The Meaning of Life: Apply and Learn Buddhism from Daily Life (Part III)

meaningoflife3-1Practicing Buddhism cannot just happen behind closed doors. It needs to be practiced in our daily lives. The understanding of Buddhism should happen in our mind, not just on the surface. We should turn our small, selfish love into a big love that can love all the sentient beings in this world. Your love towards your parents, your children is good love but small. This love makes you a small Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. But if you can extend your small love to a big love, you are a big Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. To turn your selfish love to a big love is wisdom.

Learning Buddhism is not just reading some books, doing meditation, and praying in front of Buddha, but rather practicing it in daily life. We should use Buddhist wisdom to observe life, to feel and understand everything which happens in daily life and we should apply Buddhist wisdom to solve the difficulties in life. These kinds of practice are all for your own benefit, and this is the only way to finally attain enlightenment.  Buddhism never asked you to escape from home, from your troubles, your duties in your daily life, rather it asks you to face life and to understand the truth behind the surfaces.

Many of you are so fascinated about good living conditions, branded clothes, and expensive food. But, if you don’t have wisdom and compassion, what is the difference between a dead body dressed in the same fine clothes and you?

A few days ago, a lay Buddhist came to see me. She said, “My dear teacher, I am feeling so much pain because both my husband and my son passed away.” I asked her, “Do you still remember the time when you were just a young girl, without a husband and son? Were you also feeling the same pain at that time?” She replied,“No, I was very happy at that time. I can hardly remember it” I then asked, “Now that your husband and son have left you, you can return back to the time when you were just a young girl. Why can’t you feel the same kind of happiness? What is the difference?” It is the clinging and ignorance that binds us to pain. I don’t mean that one should forget about the love and feeling to your husband and son, rather you need to put down the feelings of ownership and selfishness. You should go on loving them by doing good things for the others who need your help and dedicate the merit back to them. Now I will explain to all of you how to practice to release yourselves from this painfulness. The method of pain release which finally lead to enlightenment which I explained to you comes from Buddha. It is up to you to do it.

meaningoflife3-2You all need to have a deep understanding of the hard and simple truth that, our health will worsen by the day, all the money we earn will be lost one day, all of those who are in high positions now will step down some day. All of those who are together now will one day be separated. If we truly understand this nature, we will be able to give up our clinging habits towards the material world and selfish love. I often heard words being spoken, “I was so good to him, I helped him so much, but why does he hate me? Why did he do those bad things to me?” These are the most foolish words I have ever heard. If you cannot understand the truth of human nature, you will always suffer from such painful things in this life. You should all know that those who are good to you now, whom are your friends, were probably your enemy in a past life and will probably be your enemy again in a future life. Therefore, there is no sensible way to ask question like “Why is he/she doing this to me?” The things which happen in this life often have a reason back from an earlier life. We cannot carry our material properties with us from one life to another, but the karmas that we have accumulated will always follow us. When the condition is right, the effects will ripen.

Why do we have to suffer from natural catastrophes such as earthquakes and tsunamis? This is because of the collective karma. If we can truly understand the nature of impermanence, then one day, if someone we love died, we will not feel so much pain. Everyone of us will leave this earth one day, so why should we be surprised when someone dies? We should learn to do good things for them, rather than “clinging on” to painful feelings.

We need to learn to make the practice of Buddhism a part of daily life, and not to keep it only in books or inside the temples. Your life can only be changed by yourself as it lies is in your own hands, not others. That is why it is so important to grasp the true meaning of Buddhism and apply it to your daily life. Buddhism can change your heart, when your heart changes, everything around you will change.

The more you can release the burdens from your heart, the happier you will be. There is such a story, one day the famous Chinese teacher, Confucius, met Maitreya Buddha. He asked Buddha, “What is the key issue of Buddhism?” Maitreya Buddha simply put the luggage he was carrying down on the ground and said, “Setting down ones burdens is the relief”. Confucius asked again, “What is the way to achieve enlightenment?” Maitreya Buddha picked up the luggage and laughed, “To carry the pain of all sentient beings!” This is the fastest way to be enlightened. If you only care about your own pain and ignore all the others, you will never be enlightened.

Everyone wish to get blessings from your Buddhist teacher. Where does such a blessing come from? It is the compassion from the heart of your Buddhist teacher. Those of us who have strong feelings of hate or jealousy also release “blessings” into their surroundings. Those kinds of “blessings” make people very unhappy. We all have had past experience when someone said something bad to you which made you very upset for a week. If you meet someone who has the wisdom and explain things in a good way to you, you may feel very glad for a couple of weeks. This person has love in their heart and has the power of compassion.

meaningoflife3-guru-3I know that, there are many people out there who praise me, and at the same time, there are also many people saying bad about me. I don’t care. When there are human beings in this world, such things will happen. What I do care about, is if I can provide my help to people who needs me.

Many say that we are living in troubled times. Yes, it is true. But these are also very important times. Different people have variuos types of trouble, but this does not mean that you must also be in some form of trouble. You don’t have to do as the others are. Rather, you should take care of yourself. You should try to do the right thing for yourself. Buddha was also a normal human being from the start, but he tried very hard and he eventually became the Buddha by himself. The lotus plant grows in a very dirty mire, but when the flowers bloom, they are so clean and pretty! A Buddhist teacher is a representation of the Buddha in our world. Therefore, their hearts are very clean and not like a normal person who’s heart is covered by filthy dirt. Buddha accepts everybody’s praise and sustention where he treats each person equally with great compassion. Great compassion means that when he has done something good to you, he does not demand for anything in return. We should also learn to behave like Buddha. We cannot set up any demands on others and we should control our jealousy, appetency, and not let it develop, otherwise we will never be satisfied. For example, you might say to your husband, “My dear, I will love you for the rest of my life”, and at the same time you know that you have cheated on him, and he will never get this love. You may say that you don’t want to die, but at the same time, you know that it is impossible. If you can understand this reality, you do know that you have done a lot of meaningless things and have wasted your time, and have suffered from these nonsense-issues.

Sometime we see that some people are behaving badly, but yet they have such a good life. They are successful and rich. That is because in their past life, they have done a lot of good deeds. The merit from their past life was the cause and their conditions is the outcome of the effects. What we do in this life will be the cause for the effects of our next life. Sometimes, we can incur the effects in this life. For example, some of our sanghas or lay persons suffered badly when they practice Buddhism more. Why? It is not because there is something wrong with Buddism but due to bad karmas from his past life maturing now, and probably faster than when they have not practice Buddhism.

The merit you have from this life will bring you a good effect in the future. Therefore, we should always give thanks to what life has given us and not desire for things that we are not destined to. For example, your husband treats you badly, where you were directed to look for help from Buddhism, then you should thank your husband, because of him, you got the chance to listen to the greatest teachings from the Buddha. If your husband divorced you and left you a son, you should not be angry with him, but to thank him for giving you such a wonderful child. If you have such great compassion and wisdom, and always do good things for others, maybe one day, your husband will come back to you and say, I did not know before that you are such a wonderful person. I am so sorry that I lost you, and wish to be back with you again. It is not your outer appearances that gives people a good impression, rather you as a person, with great heart.

I would like to end my talk with one true story. There was such a lady, her face looked quite ugly. When she turned forty, she still could not find someone to love her and marry her. She was so sad that she no longer wanted to live. She jumped into a river. There was a monk sitting there meditating when she jumped. The monk saved her life, and asked her why she had jumped. After hearing her story, the monk said, “Ok, in the past, you lived a life only for yourself. Now your past life is over. In your future, you shall live a life for the others, not just for yourself. If you listen to me, your life will change.” The monk did not ask her to practice any Buddhist meditation, rather, asked her to help the other people who needed help, such as helping the kids in the orphanages, helping old people who could not work, and so on. One day, a rich man came to her and said, “You have the kindest heart I have ever encountered anyone like you in my life and I want to marry you.” From then on, she lived in a very good and happy life. I hope that all of you will have an even better life with a happy family!

Latest News