Teachings by Dharma Master Cheng Yen
Translated by Dharma as Water Development Department, Tzu Chi USA
Time takes everything away; as time passes, our lives gradually fade away. Although my physical strength has faded and my voice is not as strong, I still strive to seize the opportunity to teach the Dharma each morning. This is because I still have an unfulfilled vow. If I do not take this opportunity, how can I make a difference? My wish is to give my morning Dharma lectures on the Lotus Sutra.
My original intention was to teach the Lotus Sutra in a way that responds to our current times. The Buddha came to the world for one great cause, to teach us about the Bodhisattva Way of going among people. The Dharma is found among people in this world, so we must use worldly matters from our present times to comprehend its principles, and also use the Dharma to gain insight into and deal with worldly matters, in this way stringing principles, matters, and Dharma together in perfect unity.
I heard our volunteers from Taoyuan share about a Mr. Lin, who has suffered from tinnitus for many years. However, with great reverence, he constantly listens to the Dharma and prostrates to the sutras. He diligently listens with his ears and prostrates wholeheartedly. With mind and body in union with the Dharma, he forgets about his physical discomfort and his condition. I truly admire him! From this story, we can see that “no-self” is the only eternal self. All of life’s illnesses and suffering are the result of our attachments to the Six Roots of our bodies.
The first teaching that the Buddha gave after he attained buddhahood was about “suffering.” Where is suffering found? Suffering is found in “birth, aging, illness, and death.” Aging and illness are especially painful. The experience of “birth” is as painful as peeling off our skin; when the cold air comes in contact with a newborn baby’s skin, the baby immediately begins to cry. It’s just that we have forgotten our moment of birth and all its suffering. As for our everyday experience, most people say that eight or nine things out of ten do not go as they would like; ordinary people’s minds always feel as though they lack something, which causes them to suffer.
We are very fortunate to have encountered the Buddha Dharma, which can make up for the imperfections in life. When we are nourished by Dharma water every day and at all times, our lives will be beautiful. When we are able to view everything with a positive mindset, we can feel at ease. By entering the door to the Buddha’s teachings, we realize our one great cause in life. The core of the Buddha Dharma is the teaching about the Bodhisattva Way. Bodhisattvas go among people, turning the wheel of the Buddha Dharma. With each turn of the wheel of a bodhisattva’s heart, the Dharma wheel is making an even greater turn.
The Buddha is the Great Awakened One of the universe. In his era, he taught the Dharma for us who live 2,500 years later, explaining that “life is impermanent, and the earth is perilously fragile.” How can we turn impermanence into permanence? We can do so only by making good use of our lives and ensuring that the Vulture Peak Assembly remains in this world forever.
You have all sung the lyrics, “The Vulture Peak lies only in our hearts; within each of us is a Vulture Peak stupa.” However, without listening to the Dharma, how could we draw near to this assembly on Vulture Peak? With the development of technology, the Dharma can enter your homes. As long as you seize the opportunity and press a button on your TV or computer, you can listen to the Dharma and be permeated with its fragrance. This is so simple and convenient.
When we hold major spiritual training events, we will usually come together in our Tzu Chi offices. However, when it comes to listening to the morning Dharma talks every morning, this can also be done from home. Moreover, with the convenience of technology, anyone who wants to join spiritual gatherings can also do so online, regardless of the weather, the traffic, or how busy they are; there really is no excuse.
An online platform can be our place of spiritual practice. The Abode broadcasts Dharma teachings across the world, and all these virtual connections lead back to our spiritual home. We must take advantage of these causes and conditions to take the Dharma to heart. It is my greatest hope that no one is absent from the Vulture Peak Assembly.
All of you bodhisattvas are my disciples. With body, mind, and spirit, I am always wholeheartedly with you. I heard a volunteer say, “Master, I absolutely must adopt a vegetarian diet because I want to follow you lifetime after lifetime.” How heartwarming! I will be waiting for you all forever, in all lifetimes; no matter where I go, I will pull you close. If you have the will to follow me lifetime after lifetime, then no matter how far or how wide, we will meet again in our place of practice.
Compiled from Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma teaching at Online Gathering with Taoyuan and Hsinchu Volunteers on April 26, 2020 and Morning Volunteer Assembly on May 11, 2020