• Faith, my friends, is a gateway to the light of Dharma, for with it one’s mind is
• Inspiration is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the mind is divested
• Supreme joy is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the body becomes
• Contentment is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the mind becomes
• Physical restraint is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the three
physical faults are purified.
• Verbal restraint is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it the four verbal
faults are relinquished.
• Mental restraint is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for with it covetousness,
malice, and misguided views are abandoned. [F.20.a]
• Recollection of the Buddha is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to
the pure perception of the Buddha.
• Recollection of the Dharma is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to
the pure teaching of the Dharma.
• Recollection of the Saṅgha is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it stops
one from transgressing the rules.
• Recollection of giving is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads one to
let go of all material things.
• Recollection of discipline is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to
the fulfillment of aspirations.
• Recollection of the divine is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to a
• Love is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it surpasses all things created by
merit based on material things.
• Compassion is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads one to take up
• Joy is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it clears away all displeasure.
• Equanimity is a gateway to the light of the Dharma, for it leads to contempt for
Venerable Master Hua's Talks on Dharma, Vol. 8, pp. 67-73
Should One Practice Filiality?
by the Venerable Master Hsüan Hua
If cultivators can let go of their parents and immerse themselves in cultivation, they are on the right track. But if one neither cultivates nor is filial to one's parents, one is on the wrong path.
Today, let's investigate the question: should one be filial to one's parents, and why? There are two sides to this question.
From the viewpoint of world‑transcending Dharma, we shouldn't be filial to our parents. I believe that anyone listening to this is shocked, because this idea is unheard of. You know that one should be filial to one's parents; you have never heard of a view stating that one shouldn't practice filiality. That's why you are surprised. Yet, if we speak according to true principle, this view is correct. But from the worldly point of view, of course we should be filial to our parents. The worldly point of view says that just as a tree has its roots and a stream has its source, we also have our roots and we should pay attention to them. We should always carefully attend to the funeral rites of our parents and to the worship of our ancestors. We should be filial towards our parents, and respectful towards our teachers and elders. All this is a matter of course.
However, according to world‑transcending Dharma, if we cultivate diligently, work hard at learning, and bring forth a great Bodhi mind, this is great filiality, not small filiality. How is that? When you have accomplishment in cultivation, you can rescue your parents from your past seven lives and help them to be reborn in the heavens. It is said, "When one child becomes a Buddha, Ancestors of the past nine lives Ascend to the heavens." This is great filiality.
There are four types of filiality: great, small, distant, and close. Great filiality means repaying the kindness of one's parents, teachers, and elders from all lives. Small filiality is filiality towards one's parents of this present life, making them happy, providing food and shelter for them, and giving them peace of mind. It means respecting one's parents and providing for them. Distant filiality refers to respecting and being filial to the ancient sages and worthy ones, taking them as models and emulating their words and conduct . Close filiality is, in addition to being filial to one's own parents, also being filial to other people's parents. It is to "take care of your own elders and extend the same care to others." This is how we should think and behave.
True world‑transcending Dharma surpasses filiality. That's why I say, "Don't get attached to filiality." If you're attached to filiality, you are still caught up in love and emotion. You're always thinking of your parents. How can you cultivate this way? Therefore, according to true principle one should not be filial to one's parents. Some of you may understand the principle I'm talking about, and others may not. So we need to investigate further.
At present, people's minds are getting worse day by day, and their behavior is getting daily more wicked. It is said, "People's minds are no longer like the minds of the ancients." People ought to be filial to their parents but they aren't. They think filiality is an outdated idea, and they think raising children is the parents' obligation. So then, if a person doesn't practice filiality, does that mean they are cultivating? Of course not. If a person could truly cultivate, even if he didn't provide for his parents, he would still be considered filial. This is great filial piety, helping one's parents be reborn in the heavens. If a person neither practices filiality nor cultivates, but only creates all kinds of evil karma, then he will definitely fall into the three evil paths. There is no question about it.
You can see present‑day young men and women learning despicable behavior. If it's not killing and arson, then it's robbery and promiscuity. They do every evil thing there is to do, and they call their lack of restraint, "freedom." They think that not being filial to one's parents means one should learn to be bad. This kind of thinking is absolutely wrong. Even though we cannot generalize, many people have this fault.
A cultivator, although he can't be filial to his parents, can save his parents from the sea of suffering and help them to ascend to the heavens. However, some people neither practice filiality nor do they cultivate. They only commit immoral acts, which ruin families and disrupt society, causing there to be no peace in the nation. Such behavior is a losing business: the more you lose, the less capital you have left, and your future is doomed. People who act this stupidly are inexcusable offenders.
On the other hand, if one is like the cultivator mentioned above and can let go of one's parents and immerse oneself in cultivation, then one is on the right track. But if one neither cultivates nor is filial to one's parents, one is on the wrong path. You should be clear about this. It is said,
"Lust is the worst of all evils. Filiality is the foremost of all virtues."
A talk given on July 29,1983, at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
If a person treats his father and mother with filial respect
And, with utmost sincerity, exhaustively makes offerings to them
This serves as a gateway into reverence for the teachings
And brings about inclusion in the superior clan of the purity heavens.
One’s reputation spreads far and wide
And, when one relinquishes this body, he is born in the heavens.
taking what is not given
idle gossip (or worthless chatter)
ill will (or wishing harm on others)
Effects Similar to the Cause
The Precious Garland says:
By taking life, we will be short-lived.
Violence will bring us lots of harm.
Through stealing, we will lack possessions.
Through adultery, we will face rivals.
Through speaking falsely, we’ll face slander.
Divisive talk will separate us from our friends.
Harsh speech will mean hearing unpleasant words.
Gossip will cause our speech to lack nobility.
Covetousness will destroy our hopes.
Malice will bring us many fears.
And wrong view will bring inferior beliefs.
JKhedrup: My opinion is that unfortunately ethics does not get enough emphasis especially in the practice of Western Buddhism. I guess that is because restraining from negative actions is not as sexy a prospect as some of the other practices of Buddhism. But in terms of the presentation of the three higher trainings ethics come first, and are the basis for developing concentration and wisdom. If we are not willing to sacrifice some of our bad habits, how can we reasonably expect to make any type of progress in our spiritual development?
(4) The Triumphant has proclaimed six (objects)
for continual mindfulness:
The Buddhas, the Dharma, the Sangha,
Generous giving, ethical discipline, and the gods.
Be continually mindful of the mass of good qualities of these.
(5) Always entrust yourself, with body, speech, and mind,
To the ten pathways of constructive karma;
Turn away from intoxicants, and likewise
Delight as well in livelihoods that are constructive.
(6) Having realized that possessions are transient
and lack any essence,
Be generous, in a proper manner, toward
Monks, brahmins, the poor, and your kin;
For the hereafter, there's no better friend besides generosity.
(7) You must entrust yourself to ethical disciplines
that are not compromised,
Not debased, not corrupted, and not transferred.
It's been said that ethical discipline is the foundation
for all good qualities,
As is the earth for everything moving or unmoving.
(8) Generosity, discipline, patience, perseverance, mental stability,
And likewise discriminating awareness
are the immeasurable far-reaching attitudes.
Expand them and make yourself into a Powerful Lord
of the Triumphant
Who has reached the far shore of the ocean of compulsive existence.
(9) Any family in which the father and mother are honored
Will be together with Brahma and together with teachers;
They'll become renowned for honoring them
And afterwards, as well, will attain rebirths of higher status.
(10) When one gives up causing harm, thieving, sexual activity, lying,
Alcohol, and attachment to eating when it's not time,
Delight in high beds and seats,
Songs, dance, and all sorts of jewelry,
(11) And takes on these eight branches that emulate
The ethical discipline of liberated arhats,
(These) one-day precepts will bestow on men and on women
An attractive body of a desire-realm god.
(12) View as enemies stinginess, guile, pretense,
Attachment, lethargy, false pride,
Lust, hatred, and conceit over greatness of caste,
Physique, education, youth, or power.
Will wrote:JKhedrup: My opinion is that unfortunately ethics does not get enough emphasis especially in the practice of Western Buddhism....But in terms of the presentation of the three higher trainings ethics come first, and are the basis for developing concentration and wisdom. If we are not willing to sacrifice some of our bad habits, how can we reasonably expect to make any type of progress in our spiritual development?
Not just an opinion, but a sorry fact, which is why a forum on Dharma ethics may help.
dude, you are also right on the point!
Even if you can't abandon all ten unvirtuous actions,
At least don't slaughter animals for food, Dzongka folk.
Even if you don't know how to meditate on wisdom and emptiness,
At least remain aware of the law of cause and effect, Dzongka folk.
Will wrote:Bhikkhu Bodhi gives us an excellent article on the roots of virtue needed for a happy & successful Dharma practice:
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... el259.html
The course of spiritual training taught by the Buddha is a double process of self-transformation
and self-transcendence issuing in complete emancipation from suffering. The process of self-transformation
involves the elimination of unwholesome mental dispositions and their
replacement by pure dispositions conducing to the benefit of oneself and others; the process of
self-transcendence focuses on the abandoning of egocentric notions by seeing with direct insight
the essenceless nature of the bodily and mental processes we normally take to be “I” and
“mine.” When this double process is brought to its culmination, suffering is extinguished, for
with the awakening of wisdom the basic root of suffering—craving backed by blinding
ignorance—falls away never to rise again.
Because the unwholesome tendencies and selfish clinging spring from seeds buried deep in
the bottom-most strata of the mind, to eradicate these sources of affliction and nurture the
growth of the liberating vision of reality the Buddha presents his teaching in the form of a
gradual training. Buddhist discipline involves gradual practice and gradual attainment. It does
not burst into completeness at a stroke, but like a tree or any other living organism, it unfolds
organically, as a sequence of stages in which each stage rests upon its predecessor as its
indispensable foundation and gives rise to its successor as its natural consequence. The
principal stages of this gradual training are three: the training in sīla or virtue, the training in
samādhi or concentration, and the training in paññā or wisdom. If we follow through the
comparison of the Buddhist discipline to a tree, faith (saddha) would be the seed, for it is faith
that provides the initial impulse through which the training is taken up, and faith again that
nourishes the training through every phase of its development. Virtue would be the roots, for it
is virtue that gives grounding to our spiritual endeavours just as the roots give grounding to a
tree. Concentration would be the trunk, the symbol of strength, non-vacillation, and stability.
And wisdom would be the branches, which yield the flowers of enlightenment and the fruits of
The vigour of the spiritual life, like the vigour of a tree, depends upon healthy roots. Just as a
tree with weak and shallow roots cannot flourish but will grow up stunted, withered and
barren, so a spiritual life devoid of strong roots will also have a stunted growth incapable of
bearing fruit. To attempt to scale the higher stages of the path it is essential at the outset to
nourish the proper roots of the path; otherwise the result will be frustration, disillusionment,
and perhaps even danger. The roots of the path are the constituents of sīla, the factors of moral
virtue. These are the basis for meditation, the ground for all wisdom and higher achievement.
When he gives supremely fine foods to beings, his mind is pure, he is free of any covetousness, free of any attachment, and free of any sort of miserly regretfulness as he completely fulfills the practice of giving, praying that all beings will succeed in acquiring the food of wisdom and in developing minds that are unimpeded.
What is ethics for the bodhisattvas? It has nine aspects: the essence of ethics, complete ethics, difficult ethics, universal gateway ethics, the ethics of a holy person, ethics as all modes, ethics as distress and wishing, ethics as well-being here and there, and purified ethics.
What is the essence of ethics ? Briefly, to possess four qualities constitutes the essence of the ethics of the bodhisattva. What are the four? To correctly receive it from someone else, to have a quite purified intention, to make correction after failure, and to avoid failure by generating respect and remaining mindful of that.
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