Master Lu, 2009 Feb 12
Every thought we process, every action we take in the present life has the potential to create negative karma. The sources for negative karma include greed, hatred, ignorance, grasping to the existence of self, grasping to the existence of others, grasping to the existence of forms, etc. Then how do we prevent the creation of negative karma?
First of all, we need to obey the precepts. To obey precepts means to change. Change your shortcomings, change your bad habits, change your temper, and eliminate greed and anger. We have all kinds of habits or tempers. Some may say, “I am a straight forward kind of person – I say whatever is on my mind.” Can we live like this?
By pretending to know something when you actually do not is already creating negative verbal karma, not to mention being disrespectful to Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. How can you cultivate when you do not change your bad habits or obey the precepts, and continue to eat meat and drink alcohol? Precepts are the foundation for Sila (precepts), Samadhi (meditation) and Panna (wisdom). It is only when you change your habits and obey the precepts, that you can reduce the potential for creating negative karma, hold your Samadhi to resist temptation, prevent ignorance and cultivate wisdom.
Once we have corrected the big problems, the next step is to practise “Aversion to selfishness within a flash of a second in the mind.” This in fact is a Buddhist saying. When evil or unwholesome thoughts are still at the subconscious level, we need to recognise them, and eliminate them in their premature state before they can be developed into negative karma. If we allow those thoughts to progress to negative intention, then negative karma will be created. This step is therefore much more difficult than giving up eating meat.
Then the next level is to conquer the inner demon. Inner demons are created by negative karma and consequently they will create even greater negative karma. Inner demons exist for those who have cultivated to a very high level. Only when you face them and recognise them, then you can eliminate your inner demons through realisation.
Recognition is not easy, and it involves much high-level cultivation and concepts, including letting go of grasping to the form of self and the form of others, seeing through the forms, and recognising the emptiness within the forms of all sentient beings, etc. Learning purely from theories does not solve the problems. A good example from our daily life is that: you see a beautiful young lady, and as an ordinary person you will only see and admire her beauty. However, if you have cultivated to the same level as Master Lu, you would say, “Ah, a being came down from Heaven because she has committed wrongdoings. You must cultivate well, otherwise you won’t be able to return to Heaven. That would be a pity.” Because Master Lu can see past lives and receive additional information, he can understand the full situation. Thus Master Lu is able to see through the ”vessel”, eliminate the “grasping”, and not be attached to the form. This is wisdom.
How many people can recognise and let go of money and fame? Master Lu can, because he can see the process of reincarnation and the six realms. He can see that this elderly person will be reborn as a man in the next life, and he will become a scientist. Master Lu can also see that some people have great wealth because they have accumulated positive karmic returns from previous lives; and that some people suffer from a difficult life because they have committed many wrongdoings in a past life. Life is merely a short-lived part of a person. Cultivation is the only thing that we can take with us in the end. Money is the same as the body – if you have it, it is because you are meant to have it; if you do not have it, it is because you are not meant to have it.
A professional trekker is heading towards the summit of a snowy mountain. He knows that the energy in his body is very precious so he plans every step precisely to avoid wasting energy. Even his backpack is precisely measured – it cannot carry more and cannot carry less. At the same time, he knows that a storm is coming before nightfall and he must safely arrive at the next camping ground beforehand. Then he sees that some people around him are taking the wrong path, some are too busy enjoying the view, and some are farming their sheep. So he tells these people, “Come this way and follow me. Don’t waste your energy and leave quickly. When the storm comes, your sheep cannot save you.” This is the difference between those who can recognise and those who cannot. You need wisdom in order for you to recognise, and you obtain wisdom through the cultivation of Sila, Samadhi and Panna.
The second tool for preventing the creation of negative karma is gratitude. The gratitude we speak of here is not merely a mindset. It is a tool, and it is one of the Dharma Doors for cultivation. Within our seven emotions and six desires, every kind of emotion and every kind of desire can create negative karma. Only gratitude can cut off negative karma. It is the only emotion that can stop the creation of negative karma, and it is an effective weapon against greed, hatred and ignorance. Thus when you gradually become accustomed to interacting with the people and matters around you with gratitude, your negative karma will reduce over time.