The insight of the wise can lead sentient beings to break through delusion and become enlightened.

Today, I will use everyday language to extend and elaborate on the Buddha-dharma, guiding everyone as you break through delusion and work towards enlightenment.

Firstly, everyone must understand that, when it comes to cultivation, you always reap what you sow. Learn to practise Mahayana Buddhism, cultivate the most fundamental things, and really put your heart into it. The purpose of having a Buddhist master is to help you learn more skills in order to save more people. Being a disciple is to become spiritually awakened and elevate your level of spirituality. A high spiritual state empowers you to eliminate distracting thoughts and obsessions more easily. The higher your level of spirituality, the fewer afflictions you will have. On the contrary, the lower your spiritual state, the more afflictions you will experience. So whether it’s about having a Buddhist master or praying to Guan Yin Bodhisattva, remember that you have only one goal – to cultivate diligently and get rid of your ignorance and your bad habits. Hence, praying to Buddha, performing recitations and cultivating the mind are in fact all very natural. When it comes to cultivation, it ultimately relies on your potential for enlightenment.

The flesh of the human body was given to us by our mother, while the bones were provided by our father. Injured skin and flesh are therefore usually the results of the mother’s karmic obstacles, while broken bones point to the obstacles stemming from the father.

Life begins with a few cries, and ends with a sigh. Think about it – what is there in life that we can really grow attached to? In the blink of an eye, everything will pass and it can never be recovered. Life’s sorrow began with crying at birth and ends with a sigh at death, and we never know where we will be heading next. That’s why you need to know how to extend your longevity by cultivating your mind and reciting sutras. The purpose of extending your longevity is to save more sentient beings and help them pay off their karmic debts – it’s not for your own benefit. Even if it is to save your child, they are also regarded as but one among many sentient beings.

“Life is but a breath; happiness is but a thought.” When we breathe no longer, our life ends. Happiness is but a thought. If you think of something happy, you’ll become happy straight away. If you harbour hatred towards somebody, the thought will only make you unhappy. It’s a simple concept. Joy and sorrow are all but thoughts. People commit foolish deeds because of momentary slips, or lapses in judgement. That’s why we must learn how to restrain ourselves.

“To make the flower of our life blossom, it must go through the trials and tribulations of the rain shower. On the contrary, the flower’s branches will be weak and feeble in a comfortable atmosphere. In the event of an accident, it will easily collapse.”

A person who has not gone through any tribulations in life will never grow up, nor will they have the potential for enlightenment. Only those who have endured hardships will come to cherish everything that they have. Those who exist in a comfortable environment will never even want to cultivate their minds. So it’s actually a blessing to experience some of life’s setbacks and hardships, as they temper our will and improve our capacity for discernment. Remember: there is nothing permanent in this world. But no matter what happens, if you recite Buddhist scriptures sincerely, and pray to Guan Yin Bodhisattva for Her protection and blessings, your life will change for the better.

When reciting Buddhist scriptures, you can visualise and recite them sincerely. Visualise that Guan Yin Bodhisattva is pouring pure water from Her vase upon your head. Whatever you do, you must put your heart into it, so that it will go well. There are many examples of this in our daily lives. When you are experiencing hardships, always recognise that there is always hope. Only through hardships can we attain happiness. Happiness itself also entails suffering, as extreme happiness would simply turn into sorrow. All of you must comprehend the gist of this message.

“A person’s greatest wisdom is in clearly knowing their own shortcomings.”

An intelligent and wise person is one who knows their shortcomings and without constantly covering them up. In truth, to cover up one’s shortcomings is never a good thing – it should only be regarded as a kind of shrewdness. A person must know their shortcomings clearly. Covering up is the first step we take, but after that we must correct it. Correcting our shortcomings once we become aware of them is the most important. The next step is to then resolve it. The ability to resolve one’s shortcomings after correcting them is something only the wisest would do. Many Buddhist practitioners started by implementing these three steps:

“A person’s value lies in their understanding of duly fulfilling their obligations.”

What is the obligation in being alive? It’s to save others. It’s to make people around you aware of the existence of such great Buddha-dharma, and aware of the existence of such great Guan Yin Bodhisattva, who is helping mankind and saving lives. When we talk about saving lives, it’s in the broadest sense. From society to family, and while you respect the elderly, care for the youth, cook, clean, and do all sorts of house and social work, you are fulfilling your obligations. To save people is one of the merits of mankind.

“The happiness stemming from a composed and peaceful state of mind is more valuable than all the wealth in the world.”

There are many kinds of happiness. Drinking alcohol is happiness. Having dinner with friends is happiness. Some elders find happiness when playing mah-jong. However, do they count as happiness that stems from a composed and peaceful state of mind? What does that even mean? It means being in a state of serenity, harmony, and free from the afflictions of greed, hatred and delusion. That is happiness that stems from a composed and peaceful state of mind. Only by being “non-self” can we truly become happy.

A serene state of mind is one that can face impermanence and all kinds of changes in life with open-mindedness, indifference to fame and wealth, and a “go with the flow” mindset. You reduce any painful or distressed emotions to the very minimum, and fill up with joy and satisfaction in every passing moment. In your heart, there is only tranquillity, and not a shred of dissatisfaction, suspicion or complaint.

“Greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance, doubt and wrong views affect a person’s speech and conduct. Over time, it develops into a habit that sets in with great force. It also accumulates afflictions, and is therefore the cause of suffering in all sentient beings.”

Think about it. When you become greedy, when you hate somebody, when you are foolish, when you are arrogant, when you are sceptical, and when you hold wrong views, does it affect your speech and conduct at all? Let’s talk for a bit about “wrong views”, which means negative and deviated perception and thinking. Take for example a compassionate and devoted Buddhist who is praying to Bodhisattva. Someone who doesn’t like and holds prejudice against Buddhism stands to the side, watching and thinking to himself, “This guy is just pretending…” Is that a case of holding a wrong view? For those who do hold wrong views or feel hatred, their speech and conduct will betray their true nature. As time goes by, it will develop into a habit and become difficult to change. It arrives with a force, and that accumulates afflictions. That’s why it’s regarded as the cause of suffering in all sentient beings – because it brings together all kinds of suffering such as greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance, doubt, and wrong views.

Compassion, on the other hand, is the most important thing for any person. If they lack compassion in the most fundamental ways, you shouldn’t even bother trying to talk with them about cultivation. Guan Yin Bodhisattva is greatly merciful and compassionate. When someone always treats those around them with hatred, it demonstrates that they are devoid of both compassion and wisdom. That’s why we should regularly nurture compassion, because over time, wholesome seeds will be sown into our Eighth Consciousness. And when those wholesome seeds ripen and blossom, positive karmic affinities come next.

The Buddha once said: “For those who have begun to live a life of spirituality, it is like bringing a torch into a darkened house – the darkness will be instantly dispelled. As long as you persevere with this lifestyle, your mind will certainly turn into a bright world.”

What I have told you is how the Buddha-dharma can be applied to your everyday life, letting you realise that by learning the Buddha-dharma, you can become a virtuous person.

BPT Vol 1.26: Essentials of Learning Buddhism – Words of Wisdom (1)