The Daily Enlightenment 6 R eflec tions for Prac tising B uddhists
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The Daily Enlightenment 6 R eflec tions for Prac tising B uddhists
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Published & printed in Singapore For free sponsored distribution by TheDailyEnlightenment.com May 2013 4,000 books (1st Edition, 1st Print) ISBN 978-981-07-6124-0 © 2013 Shen Shi’an email@example.com All contents copyright © Shen Shi’an (Sng See Ann) 2013. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or redistributed in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying, recording, or in any information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing. Design by Moonpointer.com : firstname.lastname@example.org 100% recycled paper was used to create these pages, with 55% recycled paper from sustainable forests used for the cover. Please further ‘recycle’ this book by sharing it as a gift.
Introduction The Daily Enlightenment (TDE) is an independent free Buddhist newsletter that serves more than 29,900 members worldwide. It aims to inspire its readers to live mindfully and meaningfully, in the hope that they seek spiritual enlightenment on a daily basis. Members receive weekly e-newsletters with the latest news of the Buddhist community, quotes, reflections, excerpts and recommended web links. All are welcomed to contribute articles. Commemorating TDE’s 16th anniversary is this sixth volume, of a year’s worth of 52 reflections, as featured in the newsletter – one for each week. I sincerely hope they will inspire you in some way. You can also visit the archive and subscribe for more new articles at TheDailyEnlightenment.com. Join us today. Be a TDE member, who not only reads, but writes to share the Dharma too!
Yours in the Dharma, Shen Shi’an TDE Founder, Writer & Editor
Love 1 Why Some Love Stories Break Your Heart 2 Donald & Charlie Chat About Love & Happiness 3 ‘Looks’ Like It’s A Perfect Match? 4 I’ll Find Someone Like You?
2 5 7 9
Relationships 5 Should First Impressions Last? 6 Do You See The ‘Invisible’ Bodhisattvas In Your Life? 7 The Unseen Power Of Karmic Affinities 8 Are Teachers Reflections Of Their Students?
14 16 19 21
Buddha 9 Was The Buddha-To-Be Heartless Or ‘Heartful’? 10 Is The Buddha Just A Man? 11 Was The Buddha Reluctant To Teach? 12 Is The Ultimate Goal To Become Nothing? 13 Did The Buddha Teach The Path To Buddhahood? 14 What Does The Buddha Take Refuge In? 15 The Buddha’s Victory Over A God & Demon 16 Why Go On A Buddhist Pilgrimage?
26 28 30 33 36 39 42 47
Mindfulness 17 You Are Always In Control 18 Are You Sure You Closed The Window? 19 With Every Breath You Take
50 52 54
Morality 20 The Buddha’s Analogies On The Danger Of Lying 21 How Right Is Your Livelihood? 22 Quickly Kill To Deliver Me, Please?
58 60 63
Karma 23 Should You Be Good For Goodness’ Sake? 24 Is It Really ‘Very Bad (Or Good) Karma’? 25 Same Old Same Old? What’s New? 26 Does Karma Go In Endless Loops?
Rebirth 27 Is There Eternal Heaven Or Hell? 28 The Middle Path Between Nihilism & Eternalism
Liberation 29 How To Attain Universal Freedom 30 The Past, Present & Future Key To Liberation 31 Is Enlightenment Gradual Or Sudden? 32 How A Dragon Girl Attained ‘Instant’ Buddhahood
Meditation 33 The Buddha’s Eight Remedies For Drowsiness 34 Two Pain Remedies For Meditators
Pure Land 35 Are You Mindful Of Your Spiritual ‘Superstar’? 36 Is Mindfulness Of Buddha Applicable In Everyday Life? 37 Who Has Been To Pure Land & Back? 38 The Path To Non-Retrogression Starts Now
66 68 70 72
82 84 86 89
100 102 104 108
Zen 39 Have You Washed Your Bowl Yet? 40 The Silent Yet Noisy Falling Tree?
Miscellaneous 41 Are All Outer Evils Projected By Us? 42 Map Of The Four Noble Truths
120 122 v
43 The Compassion & Wisdom Of Relative & Absolute Truths 44 How Do We Recognise The Wise? 45 When Are Miracles Appropriate? 46 Are You An Outcast? 2012 47 A Buddhist Perspective of ‘2012’ 48 Buddhist Questions & Answers On 2012 49 This Prophecy Could Save Your Life Today (Or Tomorrow)? 50 Don’t Tell me You Saved The World 51 The Buddha’s Warnings Against Demonic False Teachers 52 Safeguarding The Buddhist Community’s Integrity Glossary
124 126 128 131
136 140 149 152 155 162 165
What are our days for, other than walking the path to Enlightenment? What is this life for, other than nearing the goal of Enlightenment? May you have ‘enlightenments’ daily. May all attain Enlightenment soon. – Stonepeace
1 Why Some Love Stories Break Your Heart A heartbreak lasts as long as there is clinging to ‘how it could have been’, forgetting how things should be now. – Stonepeace
any heartwrenching love stories share the common trait of heartbreak from miscommunication in two ways – not communicating one’s true thoughts and feelings in time, and wrongly assuming the other’s. The only way to heal such heartaches is to have genuine communication. With many past contacts being reconnectable through the Internet, it is now much easier to trace the hearts you had broken, and the ones whom your heart had broken over… to re-communicate, to set the record right, even if it is just for the record, for a sense of proper closure. Closure, however, does not mean all is over for good, as true closure opens new doors of karmic affinity too, offering new possibilities of growth. Even if romantic love is now out of the question, isn’t strengthened friendship possible? Why let any built-up relationship become estranged and wasted over misunderstandings when you can clear the air? It would be truly heartbreaking if they are not resolved in time – when one person departs before the other. Imagine being left dying or living with heartbreaking regrets... Do communicate while there is still time! It doesn’t matter if what you wish to communicate will be well received or not, as long as you convey it sincerely to free both sides from regret. As the Buddha taught in the Dhammapada, ‘There are those who do not realise that one day we all must die. But those who do realise this settle their quarrels.’ In the movie, ‘You Are The Apple Of My Eye’, there is an 2
earthquake scene, which shook many wide awake in the middle of the night. Everyone suddenly whips out their mobile phones to call their loved ones living elsewhere, to check if they are alright. The protagonist holds up his phone for reception, as he runs from the crowd hogging the airwaves. Finally, he manages to connect, or rather, reconnect, with the girl he still has a serious crush on, and is assured that she is okay. With a two-year communication lapse due to a conflict, the earthquake was a wake-up call on the urgency to reconcile, to express his deep care and concern despite a petty grudge. Furthering what the Buddha said, not only will we die one day, this day can arrive abruptly via a disaster, sooner than possibly anticipated. Life is too short to make one another suffer by nursing resolvable resentment. Even if no longer resolvable in person, it is also senseless for oneself to continue nursing resentment. For making peace with the deceased, one can offer prayers and share merits for their well-being. There is always something that can be done. Knowing this, may we focus on resolving conflicts and maintaining surviving relationships well, lest new regrets arise. In the movie, there was much uncertainty over the almostloversâ€™ commitment to each other. The guy struggled to be accepted, while the girl hesitated accepting him. True Love just loves though. It is not conditioned by acceptance or rejection, never mistaking the physical intimacy of â€˜to have and to holdâ€™ as crucial, since it can be loveless and lustful instead. If the love is true, why not just love on in acceptable ways without yearning for more? While we might be ambivalent in committing to a worldly boy-girl relationship, there is no need to be ambivalent in caring for one another as spiritual friends. Why let pride stand in the way of love, unless your ego is your actual True Love? TDE6
The Bodhisattvas openly declare their True Love for all beings, and love on even when unappreciated by some! If the ego obstructs even the true loving of one person, how will we ever be ready to care for all? May we be slow to hate and swift to love one another, with as few conditions as possible, if any at all! As True Love is truly unconditional, never expecting reciprocation, one who loves truly can never have oneâ€™s heart broken. â€“ Stonepeace
For article 2 to 4, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
5 Should First Impressions Last? Knowing that we tend to cling to first impressions, Bodhisattvas strive to create good impressions, so as to better benefit us with the Dharma. â€“ Stonepeace
f you visit a restaurant for the very first time, and the food happens to be not so great, it is unlikely that you will visit it a second time, especially when there are other choices available. However, sometimes, due to lack of alternatives in the area, you might give it another shot. You might find yourself bracing for another round of bad cooking, getting something equivalent in standard to the first roundâ€Ś but lo and behold! Sometimes, you get a delicious serving, much to your pleasant surprise, beyond your wildest imagination! What would be the lesson from such an experience? You would have done both yourself and the restaurant a disservice if you gave up on it totally. It would have been worse if you shared your poor review of just one food-tasting session with everyone you met. May we not forget that there are people behind each dish and people do change! In a similar manner, we should think twice before casting our judgements of people we come across in stone. Just as we do not wish others who had bad first impressions of us to hang on them unfairly, why should we mercilessly cling on to our negative initial and thus one-dimensional impressions of others? We should give room for doubt that others might not be who they seemed at first, but not without reasonable discerning wisdom of course. There is no need to hope for the best or to expect the worst, 14
but to simply experience second interactions with open hearts and minds. Let us not do others and ourselves injustice by condemning anyone without a ‘second hearing’. If we condemn readily, how are we to practise the Bodhisattva path of creating and increasing positive karmic affinities with all beings, for benefiting them with the Dharma? An expression says ‘first impressions are lasting impressions’. While unfortunate that this tends to be valid for many, it is part of Dharma practice to counter this. First impressions tend to last due to habitual attachment to the familiar, even when the familiarity of a near total stranger is close to nothing! Once we are mindful of this, we should let go of insisting on the ‘reality’ of our unsubstantiated perceptions, at most only using them as rough references. First impressions should never be our last, or we would never seek to realise deeper and fuller truths. Although there is some truth that ‘familiarity breeds contempt’, true familiarity breeds understanding. Not that there should ever be contempt, but if it is there, we should wonder if we are really familiar enough with the ‘contemptuous’ others to justify our contempt! Even if ‘justified’, how can we ever be spiritual friends with them while nursing contempt? Knowing that we tend to cling to lasting impressions, Bodhisattvas strive to remove bad impressions, so as to better benefit us with the Dharma. – Stonepeace
For article 6 to 8, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
9 Was The Buddha-To-Be Heartless Or ‘Heartful’? Whenever action is possible, the true measure of compassion is a true measure of action. – Stonepeace
ometimes, the Buddha-to-be, as Prince Siddhartha, is mistaken to had been a heartless husband, father and son, due to his unannounced great departure when he renounced the palace and his right to the throne that momentous night… more than 2,500 years ago. The truth is, not only was he not heartless, he was ‘heartful’! Traditional accounts of the life story of the Buddha includes the scene in which the Prince takes a secret yet loving look at his wife Yashodhara and his newly born son Rahula before leaving. He decided not to rouse them from their slumber, should he speak to or hold them. If he did, he would have a difficult time leaving. It was not possible to even hint of leaving the palace, as King Suddhodana would take extra measures to prevent this. Leaving his royal householder life was significant – to allow him to focus wholeheartedly on seeking the path to enlightenment. His return to the palace later was likewise significant, if not more so, with the path discovered. The Prince did not exactly abandon his family in confusion or misery. Being royalty, he was sure that they would fare well. He also sent his charioteer Chandaka to pass his message home, to explain his departure. He had to let go of attachment to his relatively smaller family as he saw the problem of existential suffering to be universal, affecting so many more beyond his one family. (A form of suffering is 26
departure from the beloved!) The happiness of the bigger ‘family of all sentient beings’ was at stake, and this bigger family already included his smaller family. This message of interconnectedness of all beings was shared by the Buddha after his enlightenment too. As taught, we have been reborn so many times that it is difficult, if not impossible, to find any being who had not been a family member at least once. In this way, the quest for enlightenment was essentially not for himself, but all beings, out of overwhelming love. Buddhahood is, after all, the perfection of compassion and wisdom for all. After attaining enlightenment, among many others that the Buddha taught, he returned to guide his kin and clanspeople to enlightenment too. Yashodhara was touched by his efforts and became a nun to join the Sangha. So did Rahula by becoming a monk, who was urged by his mother to ask for his inheritance from his father. The treasure to be shared was of course the precious Dharma. Both of them later attained Arhathood (self-liberation). Even the King became convinced of the worthiness of his son’s endeavours and appreciated the Dharma. Before he passed away, the Buddha was able to guide him to Arhathood as well. As a final gesture of filial respect despite his spiritually supreme status, the Buddha personally carried his casket during the funeral. He also made a point to ascend to Trayastrimsa heaven, where his birth mother Mahamaya was reborn, to share the Dharma with her for three months. This is surely great love! Complete filial piety is to attain complete enlightenment, so as to share the complete Dharma with all. – Stonepeace TDE6
For article 10 to 16, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
17 You Are Always In Control As you are always in control of what you want or not want, when you think you have ‘lost’ control, it is you not wanting to be in control. – Stonepeace
vereating can become a form of addiction, that causes problems such as obesity, which leads to poor health. How can one overcome it? First, one has to mindfully and clearly see the many disadvantages of overeating, versus the many advantages of eating healthily. These sharp contrasts should always be firmly kept in mind – until recalling them arises more readily than the habit of mindlessly reaching for excess food. Next, one has to realise that it is absolutely not true that one ‘cannot stop eating’, because one always has control. There is, after all, no one forcing anyone to eat. We only imagine we are not in control but we are not slaves to our greedy compulsions. To deny the constant power of choice we have is to continually have bad faith towards ourselves. We are self-victimisers before we are victims. There is always time to reclaim mindful control! Once, a student who was facing Suzuki Roshi told him that he could not stop snacking, and asked for advice on this issue. Roshi immediately reached under his table, whipped out some jelly beans and said, ‘Here, have some jelly beans.’ As we can imagine, the student was most probably stunned by the direct yet counterintuitive advice… and does not reach for the jelly beans. He should had realised straightaway, that what he himself said is not true at all. He can indeed 50
stop snacking, as he just did. It is all a matter of whether he wants to or not, whether he acknowledges his power of choice mindfully or not, whether he had set a firm resolution to stop snacking or not, whether he continues to deludedly believe he cannot stop or not. If he was truly out of control, he would had grabbed the jelly beans instantly. But there was restraint with the choice clearly presented to him. Roshi was proving to him that he has control. When another student asked Roshi about Zen practice, he saw cigarettes in his pocket and replied that ‘Zen is hard. It is at least as hard as quitting smoking.’ He was seizing the opportunity to skilfully relate his unhealthy addiction to healthy Dharma practice in a down-to-earth way, which is to acquire wisdom, to compassionately end how we harm ourselves and others; to help one and all instead. Why speak of lofty ideals if we do not even wish to break a single obvious bad habit? Dharma practice is at least as hard as quitting it, as part and parcel of practice! Each time we repeat negative choices, of overeating, smoking and such, we reinforce our addictions. To outgrow diehard bad habits, create ‘dieharder’ good habits! Roshi once remarked that a hippie student probably smoked too much pot, to which he said, ‘Ok, I’ll quit. You’re the boss.’ Roshi replied, ‘No! You’re the boss!’ The real master is always you. Good teachers will urge you to realise this, to take control of your life with guidance of the Dharma! As you are always in control, whether you want or not, even if you imagine you had ‘lost’ control, you can always regain control. – Stonepeace TDE6
For article 18 to 19, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
20 The Buddhaâ€™s Analogies On The Danger Of Lying The more one readily lies to hide oneâ€™s misgivings, the more one readily creates more misgivings beyond that of lying. â€“ Stonepeace
ere is a summary of the first part of the Ambalatthikarahulovada Sutta (Instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone), which the Buddha taught to the seven-year-old Rahula, who used to lie in jest, after the latter helped to wash his feet: Like the little water in the bowl, this is how little spirituality there is, in one shameless of deliberate lying. [One becomes spiritually weak.] Like the little water in the bowl tossed away, this is how [the already] little spirituality is tossed away, by one shameless of deliberate lying. [One becomes spiritually wasted.] Like the bowl turned upside down, this is how spirituality is turned upside down, by one shameless of deliberate lying. [One becomes spiritually stagnant.] Like the bowl turned right side up, this is how spirituality is empty in one shameless of deliberate lying. [One becomes spiritually hollow.] Like a royal elephant, not well-trained to use his body for battle 58
keeps protecting his trunk, he is not ready to give up his life to protect the king. Like a royal elephant, well-trained to use his whole body for battle, he is ready to give up his life to protect the king, with nothing he will not do. ‘Similarly, Rahula, when one is shameless of deliberate lying, there is no evil, I tell you, one will not do. Thus, Rahula, you should train yourself, “I will not deliberately lie, even in jest.”’ The more one readily lies for less serious matters, the more one readily lies for more serious matters. – Stonepeace
For article 21 to 22, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
23 Should You Be Good For Goodness’ Sake? Compassion is the root [beginning] of the Buddha path [the path to Buddhahood]. – The Treatise On Perfection Of Wisdom (Nagarjuna)
here is this adage… To ‘be good for goodness’ sake’; instead of being good for pleasing anyone human or ‘divine’, or only for personal benefit… which would make one’s goodness not so truly good in itself. However, if we are to be good only to be good, it does not make much sense, as it leads to no larger ultimate purpose. Why be good then? Because doing good for others does good for oneself and others, because it brings happiness. The truth is, when we do good, even if solely to help others, we inevitably, even if unintentionally and indirectly, end up helping ourselves too, as the practice of cultivating compassion is a key factor for advancing on the path towards True Happiness. To be more kind is to become more aligned to our true nature, the Buddha-nature within. Being good is therefore good for one and all. Is it selfish to do good for oneself, and not so much for others? As a start, we might do good partly or even entirely for ourselves, so as to create positive karma and avoid creating negative karma, for greater personal worldly happiness. This is natural, and the Buddha did encourage doing so for beginners. Such happiness can motivate and facilitate furthering of the spiritual life too, when used skilfully. However, the Buddha also urged the cultivation of the Four Immeasurables (loving-kindness, compassion, rejoice and equanimity) with wisdom for spiritual happiness – which 66
is True Happiness. As we further cultivate these qualities, there will be less self-centredness, as we become more selfless in helping others. With loving-kindness for all to be well and happy, compassion for the suffering, rejoice for the fortunate, and equanimity which treats all (including oneself ) impartially, selfishness will dissolve. Doing good with ever lesser fixations on self, this is how our karma becomes not just more and more good, but more and more pure. This is the deeper meaning of the third part of the famous Dhammapada verse 183 spoken by the Buddha – ‘To avoid doing all evil, to practise all good, and to purify the mind, these are the teachings of all Buddhas.’ The perfecting of the Four Immeasurables, often abbreviated with compassion to represent all four, along with the perfecting of wisdom, combine and culminate as one in Buddhahood. Herein lies the paradox… To attain unconditioned True Happiness for one‘self ’, one needs to work towards realisation of non-self, through unconditional service to others. This pure motivation is called Bodhicitta – the precious altruistic aspiration to guide all to the True Happiness of Buddhahood, as perfectly expressed by the Buddha! As Buddhas are ‘born’ from Bodhicitta for all, all should give ‘birth’ to Bodhicitta to be Buddhas. – Stonepeace
For article 24 to 26, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
27 Is There Eternal Heaven Or Hell? If even Mara can become a Buddha with the right effort, why doubt your ability to do so? – Stonepeace
he definitions of good and evil in Buddhism are much more subtly nuanced and realistic than the conventional versions. What is goodness? It is whatever done with the virtues (antidotes) of generosity, lovingkindness (and compassion) and wisdom. It can be a good thought, words spoken or an action made. What is evil? It is whatever done with the opposite – the defilements of the Three Poisons (three roots of evil) – greed (attachment), hatred (aversion) and delusion (ignorance). This means it is the intention behind a deed that determines it to be good or evil – over its outcome. This is the literal meaning of the expression, ‘It is the thought that counts’ – more so than the expressed speech or action. Just as the two virtues of generosity and loving-kindness arise from the third virtue of wisdom, greed and hatred arise from delusion. Sometimes, Buddhists prefer to use the terms ‘wholesome and unwholesome’, ‘positive and negative’, ‘skilful and unskilful’ instead of ‘good and evil’. Similarly, a deed is wholesome or unwholesome when done with virtuous or non-virtuous motivations respectively. Buddhism does not condemn any being to be downright evil, beyond redemption. And unless completely enlightened, no one is good enough to be deemed pure either. When the Buddha encounters someone with much unwholesomeness in character, he is able to see beyond the evil ways, and recognise that person to simply lack the skilful nurturing of the roots of goodness due to being 76
overwhelmed by the roots of evil at the moment. As all beings have Buddha-nature, the potential to be enlightened, the capacity for repentance of evil and transformation to be good and pure is always present. There is also no eternal karmic damnation of anyone in terms of hellish retribution as it is impossible and unfair for limited evil done in one lifetime. Even the longest self-sentence to the deepest hell expires after a long time. Likewise, there is no heaven for eternal and complacent resting on oneâ€™s laurels due to limited good karma. The universe is never a battlefield of good versus evil in a clear-cut way. As long as yet to be on the irreversible spiritual path towards perfection, the good can backslide to be evil, and the evil progress to be good. We are on a sliding scale, on the grey spectrum of good and evil, with these polar opposites less black and white or cast in stone than imagined. With this understanding, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas continually, compassionately and heroically manifest in various ways, even in the hells, to guide beings towards goodness and purity! Although greater than any heaven, even Pure Lands do not offer eternal life; what it offers is immeasurable life as much time as needed for graduation into enlightenment. The worst schools cannot guarantee graduation, even if one stays in them forever. Being the best Dharma schools in the universe, graduation from Pure Lands is thus guaranteed. â€“ Stonepeace
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29 How To Attain Universal Freedom Not realising the Three Universal Characteristics sustains our universal delusion. – Stonepeace
ow can we attain universal freedom, as in ultimate freedom, from every constraint, including the universe itself? It is through the complete realisation of the Three Universal Characteristics, which collectively form the most succinct way of describing the entire universe. While the big wide universe can be defined with many laws of nature in terms of physics, chemistry, biology, psychology and such, all the essential workings of these laws can be summarised by the Three Universal Characteristics. The Buddha, realised, through his enlightenment, that if all physical and mental phenomena (functions of matter, including body, and mind) in the cosmos are deeply looked into, everything exhibits the three characteristics of Anicca (Anitya), Dukkha and Anatta (Anatman). Once one knows and sees the universe essentially as the functioning of the trio, one realises the wisdom needed for breaking free from their constraints, just as the Buddha did. Anicca, or impermanence, describes the universe in terms of time. Between any one moment and the next, all phenomena is fluxing, in constant change. This discovery was revolutionary in the Buddha’s time, as the electron microscope was not yet invented. It was through absolute mastery of the mind that the Buddha could peer both far into the outer reaches of the universe’s stars and galaxies, and deep within matter in terms of molecules and subatomic particles, to realise that nothing stays static. All is but fluctuation of energy. Even the workings of the mind 82
in terms of the mental aggregates of feelings, perceptions, volitions and consciousness are always dynamic. Anatta, or non-self, describes the universe in terms of space. Precisely due to constant change of mind and matter (Anicca), there is no fixed substance or substantial self between any one point and the next in space. Dukkha, or the experiencing of physical and mental dissatisfaction in the universe arises from not realising Anicca and Anatta, regardless of where and when we are. When we fully comprehend the true nature of the universe, we attain their opposite characteristics. We transcend Dukkha and realise blissfulness of (Nibbana; Nirvana), which is permanent (timeless), transcending Anicca. Realising Anatta, the ‘true self ’ is attained by actualising Buddha-nature. The Three Universal Characteristics are also called the Three Marks of Existence, as all phenomena bear their ‘imprints’; with no other ‘marks’. They are also known as the Three Seals of the Dhamma (Dharma). ‘Dharma’ here refers both to all phenomena (various dharmas) and to the Buddhadharma, the teachings of the Buddha – that lead to realisation of the Three Seals. They are called so as all authentic teachings of the Buddha are as if officially ‘signed and sealed’ with them, bearing these Three Seals. Few as they might be, no other philosophy or religion contains these Three Seals altogether. Freedom unbound begins by looking deep into our minds, to realise their Three Universal Characteristics! Sunnata (Sunyata: emptiness) is the collective definition of Anicca (impermanence) and Anatta (non-self ), of mind and matter being empty of permanent self. – Stonepeace TDE6
For article 30 to 32, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
33 The Buddha’s Eight Remedies For Drowsiness If one does not even resolve to stay physically awake, how can one resolve to spiritually awake? – Stonepeace
rowsiness is a common recurring problem for many meditators (and chanting practitioners, as chanting is a meditative practice too). If we fail to counter the ‘z monster’ despite having had enough rest, it is perhaps due to habitual dullness of the mind, lack of resolution and discipline. Whatever the cause might be, what did the Buddha have to say on countering drowsiness? As recorded in the Capala (Pacala) Sutta, once, the Buddha saw with his divine vision that Moggallana was nodding off during his meditation practice elsewhere. Using supernormal teleportation as swiftly as a strong man might extend or flex his arm, the Buddha appeared to advise him on how to resolve drowsiness. As soon as any of the Buddha’s remedies below works, one should immediately return to the original subject of meditation, instead of focusing on the remedy or proceeding to more remedies, or one would be digressing from progress in the intended practice. Here are the Buddha’s tips, as paraphrased in sequence. (Note that resting is recommended only as the last resort – if one is truly tired. This ensures that one’s drowsiness is not habitually due to lack of will and diligence.)  If there is drowsiness, do not attend to or pursue that perception (e.g. a stray thought) in the mind then (as it might 94
be the cause of drowsiness).  If there is still drowsiness, recall the Dharma learnt and memorised, re-examine and reflect upon it (as this makes one awake and aligned to the Dharma).  If there is still drowsiness, repeat aloud the Dharma learnt and memorised (as this requires more effort and further awakens one.)  If there is still drowsiness, pull both earlobes and rub the limbs with the hands (as this invigorates blood circulation).  If there is still drowsiness, stand up, wash the eyes, look around and upwards at the major stars and constellations (as this freshens one up physically and helps the mind to focus).  If there is still drowsiness, visualise daylight to brighten the mind (as bright light wakes one up and keeps one awake).  If there is still drowsiness, practise to-and-fro walking meditation mindfully (as physically active instead of stationary meditation might be a better idea then).  If there is still drowsiness, mindfully recline in the lion’s posture (which the Buddha is portrayed to rest in) on the right side, with one foot upon the other, and be determined to rise quickly after rest, thinking ‘I shall not indulge in lying down or drowsiness.’ Thus were the Buddha’s instructions for Moggallana, who later became proficient and liberated in meditation. The path to awakening is to use our current wakefulness to further awaken to the fullest. – Stonepeace
For article 34, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
35 Are You Mindful Of Your Spiritual ‘Superstar’? Unless mindful of the need to transform mindlessness to mindfulness, mindlessness leads to more mindlessness. – Stonepeace
teenager goes gaga over a superstar. She pastes his posters all over her room’s walls. She goes to all his concerts, where she raves wildly and feverishly shouts words of adoration. She is so crazy over him, that she can’t seem to focus much on anything else. She loses concentration in school, loses her appetite, loses sleep… In short, she has lost herself in mindlessness. In her frenzy, she is not mindful enough to realise that one or both of these desires are involved –  She wants to be with him.  She wants to be him (or like him). Interestingly, mindfulness of (e.g. Amitabha) Buddha (Amituofo) has some parallels. The simplest way to practise mindfulness of the Buddha is by devoted continuous recitation of his name, be it verbally or silently in the mind. This is so as the name of the Buddha is the most basic representation of his perfection in all virtues, as summed up by compassion and wisdom. We get this picture of understanding about the Buddha through study of the sutras, where we learn about his character through accounts of how he exemplifies his pure qualities in thought, word and deed. Incidentally, the Buddha’s name encompasses the Triple Gem – the Buddha, the Dharma (that he practises, perfected and preaches) and the Sangha (which he is the leading member of ). Unlike the fan, a practitioner of Buddha mindfulness is 100
mindful why he (or she) bears his spiritual ‘superstar’ (the Buddha) in mind. He might have just one picture of him in mind, to inspire and remind him to practise, unlike too many pictures of too many worldly idols. He does not go crazy by idolising, but calmly recites his name as wholeheartedly and single-mindedly as possible. This helps to guard his moral conduct, cultivate concentration and develop wisdom towards enlightenment by aligning to his Buddha-nature. Besides being more focused on daily responsibilities, he is mindful of his spiritual aspirations too –  He wishes to be with the Buddha in his mind, and in his Pure Land, to learn from him,  so as to be a Buddha (like the Buddha). Without mindfulness of a Buddha, how can anyone be with any Buddha, or become like a Buddha? – Stonepeace
For article 36 to 38, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
39 Have You Washed Your Bowl Yet? If you are hungry, why have you not eaten? If you have eaten, why have you not washed up? – Stonepeace
n the Zen tradition, a classic dialogue between a teacher and a student is called a ‘mondo’ (in Japanese and Chinese: ‘ : question and answer’). It is considered classic as it is an illuminating exchange. Whether it is enlightening to one who hears it or not, however, depends on how deeply one connects to it. With Zen’s focus on direct experience of the essence of the Dharma in everyday life over looking for it in sutras, mondos are both records of realisations and instructional guides. One such mondo is called ‘Joshu washes the bowl’, as recorded in ‘The Gateless Gate’ by Zen Master Mumon (Wumen)… A new monk asks Master Joshu (Zhaozhou), ‘I’ve just entered the monastery. Please teach me.’ Joshu enquires, ‘Have you eaten your porridge?’ The monk replies, ‘I have eaten.’ Joshu says, ‘Then you had better wash your bowl.’ Upon hearing this, the monk became enlightened. The mystery of this mondo, for musing over, or rather, contemplating, would be why he became enlightened and why we are not likewise enlightened, despite having ‘heard’ the same words! Speculating or rationalising, instead of realising the mondo’s significance would not count, as this is the opposite of directly experiencing the mondo like the monk did. Mumon commented on the mondo in verse – ‘It is too clear and so it is hard to see. A dunce once searched for fire with a lighted lantern. Had he known what fire was, he could have cooked his rice much sooner.’ 112
So much said, here are some speculated and rationalised possibilities of what Joshu and Mumon could be conveying. Warning! Mondo ‘spoiler’ ahead – though you might disagree! Zen, or rather, the essence and actualisation of the Dharma, is about doing what is supposed to be done in the moment. Although Joshu’s question and instruction seemed out of point as replies to the monk’s request, what he uttered were really the best answers in the moment. Joshu asked if the monk had eaten out of concern. The question itself was guidance that the monk sought – exemplifying how to practise the Dharma – by being caring, by expressing compassion, to a newbie too! Perhaps the monk did not realise this yet, as he answered conventionally, in a way he thought he should. The Master’s next response was an expression of wisdom, though also based on compassion, helping him to see more clearly what he should do – as a skilful and direct instruction. There were no wasted words or efforts. So… why go wash the bowl? Zen is not about doing or reaching something deemed special or mystical. It is down-to-earth and practical, about doing what should be done in this moment – even if it is an ordinary, routine and so-called mundane task. When we look for something extraordinary, we have forgotten that the extraordinary enlightenment arises from taking care of the ordinary. To focus on doing what is appropriate in each moment with an ‘ordinary mind’, that is not cluttered or distracted with the unnecessary is Zen practice. Joshu’s replies were Zen in the moment too – what was appropriate there and then. Everyday matters done properly with mindfulness, compassion and wisdom would amount to good Zen practice – beyond just sitting well on the cushion during a meditation session. TDE6
Now… we all have our food to eat when hungry, bowls to wash after eating, bodies to bathe at the end of the day… How Zen are you making these activities to be? Now that you have read this article, what is the ‘bowl’ you should ‘wash’ – that next appropriate thing to do? The way of Zen is so clearly before our eyes that we overlook it, as if foolishly looking for glasses while wearing them. If we lived and breathed Zen all this while, we would be Zen Masters already! As Zen has no gates, nothing is not of Zen; everything can be an entry point into Zen, we can be enlightened by anything. – Stonepeace
For article 40, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
41 Are All Outer Evils Projected By Us? The misfortune we experience from others are rebounding effects of our evil, be they from this present life or past lives. – Stonepeace
t is often said that when we perceive others to be evil (i.e. to have misgivings), we are the evil ones, as the evils of the outer world are projected from our inner worlds, from our impure perceptions, and thus not externally ‘real’. For example, when someone gets on our nerves, it could just be that we are impatient. This might make some sense at first, but it is not always the case. If it is always true, to use a extreme example, the massacre of some 50 million people led by Hilter would mean he is perfectly blameless, because his evil ways were ‘merely projections’ of those affected. Though such deaths were also the unfortunate expressions of negative karma, because there is no such thing as random ‘bad luck’, he was surely creating immense negative karma by actively choosing to be the means of its expression. It is senseless to insist that Hitler did no evil; that the victims ‘did’ it entirely to themselves instead. How much more evil does it take or us to realise someone to be evil? Let us hope it is not the massacre of more millions. Although the idea that perceived evils are a reflection of ours is a good way to urge self-reflection before fault-finding with others, this should not be used to rationalise or exonerate the actual faults of the guilty, who need self-reflection too, as well as our addressing of their mistakes to set things right. Not doing so is to lack compassion for those affected and the perpetrator of evil, and to lack wisdom by clinging to deluded perception. 120
If we believe all who suffer from evil-doers are just foolish victims of their impure perception and karma, we could become apathetic instead of empathetic. Since the workings of their perceptions and karma are interconnected with ours as witnesses, we should do our best to halt evil. To not do so when we can is somewhat ‘evil’ too, albeit indirectly, passively. Since the Buddha has purified perception, does it mean that he never sees others’ genuine faults? If so, there would have been no need for him to encourage observation of various precepts for both the lay and monastic community. Without crucial moral guidelines, anything goes, chaos ensues and enlightenment would be impossible. It is a sure way of endorsing evil’s proliferation – by letting it go absolutely unchecked! We do not say the Buddha was ever at fault for his clear perception of unenlightened beings’ many faults. Out of compassion, he highlights our faults, so that we can change for the better. Within his equanimous vision, he also has discriminating wisdom, which discerns right from wrong. Without discriminating wisdom, skilful compassion can never be practised properly, and ultimate wisdom can never be realised perfectly. The evil we create towards others will have rebounding effects of misfortune, be they in this present life or future lives. – Stonepeace
For article 42 to 47, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
48 Buddhist Questions & Answers On 2012
To not believe because it is not said by a person; to believe just because it is said by a person, is not to rely on the Dharma, but to rely on a person. – Stonepeace Q: What are the world’s top scientists saying about 2012? A: NASA’s (USA’s ‘National Aeronautics and Space Administration’) statements can be seen at http://nasa. gov/topics/earth/features/2012.html. They represent many top scientists’ views. Q: How about a brief summary? A: In the words of NASA, which is one of the world’s leading authorities on scientific research, ‘Nothing bad will happen to the Earth in 2012. Our planet has been getting along just fine for more than 4 billion years, and credible scientists worldwide know of no threat associated with 2012.’ Q: What about what others are saying about impending disasters? A: Are they more credible? Or are they pseudo-scientists and self-proclaimed ‘experts’ building upon myths, rumours and bad science? If they are credible, they should simply share their findings with leading scientific organisations, to leverage on their authority and widely publicise whatever is ‘valid’ through them. If for some reason they cannot, they have the responsibility to make their voices heard more loudly and clearly, to convince everyone of their ‘truths’ beyond the shadow of a doubt. 140
Whether as Buddhists or otherwise, we should be mindful not to rely on othersâ€™ words based on blind faith, but to investigate in detail personally. If one simply believes what another says due to the personâ€™s reputation, one is relying on a personality and not the truth itself. This is going against the Buddhaâ€™s teachings in a very fundamental way. To know if one is doing so, one should ask oneself if one will believe the same ideas if they are propagated by any other person instead. Q: What if there is a conspiracy theory by NASA and such to conceal the truth from us? A: What are the chances that every single respected scientific and governmental authority is capable of hiding the truth from everyone? It is up to us to use the best of our wisdom to decide if this is possible and to respond accordingly. Leading scientific organisations have nothing to gain from concealing the truth while many hoaxsters have much to gain, in terms of gathering money and followers from spreading sensational non-truths. There are many sincere but misguided followers of these hoaxsters too. Unfortunately, some of these confused followers might in turn become leaders with many followers of their own. Although NASA already openly reassured, as above, that nothing particularly terrible will happen in 2012, some 2012 doomsday or disaster propagators claim that their source of information was leaked from NASA, that NASA is concealing their findings due to fear of causing panic. If so, is their information officially from NASA or not? If official information of impending disaster did leak from NASA, it should be proved traceable to NASA by the propagators. If this is not proved by them, what ground is there to believe them? Also, if it is agreeable that panic should not be caused, why should the propagators do exactly that? TDE6
Q: However, there seems to be a variety of doomsday and disaster prophecies? A: Here is a concise video called ‘The Truth about 2012’ by NASA for clarifying on them at http://vimeo. com/7463829. More can be read at http://astrobiology. nasa.gov/ask-an-astrobiologist/intro/nibiru-and-doomsday2012-questions-and-answers. We need to remember too, the Y2K (year 2000) scare at the turn of the millennium, which spawned many ‘spiritual’ and technological doomsday prophecies worldwide. None came true.
There are many ‘prophecies’ about 2012 because it is especially ‘bankable’, especially after the entertainment industry’s popularising of the fictitious yet very profitable movie ‘2012’. Strangely, some believe the scenes in the movie to be exactly what is going to happen in 2012, while the director, when this was written, has another film release planned for the year 2013 – which is of course beyond the year 2012! Obviously, the director himself does not believe in the 2012 phenomenon!
Q: Isn’t it safer to believe that something terrible is going to happen? A: It is safer if something terrible is indeed going to happen, while terrible things can happen due to false alarms. Q: What are some of these terrible things? A: False alarms can be physically dangerous as some might kill themselves, be it individually or by mass suicide, due to overwhelming fear, depression, loss of hope… and some might give up so much of their material belongings, relationships and responsibilities that they become homeless and destitute, with nothing to survive on after the supposed ‘last day’ has come and passed uneventfully. These things have often happened in the past due to false alarms. There can be riots from mass panic too. Please be 142
mindful of these possible consequences from spreading ideas about 2012. In this age of the Internet, with the easy and rapid spread of erroneous ideas, the negative karmic repercussions from doing so are difficult to calculate. Q: Is there a recent example of such false alarms? A: The most recent widely publicised doomsday that never transpired was the day 21 October 2011. You can read news on it at http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/business/2011/10/ harold-camping-doomsday-prophet-wrong-again. Although the predictor had wrongly predicted doomsday twelve times, many still believed him, leading to much loss. Q: Were there more false alarms in the past? A: You can see at least 170 past doomsday predictions that failed to come true at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_ of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events. Q: Is there a quick way to assess if a doomsday or disaster predictor is telling the truth or not? A: This is not a guaranteed way to assess accurately, but most leaders who predicted, or who are supposed to believe a coming day being doomsday or disastrous do NOT give up all, or even most of their fortunes, personal and organisational properties to warn others of the day itself. This is probably because they do not believe it, or are unsure themselves. Why keep so much if the end of days is really coming? All their possessions should be cashed in to fund public warnings instead.
As usual, when the day has come and passed with not much happening, they are likely to proclaim that it was a miscalculation, or that due to changes in the collective karma of the world, things have amazingly turned entirely around. Either way, they continually get away with having caused needless fear, though many followers TDE6
tend to leave them in disappointment and disgust. The predictors have the tendency to frequently update their ‘prophecies’ in a bid to retain their followers too. Because there tends to be several natural disasters each year, any one of them can be labelled to be the result of the mitigation of an otherwise more major disaster too. It should be noted that there are mass suicide doomsday cults too, with leaders and followers truly giving up everything, by killing themselves together due to their deluded beliefs. An example can be seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heaven’s_Gate_(religious_group) Q: Can such false alarms be spiritually dangerous too? A: Yes, because life is unpredictable, death can strike anyone at any time before the predicted doomsday. Attachment to the belief that one will live right up to the predicted doomsday can lead to procrastination of spiritual practice from thinking there is still ample time. Every second, as we speak, there are people dying due to various causes around the world, many of whom did not expect death to come so soon. Of course, this does not mean we should just panic immediately, because spiritual practice requires mindful calmness and clarity. Of course, death can occur after the predicted day too. In fact, this is statistically much more probable for most of us. Q: Is there a Buddhist perspective of 2012? A: You can see some perspectives in the previous article. Q: How about a brief summary? A: A key excerpt says, ‘Though there is no Buddhist prophecy in the sutras of any special upcoming event in 2012, I can no longer hide a universally true prophecy. Here is it… Due to impending death and the uncertainty of when it arrives, we might die any time before or after 2012. We might even pass away today, for life is uncertain, 144
while death is certain. Whether you believe something ill will happen in 2012 or not, it always makes sense to live life fully with the Dharma – NOW. Since Buddhists believe in the phenomenon of rebirth, of both sentient lives and entire world systems, the physical “end of the world” is to us, somewhat overhyped, while it is end of our spiritual life that is the most truly terrifying. As the Buddha exhorted in his last words, “Subject to change are all conditioned things. Strive on with diligence!”’ Q: Is there some direct advice by the Buddha? A: Here is some timeless advice from the Buddha from Section 38 of ‘The Sutra of 42 Sections’: ‘The Buddha asked a Sramana [monastic], “How long is the human life span?” He replied, “A few days.” The Buddha said, “You have not yet understood the way [to enlightenment].” He asked another Sramana, “How long is the human life span?” The reply was, “The space of a meal.” The Buddha said, “You have not yet understood the way.” He asked another Sramana, “How long is the human life span?” He replied, “The length of a single breath.” The Buddha said, “Excellent. You have understood the way.”’ Q: What does that mean? A: What it means is that life is only as long as each breath, that the next breath might not come after this very breath. This is the truest ‘prophecy’, because life is indeed uncertain from moment to moment. The exact doomsday, or rather, day of death for every person is different, unless some happen to perish together.
On the idea that the world will not end in 2012, but that there will be major disasters with some survivors, it is worth noting that many die in disasters every year. For each individual who perishes or suffers as a result, it is already a doomsday or disaster day. We are thus already TDE6
survivors of sorts. Although these disasters were not ‘the end of the world’ for us, the possibility of facing a deadly disaster is already present in every moment for everyone. There is no way to say for sure who will die at which moment. Being attached to the idea that one will die or suffer only in 2012 can thus lead to dangerous spiritual complacency. As such, we should live each moment best we can, with as much mindful compassion and wisdom as possible. That there are seemingly more deadly disasters recently is a good reminder to do so as they can be seen as a reflection of our great collective negative karma. Q: Could 2012 warnings be skilful means? A: Some think that propagating 2012 ideas might be a skilful means to urge everyone to buck up our spiritual practice. However, there are clearly much more skilful means to do so, such as using the Buddha’s teaching on the immediacy of living well now, as above. Also, the spread of unfounded rumours will be proven unskilful in the long run when spiritual trust is lost, when the prophesied fail to come true. May fellow Buddhists and Dharma teachers be mindful of not causing the Dharma they share and themselves to lose credibility by sharing any unskilful ideas. Q: What if I still worry about dying suddenly some day, be it in 2012 or otherwise? A: In the Buddhist perspective, the safest and best place to be reborn is Amituofo’s (Amitabha Buddha’s) Pure Land, as praised by all Buddhas in the Amitabha Sutra, where there is no suffering or natural disasters, where there is only conducive spiritual bliss. With the company of the enlightened there, it is the ideal school for training to be enlightened, so as to better guide others to enlightenment. You can learn more about the Pure Land teachings, to know how to practise to be born there 146
through mindfulness of Amituofo and other related practices. For good Pure Land practitioners, as they are aware that death can occur at any time, they calmly and diligently practise mindfulness of Amituofo as much as they can in everyday life, so as to be readily mindful of Amituofo to reach his Pure Land when it is time to depart – whether the moment comes suddenly or not. Whether there is a doomsday prophecy or not should not matter. Q: Do you have any ‘final’ advice? A: As Stonepeace put it,
‘Because everything* changes from moment to moment, we should treasure everything in this moment. Because everything changes from moment to moment, we should not be attached to anything in this moment.’
[*Everything that is worldly, unlike spiritual attainments.]
This article does not claim that anyone or everyone will be alright in any particular year or on any day. What it says is that based on scientific and Buddhist perspectives, 2012 is not particularly special. Despite this, life is already and always unpredictable from moment to moment in every year – which is why we should live each moment well. No one can go wrong with this advice, while clinging only to a particular year or day being a potential doomsday or a disaster day for one or many is to that extent unhealthy. (Written in 2011) [A shorter version of this article was published on 1 January 2012 at BuddhistChannel.tv as a new year’s day special feature, in issue 478 (April-June 2012) of Singapore Buddhist Federation’s ‘Nanyang Buddhist’ magazine and January 2012’s issue of Malaysia’s ‘Eastern Horizon’ magazine.] TDE6
Good teachers do not ignore faults of their students. They correct them responsibly. If otherwise, of what good are these teachers to their students? Good students do not rationalise faults of their teachers. They correct them respectfully. If otherwise, of what good are these students to their teachers? â€“ Stonepeace
For article 49 to 52, please get the book at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store
With this moment awake, further awake to this moment. â€“ Stonepeace
Glossary Bodhisattva : One who aspires for Buddhahood, while guiding all sentient beings to the same goal. Buddha : An aspect of the Triple Gem – the Awakened or Fully Enlightened One. A Buddha is one who has attained liberation from all suffering, attaining True Happiness, perfect Compassion and Wisdom, with all other virtues, for the sake of helping all sentient beings. ‘The Buddha’ refers to the historical Sakyamuni or Gautama Buddha, who is the founder of Buddhism in our world. Buddha-nature : The potential in all of us to become a Buddha – the ‘Buddha’ within us. Compassion : The quality that makes us aspire to help others be free from suffering or unhappiness. Defilements : See Three Poisons. Delusion : See Ignorance. Dharma (Dhamma) : An aspect of the Triple Gem – the teachings of the Buddha or the general teachings of Buddhism; the Truth; the path to the Truth. Dukkha : Mental and physical dissatisfactoriness or suffering in life and death. Emptiness : The truth that all mind and matter are constantly changing and interdependently arisen – thus being empty of any fixed unchanging self. Enlightenment : Realisation of the reality of all things as they truly are; Nirvana. True Happiness is a result. TDE6
Four Noble Truths : The core teachings of the Buddha, which summarise all his teachings – 1. The Truth of life being prevalent with dissatisfactions 2. The Truth of the causes of dissatisfactions being Greed, Hatred and Ignorance 3. The Truth of the end of dissatisfactions being Nirvana 4. The Truth of the path to Nirvana being the Noble Eightfold Path Greed : Attachment; wanting; craving. Hatred : Aversion; not-wanting; anger. Hell : The mind state of fear, hatred, guilt and pain. Also refers to the realm one might be reborn in due to these negative mind states. Ignorance : The quality of lacking Wisdom; Delusion Karma : The moral law of cause and effect – what we experience is the result of what we have intentionally done in terms of thought, word and deed, and what we do will result in what we will experience. Mantra : Sacred strings of syllables for invoking pure qualities. Mara : The personification of evil – the Three Poisons. Middle Path (Way) : The balanced way of being beyond all extremes of attitude and action. An example is moderate living, which avoids self-mortification and self-indulgence. Mindfulness : An aspect of the Noble Eightfold Path – the quality that enables us to remember, and keep our awareness 166
and attention on what is beneficial to one and all in terms of thought, word and deed in the here and now. Nirvana : The attainment of True Happiness, of release from suffering and Rebirth; Enlightenment; liberation. Noble Eightfold Path : The fourth of the Four Noble Truths, the path to Enlightenment and True Happiness, which includes â€“ 1. Right Understanding 2. Right Thought 3. Right Speech 4. Right Action 5. Right Livelihood 6. Right Effort 7. Right Mindfulness 8. Right Concentration Non-Self : See Selflessness. Precepts : Guidelines of moral conduct. Pure Land : A world without defilement created out of perfect Compassion and Wisdom by a Buddha for all beings to seek birth in to perfect learning and practice of the Dharma â€“ so as to help more beings attain Enlightenment. The best known Pure Land is Sukhavati (Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss) created by Amitabha Buddha (Amituofo). Reality : See Truth. Rebirth : The continual cycle of birth and death; Samsara. Renunciation : Letting go of the Three Poisons.
Repentance : The recognition of transgressions and the resolution to rectify and never repeat them. Samsara : The world of Rebirth and suffering. Sangha : An aspect of the Triple Gem as the Arya (Noble) Sangha – the holy community of realised monastics and laity. (Also refers to ordained Buddhist monks and nuns generally.) Selflessness : (Non-self or Anatta) The Truth that there is no fixed self within our constantly changing body and mind. Sutra(s)/Sutta(s) : The recorded verbal scriptural teachings or discourses of the Buddha. Three Poisons : The roots of evil and suffering – Greed, Hatred and Ignorance (Attachment, Aversion and Delusion). Triple Gem : The Buddha, the Dharma and the (Arya) Sangha collectively – the subjects of the Threefold Refuge. Truth : The exact way things are in their true nature. Wisdom : The quality of knowing all things as according to the Truth. Zen : A Mahayana tradition of Buddhism.
Other Books Inspirational Sayings The Stonepeace Book Volume 1 : One Hundred Illuminating Inspirational Sayings
Inspirational Sayings The Stonepeace Book Volume 2 : One Hundred Enlightening Inspirational Sayings
Guanshiyin Bodhisattva’s Universal Door / Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra (Bilingual with Hanyu Pinyin)
Sutra The Amitabha Sutra Bilingual with Hanyu Pinyin
Graphic Novel The Amazing & Amusing Adventures of Sam & Sara : The Zen Of All Kinds Of Stuff
For more information about TDE’s books, please visit TheDailyEnlightenment.com/store TDE6
About TDE’s Editor Shen Shi’an 沈时安 An independent Buddhist teacher, writer, poet, translator and editor, he was one of the founding members of the Dharma Propagation Division of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery (Bright Hill Temple in Singapore) in 1997. Holding an MA in Buddhist Studies, which covered the major Buddhist traditions, he served as a Dharma Trainer and Project Coordinator in its Community Development & Training Department until 2011, focusing on Buddhist research, writing, teaching and answering of media queries. He was the founder of the temple’s Youth Mission (now ‘KMS Youth’), a book purchaser for its Awareness Place project, and the Chief Editor of the Web (and Library) Department, which co-supported Buddhanet.net, a popular Buddhist education website. He is the founder and editor of TheDailyEnlightenment.com since 1997, one of the world’s largest independent Buddhist inspirational e-newsletters with over 29,900 members, the editor of ‘Be a Lamp Upon Yourself’, ‘The Stonepeace Book (Volume 1-2)’, ‘Awaken: Gateway to Buddhism (CD-ROM)’ and the writer-editor of ‘The Daily Enlightenment: Reflections for Practising Buddhists (Book 1-6)’ and ‘The Amazing & Amusing Adventures of Sam & Sara: The Zen of All Kinds of Stuff!’ He also translates sutras and commentaries, and contributes occasionally to magazines such as ‘Nanyang Buddhist’, ‘Awaken’ (for which he was a Contributing Editor), ‘For You (Information)’, and ‘Eastern Horizon’. He served with the film selection team of a Buddhist film festival, writes movie reviews for BuddhistChannel.tv, the world’s leading Buddhist news 170
network, and popularised Dharma@Cinema, an innovative way of sharing the Dharma through detailed reviews and discussions of both popular and offbeat films. Specialising in the Pure Land teachings, he has taught the subject at Singapore Buddhist Federation, Kong Meng San, Pu Ji Si Buddhist Research Centre and Poh Ming Tse, while leading an ongoing weekly Pureland Practice Fellowship. He is also frequently invited to conduct Dharma discussions for youths of tertiary institutionsâ€™ Buddhist societies (NUSBS, NTUBS, SIMBB, NYPBS, NPBS) on various subjects, and to introduce Buddhist life perspectives at Secondary Schools (St. Patrickâ€™s School, Manjusri School), Junior Colleges (Catholic Junior College) and International Schools (UWCSEA, SJII). He was also invited to share on Buddhism by Dharma Drum Mountain (Singapore), Fo Guang Shan (Singapore), Tai Pei Buddhist Centre, Singapore Buddhist Mission Youth, Singapore Buddhist Youth Mission, Wat Ananda Youth, Buddha of Medicine Welfare Society, The Buddhist Union, Buddhist Fellowship (Singapore) and Kampung Senang. He has also been invited to Indonesia and Malaysia to teach. He was a committee member of the Inter-Religious Organisation, through which he served in interfaith harmony projects by writing and giving of public talks. He has represented Buddhist points of view at governmental events conducted by NACLI, NHB, NHG, SAF, SPF, MHA, ACM, SPM, STB, OnePeople.sg, IRCC and MCYS. He also co-runs Moonpointer.com, a community blog that promotes creative sharing of Buddhism via thousands of articles. He can be reached at email@example.com for invitations to share the Dharma. TDE6
About The Daily Enlightenment The Daily Enlightenment (TDE) is an independent free Buddhist newsletter that serves more than 29,900 members worldwide. It aims to inspire readers to live mindfully and meaningfully, in the hope that they seek spiritual enlightenment on a daily basis. Members receive weekly e-newsletters with news of the Buddhist community, quotes, reflections, excerpts and recommended web links. All are welcomed to contribute. Each year, TDE publishes a new ‘The Daily Enlightenment’ book with a year’s worth of 52 reflections, as featured in the newsletter – one for each week. In the meantime, you can visit the website and subscribe for new articles at TheDailyEnlightenment.com. Join us now. Be a TDE member, who not only reads, but writes to share the Dharma too! (More interesting publications beyond the annuals are coming soon.)
(About TDE’s Logo: Like a Dharma wheel with radiating rays of the sun, the spokes of light represent the Noble Eightfold Path. Just as the sun shines each day, TDE hopes to offer ‘daily enlightenment’ to dispel the darkness of delusion.)
Why Support TDE? As the Buddha taught, ‘The gift of truth excels all other gifts.’ You can share the gift of truth via secure online sponsorship at TheDailyEnlightenment.com/sponsor or by simply sharing and recommending this book. For other means (cash, cheque, bank transfer) to contribute, or any enquiries and comments, please feel free to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the most widely read Buddhist inspirational newsletters in the world since 1997, TDE is an independent and free service 172
for more than 29,900 members worldwide. Your contributions for this continual Dharma-sharing project will relieve costs of: • • • • • • • • • • •
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Meritorious Virtues Of Printing Sutras 1. Of various past created transgressions, light ones will immediately be eradicated, and heavy ones will be lightened. 2. Often receive support and protection from auspicious gods, and not receive harm from all epidemics, disasters of water and fire, robbers, arms [fights and wars] and imprisonment. 3. All with grudges from past lives will receive benefits of the Dharma, and attain liberation, forever avoiding suffering from seeking of revenge. 4. Yaksas and evil ghosts will be unable to invade, and poisonous snakes, tigers and wolves will be unable to harm. 5. Oneâ€™s mind will attain comfort, with days without danger and nights without nightmares. Oneâ€™s countenance will be radiant, with abundant bodily strength and auspicious undertakings. 6. Sincerely practising and offering the Dharma, although without wishes and requests, clothing and food will naturally be abundant. Oneâ€™s family will be harmonious, with blessings and prosperity lasting for a long time. 7. Practising what one preaches, there will be rejoice from humans and gods. No matter where one goes, there will often be reverence by the masses with overflowing sincerity. 8. Those foolish will transform to be wise. Those ill will gain health. Those beset with difficulties will gain progress. Those who do not wish to be female will swiftly transform to be male on the day retribution ends. 174
9. One will forever leave the evil paths, receive birth in good paths with proper appearance, surpassing talents, blessings and prosperity. 10. One will be able to help all sentient beings plant good roots, with sentient beingsâ€™ minds as great fields of merit, and attain immeasurable unsurpassable fruits. Where born, one will often attain sight of Buddhas and hear the Dharma until the Three Wisdoms [Learning, Contemplation and Cultivation] grow greatly, and the six supernormal powers are personally realised, swiftly attaining Buddhahood.
First Row: • Introduction to Pure Land Buddhism: Understanding Amituofo via the Amitabha Sutra • Pure Land Perspectives: The Zen of Pure Land • The 48 Vows of Amituofo • The Faith Factor • The Bodhicitta Factor Second Row: • The Universal Door of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva • The Heart of the Heart Sutra • 108 Zen Stories: Illustrated & Demystified • The Magic of Zen • The Path of Paths: Walking the Noble Eightfold Path Third Row: • Project Rebirth: Rediscover, Reflect & Recharge • Project Patience: How to ‘Fight’ The Fire Of Anger • Project Transformation: The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation • Dharma@Cinema: Enlightenment Thru Entertainment • Dharma@Radio: Enlightenment Thru Entertainment Last Row: • Dharma@Camera: Visions Thru The Objective Lens
For more on the editor’s courses and dates, please visit TheDailyEnlightenment.com/courses Your interactive teaching methods and humour make the sessions fun and alive (as I used to think Buddhism as being very ‘boring’ and ‘dry’). Now Buddhism has a new meaning in my life. I really enjoyed Project Rebirth and hope it will continue to pave the way for many others. – Course Participant 176
The Buddhaâ€™s teachings offer the keys to True Happiness that all yearn for. May we learn to use them to unlock the chains that bind us from freedom. May we share them to guide more to liberation too. Amituofo
Published on May 20, 2013
Commemorating TDE's 16th anniversary is this sixth volume, of a year's worth of 52 reflections, as featured in the newsletter one for each...