2019.09.04 By the Power of the Buddha, We Give Rise to Faith 今蒙佛力 而生信根

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Wondrous Lotus Sutra  靜思妙蓮華




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2019.09.04

By the Power of the Buddha, We Give Rise to Faith

今蒙佛力而生信根

 

From Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s notes:

>> "Initially, when we lacked the root of faith, our minds were foolish and our capabilities dull. Like a rootless tree, we lacked the teachings of the Right Path. Now, by the power of the Buddha, we have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, thereby giving rise to the root of faith and enhancing the power of our root of wisdom. We respect the Tathagata and reverently believe in the Dharma and the Sangha."

>> We must put the teachings of the Eightfold Noble Path into action: The awakening of reduced desires, the awakening of contentment, the awakening of tranquility and clarity, the awakening of right mindfulness, the awakening of right concentration, the awakening of diligence, the awakening of right wisdom and the awakening of abstention from frivolous debates.

>> "As for the flowers and fruits of all the trees and the aroma of butter, those who uphold the sutra, while dwelling here, will know where they all are. Deep in the mountains, in treacherous places, the sandalwood trees unfold their flowers while sentient beings dwell in their midst. Upon smelling their fragrances, they will know them all."  [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 19 - On Dharma Masters' Merits and Virtues]

>> "As for all the sentient beings within the earth of the Iron Ring Mountains and their vast seas, those who uphold the sutra will know where they all are upon smelling their scents. As male and female asuras and all their followers fight and play, they will know them all upon smelling their scents."  [Lotus Sutra, Chapter 19 - On Dharma Masters' Merits and Virtues]

>> "In the vast hinterlands, in treacherous places, there are lions, elephants, tigers, wolves, wild buffalos, water buffalos and more. By smelling their scents, they will know where they are. Suppose there is a pregnant woman who cannot tell whether it will be a boy or girl, whether it will be rootless or inhuman. They will know all this upon smelling its scent."

>> In the vast hinterlands, in treacherous places, there are lions, elephants, tigers, wolves, wild buffalos, water buffalos and more. By smelling their scents, they will know where they are: In the dangerous terrain of the wilderness, in treacherous and impassable places, there are lions, tigers, wolves and other wild beasts that kill and maim. Wild buffaloes and water buffaloes think only about water and grass; they are stubborn and stupid, with foolish minds and dull capabilities. Those who listen to the sutra will understand them all. In the vast hinterlands: They are empty, vast and boundless. The scents of the various kinds of sentient beings refer to the scents of elephants, horses, oxen, sheep and so on.

>> The Dharma teachers who uphold the sutra attain the pure nose-root. They follow the Buddha's teachings of right understanding and views, right thinking and so on, which reveal the principles and wisdom of the Dharma's essential nature. They observe how all sentient beings are endowed with wisdom and are all replete with the fragrance of the Dharmakaya's merits and virtues.

>> Suppose there is a pregnant woman who cannot tell whether it will be a boy or girl, whether it will be rootless or inhuman. They will know all this upon smelling its scent: As soon as sentient beings are conceived, they begin in ignorance, which leads to volitional formation, consciousness, name and form, six entrances, contact, feeling, craving, grasping, becoming, birth and old age, sickness and death.

>> What is the cause behind our rebirth? [The Buddha] wants people to understand that [the world] is false and illusory. The interplay of karmic causes and conditions forms the foundation for cyclic existence. Thus, people intend to do all kinds of things without distinguishing between the marks of good or evil, unrest or peace.

>> If we are rootless in nature, our mind will be doubtful and irresolute. "Inhuman" refers to those whose minds conceive of evil thoughts. Those who uphold the sutra and comprehend its meaning never confuse good and evil and thus have clear understanding.

 

"Initially, when we lacked the root of faith,
our minds were foolish and our capabilities dull.
Like a rootless tree,
we lacked the teachings of the Right Path.
Now, by the power of the Buddha,
we have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha,
thereby giving rise to the root of faith
and enhancing the power of our root of wisdom.
We respect the Tathagata
and reverently believe in the Dharma and the Sangha."

Let us mindfully seek to understand this. As we read this passage, we must seek to understand its deeper meaning. "Initially, when we lacked the root of faith, our minds were foolish and our capabilities dull." This is how we sentient beings are. We come in ignorance, understanding nothing and lacking this root of faith. When it comes to these teachings, when it comes to the Three Treasures, we do not understand their significance. Lacking this understanding, how can we give rise to this root of faith? Or perhaps we say we understand, yet we encounter internal and external obstacles. Even if we do seek to understand, we are obstructed by our external environment and by the people around us. These are all obstructions. We fail to draw near to the teachings, or perhaps we draw near to the teachings but fail to give rise to faith in our hearts. [In terms of understanding] the Buddha-Dharma, there are barriers within our minds, obstructions from other people and so on. Thus, right faith is unable to enter our hearts.

We cannot be without faith. If we have no faith, we will not know which direction to walk in, so having right faith is important. So, for those without it, their "minds are foolish and capabilities dull." They are not very bright. When we tell them things, they have only a partial understanding. They are unable to understand. Thus, they are like a rootless tree. This rootlessness is akin to lacking the teachings of the right path. If we dig up a tree and lay it out on the ground, then its roots have been severed, and it will be impossible for the tree to grow. Moreover, if we place it back in the ground, the slightest gust of wind will blow it over. So, [just as] trees cannot be without roots, people cannot be without the Right Dharma. So, we must be very mindful of this, and we must rejoice that we are able to have faith and a proper understanding of the Dharma, such that we can take it [to heart]. This is our blessing.

We have faith, and we are also diligent. "Now, by the power of the Buddha, we have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha thereby giving rise to the root of faith and enhancing the power of our root of wisdom." Now, we are very fortunate to have "taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha." It is because of the Buddha's power, the Buddha's wisdom and His demeanor that we are able to understand and receive the Buddha's virtues, which inspire faith and admiration in us. So, this is what [enables us] to take refuge in the Buddha-Dharma. We take refuge in the Buddha-Dharma, which is the Dharma-body, the Buddha's Dharma and the Sangha. All the monastics the Buddha taught the Dharma to accepted it like this. Now, our root of faith has begun to grow, thus "enhancing the power of our root of wisdom." This is how the power of our root of wisdom grows. [Due to] the Buddha's virtues in teaching the Dharma, when we apply the Dharma to our minds, we can understand them thoroughly. With the Sangha to accompany us, this enhances the strength of our faith. Thus, we come to "respect the Tathagata and reverently believe in the Dharma and the Sangha." The Dharma is the compass that guides us toward the right direction. It is also a lamp that illuminates the way before us so that we are able to travel far in safety. With a lamp to illuminate and a compass to [show us the way], we will not deviate or go astray.

So, if we can start out like this, the path will be very easy to follow, [and we can] "put the teachings of the Eightfold Noble Path into action." The road ahead has already been paved for us. This smooth, flat path is the great, direct Bodhi-path. So, we can begin to see that the path we must follow is very close.

We must put the teachings of the Eightfold Noble Path into action: The awakening of reduced desires, the awakening of contentment, the awakening of tranquility and clarity, the awakening of right mindfulness, the awakening of right concentration, the awakening of diligence, the awakening of right wisdom and the awakening of abstention from frivolous debates.

The Buddha teaches us to reduce our desires and be content. We must come to this realization. Life is filled with suffering, and the root of suffering lies in delusion. In our delusions, we give rise to ignorance, and our ignorance and afflictions constantly obscure our direction. Now, we have taken refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and have formed aspirations to put the teachings of the Eightfold Noble Path into practice.

Now we understand that we must reduce our desires, for all material objects in this world are illusory and impermanent. This is the first awakening. We must reduce our desires, and then, we must be content. We must know the importance of contentment. As we must walk in this direction, we cannot harbor any greedy thoughts. As we have resolved to accomplish this task, if our surroundings make us give rise to greed, we will not be able to complete our path.

For example, a group of Bodhisattvas has returned from Pingtung, where they just finished holding. Pingtung's great lantern festival [of 2019]. Every year, the local community holds a lantern festival, and our [volunteers] participate. What was the theme for this lantern festival? It was environmental protection. Everyone was able to protect the environment by recycling discarded materials and making them into something useful, something truly bright and beautiful.

Dozens of these Bodhisattvas split into groups, and each [group] was in charge of certain duties. Listening to them speak, they had so many touching stories. They were able to take these discarded materials and assemble them together into so many useful, fine and decorative objects. To make them bright and beautiful, they needed lights, which require electricity.

We have a Faith Corps Bodhisattva who is a professional [electrician], so he felt that he should be the one to take up the project. With great joy, he took full responsibility for the lights in this lantern festival.

Just as he put his heart into planning for it, other business opportunities arose, one after another. He said that he had never received a business project worth several million [NTD]. He was really struggling inside.

This business opportunity worth several million [NTD] had come up. "If I accept this now, I will be so busy. What should I do?" He was already busy, day and night. How [else] could he earn more money? He was struggling a lot. In the end, he said that he had to practice contentment and let go of the other projects. As opportunities to make money kept coming in, he had to practice contentment. "I have enough; I do not need to take on anything else. I must give my all to this duty and carry it to completion." He said, "By practicing contentment, I will eliminate [my desire] to make money in this world. I must be content." With this determination, he turned down big business projects, one by one. It took him a very long time to finish up for this lantern festival.

As he said this, he knew that he could finish it without being led astray by desire. He was able to be content and at ease. He felt very light and at ease, for he had subdued this mara. Indeed, [he had done] this. What does it mean to subdue maras? Often, when we need to take the Dharma to heart, something from the external world will disturb us, and our many desires come to lure us away. This is most treacherous. So, these are maras; this is the path of maras. If he had been led astray by desire, by the time of the lantern festival, there would have been no wiring, and the lanterns would not have been lit.

So, by being able to subdue this great temptation, he was able to complete this project. Everyone was grateful and joyful. At this great lantern festival in Pingtung, there were so many people who passed by our [booth] and went inside to see that recycling can also be done like this.

Through recycling [projects], everyone was able to realize the need to reduce their desires. In particular, there was a big group of Bodhisattvas at that place who introduced people to Tzu Chi's idea that everyone must work to protect our environment. This caused many people to feel great admiration. They admired Tzu Chi volunteers very much for having this kind of perspective. Nowadays, everyone knows that trash is a problem, but they do not know that trash can be transformed and decorated to become something so wonderful, so beautiful, so lively and so useful.

So, we must reduce our desires, which is [something we must] awaken to. With reduced desires, we will be able to identify and dispel these desirous thoughts that attempt to disturb us. Thus, reducing our desires [leads to] contentment. Knowing how to reduce our desires is an awakening. Contentment is also an awakening. If our minds can have fewer desires and know contentment, naturally our minds will become tranquil and clear. When our minds are tranquil and clear, we will be free of defilement. We will see the light before us, and our state of mind will be undisturbed by afflictions and ignorance. So, when we can always maintain right mindfulness, we will not be led astray by evil.

To have "the awakening of right concentration," we must be single-minded in our resolve. In having faith and learning the Dharma, we must be single-minded in our resolve. In everything we do, we must be focused, with single-minded resolve and right concentration. This is just like how, when we do recycling work, if we lack the ability to concentrate, our desirous thoughts will soon pull us away. Thus, "the awakening of right concentration" is very important. At the same time, we must be diligent. It is by being diligent that we are able to complete our tasks and promptly finish whatever we set out to do. Once everyone had gathered, all that was left was the finishing touch, which was electricity. With the push of a button, the circuit connected and everything was lit up. This is why we must be diligent and not waste any time. To see something through to the very end is "the awakening of right wisdom."

Next is "the awakening of abstention from frivolous debates." When we speak, [it should be about] the Dharma. We read, recite, transcribe and also teach the Dharma. As we teach the Dharma, we must also ask others to continue teaching the Dharma as well. This is what it means to value the Dharma. We listen to the Dharma, and we must teach it. After we teach the Dharma, we must spread it. We must encourage everyone once again to spread the teachings one by one.

o, we must be mindful of these eight [awakenings] so that we can make up for the beginning, when we lacked the root of faith. Now our root of faith is complete. We also respect the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. Having accepted the Buddha's Dharma-water, our minds have been cleansed. As for defilements of afflictions and ignorance, we have eliminated them, too. Thus, our awakened mind will soon emerge and develop. Every day in this world, as we deal with people and things, we can understand [everything] very clearly. Nothing can disturb our minds. The Dharma is with us at all times, [for we have] taken the Dharma to heart.

So, [as we read] the previous passage, let us mindfully seek to comprehend it. The previous passage says,

"As for the flowers and fruits of all the trees and the aroma of butter, those who uphold the sutra, while dwelling here, will know where they all are. Deep in the mountains, in treacherous places, the sandalwood trees unfold their flowers while sentient beings dwell in their midst. Upon smelling their fragrances, they will know them all."

The following passage says,

"As for all the sentient beings within the earth of the Iron Ring Mountains and their vast seas, those who uphold the sutra will know where they all are upon smelling their scents. As male and female asuras and all their followers fight and play, they will know them all upon smelling their scents."

We have discussed these passages before, and we must seek to understand them clearly. The non-sentient realm is made up of trees, flowers, fruits and other such things. These are all considered to be non-sentient. They are unlike us humans and animals, which are sentient and animate. These [non-sentient] things grow upon the earth, extending their roots underground and [growing] on the surface, sprouting, branching out and unfolding their leaves. They are fixed in the earth. People cannot get rid of them unless we chop them down with an axe or cut them down with a saw. We must dispose of them by manpower, otherwise they will remain there forever.

As for sentient beings, we guard ourselves from each other. We are afraid they will hurt us, and they are afraid we will hurt them. Animals only become violent toward humans in order to prevent humans from hurting them. When humans see an animal, they want to kill it. When a snake slithering on the ground sees a human, it will get scared and slither away. When the human sees a snake, they will quickly grab a stick to beat it with. So, is it snakes who hurt people, or people who hurt snakes? This is how sentient beings are. Sentient beings are deluded. They are always hurting each other.

There are also sentient beings who serve people. Dogs and many kinds of animals are very close to people. People treat these animals like pets, and the animals serve their masters. There are many friendly animals like these. Similarly, humans and animals are able to form very close relationships. Animals can be even more perceptive than humans. Recently, we have mentioned dogs. The most perceptive part of dogs is their nose. They are very perceptive. Many kinds of animals have their own [abilities]. Animals have abilities that we humans do not have. Many kinds of animals have their own special [abilities]. Thus, they are all called "sentient beings." This is what makes them sentient. The following passage [says],

"In the vast hinterlands, in treacherous places, there are lions, elephants, tigers, wolves, wild buffalos, water buffalos and more. By smelling their scents, they will know where they are. Suppose there is a pregnant woman who cannot tell whether it will be a boy or girl, whether it will be rootless or inhuman. They will know all this upon smelling its scent."

In the vast hinterlands, in treacherous places, there are also "lions, elephants, tigers [and] wolves." These are all [animals] that we humans fear. As for wild buffalos, water buffalos and so on, spiritual practitioners, even from far away, without even going to those treacherous places, will know where these animals are and whether an animal is good or bad, virtuous or evil. When spiritual practitioners smell its scent, "they will know all this upon smelling [it]," and they will also know where these animals are.

In the vast hinterlands, in treacherous places, there are lions, elephants, tigers, wolves, wild buffalos, water buffalos and more. By smelling their scents, they will know where they are: In the dangerous terrain of the wilderness, in treacherous and impassable places, there are lions, tigers, wolves and other wild beasts that kill and maim. Wild buffaloes and water buffaloes think only about water and grass; they are stubborn and stupid, with foolish minds and dull capabilities. Those who listen to the sutra will understand them all. In the vast hinterlands: They are empty, vast and boundless. The scents of the various kinds of sentient beings refer to the scents of elephants, horses, oxen, sheep and so on.

"In the dangerous terrain of the wilderness..." Everyone can understand this from reading it. "Treacherous and impassable places" are very dangerous; they are full of lions, tigers, wolves and many other wild beasts. These wild beasts are also animals, but different species will hurt and kill each other. When carnivorous animals see smaller animals, they will catch and eat them. This is the wild nature of animals.

Speaking of their wild nature, they catch animals to eat them. Just as cats love to eat mice and tigers love to eat goats and rabbits. As soon as they see one, they will bite onto it, then tear and rip it apart so they can eat it. These are wild beasts. They will eat weaker animals alive. These are fierce animals. What about us humans? We humans are also the same. We eat all [kinds of] animals; it is said that in the past, we used to eat tiger meat also. Tigers are very ferocious, yet humans are even more ferocious. No matter what kind of animal it is, people will eat it for food. So, we can say that people are even wilder than animals. Among all animals, there are so many wild animals, ferocious, vicious animals. But compared to them, humans are not so different; we may be even more vicious than the animals.

"Wild buffaloes and water buffaloes think only about water and grass." Thus, "they are stubborn and stupid, with foolish minds and dull capabilities. Those who listen to the sutra will understand them all." These [animals], wild buffaloes and water buffaloes, are like this, so stubborn and stupid. Whatever you try to teach them, they are very dull [and cannot learn]. Wild buffaloes and water buffaloes are born in the wild, not raised by humans. As they are born in the wild, who could possibly teach them? Thus, their capabilities are inherently very dull like this. But buffalos raised by humans will follow them wherever they tell them to go, bearing their burden willingly; these are tamed buffalo. But wild buffalo and water buffalo do not have anyone to teach them. Thus, they are stubborn by nature, with dull minds.

So, when it comes to these beings with "foolish minds and dull capabilities," as people who listen to this sutra, we will be able to discern the nature of these wild beasts. We will be able to understand the nature of all these wild beasts. When it comes to the afore-mentioned tigers, wolves, lions and so on, those who listen to the sutra will know that due to their ferocity, these beasts are very vicious. As for the wild buffaloes, water buffaloes and so on, these beings who are stupid by nature; those who listen to the sutra will understand the nature of all these beasts very well.

"In the vast hinterlands..." These vast hinterlands are "empty, vast and boundless." This refers to a very large piece of boundless land. "Various kinds of sentient beings" means all the many different kinds of animals, such as "elephants, horses, cows, sheep and so on."

The Dharma teachers who uphold the sutra attain the pure nose-root. They follow the Buddha's teachings of right understanding and views, right thinking and so on, which reveal the principles and wisdom of the Dharma's essential nature. They observe how all sentient beings are endowed with wisdom and are all replete with the fragrance of the Dharmakaya's merits and virtues.

Those who uphold the sutra, "the Dharma teachers who uphold the sutra, attain the pure nose-root." Thus, "they follow the Buddha's teachings of right understanding and views." So, the Buddha teaches us that the ear-root can be very sensitive and sharp. It is extremely sensitive, so we can smell both visible and invisible things because we follow the Buddha's teachings. In fact, everyone's nature is completely the same as the Buddha's, who is omniscient and omnipresent. Thus, no matter what kind of environment, no matter what corner [of the world] or what kind of beings live there, we generally know the nature of all these beings. In the plains are [animals of] the plains, and in treacherous places are the beasts [that dwell in] treacherous places. They all have their own unique characteristics.

Those who listen to the sutra can recognize them because they have eliminated all the discursive thoughts from their minds. When the Buddha taught the Dharma, His mind was very sharp. He understood all the different environments and all the different animals very clearly. "The Dharma teachers who uphold the sutra attain the pure nose-root. They follow the Buddha's teachings of right understanding and views." The right understanding and views are the eight awakenings we just discussed; these are all the right understanding and views. [Dharma teachers] have accepted the Buddha's teachings, and they understand the need for reduced desires, contentment and so on. It is only through awakening that we are able to find contentment and understand the importance of gratitude. As for "right thinking," this reveals "the principles and wisdom of the Dharma's essential nature." Everyone is endowed with this; everyone has this essential Dharma-nature, our nature of True Suchness, which naturally converges with the principles and completely reveals our wisdom.

Thus, we are be able to discern all the non-sentient and sentient beings that gather in this place. Amidst the mountains and trees, within this environment are sentient beings, which are the beasts and animals of this place. Just by listening, we will know what sort of environment this place is and what its ecology [is like]; this will all be clear to us. So, this wisdom is discerning wisdom. When our nature of True Suchness and our principles [converge], absolute truth uniting with [our] principles, our discerning wisdom will begin to emerge.

Thus, we will "observe how all sentient beings are endowed with wisdom." Whether it is deep in the mountains or on the plains, all sentient beings are endowed with this wisdom, as all living, animate beings have Buddha-nature. Thus, "they are all replete with the Dharmakaya's merits and virtues." These animals are sentient also, so they are endowed with the merits and virtues of the Dharmakaya, [just like us]. The Dharmakaya is our [nature of] True Suchness, our intrinsic nature. Animals all have their own abilities. If they have the causes and conditions, once they have exhausted their karmic forces, they will also regain a human body. They will return in a human body. When they have the causes and conditions to accept the Buddha-Dharma, they will also be able to cultivate goodness and get the chance to become Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.

The following passage says, "Suppose there is a pregnant woman who cannot tell whether it will be a boy or girl, whether it will be rootless or inhuman. They will know all this upon smelling its scent."

Suppose there is a pregnant woman who cannot tell whether it will be a boy or girl, whether it will be rootless or inhuman. They will know all this upon smelling its scent: As soon as sentient beings are conceived, they begin in ignorance, which leads to volitional formation, consciousness, name and form, six entrances, contact, feeling, craving, grasping, becoming, birth and old age, sickness and death.

As soon as sentient beings are conceived, "[they begin] in ignorance." We discussed the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence a few days ago. Ignorance leads to volitional formation, volitional formation to consciousness, from consciousness to name and form, from name and form to six entrances, from six entrances to contact, contact to feeling, from feeling to craving, from craving to grasping, from grasping to becoming, from becoming to birth and from birth to old age, sickness and death. These are the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence.

[It is through] contact that we come into this world, where we encounter many things and feel them. The older we grow, the more we crave these things. We crave this, and we crave that; these are desirous thoughts. These cravings lead to desirous thoughts. As they accumulate, we become more and more possessive, and so we grasp at things. By grasping, we create karma, and creating karma [refers] to becoming, [meaning] this karma now exists. [Due to] this karma, we start to age over the course of our lifetime. [We go] from birth all the way to old age, and then we experience sickness and death. We must understand these principles very clearly.

As sentient beings who are capable of accepting the Buddha-Dharma, we must always keep the principles of the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence in mind as we deal with people, matters and things so that our subtle, dust-like afflictions do not whisk us away. Thus, the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence are very important. The foundations of spiritual practice, the Four Noble Truths, the 12 Links and the myriad practices of the Six Paramitas, are indispensable to our spiritual cultivation. We must be mindful of them.

So, "What is the cause behind our rebirth?"

What is the cause behind our rebirth? [The Buddha] wants people to understand that [the world] is false and illusory. The interplay of karmic causes and conditions forms the foundation for cyclic existence. Thus, people intend to do all kinds of things without distinguishing between the marks of good or evil, unrest or peace.

Why are we reborn? "[The Buddha] wants people to understand that [the world] is false and illusory." The Buddha wanted to help us realize that everything in the world is false and illusory. Because of these illusions, we are confused about everything. As soon as we are born human, we start to live amidst these illusions. We forget everything from the past. The present and future before us are unclear. We do not know [anything]. Thus, [the world] is false and illusory.

Amidst all this, we must seek to understand why we were born into our family. From the start, the Buddha-Dharma explains to us the interplay of karmic causes and conditions. "I have a cause with this father and a condition with this mother. Are these causes and conditions negative? [Perhaps] it was negative causes and conditions that caused me to be born to these parents." We are born into this life due to the karmic affinity between parents and children. So, [being born is also] due to karma. In this place, inevitably, we will encounter people with enmity [toward us]. Our enemies from the past might be [part of our own] families now, and we may all be on very close terms. "These are my parents; this is my child." In this little family, in this precise place, these negative causes and conditions [converged].

Now these enemies have met again. They might have been intimate in the past, but now they have become enemies. This unhappy couple has given birth to a child due to negative karmic causes and conditions. Or, perhaps a pair of very good parents gives birth to a very good child. But due to the impermanence of life, something [awful] may happen and bring terrible distress [to the parents]. This all depends on their causes and conditions. We must understand that the root of the cycle of causes and conditions is the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence. Before the 12 Links of Cyclic Existence, [the Buddha taught] the Four Noble Truths. We must clearly understand "suffering, causation, cessation and the Path" and how ignorance comes about. This ignorance [is what] leads to volitional formation and consciousness, [causing] the links to go continue on and on. This forms the foundation for cyclic existence, from lifetime to lifetime.

"People intend to do all kinds of things." They do a lot of things "without distinguishing between the marks of good or evil, unrest or peace." They are deluded. They do not know right from wrong. Their mind harbors these [delusions], like a woman with [a child in her belly]. They conceive of [this ignorance], and thus they must proceed through this [cycle] of causes and conditions. This is like when we must handle an issue. At first, there was nothing there, but through our mutual interactions, many [karmic conditions] converge, causing a situation [to occur], which makes us worry about our many gains and losses.

When we lack something, we worry about how we will be able to get it. And once we have obtained it, we begin to worry some more about losing it. To be worried about gain and loss is the same idea. This is just like a pregnant mother; it is out of ignorance that [a child is conceived]. It is the same with us. Our ignorant thoughts come together with our external world and create so many issues and so much ignorance. We must contemplate this mindfully.

This is not just about mothers giving birth, but also how we deal with people and matters; it is this convergence [of karma] that creates so many issues for us. This is the meaning of "create." So many issues arise this way. [The stage] before birth is called "conception." When [the mother gives birth], the baby is there! How could we just ignore it? How could we give birth to a child but not raise them? It is the same principle. So, we must contemplate this very mindfully.

If we are rootless in nature, our mind will be doubtful and irresolute. "Inhuman" refers to those whose minds conceive of evil thoughts. Those who uphold the sutra and comprehend its meaning never confuse good and evil and thus have clear understanding.

"If we are rootless in nature, our mind will be doubtful and irresolute 'Inhuman' refers to those whose minds conceive of evil thoughts." This indicates that if we are rootless in nature, we will not know the right path to walk, and we will not [have] right faith in the Buddha-Dharma. When this happens, our minds will harbor doubts and confusion. When this happens, it is as if we are inhuman, as if our "minds conceive of evil thoughts." We often see this. "Those whose minds conceive of evil thoughts" means that our minds harbor improper thoughts, so, [what is on our minds is evil].

"Those who uphold the sutra and comprehend its meaning never confuse good and evil." Thus, they are able to understand. They are able to clearly understand what people think and what their nature is. This is how those who uphold the sutra are able to understand everyone's intentions. They are very intelligent, and they are able to understand how to "transform consciousness into wisdom." People of wisdom are even more lucid. Thus, they "never confuse good and evil." They are able to understand. Thus, everyone must mindfully seek to understand these eight [realizations] and their importance in our spiritual practice. So, we must always be mindful!