Education of Living
There is a saying, “If there is an Arhat or a practitioner in the state of deep meditation on a hill, the cows and goats that eat the grass there develop glistening coats.
Just because of a practitioner on the hill, the grass grows fresh and green, stones there are shiny, and the animals who graze there become healthy. This illustrates that, if there is a person with merit and blessings, his family members are protected and benefitted. He can change his family members without them even noticing. So, we should simply begin our practice with no need to make demands on others.
There is a saying, “Wishing the next life is better than this life, rather than this life is better than the next life.” So, we should accumulate virtues, rather than wealth. If we have money, we should make offerings to the Three Jewels; so as, to benefit ourselves, deliver ancestors and protect our children and grandchildren. We cannot bring one cent with us when our life comes to the end. What we can bring is karma.
For us, we wish to be reborn in the Land of Bliss, not to reborn in the heavenly or human realm, and not to overly enjoy the blessings in the human world. In the Land of Bliss, the ground is covered with gold and the buildings are made of seven jewels. We will attain that reward when we are reborn there. So, we have to admire and pay most attention to the rewards in the Land of Bliss, rather than the rewards in this world. We should let go of all worldly rewards.
Believing in an after-life is the beginning of having wisdom. Several positive and beneficial outlooks on life are thus naturally established:
- It becomes easy to believe in retribution for good and evil deeds, and also reincarnation within the Six Realms.
- It becomes easy to set forth the vow of benefitting oneself by benefitting others.
- To discipline oneself to cease evil and perform good deeds based on one’s conscience, so as to accumulate blessings and virtues.
- To be prepared for the future life and be free from worry, panic and regret in this life.
- Eradicate physical and mental illnesses through psychological comfort and spiritual reliance.
- Because of the belief in the future life, we are well prepared to feel the value of this life and the meaning of living.
A person who does not believe in an afterlife cannot believe in reincarnation, the cycle of birth-and-death, and will not consider what happens if there is a next birth.
He thinks death is like extinguishing an oil fire. Since he does not fear reincarnation, he continually commits karmic offenses both physically and mentally through the exercise of his free will.
Despite the evidence of a “next life and reincarnation”, it is more rational to believe in “no life after death and no reincarnation”. However, for our own interests and benefits, we should study and prepare for our future life.
Recently, I read a short teaching by Master Hsinyun in a magazine. It said, “Morality is a priceless treasure in the human world. It is higher than the hills and mountains by ten thousand times”. We should leave such virtue to the next generation, rather than money. It is most foolish to leave money to them. Leaving virtues to them is the wisest.
It is fine to leave just enough money to our children for them to form their family and develop their careers. Kids and grandkids have their own blessings; so, do not slave like a donkey or a cow for them. Other money should be donated to worthy causes. This will accumulate merit and virtues for yourself and your children.
Sons and daughters have their own karmic blessings, and also their own karmic obstructions. Some karmic obstructions cannot be cleared no matter how holy their parents are. In these circumstances, we must rely on the Buddha’s power, and diligently recite Amitabha’s Name.
A person who diligently recites Amitabha’s Name will naturally protect and bless his sons and daughters, even if he does not dedicate merit and virtues specifically to them.
It is the heartfelt wish of all parents to earn enough money to properly raise their children and be able to leave them some assets, hoping their lives can be comfortable and without any worries. However, this objective is totally wrong.
If their children have virtuous blessings, they will have no worries about their futures. If they don’t, they will be hurt when they receive their parents’ estate.
Leaving virtuous blessings to your children is important. However, parents should make charitable donations if they have one million, 2 million, or several million. This is the correct way to leave virtuous blessings to one’s children.
For a family that is rich for three generations, it is most practical to pass intangible assets, rather than tangible assets to their children. As it pertains to virtuous blessings, virtue is the cause and blessings are the effect. Those who have virtues must be rewarded with blessings. Virtues are realized by how kind and considerate you are to others, being self-sacrificing, helping others to succeed, and not harming others. These are truly solid and substantial virtues.
How can we children best share our filial love with our parents? Apart from supporting, respecting, and obeying them, we should guide our parents and family members in learning Buddhist teachings. We should let them know it is only due to causal conditions that we can be together in this world and in this lifetime. Each individual will reincarnate according to his own good and evil karma. Understanding this, we realize that nothing is eternal. We can take no material possessions with us after we die. We will continue to reincarnate for a very long time if we do not achieve emancipation. Through sharing these truths with them, the worldview of our family members will change.
Filial love is the foremost among all moral conducts. When we practice virtues, we must love and obey our parents first. Why? It is because all devas, spirits and ghosts respect the dutiful person most.
Ghosts will not hurt a dutiful person. When they see him, they will kneel down. Devas must protect a dutiful person. So, if we love and obey our parents, we won’t need to ask devas, spirits and ghosts to protect us, they will naturally do it. It is because, for each cause, there comes a respective effect.
With respect to worldly teachings, filial love is the foremost among all virtues. With respect to the Buddhist teachings, there are the Three Meritorious Deeds. The first deed is offering filial love for one’s parents. The Three Meritorious Deeds are also the “main cause of the pure karma of all Buddhas in the three periods of time”.
With respect to the self-powered Sacred Path, one should practice the Three Meritorious Deeds if he wishes to become a Buddha. The first blessed virtue is filial love for one’s parents. If one cannot practice this one, he would be unable to practice the other two. Failing to do so, one cannot become a Buddha, maybe not even a human being. We can see that filial love is very important. Moreover, the suffering due to lack of filial love is terribly horrifying!
Generally speaking, filial love can be divided into three grades from the Buddhist point of view:
The first grade is the basic one. It is our responsibility to love parents and ancestors, so that they don’t need to worry about being able to live their daily lives. Also, we should listen to them, and satisfy their wishes. We should respect and love our parents. It is the most basic way to be dutiful sons and daughters.
The second grade of filial love is to glorify our ancestors through our conduct, virtue, and merit in the community. This kind of filial love is very important in the human world, and through it parents will not be ashamed of how they brought up their children.
However, as far as the Buddhist teachings are concerned, all of human life is viewed from the perspective of cause and effect in the three periods of time, reward/retribution for good and bad karma, and reincarnation within the Six Realms. So, whether a person has filial love or not, the first two grades are not regarded as true filial love from the Buddhist point of view.
We must allow our parents and ancestors to thoroughly leave the cycle of birth-and-death within the Six Realms. This is truly a kind of “great filial love”. The former two kinds of filial love are known as “small filial love” and “medium filial love”, as they are imperfect and incomplete.
Usually, we need to diligently perform good deeds. If karmic rewards come, a person can gratefully enjoy them. However, sometimes the karmic reward may be obstructed by bad karma from the past and the karmic reward cannot be realized.
So, if your child will be taking an examination at school, you should recite Amitabha’s Name in advance, and try to accumulate more virtues through practices in daily life, in order to eliminate enemies and debtors who may be seeking compensation.
Husbands and wives love each other and become entangled. This is unavoidable and normal. However, no matter how we remember and worry about the other person, it does not help. They inevitably obstruct each other. If they can open their minds to learning Buddhism and reciting the Buddha’s Name, they will both be benefitted.
Children’s eyes are bright and clear. Their eyes capture all of the behaviors of their parents in the threefold karma of their minds, like a camera. So, they see and remember what their parents do as they mature.
Confucius says, “If a person is proper in conduct, people will follow him without being ordered. However, if improper, people will not follow even when ordered. “
Confucius also says, “When a teacher sets himself as a role model, how dare the students not follow.” If we conduct ourselves properly, we will naturally influence others. This means that teaching others through our deeds is worth more than what we only talk about. So, it is more important for us to teach our children by being good role models.
Learning through relationships is a great learning experience. A good human relationship is a necessary ingredient for having fortune in our lives. There are four very common phrases that all people know. However, not many people care about them. If they care about their relationships, they must always be kept in their minds and used in speech. These are true words and a wonderful curative medicine for improving our human relationships. They are: I’m sorry, excuse me, thank you, and I love you. Try to use these four phrases often in all of your inter-actions.
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