THE SORROWLESS FLOWERS
101. Seven Emotions
102. Greed and Desire
103. Six Desires
106. To Subdue Lust, Anger and Ignorance
107. Wrong Views
108. Remnants of Habits
110. Good-Knowing Advisors
101. Seven Emotions
Emotions, negative or positive, are impermanent (they would not last), but we cannot say we don’t care about our emotions because they are impermanent. Buddhists cannot say both suffering and happiness are impermanent so we need not seek nor avoid them. We all know that negative emotions lead to suffering, whereas positive ones lead to happiness, and the purpose of all Buddhists is to achieve happiness. So should try to achieve things that cause happiness, and whatever causes suffering we should deliberately happiness. According to Buddhism, there are seven kinds of emotions.
What can be borne with ease is happiness. Ordinary happiness is the gratification of a desire. However, as soon as the thing desired is achived the we desire something else or some other kind of happiness, for our selfish desires are endless. Money cannot buy happiness, or wealth does not always conduce to happiness. In fact, real happiness is found within, and is not be defined in terms of wealth, power, honours, or conquests. The Buddha enumerates some kinds of happiness for a layman. They are the happiness of possession, health, wealth, longevity, beauty, joy, strength, property, children, etc. The Buddha does not advise all of us to renounce our worldly lives and pleasures and retire to solitude. However, he advised lay disciples to share the enjoyment of wealth with others. We should use wealth for ourselves, but we should also use wealth for the welfare of others. What we have is only temporary; what we preserve we leave and go. Only karmas will have to go with us along the endless cycle of births and deaths. The Buddha taught about the happiness of lay disciples as follows: “A poor, but peace life is real happiness. Leading a blameless life is one of the best sources of happiness, for a blameless person is a blessing to himself and to others. He is admired by all and feels happier, being affected by the peaceful vibrations of others. However, it is very difficult to get a good name from all. The wisemen try to be indifferent to external approbation, try to obtain the spiritual happiness by transcending of material pleasures.” Then the Buddha continued to remind monks and nuns: “Nirvana bliss, which is the bliss of relief from suffering, is the highest form of happiness.” Thus, the Buddha taught on Happiness in the Dharmapada Sutra: “Happy is the birth of Buddhas! Happy is the teaching of the True Law! Happy is the harmony in the sangha! Happy is the discipline of the united ones! (Dharmapada 194). Oh! Happily do we live without hatred among the hateful! Among hateful men we dwell unhating! (Dharmapada 197). Oh! Happily do we live in good health among the ailing! Among the ailing we dwell in good health! (Dharmapada 198). Oh! Happily do we live without greed for sensual pleasures among the greedy! Among the greedy we dwell free from greed! (Dharmapada 199). Oh! Happily do we live without any hindrances. We shall always live in peace and joy as the gods of the Radiant Realm (Dharmapada 200). Victory breeds hatred, defeat breeds suffering; giving up both victory and defeat will lead us to a peaceful and happy life (Dharmapada 201). If by giving up a small happiness or pleasure, one may behold a larger joy. A far-seeing and wise man will do this (a wise man will leave the small pleasure and look for a larger one) (Dharmapada 290). It is pleasant to have friends when need arises. Enjoyment is pleasant when shared with one another. Merit is pleasant when life is at its end. Shunning of (giving up) all evil is pleasant (Dharmapada 331). To revere the mother is pleasant; to revere the father is pleasant; to revere the monks is pleasant; to revere the sages is pleasant (Dharmapada 332). To be virtue until old age is pleasant; to have steadfast faith is pleasant; to attain wisdom is pleasant; not to do evil is pleasant (Dharmapada 333).
According to Buddhist thoeries, sorrow and joy, each producing the other, or each being inherent in the other.
There is no greater love in this world than the love of the mother and father. If a person, carrying father on the left shoulder and mother on the right shoulder, were to walk around the Sumeru Mountain hundreds of thousands of times, with blood covering both feet, it would still not be enough to repay the love and hardship of child rearing (Dhammapada). The Buddha taught: “Love is the only way to destroy hatred. Hatred cannot be defeated with more hatred.”
Buddha taught: “When you hate others, you yourself become unhappy. But when you love others, everyone is happy.” In order to eliminate “hate,” you should meditate on loving-kindness, pity and compassion.
Greed and lust are unrestrained desires for material possessions such as food, sleeping, sexual intercourse, etc., all related to sensual pleasures. We also have a desire for appropriations, showing off, authority, and profits. The cover of desire which overlays the mind and prevents the good from appearing. Since they are like bottomless barrel, neither obsessive greed nor desire can be stopped or satisfied. Through tricks, expedients, and manipulations we try to reach our goal irrespective of whatever happens to others. We Buddhists must see that greedy people are generally selfish, wicked, and prone to cause sufferings to others. As a result, they transform this world into a battlefield where tears are shed like streams, and sufferings rise like an ocean tide. Desire for and love of the things of this life, such as craving (greed, affection, desire). Most people define happiness as the satisfaction of all desires. The desires are boundless, but our ability to realize them is not, and unfulfilled desires always create suffering. When desires are only partially fulfilled, we have a tendency to continue to pursue until a complete fulfillment is achieved. Thus, we create even more suffering for us and for others. We can only realize the true happiness and a peaceful state of mind when our desires are few. This is one of the great steps towards the shore of liberation. The Buddha taught: “Craving and desire are the cause of all unhappiness or suffering. Everything sooner or later must change, so do not become attached to anything. Instead devote yourself to clearing your mind and finding the truth, lasting hapiness.” Knowing how to feel satisfied with few possessions help us destroy greed and desire. This means being content with material conditions that allow us to be healthy and strong enough to cultivate. This is an effective way to cut through the net of passions and desires, attain a peaceful state of mind and have more time to help others.
In nowadays society, one fears everything, fear of no money, fear of homelessness, fear of sickness, old-age and death, etc. In fact, because of lack of understanding about the real nature of life, we try to maintain things that we are unable to, that’s why we feel fear of everything. Buddhists should always remember that life is changeable and it composes of a bundle of changeable (impermanent) elements. Once we understand the real nature of life, we don’t have the feeling of fear in life anymore.
102. Greed and Desire
Craving (greed, affection, desire). Most people define happiness as the satisfaction of all desires. The desires are boundless, but our ability to realize them is not, and unfulfilled desires always create suffering. When desires are only partially fulfilled, we have a tendency to continue to pursue until a complete fulfillment is achieved. Thus, we create even more suffering for us and for others. We can only realize the true happiness and a peaceful state of mind when our desires are few. This is one of the great steps towards the shore of liberation. The Buddha taught: “Craving and desire are the cause of all unhappiness or suffering. Everything sooner or later must change, so do not become attached to anything. Instead devote yourself to clearing your mind and finding the truth, lasting hapiness.” Knowing how to feel satisfied with few possessions help us destroy greed and desire. This means being content with material conditions that allow us to be healthy and strong enough to cultivate. This is an effective way to cut through the net of passions and desires, attain a peaceful state of mind and have more time to help others. In the Middle Length Discourses, the Buddha taught: “O Bhikksus, with sense desires as cause, with sense desires as motives, kings are fighting with kings, khattiya are fighting with khattiya, brahmanas are fighting with brahmanas, householders are fighting with householders, mother is fighting with son, son is fighting with mother, father is fighting with brother, brother is fighting with sister, sister is fighting with brother, friend is fighting with friend. When they engage themselves in fighting, in quarrels, in disputes, they attack each other with hands, they attack each other with stones, they attack each other with sticks, they attack each other with swords. Thus they are going to death, or to suffer like death. O Bhikksus, with sense desires as cause, with sense desires as motives, they take hold of spears, they take hold of shields, they wear bows and arrows. They arrange themselves in two lines, and arrows are thrown at each other, knives are thrown at each other, swords are slashed at each other. They pierce each other with arrows, they slash each other with knives, they cut each other heads with swords. Thus they are going to death, or to suffer like death.”
103. Six Desires
Emotions, negative or positive, are impermanent (they would not last), but we cannot say we don’t care about our emotions because they are impermanent. Buddhists cannot say both suffering and happiness are impermanent so we need not seek nor avoid them. We all know that negative emotions lead to suffering, whereas positive ones lead to happiness, and the purpose of all Buddhists is to achieve happiness. So should try to achieve things that cause happiness, and whatever causes suffering we should deliberately happiness. According to Buddhism, six emotions arising from the six organs of sense: Emotions arising from the eyes. Emotions arising from the ears. Emotions arising from the nose. Emotions arising from the tongue. Emotions arising from the body. Emotions arising from the mind. Practitioners of mindfulness always consider the six senses are objects of cultivation. According to Bikkhu Piyananda in The Gems Of Buddhism Wisdom, you must always be aware of the sense organs such as eye, ear, nose, tongue and body and the contact they are having with the outside world. You must be aware of the feelings that are arising as a result of this contact: eye is now in contact with forms (rupa); ear is now in contact with sound; nose is now in conatct with smell; tongue is now in contact with taste; body is now in contact with touching; and mind is now in contact with all things (dharma).
We are living in a material world where we must encounter all kinds of objects such as sights, sounds, tastes, sensations, thoughts and ideas, ect. Desire arises from contact with these pleasing objects. Buddhists should always remember that “Desire” not only obscures our mind, but it is also a main cause of grasping which causes sufferings and afflictions, forces us to continue to wander in the samsara. Desire is one of the twelve links in the chain of Causation (nidanas). Its source is delusion caused by attraction to the six objects of sense. Thus, the Buddha taught in the Dharmapada Sutra: “It is difficult to renounce the world. It is difficult to be a householder. It is painful to associate with those who are not friends. It is painful to be wandering in the samsara forever. Reaching the enlightenment and let wander no more! Let’s suffer no more! (Dharmapada 302). Whoever binds to craving, his sorrows flourish like well-watered birana grass (Dharmapada 335). Whoever in this world overcomes this unruly craving, his sorrows fall away just like water-drops from a lotus leaf (Dharmapada 336). This is my advice to you: “Root out craving; root it out, just like birana grass is rooted out. Let not Mara crush you again and again as a flood crushes a reed! (Dharmapada 337). Latent craving is not conquered, suffering recovers and grows again and again, just like a tree hewn down grows up again as long as its roots is unrooted (Dharmapada 338). If in any man, the thirty-six streams of craving are still flowing, such deluded person is still looking for pleasure and passion, and torrential thoughts of lust sweep him away (Dharmapada 339). Streams of pleasure and passion flow in all directions, just like the creeper sprouts and stands. Seeing the creeper that has sprung up in your mind, cut it off with wisdom (Dharmapada 340). Common people are subject to attachment and thirst; they are always happy with pleasure; they run after passion. They look for happiness, but such men caught in the cycle of birth and decay again and again (Dharmapada 341). Men who are crazed with craving, are terrified like hunted hares. The more they hold fast by fetters, bonds, and afflictions, the longer they suffer (Dharmapada 342). Men who are crazed with craving, are terrified just like hunted hares. Therefore, a monk who wishes his own passionlessness, should first banish craving (Dharmapada 343). He who is free from desire for the household, finds pleasure (of asceticism or monastic life) in the forest, yet run back to that very home. Look at that man! He runs right back into that very bondage again! (Dharmapada 344). To a wise man, the bondage that is made of hemp, wood or iron, is not a strong bond, the longing for wives, children, jewels, and ornaments is a greater and far stronger attachment (Dharmapada 345). The wise people say that that bond is very strong. Such fetters seem supple, but hard to break. Break them! Cut off desire and renounce the world! (Dharmapada 346). A man infatuated with lust falls back into the stream as a spider into the web spun by itself. He who cuts off this bond, retire from the world, with no clinging, will leave all sorrow behind (Dharmapada 347). He who has reached the goal, without fear, without craving and without desire, has cut off the thorns of life. This is his final mortal body (Dharmapada 351). He who is without craving, without attachment; who understands subtleties of words and meanings; they are truly a great wise who bear the final mortal body (Dharmapada 352). Strive hard to cut off the stream of desires. Oh! Brahman! Knowing that all conditioned things will perish. Oh! Brahman! You are a knower of the Unmade Nirvana! (Dharmapada 383).”
Ill-will or Hatred is one of the three poisons in Buddhism (greed, anger, ignorance). This is one of the three fires which burn in the mind until allowed to die for fuelling. Anger manifests itself in a very crude manner, destroying the practitioner in a most effective way. To subdue anger and resentment, we must develop a compassionate mind. According to Buddhist psychology, the mental factor of aversion is always linked to the experience of pain. One may be greedy and happy, but never angry and happy at the same time. Anyone who cultures hatred, anger, malice, nurses revenge or keeps alive a grudge is bound to experience much suffering for he has laid hold a very potent source of it. Those who exercise their hatred on others as in killing, torturing or maiming may expect birth in a state, compared in the scriptural simile to a pitfull of glowing situations, where they will experience feelings which are exclusively painful, sharp, severe. Only in such an environment will they be able to experience all the misery which they, by their own cruelty to others, have brought upon themselves. The Buddha taught: “Bandits who steal merits are of no comparison to hatred and anger. Because when hatred and anger arise, inevitable innumerable karma will be created. Immediately thereafter, hundreds and thousands of obstructions will appear, masking the proper teachings of enlightenment, burying and dimming the Buddha Nature. Therefore, A thought of hatred and anger had just barely risen, ten thousands of karmic doors will open immediately. It is to say with just one thought of hatred, one must endure all such obstructions and obstacles.” In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “One should give up anger; one should abandon pride. One should overcome all fetters. No suffering befall him who calls nothing his own (Dharmapada 221). He who controls his anger which arises as a rolling chariot. He is a true charioteer. Other people are only holding the rein (Dharmapada 222). Conquer anger by love; conquer evil by good; conquer stingy by giving; conquer the liar by truth (Dharmapada 223).One should guard against the bodily anger, or physical action, and should control the body. One should give up evil conduct of the body. One should be of good bodily conduct (Dharmapada 231). One should guard against the anger of the tongue; one should control the tongue. One should give up evil conduct in speech. One should be of good conduct in speech (Dharmapada 232).One should guard against the anger of the mind; one should control the mind. One should give up evil conduct of the mind. One should practice virtue with the mind (Dharmapada 233).”
106. To Subdue Lust, Anger and Ignorance
The karma of greed, anger and delusion manifest themselves in many forms, which are impossible to describe fully. According to Most Venerable Thích Thiền Tâm in The Pure Land Buddhism in Theory and Practice, there are four basic ways to subdue them. Depending on the circumstances, the practitioner can use either one of these four methods to counteract the karma of greed, anger and delusion. The first method is “Suppressing afflictions with the mind”. There are only two points of divergence between the deluded and the enlightened, i.e., Buddhas and Bodhisattvas: purity is Buddhahood, defilement is the state of sentient beings. Because the Buddhas are in accord with the Pure Mind, they are enlightened, fully endowed with spiritual powers and wisdom. Because sentient beings are attached to worldly Dusts, they are deluded and revolve in the cycle of Birth and Death. To practice Pure Land is to go deep into the Buddha Recitation Samadhi, awakening to the Original Mind and attaining Buddhahood. Therefore, if any deluded, agitated thought develops during Buddha Recitation, it should be severed immediately, allowing us to return to the state of the Pure Mind. This is the method of counteracting afflictions with the mind. The second method is “Suppressing afflictions with noumenon”. When deluded thoughts arise which cannot be suppressed with the mind, we should move to the second stage and “visualize principles.” For example, whenever the affliction of greed develops, we should visualize the principles of impurity, suffering, impermanence, and no-self. Whenever the affliction of anger arises, we should visualize the principles of compassion, forgiveness and emptiness of all dharmas. The third method is “Supressing afflictions with phenomena”. People with heavy karma who cannot suppress their afflictions by visualizing principles alone, we should use “phenomena,” that is external forms. For example, individuals who are prone to anger and delusion and are aware of their shortcomings, should, when they are on the verge of bursting into a quarrel, immediately leave the scene and slowly sip a glass of cold water. Those heavily afflicted with the karma of lust-attachment who cannot suppress their afflictions through “visualization of principle,” should arrange to be near virtuous Elders and concentrate on Buddhist activities or distant travel, to overcome lust and memories gradually as mentioned in the saying “out of sight, out of mind.” This is because sentient beings’ minds closely parallel their surroundings and environment. If the surroundings disappear, the mind loses its anchor, and gradually, all memories fade away. The fourth method is “Suppressing afflictions with repentance and recitation”. In addition to the above three methods, which range from the subtle to the gross, there is also a fourth: repentance and the recitation of sutras, mantras and the Buddha’s name. If performed regularly, repentance and recitation eradicate bad karma and generate merit and wisdom. For this reason, many cultivators in times past, before receiving the precepts or embarking upon some great Dharma work such as building a temple or translating a sutra, would vow to recite the Great Compassion Mantra tens of thousands of times, or to recite the entire Larger Prajna Paramita Sutra, the longest sutra in the Buddha canon. In the past, during lay retreats, if a practitioner had heavy karmic obstructions and could not recite the Buddha’s name with a pure mind or clearly visualize Amitabha Buddha, the presiding Dharma Master would usually advise him to follow the practice of “bowing repentance with incense.” This method consists of lighting a long incense stick and respectfully bowing in repentance while uttering the Buddha’s name, until the stick is burnt out. There are cases of individuals with heavy karma who would spend the entire seven or twenty-one days retreat doing nothing but “bowing with incense.”
107. Wrong Views
According to Buddhism, perverted (wrong) views are views that do not accept the law of cause and effect, not consistent with the dharma, one of the five heterodox opinions and ten evils. This view arises from a misconception of the real characteristic of existence. There were at least sixty-two heretical views (views of the externalist or non-Buddhist views) in the Buddha’s time. Buddhism emphasizes on theory of causation. Understanding the theory of causation means to solve most of the question of the causes of sufferings and afflictions. Not understanding or refuse of understanding of the theory of causation means a kind of wrong view in Buddhism. According to the Buddha, sentient beings suffer from sufferings and afflictions because of dersires, aversions, and delusion, and the causes of these harmful actions are not only from ignorance, but also from wrong views. Wrong views also means holding to the view of total annihilation, or the view that death ends life, or world-extinction and the end of causation, in contrast with the view that body and soul are eternal, both views being heterodox. The philosophic doctrine that denies a substantial reality to the phenomenal universe.
Wrong views according to Hinayana Buddhism: “Wrong view is the acausality view, which states that there is no cause or condition for the defilement and purification of beings, that beings are defiled and purified by chance, or necessity. The inefficacy of action view, which claims that deeds have no efficacy in producing results and thus invalidates moral distinctions. Annihilism, which denies the survival of the personality in any form after death, thus negating the moral significance of deed. Also according to the Hinayana Buddhism, there are another ten kinds of wrong views: There is no such virtue and generosity. This means that there is no good effect in giving alms: There is no such virtue as liberal alms-giving: There is no such virtue as offering gifts to guests. This means there is no effetc in such charitable actions. There is neither fruit, nor result of good or evil deeds. There is no such belief as “this world.” There is no such belief as “a world beyond,” i.e. those born here do not accept a past existence, and those living here do not accept future life. There is no “mother.” There is no father, i.e. there is no effect in anything done to them. There are no beings that died and are reborn. There are no righteous and well-disciplined recluses and brahmins who, having realized by their own super-intellect this world and the world beyond, make known the same (Buddhas and Arahants). According to Bhikkhu Bodhi in Abhidhamma, there are three kinds of wrong views: Nihilism (natthika-ditthi), which denies the survival of the personality in any form after death, thus negating the moral significance of deeds. The causality view (ahetuka-ditthi), which states that there is no cause or condition for the defilement and purification of beings, that beings are defiled and purified by chance, fate, or necessity. The inefficacy of action view (akiriya-ditthi), which claims that deeds have no efficacy in producing results and thus invalidates moral distinctions. According to the Simile of the Snake in the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, the Buddha taught about someone who does not have wrong views as follows: “Here Bhikkhus! Someone who hears the Tathagata or a disciple of the Tathagata teaching the Dharma for the elimination of all standpoints, decisions, obsessions, adherences, and underlying tendencies, for the stilling of all formations, for the relinquishing of all attachments, for the destruction of craving, for dispassion, for cessation, for Nirvana. He thinks that he will be annihilated, he will be perished; he will have no more sorrow, grieve, and lament; he does not weep beating his breast and become distraught.” In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Those who embrace the wrong views, are ashamed of what is not shameful, and are not ashamed of what is shameful, will not be able to avoid the hell (Dharmapada 316). Those who fear when they should not fear, and don’t fear in the fearsome, embrace these false views, will not be able to avoid the hell (Dharmapada 317). Those who perceive faults in the faultless, and see no wrong in what is wrong; such men, embracing false doctrines, will not be able to avoid the hell (Dharmapada 318).”
108. Remnants of Habits
Remnants of habits are old habits or the accumulation of the past thoughts, affections, deeds, and passions. Zen practitioner should be clear about the basic problem of the ‘vasana’ (old habits). We practice meditation to eliminate those bad habits and faults, to wash the mind so it can have clean and pure thoughts, to purge ourselves of jealousy towards worthy and capable individuals, to bannish forever all thoughts of envy and obstructiveness, of ignorance and afflictions. If we can do this, then our true mind, our wisdom, will manifest. The remnants of habits which persist after passion has been subdued, only the Buddha can eliminate or uproot them all. The Sanskrit word for “internal formation” is “Samyojana.” It means “to crystallize.” Everyone of us has internal formations that we need to take care of. With the practice of meditation we can undo these knots and experience transformation. According to Buddhism, remnants of habits are the impression of any past action or experience remaining unconsciously in the mind, or the present consciousness of past perceptions, or past knowledge derived from memory. Remnants of habits are the force of habit. Good or evil karma from habits or practice in a former existence. The uprising or recurrence of thoughts, passions or delusions after the passion or delusion has itself been overcome, the remainder or remaining influence of illusion. This is the perfuming impression or memory. The habit-energy of memory from past actions (recollection of the past or former impression) which ignites discriminations and prevents Enlightenement. Remnants of habits also mean memory-seeds (vasanavija). Every act, mental and physical, leaves its seeds behind, which is planted in the Alaya for future germination under favorable conditions. This notion plays an important role in the Vijnap. Remnants of habits are habitual perfuming, perfumed habits, or knowledge which is derived from memory. According to the Abhidharma, remnants of habits mean habitual karmas, which are deed that one habitually or constantly performs either good or bad. Habits, whether good or bad, become second nature. They more or less tend to mould the character of a person. In the absence of weighty karma and a potent-death-proximate karma, this type of karma generally assumes the rebirth generative function. According to the Awakening of Faith, the indescribable vasana or the influence of primal ignorance on the bhutatathata, producing all illusions. The permeation of the pure self-essence of the mind of true thusness by ignorance or wisdom which then appears in the manifest world. However, there are also habits that help people staying away from afflictions. According to the Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter 38, there are ten kinds of habit energy of Great Enlightening Beings. Enlightening Beings who abide by these can forever get rid of all afflictive habit energies and attain Buddhas’ habit energies of great knowledge, the knowledge that is not energized by habit: the habit energy of determination for enlightenment; the habit energy of roots of goodness; the habit energy of edifying sentient beings; the habit energy of seeing Buddha; the habit energy of undertaking birth in pure worlds; the habit energy of enlightening practice; the habit energy of vows; the habit energy of transcendence; the habit energy of meditation on equality; and the habit energy of various differentiations of state.
Remnants of habits also mean “Internal formations”. The Sanskrit word for “internal formation” is “Samyojana.” It means “to crystallize.” Everyone of us has internal formations that we need to take care of. With the practice of meditation we can undo these knots and experience transformation. In our consciousness there are blocks of pain, anger, and frustration called internal formations. They are also called knots because they tie us up and obstruct our freedom. After a while, it become very difficult for us to transform, to undo the knots and we cannot ease the constriction of this crystal formation. Not all internal formations are unpleasant. There are also pleasant internal formations, but they still make us suffer. When you taste, hear, or see something pleasant, then that pleasure can become a strong internal knot. When the object of your pleasure disappears, you miss it and you begin searching for it. You spend a lot of time and energy trying to experience it again. If you smoke marijuana or drink alcohol, and begin to like it, then it becomes an internal formation in your body and in your mind. You cannot get it off your mind. You will always look for more. The strength of the internal knot is pushing you and controlling you. So internal formations deprive us of our freedom.
When someone insults us, or does something unkind to us, an internal formation is created in our consciousness. If we don’t know how to undo the internal knots and transform them, the knots will stay there for a long time. And the next time someone says something or does something to us of the same nature, that internal formation will grow stronger. As knots or blocks of pain in us, our internal formations have the power to push us, to dictate our behavior. Falling in love is a big internal formation. Once you are in love, you think only of the other person. You are not free anymore. You cannot do anything; you cannot study, you cannot work, you cannot enjoy the sunshine or the beauty of nature around you. You can think only of the object of your love. So love can also be a huge internal knot. Pleasant or unpleasant, both kinds of knots take away our liberty. That’s why we should guard our body and our mind very carefully, to prevent these knots from taking root in us. Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco can create internal formations in our body. And anger, craving, jealousy, despair can create internal formations in our mind. Anger is an internal formation, and since it makes us suffer, we try our best to get rid of it. Psychologists like the expression “getting it out of your system.” As a Buddhist, you should generate the energy of mindfulness and take good care of anger every time it manifests through meditation practice. Mindfulness does not fight anger or despair. Mindfulness is there in order to recognize. To be mindful of something is to recognize that something is the capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment. According to Most Venerable Thích Nhất Hạnh in “Anger,” the best way to to be mindful of anger is “when breathing in I know that anger has manifested in me; breathing out I smile towards my anger.” This is not an act of suppression or of fighting. It is an act of recognizing. Once we recognize our anger, we are able to take good care of it or to embrace it with a lot of awareness, a lot of tenderness. Mindfulness recognizes, is aware of its presence, accepts and allows it to be there. Mindfulness is like a big brother who does not suppress his younger brother’s suffering. He simply says: “Dear brother, I’m here for you.” You take your younger brother in your arms and you comfort him. This is exactly our practice. Our anger is us, and our compassion is also us. To meditate does not mean to fight. In Buddhism, the practice of meditation should be the practice of embracing and transforming, not of fighting. When anger comes up in us, we should begin to practice mindful breathing right away: “Breathing in, I know that anger is in me. Breathing out, I am taking good care of my anger. If you don’t know how to treat yourself with compassion, how can you treat another person with compassion? When anger arises, continue to practice mindful breathing and mindful walking to generate the energy of mindfulness. Continue to tenderly embrace the energy of anger within you. Anger may continue to be there for some time, but you are safe, because the Buddha is in you, helping you to take good care of your anger. The energy of mindfulness is the energy of the Buddha. When you practice mindful breathing and embracing your anger, you are under the protection of the Buddha. There is no doubt about it: the Buddha is embracing you and your anger with a lot of compassion.
In Buddhism, taints mean basic defilements of greed, ill-will (anger) and ignorance (delusion). Taints and afflictions are used interchangeably. Taint also means delusion or affliction, deluded, or afflicted by holding on to the illusory ideas and things of life. The kilesa or contaminations of attachment to the pleasures of the senses. Kilesa or contaminations of attachment to false views. Kilesa or contaminations of attachment to moral and ascetic practices. Kilesa or contaminations of attachment to the belief in a self. According to The Connected Discourses of the Buddha, Chapter Esanavaggo (Searches), there are three affluences or taints that feed the stream of mortality or transmigration: Desire or the taint of sensuality; material or phenomenal existence, or the taint of existence; the taint of ignorance, or the ignorance of the way of escape. By oneself the evil is done, by oneself one is defiled or purified. Purity or impurity depend on oneself. No one can purify another. In the Dharmapada Sutra, the Buddha taught: “Non-recitation is the rust of incantation; non-repair is the rust of houses; sloth is the rust of bodily beauty and shelters; carelessness is the rust of the cultivator (watcher) (Dharmapada 241). Misconduct is the taint of a woman; stinginess is the taint of a donor. Taints are indeed all evil things, both in this world and in the next (Dharmapada 242). The worst taint is ignorance, the greatest taint. Oh! Bhikshu! Cast aside this taint and become taintless (Dharmapada 243).”
110. Good-Knowing Advisors
Anyone (Buddha, Bodhisattva, wise person, virtuous friends and even an evil being) who can help the practitioner progress along the path to Enlightenment. Good is kind and virtuous, Friend is a person who is worthy of giving others advice, Knowledgeable means having a broad and proper understanding of the truths, Awakened means no longer mesmerized by destinies of life. Thus, Good Knowledgeable (knowing) Friend or Advisor is a good person who has certain degree of knowledge of Buddhism and has the ability to benefit himself and others. A Good Knowledgeable (knowing) Friend is a friend in virtue, or a teacher who exemplifies the virtuous life and helps and inspires other to live a virtuous life too. A good friend who has a good and deep knowledge of the Buddha’s teaching and who is currently practicing the law. Someone with knowledge, wisdom and experience in Buddha’s teaching and practicing. A wise counsel, spiritual guide, or honest and pure friend in cultivation. The Buddha talked about being a Good Knowing Advisor in Buddhism as follows: “When speaking of the good knowledgeable advisors, this is referring to the Buddhas, Bodhisatvas, Sound Hearers, Pratyeka-Buddhas, as well as those who have faith in the doctrine and sutras of Buddhism. The good knowledgeable advisors are those capable of teaching sentient beings to abandon the ten evils or ten unwholesome deeds, and to cultivate the ten wholesome deeds. Moreover, the good knowledgeable advisors’ speech is true to the dharma and their actions are genuine and consistent with their speech. Thus, not only do they not kill living creatures, they also tell others not to kill living things; not only will they have the proper view, they also will use that proper view to teach others. The good knowledgeable advisors always have the dharma of goodness, meaning whatever actions they may undertake, they do not seek for their own happiness, but for the happiness of all sentient beings. They do not speak of others’ mistakes, but speak of virtues and goodness. There are many advantages and benefits to being close to the good knowledgeable advisors, just as from the first to the fifteenth lunar calendar, the moon will gradually become larger, brighter and more complete. Similarly, the good knowledgeable advisors are able to help and influence the learners of the Way to abandon gradually the various unwholesome dharma and to increase greatly wholesome dharma.
There are three types of good spiritual advisors: Teaching Spiritual Advisor is someone conversant with the Dharma and experienced in cultivation. The retreat members can have him follow their progress, guiding them throughout the retreat, or they can simply seek guidance before and after the retreat. When several persons hold a retreat together, they should ask a spiritual advisor to lead the retreat and give a daily fifteen-to-thirty-minute inspirational talk. Caretaking Spiritual Advisor refers to one or several persons assisting with outside daily chores such as preparing meals or cleaning up, so that on retreat can cultivate peacefully without distraction. Such persons are called “Retreat assistant.” Common Practice Spiritual Advisor are persons who practice the same method as the individual(s) on retreat. They keep an eye on one another, encouraging and urging each other on. These cultivators can either be participants in the same retreat or cultivators living nearby. In addition to keeping an eye out and urging the practitioners on, they can exchange ideas or experiences for the common good. This concept has been captured in a proverb: “Rice should be eaten with soup, practice should be conducted with friends.”
Nowadays, in order to have a right cultivation, Buddhist practitioners should be guided by a good advisor, who has a thorough understanding of the sutras and many years experience in meditation. This is one of the five necessary conditions for any Zen practitioners. If a Zen practitioner does not meet these five conditions, he is very easily subject to get harm from demon. According to the Kalyana-mitra Sutra, the Buddha taught, “Nowadays, if one wishes to find kind friends and virtuous teachers to learn and to be close to them, they may find these people in the shining examples in old books. Otherwise, if one searches among the living, it would be extraordinary hard to find a single person.” They also reminded us five things about good-knowing advisor as follows: Nowadays, in 1,000 people, there is one good person. In a thousand good people, there is one person who knows religion. In one thousand people who know religion, there is one person who has enough faith to practice religion. In one thousand people who practice religion, there is one person who cultivates in a genuine and honest manner. Thus, out of four thousand people, we would find only four good people.
Thus, the Buddha always encouraged his disciples to listen to Good Knowing Advisors without any doubt. Once we call someone our Good Knowing Advisors, we should truly listen to their advice. If Good Knowing Advisors say that cultivation requires arduous effort, we should truly believe it. If we believe completely, we will surely be able to understand the mind and see the nature, return to the origin and go back to the source. Devout Buddhists should always listen to the instructions of a Good Knowing Advisor. If he tells us to recite the Buddha’s name, we should follow the instructions and recite. If he tells us not to be distracted, then we should not be distracted. This is the essential secret of cultivation that we can benefit from our Good Knowing Advisors. The followings are the Buddha’s teachings on “Good Knowing Advisors” in the Dharmapada Sutra: Should you see an intelligent man who points out faults and blames what is blame-worthy, you should associate with such a wise person. It should be better, not worse for you to associate such a person (Dharmapada 76). Those who advise, teach or dissuade one from evil-doing, will be beloved and admired by the good, but they will be hated by the bad (Dharmapada 77). Do not associate or make friends with evil friends; do not associate with mean men. Associate with good friends; associate with noble men (Dharmapada 78). Those who drink the Dharma, live in happiness with a pacified mind; the wise man ever rejoices in the Dharma expounded by the sages (Dharmapada 79). If you get a prudent and good companion who is pure, wise and overcoming all dangers to walk with, let nothing hold you back. Let find delight and instruction in his companion (Dharmapada 328). If you do not get a prudent and good companion who is pure, wise and overcoming all dangers to walk with; then like a king who has renounced a conquered kingdom, you should walk alone as an elephant does in the elephant forest (Dharmapada 329). It is better to live alone than to be fellowship with the ignorant (the fool). To live alone doing no evil, just like an elephant roaming in the elephant forest (Dharmapada (330).”