By Nhat Quan
After the Buddha attained enlightenment in Bodh Gaya, he went to Deer Park to educate the five brothers of Master Kondanna, and all five of them attained Arhatship. The young men of the Yasas lineage saw the good signs of liberation of these Saints, so they aspired to become monks. The fathers, mothers, wives, and children of the young Yasas came to Deer Park to see the Buddha's aura and the solemn crowd also made the mind to take refuge in the Three Jewels. Since then, Buddhism has been present in India for nearly 26 centuries, and Buddhism has spread from one country to another, sometimes rising and falling. Now I will tell you what causes the Buddha Dharma to flourish or decline so that you can preserve and develop the Dharma.
Initially, you do not hear the Buddha talk about the house of Dharma. Still, mainly he often mentions propagating the Dharma, whereby each person goes in his direction, to bring knowledge and attain enlightenment to life to benefit others Gods and humans. Those were Buddha's exhortations when he established his teachings. But later, when there were viharas, there were pagodas, there were people in charge of the pagodas, and you placed emphasis on managing the facilities, then positions arose, such as:
- Abbot
- Manage the treasury
- Managing the garden...
And especially the role of the abbot is affirmed as the pillar of the house of Dharma, so there is a saying:
- Abiding in Tathagata's land, maintaining Tathagata's treasury
- The abbot resides in Tathagata's land and keeps the Dharma for Tathagata.
That means the disciples become monks to study and preserve the spiritual temple. The monks must stay in the Tathagata's house to maintain the spiritual temple. It is clearly stated in the Lotus Sutra that the monks and nuns must have a compassionate heart.
When the Buddha was still alive, and the generations of our Masters and Patriarchs, never asked anyone for anything, but due to the merit of their practice, due to their moral power, God and kings and lords all came to worship and make offerings. All the existing and largest temples in the world are considered to be donated by Devas, followed by Guardian Kings and wealthy people, generally Buddhist believers and almsgivers.
Mainly monks and nuns live in Tathagata's house. In addition, there also needs to be people working with the Abbot who also have the same mind. If it's different, that means you've lost your compassion, then you'll still have a temple and people practicing, but you won't benefit people. In other words, there is no more Buddhism.
The Buddha attained enlightenment. He saw the dharmas operating in the universe based on causes and conditions and saw the interrelationship between humans and society. And seeing that this was true, he skillfully used this cause and effect to spread the Dharma.
The spiritual temple was built with the belief of everyone, that is, those who respect Him and Buddha's Dharma, the spiritual temple was formed, and the physical temple was built by the people offering land, money, and contributions effort. Therefore, the physical temple comes from the spiritual temple. The Buddha Dharma was obtained thanks to the Buddha's deep meditation in Bodh Gaya and his practice, attaining the state of Supreme Enlightenment. After that, Buddhism developed through the Holy Monks, through the practice of high monks, and spread from India to China, Vietnam, Japan, etc.
Buddhism prospers or declines depending on causes and conditions. In the past, our Masters and Patriarchs were respected and donated to build temples. Because of their great virtue and their affinity with the local people, they wholeheartedly supported the temple.
To practice, you must see deeply and not get entangled in greed, anger, or delusion. If you are entangled in these three poisons, you cannot practice and cannot develop your morality and spirituality. I see a large number of Buddhists coming to Duoc Su Temple and Ten Thousand Medicine Buddha Temple to practice Contemplation or Meditation towards the Pure Land, so their faith is very great, and together they form a large spiritual temple. Everyone has a common idea of practicing and wanting to build a solemn temple, so the physical temple exists accordingly. If the spiritual temple is large, the physical temple will be large.
You come to practice at a small temple, but if people come to practice in large numbers and devote themselves to the Three Jewels, the temple will become brighter, more beautiful, and bigger. Therefore, if the spiritual temple is bright, the material temple will be bright. If the spiritual temple is dark, the material temple will also be dim. I try to build a spiritual temple for you, that is, firmly believe in Buddhism. The more you are determined to practice to achieve good results and to sow these results into the hearts of the masses, the more your spirituality will develop.
Promoting Buddha Dharma means bringing Buddha Dharma into the hearts of sentient beings. Surely Buddha Dharma will flourish. Nowadays, Buddhism is developing at a high momentum, your task is to convert the masses towards Buddha, worship the Three Jewels, and live according to the spirit of Buddha's teachings, then Buddha Dharma will flourish.
Buddhism has a very special thing, Buddha exists in this life, He does not want sentient beings to be His slaves or turn sentient beings into His tools. Buddha's main goal is to educate living beings so that they can have a happy and peaceful life. Therefore, people turned to Buddha. On the path of salvation, he went to every country to benefit that place, without harming any person or species. It was because he always brought benefits and peace to the masses that the kings and lords of that time invited the Buddha to preach the Dharma so that the masses would listen to the Buddha and live a more virtuous and happier life. Kings and lords did not dare to touch Buddha. Whether they truly respected Buddha or not, we do not know. But they must certainly be afraid of the masses who wholeheartedly follow and respect Buddha.
Even when Buddha had Nirvana, he also benefited many people by choosing the city of Kushinagar the smallest country in the Five Rivers region for Nirvana, because he loved the poor people there. Indeed, when Buddha Nirvana, the kings and people in the Five Rivers region came there to pay homage to the Buddha's golden body, attend the cremation ceremony, and share the Buddha's relics. Of course, the construction of houses, roads, and infrastructure in general were created spaciously to accommodate the kings and followers at that time, creating a prosperous life for residents of that area. To this day, Kushinagar is considered one of the Holy Lands of Buddhism, also attracting many Buddhist disciples from around the world to make pilgrimages there. In this world, there is no Saint like Buddha. At that time, kings respected Buddha and when he left his illusory body, Buddha's relics were worshiped everywhere. Practicing According to Buddha, wherever Buddhists go, you must bring peace and happiness to those who come there. In a place of dispute, you should never go there.
Build a spiritual temple, put Buddha Dharma in the hearts of the people, give them respect for the Three Jewels, and surely a material temple will appear. If the spirituality is small, the material temple is small. If the spirituality is wide, the physical temple will be wide. The evidence is that in the past, the lecture hall of this Duoc Su Pagoda was small, but Buddhists came to practice in large numbers and there was not enough room to live, so they automatically called on each other to contribute to building the spacious lecture hall as it is today.
A person with a narrow mind, thinking that your temple, your Teacher, should only protect you, will fall into loneliness. If your mind is closed, no one will come and practice with you. If your mind is expanded a little more, there will be Buddhists who come to work, an old woman to sweep leaves, someone to cook rice, someone to plant flowers, clean Buddha's table, etc.
Once Buddhists know how to practice, they must have a tolerant mind like Bodhisattva Maitreya, because he is very cute, anyone can come to him. Reality shows that Buddhists with a tolerant mind often have many religious friends and they will become monastic disciples. Whichever temple has the most generous hearts of Buddhists will prosper, so many people at home practice and study. Of course, not everyone can do it, but saying that doesn't mean you can't do it. If you practice, you will be able to do it. However, it is important to have a tolerant heart that makes people feel loved and voluntarily contribute, build, and protect the temple, then you don't have to worry about anything. You just need to maintain a compassionate and tolerant mind to influence people.
The reason Buddha Shakyamuni prophesied for Bodhisattva Maitreya to replace him in saving sentient beings in the Saha world is mainly because of his tolerant heart. Therefore, Buddhists should open their hearts of tolerance like Bodhisattva Maitreya, only then can they bring Buddha Dharma into people's hearts and benefit sentient beings.
In the tendency to preserve the house of Dharma, if you practice, you should practice according to the model of Bodhisattva Maitreya. When preaching the Dharma, you must be like Bodhisattva Manjushri, or like Bodhisattva Vimalakirti. Because Bodhisattva Vimalakirti does not play the role of a monk and has no form of bondage, Bodhisattva Vimalakirti can be anywhere and can bring Buddha Dharma anywhere. For workers, Bodhisattva Vimalakirti is a worker. For intellectuals, Bodhisattva Vimalakirti is an intellectual. For business people, Bodhisattva Duy Ma is a business person. According to the Vimalakirti Sutra, it says:
- Bodhisattva Vimalakirti came to Vaisali City as an ordinary person, but whoever had sadness, suffering, questions, or difficulties, Bodhisattva Vimalakirti resolved it well for them. He solved everything, but he never spoke about Buddha's Dharma. Because Mahayana Buddhism is to bring benefit and happiness to the many. Therefore, Buddhism is not limited to the Amitabha Sutra or the Sutra on Avalokitesvara Universal Gate. If you take the form of a Buddhist monk and spread Buddhism in a country following another religion extremely, it will certainly be difficult to preserve your life, let alone teach Buddhism. And coming as Bodhisattva Vimalakirti means that any advice is correct, following Him will bring benefits, and of course, it is accepted.
Everything must be true, that is, Buddhism must be in harmony with society and with everyone. If you practice in the same pagoda, or the same color of clothes, with the same ideal of living according to Buddha, but are not in harmony with each other, then no matter how long you fast, or how many days you practice, you will still be thousands of miles away from Buddha. That's what I want to remind you.
The main job of the abbots is to propagate Buddha Dharma and keep the Tathagata's mind and heart peaceful in mindfulness. It means keeping the mind stable and clear to see life correctly and practice religion. The role of Buddhists is to harmonize with each other and invite each other to practice diligently.
On the path of practice, you need to receive the essential instructions of those two paths: Dependent origination from Alaya-vijnana and Bhutatathata Dependent Origination to practice to achieve good results. The Buddha attained Buddhahood by discovering the principle of Dependent origination from Alaya-vijnana and he taught that:
- Whoever sees the principle of cause and effect sees the Buddha Dharma, and if you see the Buddha Dharma, then return to the Tathagata Treasury and maintain the Tathagata Treasury.
Some people who come to the temple often say:
- I know all the Masters, I know all the Buddhists.
But they know it is false consciousness, so they are always troubled. If you want to end all afflictions, you must close the path of Dependent Origination from Alaya-vijnana, to open the path of Nirvana, which is Bhutatathata Dependent Origination. Closing the path of Dependent origination from Alaya-vijnana, or closing the door to the world by seclusion, means not listening, not seeing, not thinking. Open the second door, the path of Bhutatathata Dependent Origination or the path of Nirvana, and your mind will stabilize. From this peaceful mind, accept, maintain, read, and recite Mahayana sutras to find the meaning of Mahayana to live and bow to Buddha to form a relationship. Chant the sutras to understand the sutra's principles, then follow these principles to the source of your pure mind. When the true mind arises, you see Buddha, Bodhisattva, and Sages and Sangha.
In short, if you want to maintain the House of True Dharma, on the path of practice, you must maintain a true mind. You look at life and see that all practitioners are Holy Monks, all lay people are Bodhisattvas and do not see hateful sentient beings. As for the person who gives you a bowl of rice or a banana, if you think they are a Bodhisattva, then they will be a Bodhisattva. The Lotus Sutra calls that idea the Bodhisattva's prediction.
When you look at everyone, you see good people, and you see bad people as good, so they are good people. If you think they are bad people, how can they be good to you? If they are not good, it is because your karma is not good. Understanding that you should make an effort to practice, and gradually they will become good to you. From the true mind, one sees that all sentient beings have a Buddha nature and will become Buddhas in the future. Therefore, you cultivate the Buddha Dharma for them, grow this Bodhi seed, then gradually they will have faith in the Three Jewels and will also become good Buddhists, or become monks.
I hope that you try to bring Buddha Dharma to people's hearts with nothing more than preserving the Tathagata's heart. And develop a compassionate and tolerant mind towards everyone, then our temple or the True Dharma house where you are studying will be sustainable and develop, and the Buddha Dharma will last forever.
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