I will now touch on the topic of “regulating one’s mind”. A person must know how to do this – it’s very important. An awakened person must possess a clear and cool state of mind. What that means is to be cool-headed and calm, and also settled and steady. The purpose of regulating our minds is to correct our habitual behaviour. Character acquired through long-held habits is not always a good thing. For example, let’s assume that you are diagnosed with diabetes, but you still feel like eating chocolates and desserts. Do you think that’s good? Bad habits and character must be corrected. Regulating the mind means keeping our mentality balanced. Cultivating the mind is also regulating the mind – we cultivate our minds to nurture our nature. Confucian education teaches “cultivating our bodies and nurturing our nature”.
Let me tell you a very good method to help you improve your cultivation: it’s to study with other Buddhist practitioners in a group. When everybody is reciting sutras and cultivating together, it’s easier to make progress and establish connection with Buddhas. What does forming a “connection” with Buddhas mean? When everybody is cultivating their mind and reciting sutras together, they are like Buddhas emanating a positive energy field and the energy of Buddha-nature. When you are reciting sutras with them, you gain confidence, you obtain energy, and you benefit from the light emitted from the heart of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In fact, the Buddha’s light will be imprinted on your heart.
If you practice alone, you risk beginning to let up, which makes it difficult to keep Buddha in your heart. This happens because your energy field and your Buddha-nature are not strong enough. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will not dwell on it when your selfish and distracting thoughts appear. When practising alone, it is not possible to immediately attain a pure and liberated mind.
When you think you have become pure and liberated, that’s merely your subjective opinion. You do not really understand the true definition of being “pure”, not to mention the karmic force. In other words, you may think that you have become peaceful, or that you’ve become calm and that your cultivation has borne fruit. In fact, you still do not understand the karmic force inside your body. That is because when a person retains negative karma, their mind is unlikely to immediately attain a pure state. For example, let’s assume that you’re deeply in debt. The money you then earn every day does not then truly belong to you, as first of all you must use it to pay off your debts.
Karmic force is inconceivable, because it changes according to the state it is in. In other words, your mind changes along with changes in the external conditions. That is, your mind will change along with the changes in karmic force. I illustrate this with an example: today, your karma ripens. As it happens, you hate someone very much. Now, the hostility will grow within you, and your physical body changes along with it. For instance, you cannot eat or sleep well. At the same time, your karmic force also begins to change. Your face changes along with the karmic force, making you look more aggressive and hostile. You begin to encounter more and more obstacles in your career, and your health condition declines. That is the result of your hatred and the transformation of the karmic force.
As you follow my teachings to cultivate, do not seek any spiritual experience. I often warn you against seeking supranormal powers or spiritual experiences while cultivating your mind or reciting Buddhist scriptures. Rather, what you should do is refrain from creating karma in this present life and prevent the negative karma that accumulated over previous lives from ripening.
In the past, you committed a lot of offences over many lifetimes. While you are going through the cycle of rebirths, you also undergo the corresponding retributions, and as a result some of the negative karma is cleared. Just like the files stored by the taxation office, they will be automatically destroyed every five years or so. But please take note: the reason that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas bless and protect you is because you are following the Right Dharma to cultivate yourself, and so there will be Buddhist light above your head. As a result, minor karmic obstacles created from the past can be eliminated. Henceforth, you must not allow the negative karma of the previous life to intrude upon your body. I teach you to recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance, which is to repent for the unwholesome deeds you committed in your previous life – and only the previous life. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas speak of the Karma of Three Time Periods, which refer to the past life, the present life, and the next life. As long as you can cultivate these three lives well, you are deemed to be a very kind-hearted and cultivated person.