The Tremendous Energy of Righteousness

By the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua




The tremendous energy of righteousness pervades the Dharma Realm and encompasses the myriad phenomena. It illumines throughout long ages and shines in splendor upon ancient and present times. It is the mother of truth, goodness, and beauty; and the destroyer of falsehood, evil, and ugliness.

Without it, Heaven and Earth would not be worthy of being Heaven and Earth. Without it, sages and worthies could not be called sages and worthies. Without it, righteous and superior men would not be righteous and superior men. Without it, kings and ministers would not be fit to be kings and ministers.

Upon attaining it, ordinary people become sages. By increasing it, sages and worthies can become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Therefore, this tremendous energy of righteousness is the stepping-stone to Buddhahood and the basis for returning to the source and going back to the origin.

A verse in praise says:

The tremendous energy of righteousness nurtures the qian and kun.
In ancient and present times, in China and abroad, only this is true.
With utmost strength and greatness, it nourishes without harming.
Illumining heaven and earth, it benefits the multitudes.
Spreading throughout the six directions, it fills worlds as many as grains of sand.
Encompassing the myriad phenomena, it pervades lands as many as motes of dust.
Cultivate and water the seeds of Bodhi,
Don't be negligent and don't be impatient; simply realize that which has no traces.


Tremendous means great; there is nothing greater than this. Righteous means not deviant. One is not the slightest bit devious or sneaky, and does not have the slightest trace of selfish desire, scattered thoughts, or deluded false thoughts. If one has such faults as selfish desires, scattered thoughts, and deluded thoughts, then one does not have righteous energy.

The tremendous energy of righteousness is incredibly great. Heaven and earth are sustained by this righteous energy, and all sages, worthies, immortals, and Buddhas are born from this righteous energy. This righteous energy could also be said to be the Buddha nature.

When you talk about the Buddha nature, people may not understand what it is. Actually, it is just the tremendous energy of righteousness spoken of in Confucianism. Does this energy come from outside, or is it produced from within? Neither. It is inherent in everyone; no one lacks it. No one has more or less than anyone else. If you know how to use it, you can. If you don't know how, then it is as if you own gold and diamonds but don't recognize them for what they are. They are worthless to you.

If you know how to nurture this tremendous energy of righteousness, then it pervades the Dharma Realm. It is neither inside nor outside, nor in the middle. It could be considered the Buddha nature, and it could also be called the human mind or the soul of all creatures. It sustains everything. If you understand this tremendous energy of righteousness, then you will not have a even a bit of selfish desire. If you have even a little selfish desire or impure thoughts involving selfishness, personal gain, contention, greed, or lying, then you do not have that tremendous righteous energy.

If you understand how to use it, then it pervades the Dharma Realm with neither excess nor deficiency. Sages do not possess a little more of it; ordinary people do not possess a little less. It is only that ordinary people don't know how to use it, whereas sages do, so they are able to regain it. It is like an educated person and an uneducated person. Both are people, but the one who has not studied does not have as much wisdom as the one who has. The one who has knows how to use what he learns from books, which contain the literature of the world.

As for the tremendous energy of righteousness, one has to cultivate it. How? By expanding the scope of humaneness, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and trustworthiness. Start by developing the virtues of humaneness, righteousness, propriety, wisdom, and trustworthiness, and bit by bit, you will nurture the tremendous energy of righteousness until it is full. This tremendous, righteous energy is on an equal basis and connected with all the myriad things of the universe. That's why it is said to pervade the Dharma Realm.

It includes all things whatsoever--not only proper energy, but even deviant energy, demons, ghosts, monsters--they all have tremendous, righteous energy, but they have used it improperly and have strayed from what is proper. If used properly and in just the right way, it is tremendous, righteous energy. If used incorrectly, it becomes deviant energy.

And so the text says that it encompasses the myriad phenomena. Even demons, ghosts, and monsters have tremendous, righteous energy (but they don't know how to use it). Therefore, this tremendous, righteous energy is the most egalitarian and does not involve any favoritism. It's the same way that anyone who studies can learn to read, and anyone who doesn't study will not know how to read.