Whose Words Harmed You?
The world is a place of cultivation, and we cultivate through our dealings with people and things. During Master Cheng Yen¡¦s talk with senior staff members, she pointed out that the interactions between people depend on attachment to attitudes and beliefs. Once one alters his thoughts and becomes more understanding, he can avoid involvement in conflicts. ¡§After becoming unattached, we should be grateful to others. We are motivated by those who are kind and cautioned by those who are unwholesome. This is education.¡¨
¡§There is only one method for getting along with others peacefully and it is to not try to change them. We should do our best to improve ourselves and accommodate to others. If others do not wish to improve themselves, no one can change their minds. Since we are unable to influence them, we can only change ourselves in order to get along with them. This is cultivation.¡¨
The Master indicated that people should try to alter their habitual tendencies. What are habitual tendencies? Medical science only recognizes up to the sixth human consciousness, whereas Buddhism depicts up to the ninth consciousness of man. When affected by external influences, the mind continues to contemplate with the ¡§thinking consciousness,¡¨ or the sixth consciousness, and the ¡§thought consciousness,¡¨ or the seventh consciousness. This influences and contaminates the eighth consciousness which, according to Buddhism, is known as the ¡§karmic consciousness.¡¨ As the karmic consciousness is continually influenced, habitual tendencies are developed and create the good and evil characteristics of man.
¡§According to Buddhism, ¡§there is no record of good and bad.¡¨ Good and evil are impermanent and can be altered by external influences. However, habitual tendencies can only be changed through cultivation. By purifying the tainted ¡§eighth consciousness,¡¨ we can progress to the ¡§ninth consciousness,¡¨ which is our pure self nature, or the Buddha nature.¡¨
What are merit and virtue? The Master explained, ¡§Merit is the work of the mind. Once inner values change, a person is reborn, and naturally exhibits a virtuous appearance. His virtue inspires and brings joy to others.¡¨
Some people believe that the phrase, ¡§simplified mindset is the cultivation place¡¨ implies that one should be straightforward and speak everything on his or her mind. Rather, the Master believes that a simplified mindset is being honest, open, and not calculating. Speaking without consideration can easily offend and harm others. Therefore, we should be mindful, cautious and considerate when conversing with others.
Speaking from another perspective, the Master remarked, ¡§If one is open-minded, he would not be easily bothered by others¡¦ words. He would be at ease physically and mentally, and be able to embrace all beings. If one is narrow-minded, he would not be able to tolerate even the smallest grain of sand.¡¨
¡§We must believe that each individual is kind, and broaden our mindset to encompass all beings in our unselfish love. Regardless of others¡¦ flaws, we should still love, forgive, and believe that one day they will find their benevolent self nature.¡¨
Are You Unable to Manage Others?
Master Cheng Yen admitted that in the past Tzu Chi did not have an organizational structure. It was not until the Missions were developing that a structure was established.
¡§Tzu Chi¡¦s policies are based on precepts. Each individual should know what is proper and what is not. Everyone should do the best they can to carry out their tasks. Management is carried out through love. All of us selflessly contribute our efforts for the sake of the Missions. Each of us should care for others and manage ourselves.¡¨
¡§In Tzu Chi, no one manages another. Rather, there is mutual love and care. Instead of managing others, we should ask ourselves if we love and care for them. If we sincerely cared for others, they will accept our advice and eagerly participate in the tasks we want accomplished. This is the management of love.¡¨
¡§One¡¦s mission is the goal in life that one strives to accomplish. If we can take the Missions of Tzu Chi as our own, we would be grateful to everyone who participates in the Missions. Hence, there is not a single moment that I am not grateful to all Tzu Chi members.¡¨
The Master reminded us that ¡§it is difficult to be born as human and to hear the Buddha dharma.¡¨ Since we are born as man and have heard the dharma, and, moreover, have the affinity to travel the bodhisattva path of Tzu Chi, we should cherish such precious opportunities and affinities with our dharma friends. We should contribute while cultivating our mind and actions in order to discover and carry out the true principles of the universe.
Connecting the Mind
¡§To take refuge with the Buddha is to understand his great profound way. What is the great profound way of the Buddha? It is compassion. We should understand the mind of the Buddha and connect our minds to His, taking his great compassion as our own and relieving suffering sentient beings.¡¨
¡§To take refuge with the Dharma is to initiate wisdom. As students, we seek knowledge. However, knowledge is often tainted with connections to fame and fortune. Buddhism speaks of wisdom and pure, undefiled love. Initiating wisdom does not only happen through reading the sutras. In fact, every individual is a living sutra, and his experiences in life are the most profound scriptures. If we are mindful when interacting with others and develop wisdom through positive interpretation and understanding, we can broaden our mindset and encompass all beings. This is entering the sutra treasury.¡¨
¡§To take refuge with the Sangha is to guide others. This does not mean using authority to rule them. Instead, it means serving in example to motivate them with love and care.¡¨
The Master pointed out that ¡§taking refuge¡¨ begins with inner cultivation. We should take the mind of the Buddha and the mission of the Master as our own. ¡§If we can constantly carry this out, our minds will be connected.¡¨