Sep 1, 2020

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Letter to disciples No. 152: When personal concern deviates the right Dharma practice ( Thư gửi các trò số 152: Khi sự quan tâm trở thành bất thiện pháp)

Dear disciples,

Within one day (23 April 2016), I was put under two circumstances in which the others’ concern about me became a root of negative practice. In the first circumstance, I had a conversation with a disciple from Hanoi in which I asked whether he was well-prepared for the upcoming Dharma festival. He responded : “Yes, please rest your mind Guru, I am well-prepared now!”. The answer did not upset me, but it rather sounded irrelevant! Did the disciple try to comfort me? The preparation for the Dharma festival is actually his precious chance, not mine; why did he try to assure me by asking me to rest my mind? If he made a good preparation, he would manage to get better results. Does that have any relation to me? The Dharma festival will be successful or not does not depend on his attendance, as well as other disciples’ attendance, but on the Bodhicitta spirit which decides the purpose and meaning of the festival. Suppose there are thousands of people who are going to attend the Dharma festival, but they will not manage to listen to the my teaching, they have no idea about what other Dharma brothers’ spiritual sharing, they do not care about the main theme and purpose of the festival; it will be just like a flower-garden which attracts as many visitors as possible; in other words, that will ruin the main purpose of the event where presents a variety of flowers, which is reserved for the true flower-lovers.

We are practicing Dharma to transform our mind, not to experience resting the mind through different levels

Dear disciples!
“Rest the mind” or to put one’s mind at rest is a state of mind which can be described as stable and tranquil. That is the state that any spiritual practitioner can achieve, and is considered as a common concern for all practitioners, as well as those who are swayed by worldly affairs. That is also the reason why Dazu Huike confided to Bodhidharma: “Dear master, my mind is not at rest” and asked for a solution. Bodhidharma answered: “Give me your mind, I will help it to rest!”. Huike was contemplating immediately to see how he could search for his mind and show his master; however, it was impossible to do it. All of a sudden, he instantly apprehended and achieved sudden enlightenment. He bowed down and responded: “Dear master, my mind is already at rest!”. I don’t know how Huike contemplated his mind, but there is one thing that I know for sure, Huike never replied to his master: “Please rest your mind, master. I will look for my mind and show you!” Why? How come a Buddhist originator as Bodhidharma who had already achieved a mind of non-existence (or empty-mind) be bothered by his mind being rested or not!

I won’t explain further about this sublime meditation anecdote, but rather use this as an example to recommend you all not to use the term “rest your mind” to your Guru. Why? If so, does it mean that my mind was bothered, distracted, and messed at the time? To obtain tranquility of mind (or resting the mind) is just a simple achievement, which is absolutely not appropriate and cannot be used to comfort a Vajrayana Buddhist teacher. So the disciple can be considered as being rude, falling out of the right track of “Guru devotion”.
According to Mahayana Buddhism’s meditative term, resting the mind indicates the eighth level of mind contemplation, which still has one higher level – the 9th, resting in equanimity. According to Hinayana’s meditative term, resting the mind is at the 4th phase among 5 phases of mind contemplation, which is not yet a high state. Resting the mind is the wish of all mortal beings; however, it may become a mind trap to Buddhist practitioners because they may be attracted and get lost by the taste of meditation and consider meditation’s result as the main purpose of Dharma practice. We are practicing Dharma to transform our mind, not to experience resting the mind through different levels. Accordingly, we should keep in mind Gyalse Tokme Zangpo’s teaching in “Thirty-seven practices of the Bodhisattvas” that: “In short, no matter what one might be doing, he should always examine his mind’s status. He must keep continuous mindfulness and awareness for the benefits of all sentient beings. This is the practice of all the Bodhisattvas”. Therefore, understanding the state of mind is fundamental; while resting the mind (tranquility) or resting in equanimity are inessential. As the Buddha’s teaching in the Dharmapada sutra, the one who is stupid and acknowledge that truth is actually a wise one; the one who is stupid but keeps thinking that he is wise is actually the most stupid. The spiritual weapons that can be used to protect us are mindfulness and awareness. Mindfulness represents the mind that keeps the focus on four main objects: Guru, Buddha, Dharma, Sangha. Awareness represents the mind that sees surrounding phenomena as how they are at the moment, which is called yathābhūtaṃ (reality as how it is) in meditative term.

Gyalse Tokme Zangpo’s teaching in “Thirty-seven practices of the Bodhisattvas” that : In short, no matter what one might be doing, he should always examine his mind’s status. He must keep continuous mindfulness and awareness for the benefits of all sentient beings. This is the practice of all the Bodhisattvas

Dear disciples!
In the second circumstance, I received a message from a disciple in Hanoi who asked for my acceptance to make offerings to me because he heard I was sick. He was surprised that I refused his concern about Guru’s health. It was so wrong to give such a thought! Sickness and misfortune are common to all human beings, how are those matters related to spiritual activities which address the right reasons for making offerings? In this case, the disciple disguised Guru as a person of his relatives, or just a fellow human being. Making offerings was disguised from a Dharma practice to as almsgiving, charity, social support, etc. This is a wrong attitude. Because of these kinds of personal concern from disciples and patrons, many Buddhist practitioners maintain a household lifestyle even when they seem to cut off all attachments to worldly affairs. It is also mentioned as one of 14 fourteen grievous failures of a Buddhist practitioner by Gampopa. Do you all want me to fall in this situation?
In a lecture named “Making offerings in its spiritual meanings”, I listed down 12 appropriate objects for making offerings and one object for giving as alms, which is animal beings. 12 noble objects that had been listed are all related to superior competence and their spiritual achievements, while one object for giving as alms are meant to bestow favors and care because of their miserable lives. Therefore, in order for you to specify appropriate time for making offerings, I would like to list six proper times as followings:
1. When a Buddhist teacher works on spiritual activities in Dharma festival
2. When a Buddhist teacher works on spiritual activities for a particular Dharma event, Dharma work
3. When a Buddhist teacher performs the refuge ritual to the students, disciples
4. When a Buddhist teacher performs the empowerment ceremony to the students, disciples
5. When a Buddhist teacher gives a teaching to the students, disciples
6. When a Buddhist teacher transmit Dharma to the students, disciples

Lama Padmashuri pay homage to Guru

All the above activities are considered worthy of being offered by the Buddha, because the object that receives offerings is in the process of eliminating greed, hatred and ignorance. I happened to recall that the student who asked for my acceptance to make offerings when I was sick did not make offerings when I gave teaching at his house. One more time, I found myself penetrating the declaration of Master Potowa that said “The opposite of all worldly conception is Dharma”.
I have just explained how to apply/use specific Buddhist terms in reality, especially to the noble objects; I also presented the appropriate objects and times to make offerings following the right orbit of Dharma. Otherwise, all your dedication to spiritual works will become useless. Receiving offerings at wrong times is just merely personal benefits, not a noble practice that helps sentient beings to grow their good deeds and accordingly earn merits. Do not let personal concern deviate the right Dharma practice!
May all sentient beings attain mindfulness and awakening.
Om Mani Padme Hum.
Phuoc Thanh Village, 23 April 2016.
Thinley – Nguyen Thanh.
Translated by Mat Tu.


Vietnamese version: Thư gửi các trò 152: KHI SỰ QUAN TÂM TRỞ THÀNH BẤT THIỆN PHÁP

  1. Tantra Amishuta says:

    Dear Holy Guru,
    Thank you for this article. This teaches me well and for your instruction and guidance I offer my devotion and continued work towards enlightenment. You are the path and for your lessons I’m grateful. May you be well for the sake of all sentient beings. May all sentient beings find pure mind and a guru who brings the opportunity for enlightenment to their lives. Om Mani padme Hum.

  2. Mật Chánh Tấn says:

    Dear holy Guru!
    I have read this article. I am grateful for what you have taught us in this article. Actually, it really helps me to understand and know how to apply Dharma into real life according to the right orbit of Dharma.
    In the first example, I understand that I should not use the term “rest your mind” to the holy Guru. Because (1) resting the mind is the wish of all mortal beings. Also, (2) resting the mind may become a trap if Buddhist practitioners get attracted and lost in the taste of meditation and consider meditation’s result as the main purpose of Dharma practice. (3) While we are practicing Dharma to transform our mind, not to experience resting the mind. Thus, if I used this term to Guru, it means I was rude and violated the first Tantric vows: “Show respect and do not criticize the Guru”.
    In the second example, the holy Guru has clearly explained the important factors when a disciple makes offerings to the Guru, including his attitude and appropriate times to make offerings . If a disciple makes offerings to the Guru because he hears the Guru was sick, it can be considered that he thinks of Guru as a normal person or as his normal relatives. This is a wrong attitude. Instead of that, the disciple should be grateful when having a chance to make offerings to the holy Guru in the 6 appropriate times, which the holy Guru has mentioned. Because these times are when the holy Guru is helping the disciples to eliminate greed, hatred and ignorance, taking closer steps on the enlightenment path.
    Thank you holy Guru for your teaching. May holy Guru have good health and live long for the sake of all sentient beings.
    May the epidemic of Covid-19 come to end soon.
    May all sentient beings attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  3. Kim Johnson says:

    Thank you so much Guru for another great article they are all so wonderful cant wait for the next one receive
    Thank you again for your teachings

  4. Mật Hoàng Như says:

    Dear Guru!
    I read this article already. Thanh you for teaching us the propers time to make offerings. I understand that the making offer just make the results when it following the right orbit of Drama.
    May Guru have good health and longevity for the benefit of all sentient beings
    May the epidemic of covid 19 come to an end soon
    Om Mani Padme Hum.

  5. Mật Như Pháp says:

    Daer holy Guru
    I have read this article already.
    May Guru has good heath, live long for the sake of all sentient begings.
    May all sentient beging attain the happiness of Buddha’s nature.
    May the Covid 19 will end soon.
    Om mani padme hum

  6. Mật Hữu Tâm says:

    Kính Bạch Thầy
    Con đã đọc bài viết này rồi ạ
    Con vô cùng hoan hỷ và tán thán, công hạnh của vị Thầy đã từ bi ban cho chúng con một bài pháp thật là sâu sắc và lợi lạc ạ. Qua bài luận giảng của vị Thầy cho con hiểu thêm về cúng dường thích hợp, và liệt kê ra sáu phát kiến, thời điểm thích hợp để cúng dường lên vị Thầy ạ.
    Con thành tâm cầu nguyện sự trường thọ của vị Thầy lợi lạc chúng sanh ạ.
    Con cầu nguyện dịch bệnh Covid 19 mau chóng được tiêu trừ.
    Con cầu nguyện cho tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật tánh.
    Om Mani Padem Hum

  7. Mật Thúy says:

    Kính Bạch Thầy.
    Con đã đọc xong bài này rồi ạ .
    Con rất hoan hỉ với công hạnh luận giải của vị Thầy , qua bài này con cứ suy nghĩ mãi và hiểu được rằng tấm lòng bồ đề tâm của vị Thầy thật bao la ngày không muốn học trò đệ tử chúng con phạm lỗi trong việc cúng dường nên ngày đã từ liệt kê ra 12, đối tượng để cúng dường một đối tượng để bố phí và khi chúng con cúng dường đúng pháp và đúng thời điểm . Con cầu nguyện sức khỏe và sự trường thọ của vị Thầy vì lợi lạc của chúng sanh con cầu nguyện cho vi khuẩn corona xóm ngày được tiêu trừ Om Ah Hùm.

  8. Phan thị Bạch Tuyết says:

    Kính bạch Thầy!
    Con Mật Phong Tuyết đã đọc bài viết này rồi ạ .Con rất hoan hỉ ,tán thán công hạnh và bồ đề tâm của vị Thầy đã luận giảng cho chúng con một bài pháp thật ý nghĩa và sâu sắc .Qua bài giảng con hiểu việc cúng dường thể hiện sự thành tâm ,lòng biết ơn ,nhưng phải đúng thời điểm ,đúng nơi ,đừng để “sự quan tâm trở thành bất thiện pháp”.
    Con cầu nguyện cho sức khỏe và sự trường thọ của Thầy vì lợilacj của chúng sanh.
    Cầu nguyện cho tất cả chúng sanh được thành tựu hạnh phúc của phật tánh.
    Cầu nguyện cho đại dịch covid 19 được tiêu trừ.
    Om mani padme hum.

  9. Tantra Shadhita says:

    Dear Guru, Thank you. I do not wish to be ignorant and disrespectful. Therefore I am grateful for your efforts to write articles and teach us how to follow the right path.
    Om mani padme hum.

    • Nguyên Thành
      Nguyên Thành says:

      Yes, I think you never want to be ignorant and disrespectful If you want to follow the right path, you must more read and comment!

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