The Art of Living
-- Selected Passages --Houston 1996 . Talk
given by the Venerable Chin Kung
¡@¡@ - Our goal in studying Buddhism is to open up our wisdom; to
attain this goal, we must cultivate purity of mind. In today society,
our greatest obstructions are TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines
- these all contain contents which pollute our minds. I often persuade
people not to read or listen to these things. When our hearts are
free from these unneeded afflictions, we can live each day in peace
and happiness; thus, allowing our minds to return to purity. With
an undeluded mind, one will see matters of life clearer, deeper,
and farther than others. This is because a settled and concentrated
mind is a mind of wisdom. The key in cultivating the Buddha teachings
is having a settled and concentrated mind, in practicing the Pure
Land method, purity of mind is of foremost importance.
The Infinite Life Sutra teaches us to cultivate purity, equality,
and understanding. Being mindful of the Buddha is cultivating this,
for Amitabha Buddha is purity, equality, and understanding. When
we recite the Buddha’s name, we are reminded of these qualities.
In China, Buddhism can be divided into ten schools. Aside from
two Small Vehicle school which has already declined, there are
eight schools remaining belonging to Great Vehicle Buddhism.
2 schools (Chan and Shing) which enter the Buddha teachings through
the method of understanding/ Enlightenment". They seek
the great enlightening, to understand the heart/mind, and see
Usually, those of lesser capabilities to enlighten on their own
are unable to reach their goals through this method. Thus,
the Chan/Zen School requires a high level of wisdom and a very
pure heart. Without these, then one would have to start learning
the stage of Teachings. The study of Teachings is to help establish
proper understanding and proper viewpoint, thus, the method
Properness" is used here to enter the Buddha teachings. There
are 4 schools belonging to this category (Tien Tai, Shian Shou,
Fa Shiang, and San Lwun). The practitioners of these schools study
and abide by the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha to correct their
erroneous views, thoughts, and actions. Most people are capable
of learning this method, but it is a long journey, such as going
to school. One must start from elementary school, then gradually
advance grade by grade to junior high, high school, and college.
In finishing one grade, one attains the benefit of that single
grade. The final 2 schools are Pure Land and Esoteric. These stress
the importance of cultivating purity of mind, thus, their method
of entering the Buddha teachings is through purity". The
Pure Land School can be practiced by people of all capabilities,
whether they be smart or dull. All can practice, and all can succeed
in cultivating Pure Land. The Esoteric School requires a high
of Purity of Mind, making it very difficult to reach attainment.
The difference between the cultivation of Purity in Pure Land School
and Esoteric School is that the Pure Land School teaches us to cultivate
purity of mind away from pollution, while the Esoteric School teaches
us to cultivate purity of mind in the midst of pollution, the latter
path involves state of being in pollution but not being polluted;
naturally, this state is too difficult for commonfolk to succeed
True wisdom arises from purity of mind, thus, wisdom" mentioned
in the Buddha teachings is not attained from reading and studying
books; the wisdom" we attain from reading and studying is
only worldly knowledge, and not true wisdom.
True wisdom is the function of our self-nature. Our self-nature
is complete with unlimited wisdom, virtues, and abilities, these
qualities are present in everyone self-nature, and we must know
to bring them out.
Buddha' is Purity, Equality, and Understanding. The Buddha teachings
can be summarized into 10 simple phrases: True Sincerity towards
others, Purity of Mind within, Equality in everything we see,
Understanding of life and the universe, Compassion, helping others
in a wise and unconditional way, See Through to the truth of
Let Go of all wandering thoughts and attachments, Freedom of mind
and spirit, Accord With Conditions, go along with the environment,
Be Mindful of Amitabha Buddha, wishing to reach the Pure Land and
follow in His Teachings. The first five represent the Buddha
heart, also the virtues of our self-nature. We are presently
completely manifest these qualities due to our lack of cultivating
the latter five. Diligent practice is needed to bring out these
virtues of the Buddha-nature within us.
The ultimate goal in learning Buddhism is the great Perfection.
In all classes of society and fields of occupation, Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas act as role models for all people to follow. Students
of the Buddha must be good examples for all others, and families
which follow the Buddha’s teachings must act in a way which is worthy
of being the role model for all families. If one is still a student,
then one’s schoolwork, conduct, and health become an example for
one’s classmates. This is being a student of the Buddha. In going
to work or running a business, one must be a role model for all
businessmen to follow. Thus, everything in the Buddhadharma can
be number one.
A family living in perfect wisdom is the most content, fortunate,
and happy family in the world.
Buddhism is the education of wisdom, it encompasses all things,
and exceeds the boundaries between countries, races, and religions.
Since Buddhism is an education, it is not limited in the boundaries
of religion. Followers of all religions are welcome and should learn
and cultivate the education of true wisdom.
In the Sutra of Observing Amitabha and His Pure Land, the 3 Conditions
mentioned stands as the basic foundation of cultivation in Buddhism.
Upon perfecting the 3 Conditions, one will have complete wisdom,
fortune, and virtue.
The first condition consists of four practices based on the fundamental
morals of mankind:
1. The practice of filial piety
2. The practice of respecting teachers and elders
3. The practice of harboring compassion and not killing
4. The practice of the 10 Kind Deeds.
second condition consists of three practices based on cultivating
1. Taking Refuge in the Triple Jewels
2. Understanding the spirit of precepts
3. Being a law-abiding citizen of the world.
third condition consists of four practices which follow the practices
1. Giving rise to the Bodhi Mind
2. Deeply believing in the Law of Cause and Effect
3. Studying the teachings of the Large Vehicle
4. Introducing the Teachings to others.
these 11 practices, each having its deep and vast meaning, must
be put to use in everyday life, for they are the foundation of the
49 years of teachings spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha.
Great Vehicle Buddhism in China can be represented by the great
Bodhisattvas of the Four Famous Mountains. First is Earth Treasury
Bodhisattva of Jiou-Hua Mountain, representing filial piety and
respect. Second is Kuan Yin Bodhisattva of Pu-Tuo Mountain, representing
compassion. Third is Manjushri Bodhisattva of Wu-Tai Mountain,
wisdom. Fourth is Universal Worthy Bodhisattva of E-Mei Mountain,
representing true practice. These 4 great Bodhisattvas represent
the core of cultivation in Buddhism. As beginners, we start learning
from Earth Treasury, for the earth is the root of life of all
beings. Because the great earth nurtures all beings and is the
treasury of all that is precious, the Buddha uses it to represent
ground" or mind earth". Our true mind/original nature
is complete with infinite wisdom, virtuous abilities, and talents;
we must know how to open this treasury in order to attain its benefits.
Earth Treasury Bodhisattva teaches us to be filial to our parents
and respectful to our teachers, for in these practices lies the
key to opening the treasury of our self-nature.
The field of filial piety is very vast. Our parents have shown us
great kindness in bringing us up and educating us, thus, we should
not only nurture their aging bodies, but we should also nurture
their minds, and let them be happy- this is practicing filial piety.
Regarding the practice of filial piety, we should strive to
best in living up to our parents' expectations. When they wish
for us to be good persons and benefit the society, we should
to act otherwise would be unfilial. For children going to school,
it would be unfilial to do poorly at schoolwork, causing one
parents to be worried and disappointed. It would be unfilial
was poor, or if one health was poor, or if one was disrespectful
to one teachers, or if one could not get along with other schoolmates.
After reaching adulthood, and entering the society, it would
unfilial to be rebellious towards one boss, or being unable to
cooperate with others at work, causing one parents at home
From these, we realize how vast the field of cultivating filial
piety really is, and that the entire Buddhadharma is actually
teaching the Way of Filial Piety. In Buddhism, the perfection of
filial piety is only completed upon reaching the Unsurpassed
In today generation, mankind has been seriously polluted in
thoughts, views, spirit, and body, thus leading to the birth of
many strange illnesses. The root cause of illness and disease
pollution - if one body and mind are pure, then one will definitely
not fall ill or grow aged. To not age or become ill is true
and fortune. To attain this goal, we only need to learn and cultivate/practice
according to the Buddha teachings.
In our world today, where foods have been polluted by toxins and
poisons, we should harbor compassion, for compassion is the antidote
for all poisons. A truly compassionate heart can neutralize all
poisons. The Buddha once said, ll dharmas arise from the mind."
Thus, a pure, equanimous, and understanding mind/heart naturally
brings health to one body.
When we recite morning and evening ceremonies in front of the
and Bodhisattva images, it is just as if we were vowing to abide
by their teachings right in their presence. Morning recitation
as a reminder, preventing us from forgetting the Buddha teachings,
and reminding us to act accordingly in the course of the day.
recitation is a reflection of today practice, checking to see
if we acted accordingly to the Buddha teachings. If we did,
should work even harder next time, if not, then we must reform,
seeking to renew ourselves with each day. Only practicing in
way can true benefits be attained. Morning and evening recitations
are the most basic practices in learning Buddhism. It is necessary
to remind ourselves each day, and reflect and reform.
One who wishes to become a student of the Buddha should first learn
from Maitreya Buddha, or better known in America as appy Buddha".
Maitreya Buddha represents the most basic conditions necessary to
become Buddhist - a smiling face and a big heart. (Represented by
his big belly). We must recognize that all Buddha images serve to
remind us of the Teachings, and are not idols or gods of worship.
appy Buddha" teaches us to give rise to an equanimous mind,
and be happy; thus being able to enter the Buddha Way.
The content of the Buddha teachings is infinitely deep and vast,
one is unable to speak of it all, for the flavor of it is unfathomable.
Understanding it can bring great help to our living, work, and
with all people, matters, and affairs. Buddhism truly surpasses
the boundaries of nationality, races, and religions - there
a single thing it cannot encompass. The Buddha teachings is truly
a very complete education.