13 Jan Explanation of the Title: Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra, Part 14
(Last week we ended with, “You need to save their life which is right, but you need to save their wisdom life even more; you need to save both.”)
Overall, if your cultivation practice has not reached a competent level where this so-called incompetence refers to being without any progress and afflictions increase more and more each day, then you need to make a change. You need to think where is the problem?
If it is a problem of your attachments, then you should reduce those attachments. All of you truly need to ask yourself. You need to think clearly, what do I still demand?
If this thing is not needed, then let it go. If you still need it, then use the concept of doing without the attachment of doing.
What is doing without the attachment of doing? You do it accordingly, but with a relaxed mind, without putting expectation of having any gain from it or greedy desire attached to it.
Since knowing that letting go of everything at once is very difficult for you, it is the reason that the public is not willing to get close to the strict way of cultivation practice. With regards to the phenomena of cultivation practice, it is indeed difficult especially like the Patriarch and the virtuous Master’s across the ages and particularly, the statements from many Sutras. It is so difficult that everyone is not willing to get close to it, and even do not want to practice it.
Why? It is prohibitively difficult even harder than going to outer space.
Amitabha Buddha is very wise. He knows using the ordinary way to help all living beings is not possible. Asking a person who currently enjoys the colorful life of this world and telling one moves to the mountains and live a life of few wants and ambitions is impossible. Amitabha Buddha thinks this way:
Chanting Amitabha is the cause, becoming Amitabha is the effect.
He applies the rule of cause and effect to help all.
How to do this? You can gamble at a slot machine or pachinko machine, but do not forget to chant Amitabha while playing; it is a way of convenience (it is a method for making things easier for people). It is only an expedient means.
Does this work? It depends on the individual.
If you play the slot machine with Amitabha in mind and without other delusional thought and only Amitabha, then this would work.
We must talk about the real and solid way of practicing cultivation: Prajna, how do you use it during your daily life?
If your mind still retains the phenomena of the casino and the slot machines, then there is no way. Therefore, using wisdom is exactly during your thought arising. It is very subtle, so subtle that it is hard to detect by yourself. In this case, practicing cultivation this way is just too difficult.
Why? The situation emerges.
I had a friend who used to enjoy playing roulette. He memorized all the numbers and the layout of the roulette table and tried to compete with the machine. He said he chanted Amitabha also, but as soon as the roulette wheel started to turn, Amitbha was no longer in his mind and only roulette had his full attention.
Remember, Buddha is enlightenment. If you can keep up the enlightened condition for 24 hours then congratulations this is Prajna, this is wisdom. If you cannot persist then you shall restart it again. It is like constructing a building. If the base is not deep and firm enough or the building structure is not solid, then rebuild it. Every day is an opportunity to start cultivation practice; every day you can start fresh again.
Many people say, “In this life, my old forces of habits are so serious, never mind practicing cultivation”. This is because one does not understand that cultivation practice is not the outward behavior of bowing to Buddha; no, it is not. Nor is it attending Buddhist ceremonies, fixing enlightenment places, or building temples. No, it is not. It is up to yourself whether you can turn your thoughts; this is precisely turning yourself back to your purified thought of defiling illusion. This is cultivation.
Cultivation is to correct. Engaging in cultivation this way is much easier.
Why? It is an evil world stained with the five turbidities – the world without a Buddha.
Our living phenomena in this human world is called “an evil world stained with the five turbidities”. Life turbidity is the variation of contaminations of our life. The water outside, the drinking water, the whole world is contaminated. Our inner mind is full of defiled afflictions, and we have daily afflictions over the phenomena of the five kinds of turbidity. With these phenomena, for you to have one pure thought is pretty uneasy. We are not demanding during a whole day, and also not demanding for ten minutes, we only just need to have one thought, an instant.
What is this “instant” called? This is to have a sudden spurt of reflection on your self-nature.
How did the Sixth Patriarch cultivate? He reflected upon his self-nature for 24 hours, but he was not born with this ability. It is the accumulation of self-training from many past existences across world-periods. Self-training means having received enlightenment teaching and self-education. Hence, you need self-training and self-cultivation.
Therefore, cultivation is not uniquely enjoyed by monks or nuns. Everyone—from Muslims, Christians, peddlers, couriers, poor, rich, noble, lower classes—can do it. You only need to compose your mind, try to have a mind unmoved and undisturbed by any phenomena for one, two, or three seconds. So give it a try.