Our physical body is not real – it’s illusory. Today, your body may be able to drink, eat and dress up, but when it dies, the physical body will be completely gone. Does that make it like an illusion? According to the Buddha-dharma, our bodies are indeed illusory, possessing no self-nature. That’s because it’s controlled by our spirit. The spirit can give the body a hard time, like when it makes your body experience pain. The body itself has no control of its own – it doesn’t have its own nature. Therefore, once the karmic causes and conditions cease, the physical body ceases as well. And when there are no conditions, what is there to fear? Everything in this world either exists or does not exist. Some things, after a while, will become non-existent, just as non-existent things will become existent at some point in time. In that way, form is emptiness, and emptiness is form.

Things that are temporary should not be regarded as long-lasting. Instead, we must view everything in the world as being in a state of constant flux. Everything changes, so we can be free from fixation. We need to use an awakened mindset to view the world, so that we are able to discover our Buddha-nature. I often tell you to see through the superficial nature of the mundane world. But don’t abandon this world, however mundane it may be. You must seize the occasion to cultivate your Buddha nature in this impermanent world.

To discover your true Buddha nature, cultivate your mind and practise Buddhism. You must do practise Buddhism diligently and with great eagerness. Many practitioners cultivate their minds but perform benevolent deeds to seek worldly blessings and rewards. What I’m teaching you to do is to perform meritorious deeds, which refer to all the things you do once you’ve witnessed Buddha-nature. Every deed you perform that stems from your inherent nature and your conscience is considered among your merits and virtues. True acts of merit and virtue are not tainted in any way. For instance, if you’re going to help someone, make sure the deed is considered meritorious by not having a tainted mind – not even the slightest bit. You must never think of reciprocation. If you have even a shred of a selfish motive, idea or desire when helping someone, it won’t be considered meritorious. Take note: your intention must be pure!

That said, it is perfectly fine to perform benevolent deeds in order to cultivate worldly blessings and rewards. If you can perform benevolent deeds and amass an abundance of blessings, you are already in the process of encountering your Buddha-nature – and you’re in the preliminary stages of exploring it. When you start to perform benevolent deeds, even if what you really seek are worldly blessings and rewards, you have already started to encounter the Buddha-dharma. That’s because only kind-hearted people perform good deeds. Those who are not kind-hearted don’t even bother to do a single good deed – all they know is how to make demands. And a person who doesn’t practise the act of giving is someone without good conscience. They will never bother to do even a single good deed.

As a disciple, one must first possess the potential to awaken – it’s the most fundamental quality for a disciple to have. Without it, you won’t be able to discover your Buddha-nature. But when you do, you won’t just discover your Buddha-nature, you’ll be able to witness and apply it. When a disciple has received the Master’s blessings, their blessings and rewards in the Human Realm will multiply rapidly. However, the purpose of my blessings is in fact to develop your wisdom. After all, wisdom stems from your ability to comprehend. If you fail to cultivate your mind, do not learn Buddhism and refuse to change your behaviour, you will never possess wisdom.

All human beings have deep-rooted, essential flaws. When we are not willing to listen to another’s opinion, our minds naturally establish a barrier that further rejects the opinions of others. This mental barrier is the foundation for karmic obstacles to build up. When someone refuses to listen to another’s opinion, their level of comprehension sinks to its lowest point – a sure sign that they have not yet awakened. But I give you blessings in order for you to grow in wisdom – the purpose is not to grow your worldly blessings. For practitioners, their fear of death aside, the thing they are most fearful of is the demon. When cultivating in a halfway manner, the demon will approach you in the form of obstacles and make you terrified. Remember: the demon is there to impede your progress. If you encounter the demon during your cultivation, you should never flinch. In Buddhism, that is called “unmoving suchness”. No matter what you encounter, your mind should always be in unmoving suchness. To do this, you must understand the principle of emptiness. The demon doesn’t possess a nature of its own. It does not possess Buddha-nature – the source – and so it is empty by nature. Therefore, don’t be afraid of the demon. Demon is empty – it has no self-nature. Only spirits have a nature of their own.

In your mind, create a practice place of unmoving suchness. It’s a practice place free of attachment to the notion of self. If you can maintain a mental state of unmoving suchness no matter what you encounter, and you realise the emptiness of materials, then in essence your mind already has a Buddha’s practice place. It’s a wonderful mental space, too – a place of great purity, with no space for demon to occupy. You will then be in unmoving suchness. Everybody must possess their practice place, which is in fact the Buddha’s practice place. How, then, can the demons intrude? If you can’t safeguard your practice place, demon will invade. But if you are upright and filled with the energy of righteousness, how then could the demons approach you?

BPT Vol 1.31: Form Is Emptiness, Emptiness Is Form