Full of Discernment

Update: 21/09/2021

Full of Discernment


Discernment has two functions: the first one is to cut off sufferings; the second one is to enlighten us. Thanks to discernment, we can cut off greed, anger, madness, pride, and doubt; and clearly see the truth of this life is delusion, suffering, nothing, uncertainty and non-ego. Discernment is a torch to lighten a dark house; the light of the discernment helps to dispel darkness of ignorance, enlighten what are sufferings, the cause and the way to deliver from them. In The Light sutra, part 15, chapter Four Dharma, Khuddaka-nikaya sutra, Buddha taught: “Dear monks, there are four kinds of light. What are four of them? Light of the moon, light of the sun, light of fire and light of discernment. And the best light of them is the light of discernment.” Since discernment helps us to deliver from sufferings in this life as well as the six ways of transmigration, reaching enlightenment, that is the reason why the light of discernment is the best. In the Sala sutra, part 6, chapter 4, the fifth Samyuktagamas sutra, Buddha taught: “Dear monks, in Tiracchānayoni, the lion, king of the animals, is considered to be the best power and speed and courage. Similarly, in the ways to enlightenment, the root of discernment is considered the best one of enlightenment. And which ones belong to enlightenment? The root of faith, the root of progress, the root of memory, the root of concentration, and the root of discernment belong to ways to enlightenment. Therefore, like the lion is the best animal, discernment is the best way to enlightenment. The Buddha taught the three studies: moral discipline, meditation, and wisdom. The relation of three studies is that moral discipline results in meditation, meditation results in wisdom, wisdom results in enlightenment and deliverance. Therefore, to the practitioners, discernment is very important. In Eight Great Power of Personal Wisdom, it is written that: “Discernment is considered to be the achievement”, since it helps us to clearly see the truth of life and guides us to be peaceful, happy, enlightened, and delivered.

The Buddhists should be wise to clearly see the truth of this life, the origin of Dharma, and the Four Noble Truths – the basic lesson of Buddha’s teachings. It consists of sufferings, the cause of sufferings, the cessation of sufferings and the path leading to cessation of sufferings. In conclusion, in the Dighajanu sutra, Buddha taught the laymen Eight Dharma, four of which are to bring happiness at the present: full of cleverness, full of protection, be good, be balanced; and four of which are to bring happiness the next lives: full of faith, full of moral disciplines, full of charity, full of discernment. If we can practice these eight ways, we can be peaceful and happy in this life and next life. Hence, Buddha’s teachings are essential in this life, not just for the next life. Some people think that practicing Buddhism means to give up work at the present and do nothing, which is really a misunderstanding. Before we finish, I will tell you a story. “One day, a lady came to see me and said: “Can you do me a favor?”, “How can I help you?” I replied. She said that her family had 4 members: her husband, two children and her. Before, her husband did not understand Buddhism. She guided and convinced him to understand and attend the retreats. After that, her husband was so enthusiastic and focused on practicing. She was so happy. However, her husband no longer cared for the family and business, just focusing on retreats. Besides seven-day retreats in Hoang Phap temple, wherever holds retreats, her husband also attended them, too. No matter how hard she was to raise two children and do business. She complained that while she was in trouble, her husband stopped everything and just practiced Buddhism to Nirvana.”

What do you think about the husband? Right or wrong? Sometimes, we are too studious to practice Buddhism correctly. We just think that practice means to leave all things off, just chanting and meditating to deliverance. Don’t you forget you are laymen? Laymen also are responsible for your family, business. You cannot leave all things off like monks! You have to make your family happier, especially if you help your family members to believe in Buddhism and practice. In the future, your children will grow up and get married, you can leave off and not affect anybody. At this time, the situation is not beneficial, so you have to be responsible. You should know that learning Buddhism is to be peaceful, happy in life and your family; not leaving all things off and becoming an irresponsible parent, your family becoming worse and poorer, family members becoming disappointed.

Buddha never advised us to leave the present off and just care for the future. Conversely, as can be seen in Dighajanu sutra, Buddha guided the profitable ways to practice for this and the next happy and peaceful life. Therefore, laymen should be mastered to practice Buddhism. If not, you could make people hurt and misunderstand Buddhism which is a religion without negation, without pessimism, but true reality and altruism.


Extracted from Two happy lives  Sen. Ven. Thich Chan Tinh

Translated into English by Nguyen Hoang Thoai

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