DHARMA IN EVERYDAY LIFE
- CLOSE TO GOOD TEACHERS,
- GOOD FRIENDS
By Nhat Quan
Good teachers and good friends in Buddhist terms you often hear
are good knowledge. In Buddhist scriptures, it is often taught,
and Venerable monks often encourage you to stay close to good
teachers and good friends to learn. The opposite of a good
teacher and a good friend is a bad teacher and a bad friend.
Evil teachers are the type of teachers who use magic spells to
deceive people. You have to be careful, they give you charms to
cast spells on others, whether it works or not is unknown, but
you are the one who gets caught in the spell first because they
will threaten you that if you don't follow it, your family will
be ruined. If you don't follow it, you will die on the spot. I
see superstitious people often follow this path.
I know a few people, they look very pitiful. They told me that I
accidentally believed in that Teacher, but the Teacher
threatened me, telling me to find five more ungodly people and
then I would go to heaven. If you don't get that, you'll get hit
by a car and die. Then she showed me the amulet and asked:
- According to you, what should I do now?
I burned it and told her I had burned it. Buddhists bow to the
Medicine Buddha and he will save you. Don't be afraid.
Because the theme is being close to good teachers and good
friends, following this trend, the Patriarchs often teach:
- When going far, you need to rely on good friends
Always keep your eyes and ears clean;
Somewhere, you also need to rely on good friends,
Then every day you hear and learn something you've never heard
That is important on the path of learning religion. As a
practitioner, you must remember it all your life. If you hear
about a place with a good Dharma practice, you should go there.
When you hear about a place with a famous monk, you should go
and study. Even though that place is difficult and miserable, if
you learn, you should stay. On the contrary, elsewhere there is
a better material life, but if one cannot study or practice,
then one's efforts there will be considered in vain. Reality
shows that where material life is too full, there are often many
dangerous temptations. Where there is lack and difficulty, think
about why there is lack and difficulty. According to the law of
cause and effect taught by Buddha, it is that difficulty and
deprivation that will overcome your negative karma. Because of
bad karma in previous lives, now you have to be born in bad
circumstances to respond to your bad karma. So, if you want to
escape this situation, you must fix it so that you can overcome
The Patriarchs also taught that:
- Being close to good friends is like walking in falling dew,
But people with evil karma cannot accept good friends, and
cannot hear good friends, but they are more suitable for evil
On the path of practice, in the first step, you avoid evil and
approach good. If you are close to evil friends, then your evil
thoughts and actions will increase, because you are close to
evil, hear and think evil things, so evil increases. Therefore,
when you are close to evil people, and you can accept and hear
them, you will know that your evil karma is still there. If
there is no more evil karma, you hear evil and feel jarring and
So you have to be careful of what you see and what you hear,
because when you see bad things, your bad mind will arise, and
when you hear about bad things, your bad mind will increase even
Cultivate in the religion, and meet friends of the religion, but
beware that they are bad friends. Indeed, people go to many
ashrams, so they know too many bad things about each ashram,
meaning their minds already have bad karma. Good people sit and
listen to the Dharma to believe and adjust their bodies and
minds to become good, and bad people can sit and listen to the
Dharma, but they try to look at this person and that person and
they also hear bad things, and then, they come together to
discuss bad things, so the bad things are multiplied. In an
ashram, if there are just one or two bad people, it is enough to
make this ashram a mess. Because they only see bad things, but
they don't listen to the good things that teachers preach.
The most dangerous thing is the person who goes to many ashrams
and collects bad things, which is a ghost masquerading as a
Buddhist. If monks and nuns still use charms, they are demon
kings pretending to be monks. They are truly evil spirits,
pretending to follow Buddha, monks and nuns also wear robes, and
Buddhists also take refuge in the Three Jewels, but spread harm
to people. If you are close to such people, your evil views will
increase. If you happen to see or hear this evil, don't let it
come to your mind, and don't be close to them anymore. Because
if you keep listening, your evil will increase in the future,
making you no longer close to the religion.
Previously, there was a young boy who wanted to become a monk at
Duoc Su Temple, so his mother also came, but every time she
came, she said:
- Someone is following me.
At one point she said:
- Someone opened the car door to take my things
At one point she said:
- Someone is trying to break my car window...
Hearing that I said:
- Duoc Su Temple has never had that happen, but why did it
happen when you just arrived?
Hearing me say that, she stopped talking. So she changed the
story, saying it was her wallet so someone could take the money.
She concluded that while cultivating, one is still greedy.
Talking about greed may exist, but those are thieves and
robbers, certainly not Buddhists who practice at the temple.
They are bad person pretending to be Buddhists, entering the
Temple to take advantage of the crowd, taking advantage of the
Buddhists' loopholes to steal. People who don't know falsely say
that cultivating is greedy, cultivating is bad, and saying
things like the woman I just mentioned is not true.
People who come to the temple to practice differ from those who
go to the temple to steal. People who often steal often look for
the organization's mistakes to stigmatize. Therefore, during the
Dharma teaching or prayer time, they do not listen, do not focus
on praying, but only look for bad things and keep these bad
things in their hearts to multiply. Those people are evil
teachers, are bad friends you must avoid.
Discussing people who practice but are still greedy. Suppose
there are 100 monks and nuns, but there is only one good monk or
nun, then you can only rely on this one monk or nun. For
example, in an agarwood forest, there is only one agarwood tree
that radiates fragrance to the entire forest. Not all trees in
the forest are agarwood. People who seek religion are like
people who seek agarwood. If you try to find agarwood, you
should also try to find good friends and preserve this
friendship, but people are like rotten wood, you don't care.
Talking about good teachers and good friends, evil teachers and
bad friends, there are people who come to the temple to make
offerings and devote themselves to taking care of and building
the Three Jewels, that is a good person, who has a heart to care
for the Three Jewels. Meanwhile, there are people who come to
the Temple to make money, or embezzle, go shopping for the
Temple, take money, and do anything for their own gain, those
are bad people. You can distinguish three types of people:
- Ordinary people, when the temple gives them money, they take
that much to take care of the Three Jewels.
- Evil people take a lot of money from the Temple but take
little care of the Three Jewels.
- Good people take little money from the temple but take care of
the Three Jewels a lot.
For good Buddhists, no matter how much they care for the temple,
they still care enough. I say this to share with you, not to
complain or blame you at all. There are Buddhists who took
refuge at Duoc Su Temple. When they came back to visit Vietnam,
they were afraid that the Pagoda would ask them to buy this or
that, so they told their fellow practitioners not to let their
Master know that they were going to Vietnam. Besides that, there
are also Buddhists who did not take refuge at Duoc Su Pagoda,
but before going to Vietnam, they asked the Teacher five times
- If you need anything in Vietnam, I will buy it. Then when they
came to Vietnam, they asked me what I needed and they bought it.
No matter how much they buy, they don't mind.
Here someone asked:
- Why are there Buddhists who are loved and cooperated in all
aspects by many people, but there are Buddhists who are not?
After all, the important thing is the heart for religion, so it
is right that many people cooperate. You should get close to
good people, and see their deeds, so you can imitate them.
Therefore, when you study Buddhism, you don't have to look for
people who are old and have practiced for a long time. A novice
practitioner, but his character is as respectable as a
Bodhisattva, worthy of your study.
Many times, there are people who have practiced for a long time
and studied highly but have not been able to do as well as those
who have a heart for religion. If you meet people who have the
mind to practice and care about the religion, you should
consider them as teachers. Studying people who are younger than
you in life and religion is learning their hearts because they
are good friends.
On your path to practice, you need to be close to good friends,
to easily learn from their good qualities. Meanwhile, it would
be best if you stayed away from bad friends. Because they are
close to bad people, they take a lot of everything and buy
little for the temple. Near them, you will be affected by:
- One is the arising of evil thoughts,
- Second, if at some point you get greedy, you will steal like
Stealing from the permanent residence, of the Sangha, will
certainly have extremely bad and serious consequences. Being
close to people with such greed will make you develop evil views
and bad ideas, and of course, bad actions will follow. That's
why when you first practice, you're not bad, or a little bad,
but because you're around a lot of bad people, bad ideas are
born and you become a bad person very easily, and a lot.
Practicing according to Buddha and being close to good teachers
and good friends is the key to keeping your ears and eyes clean,
and never letting your mind become dirty. If you accidentally
see a bad thing, don't let it be indifferent. If you hear an
evil person say something sinful, you must bow down and repent.
It is this practice that I often apply, which is bowing in
repentance, bowing to the Buddhas, and taking the Buddha's image
instead of the ghost image. When I bow to the Buddha, I see the
Buddha's good form appear, and the evil spirits disappear.
Bowing to the Buddha to the extent that evil words no longer
ring in the ears, no longer exist in the heart, is the end of
karma. To be like that, you must bring Buddha into your heart
and look and you will only see good people. And when there is
only good in your heart, then on the outside, everywhere you go
will be good. If your heart is not good, even if you look for
Buddha, you will still encounter evil demons, or evil demons
pretending to be Buddha, which is extremely dangerous.
Remember that people who use magic spells to force others to
listen, but later resent it more. Those who practice and still
use spells to tell others, for their own benefit, will receive
evil karma. But the truth is, if you truly practice, you will
have everything and not lack it.
When your mind is clear and directed towards Buddha, you will be
loved by many people, and beyond that, there will be Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas protecting and helping you, those are good friends.
Magic spells are evil friends. You should not be close to these
evil friends. You can only be close to those who have a pure
heart and do good deeds. If you are close to good friends, you
will learn many good things. When you need something, and do
something, people automatically want to help.
And when they are willing to help, you should accept their
kindness and don't accept anything that is not necessary. In
this case, when you have good friends, your greed arises your
karma is still there, and your mind is already evil, from which
evil words and actions will appear, meaning your body, speech,
and mind are all evil. So when you need something, but people
don't satisfy you, you have the idea of convincing people, so
that they don't give it away, then lend it anyway. So, once an
evil thought has arisen, an evil appearance will follow, and the
consequences will certainly never be good.
You know that form comes from the mind. Buddhists who truly
practice, often recite Buddha's name, and read sutras, the
sutras and the image of Buddha will come alive in their hearts,
and they will appear gentle and lovely. If they truly practice,
at first they may be bad, or worse, but by bringing Buddha and
sutras into their hearts, their hearts light up and bad thoughts
disappear. Sometime later, when you meet them again, you don't
expect them to change so quickly and so well. From poor people,
working as hired laborers, they become rich, luxurious, or
become kings or mandarins, it is thanks to the merit of their
practice. Typically, Zen Master Van Hanh guided Ly Cong Uan to
practice properly, from an orphan, he became a virtuous king.
Worldly people are full of greed, anger, and ignorance, but
thanks to practice, evil karma is transformed. Because they live
with the Dharma, they change their bad nature and become good
people, saints. But because you made a mistake and met an evil
demon pretending to be a Buddha, it made you become bad.
Therefore, you must know that you practice wrongly. Observe
carefully to determine right and wrong. Practice correctly, and
advance to the Sage. If you practice wrongly and become a demon,
then the people around you are all bad people.
In short, evil friends will invite you to meet evil teachers.
When you encounter difficulties, they lead you to evil teachers
and show you many dangerous things. Therefore, on your spiritual
path, you need to stay away from bad teachers and evil friends
and stay close to good teachers and good friends called good and
wise friends. It is the masters who truly practice, with only
one heart to save sentient beings and good friends, who practice
the Dharma. These people will be truly good people who can teach
and guide you to become a good person, a wise person, and even
further, guide you to Buddha and Bodhisattva. Only then will you
be able to sublimate your knowledge and morality, escape all
disasters, and always live peacefully, be liberated, and benefit
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