Some people worry, “When I get old, will I starve or freeze to death?” These are useless thoughts. A true disciple of the Buddha wouldn’t care even if he did starve or freeze to death; he would consider giving up his life for Buddhism to be the greatest glory.
In his past lives Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated blessings and wisdom for three asamkhyeyas of eons, and planted the causes for his special hallmarks and characteristics for a hundred eons. In all the worlds throughout the great trichiliocosm, there isn’t a place as tiny as a mote of dust where the Buddha has not given up his life. We should take a look at ourselves: What have we given up? We aren’t even willing to part with external things. We’re always letting our selfishness take over and cannot part with this or renounce that, let alone give up our lives.
Everyone should realize that we continue to revolve endlessly on the wheel of birth and death precisely because we can’t bear to give and have no sympathy or pity. We spend every day thinking about what we’ll do when we get old, but we never think about what’s going to happen after we die. We are like the man from the state of Qi, who worried all day long and never had a smile on his face. Someone asked him,
“Why are you so worried?” He said, “What would happen if the sky fell down? Wouldn’t we be crushed to death?” That’s how immature he was!
Cultivators should live every day meaningfully. We shouldn’t be overwhelmed by confused thoughts. If we spend our days indulging in deluded thoughts, aren’t we just being fools? By thinking about things that could never be or that there’s no need to think about, we’re just making it hard on ourselves and looking for misery.
Now we want to turn away from delusion and return to enlightenment, put down the false and pick up the real. I often say to you,
If you cannot renounce what is false, you cannot accomplish what is true.
If you don’t give up death, you cannot return to life.
All worldly dharmas are relative. If the side of karmic obstacles is heavy, the side of purity will be light; if the side of purity is heavy, then the side of karmic obstacles will be light. It all depends on how you want to do it. The decision is yours; other people cannot interfere with it.
Those who have left the home life should be lofty and noble in character. We should be outstanding people. We should not be left-home people who go along with vulgar trends and just eat our fill and wait to die, causing Buddhism to lose its vitality and spirit.