A Harmonious World Begins With the Mind
Talk given by Venerable Master Chin Kung
January 4, 2006
Hong Kong Buddha’s Education Association

When the mind is pure, the land will be pure
When the mind is at peace, all beings will be at peace
When the mind is impartial, the world will enjoy equality

Dear fellow practitioners,

Happy New Year to all of you!

All these years, we have been spreading love to the whole world. We agree that human nature is innately good and that everyone has Buddha-nature. We hope that everyone will learn to love him or herself, love others, love his or her family, love the country, love the world, and love all beings. Love starts from the heart and is received by heart. To feel love with the
true mind is justice. The feeling of a sincere heart is love. To achieve this, non-Buddhists should practice the teachings in The Standards for Being a Good Student and Child (Dizigui), and Buddhists should practice the Ten Virtuous Deeds.

The teaching of all sages is the teaching of sincerity, love, and the standards of behavior in life as articulated in The Standards for Being a Good Student and Child and in the Ten Virtuous Deeds. This teaching flows from our true nature. May all fellow practitioners pay special attention to the understanding and learning of the Ten Virtuous Deeds and The Standards for Being a Good Student and Child, and make sure to perfectly practice them to the full. These basic but significant teachings can help us avert disasters and reconcile all conflicts, oppositions, and confrontations.

A few months ago, the World Health Organization made an announcement to remind the public to watch out for an outbreak of an epidemic. As everybody knows, that epidemic is bird flu. If this epidemic spreads throughout the world, the consequences could be devastating. Therefore, I would like to remind practitioners at our center and at all Pure Land centers in the world, and all of you who are watching this via satellite broadcast or the Internet to diligently study the Buddha’s teachings and chant
“Amituofo.”

Why do we have to study the Buddha’s teachings in addition to chanting Amituofo? Because if we do not understand the Buddha’s teachings, our chanting Amituofo will be based on blind belief. But if we thoroughly understand the teachings, chanting Amituofo will be more effective.

Only sincerity can evoke the interconnectivity among people, between people and other things, and between people and spiritual beings. If one’s heart is not sincere, the power of touching the hearts of others will be weak.

Our chanting Amituofo ten thousand times cannot compare with an accomplished, virtuous practitioner chanting Amituofo once. An ancient sage often said that in chanting Amituofo, one’s every thought should be in consonance with the Buddha’s mind. It takes only one chanting of Amituofo for an accomplished practitioner to be in consonance with Amitabha Buddha. We, on the other hand, will not be able to be in consonance with Amitabha Buddha even if we chant Amituofo ten thousand times! Even though we chant Amituofo, as does this accomplished practitioner, the effectiveness of the chanting is
different.

Buddhism came to China in 67 C.E. By the year 2067, it will have been in China for 2000 years. Passed down from generation to generation, Buddhism has declined to a low point today. I believe that there are more people chanting Amituofo today than ever, but the effectiveness of our chanting cannot compare with that of ancient practitioners. Why? Because their mindset of learning Buddhism was different from ours.

The True Mind Pervades the Whole Universe Throughout All Time

The Buddhist Association of China and the National Religious Department of China will hold the World Buddhist Forum for the first time in Zhejiang, in April this year. The theme is “A Harmonious World Starts With the Mind” with a sub-theme of “When the mind is pure, the land will be pure. When the mind is at peace, all beings will be at peace. When the mind is impartial, the world will enjoy equality.” Very good points! I heard that representatives from many countries are invited to participate in this forum. So this is a large-scale event. I am very happy because Chinese Buddhism, or Chinese religion, is stepping onto the international stage. This is a positive step.

The topics of the forum are also extremely good. People all over the world are concerned about global disharmony. How do we resolve conflict and promote social stability and world peace? If the three statements in the sub-theme of this forum can come to fruition, conflict will not arise, and social stability and world peace will be achieved.

But how do we achieve a pure mind? How do we achieve a peaceful mind? How do we achieve an impartial mind? These three are core issues. In Buddhism, these are important issues. When they are resolved, all beings will attain Buddhahood. Nonetheless, these three issues are actually three in one and one in three. When one is resolved, the other two are also resolved. If the mind is pure, how can it not be at peace? How can it not be impartial? When the mind is at peace, it is naturally pure and impartial. Therefore, when we resolve one issue, we resolve the other two.

When I saw these three statements, I was reminded of the Zen master Huike. During King Liangwu’s reign, Bodhidharma brought the teachings of Zen to China. King Liangwu was a great patron of Buddhism but he had no affinity with Bodhidharma and thus did not support him. Bodhidharma went to the Shaolin Temple in the Song Mountain and isolated himself in meditation for nine years before someone came to learn from him. This person was Huike. He was sincere in becoming a student of Bodhidharma.

It was wintertime when Huike visited Bodhidharma. Seeing that Bodhidharma was sitting in meditation in a cave and not wanting to disturb the master, he waited outside the cave for the master to come out of meditation. He waited for a long time, and the snow was up to his knees, but Bodhidharma still had not come out of meditation. Huike was very determined. He took out a small knife, cut off his left arm, and presented it to Bodhidharma as an offering. Therefore, Huike, the second patriarch of the Zen school, only had his right arm.

When Bodhidharma opened his eyes and saw Huike’s left arm, he asked Huike, “Why did you do this? There is no need! Why cut off your arm and offer it to me? Why stand in the snow for so long?” Huike answered, “My mind is disturbed. I beg Master to ease it for me.”

Bodhidharma told Huike: “Give me your mind. I will ease it for you.” These words reminded Huike to search inside himself. After a long while, he replied, “Nowhere is my mind to be found.” And Bodhidharma said, “I’ve eased your mind for you!” Huike was immediately awakened. Then Bodhidharma passed the teachings of Zen to Huike and made him the second patriarch of the Chinese Zen school.

When the mind is at peace, the mind is naturally pure and impartial. The theme “When the mind is pure, the land will be pure. When the mind is at peace, all beings will be at peace. When the mind is impartial, the world will enjoy equality” provides great inspiration for us. People must be awakened before happiness, a pure land, social stability, and world peace can be achieved. All these must start with cultivating ourselves and teaching.

Master Huineng is the sixth patriarch of the Zen school. His yulu, or records of lectures, is called the Platform Sutra of the Six Patriarch. In other words, his teaching is accorded the same respect and importance as the teaching of Sakyamuni Buddha. The writings of all other patriarchs of the Zen school are called yulu; none are called sutra. Only Master Huineng’s yulu was given the status of a sutra because of the respect that people accorded him. He was indeed a remarkable person. He spent most of his life teaching. Under his tutelage and guidance, forty-three of his students saw their own true nature and attained great awakening. No one else in Chinese history has had this achievement.

In the Avatamsaka Sutra, one who sees one's true nature is a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva, a being who transcends not only the Six Paths but also the Ten Dharma Realms.1 They are free of attachments, discrimination, and wandering thoughts. Wandering thoughts are ignorance. When one is free of ignorance, one is also free of discrimination and attachments. When the mind cannot be found, how can a thought arise? The mind that gives rise to a thought is the deluded mind. The mind that stays quiescent is the true mind. Where is the true mind? It pervades the whole universe throughout all time.

It is stated in the Avatamsaka Sutra that the whole universe, all phenomena, and all beings are “manifested by the mind”—they are manifested by the true mind. But then why are there so many differences in form? Because all phenomena are “altered by the consciousness.” Consciousness is the deluded mind. The true mind manifests phenomena, and the deluded mind alters these phenomena into the Six Paths and the Ten Dharma Realms. The deluded mind is not real. Only when we realize this, can problems be truly solved.

Purity, Equality, and Enlightenment Constitute the Highest Guideline for Cultivation

What is the goal of the 84,000 Dharma Doors? I t is to eradicate at tachments, discrimination, and wandering thoughts. The
term “Dharma Door” denotes method. Every one of the cultivation methods helps us achieve this goal. If any cultivation method does not have this as a goal, this method is not the teaching of the Buddha. Cultivation must lead to eradication of afflictions. Attachment is an affliction arising from erroneous views and thoughts, discrimination is an affliction arising from numerous delusions, and wandering thoughts are an aff l ict ion ar ising f rom ignorance.

It is well put in the Avatamsaka Sutra: all beings have the wisdom and virtues of a Buddha but cannot attain them because of
their wandering thoughts and attachments. This explains that Buddhas and we are equal by nature. How did we become different from Buddhas? Because wandering thoughts, discrimination, and attachments arose in us and turned the One True Realm into the Ten Dharma Realms, the Six Paths, or the Three Evil Paths.2

When you understand this, you should help all beings. One must help oneself before one can help others.

The Buddha explained the truth of life and the universe in simple, plain, and clear language. It may seem that we have awakened to the truth, but our awakening lasted only for a brief moment, as short as a flash of lightning, and then we were mired in delusion again. Why? Because our afflictions, which have accumulated over numerous kalpas, obstruct us from realizing the truth instantly! Very few people, like some patriarchs and accomplished virtuous practitioners, realized the truth instantly. For example, Master Huike attained realization after listening to only a few words of teaching. This realization is reflected in their letting go.

When we listen to the lectures on a sutra, do we understand the teachings in the sutra? We may think that we do, but if we still cannot let go, then we do not have true comprehension. If we have true comprehension, we will be able to let go. Then how long will it take for us to attain true comprehension? We know that for ty- three of Master Huineng’s students attained great awakening. Among them, some reached this stage in a very short time. They did so in a few months or in two to three years. But it took some students twenty to thirty years. They followed Master Huineng, listened to his lectures on the Dharma, and practiced according to his guidance. They attained awakening in twenty to thirty years. To attain Buddhahood after twenty to thirty years of cultivation is still a remarkable achievement. They deserve our respect.

Today, even if I explain the teachings very clearly, can any of the listeners attain awakening? No! None of them can attain
awakening. This is what Mr. Huang Nianzu, an eminent lay practitioner, told me when I visited him in Beijing. He said that, in this day and age, the only cultivation method that one can succeed in practicing was chanting Amituofo and seeking rebirth in the Western Pure Land, where we can take our