Holding On To The Great Aspiration Of Our Life

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Would you believe that whenever we feel desperate, as long as we hold on to the great aspiration of our life, there are always steps to take, always a way out of a seemingly desperate situation, and not only that, the way out is a path full of hope?

Would you also believe that even when we are faced with challenges from work, peers, life or family, we will still be in good hands, as long as we have the great aspiration of our life also happening amidst our challenges?

And to add on, would you believe that, as long as we have the great aspiration of our life, we can help others and through helping others, we are able to free ourselves from our “self-grasping” attitude that keeps us ever-entangled in our unhappiness?

What is this great aspiration?

It is the study and practice of the dharma that guides us to work on our inner-self again and again. With a comprehensive understanding of the entire teaching of the Buddha, we will ultimately establish the proper goal of life. Then with the proper goal in mind, we will take a very accurate step in life.

A little voice inside us might squeak out, “I am not sure about the goal in my life now, or I am still trying to establish my goal. What should I do?

If that’s the case, then continue to listen to the teaching and contemplate. Listen every day, continuously listen, and start contemplating, followed by applying what we have learnt into practice into our daily lives. Over time, we will develop the habit of studying, contemplating, and practicing the teaching with each breath that we take.

We will then desire for more to be learnt, we will want to read more and more scriptures – the Array of Stalks Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, the Surangama Sutra, many other sutras and commentaries – and each time we learn, we develop the habit of contemplation.

But what should be done when we lack the ability now?

It is fine! Just begin by taking the next step in front of us. Taking this step in front of us, will we eventually become stronger? YES! We will!

It is like training our legs – our contemplation will get clearer and clearer, more and more powerful through rigorous and thorough training. Why? It is because our mind lacks the inherent nature, and all phenomena are based on the concept of suchness.

Whatever direction that we are heading to, apply effort to repeatedly cultivate our minds, and the corresponding effect will arise accordingly. A suffering cause brings us a suffering effect. Likewise, a happy cause will lead to a happy effect.

Step forward in the right direction now.

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Pay attention to the step we are taking at the present moment, recognize the direction of our step at this very present moment. How to make certain it is the right direction? It is by listening to the teaching of the Buddha every day. Listening to the teaching is a cause of happiness, reflect on it, and refrain from planting any suffering cause in our daily routine. Through our continuous listening and contemplating the teaching, we can ensure that the present step we are taking is the right one.

As long as we hold on to the great aspiration of our life

If problems arise, solve them; don’t easily give up or run away because that’s not the way to solve problems. Why bother? Karmic forces can’t be resolved by taking flight. After all, where can we escape to? As long as we hold on to the great aspiration of our life, we will have the courage to brave on and counter karmic forces with confession, we will be taught the remedies and to constantly engage in virtuous karmic deeds. 

As long as we have the great aspiration of our life, as far as our minds are concerned, there is always a path available leading to the most perfect direction.

Keep advancing on it! Advance with firm steps and confidence! Step forward!

Read the original article in full at https://bwmonastery.org.sg/global-lamrim-ii/2019/4/22/lecture-no-0032

If dharma teachings interest you, catch more snippets at BW Monastery – https://bwmonastery.org.sg/discourses/

Exploding The Weakness Of Dispiritedness While Helping Others

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When you feel dispirited while helping others, please don’t take it as “The more I help others, the more suffering I have.” “I have no more energy!” “I’m breaking down!” – We need to explode that weakness.

When we feel low, when we lack the capability to carry a heavy load, what is the first step we should take?  Tell ourselves – “Ah, it is fine, take it step by step.” and then understand when the real problem lies.

The focus of the problem is not that the more people we help, the more chaotic our lives become. The real issue lies in the fact that we are not good at adjusting ourselves while helping others.

We find ourselves in a chaotic mess, our pace in life turned into a mess, and our hearts are in a mess too. Why? Because we are carrying a heavier load now that we have let others into our hearts, in order to help them.

However, don’t forget that your mental capacity at this juncture is strengthened as well.

So recall the purpose behind the establishment of our aspiration to help others in the first place, and strengthen this aspiration by adjusting our mindset. Instead of thinking that helping others is wrong, contemplate how helping others, in actual fact, is a win-win situation where both sides benefit from each other.

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Through helping others, we reduce our “self-grasping” attitude, and eventually we are able to free ourselves completely from the bondage of the “self” and become truly carefree. Hence, through learning how to help and benefit others, we can eventually experience the unprecedented joy that awaits us in the future.

Read the original article in full at https://bwmonastery.org.sg/global-lamrim-ii/2019/4/22/lecture-no-0032

If dharma teachings interest you, catch more snippets at BW Monastery – https://bwmonastery.org.sg/discourses/

 

 

 

 

Free Yourself From All Of These Faults

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Abandoning The Three Faults Of A Vessel

A vessel might have the following three faults: (1) being upside down or (2) though held right side up, being dirty; or (3) though clean, having a leaky bottom. If it has these faults, then even though a rainfall from clouds assembled by the deities falls on it, the rain will (1) not go inside; or, (2) go inside, but be unable to fulfill its function – to be drunk, etc.- because it is contaminated by filth; or, (3) not be polluted by filth, yet not remain inside and drain away.

Similarly, even though you are staying in a place where the teachings are being explained, there is no great purpose in your hearing the teachings if you (1) do not pay attention; or, (2) though paying attention, misunderstand what is heard or listen with a bad motivation such as attachment; or, (3) though lacking these faults, do not solidify the words and meanings taken in at the time of hearing but let them fade due to forgetting them and so forth.

Therefore, free yourself from all of these faults.

The remedies for these three faults are indicated in the sutras in three phrases: “Listen well, thoroughly, and hold it in mind!” Moreover, as the Bodhisattva Levels sets forth, listen while wanting to understand everything, staying one-pointed, attentive, with your mind focused, and reflecting with complete composure.

~ Extracted from The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path (Volume I), How To Listen and Explain the Teachings

Never Just Play A Musical Instrument Only For Ourselves

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“We should never submerge ourselves in our personal emotions of joy, anger, sadness or grief, just like playing a musical instrument only for ourselves. Instead, we should care for more and more sentient beings. Besides, in the process of helping others, pay attention, take note, sometimes you will suddenly realize that it is actually that person helping you. The hurdle and struggle that you could not overcome in the past have been unknowingly resolved in the process of helping others.”

Let me raise an opposite view: “ It’s better that I don’t help others, the more I help, the more problems I have. My life seems to suffer more and more!” Is this the reality?

Then perhaps when you are helping others, the more you help, the more problems you have. Why?

You begin to lend a helping hand to many people, and what did you realise at this point? You are in a mess, your pace is in a mess and your heart is in a mess, thus your suffering increased. Why did your suffering increase? Because you have carried a heavier load than before.

However, don’t forget that your mental capacity at this juncture is strengthened as well. Once you make a breakthrough over this hurdle, you will be able to carry the loads for more people. Alternatively, you may take a break here and admire yourself [for what you have accomplished], and you will find out, “Well! I have already outperformed myself.”

You come to realize that living for yourself alone is after all not that joyful!

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Read the original article in full at https://bwmonastery.org.sg/global-lamrim-ii/2019/4/22/lecture-no-0032

If dharma teachings interest you, catch more snippets at BW Monastery – https://bwmonastery.org.sg/discourses/