|The Six Great Guiding Principles|
In cultivation, take care not to fight with others. Don't be belligerent or aggressive. Don't have a hot temper. Then you will separate yourself from asuras.
Why can't people dwell in harmony in the world? Because they fight with and rob each other and don't yield to each other. Therefore wars break out, leading to the tragic situation of countries being destroyed and families going to ruin.
The reason demons become demons is that they tend to fight for supremacy. There is a saying, "Fighting involves thoughts of victory and defeat / And goes in opposition to the Way. / The mind of the four marks is produced, / So how can one attain samadhi?" When a demon fails in his struggle to be number one, it gives rise to anger, jealousy, and obstructiveness. Anyone who has such thoughts or behavior is a demon and can never become a Buddha.
Cultivators have no contention with the world. They do not compete or fight with anyone. Everyone applies effort together. If someone else applies effort diligently, it's just as good as if you yourself had applied effort diligently. If you think like this, you won't have any wish to compete for first place.
If you don't harbor any thoughts of fighting, then you cut off connections with the realm of asuras. If you are not greedy, then you cut off connections with the animal realm.
Not Being Greedy
I have a very strange temperament. What others want, I don't want. What others crave, I don't crave. What others like, I don't like.
Buddhist disciples should endure starvation, endure cold, endure thirst, and endure hunger. In everything, you have to be in accord with the Buddhadharma. Don't be greedy to eat good food, wear good clothes, or live in a fine place. Don't be greedy for enjoyment. Enduring suffering puts an end to suffering, but enjoying blessings uses up blessings.
Don't greedily seek a false reputation. In every move, in every word and deed, you have to go towards the true. Be as true as you can be. That's the basic characteristic of a Buddhist disciple.
We Buddhist disciples have to possess the Dharma-Selecting Vision. We shouldn't be greedy for bargains or responses. We shouldn't go around seeking the Buddhadharma with a greedy mind. It shouldn't be that one day you hear someone say that the Manifest School is good, so you decide to study in the Manifest School, but the next day another person says that the Secret School is good, so you go over to the Secret School to study. You may study for a lifetime, but because you don't hold firmly to your principles, you don't concentrate and focus singlemindedly, and you don't guard the "one," you end up wasting your whole life in vain.
You should see cultivation as your personal duty. There's no need to be greedy. In time, your merit and virtue will naturally become perfect and full, and you will naturally accomplish the fruition of Bodhi.
In cultivation you should apply effort naturally. Don't be greedy and ask whether there is any efficacy or good results. Don't think about anything; just keep applying effort and changing your faults every day.
Cultivators, no matter what their practice--be it reciting the Buddha's name, reciting mantras, studying the teachings, upholding the precepts, or meditating--should not be greedy for quick attainment. If you want to have quick attainment, then that's a form of greed. Once you have greed, it will obstruct your wisdom, your inspiration, and the light of your own nature. The light of your own nature is without greed, and your inspiration and wisdom are also devoid of greed. When you are greedy, it is like dust accumulated on a mirror. People who apply effort must be sure to understand this point. Don't be greedy for a lot. Don't be greedy for bargains.
People who are greedy are never happy. If they are not greedy, they will be happy. Therefore, we should put an end to greed.
How many people have ruined their health and reputation because they gave rise to greed? How many people have ruined their countries and families because of it? This is something that harms people. We cannot fail to be on our guard!
Why are you moved by external states? Because of curiosity. Curiosity is basically a form of greed.
No matter what kind of skill we apply, we don't obtain any response in the Way. We never manage to get going. Why? Because we have an illusory, unsubstantial "false mind." We aim for what is high and far, and we seek fame and profit--these are all the false mind.
You look outside for happiness, seeking happiness from morning to night. If you obtain it, it is only a temporary happiness. If you fail to obtain it, then you will have all kinds of affliction. You are insatiably greedy, and you both hope to obtain it and worry about losing it after you obtain it. This is not true happiness. True happiness is free of seeking. "When one reaches the place of no seeking, one has no worries." If you seek nothing, then that is true happiness. That is the true calm and peace of your own nature.
Not Being Selfish
Basically, there is only one precept--do not be selfish. If people are selfish, they will violate the precepts. If they are not selfish, they won't violate the precepts. Likewise, if people are selfish, they will break the law. If they are without selfishness, then they will not break the law.
A proper mind is unselfish. If you are selfish, then you don't have a proper mind.
Why can't we recognize our original face? Because we have not gotten rid of the mark of self, and we have not gotten rid of selfishness. If we do not have a mark of self or selfishness, then we will recognize our original face.
Worldly people busily run around, always on the go. Their motive is always selfish--they want to protect their own life and property. The Buddhadharma is public-spirited and unselfish--its purpose is to benefit others.
In cultivating, we have to "turn it around." What does that mean? It means we "give the good things to others, and keep the bad things for ourselves." We give up the small self in order to realize the great self.
What kind of person is a bad person? A person who is selfish, who pursues personal advantage, and who forgets righteousness when he sees benefit.
Not Pursuing Personal Advantage
When we have the ability, we should hurry up and benefit others. As it is said, "Foster the ground of the mind and nurture the sky of the nature." If we constantly benefit others, in time we will come to have virtuous conduct. If we always ask others to benefit ourselves, but we do not benefit others; if we always look for bargains and develop the habit of being dependent on others, then we are totally spineless.
If you can benefit people and make them happy, then no matter where you go, everyone will be influenced by your example.
When students are just beginning to learn how to be people, we should teach them not to allow their minds to be permeated by the desire for profit, not to see money as important. The ancients studied in order to understand principle. Nowadays people study for the sake of fame and profit. They want to obtain a good name and a big profit. Why is this? Because the schools are teaching students incorrectly. Thus the world is getting worse every day, degenerating day by day.
One who always thinks of benefiting living beings is a Bodhisattva. One who always thinks of benefiting himself is a devil. A Bodhisattva is only aware of others and is not aware of himself. A devil only knows of his own existence and doesn't know that there are others. These two are exact opposites.
If we don't talk, that's one thing. If we talk, we always speak truthfully. We would never say anything to deceive people. No matter under what circumstances, we honestly speak the truth, and we guard our mouths from lying at all times.
I don't tell lies. No matter where I am, I try to be true. I engage in straight speech and straight conduct, and I don't use any manipulative tricks in dealing with people and taking care of matters. If there is something I want to say, then I will say it no matter where I am. I'm not afraid of offending people. If there is something I don't want to say, then I won't say it no matter where I am. I absolutely will not lie or cheat others.
Everyone should speak frankly more often. Even if you are beaten or scolded for it, you still want to speak the truth. Don't be afraid. Let me tell you, I'm a straightforward person. I'm someone who establishes his life in straightforwardness and doesn't seek upon the crooked. If they want to punish me, they can go ahead; it doesn't matter. If you punish me for telling the truth, I will still think it's worth it, and I won't hold a grudge against you. In cultivation, I don't insist that other people believe whatever I say. Even if they don't believe it, I will have tried my best.
Why do some people fail to make progress in their practice? Because they have told too many lies. When you utter one false sentence, a hundred false thoughts arise.
If you lie, then no matter what mantra you recite, it won't be efficacious. Nor will any Sutra you recite have efficacy. If you want to be able to recite mantras or recite Sutras and obtain a response or have some accomplishment, then you cannot lie. Be honest, and speak true and actual words, not false or frivolous words.
We should expand our vision and broaden our views. We should not know only about ourselves, or be aware only of our own family, or know only about our own country's existence. We have to expand the measure of our mind so that it exhaustively fills empty space and pervades the Dharma Realm. We should think on behalf of all mankind, not just scheme for our own sakes. To benefit mankind and not harm mankind: That is the fundamental requirement for cultivating the Buddha path.
How can we benefit mankind and not harm mankind? We have to practice the six great principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas:
1. Do not fight. We do not fight with anyone. You fight with me, but I will not fight with you; you scold me, but I will not scold you; you beat me, but I will not beat you; you bully me, but I will not bully you. This is the principle that characterizes everything at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
2. Do not be greedy. Once greed arises, you are insatiable. Be it money or material things, you always feels you don't have enough. The greedier you are, the less satisfied you become. The less satisfied you are, the greedier you get. You are greedy into your old age, but you still don't wake up. You are harmed by greed your whole life. When you die, you still feel there is some matter or some object you haven't obtained, and you feel deep regret. How pitiful this is! The second great principle of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is not to be greedy for money, benefits, or fame--in general, not to be greedy for anything whatsoever. Each person should just do his duty and propagate the Buddhadharma to perpetuate the Buddha's wisdom-life.
3. Do not seek. Seeking is pretty similar to greed. Greed is abstract and invisible. Seeking means to actually go out and exploit one's connections, seeking by hook or by crook. What does one seek? One seeks money and material things. In general, one seeks for all kinds of benefits. At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, we seek inwardly, not outwardly. We seek within our minds, sweeping away all the false thoughts of our ignorant mind, our mad mind and wild nature, our jealousy and obstructiveness, our greed, anger, stupidity, and so forth. We don't apply cosmetics on the outside. Instead we adorn the inside and make it pure. There is a saying, "When people reach the state of seeking nothing, their character will naturally be noble." When we don't seek from others, our character will naturally be pure and lofty, free of dirty thoughts.
4. Do not be selfish. Why has the world deteriorated to such a state? Because people have been too selfish. If it's something that they will gain benefit from, they will be the first to do it. However, if it's something that won't benefit them in any way, they stand aside and watch, or make some sarcastic remarks with the attitude of watching fire from a safe distance. There are many kinds of selfishness. There is selfishness with regard to position, selfishness with regard to reputation, selfishness with regard to power, and selfishness with regard to money. To put it in a nutshell, if people care only about themselves and not about others, it is always because their selfishness is acting up. There is a saying, "Mahasattvas don't care about others. Amitabha Buddha only takes care of himself." That's the thinking of the Small Vehicle. There is also a Confucian saying, "One should just sweep the snow in front of one's own door. Don't pay attention to the frost on other people's rooftiles." That's the attitude of not meddling in other people's business. Living in this world, people should help each other and offer mutual support. That's why we should promote the ideas of the Great Vehicle and learn to have the Bodhisattva spirit of saving those in difficulty upon hearing their suffering. We should not gloat over others' misfortunes.
If people in this world were not selfish, then we would all get along harmoniously like one family. But because we are selfish, we've created a lot of problems. Therefore, not being selfish is the fourth great principle of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
5. Not pursuing personal advantage. This principle is even more important than the fourth principle of not being selfish. There is no one who doesn't want to pursue personal advantage. But people certainly have to refrain from pursuing personal advantage for the world to improve. To not pursue personal advantage means to benefit others and forget about oneself. That's known as sacrificing oneself for others. That kind of spirit surpasses the conduct of Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas benefit themselves and also benefit others, save themselves and also save others, enlighten themselves and enlighten others. We don't benefit ourselves; we only benefit others, save others, and enlighten others.
6. Do not lie. This means having no intention to cheat people. Why do people tell lies? Because they're afraid of losing benefits to themselves and afraid of suffering losses. Thus, they lie. If we always treat people honestly and sincerely, then we will naturally be able to uphold the principle of not lying.
Today I have briefly introduced the six great principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to you. If I were to explain them in detail, I would never be able to finish. If you can practice these six great principles, then you will benefit from them all your life. The benefit is not superficial.
Anyone who is able to put the six great principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas into practice is qualified to be a Buddhist disciple. These six great principles are not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing personal advantage, and not lying. You can use the doctrines of Buddhism to explain them. You can also use the doctrines of Taoism to explain them. They can also be explained using the doctrines of Confucianism. In general, you can explain them any way you like. With these principles, there is perfect harmony of all differences without obstruction. They are very logical. These principles encompass the doctrines of all religions. They are very practical methods. The precepts of Buddhism can be explained in many different ways, but they do not go beyond the scope of the six great principles.
1. If you don't fight, then you won't kill. Killing occurs because thoughts of contention take control. When you start fighting, you have the attitude of "Get out of my way or die!" The casualties that result are beyond count.
2. If you are not greedy, then you won't steal. Why do you want to steal others' things? Because of greed. If you are not greedy, then even if people want to give you something, you won't want it. So you should get rid of greed, and then you won't steal.
3. If you seek nothing, you won't have thoughts of lust. Thoughts of lust arise because you seek something. Women seek boyfriends, and men seek girlfriends. Not only do they seek, they plunge headlong into the pursuit as if nothing else mattered. If they didn't seek anything, then how could they have thoughts of desire? Of what use is a handsome man or a pretty woman? They are just stinking skin-bags containing flesh. Are they worth hankering after? If you seek nothing, you won't violate the precept of sexual misconduct.
4. If you're not selfish, then you won't tell lies. People tell lies because they're afraid of losing personal benefits. Overcome by selfishness, they cheat people and tell lies, hoping to hide their true face from others.
5. If you don't pursue personal advantage, then you won't violate the precept against taking intoxicants. Why do people take intoxicants? Because they want to mess up their bodies and confuse their minds, bewildering themselves to the point that they think they've become gods or immortals, enjoying themselves in the heavens. Once intoxicated, they scold people and do as they please, and their lustful desires increase. Some people also want to use intoxicants to speed up their blood and energy circulation. After taking them, they forget everything. It's as exciting as smoking opium. It's all because they are overcome by the wish to benefit themselves that they take intoxicants.
6. Do not lie. Why is not lying also included as one of the six great principles? For added emphasis. If you violate any of the above five principles, you will tell lies. If don't violate them, then you won't lie. Not lying is thus one of the fundamental requirements for people who study Buddhism.
These six principles are just another name for the five precepts. Actually, everyone has also heard these terms before and understands them, but very few can truly practice them. That is why I am reminding everyone: Don't fight means don't kill. Don't be greedy means don't steal. Don't seek means don't engage in sexual misconduct. Don't be selfish means don't tell lies. Don't pursue personal advantage means don't take intoxicants.