Ultimate Peace and Happiness
A talk given by Bhikshu Jin Fan on September 6, 2010
Venerable Master, all Dharma Masters, all lay people: Amitabha!
Tonight is Jin Fan Shr's turn to tie the dharma affinities with everyone. Previously we heard that about the Dharma Flower Sutra, the fourteenth chapter (Chapter on the Happily Dwelling Conduct). According to Great Master Zhi Zhe's explanation, not having any danger on the body means to be peaceful, and not having any frustrations or afflictions in the mind means to be happy. If one is peaceful and happy in the body and mind, then one can improve in one's cultivation, so this is the definition of happily-dwelling conduct. This is the part where Manjushri Bodhisattva asked the Buddha that, in the evil dharma-ending age, how should we propagate the Dharma Flower Sutra? Because of this, Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Bodhisattvas the dharma door of happily dwelling in the body and mind.
These great Bodhisattvas in this evil dharma ending age come to propagate this Dharma Flower Sutra, and they are also required to happily dwell on four happy conduct doors of body, mouth, mind, and vows. As we are mundane people full of afflictions and whenever we bring forth the resolve to cultivate, there are always afflictions and obstacles that come along with the flow, and very quickly, we will lose our bodhi resolve. So how do we maintain a happy dwelling of the body and mind when we face good states or bad states? This is very important to our cultivation.
All of the living beings in this world pursue happiness and each person wishes to have a life of safety and good business. However, we live in this saha world, which is called the enduring world. There are many sufferings, such as the three sufferings, the eight sufferings, the eighty-four thousand kinds of sufferings, and also infinite sufferings. We try to find happiness within the suffering, but actually, when the happiness goes to a maximum point, it turns back to sadness and grief. Ultimately, we cannot find true happiness in this saha world. To pursue a happy life is a nature and inherence of our human beings. For a happy life, many people intend to risk their lives, and they even do not care to lose their lives. As we all know during the Vietnam War in the 1970s, after northern Vietnam controlled southern Vietnam, a large amount of refugees went on boats and were out in the ocean. These refugees did not have a destination at all and they did not know where they were going. Their boats were floating like this on the ocean and they were not sure about their future. Even so, because they were pursuing for a life of happiness, they went to the extent of risking their lives in order to get it.
Mencius says that we are born in misery and we die in happiness. This saying means that when we are born in misery, we are all undergoing many sufferings and afflictions, so we will try to find a way to continue living. However, happy people only enjoy their happiness and forget the danger of life itself, and in the end many perishes in their countries or die with confusion. We are living in the saha world and we are supposed to have half suffering and half happiness, but actually there is more suffering than happiness and true happiness is very little. Even though we have so much suffering in this saha world, it is to our own benefit because it is the best place for us to cultivate, since we won't forget our misery.
What is our misery? As the Dharma Flower Sutra says, birth and death is the biggest worry we should have; this is also the real intent why the Buddha was born in this world, he came to teach us to understand that birth and death is our real misery. In our lives there are different kinds of sufferings, such as the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, death, not to have the things you want, to be with the ones you hate, not to be with the ones you love, and the burning flames of the five skandas. These sufferings let us feel that this saha world is like a burning house and we are forced by the fire to the extent that we have to escape from this burning house. How are we supposed to do this? We should cultivate and pursue to be born in the pure land, which is also called the land of happiness.
Practicing the Earth Store dharma door, such as reciting the Earth Store Sutra and being mindful of Earth Store Bodhisattva’s holy name is most suitable for us to happily dwell in the body and mind. Not only can it eradicate various obstacles of the body and mind, but there are also twenty-eight kinds of benefits that will be obtained, as stated in the thirteenth chapter of this sutra. The greatest benefit is that we will ultimately realize Buddhahood. It is not only a dharma door that can benefit ourselves, it can benefit others, because it can benefit our parents and our six relative family members of the past and present, other living beings can be liberated from the evil path and eventually we would be like the woman Bright-Eyes, who allowed her mother to become a Buddha and cross over many living beings.
In the Earth Store Sutra, there are various places where it talks about the happiness that will allow us and others to attain bliss. If we practice the Earth Store dharma door, we are also practicing happily dwelling conduct. We have been reciting the Earth Store Sutra for two days, and I would like to use vernacular language to talk about a few places in the sutra text where it talks about happiness. This can also be regarded as a review to everyone.
In the fourth chapter, the chapter on the karmic retributions of beings in Jambudvipa, there were two kings; one king vowed to become a Buddha first, but the other king vowed that if he did not first cross over these living beings who were suffering, and allow them to attain happiness to the extent of attaining Bodhi, which is becoming Buddhas, then this king would not wish to become a Buddha. This vow is just like the Venerable Master's Eighteen Great Vows; the first vow was that if any being in the realm of the bodhisattvas all the way to the realms of the hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. If any living being in the nine dharma realms do not become a Buddha, then the Venerable Master won't become a Buddha.
In the sixth chapter, the chapter on The Thus Come One's Praises, it talks about when there is a newborn baby, no matter if it is a boy or a girl, we should quickly recite the Earth Store Sutra and recite the bodhisattva's holy name for a full ten thousand times within seven days. Thus the newly born child's karmic retribution of past lives will be eradicated, and he or she will attain liberation. Also the child will be easily raised and will have a long life. If this child was to receive a life of blessings, his or her peace and happiness will be increased, as will its lifespan. In the sixth chapter, it also says that living beings in Jambudvipa have great affinities with the Earth Store Bodhisattva, so we only need to hear the bodhisattva's holy name, see his saintly statue, or hear three words, five words, or a verse of the Earth Store Sutra in order to receive supreme peace and happiness. Then in the future, we will be born upright and proper and also in an honored family.
In the eighth chapter, the chapter on the Praises of Lord Yama and His Followers, it gives an analogy. It says that if there are living beings who accidentally tread on a dangerous and wrong path, which is the path leading to the hells or hungry ghosts, a good knowing advisor will appear and that good knowing advisor is Earth Store Bodhisattva. He is waiting there, and he tells us, "You walked on the wrong path. How could you come here?" And then he leads these misled living beings onto a proper path, which refers to the path of the heavenly beings or humans, and eventually on the path of becoming Buddhas, allowing them to become peaceful and happy. In the eighth chapter, there is a ghost king named Lord of Life, and his responsibility is to protect us during birth and death, allowing us to be happy. However, when mundane people give birth to children, before the children are born, they will kill a lot of living beings and give the flesh to the mother in order for her to make up for her health, or to celebrate. They will invite a lot of relatives and friends to gather together and eat meat and drink wine. The ghost king Lord of Life tells them that this will not allow the baby or the mother to be happy, but it will harm both mother and child.
In the tenth chapter, the chapter on the Conditions and Comparative Merit and Virtue of Giving, it says that if a king or normal people see elderly people with sicknesses or pregnant women, and uses a compassionate mind to give medicine, food and drink, and sleeping equipment, allowing them to be happy and peaceful, then if one wishes to be the god of the six desire heavens or the god of the purely dwelling heaven, then one can be it.
In the twelfth chapter, the chapter on the Benefits From Seeing and Hearing, it teaches us that if someone is poor and suffering, does not have enough food and clothing, is always sick, or if it is not peaceful in his family or a lot of disasters occur, or he often has nightmares in his dreams, if such a person hears the Earth Store King Bodhisattva's name or sees the Earth Store King Bodhisattva's saintly statue, and also sincerely recites the bodhisattva's holy name for ten thousand times, then all these unlucky events can be gradually eradicated. This person will obtain happiness and will begin to have enough food and clothing, and in his dreams, there will be peace. In the twelfth chapter, the Buddha also tells Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva to use his penetrations to propagate this Earth Store Sutra in order to help all living beings in this saha world to have a peaceful and happy life for hundreds and thousands of kalpas.
In the thirteenth chapter, the chapter on the Entrustment of People and Gods, it talks about twenty-eight kinds of benefits. The twenty-second benefit is that at night one's dream will be peaceful and happy. The dream you have at night will be supreme, and sometimes you will see Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, instead of having very terrifying nightmares.
In reality, the nightmares we have at night are not real nightmares. The real nightmare we are having is being born in the saha world. When are we able to wake up from the nightmare? We wake up from the dream when we become enlightened and we know we should cultivate. Then how do we wake up? We should realize that all the happiness of five desires is not ultimate, so we must cultivate. The cultivation will have a lot of suffering, but this suffering will allow us to obtain ultimate happiness from the happiness that is not ultimate. Of course, our goal is to become Buddha, be born in the western pure land, which is the land of happiness.