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Home Our Founder Master's Teachings Bodhisattva Path The Way to Enjoy Life - Two things that cannot be stopped in life

The Way to Enjoy Life - Two things that cannot be stopped in life

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Two things that cannot be stopped in life
When people can't change their bad tempers, they tend to blow up whenever things do not go their way. How can one change such a bad habit? If we listen to the Buddha's teachings without taking them to heart, the Dharma just goes in one ear and out the other. The message doesn't do us any good. Only when we let the Dharma enter our hearts, and when we repent of our wrongs and correct them, will we truly change for the better.

In recent months, Tzu Chi volunteers across Taiwan have been diligently rehearsing for the musical stage adaptation of the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance, written by Dharma Master Wu Da. As they repeatedly sing and sign the lyrics, the teachings of this ritual sink into their hearts.

Xu Mei-xue (許美雪), 72, is one of the volunteers participating in this stage adaptation. It is difficult for her to memorize the lyrics because she is illiterate. Even so, she feels that the opportunity to take part in the event is so rare and precious that she decided she must not let the chance go by. How can she remember the lyrics if she can't even read? She said, "I just have to work hard at it. Even if I can remember only a word at a time, in time I'll eventually remember everything."

Everyone who will participate in the musical is required to attend study groups organized to study my commentary on the Water Repentance text. In her study group sessions, Xu sits by volunteer Bao Shu-yan (包淑燕), who explains the text to her. Xu is very grateful to Bao for helping her. "Where there's a will, there is a way," she observed. "So long as we have the will, there will be people to help us along the way." Thus, despite being illiterate, Xu will be able to take part in the event. Her determination to conquer her difficulties is truly admirable.

Through preparing themselves for the musical, many Tzu Chi volunteers have been immersing themselves in the Dharma. The Buddha is the Great Awakened One of the Cosmos. The truths that he discovered 2,500 years ago have been proven by modern technology. We must therefore have faith in his teachings and uphold them with pious sincerity.

Some people say, "I believe in the Buddha's teachings and I vow to uphold them, but it's not time for me to put them into practice yet."

We must know that there are two things in this world that we cannot stop. One is the passing of time, and the other is the impermanence of the world. No one can stop even a second from passing by; likewise, when our karmic retribution comes to bear, it happens in an instant without any warning.

Dong Jing-wen (董菁雯) is a Tzu Chi volunteer who lives in Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan. Last year, her father was beaten to death by a drunk person for no apparent reason. Sorrow and hatred filled her heart. At one point, she even contemplated ending her life. But she couldn't find the heart to leave her family and her mentally challenged younger siblings behind, so she could only bury her hatred deep in her heart.

Then, as Jing-wen prepared for the stage adaptation of Water Repentance, she came across the lyrics: "People have different karmic retributions due to the negative karma they created, and everyone's karmic retribution follows them like their shadow." She then realized that everything happened due to the karmic law of cause and effect. There was no escape from it, and harboring hatred would not help things. So, just like that, the knot in her heart was undone. She opened her heart and was liberated from her misery.

Many people study Buddhism to seek liberation from suffering. But if we get caught up in such mental afflictions as anger, greed, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt, how is it possible for us to attain real liberation? Nobody can liberate us except ourselves. We must wash away all the impurities in our minds and open our hearts. Only then will we attain true liberation.

Live with wisdom
Today, many people's belief systems or values are distorted. This makes it all the more important that we learn to tell right from wrong. "Right" refers to the ultimate truths, which we must mindfully learn; "wrong" refers to turbulent, crazy, and bad influences, which we must not fall under.

In modern society, people's lives are heavily influenced by the knowledge they have acquired. But knowledge used improperly may confuse us and cause us to lose our way.

All people are born with an innate buddha-nature; it's just that many people's buddha-nature is concealed and tainted by ignorance. In a world where ignorance and confusion rule, we must learn to transform knowledge into wisdom and let that wisdom guide us so that our bright, enlightened innate nature can shine through.

One part of the lyrics sung in the stage adaptation of the Water Repentance text says something to this effect: In a time when people's value systems are distorted, it's important to develop the ability to tell right from wrong; in a time of great upheaval and turmoil, it's important to repent and nurture great compassion; in a time of great ignorance, it is important to cultivate great wisdom. The Buddha's teachings are a wonderful antidote to turbulent times. We should therefore live out his teachings and purify our minds with them. Let us not rely only on knowledge to guide us in life, but couple it with wisdom.

When we do what is right, we are using our wisdom. When we refrain from doing what is wrong, we are also using our wisdom. The Thirty-Seven Principles of Enlightenment teaches us to remove any evil that has already started, prevent any evil from starting, begin doing good deeds, and continue to do good deeds. We must never postpone doing good deeds or put off correcting our wrongs. We must avoid all that is evil and do all that is good.

A day is made up of 86,400 seconds. Each second can be a threshold between life and death. If we can pass each second safely, we ought to be very grateful. At every second, let us embrace a heart of gratitude and prevent our thoughts from going awry so that spiritual impurities do not taint our gratitude.

Life is as short-lived as the morning dew, as fleeting as a dream, and as fragile as a bubble. Since our life is as transient as the morning dew that gathers on the tip of a blade of grass and disappears once the sun rises, what is there to compete and haggle about?

I hope that everyone can heighten their vigilance, pray with the most sincere piety, practice compassion and wisdom, give to others, and sow seeds of kindness in the minds of all people. Doing so will bring harmony to the world and restore the balance of the Four Elements. Let us be part of the positive force that allows all mankind to live in peace, safety, and blissfulness.

This article is combined from a series of speeches delivered by Master Cheng Yen from July 13 to 20, 2011.
By Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Teresa Chang
Source: Tzu Chi Quarterly


" Birds have nests; people have homes. If family members live far apart, how can they have a happy family life? "
Jing-Si Aphorism

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