Observe the Intention of Listening to the Dharma, Walk the Path of a True Practitioner
The Global Lamrim class listened to Teacher’s discourse on “Intention of Listening to the Dharma”, which is regarded as one of the most suitable pre-lesson motivation. In the discourse, Teacher began by rejoicing everybody for jointly persevering and taking a dedicated approach in learning the Lamrim at the same pace, particularly senior students who have been learning the Lamrim for more than 20 years. She respectfully acknowledged these students for their unwavering learning attitude in contemplating the Lamrim, and encouraged all students to continuously persevere.
Having met the dharma, excellent teachers and virtuous friends after many eons, we need to ensure not to be negligent in our attitude. Otherwise it will be a mere obstacle on the path of practice
Teacher reminded all that her concern for students who have been learning the Lamrim for a long time, is having complacency set in and becoming impatient, thus not able to delve deeper into the Lamrim, consequently leading to being exhausted and discouraged to continue. Teacher commented that, if one does not learn correctly, while the mind gains more ‘fuel’, which means one is still able to accumulate some dharma knowledge, it will be without strength, and will get weaker and weaker. In dealing with this kind of situation, Teacher felt that we ought to be extremely cautious with the intention we have of our practice.
Compared to Great Masters in the past who had to traverse with great efforts, even overcoming mountainous terrains and crossing oceans, seeking the dharma intensely, we, in contrast, can now easily and effortlessly obtain the dharma. All we need to do is refer to the Lamrim, turn on Master Jih-Chang’s tapes, gather a few Lamrim students, and we are able to discuss and study Master Jih-Chang’s discourses. The one-minded focus and bravery of the Great Masters in the past to seek a good teacher for their teachings, just to listen to a sentence, or a few words of Dharma, is something unfathomable by us today.
Hence Teacher earnestly reminded us that we have fought very hard in our past lives in order to come together now as friends on the path, to listen to Master Tsong-kha-pa’s teachings, this kind of cause. We must not take it lightly and become arrogant, disrespectful and without joy, just because we are enjoying the virtuous merits we have accumulated in the past. This will become our obstacles after it accumulates internally in the mind.
Listening to the Discourses is like Meeting the Virtuous Teachers. Respecting the Sutras is to Continue Our Life of Wisdom
As a result of being disrespectful to the dharma, obstacles will be created. So how to be respectful? Teacher commented, “Each time you listen to the dharma, each time you listen to Master Jih-Chang’s tapes, visualize Master Jih-Chang is sitting before you, meeting the virtuous teacher! Every time when we listen to Master Jih-Chang’s discourse, it is hearing the sound of the dharma, an opportunity in many lifetimes. We must not treat it lightly, be disrespectful, have insufficient pre-preparation, lest we create afflictions as a result. As we are all aware, if we do not have the correct intention in listening to the dharma right from the beginning, we will eventually fail.”
On the subject of intention in listening to the dharma, Teacher pointed out on why we wish to listen to (the teachings) and contemplate on the Lamrim. The reason is because we want to be enlightened expeditiously so that we could relieve the sufferings of all sentient beings. Teacher remarked that, if we do not share the same goal as what the Buddha has taught us, then how could we walk the path to enlightenment eventually? Hence, we must adjust the direction of our mind right at the beginning, do not learn the Lamrim with the most inferior intention. By looking at the Lamrim, we have met the right Teacher with the right Teachings, why do we choose to learn the dharma with this inferior mindset? Once this becomes a habit, the disrespectful and complacent attitude will naturally surface whenever we attend Lamrim class.
Teacher quoted Pg 27 of the Guanglun (Page 74 of Lamrim Chen Mo Text), on “The King of Concentrations” Sutra, where there was an individual who sang praises of the sandalwood but he actually did not possess any sandalwood at all. Teacher indicated the reason for listening and contemplating on the Lamrim is our wish to eradicate all pains and sufferings in our lives. As such, we ought to learn what we need to forego, to truly observe and carry out the teachings, and uphold ethical discipline well. The sandalwood is analogous to the precepts and ethical discipline. If we only wish to seek the teachings, and then urge all to learn the Lamrim because it is so wonderful, yet we do not practice according to the teachings ourselves, then it is training without ethical discipline. Teacher would like us to constantly remind ourselves of this. Begin with our intention of listening to the dharma, then align our hearts and minds to this intention and practice accordingly to the teachings. We must arise the definite understanding that the dharma is a once-in-a-lifetime rarity that we get to meet.
At this juncture, Teacher recalled many incidences of Master Jih-Chang’s respect for the dharma. For example, whenever Master Jih-Chang conducted lessons, he would earnestly and respectfully hold the Lamrim with both hands, as if he was holding a priceless treasure. At that moment, anyone who saw Master Jih-Chang’s expression, would be deeply moved with respect and would not be neglectful in their learning attitude.
Teacher said that when she saw how Master Jih-Chang held the scriptures, “I feel my wisdom is at its lowest. I will generate negative karma if I continue to disrespect the scriptures, the Virtuous Teachers who could propagate the dharma, unable to arise the respect for the dharma when listening to the teachings, this would be a cause for poor level of wisdom! I will no longer be able to even accept myself if I continue to be ignorant and deteriorate.”
In comparison, we attend our Lamrim classes haplessly and casually. For the sake of our life of wisdom, Teacher urged us to demonstrate respect and to treasure each and every time we listen to the dharma, be it to hold the scriptures, to lay down the scriptures, or to turn the pages of the scriptures. She reminded us that while these generate karma, it is also a way to practice.
By listening to Dharma, one will know what should be adopted and what should be cast aside. By eradicating all that is unwholesome and practice what is virtuous, one will gain great advantage
Teacher was very pleased with our Global Lamrim Learning. Before the opening of the Educational Park, she had suggested to Master Jih-Chang for all full time staff in the dharma enterprises to set aside a fixed time slot daily to study the Lamrim. At that time, Master Jih-Chang replied, “Your suggestion is very good! Very good! We will wait for you to come to Taiwan. We will wait for you to come to Taiwan.”
Teacher felt that it was an immeasurable blessings and joy that everyone was diligently learning the Lamrim and attending classes on time without fail. Hence, she ardently encouraged everyone to treasure the time and ability to learn the Lamrim daily. This gesture would not only delight Master Jih-Chang and all virtuous teachers, even Buddhas in the ten directions would be pleased too. In this way, we will be blessed by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, hence, escalating our process in attaining enlightenment.
Why is it important to listen to the Lamrim daily? Teacher explained that the main reason for creating negative karma is due to our ignorance. Ignorance is the inability to discern what is virtuous or non-virtuous for us, and also having a scattered and heedless mind. How do we overcome these? If everyone could set aside twenty or thirty minutes every morning to listen to Master Jih-Chang’s discourses, just through listening, we will be awakened from our dreams of samsara (cyclic existence). We will then realise, “I am in cyclic existence, I cannot wilfully indulge in the trivial, the mundane enjoyment in this present life; we should not yearn for the little benefits now and abandon the bigger benefits of subsequent lives. Therefore, when faced with a (challenging) situation, there will be an awareness of right mindfulness and vigilance, which all these are acquired through listening to the dharma.”
Why is it necessary to listen to Master Jih-Chang’s discourse of the Lamrim? Teacher stressed that, this is because in his discourses, Master Jih-Chang’s had his unique tone. For example, Master Jih-Chang would place stronger emphasis in certain phrases or words, or a gentle and unhurried tone in others. These intonations will leave a deeper impression in our hearts and mind. Hence, when we hear Master Jih-Chang’s reminders, we will eradicate all that is unwholesome and want to practise all that are virtuous. We will then be determined to gain the greatest merit in this life of leisure and opportunity. This is one way of joyous perseverance!
Everyone is diligently learning the Lamrim today. Teacher mentioned that whenever she shared with the excellent teachers on our perseverance in learning the Lamrim, they were very pleased, rejoicing with joyous praise, and even with palms clasped together above their heads and exclaimed, “Being able to learn the Lamrim so diligently, (it is) marvellous! Marvellous!”
Teacher said she would still follow the progress of Global Lamrim Class closely despite being ill. She fervently hoped that there would be more opportunities to jointly discuss the Lamrim with us. Teacher encouraged us by saying that the Global LamRim Class is strongly supported by the joyous blessings of numerous virtuous teachers and their earnest care and concern, particularly Master Jih-Chang’s strong aspiration. Although Master Jih-Chang had passed on, his strong aspiration and love have never left us. As such, we must treasure every word and sentence that Master Jih-Chang had spoken, and apply them in the training of our mind. For us to eradicate all our suffering and attain true happiness, we must walk the path of a true practitioner!
Translation and review by: Lim Siew Cheng, Shui Ching Jaw, Dawn Chen