True and Good Dharma (P.1)

Update: 18/09/2021

True and Good Dharma (P.1)


On the way of cultivating and practicing Budhha’s teaching, there are things that are supposed to be good acts but in deep meaning, they are actually hidden unkind dharma. In the Flower Adornment Sutra, chapter 38, section Detachment from the World, Buddha said about obstacles on the way that Bodhisattvas will face while practicing and performing their Bodhisattva’s path.  These obstacles are also known as evil karma.

1.    Malevolence giving is demon karma:

Donation is understood as the use of many different means to help other people overcome difficulties. It is named “Donation” or “Giving”. There are three forms of giving: property or money giving, Dharma giving (using many means to make people believe and understand the Buddhadharma) and fearlessness giving (consoling, soothing, helping people in order to dispel the fear away). "Malevolence giving" mainly refers to the giving of material possession, helping people but with an unkind mind. For example, some people who often organize charity groups to bring relief goods to difficult places that have been devastated by natural disasters. They initially generate a very righteous mind because they want to help others. However, when doing charitable work, they are not praised but they are scolded and resented by people whom they helped. The donors then immediately lose their original good hearts. Since then they do charity with anger and sadness. Thus, volunteering brings sadness, not happiness or peace. This is called ill-will giving.

The reason donation brings affliction is due to our heart of attachments. We attach our mind with gratitude and praise that we as donors must possess it. Because of this thought, if things do not go on the way we desire, we will then feel afflicted.

A story that happened a long time ago tells us about a merchant who gave a big amount of money to a venerable master who planned to build a pagoda. That monk received money without saying a word. The merchant suffered, standing and waiting for the monk’s response. Without standing the situation any longer, at last the merchant said, “Although I am rich but making money is not easy, so when receiving my money, the right thing for you to do is saying thanks to me”. The monk answered, “The one who should say “thanks” is you”. Through the story, the merchant was distressed since he resented in his money and thought that money was important. The monk taught him a lesson that if the venerable master did not have a plan to build a pagoda, there would be no place for the merchant to offer his donation in order to create his blessing. Thus, donators should think that way, they should respect people whom they give a hand for help. If there is no one for us to give, how can we get a chance to achieve merit,  and if there is no merit, there will be no way for us to perform our Buddhist cultivation. In short, donators should let go of attachments, do not think that we are donators, they are receivers, and there are donations. Erasing this attachment mind, we can overcome difficulties when we do good deeds.That is a kind of proper giving.

2.    Cultivating in hatred is called demon karma.

Upholding the precepts means trying to maintain what has been taught. Buddhist lay people who took refuge in the Three Jewels, they must uphold the five precepts, Home-leaving novices have to uphold the ten precepts, and monks have to uphold the 250 precepts, together with the eight precepts and Bodhisattva’s disciplines. People, who can uphold the precepts and do not break them, will lead a happy and peaceful present life, being reborn in good realms after death. However, there are people who are keeping discipline well, and start to be proud that they are in peace and in good practice. They then look down on other people who cannot uphold the precepts well. They think other people do not know how to cultivate and are unclean people. For instance, people can uphold the precept of not committing killing and having practiced a long term vegetarian diet, when witnessing their fellow cultivators cannot uphold this precept, still killing and eating animals’ meat, they will state, “By keeping this discipline, I will be reborn to heaven. You still kill animals; you must surely be reborn to hell”. There is another story about a woman living with her child and her grandchild in a family. On a full-moon day, she is on her vegetarian diet, but other family members all eat meat. Her grandchild picks up a piece of meat for her by chance. She immediately scolds the grandchild badly, and throws the entire food tray on the ground. Through these two examples, upholding the precepts like that cannot help us achieve peace in mind but creating sorrow for people around. Thus, the merit from discipline upholding cannot compensate for the angry fire and affliction.

We have to acknowledge that people who cannot uphold the precepts are the ones who suffer the most, and people who uphold the precepts will gain peace and bliss. However, if we attach to the precepts, we shall tighten ourselves. If we are good discipline keepers, we should give advice to other people who can not do like us yet, encourage, instruct and love them, help them realize the cause and effect law, and the dos and the don’ts. In family life, there are certainly barriers  if we uphold the precepts. We like eating vegetarian food, other members prefer meat. In case, someone picks up meat for us accidentally, we should not be angry and scold them. We have to solve issues in life according to circumstances in peace while maintaining happiness, and avoid hurting people around us.

3 No interest in listening to Buddha- dharma, understanding dharma but not practising or cultivating lazily. That is demon’s karma.

The Patriarchs often said, "It is difficult to obtain a physical body. Buddhadharma is difficult to hear" to remind younger generation people to appreciate the Buddhadharma. In the past, there were people who, for the sake of the Dharma, did not spare their lives. Nowadays, with many modern means, it is very easy to approach and learn Buddhism. However, people do not pay attention to Buddhist study. When encouraged to go to temples, they refuse to go, using the excuse of being busy. But they are very eager to join traveling activities. Some people even say that there's no need to go to a pagoda, cultivating in mind is good enough. There are people who are a little better, they go to a pagoda, light three incense sticks, bow three times, ask the Buddha for good things, then go home. They do not want to recite sutras or listen to preaches. Because of not listening to the Buddhadharma, they do not know what is true and what is false, what is good and what is bad.  So they commit bad actions, then suffer from these actions eventually. Some people do not know that killing is a bad thing, so they kill whatever they like; some people do not know that stealing is a bad thing, so they steal and rob people's property; some people do not know that adultery is bad, so they have an affair with other people and break their family happiness; some people do not know that saying harsh words is bad, so they often insult other people, make people suffer. Some people do not know that drinking alcohol is a bad thing, so they get drunk all day, their bodies are worn out, and their families are broken. Thereby we can see that it is just because they do not listen to Buddha dharma, they have to face bad consequences.

There are people who often join retreat courses, meditation courses and listen to preaches that are delivered by monks at pagodas. But is there any benefit if one just listens without practising? For example, a sick person goes to see a doctor, he is given a prescription, he just looks at the prescription every day without taking any pills, how can he get well? Or people who have been hungry for a long time, drawing a picture of a cake on the ground, staring at the cake all the time, and perhaps this doesn't make them full. Some people have good conditions to listen to Buddhadharma, they are close to Three refuges, understand the Dharma, but they refuse to practice, so there will be no benefit, neither peace nor happiness. Another example is that if we acknowledge giving is a good thing to do, it can help us get rid of our greed, but we do not spend any penny, so there will be no benefit. Understanding that anger is a bad thing, we should often generate a compassionate mind to transform anger; without practicing this, our anger still exists.

There are people who take a vow to practice as what Buddha taught because they understand the benefit that brings to them. However, there are difficulties during their practicing, so they lose their initial aspiration and live leisurely again. People who practiced the Pure Land method, knowing the vows of Amitabha Buddha, they determined to recite the Buddha's name, hoping to go to the Western World of Great Bliss after death. However, after sitting and reciting the Buddha's name for a while, the legs and back got pain, so they gradually gave up the effort and the initial aspiration. There are people who at first like to go to the pagoda to do charity work, but when receiving bad comments from others or from the monks, then they do not visit the pagoda again. How can cultivators get great achievement if they only want everything to go easily on them without much effort?

Thus, there is a long way to gain success when cultivating. Firstly, listen to the Buddhadharma, think about it, and when one understands it, then practice it. In that process, it is necessary to be wise, consistently diligent despite obstacles. Step by step, our cultivation will be progressive, and we will achieve happiness and peace in mind.



 Tâm Thiện

Translated into English by Nguyen Thi Tham

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