Gathering Virtuous Karma and Deeply Entering into the Sutra Treasury

National Headquarters  |  September 30, 2023

Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Dev. Dept, Tzu Chi USA

When volunteers gather and share, they usually have many things on  their minds that they want to say. I believe that most of the time, they  conclude that they experience great joy. Before we can experience  that kind of joy, we must work hard to give of ourselves, and once  we overcome the hardships, it will lead us to joyful rewards. Those  who take action will gain something in return. After giving, people  feel very grounded.  

The beauty of Tzu Chi lies in the perfect harmony of things. As I  sat in the audience of Changhua Stadium and watched from above  during the performance of the musical adaptation of the Sutra of  Infinite Meanings, although the stage was far away, the performing  volunteers were very orderly. Whether it was the female volunteers  or male volunteers, they demonstrated the beauty of patience and  perseverance of Tzu Chi volunteers. Furthermore, their movements  were also very synchronized. This was not just an event; rather, it  was a dignified Dharma assembly where everyone came together,  observing the discipline of a vegetarian diet with a heart of reverence.  In doing so, collectively, they create good karma. 

The climate change and the chaos in people’s minds we see nowadays  are the result of the collective negative karma of sentient beings. So,  how can we gather virtuous karma instead? It is done through our  body, speech, and mind. Bodhisattvas who entered the sutra treasury  and participated in the performance went through many practices  and rehearsals. They have engraved the lyrics adapted from sutra  passages deep into their minds and could sing them from memory.  In addition, although not everyone was performing on stage, some  were sitting in their seats, watching intently with their eyes, and all  together, people listened with their ears, moved their bodies, and  sang with their mouths. As thousands of people gather together  with utmost reverence, with their Six Roots pure and their flawless  sincerity, they eliminate all their ignorance; this is reverence through  body, speech, and mind. 

I have given all volunteers a copy of the Sutra of Infinite Meanings.  You can open it anywhere and recite any chapter or passage every  day. Just as the Lotus Sutra states, if recited reverently, even a single  verse or sentence can bring infinite merits. 

What “merits” refers to is being able to see the profound meaning  of a sentence in the sutra and suddenly being able to understand  what happened before, or gaining insights into what we may want  to do now. It means that whether in the past, present, or future,  we have a clear understanding of the Dharma, the principles behind  things. I often say, “By grasping one principle, we can understand  ten thousand principles.” The most important aspect of listening to  the sutra is to take the principles to heart. Once we do that, we will  naturally become vigilant and know to refrain from all evil and do all  that is good. 

We must encourage each other and praise others for the good things  they have done, as taking joy in others’ merits is also virtuous. When  we speak kind words to lead other people to do good deeds, we bring  peace and security to society in this world. When human hearts are  purified, families are harmonious, and society is at peace, our hearts  will be free from worries. By entering deep into the sutra treasury,  we can awaken our wisdom, discern the truth, and practice among  people in the world. 

The Buddha came to this world for one great cause, which is to teach  the Bodhisattva Way. The Bodhisattva Way is taught in the Lotus  Sutra, and the essence of the Lotus Sutra is in the Sutra of Infinite  Meanings. About fifty or sixty years ago, I was wholeheartedly focused  on entering the sutra treasury, and I had not started the Tzu Chi Merit  Association yet. At that time, in the Japanese version of Lectures on  the Lotus Sutra, I came across the Sutra of Infinite Meanings, and I  was delighted! Previously, I had not seen that sutra in the Buddhist  community, so I sorted through it and copied the sentences one by  one from the Japanese text. 

When I started teaching the Sutra of Infinite Meanings, people had  to have access to the sutra text. Thus, I placed wax paper on the  steel plate of a mimeograph tool, and used an iron stylus to etch  each character onto the stencil, stroke by stroke. After that, I placed  a piece of white paper on top, and rolled ink over the wax paper to  make copies, one by one. There were so many characters, and my  hand ached from the etching. To this day, I still have to apply a warm  compress on my hand often, since it still hurts. However, my heart  is full of joy. When the pain comes, I just rub my hands together and  endure the pain. 

I hear how everyone is entering the sutra treasury, experiencing joy,  gaining insights, and applying the teachings in their lives. Everyone  is diving into the sutra text, taking the Dharma to heart, accepting it,  and understanding the meaning of the Buddha Dharma. This brings  great joy to my heart.  

With my heart full of Dharma joy, even if my hand hurts, as long as  everyone takes the Dharma to heart, my pain will be well worth it. 

Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s teachings during conversations with Chiayi  volunteers on August 1, Changhua volunteers on August 2, and Taiwan central region  volunteers on August 6, 2023. 

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