It is extremely rare for sentient beings to be reborn as human beings. Obtaining this uncommon human body is very precious and uneasy. We should feel joyful to acquire such a rare human body with eighteen kinds of perfection. It’s also very rare to be reborn in an era with Buddha Dharma. In addition to obtaining a rare human body and being reborn in a time period with Buddhism, it’s extremely uncommon to follow an authentic guru to learn Buddha Dharma. We should cherish such merits accumulated in past lifetimes and diligently learn Buddha Dharma during this lifetime.
In the world the state of pureness and state of impureness exist. The state of pureness refers to that of nirvana the Buddha has entered. And the state of impureness means that of being reincarnated in the six realms. Actually each of us possesses the pure nature devoid of filth which is same as the Buddha’s, without difference. The same mind nature, namely Buddha nature, or called the womb of the tathāgatagarbha, are possessed by all of us. The differences between the sentient beings and the Buddha lie in that ignorance arising in the beings and the beings have self-attachment, thereby they fall into the suffering of cyclic reincarnation.
With one foundation, two paths, and three fruits, Garchen Rinpoche bestowed the enlightenments on the auspicious true realm of Buddhism: one foundation refers to that the essence of sentient beings inherently is same as Buddha’s, the same mind nature they possess on same basic; Two paths refer to that of peace and of suffering in the world; Suffering and sorrows come from sentient beings having attachments. Due to being clinging, six kinds of afflictions generate and sentient beings are thereby reincarnated in the suffering six realms. Peace and happiness are the brought about with the virtuous effects as the results of the heart of benefiting others as well as practices of virtuous deeds. Develop the heart of mercy, compassion, and Bodhicitta with the heart of benefiting others. Bodhicitta is like a wish-granting jewel that brings the sentient beings peace and happiness. When you possess compassion and Bodhicitta, you obtain the peace and happiness of such as wealth and longevity in this temporary lifetime. And, in eternity, you continue to gain the precious human body. With that you will be reborn in the higher realms or even in the Pure Land where to attain Buddhahood and obtain the ultimate truth of eternal peace and bliss. However, both the sentient beings who are reincarnated in the cyclic existence and those who have entered nirvana inherently possess the same foundation, the same mind nature. Hence, reincarnations can be treated the same as nirvana.
Due to the fact that the law of cause and effect is never off, one who hurts others by evildoings will get hurt oneself as well, which is just the evil effect; On the contrary, one who, possessing compassion, helps others with his actions, speeches, and mind will reap the virtuous fruits as well. Some children are born in peace, happiness, and easy to look after, while some children are born with a tendency to be nervous and unhealthy, or even die before they are born. These are all associated with their different causes and effects, as well as their karma.
Pervading means that Buddha’s wisdom, different from the worldly wisdom, perfectly fill out the space. Having realized and been aware of all things in the universe, the Buddha is able to help people obtain liberation from suffering of reincarnation and gain happiness. We human beings have many torments and vexations. Actually not only human but all begins, no matter a giant animal or a tiny insect, have sufferings and pains. Now we are not able to release even a tiny bug’s pain. Only Buddha is able to help us eliminate our sufferings and pains thoroughly, and further to benefit other people.
The difference between Buddhism and other religions lies in that the Buddhist teachings are means to benefit the sentient beings. The Buddha teaches the worldly people how to eliminate attachment and step onto the path to liberation from their suffering. The Buddha did not attain Buddhahood all of a sudden. Instead, the Buddha had learned from the wisdom of the previous Buddhas and had practiced for three Asamkhyeyakalpas with 500 lifetimes in pure bodies and 500 lifetimes in impure bodies so as to cultivate compassion and Bodhichitta for attaining Buddhahood. Buddha Sakyamuni is our spiritual teacher, who advises and teaches the worldly people with 84,000 practice means to liberate them from suffering.
The vast Buddhist teachings are like the many branches and leaves of a tree in the summertime. As the number of the Buddhist teachings is extremely large, some people would wonder whether it is very difficult to learn all the Buddhist teachings in one’s lifetime since there are so many practice means. How can we learn and practice the teachings then? However, even with such a great number of practice means, all of them are based on an altruistic mind—mercy, compassion, and Bodhichitta. No matter how vast or thick the branches and leaves are, clearly the tree has one trunk only, with its root growing underneath. The root needs water to grow strong and the root of the Buddhist teachings is mercy, compassion, and Bodhichitta.
However, it doesn’t mean that the sentient beings can attain Buddhahood one day even without practice since they, too, have tathāgatagarbha just like the Buddhas. We all have the nature for attaining Buddhahood. Nevertheless, only through seeking refuge can one learn, accept, and cultivate the Buddhist teachings continuously so as to uncover the nature. Take a piece of hard ice, for example, if it is placed in a freezing cold place, it won’t melt even after millions of years. Only when the ice is placed in the sun and exposed to the sunlight can it possibly melt.
With the knowledge of the rarity of a perfect human body and the benefits of the Buddhist teachings, the most important thing for one to do is to seek refuge. One should depend upon the virtuous friend, your guru, and seek refuge in the Three Jewels—Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. As a matter of fact, the virtuous friend, your guru, is the Sangha Jewel, his words are the Dharma Jewel, and his thoughts are the Buddha Jewel. Since your guru practices and observes precepts, he himself is a sangha. With his genuine experience in the Buddhist teachings, your guru’s advice is the Dharma Jewel. As your guru has a heart filled with mercy, compassion, and Bodhichitta, just like those of the Buddhas, and helps liberate the sentient beings from suffering with such an altruistic mind, the thoughts of your guru are the Buddha Jewel. The Buddhist disciples can be categorized into three types—outer, inner, and secret. Whoever has sought refuge is called an outer disciple. Those who generate mercy and compassion after they seek refuge are called the inner disciples. Those who have the Buddha-nature and depend upon their guru to learn and practice Buddhism so as to attain Buddhahood are called the secret disciples.
The gurus who can sit on the Dharma Thrones are the practitioners who have already broken off from attachments and attained endurance. A guru’s mind is completely for benefiting others and not for himself. Every thought from an ordinary person’s mind is all for his own benefit; however, a guru is all for sentient beings’ interests, has practiced endurance, and can tolerate everything done by sentient beings from their ignorance and blindness without any hatred.
After taking refuge, a disciple should learn, accept, and hold and protect precepts. And among the levels of behavior, speech, and mind, the most important is holding the precepts in the mind. After taking refuge, a disciple relies on the guru, should frequently contemplate that the guru uses the merciful and compassionate mind, which is void of nature, to benefit sentient beings, and should practice Guru Yoga for learning the guru’s dual mind of compassion and void of nature such that the disciple’s mind can be like the guru’s mind of benefiting sentient beings and attains Buddha’s treasure. A person who has taken refuge under the Three Jewels can attain the three treasures of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha himself. However, if one does not hold the precepts after taking refuge, one will not attain the true joyful state of Buddhahood.
The founder Jigten Sumgon had once said, “Hope that all the sentient beings’ causes, conditions, and karma will all become mature in this life.” All Buddhas attained Buddhahood from being in the human realm. Buddhist sutras have stated that one should pray that in future lives one can obtain a human body and practice Buddha dharma. Although every child is all raised by its parents, some children can take refuge under and have contact with Buddha dharma even before they are born while some cannot; this is related to their virtues, merits, causes, and conditions.
Therefore, we should grasp this life, cherish the causes and conditions of practicing Buddha dharma which let us take refuge under our guru, and fully achieve everything in the sentences of “Stop all evildoings; conduct all virtuous deeds; purify my mind by myself; the above are all Buddha’s teachings.” Suffering is originated from persistence and attachment. When one wants to stop all evildoings, one has to eliminate persistence and attachment; doing so, one will be away from sufferings naturally. Wellbeing is originated from the virtuous thought of benefiting others. When one wants to conduct all virtuous deeds, one should practice a merciful and compassionate mind and Bodhicitta; doing virtuous deeds to benefit others, one will attain peace and happiness naturally. If one can purify one’s own mind, practice compassion, mercy, and the wisdom of void of nature, and do Bodhicitta to benefit sentient beings, one should be able to attain Buddhahood in the future. This is the true meanings of Buddha dharma taught by the Buddha to the world.
Buddha’s mind is like a blooming flower while an ordinary person’s mind is like a flower seed; although they look different, a flower seed can surely produce the same flower in the future. Do not think that you do not have the Buddha nature or the womb of Tathagata; each person has it. It is stated in the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, “All perfect Buddhas, source of benefit and happiness, were born from accomplishing the true Dharma; and as that depends on knowing the Dharma practices, the Bodhisattvas’ practices will be described here.” Hope that everyone can follow and rely on the guru and truly practice Buddha dharma. Different sects of Buddhism are all practicing Buddha dharma and should not criticize each other; otherwise, it is not practicing Buddha dharma, but practicing greed, hatred, and ignorance. Those who are not willing to give alms and make offerings will fall into the hungry ghost realm. Those who have heavy hatred will fall into the hell realm.