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PAST PATH AGAIN - Bhiksu Thich Chan Quang

PAST PATH AGAIN - Bhiksu Thich Chan Quang

Postby phucnhuminh on Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:10 am

It is absolutely not easy to be a genuinely good, honest human being in this world but it is very easy to be bad. It is easier to react to others badly such as we would involve in a fight, we would harm whoever had done bad things to us, and we would also hate the person who does not like us. However, the consequence of doing bad things is severe as it can lead us to be an animal in our next life, or to make it worst, we’ll go to hell when we die.

We always face the dissatisfaction in this ordinary life: bad people, unfavourable situations seem always be ready to harm us. What’s hard is how to behave and/or react to those situations ethically. That’s why we have saints living amongst us to remind human beings now and then not to live their lives in the wrong direction. In fact, it is more accurate to say that there are not many saints in this ordinary life, so it is inevitable that we always encounter unpleasant/unfavourable things in our life.

Why aren’t we satisfied? It is because we always have to think about how to deal with each other; and also because every human being is greedy, competitive, and manipulative in nature. It exists even in those who learn about the moral principles. We would have thought that we understand the principles, however, when we encounter difficulties in life, we react in a very human way: being greedy, manipulative and competitive.

Therefore, it is a long journey because we understand the principles and we living the principles. This applies to everyone and we must understand the above to help us manage difficult things in our live.

Because that’s normal in life so Confucius made the following statement: “It’s difficult being human” – “Vi nhân nan”. It is very difficult to live a life rightly. It is like solving a difficult math problem.

For example, in this life, sometimes we meet good people who possess saint’s quality, then that brings us happiness. It helps us believe in our life, make us less doubt others and as the result less thinking about how to deal with each other. It means we feel relieved, and that leads to happiness.

It is miserable when we live with someone, but we always have doubts, because we think that the person is bad, he/she is not honest with us, etc.

However, when we live with someone who makes us believe that he/she lives honestly with us, he/she gives us his/her love; and if we make mistakes in life, the person would forgive us, help us earnestly. That bring us happiness as we are not bothered, we don’t have to be prepared for bad things, so that is a relief.

On the other hand, if we live happily, then we also bring joy and happiness to others around. If we are ethical, live in accordance with our principles, it means we are not competitive and manipulative; then we also bring others joy and happiness. If you understand the above principles, you have a choice to choose the right attitude/manner, with which you live in a way that brings happiness to others.

We should not demand other to treat you right, but we must demand other to treat everyone else right. When we treat someone right, we should not expect to receive the same thing from the other. Because it means we are being selfish, expecting something in return for our kindness. Being a Buddhist, if we understand Buddhism principles, then when we treat someone right, we should not expect the same thing in return, we must expect other to treat everyone else right.

When a disciple was needy, the teacher was willing to provide support. However, the disciple hesitated: “I am just a student, who can’t afford to contribute anything, I can’t just accept your help.” The teacher responded: “If you are success later in life, remember about the support I give you today, you should do the same thing, help other people; it means you have repaid your debt.” The disciple remembered the advice for the rest of his life. The disciple did not reunite with his teacher, but he did just what his teacher advised him to do: love and help others.
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Re: PAST PATH AGAIN - Bhiksu Thich Chan Quang

Postby phucnhuminh on Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:16 am

Life is imperfect, and is filled with cruelty and unpleasant events; so for those, who just live a hidden life to avoid reality, then is that acceptable? The answer is NO because by doing that, three mistakes were made:

Firstly, it means you are a coward, and being a coward, you can’t achieve anything in life.

Secondly, by avoiding living your life, you avoid doing good deeds for other people; it also means you will eventually lose your blessing; and you are not worthy.

Lastly, when you do not interact with other people, you can’t experience love or feel being loved, so you can’t be compassionate.

Therefore, if you make the above mistakes, you can’t become Bodhisattva. It is wrong to think that it is one of Buddhism principle to avoid living your life because the reality is unbearable. Then what does it mean by saying we are leaving this life? It has a lot of deep meanings. It is not easy at all to become the Bodhisattva as they must experience many hard lives.

It is inevitable that we lived through many rough lives with many mistakes had been made. And yet we still are making many mistakes in this current life. However, when we comprehend completely Buddhism principles, we start believing in karma, we start going to temple to pray, and we start paying respect to all monks, then we start making progress in avoiding making mistakes.

Because of those many mistakes we made throughout our previous lives, it is unavoidable that we now must pay it off or make amendment during our current life. This is why our currently life somehow repeats what has already happened in our previous lives, so that we can repay.

In other words, the current life presents the same problem/issue we encountered in the past lives, giving us the opportunity to fix the mistake, or make things better. It is one of the karma principles. Even Bodhisattvas must to go through the same journey to get to where they are. We should not think that because we understand Buddhism principles, we can avoid living our lives, avoid reality. Understanding Buddhism does not mean we don’t have to make amendment for past life mistakes. The analogy we can use in this instance is that the student can’t graduate unless he completes all the subjects successfully; if he fails that subject, he must repeat it until pass mark is achieved.

For example, if we treat 3 people badly in our previous lives, in our future lives, somehow we would encounter the same situation. However, we must choose to do the right thing this time, to make up for what we did in the past lives. If we continued doing bad things to these people, we can’t really move on to better things in our future lives because we haven’t paid off our debt, or in other words, made it up for these people.

Or, if we stole money from someone in the past, then we must give to others to repay our debt. Or when we were a landlord, we did not pay our worker as we should have, then in our current life, we may become their servants or their workers, so that we can pay off the debt owed to them.

Another common example includes when we verbally abused someone in our past lives, in our future lives, we would be demanded to love others. It is not simple that we just do the Remorse Chant in accordance with Buddhism principle, then we are forgiven. We are NOT forgiven, we are just given sooner the opportunity to fix the wrong things we did.

We must remember that the more we do the Remorse Chant, the quicker the opportunity will come for us to do it right. Buddha will facilitate the situation in which we learn our lesson and do the right thing.

We must make amendment for our past live mistakes in current or future lives. We must remember that we made so many mistakes in the past, we must repay and make it up somehow, NOW to avoid it.

If we lived selfishly in the past, we now must live for others, giving more than taking. For example, if we all lived poorly and it was hard to earn cash to afford food, rather than sharing with others, we selfish just enjoyed the food ourselves, it means we lived selfishly, just thinking about our own benefits. Then in future lives, we must live for others, to make up for selfish things we did in the past. Using the above analogy, it means we must re-take the test for this subject until we successfully get the pass mark.

It is also a mistake to enjoy your life in a wasteful way because of our wealth. We should be able to help others with the available money and power. It means that in our future life, we must live a moderate, even a poorer life to make up for waste. By doing that, we learned how to appreciate the money and power we had but we abused it.

So for those who currently live your life wastefully, you must re-think about the mistake being made. And for those who currently live poorly or moderately, by reminded that this is the time you make up for the mistakes made in the past lives.

Or if we betrayed someone in the past lives, in this life we will encounter situations where we must learn about loyalty. So how do we learn to be loyal? We may face the person we betrayed in the past lives, and we must learn to be loyal with those people to repay for our betrayal. However, if we don’t have blessing, we don’t remorse and we don’t make amendment, we may live a life like a dog so we can learn the loyalty lesson in the animal form. It is unavoidable that we must repay for our mistakes made in the past lives.

For those who understand Buddhism, we should make amendment willingly for those mistakes to avoid karma. For example, if we betrayed someone, we then should praying, and doing the Remorse Chant in front of Buddha to reduce the level of severity, and vow to live loyally with others.

Again, because of our sincere remorse, we are presented with opportunities to make amendment quickly. This is for those who genuinely want to make amendment. For those who do not have the willingness to correct the mistakes, those will live an animal life in their future lives.

The same principle is applied in all of the above situations, we must repay for our mistakes. Either we do the correction willingly, or we will be places into miserable situations.
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Re: PAST PATH AGAIN - Bhiksu Thich Chan Quang

Postby phucnhuminh on Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:19 am

So what is the key message? The key message is that: we should not avoid living our life, because we made many mistakes in our past lives, so we should make repayment for those mistakes.

However, there are two ways of making repayment:
(1)- We return in future live being an intelligent and knowledgeable human being, who is willing to make repayment when opportunity presents itself, or
(2)- We return in the future, being forced to live a miserable live, and to learn how to make repayment appropriately.

Which one would we choose? Option 1 is the obvious choice. However, do we have a choice to employ Option 1 and how are we going to do that?

Well, the only way is to ensure we understand Buddhism principles, we remorse in front of Buddha, we respect everyone, that is the only way we can keep our blessing. By doing that, we will be more willing and more genuine in making payment for those mistakes, not being forced to do so.

Buddha gives us opportunity to make repayment willingly. We still can make repayment without praying to Buddha, but in an animal form.

It is our fortune that Buddhism is available anytime anywhere, without restrictions, to us. Being a Buddhism follower, we learn to respect Buddhas, we learn the principles, we learn to do good deeds, we know how to pay respect to others appropriately, so it means we have blessing. The learning helps us improve ourselves, helps us return to future lives being a human being to live a better live, making amendments to mistakes in the pass willingly.

It is only when we completely make amendments to all of our mistakes, it then can be said we can leave everything behind to progress with the convention journey (becoming a monk). If we still need to make more amendment, then it is not yet the time to leave everything to become a monk.

In fact, leaving our real life to become a monk does not mean we live an easier life, we actually must live more responsibly. The longer the cultivation time is, the more responsibility we have. Even the oldest Venerable, who is unable to do much due to their age, but still needs to be present and available for disciple/follower to learn from. We respect these Venerables not because we are being polite, but because we fully want to learn and devote to Buddhism.

The monks live a busy like, sometimes even busier than people with family. The monks need to take care of a lot of things that relate to the society problems, which is different kind of responsibility with those with family.

While others must take care of their families because that is their responsibility, the monks must take care of Venerables, organising activities for the Buddhism Association without any reluctance.

While the monks live their happy lives, in a sense that they complete activities for the associated Buddhism willingly and happily, but what they are doing are actually the repayment they made for their mistakes in their past lives.

So, when we realise that we want to live our ordinary life to become a monk, to avoid difficulties in life, we are considered to be coward, avoiding our responsibility.

Why? Again as mentioned above, we must face and deal with things in our real life to make certain that we have made repayment for our past lives mistakes. May I also remind you that if you recruit a disciple to become a monk, you should not accept anyone who running away from living their life; but you should take on the person who is willing to live more responsibly.

In fact because Venerables (Master) are benevolent, he/she accepts anyone who comes asking for help and support. The ones who live a miserable live, so the Master allows them to live a in the temple to help improve their living condition. However, they then become a monk and receive respect from others, which can potentially mean that they lose their blessing. On the other hand, those who have the potential to take on more responsibility and to practice Buddhism principles competently, then the later should really become monks.

Again I must repeat that we must continue on living our life responsibly to repay for mistakes made in the past lives appropriately. It is not about running away from our complex life to live remotely somewhere else.

However, it is incorrect to think that by living remotely somewhere else means that we are safe. We may face even more dangerous things i.e. predators. Other people would abuse us verbally, but the tiger can attack and kill us. Other people can cheat, but other predators can attack and hurt us. There are many things that are worse than human beings.

Speaking of ghost, let me tell you a funny story.
There are a lot of sand beach in Binh Thuan province. Because of the need to build more accommodations in the province, they needed to remove all the graves from one of those sand beaches for the construction. When they dig into the sand, they saw some bones and a skull inside a grave; however, they can’t touch the skull. Because every time they tried to remove the skull, it kept shaking by itself. Many people tried but failed to remove it, as they were too scared. One of them was praying: “Dear ghost, please go away so that we can build more accommodations for other people. We promised to move you to somewhere nicer”. The skull was still shaking by itself. The man who prayed before was frustrated and was about to touch the skull to remove it, then suddenly a iguana jumped out of the skull and ran away. The next day, a headline appeared on a local newspaper titled “The innocent skull”.

Let me also tell you another funny about an innocent ghost. When returning to our temple from Saigon. We haven’t slept in our room for a while. There was a hammock in our room. When we went to our bed, there was some noise coming out from the hammock. We said “Please leave us alone”. However, the noise was still continued to come from there, throughout the whole night.

When we turned on the light, the noise was gone. When we turned off the light, the noise was back. We were thinking this ghost was really daring, not really respecting us as the monks. We were so tired that we fell asleep until dawn without being bothered by the noise anymore. In the morning, we realised that the noise was made by an animal, not a ghost. We were telling the ghost off incorrectly.

It is confirmed that there are many different kinds of beings in this world, one of those we are usually afraid of is ghost or spirit. There are different types of spirits, and many of spirits require our help, it is deemed to be another repayment we need to make.

We have been saying many times that it is not the end when dying, because we still exist somewhere else, in different from. People with lots of blessing will be OK, those without blessing, they need us to constantly praying for them because they will become lost spirit.
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Re: PAST PATH AGAIN - Bhiksu Thich Chan Quang

Postby phucnhuminh on Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:21 am

Therefore, we must make repayment in this life. It means when we appreciate more about Buddhism, we must think about others, even those who have passed away, they need our help. We can help by praying for them. Please do not forget this matter because if needed, they will contact us somehow to get our attention to remind us.

It is said that it is difficult to be a good human being because according to Buddha, this life is filled with ordinary people, and has less extraordinary people; therefore it is unavoidable that we almost always encounter difficulties and unpleasant things in life. However, despite life challenges, we must continue on living like a pure lotus full of beautiful fragrance. Living amongst greediness, but we are not greedy; living amongst hatred, we continue living without any detestation.

If someone is cruel to us, we must solemnly vow not to pay back heartlessly, that’s excellent quality of Buddha. It is like a beautiful lotus is not at all impacted by the filthy smell of the mud. In other words, we are not influenced by evil or bad things in life.

However, cruelty is contagious. If we think that cruelty is the solution to defeat evil, then our life has gone down the wrong path. It is hard not to be heartless towards evil. However, that’s what we must do if we want to make amendment to our mistakes. We now must treat evil with kindness. Sometimes we need to be skilful i.e. know when to press on, or back down to avoid making the same mistakes again.

Although we know evil existence, we are not disappointed, we’d rather live calmly and be true to ourselves. When we are disappointed, we usually make mistakes, so do not allow ourselves harmed us, it is mistaken to feel disappointed immediately. When that happens, we usually feel either we should harm the person back, or we feel disappointed. It is the common mistake.

Being a Buddhist, the only attitude we should have towards these situations is being compassionate, being kind, being calm, there is no other alternative. It must be that way to get the solution to the problems that we could not solve in our past lives.

From our past lives, we were being cruel to evil, if not, we felt dissatisfied with life. However, we should not behave like that anymore; we must be calm, optimistic, and compassionate towards evil and bad things in life. Only when we were proved that we possess genuine compassion, we then meditate properly. Before that, even though we are knowledgeable about Buddhism and we live ethically, it can just be the surface, which can be destroy and damaged easily.

For example, we learn about being compassionate and kind to others, so when we meet the poor, we must use our wealth to help them. By doing that, it indicates that we understand the Principle; however, it is not guaranteed that these actions will last forever. For some reasons, we could then change to being less kind to others. It is only when we can achieve the highest level of meditation; those qualities will remain in our nature. Anyone can fall down into that easy path, even for those who have been practising Buddhism principles for long time.

Why is that so? Because we haven’t achieved the highest level of mediation. When we understand this point, we must always be on high alert, watching ourselves. We should not be so proud about all the good deeds we did because we can easily fall into our own trap.

We must always practise meditation. Because meditation helps us clear our mind, retain calmness, remove greediness, and help us have pure thoughts so we are not possessed or are not influenced by evil.

When we follow Buddhism principles and when we understand what the real life is all about, we will not feel disappointed, or pessimistic; so despite of many tricks, lies and dangers in life, we are still calm, happy and encouraged to learn and practise Buddhism. However, do not feel too proud of our achievement just yet, because evil still exists somewhere in our nature.

Because we are easily distracted by evil, we must meditate continuously, it’s the only way Buddha advises us to do, no other way. When we deeply meditate, the meditation power will help push hidden evil thoughts away from our mind. If we don’t meditate, we only see the surface, but not what’s deeply inside our mind.

For example, when we attend our temples to pray and to learn about our Buddha’s advices, we sometimes remember those principles and constantly remind ourselves of them. That’s good learning. Even when we treat someone right, it is still the outside only, it is not yet the guarantee that we are pure and genuine. Deep inside our mind, evil things are accrued and hidden over many lives, only meditation can help us reach deeply in our mind to understand what is really inside. By doing that, we can fix the root causes of all mistakes made.

If compassion counteracts hatred, it only scratched the surface. For example, if we get angry easily, then we learn to be more compassionate towards other to reduce our anger, it’s only to fix the outside of the issue. Only when we understand what the root cause of the anger is, then we can fix it completely.

However, it is not easy to meditate properly or achieve the highest level of mediation. It is not the matte of hours, days to achieve it.

When we practise with other followers, it only indicates the encouragement and support between each of the Association members. It is always encouraging to see all followers praying together in front of our respectful Buddha. We should always carry that encouragement with us everywhere to continue practise and cultivate. Therefore, it is not at all easy to achieve the highest level of meditation, it requires a lot of hard work and practise.
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Re: PAST PATH AGAIN - Bhiksu Thich Chan Quang

Postby phucnhuminh on Thu Oct 03, 2013 9:23 am

We should not be discouraged because of these difficulties and challenges throughout the cultivation journey. It requires us to continue practising over and over again, even over many lives, and more importantly, it requires determination in our mind.

We remind you that being Buddhist requires a lot of hard word and determination. Over the past few months, we have been prepared to practise Buddhism, to join other followers in harmony, to live in our holy temple, we will have the power to continue our cultivation journey, but we must understand that it is only the beginning for a bigger thing.

It also means that we must cultivate seriously, not just on the surface, but take it to a deeper level because Buddhism has a lot of philosophical principles that require thinking and exploring. Things that are easy usually do not have a lot of values. Our first step is to believe in Buddha, we avoid evil, we do more good deeds, it is the basic. To take it further, we need to be more determined, possess a lot more knowledge, have a lot of blessing and are able to deeply meditate.

When we are completely prepared for the journey, again, don’t forget meditation because it is important. But don’t be so ambitious because it is also a sin. For example, when someone wants to become a monk because he/she likes to be respected by others, so the true desire is a sin.

Knowing that, then we should practise and cultivate without being ambitious about the outcome of our work, and not thinking about our ego. Without our ego, we are able to love and respect others genuinely, not to be respected by others because of our achievement.

The more we convent, we should think that we are nothing. Someone already asked us “Why do you teach to practise and to learn to be no one, but not to be like Buddha. It is strange”. We answered “That’s right, if we learnt to be no one, then everybody will look up us as Buddha. If we learnt to be Buddha, then people will think that we are not sane.

We should convent in the way that we see ourselves as no one, only to think that we can give our love and compassion to all beings in this world.

We always should try to be better, without being ambitious. Trying to be better is different with being ambitious. They are two different things. We must not think about our ego when we are trying to be better to avoid being ambitious; and we must do more good deed, be compassionate for all beings, we must meditate and continuously learn.

Please do remember not to be disappointed, discouraged because it is life is like that. Life is imperfect, and ordinary, and life is bumpy, filled with tricks, lies and competition. Amongst these imperfections, we must keep ourselves genuine like Buddha teaches us, to bring happiness to others, and for those around us do not have to fear and doubt. And we bring happiness to others, who will bring it to share with everyone else.

For us, we also need to know that it is a long journey, with a lot of difficulties and challenges ahead, we must go back and make amendments for mistakes/sin made in the past. And we must meditate to avoid our ego, to remove unkind thoughts in our mind. We must try to be better, but not to be too ambitious.
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