The Sutra of Examining and Divining Good and Evil Karmic Retribution says, "In the Dharma Ending Age, living beings' karma is heavy. Most think of only themselves and their immediate families. Their roots are dull, their faith is shallow, and they often give rise to doubts." Truly, most people are like that. Let's not talk about the giving of our own head, eyes, brain, and marrow; when we see others practicing giving, can we praise and follow along joyously with a true heart? It is really hard, hard, hard!
Whether a good deed is as tiny as a single mote of dust or as great as all Buddhalands of the ten directions and three periods of time, we should be able to praise and rejoice in it without attachment or discrimination. Cultivation is done bit by bit, drop by drop. We should rejoice with an equal mind in the good deeds of Sages as well as ordinary people. When people light up a torch, we also share the light. When others light incense as an offering, we are also perfumed by the fragrance. We should just do our best! What need is there to compare, calculate, and scheme? With this attitude, our good roots will gradually become identical to those of the Buddhas. As we slowly progress, we will understand the great compassion of identity in substance and know that the Dharma Realm of the ten directions are not beyond the present thought. All are of one substance; there is no discrimination of self and others. Thus, The Shastra of Great Vehicle Stopping and Contemplating says, "Cultivators should understand that the merit and virtue created by all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Two Vehicle Sages, heavenly beings, ordinary people, and so on, are just our own. Therefore, we should rejoice and follow along."
Hasn't the Venerable Master said, "One million is not too much, while one penny is not too little"? Everything is part of the functioning of the mind. Patriarch Bodhidharma said, "Originally, I sought the mind and not Buddhahood. I understand that within the three realms there is nothing. If one wants to seek Buddhahood, he might as well seek his own mind. Only this mind is the Buddha." At this point, there is no discrimination between the mind, the Buddha, and living beings. What's the difference between one mote of dust and the Buddhalands of the ten directions and three periods of time?
I used to know an old lady who was about seventy years old. She was quite advanced in age, knew few people, and did not understand English or know how to drive. However, she never felt frustrated and often volunteered to do the Buddha's work. For many years, no matter what good deeds others did or how much money they donated, she would always rejoice in their deeds as if she had done them herself. Her true sincerity made me realize the joy that comes from rejoicing and following in merit and virtue. I have also asked myself, "Could I do that? That shouldn't be too difficult!" It was only after careful contemplation that I discovered that I can still be jealous and selfish, that I still engage in all kinds of plotting and discriminating. Therefore, to remind myself and give myself encouragement, I often think of that old lady's face filled with the Dharma-joy of rejoicing in others' deeds.
Although Universal Worthy Bodhisattva's state is inconceivable, I can learn and practice step by step. Nothing succeeds in the first attempt. From rejoicing and following in one thought to rejoicing and following in every thought, a little accumulates into a lot; and after a long time, even the false will become real. Hasn't the Venerable Master also said so?
The skillful expedients of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are inconceivable. To rejoice and follow in merit and virtue not only dispels the jealousy, obstruction, stinginess, and bad habits in our minds, more importantly, it can also wipe out our attachments and discriminations.
Thus our faith gradually grows and increases. On the path of cultivation, although it is hard to do, hard to bear, and hard to give, we can still advance bit by bit on the Bodhi Way without ever becoming discouraged or slacking off.
→To be continued