The three realms comprise a place of practice, as it is free of involvement. The three realms refer to the desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm. You should regard the three realms as a place of practice – a pure and clean place in your mind. But your mind should not get involved in the three realms – you must not treat them as a place you enjoy to stay in. By doing that, you will possess a pure and clean place in your mind. You need to see through the nature of the three realms and awaken to the fact that life has no self-nature. All of these three realms are a state of form and emptiness. If you view everything in the three realms as something empty and illusory, you will not be absorbed by it. Take, for example, the act of drinking alcohol. It can be regarded as enjoyment, but if you overdrink, you will get drunk and risk becoming addicted to it. Anything that is sensually pleasurable can entrap a person by making them addicted to it.
Affliction is Bodhi; the three realms are a place of practice. When affliction emerges, it offers an occasion to develop your wisdom. How is it that afflictions lead to wisdom? Can you gain wisdom without having afflictions? It is the very existence of afflictions that allow you to take advantage of them and develop your wisdom.
The inherent nature of all sentient beings is “non-self” – selfless. That’s why you must give rise to the Bodhi mind – the pure mind. Bodhi is wisdom. Once you possess the Bodhi wisdom, you will cease to have afflictions. Remember: the three realms are a place of practice for the training of our minds.
I often tell you that anything that does not last long is therefore illusory. The cycle of rebirths within the three realms is a kind of state – and all of it is illusory. When you have a benevolent thought, you will ascend. When you have a malicious thought, you will descend. However, Bodhisattvas have no hindrances, so they will not get involved at all. They can attain liberation from whichever state they are in. Only when you are not involved, and you have no expectations about the three realms, will you be free from whatever situation you are facing. Furthermore, if your understanding is entirely free of obstruction – that is, your understanding of a given subject is unobstructed – then you will enjoy smooth-sailing in whatever you do. Why? Because there is no opposition. To attain the state in which there is neither impediment nor obstacle, you should get rid of distracting thoughts absolutely. Only then will you be free of obstacles.
Conditions arise from aspirations. In other words, conditions stem from your power of vow. With a great vow, positive conditions will naturally come together and become complete for you. As such, if you’re aware of being lied to but you choose not to react, or you are being insulted but you choose to keep your countenance, you are in the process of getting closer to attaining Buddhahood. If you know that people are lying to you, just smile and don’t react. When you are insulted, keep your composure. You must be able to endure humiliation and cultivate diligently. If you can act on this advice faithfully, you will get closer to success in your Buddhist practice. No matter what happens, never let fear get the better of you. Come, and go, and leave nothing behind – just let everything take its course. That way, you’ll be at ease and won’t get upset. When you let go, you are free. When you let go of affinities, you are liberated.
If you are a wise person, you would never accuse others. It’s always better to first examine yourself rather than point your finger at someone else. I want you to know that although being smart is not easy, it’s even harder to be “muddled”. As the saying goes, “Being muddled is a quality to be cherished.” The “muddled” here refers to a smart and wise kind of muddle-headedness. When you can truly let go, you will not be muddled at all. Those who can’t let go are the true muddle-heads.
In short, when you’re disappointed, you need to use forbearance to restrain your frustrations. And when you are happy, you need to take it lightly. When something fortunate happens to you, take that lightly, too. You must control your mind regularly so that it remains composed, whilst experiencing no sense of fluctuation. If you can do that, you are deemed a person who “enters the Way” – you are a cultivated person.