“One lamp dispels the darkness of a thousand years.” The ignorance within our minds is indeed like a room that remains dark for a thousand years. However, with a single lamp, everything can become illuminated. In Andersen’s Fairy Tales, there’s a story called The Little Match Girl. Every time she lights a match, she sees something in the past or in the future. Every time she lights a match, she sees things in the spirit world, or in Heaven. When the match burns out, her eyes fall upon darkness once again. Therefore, what we require is not a match, and not even a box of matches. What we need is a permanent lamp that is lit by the Bodhisattvas. With the little energy that we possess, it cannot be lit by us.
Once you have created negative karma, you must sincerely repent. If you don’t, negative karma is like being confined to a room so dark that you can’t see anything. When you sincerely repent, it’s like turning on a lamp that purifies all the unwholesome deeds committed in your past. However, you must repent sincerely, and if you do, your mind will start to become pure. After all, who has not done a single bad thing in their life? Who has not made a mistake? As long as you’re human, you will make mistakes – but that just means you must understand the importance of repentance. Without it, you will never find the right direction.
There is a saying about people not turning back until they “hit the wall”. Many people “hit the wall” in their marriage or career, but they continue to charge forwards. They clearly know that what they are doing will create negative karma, and yet they continue to do it. They clearly know that if they continue to spoil their child, their child will walk down a deviated path sooner or later. And yet, they continue to do so. Why is that? The answer is not only ignorance, but because of obstacles within their minds.
I often teach you how to cultivate your body and nourish the mind. First, you must limit your desires in order to cleanse your mind. Stop pursuing fame and fortune, as only within a pure mind can desires subside. When desires are subdued, the mind becomes pure and clean. Cultivation of the mind is truly difficult, and you will succeed only when your cultivation of both mind and body are brought onto the same level.
Nowadays, many people talk about physical and mental wellness. But the mind is the most important, while the body is acquired later. Only when your body and mind are in harmony will you enjoy good health – and wisdom will arise.
If you encounter a malicious person, what should you do? You should treat it as a trial of life, and remember – this person is there to test you. When you know that they are malicious, and you can restrain yourself from having a conflict with them, and from quarrelling with them, and you can regard them as a good person, that will elevate your level of moral cultivation. But if you never had the chance to encounter these kinds of people in the whole of your life, you will not attain the same level of moral cultivation compared to the ones who do. To illustrate this with an example in the medical field: if our bodies do not come across a certain bacteria, we will not be able to develop the antibodies to counter it. Similarly, if you encounter a bad person, you should thank them because they make you aware that these kinds of bad people do exist in this world. And the next time you encounter somebody like them, you will not fall victim – so there is always a reason to thank them. In fact, it is a way to learn how to exercise self-restraint, and to endure.
When you encounter a demon, it’s also a trial. If you have never encountered a demon before, your vow will not be as firm – and that’s because you are also yet to encounter a trial. As a result, you won’t be as determined to change your habits. Encountering a demon is therefore a trial. For example, if you had fallen today, you know it’s the work of the demon and will therefore guard against it. You must realise that it’s happening because you failed to cultivate well in the past, meaning you didn’t pay off the full karmic debt from the previous life. In that case, you must bear the retribution today. Only someone who is always grateful can get rid of malice and negative karma.
I once said that if you have deluded thoughts, it means there’s a demon in your mind – and the demon is a thief. And if you keep a thief inside your mind, it will rob and steal all the good things that you possess within you. Every day, it disturbs your mind, makes you feel sorrowful and resentful, causes anxiety and stops you from staying cool and calm. Think about it: whenever you feel discomfort, or you’re sad, where does that feeling come from? Answer: it all stems from the mind. That’s why you must remove the thief from your mind – completely. This thief is your deluded thoughts, which everyone possesses. The best way to get rid of them is to ignore them and think positively. If you have positive thoughts, your deluded thoughts will be lessened and ultimately eliminated.