The Most Valuable Life
The most valuable thing to do as a human being is to serve Amitabha and others. The Sangha, the Teacher of heavens and humans, is one of the Three Jewels of Buddhism. Without the Sangha, there would be no one to teach Dharma. The goal of the Three Jewels is to liberate sentient beings from samsara and to help them realize their Buddha’s nature. If lay-disciples can teach others about Amituofo’s deliverance and become a volunteer in the Pure Land School, they too can also achieve this goal. So, it can be said that lay-disciples who do so are the same as the Sangha, who inherit Buddhism and Dharma.
In this way, when we talk about becoming a monk, some people are monks both physically and mentally, and some are monks mentally but not physically. We volunteers, while unable to be monks,are monks in our hearts. What is the mind of a monk? It is the mind to seek liberation, to liberate himself and others, which is the purpose of Buddhism. The burden is heavy, and the course is long.
Zeng Zi said: “A scholar-official must have broad aspiration and perseverance, for he has taken up a heavy responsibility and a long course. Is it not a heavy responsibility, which is to practice benevolence? Is it not a long course, which will end only with his death?” The fundamental thought of Confucianism is “filial piety.” Filial to parents will develop into brotherly love and love for others and further expand to love of all living things (animals); this is the so-called “Love your relatives, treat people kindly, and by extension, love all things in the world." “Honor others’ elderly and young as our own.” That is the concept of Confucian benevolence.
The Chinese character “仁” is composed of two persons together, which means a kind person. Two people make sentient beings, that is, to have the heart and mind of all living beings, to love them, serve them, and hope that they will be free from suffering and attain happiness. They would rather sacrifice themselves to give others happiness, and that is benevolent, so it is said that “his burden is heavy, and his course is long.”
“The burden is heavy and the course is long,” so one must be fearless to be able to shoulder these responsibilities. And, as long as we are alive and physically capable, we must become a volunteer for Pure Land Buddhism. That is why we say, “Devote our lives to the fullest without regret, and never retreat from the task.”
It may be easy to work hard, but it is not easy to bear complaints and criticism. It’s even more difficult to work tirelessly without regrets and a change of heart. For, if it is not so, one would often retreat. Why would we love to bear the difficulties? Just think that all we have done will pay off and not be wasted. Think of others’ temper; we are the same. Besides, in our past life, our temper could have been more irritable than theirs. In retrospect, I shall try to improve myself by working with such personalities. Reflecting on this, I will have a happy and joyful heart.
(Translated and edited by the Pure Land School Translation Team)
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings