We Should Study with A Calm
and Peaceful Mind
Q: I am a sophomore at UC Berkeley. Recently in my studies, I've felt a lot of pressure and competition, and I haven't managed to liberate myself from it or feel any sense of satisfaction. I wonder if there's any benefit in my attending this university. I don't really know what I should do.
Ven. Master: I know a girl named Edith Chen who recently participated in the international Ivo Pogorelich Solo Piano Compe-tition. She is twenty-three, while the other contestants were all well-known pianists over thirty. She'd always been strongly competitive for fame and profit, and cared a lot about winning.
We should study with a calm and peaceful mind, and not think about too many things. Just be determined to study, and don't worry about whether it turns out good or bad; make no distinction of gain and loss. That's what Edith Chen did when she entered her competition. In the semifinals with thirty contestants, she won the championship and instant renown. Being so young, how did she manage to win the championship? Since she understood the Buddhadharma, when she performed in the competition, she didn't think about winning or losing, or seeking fame and profit. She just gave her performance in a very tranquil state of mind. As a result, her wishes came true and she won acclaim.
Don't put yourself under so much pressure when you study. If you give yourself a lot of pressure, you'll have a mental block and you won't be able to study well. If you don't do well, don't be afraid, either. Just take "the ordinary mind as the Way." Take it in stride. Who put you under all that pressure? You yourself did. If you don't feel pressured, and you let things develop naturally, then all the pressure will be gone.
Don't Indulge in Laziness
Q: My question is about laziness. I think I am very lazy. Many of my friends have the same problem. I frequently encourage them to study, and I tell myself the same thing. Even so, I feel I've wasted a lot of time. When I urge them, I feel I'm in a dilemma, because if I fail to practice personally, how will others listen to me?
Ven. Master: Just study vigorously! Since you are lazy, you should find a way to counteract your laziness. There is no mantra that you can recite to make you less lazy. You have to be resolute and determined. "Where there is a will, there is a way." Don't give the excuse of being lazy. If you are determined, you can succeed at anything. "If you aim to be like the sages and worthy ones, you can become a sage and a worthy one. If you aspire to be a hero or great person, you can become a hero or great person." A person is despondent only when he lacks determination. If he were determined, how could he be lazy? Each person must take charge of himself! If you insist on being lazy, of course, you will be lazy, because you have no wish to make progress. If you want to make progress, then everything will be okay.
When Studying, Don't Worry About Too Many Things
Q: I am a freshman at U.C. Berkeley. My parents are in Taiwan. Sometimes when I call them and hear that they are sick or something, like yesterday when I heard that my father is in the hospital undergoing surgery, I feel very bad.
Ven. Master: If you didn't make those calls, everything would be fine! When you are studying, you shouldn't worry about this matter and that matter. You have to put everything else down. Don't be sentimental. By calling home, you're just being sentimental. If they call you, then it is they who are presenting you with problems. It is not that you are asking for problems. If you call them, then you are looking for problems. So why not put it down? If you keep calling constantly, it just shows you haven't put it down. If you put it down, then even if your father has any problem, it will work out well. Don't worry. Just remember to recite the Buddha's name, and it will be alright.
What's the Definition of a Perfect Person?
Q: Confucius had three thousand students, and among them, seventy-two had mastered the six arts. In today's society, what is the definition of a perfect person?
Ven. Master: "Those with virtue are truly wealthy; those without virtue are truly poor." To become a perfect person, one must first have the foundation of the five precepts, which prohibit killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicants.