and Practicing: So You Think You Are Good Enough?"
by Yin Hwee (Chuan Yin)
One winter, I woke up early in the morning to do my
daily routine of cleaning the shrine in my room. As I
examined the Medicine Buddha crystal pagoda, I thought,
This looks pretty clean to me. Seemslike I dont
need to spend much time on it! Then I had another
thought. Well, I have plenty of time to spare today.
Why dont I just clean it thoroughly till it sparkles?
As I took the pagoda to wipe it, a ray of sunshine
shone through the window, making the house brighter. I
was surprised to see that the clean crystal
pagoda was actually covered with dust. I imagined that
if it had been a summer morning, I would have seen dust
flying all around my house very clearly.
This was a light bulb moment for me. I
realized that sunshine is like the light of the Buddhas
teachings. The Buddha reveals to us the root of mental
disturbances and sufferings (the dust), and showed us
the way to liberate ourselves (the cleaning). His teachings
are a brighter, clearer, more complete view of life and
the nature of the universe.
Under the dim light (lay persons eyes), many
people understand that there are consequences for committing
bad actions. They think that as long as they do positive
things and have a good heart, having faith in any religion
is unimportant. Some people say, Its sufficient
to believe in Buddha, there is no need to cling to becoming
a vegetarian. I once saw this kind of comment as
a personal preference and I would respect other peoples
choices. But after attending meditation classes at the
Buddha Mind Monastery, and reading the Sutra of Ksitigarbha
Bodhisattva, I realize that practicing Buddhism in addition
to faith makes a huge difference.
Buddhism empowers us with the ability and strength
to understand, train, and control our minds. By taking
control of our minds with practice, we take control of
our actions, too. Every thought in our minds counts. Every
thought may be crucial to bring us closer to heaven or
cost us a trillion years of suffering in hell. Therefore,
we need to train ourselves to be the masters of our minds
and be able to differentiate between the good thoughts
and the bad thoughts that arise from moment to moment
to bring about positive actions and prevent negative ones.
Simply abiding by the precepts is not enough. We should
go deeper and understand why we should not have bad thoughts
that would lead to bad actions in the first place. Although
we might all appear to be good people under the dim light,
we all still have room to improve under the Buddhas
light. This is why Ksitigarbha Bodhisattvas vow
to liberate all sentient beings is never ending. The sentient
beings minds alternate between good and bad very
fast, and cause them to go back and forth between the
good realms and the lowly realms just as fast.
The Chung Tai Chan Monastery and all its meditation
centers have the common goal with the Bodhisattvas to
transfer the Buddhas teachings to everyone within
reach, using many methods that are convenient and acceptable
to lay people. Their compassionate wish is for us to be
able to understand and take control of our own mind, and
have a pure mind like the Buddha.
If we do not believe in the Buddha and our Buddha
nature, our world is in darkness. If we only believe in
the Buddha and do not practice, our mind will still be
in darkness, which will be a disappointment to our Dharma
teachers. If we rely on our own understanding to practice
Buddhism, we might get lost on our path and deviate from
the truth. We should all accept the Buddhist monks
and nuns teachings with humbleness and utmost respect,
and practice diligently at the same time. We should be
thankful that there is someone with higher wisdom here
to help us live a better life. I am confident that following
in their footsteps will lead us to a brighter, broader
life, and ensure that we never get lost in the dark anymore.