with the opportunities for one to do good to others. Only those who are not afflicted by selfishness or laziness will learn to recognise such opportunities. So there cannot be a bad or good day at all! It is how one makes it to be. That is why a certain amount of wisdom must be present if Dharma practice is to be meaningful. That is why the highest attainment is the realisation of the Highest Wisdom! It begins with seeing, experiencing and then thinking, which leads to searching! To search is strenuous indeed and there must be time to sit and contemplate on what has been seen, experienced, learned and heard. That is why this is called the Kuan Yin Contemplative Order. All who join in must learn to contemplate, which means, thinking first before committing into action!
One begins with the blessings of Kuan Yin P’usa by the maturing of affinities developed in the past. Thinking of Kuan Yin and extolling Her great virtues, one is caused to develop one’s inherent good qualities. With Kuan Yin in mind each day, one’s mind is influenced to do only what is good and to avoid what is evil. One’s faith in Kuan Yin is the fertilizer to the ‘seeds of goodness’ which are then caused to germinate. One’s decision to practise Kuan Yin’s compassion and loving-kindness will help him to grow and bear fruit! Having Kuan Yin affinity in this lifetime has been due to immeasurable merits accumulated in the past and therefore, this life is the rarest of lifetimes! It is a life with another great opportunity to practise and to elevate oneself, to attain a far better life in the future which has fewer hindrances to Dharma practice. It is a lifetime of opportunities to be of benefit to a great many sentient beings, to learn more of the Dharma, to gather more experiences and to purge oneself of all the impurities that were gathered in the past. Therefore do not waste this lifetime by entertaining wrong views and allowing fear and doubt to be in the way. Learn to develop faith and generate confidence to others. Learn to cause others to smile! Better still, learn to teach and direct others to the good path, the Path of Compassion and life will be purposeful, leaving no time to harbour ill will, fear or anger. Life then becomes beautiful indeed! As you live, let there be mantra in your lips, and in your heart. As much as possible, encourage others to recite the Mani Mantra so that they too will be able to generate merit and to develop wisdom. Let it be your wish that whoever you shall meet, may they be blessed with the love for Dharma!
Each day, allow the essence of Kuan Yin’s name and prayers to flow into your heart. Let there be a full cleansing in the morning and at night so that your body becomes a suitable vessel for Her to reside in it! When this is possible, all worries and pains become bearable and worth the while! With dedicated practice, even worries and pains can be no more! This is the year of practice - for all! Especially those who have made a commitment to practise, even though it is just a minute’s praying each day when their intention is to pray for the well-being of others. And for those who are in the midst of pain, many will begin to search for blessings, for a new meaning with life, and they may even find a new chapter in their life through the great difficulties that they are facing. In this way, the spiritual path is opened to more people, so what is so bad about some worldly pains in life? Steadily concentrate on your daily actions, making sure that they are well directed and motivated, then this so-called difficult year may yet bring great blessings to you and all who are helping here!
Thursday, 1st January 1987
12th Moon, 2nd Day