We must cultivate our minds, engage in calm concentration and contemplation
and, on the path of diligence, uphold precepts, Samadhi and wisdom.
We must form aspirations to think of sentient beings with loving-kindness
and have universal compassion for friends and foes.
Then, even sentient beings in the Five Realms will all attain the state of joy.
This is giving rise to deep contemplation and compassionate thinking
to eliminate sentient beings' indolent thinking.
Please be mindful! "We must cultivate our minds" and "engage in calm concentration and contemplation." Every day, we must walk "the path of diligence," which is "precepts, Samadhi and wisdom." As we cultivate our minds, we must have single-minded focus. In our daily interactions with people and dealings with matters, we follow and connect to conditions. As we follow and connect to conditions, our mind changes along with these conditions. However, if we constantly train our minds, whenever our minds are about to change, we can quickly heighten our vigilance. "I [am aware] of my thoughts, and [I know] my mind is in this state, so I need to be vigilant."
We must remind ourselves to be vigilant; our minds must come together with our conditions. This means that matters, objects and our thoughts must be in unison. In this way, our minds will not change with our external conditions. When we are looking at something in particular, we need to heighten our concentration and focus our minds upon this object. We must maintain constant vigilance. We must mindfully observe this object, mindfully seek to understand it and discern it. We need to constantly remember to be mindful. We must unite our minds with these conditions. To be mindful is to maintain constant vigilance so that our thoughts do not run wild.
As we hold an object in our hands, we might end up thinking about some faraway place. We might be holding something useful in our hands, but if we have no intention to use it, its many useful functions will become useless. When we keep useless things in mind, our mind will often give rise to afflictions. This is why we must always be mindful. So, we must engage in calm concentration and contemplation. We must calm our minds to truly engage in contemplation. "I am now about to take this step. Is the path smooth?"
If we are healthy in body and mind, our path will be smooth. If our minds are not healthy, this path will be uneven and unstable. If we tread this path with an unfocused mind, we can easily have an accident. By the same principle, as we walk the path, we need to be mindful, and as we do things, we also need to be mindful. This is "calm concentration." Our minds must be pure and simple, free of discursive thoughts. In every step we take, we must be focused on our actions. This is also mindfulness.
As we [deal with] matters, we need to contemplate them. We need to contemplate what our goal is before taking a certain action. For great matters, we must be careful. We need to engage in careful contemplation. It is not that with something big, we can overlook [the small details] and say, "This is a big matter, and this is a trivial [detail]; we do not need to worry about it." Actually, within the span of a thought, we can turn a complex matter into a simple one. Even with very simple matters, if we do not mindfully consider the obstacles, we might get stuck at the first barrier and fail to clear it.
We need to put effort into being mindful as we "engage in calm concentration and contemplation." Calm concentration means our mind must be focused. As we engage in contemplation, whether the matter is great or small, even if we are only undertaking a trivial matter, we need to be very mindful. An airplane cannot be missing even a single screw. We cannot say, "This airplane is so huge, and [a screw] is so tiny, so what if it is missing one?" No, that would be very dangerous. A single missing screw will affect the entire airplane.
In the same way, we must be focused and diligent in all things; this is the nature of the path. As for "the path of diligence," how can we be focused? How can we be diligent? How can we mindfully practice calm concentration and contemplation? When "calm concentration" and "contemplation" come together, this is called "diligence." When it comes to diligence, it is important for us to apply these three words, "precepts, Samadhi and wisdom," in our daily lives. Then, naturally, calm concentration, contemplation and diligence will always be part of our lives. This is also the goal of our spiritual practice.
Regarding the Three Flawless Studies, all the teachings of the path that we must learn are [inseparable] from precepts, Samadhi and wisdom; Bodhisattvas actualize the Six Paramitas in all actions, and do not deviate from precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. So, when it comes to precepts, Samadhi and wisdom, whether we are lay or monastic practitioners, we need to be very vigilant; they are very important. This means that in our karma of body, speech and mind in our daily lives, we cannot deviate from precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. With precepts, Samadhi and wisdom, we will have pure and blessed karma. If we lose sight of precepts, Samadhi and wisdom, our karma will become defiled karma, which is negative karma. Therefore, we need to remember that precepts, Samadhi and wisdom are very important.
"We must form aspirations to think of sentient beings with loving-kindness." We must form aspirations. Once we form an aspiration, we need to cultivate this aspiration well. When we form aspirations, it is not enough to just form aspirations once. In all the thoughts we give rise to, we must think of sentient beings with loving-kindness. We need to earnestly cultivate our compassion so that every single thought we give rise to is dedicated to serving sentient beings.
If we do this, we will always have "universal compassion for friends and foes." Not only do we need to cultivate compassion for sentient beings, we also need to have universal compassion for both our friends and foes. Once we have affection or resentment for someone, then these people have a connection with us. Therefore, we need to be even more vigilant and give them more of our loving care. When it comes to our friends or foes, whether they are people we resent or people we love, we must always be mindful. It is easier for us to give care to those we usually need to care for. As spiritual practitioners, we need to have this one view; we must have compassion for sentient beings and think of them with loving-kindness. Inevitably, as we are still ordinary beings, there will be people we resent; we will always have these bad impressions of them. Naturally, when it comes to these people, we will give rise to a discriminating mind.
We do not like to hear other people praise them. "I know they are very bad. How can you say good things about them?" We lose our equanimity. When they face some kind of difficulty, if they were [anyone else], we would be willing to help them, but as soon as people have some conflict with us, we want to see them struggle with their difficulties. [We will say,] "This is your karmic retribution!" We must not have this kind of mindset.
Like [with anyone else], when they face hardships, this is when we must quickly assist them. We had an unpleasant encounter before, so we need to seize this opportunity to resolve this resentment and animosity. In this way, we can transform another sentient being. Therefore, what we must do as spiritual practitioners is to cultivate such "universal compassion for friends and foes." Whether they are the people we hate or the people who are most dear to us, we must treat them all equally, like we treat all sentient beings. This is called "showing compassion to all equally." A spiritual practitioner's mindset should be like this.
"Then, even sentient beings in the Five Realms...." Everyone knows the Five Realms, the heaven, human, hell, hungry ghost and animal [realms]. These five, when we add in the asura [realm], form the Six Realms. We need to be mindful of this. There are the Five Realms, the Six Realms, the human realm and the hell realm; the human realm is full of suffering, while the hell realm is the ultimate suffering. We often get to observe the animal realm as well. There are also hungry ghosts in our world who are truly in unbearable suffering.
So, we want all sentient beings to be equal. We need to teach the rich to help the poor. We must help the rich create blessings. We must help the rich attain the Dharma to transform their minds so that they can be eternally wealthy. Not only will they have material wealth, but they will also be wealthy in spirit. For those who are as wealthy as heavenly beings, we must not give up on them. Those who are as wicked as asuras get angry easily in a way that others do not. [Their behavior] is abnormal; they easily lose their temper and create conflicts. All the same, we must help people like these liberate themselves from this deviant mindset.
We must find a way to help them. Consider a certain Tzu Chi volunteer who went into the psychiatric ward. He said, "I was really afraid to go inside. However, when I actually went inside, because I was sincere, we all got along, and [I saw] they are all very kind." Yes, they are very kind. We need to visit the prisons too! Indeed, we go [to the prisons]. Many Tzu Chi volunteers have gone to these places to transform sentient beings.
During the time of the Buddha-bathing ceremony, they also went into the prisons, guiding [the inmates] to bathe the Buddha so that they can plant roots of goodness. The volunteers brought the Buddha-bathing implements into the prisons and carefully taught the inmates how to take their steps and how to perform the hand gestures, how to pay their respects at the Buddha's feet, how to use the aromatic water and how to join their palms before their chests. As they placed their hands together, they focused their minds and rectified their past discursive thoughts. They gathered their discursive thoughts to focus single-mindedly on transforming their past habitual tendencies into goodness. When Tzu Chi volunteers go to teach there, these inmates are all very well-behaved. Regardless of what realm sentient beings are in, whether it is the heaven realm, asura realm, human realm or the Three Evil Realms, we must go among them with an impartial mindset.
These are not just descriptions [of the realms]. These are things we can put into practice, things that we can teach and accomplish. Look at Italy, how Tzu Chi volunteers in Europe went to give aid after a big earthquake in Italy. When that disaster struck, there were not many Tzu Chi volunteers in Europe. But once we commenced our disaster relief, volunteers from ten countries came together to assess the damages. Then, they went again to do relief distributions.
In the span of an instant, the earth shook, resulting in such an enormous disaster. These Bodhisattvas traveled a very long distance. They crossed seven or eight or nine countries to gather in this distant country and help them. How did those who suffered from this disaster make it through these days?
We should not assume that because Italy is an ancient civilization that everyone there is rich and living as in heaven. That is not the case. There are also people suffering from poverty there. When those people are struck by a disaster, it is very difficult for them to recover. There are people without homes, living in tents who truly have nowhere to turn to. So, we must understand the suffering in this world. Whether it suffering in the mind, suffering due to the environment or temporary suffering due to disasters or manmade calamities, these things are all really happening in the world. This is the suffering of hell on this earth. This is the suffering of the Five Realms.
So, we really need to understand these states of mind. In our minds, there is a hell realm, animal realm and hungry ghost realm; they exist all over the world. These people in the Five or the Six Realms all need Bodhisattvas, who have compassion for sentient beings in suffering. We all need Bodhisattvas who "form aspirations to think of sentient beings with loving-kindness." [We can become] a Bodhisattva by "cultivating our minds and engaging in calm concentration and contemplation." We must diligently practice precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. This is how Bodhisattvas are made. Only then can we find a way to truly go among people to [understand] the suffering of the hells in their minds, their lives and their environments. We must find a way to save them and liberate them from these realms. After that, "then we teach the Dharma for them." We can teach these things, so we must also put them into practice.
"This is giving rise to deep contemplation and compassionate thinking." We must begin from deep thinking, calm concentration, contemplation and mindfulness. Whether big or small matters, we must always think carefully and be very mindful. We must "eliminate sentient beings' indolent thinking." As sentient beings, we are indolent. It is not just [other people] who are suffering; we spiritual practitioners must also be vigilant. We are also suffering ourselves! We suffer due to our afflictions, ignorance, bodies and minds and the laws of nature. We must quickly heighten our vigilance and never grow indolent again. Therefore, we must "give rise to deep contemplation and compassionate thinking." For sentient beings as well as ourselves, we must eliminate all kinds of indolent thinking. This is not just for the sake of sentient beings; we must also heighten our vigilance of our own indolence as well. We cannot just talk about the indolence of others; if we are indolent instead of diligent, we will be unable to help others.
We must cautiously and diligently guard against the defiled phenomena of this world. If we fail to uphold the precepts, we will grow lazy and not engage diligently in spiritual practice. How can we promote the Buddha Vehicle then? To engage in the pure spiritual practice of Bodhisattvas, we must make great vows and practice courageously and diligently.
"We must cautiously and diligently guard against the defiled phenomena of this world." We need to work hard to be vigilant and constantly guard our minds [to see if] we have any defilement or indolence. If so, "We will grow lazy and will not engage diligently in spiritual practice." If we are lazy, we will not be able to be diligent. How can we engage in spiritual practice then? How can we promote the Buddha-Dharma then? If we cannot take care of ourselves, how can we advance the Buddha-Dharma?
Practicing the Bodhisattva-path is following the pure teachings of the path. First, we need to eliminate the afflictions in our minds and eliminate our indolence and lazy mindset. If we do not eliminate them first, how can we bring purity to our minds? Our minds will still suffer from indolence and laziness, which will defile our minds. As spiritual practitioners, we need to be constantly vigilant of ourselves.
Therefore, we need to make great vows "to practice courageously and diligently." Thus, we need to put effort into taming our indolent state of mind. This is truly "the precept to subdue indolence and the refusal to hear and accept Right Dharma."
If we do not abide by this precept, we are indulging ourselves and have become indolent. The first of the Three Flawless Studies is upholding precepts. If we cannot discipline our own indolence, what can we do? Therefore, we need to subdue our indolence with "the precept to subdue indolence and the refusal to hear and accept Right Dharma."
The precept to subdue indolence and the refusal to hear and accept Right Dharma: Newly-aspired Bodhisattvas must go to the place where the Dharma is taught to receive the benefit of hearing and accepting the essence of the Dharma as well as inquiring about it.
If we do not follow the precepts and constantly seek to indulge ourselves, how can we [attain Right Dharma]?
"Newly-aspired Bodhisattvas must go to the place where the Dharma is taught." These Bodhisattvas must go to places where people listen to the sutra and teach the Dharma to "hear and accept the essence of the Dharma as well as inquire about it." We need to listen earnestly. If we do not understand, we must ask questions. After we ask, we must accept the teachings. Once we accept the teachings, we will attain benefits. This requires us to be very mindful. In our place of spiritual practice, if we do not accept the Dharma's teachings, how can we engage in spiritual practice? We say we are Buddhist practitioners, but if Buddhist practitioners do not understand the Dharma or the principles, this is the same as not understanding the principles of being a good person. So, we must remind ourselves to be vigilant.
The previous sutra passage states,
"If there are bhiksus and bhiksunis, upasakas and upasikas, kings and princes, ministers and citizens, they will teach them with subtle and wondrous meanings and a gentle countenance."
We begin by having a conversation with them. Whether they are kings, princes or so on, we do not [treat them] any differently. When we teach them the Dharma, we use the same subtle and wondrous meanings. "If they have difficult questions, they will answer in accordance with the meaning."
If they have difficult questions, they will answer in accordance with the meaning, using causes and conditions, analogies, broad teachings and detailed explanations. With these skillful means, they help all form aspirations, gradually increase their benefits and enter the way to Buddhahood.
Even if someone persists in challenging us, we will still be at ease. We can explain [the Dharma] to them according to their capabilities. If their capabilities are dull, we can use "causes and conditions, analogies," various methods and skillful means to guide and teach them. With "broad teachings and detailed explanations," we use various teachings to discern this for them.
"With these skillful means, they help all form aspirations." Our only goal is to help them form aspirations so that they can gradually develop and benefit their spiritual aspirations and "enter the way to Buddhahood." This is the mindset of those who teach the Dharma. No matter whom we interact with, regardless of their social status or what kind of person they are, we should always put our heart into guiding them to form great aspirations to reach the level where they can benefit themselves and others. So, we must answer their questions with the Great Vehicle Dharma. We discussed this previously.
The following sutra passage states,
"They eliminate all notions of laziness and indolent thoughts. They free themselves from all worries and afflictions and teach the Dharma with loving-kindness."
For us, the most important thing is to eliminate these notions of laziness and indolent thoughts. They obstruct the path and are our biggest obstacles. So, we must "remind practitioners to be vigilant and never give rise to thoughts of indolence."
They eliminate all notions of laziness and indolent thoughts: This is to remind practitioners to be vigilant and never give rise to thoughts of indolence. They must swiftly eliminate their notions of laziness and self-indulgence, as well as thoughts of weariness and resignation. This is the paramita of diligence.
For spiritual practitioners, the biggest taboo is indolence. If we do not advance in our spiritual practice, this means we are indolent. There is doubt, arrogance and indolence. Indolence occurs when doubt and arrogance produce a mindset of laziness. We must remind ourselves to be vigilant. Thus, "They must swiftly eliminate their notions of laziness and self-indulgence." We need to immediately eliminate these thoughts of self-indulgence, doubt and arrogance. "Indolence" is more than just being lazy. This lazy mindset leads to self-indulgence. This is an illness, a sickness of the mind. If we do not know to cure it with spiritual medicine, this self-indulgence will become indolence.
Then, [we will also have] "thoughts of weariness and resignation." Our minds will have all kinds of thoughts of laziness, indolence and self-indulgence, and we will grow extremely weary. We will waste our lives away and neglect our spiritual cultivation, becoming indolent and arrogant. We will not respect the Dharma or our own lives. We will not respect our teachers, the Dharma or our own lives. This is irreverence. We must engage in practice with nothing further, extended practice and so on, and we must [practice] with reverence. If we do not respect our own lives, we will not respect our teachers or those who expound the sutras to us. These are indolent, arrogant and self-indulgent people.
So, we need to work hard to transform our indolent minds. "This is the paramita of diligence." We should say, "We will come listen right away." Those who always say, "I already know this" will not come to listen, and they will not be mindful. When people are discussing good teachings and someone asks questions, we must quickly figure out what their questions are and the Dharma they are asking about. We must listen to them. Maybe the questions they want to ask are also questions that we want to ask. When they get answers, we will also get answers. However, because we are self-indulgent, we want to wait until we have our own questions and can ask in person to hear [the answers] in person. This is also an act of self-indulgence. We must mindfully seek to comprehend this.
"They free themselves from all worries and afflictions and teach the Dharma with loving-kindness."
They free themselves from all worries and afflictions and teach the Dharma with loving-kindness: Worries and afflictions are confusing disturbances. We must guard our minds and be free of faults. We must be vigilant of the smallest things, be careful in our speech and avoid fault then our mind will be free of worries. We must teach the Dharma with loving-kindness and patience. Only if Bodhisattvas teach the Dharma with a heart of loving-kindness will they be able to be free of all obstructions.
We need to free ourselves from worries and afflictions. With respect to many matters, we are not earnest or diligent [enough]. We fail to eliminate our afflictions. Instead, we just sit there, worrying, and end up producing much ignorance. Why aren't we willing to try to understand this Dharma so we can eliminate our afflictions? So, we need to eliminate [our afflictions] so that we can teach the Dharma with a heart of loving-kindness.
When we eliminate our own afflictions, [we can] teach the Dharma to eliminate others' afflictions. Without eliminating our own afflictions, how can we eliminate the afflictions of others? Thus, "worries and afflictions" are "confusing disturbances." We see that others are awake, but their thoughts are very chaotic and unclear. Their minds are not clear. Even the direction of their own life is unclear to them. These people are disturbed; they confuse their own minds.
They do not know how to apply the teachings. Instead, they confuse themselves. Therefore, we must "guard our minds and be free of faults." We need to work hard to guard our minds and "engage in calm concentration and contemplation." We must "guard our minds and be free of faults." We must guard our minds so that we do not commit wrongdoings. When we speak, we must be mindful of our words. When we walk, we must be mindful of our steps. In whatever we do, our minds must be fully present in what we are doing and what we are seeing. To be focused is to guard our minds and be free of faults. Therefore, we must "guard our minds and be free of faults." When we are doing something, we should not think about anything else.
Thus, "We must be vigilant of the smallest things." We need to be vigilant. Even when it comes to very small things, we must not overlook them or be careless and say, "This is such a big matter, so what if something is slightly off?" We must not have this mindset. A table has four legs. We must not think that with three legs screwed in, it will be fine without the other leg. This is very dangerous. The principle is the same. Therefore, we must not be careless. We must not think, "Major issues have no relation to us and small issues are easy to handle." We cannot [think this way]! We need to be vigilant. We need to be vigilant about the small things and pay attention to subtle and intricate details.
So, we "are careful in our speech and avoid fault." We also need to be careful in our speech. As we teach the Dharma, we must be careful in our speech and be free of faults. "Then our minds will be free of worries." Our minds will be free of worries and we will have peace of mind. When I speak without making mistakes, I feel very at ease during this lecture. In the same way, when we interact with others without making mistakes, we feel at ease. We need to constantly train ourselves. With our thoughts, speech and actions, we must not be negligent in our conduct.
"We must teach the Dharma with loving-kindness and patience." We must teach the Dharma with loving-kindness and patience for others and for ourselves. As we engage in spiritual practice, we must make efforts to walk our path in life well and speak well so that we will have no regrets in life. We need to demonstrate our loving-kindness. We also need to have the patience to endure the path we must take in this life. When we walk this path well from start to finish, we will live this life with peace of mind. Then, the path we walk in our next lifetime will be smooth.
So, "Only if Bodhisattvas teach the Dharma with a heart of loving-kindness will they be able to be free of all obstructions." We need to be very careful when we speak; only then will we be free of many obstructions.
Laziness: It obstructs courage. Indolence: It obstructs diligence. Worries and afflictions: They obstruct peace and joy.
Laziness obstructs our courage. It is something that hinders our courage. So, we must be diligent. When we are diligent, we can confidently say to everyone, "I am listening to the Dharma every day. I am diligent and free of indolence." This means we are not lazy. We practice courageously and diligently, so we are free of obstacles. "Indolence obstructs diligence." This is indolence.
"Worries and afflictions obstruct peace and joy." If we lack courage and diligence, we will not have peace and joy in our hearts. Then, when we meet with diligent people, we cannot say to them, "I have listened to this teaching and learned this principle. This is how I will teach it to you." We will not have this opportunity. We will not have peace and joy. This is why we need to be very mindful. We need to be level-headed and composed and earnestly listen to the Dharma. We need to get along well with others so that we can also have peace of mind.
The following sutra passage states,
"Day and night, they constantly teach the teachings of the supreme path. By using causes and conditions and countless analogies, they teach for sentient beings and bring joy to all."
This sutra passage tells us that. "They eliminate evil defilements [and] diligently spread the meaning of the Dharma."
They eliminate their evil defilements, diligently spread the meaning of the Dharma and expound the supreme path. They only use the Great Vehicle to explain. They only think of attaining Buddhahood and of helping sentient beings attain Buddhahood. This refers to all-encompassing wisdom.
As for our negative habitual tendencies, we must quickly eliminate our greed, anger, ignorance and arrogance, especially our arrogance and doubt. Everyone can see our greed, anger and ignorance. We can tell that some people are very greedy, that some people have a bad temper, and that some people are completely uncompromising. This is "ignorance"! They are deluded by ignorance. Everyone can recognize this. We are all very familiar with this. What about "arrogance"? When it comes to arrogance and doubt, everyone knows about them, but they cannot make clear judgements about them.
Actually, "arrogance" also includes self-indulgence, the eight kinds of pride and seven kinds of arrogance. There are not just the seven kinds of arrogance. There are also the nine kinds of arrogance. So, when it comes to arrogance, we need to mindfully seek to "eliminate our evil defilements." Whether it is greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance or doubt, we must eliminate them all so that we can be courageous, diligent and have peace and joy.
We must "diligently spread the meaning of the Dharma and expound the supreme path." First, we must eliminate our indolent and lazy state of mind, as well as these evil defilements of ours. Only then can we be diligent, and we will not only engage in our own spiritual practice, but will also be able to teach others the supreme path. "They only use the Great Vehicle to explain. They only think of attaining Buddhahood." If we only have one thought in our mind, which is to walk the Bodhisattva-path, then we can reach the state of Buddhahood.
Taking the Buddha's heart as our own and having compassion for all sentient beings is our goal. We must achieve this ourselves, but we also hope that all sentient beings can attain Buddhahood together. We must benefit ourselves and others. We want to reach [our goal], and we want everyone to do this as well, to reach the destination together. We have attained this wisdom, and we also hope all sentient beings will be equal to the Buddha in wisdom. This is "all-encompassing wisdom." This means we must be diligent.
With diligence, "day and night, they constantly teach the teachings of the supreme path."
Day and night, they constantly teach the teachings of the supreme path: Day and night, they constantly teach the wondrous Dharma to people. This means they explain the teachings of the supreme path of the One Vehicle.
Day and night, we must constantly teach the wondrous Dharma to people. In our daily lives, when we speak or act, we must teach with our words and lead by example. In the same way, day and night, we inspire people's minds like this and guide them toward this path. "This means they explain [the teachings] of the supreme path." This is to help us deeply understand, to help everyone deeply understand. This is how the Dharma has been passed down to us. We hope everyone can understand this clearly. Therefore, the teachings of the One True Vehicle are the teachings of the supreme path. This is called "the teachings of the One Vehicle." This is the supreme path, the way to Buddhahood.
"By using causes and conditions and countless analogies...."
By using causes and conditions and countless analogies: They must use both positive and negative causes and conditions and countless matters and appearances as analogies.
We must use various causes and conditions. Some people have limited capabilities and wisdom; they doubt and reject the Great Vehicle Dharma. How can we resolve their doubts and eliminate their arrogance? How can we eliminate their doubts and arrogance so they can enter into and accept the Great Vehicle Dharma and benefit both themselves and others? We need to use various causes and conditions, all kinds of methods. In teaching the Buddha-Dharma, the Buddha used the Nine Divisions of Teachings, which includes prose and verse, causes and conditions, analogies and so on. By using one method after the other, He repeatedly opened and revealed the Dharma to us. We also need to do this by tirelessly using various methods to guide sentient beings.
"They must use both positive and negative causes and conditions." We need to use the examples of how those who do good receive positive retributions and those who do evil receive negative retributions. This is the law of karma. We [also] use the method of analogies. "Using countless matters and appearances as analogies, they teach for sentient beings and bring joy to all."
They teach for sentient beings and bring joy to all: They explain and clearly reveal for all sentient beings to help them all have faith and understanding and give rise to joy in their hearts.
We use facts and stories about the past to guide people and teach [the Dharma] to them. We can teach with stories from far or near. "They explain and clearly reveal for all sentient beings...." We guide them and explain [the Dharma] to them so that all sentient beings can understand it. We "help them all have faith and understanding and give rise to joy in their hearts." We must mindfully seek to comprehend this.
In addition to expounding the Dharma, we must also do what the next passage tells us.
"Regarding clothes, bedding, food, drink and medicine, they harbor no expectations for these things."
In addition to treating everyone with true impartiality and mindfully guiding them with the Dharma, now, we will discuss how to live our lives, for this is also a method of transforming people. In our daily lives, we need clothing, food and shelter. So, that we have no expectations for these things [means] that we must not have any desire for clothes, food and shelter. Many people toil away their entire lives. What do they work for? They work to eat good food, wear nice clothes and live somewhere nice. They work for many reasons.
Now, it says that as spiritual practitioners, we should seek nothing but hope that everyone will be able to attain Buddhahood. We must focus our minds on this pure and simple thought. So, "clothes, bedding, food, drink and medicine are necessities for the four seasons." We seek only to make it through the four seasons.
Regarding clothes, bedding, food, drink and medicine: These are necessities for the four seasons.
It is enough to survive the four seasons. It is enough to make a living. This is how Bodhisattvas [think]. During spring, summer, fall and winter, so long as their clothes can shelter their body and are clean, this is good enough.
So, "Bodhisattvas harbor no expectations. They only think of the causes and conditions of all Buddhas teaching the Dharma."
They harbor no expectations for these things: Bodhisattvas harbor no expectations for these things. They only think of the causes and conditions of all Buddhas teaching the Dharma, seeking to benefit themselves and others. This is true peace and joy, which is the true offering.
We do not need to dress in a splendid or showy manner. We just need to wear simple clothes that can keep us warm; that is enough. "They only think of the causes and conditions of all Buddhas teaching the Dharma." We only focus on seeking to understand the nature of the Buddha-Dharma. We "seek to benefit ourselves and others." We do not pay too much attention to our clothes. We do not need to dress in silks or satins. We just need plain clothes and simple food. This is enough for us to live. We must focus on seeking the Dharma. So, we must "seek to benefit ourselves and others." We must understand the Dharma ourselves and also seek to transform sentient beings. "This is true peace and joy, which is the true offering." Earnest diligence is the most practical offering. Also, we must live a simple life; as long as our clothes can shelter our bodies and our food can fill our stomachs, that is good enough. We must wholeheartedly dedicate ourselves to the Buddha-Dharma.
Therefore, we need to be mindful. In our daily lives, "we must cultivate our minds, engage in calm concentration and contemplation and, on the path of diligence, uphold precepts, Samadhi and wisdom. Precepts, Samadhi and wisdom" are most fundamental of all our spiritual practices, and we must definitely put them to use. Only then will we have compassion for all sentient beings. To have compassion for sentient beings, we need to be courageous and diligent. With courage and diligence, we will have peace and joy in our minds. This is because once we have done this, we will have fulfilled our responsibilities and helped others. When other people are at peace, we will be at peace. This is the meaning of bringing peace and joy. So, we must always be mindful!