book Liaofan¡¦s Four Lessons was written in the sixteenth century
in China by Mr. Liaofan Yuan with the hope that it would teach his
son, Tianqi Yuan, about destiny, how to differentiate good from
bad, how to correct his faults, and how to practice good deeds to
cultivate both virtue and humility. As an embodiment of his teachings,
Mr. Liaofan was living proof of their benefits, for he had changed
to re-create destiny has long been of interest to those who believe
that wealth or poverty, long life or short life - everything is
predetermined. People who accomplished good deeds in their past
lives will naturally enjoy wealthy and long lives now, while those
who committed bad deeds in their past lives will undergo deprivations
and short lives. However, there are exceptions. Destiny can be changed.
we were originally supposed to enjoy wealth and longevity in this
lifetime, but have committed excessive bad deeds, then without waiting
until the next life, we will become poor and have shortened lives.
If we were originally supposed to undergo poverty and have short
lives, but have accomplished exemplary deeds, we will become wealthy
and have long lives. History provides many examples of this. Although
everything that we have to go through in this life is the result
of our thoughts and behavior in our past lives and has been predetermined,
it is not rigid. We can still modify it with our current thoughts
Buddhists, we are taught to refrain from evil, to do good, and to
purify our minds. This is the Dharma Seal, our criteria to determine
the genuineness of Buddhist teachings or truths. Buddhist sutras
address principles and logic, and are spoken by five types of people.
They are 1) Buddhas, in our case Buddha Shakyamuni, 2) his students,
3) heavenly beings, 4) immortals, and 5) manifested beings. As long
as what has been said conforms to the Buddha¡¦s teachings and does
not contradict them, the Buddhas with their great broad-mindedness
will recognize them as sutras. Thus, we should regard and respect
as a sutra, any work that conforms to Buddhist principles.
applies to Liaofan¡¦s Four Lessons for although it is not a Buddhist
sutra, we need to respect and praise it as one. This is especially
so for this book for it was certified and advocated by Patriarch
Yin-Guang, the Thirteenth Patriarch of the Pure Land School. In
the early part of the twentieth century, he dedicated his life to
its propagation and was responsible for printing millions of copies
as well as studying, practicing, and lecturing on it. Not only can
it help to serve as a foundation in our learning, but more importantly,
it can also serve as a foundation for non-Buddhists in helping them
learn how to change their destinies.
is much to learn, including principles and methods, all of which
are covered in this book. Although it is relatively short, its impact
can be significant. Therefore, if we wish to change our destinies
or to truly achieve attainment through the practice of Buddhism,
we would do well to accord with its guidance.
are four chapters or lessons in this book. The first lesson of "Learning
to Create Destiny" is about the Law of Cause and Effect. The
second lesson, "The Ways to Reform" is developed from
understanding cause and effect. This third lesson of "The Ways
to Cultivate Goodness" is the primary lesson, that of cultivating
and accumulating goodness. It is based on feeling regret and reforming
our faults. The fourth lesson, "The Benefits of the Virtue
of Humility" is the conclusion for the book.