昨天參加了一個婚禮。一個孩子和他媽媽拿著兩朵花向我走來，其中一朵比較大，另一朵比較小，但都已枯萎 。 我心想，從小到大，有許多事在我心裏佔很「大」的份量：如學業、友情、金錢和食物。當那個孩子把那兩朵枯花遞給我時，我想到：生命中的事不管有多重要，最終都將逝去，沒有永恆不變的。這就是為什麼我們一定要想清楚，自己一生要完成的到底是什麼？
The other day, my co-worker told me about how she found a map of the village where she grew up before coming to America at a very young age. Her village is part of a bigger area called Taishan in Canton, China. The map was on a website that her friend showed her. She was extremely happy about it. She had not known where her village was located before finding this map. Her village was very small with a population of about 100 to 200 people. Now that she’s found the map she can visualize it. You could see the joy on her face and hear it in her voice. This year, she plans to visit her village for the very first time since she’s come to America.
Then I thought, “Wow! She’s so happy that she’s found a map to where she was originally from.” And when we read the Sutras, there’s a similar reaction. Some of us might shed tears when we read the Sutras. Sometimes we become very happy. It’s because we’ve finally found a map to guide us to where we originally came from, that is, to our original nature, which is pure. So when I saw her, I thought, “Yeah, for everybody, no matter if you’re Buddhist or not, we all really want to find our source, our origin.” That’s how I feel when I read the Sutras.
Returning to the original nature is kind of how I think of repentance. I remember going through certain stages when I was growing up. I learned to like or seek certain things. Because a person is nice to me, I might want to be friends with that person. If a person is not nice to me, then I might want to stay away from that person. As I grew older, the likes and seeking became stronger. I had more and more attachments and expectations. It’s like holding a big bag and continually stuffing things inside. We accumulate more and more inside.
I grew up in a Buddhist environment. I learned a lot just from my parents’ actions. My mom is a very gentle person and my dad is wise. But when I went to college, I had no parents there by my side, and I came to accumulate a lot of attachments, goals, afflictions, desires, and seekings. I met a lot of friends and did a lot of things. During college, I seldom had a chance to go to the monastery, except when I came home. It’s also because I had to work. At one point, I was working two jobs. Over time, things kept accumulating until when I recently came to Gold Sage Monastery. Then I started to reflect on all those things that I feel are important to me. I discovered that I don’t need to have so many friends or so many habitual attachments.
But to change these habits, one needs to do it little by little. Sometimes one just can’t rush and needs to have patience. Before I have developed some skill in cultivation, it’s better for me to stay at home and avoid socializing with a lot of people. It is very easy for me to be swayed or influenced, and hence lose my principles. My resolve for the Way is not solid yet, so I need to rely on the method (dharma) of repentance to do away with illusory desires and likes—bit by bit.
Yesterday, I went to a wedding. A child came up to me with her mom and gave me two withered flowers—-one of them was a big flower and the other was small. They were all withered and dead. I thought, in the course of growing up, many things hold such great importance to me: such as school, friendship, money, and food…. When the child passed the two flowers to me, I realized that no matter how important those things are, they will in time pass and be gone—nothing is permanent. That is why we should think it through and be clear: what is the purpose of our lives—what are we going to accomplish in this life?
When we understand that everything we seek for is impermanent, then we should try to find something more profound; just as my friend traced her roots to her hometown village, we should search for our inherent nature.
When I read the Sutras, I really appreciate that the Buddha helped us find permanent happiness. When I am troubled by a lot of afflictions, I can’t be attentive enough to the dharmas in those Sutras, I feel sorry and ashamed—I should be more sincere! Sometimes when I bow to the Buddha three times, if I didn’t do it with a sincere and respectful heart, I will bow again and again, until my mind becomes more focused and pure.
As the Sutra says, “A human body is hard to attain, now I’ve attained it. The Buddhadharma is hard to hear, now I’m able to hear it.” I hope that everybody can cherish this life, as well as opportunities that are so hard to come by, and truly try to find the ever-abiding and unchanging inherent nature. Gradually, as we understand what the Truth really is, we will also see through what is illusory.