Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Development Department, Tzu Chi USA
Time is fleeting. The moon wanes and waxes, and now, during Mid Autumn Festival, the moon is particularly full. As there is a full moon each month, why do people pay special attention to the full moon during Mid-Autumn Festival? It is because the autumn weather feels clear and refreshing. The sky is clear, and the moon is high and bright. Though this is an astronomical phenomenon, it is more importantly, the result of people’s mindsets.
The key to our spiritual practice is to cultivate our minds. If we take good care of our minds, we can keep them in a harmonious state. The ignorance in ordinary people’s minds is like the dark clouds that cover a bright, full moon. The moon itself is intrinsically clear and abides in space; it is there, following its orbit freely. Our minds must be the same, following the principles while remaining free.
Earth, moon, and sun are all celestial bodies that exist in the universe. Earth is one of many planets, and one of the most beautiful, comprising water, mountains, land, and countless ecosystems, animals, and human lives. It is truly rare and precious to be able to live on Earth.
Truly, we are very blessed. In this vast universe, only Earth has all the conditions required for beings to engage in spiritual cultivation. The world is a mix of joy and suffering, and through witnessing suffering, we come to know how blessed we are. The Buddha taught us how to be liberated from ignorance and achieve a pure and radiant nature, so that we can be liberated from samsara and impermanence. We must understand the law of time, and learn how to seize it.
Every second, time is fleeting away. We cannot physically see each second, nor stop its passing. Every first and fifteenth day of the lunar calendar, we can see how the sun, moon, and Earth rotate regularly. When it is off, the lunar calendar adjusts to match these cycles of rotation.
This is similar to what happens when we do walking meditation and circumambulate the Buddha. Before taking the next step, we must let go of the last. Our steps must be in sync with those of others, or we will run into each other. The same is true for the planets in the universe; the distance between planets as they rotate and orbit must be balanced.
When engaging in spiritual cultivation, we cultivate our minds to be balanced and harmonious. In doing so, we will not easily give rise to a slight deviation in our minds, or an ignorant thought that will take us far off course. Our minds should never be out of balance, just as during recitations, there should be no disharmony to the tune or rhythm. I hope everyone learns to adjust their mind, timing, and their every action.
The causes and conditions to engage in spiritual practice are truly rare and precious. How many spiritual practitioners are there in the entire population of Taiwan? How many people can gather here to practice? We must cherish the causes and conditions and seize the time to cultivate our minds and actions. Our minds are important, but it is even more important to express what we are thinking about. We must cultivate our minds, refine our characters, and rectify our actions. Our thoughts and actions must be consistent. We must cultivate our minds to be truly perfect, like the full moon in the sky.
A full moon does not only appear on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month; there is a full moon on the fifteenth day of every lunar month. Yet, the eighth month is replete with many conditions. The sky is clear, and the weather is refreshing, so it looks particularly beautiful. People have crafted many words to describe the beauty of the Mid Autumn moon. But, in fact, we must all beautify ourselves. When the moon in our heart is full, we will treat others harmoniously. When we engage in spiritual cultivation, we must cultivate ourselves so that our interpersonal relationships are harmonious and perfect.
We are only truly engaging in spiritual practice when we are mindful. Otherwise, we are no different from other people. We must cherish our opportunity to engage in spiritual cultivation so that we can cultivate a perfect mind, perfect interpersonal relationships, and perfect harmony in the universe. Each day that passes is one day less in our lives. As we cultivate blessings in this world, we must also grow our wisdom. I truly hope everyone will cultivate both blessings and wisdom.
Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings during morning recitation at Jing Si Abode on September 10, 2022