Aug 9, 2020

Posted by in BUDDHISM IN OTHER LANGUAGES | 2 Comments

FAITH IS HARD TO GAIN, DHARMA IS HARD TO SEEK ( Niềm tin khó có, Phật Pháp khó cầu)

Dear Guru,

I have read the article “What is the most effective Dharma transmission?”. I feel so satisfied being answered all the questions in my mind throughout the years. I would like to express my gratitude to Guru for spending your precious time to give us a thorough answer in every possible aspects. All the big questions have been answered! Thank you Dharma brother Mat Hai for putting yourself in the others’ roles to respectfully ask Guru this question, and therefore bring the benefits to all predestined audience.

Coming up on Guru’s teachings, I would like to share my little knowledge about cherishing Dharma that I have been learning. The human beings who find pleasures in sights, sounds, scents, flavours and tactile sensations won’t pay any interest in Dharma, and of course they won’t cherish Dharma because in their eyes, there is no difference between gold and lead. They do not even care about the difference. Conversely, human beings that desire to stop the circle of sufferings including birth, old age, sickness and death will aspire to live a more meaningful life by taking advantage of their precious human bodies. Lao Tzu brought into a poem which describes several types of human beings that “After listening to noble teachings, the superior ones are those who encourage to practice diligently; the trivial ones are those who remain undecided about growing faith or doubt; the lower ones are those who just laugh out loud. If they do not laugh, the noble teachings are not that noble” (上 士 聞 道, 勤 而 行 之. 中 士 聞 道, 若 存 若 亡. 下 士 聞 道, 大 笑 之. 不 笑, 不 足 以 為 道.)

That is to know it is absolutely not easy to meet someone who sincerely cherish Dharma!

In the Sutra of forty-two sections, section 36 says:

The Buddha said: 1,”Even if one escapes from the evil creations, it is one’s rare fortune to be born a human being. 2, Even if one be born as human, it is one’s rare fortune to be born as a man and not a woman. 3, Even if one be born a man, it is one’s rare fortune to be perfect in all the six sense. 4, Even if he be perfect in all the six senses, it is his rare fortune to be born in the central of the country. 5, Even if one is born in a the central of the country, it is his rare fortune to be born in the time of a Buddha. 6, Even if he be born in the time of a Buddha, it is his rare fortune to encounter the enlightened. 7, Even if he be able to see the enlightened, it is his rare fortune to have his heart awakened in faith. 8, “Even if one brings forth faith, it is still difficult to resolve one’s mind on Bodhi. 9,  Even if he awakens the heart of intelligence, it is his rare fortune to realise a spiritual state which is above discipline and attainment.”

 

In the flow of the above sutra excerpt, the extent of “rare fortunes” are arranged in order that keeps increasing. There are fortunes that the readers may easily understand, there are some others that need some time to contemplate, and the remaining requires experiences that were earned from Dharma practicing process to absorb the deep meaning, such as “spiritual state which is above discipline and attainment”. Being supported by Guru’s wisdom, I would like to explain further some points which can be understood at different viewpoints. As said “it is one’s rare fortune to be born as a man and not a woman”, is this statement close to Confucianism’s standpoint that tends to favor male to female? No, because the Buddha always give a fair consideration to all sentient beings in six realms, let alone the gender difference of only human beings. On the contrary, the Buddha shows a deep empathy to females whose lives are restricted by more obstacles than men (such as physical strength, family obligations, social communication, etc.); on the other hand, the males have more advantages in many possible ways to approach and practice Dharma! Then after reading “..it is his rare fortune to be born in the central of the country”, someone may wonder: the Buddha taught us to stay away from hectic places which possibly give negative impacts to our practice, why does it emphasise the importance of being born into the central of the country here? According to Buddhist teaching, “central” place means a place where Buddhism prevails; otherwise, without the light of Buddhism, any other place cannot be considered as “central”!

The above sutra excerpt can be explained in other words as following: .. even though being born in the time of a Buddha (which means the existence of Buddhist teachings) is difficult, it is not as difficult as being able to encounter the enlightened (Guru); encountering a Guru is difficult, but growing one’s heart awakened in faith is more difficult; developing faith is difficult, but it is more difficult to resolve one’s mind on Bodhi… Indeed, every time that I read this teaching, I became more understanding the different extent of rare fortunes which were indicated by the Buddha. Among those, the most basic factor is Faith. Having faith (which is originated from right views) will help us not to end up “laughing out loud” at noble teachings and thereafter missing the precious chance. Instead, we cherish both Dharma and the chance to meet Guru and his teachings; we grow our faith and it will accordingly motivate us to practice Dharma diligently. Therefore, we will eventually make achievements. On the contrary, without faith, even though we are born into human being realm, having all completed six senses, living in the central of the country and in a time which Buddhist teachings exist, and we even met a Guru, etc.., those fortunes will not make any contribution to our liberation path. That is to understand why the Buddha consider FAITH as one of seven treasures of the noble ones including faith, contemplation, morality, self-respect, respect for others, and discriminating wisdom. Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism once asserted :“Having faith contributes to half of the success (to the liberation path)”.

The teachings of the enlightened ones from thousands of years ago seem to bounce back with Guru’s exclamation: “That’s so we know, the stupid ones tend to turn noble things into common mortal things; the wise ones otherwise transform impure things into ultimate purpose! That’s strange!” and “In that way it can be concluded that not cherishing Dharma also means stealing Dharma!”. This is an open definition of “stealing Dharma” which covers those practitioners who already received the precepts, not just the ones maintained “self-taught” which did not follow the right process of  “transmitting Dharma through a Guru”! It can be seen there are different levels of “stealing Dharma”. For instance, Guru gave an example of someone who hasn’t met Guru yet, but because of his growing faith in Dharma, he keeps studying and practicing correctly and it will somehow not bring him bad consequences. Otherwise, he will accumulate merits because of the faith. On the contrary, someone will put their spiritual lives in jeopardy if he already met Guru and received precepts; however, the Dharma seems to be trivial to him that he does not even care about it. That situation was described in the book “Liberation in the palm of your hand” written by Pabongka Rinpoche as “disrespect for Dharma”. The author explained that the ones who defamed Dharma still have chances to come back and make Buddhist achievements in case they sincerely repent; however, those who pay “disrespect for Dharma” have no chance at all! It can be seen that the severity of “stealing Dharma” to those who not cherishing Dharma is much higher than the ones who “stealing Dharma” by studying and practicing by themselves! Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism had already foreseen this liability; therefore, he once gave thorough teaching in “Secret teachings of Padmasambhava” that: “Listen carefully one more time! There are many practitioners who failed at harmonising their lives with Dharma even though they already stepped inside the door of Dharma. So make sure you are not one of them!”.

After systemising fourteen grievous failures of a Buddhist practitioner, Gampopa warned that “If, after having entered the door of the Holy Order, one returns to the life of a householder, one resembles a moth plunging into the flame of a lamp. And this is a grievous failure”. “Returning to the life of a householder” for a layman means someone lets his mind being swayed by the Eight Winds (prosperity – decline, honour – disgrace, praise – censure, pleasure – suffering). It does not mean to fully get rid of family responsibilities. In regard to this point, Padmasambhava once taught that “You can seclude yourself from the world, but you are not a Buddhist practitioner if your behaviours are not different to a mundane’s. You can leave your hometown behind, but you are not a Buddhist practitioner if you do not stop being tightened with mundane people. You can practice Dharma diligently, but you are not a Buddhist practitioner if your mind does not stop cling to desires”. The living environment plays critical role, however, the power to control the mind and body in a particular environment is more important.

Finally, Padmasambhava taught about the motivation to practice Dharma “You can start your path in Mahayana, but you are not a Buddhist practitioner if your purposes are not devoted to the benefits of all sentient beings. You can devote your practices towards the benefits of all sentient beings, but you are not a Buddhist practitioner if your ultimate purpose is not originated from Bodhi. You may perceive things as they are, but you are not a Buddhist practitioner if you do not pay any attention to karmic maturity”. I am sincerely praying for “the eminent and sublime Dharma/which is hard to be sought for thousands of lives” will be found by all sentient beings, especially to those who already received precepts will not terminate their practice by karmic hindrances, so that they can practice Dharma diligently to benefit themselves and others beings.

Om Ah Hum.

Mat Kien.

Translated by Mat Tu.


Vietnamese version: NIỀM TIN KHÓ CÓ, PHẬT PHÁP KHÓ CẦU

  1. Tantra Mashita says:

    Dear compassionate guru,

    Thank you so much for sharing this article with us, I really admired it, and in fact, I think that we must suffer alot in order to be able to understand the importance of dharma, as for me, my passion towards varjayana and dharma becomes bigger and bigger day after day, and nowadays I almost spend the whole day in searching about dharma, varjayana, sutras, reading articles on chanhtuduy.com and also reading books about the history of the Buddhism, I don’t know why I’m so attached to varjayana, and dharma to this extent, thank you so much again

    I bow my head down for you
    I devote myself to you

    May you have a good health and live long for the benefit of all sentient beings
    May all the sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature
    May the pandemic caused by corona virus soon end
    Om Mani Padme hum 🙏

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