By Nhat Quan
Those who know how to cultivate the mind to cultivate nature and realize the law of cause and effect with certainty, always think of gratitude to repay the favor without ever thinking about revenge. Because the animosity you encounter today is the result of the evil cause, caused by you yourself before, not someone else, so you have to bear it now. Meanwhile, you get help from others, from small to big things, materially as well as spiritually, such as helping to find a job, lending some money, publishing an article, writing a friendly letter, master for a marriage…. Or a word of kindness and compassion, great and gentle advice in times of trouble. It is that you are indebted to people, or you have helped them in a past life, and now you receive that favor in return.
Pieces when hungry are equal to packets when full. Therefore, when one has received help, and care wherever it comes from, whoever does it, no matter how great or small, a person who knows how to cultivate his mind and nurture his character should be grateful and be repaid. Here is an interesting sample of gratitude and return stories:
In Keelung, Taiwan, there is a store named Ngo Duyen Hao. The owner Lam is a kind person, often doing good deeds, the area where he lives has many residents fishing for a living.
One day, a fisherman caught a giant turtle with a net, just when they were about to kill it for meat to sell, Mr. Lam passed by and saw the turtle constantly stretching its neck and bowing its head, and his tears flowing. It seems to be begging everyone around for help. When Mr. Lam saw this, he felt pity, so he spent a large amount of money to buy the turtle, and at the same time asked people to help him bring it back to the sea to free it.
Worried that someone would catch it and kill it again, he wrote on the turtle's shell five words:
- Meeting fate should be released.
With the hope that in the future, anyone who meets it will also have compassion, grant it the grace to live freely, and not kill it arbitrarily. After they finished writing, they immediately took the turtle to the sea to release it. Many people at the beach at that time saw the giant tortoise emerging, constantly stretching its neck towards Mr. Lam as a bow of thanks.
Everyone who witnessed the scene was very emotional. Therefore, they also promised each other, if they encounter such a large tortoise later, they will not catch, kill or eat it. So, to this day, the big tortoise still exists in this area of the sea.
The incident has passed 16 years, Mr. Lam's second son is now studying at a trade school in Taipei, and during the holidays, he takes advantage of the opportunity to visit home. That time, on the return journey, due to the boat going against the sea current and bad weather, unfortunately, the ship was hit by waves and sank. The waves drowned more than 100 passengers on the ship, and up to 90 people already died.
Although Mr. Lam's son could swim, the waves were so big that he almost drowned, exhausted from struggling with the big waves. Suddenly he felt his body being pushed up by something like a large round table. Looking closely, it turned out that he was lying on the back of a turtle, then looking closer, he saw that its mouth was as big as a washbasin. He panicked and wondered if he had to bury himself in this turtle's belly. He was about to turn around and jump into the water, but by then he was too exhausted, and no longer had the strength to fight anymore.
Tiredly lying on the back of the tortoise for a long time, when awake, he looked down, and suddenly he saw on the turtle's back the five words "Faced with fate to liberate". He suddenly remembered this sea turtle is the turtle that his father once saved his life. His heart changed from fear to joy, it turned out that the turtle came to save him. So, he hugged the sea turtle, and let the turtle carry him away, continuously chanting the Buddha's name in his mouth and thanking heaven and earth.
The sea turtle brought him ashore, and when he was about to land, he happily jumped into the shallow water. Lam's son folded his hands to thank the turtle for saving his life. The turtle also stretched his neck, and opened his mouth to make a sound, seemed very happy, then turned his head and swam away for a while. People on the shore saw it from afar and rushed to congratulate it.
The local people when they heard about the incident were very emotional, and since then they have always been happy to do good deeds. Previously an astrologer gave Mr. Lam a fortune telling him that he could only live to be 70 years old, but Mr. Lam lived to be 88 years old, moreover without any illness and had a happy ending...
Many people have also wondered:
- In this big world, how can the sea turtle know that the ship is about to have an accident at sea? And also how to know the people in distress at sea, among them is the second son of his benefactor to come to save. While they had never met, how could the turtle find him at sea, and even carry him on his back?
You can only say that causality is not wrong at all. When there is goodwill with each other, naturally there is telepathy. Perhaps that's why Mr. Turtle and Mr. Lam's second son met. This sea turtle with that age, maybe Earthimmortals enlightened, moreover knows how to repay the favor, so he is not afraid of big waves and storms to bring the son of the benefactor safely back home. This is really like a fairy tale in the middle of life.
Talking about gratitude and return, people in this world, it is very easy to turn kindness into hatred, like turning a hand. On the contrary, it is extremely difficult to turn hatred into true kindness. Only the sages, or those who know how to cultivate the mind and nurture their nature, that is, those who want to live in peace and happiness, can practice.
To be a grateful and repaid person, you must understand two states:
- You today have a lot of luck, good and happy, prosperous business, to sail before the wind, tall houses, filial children, close friends, and everyone's love. That is the blessing, the result of the good karma, you have sown many previous lives, and in this life, so now enjoy that good result.
- You today have a lot of bad luck, constant accidents, even death, lifelong disability, problems, lawsuits, business failures, debts all over the place, broken houses, and children. prodigal, friends betrayal, everyone hates. That is karma, the result of the unwholesome karma, you have sown many lives before, and in this life, so now you have all the bad consequences.
So if you are not aware of this, you are forever immersed in hatred and suffering, in the cycle of birth and death, when will you be able to get out?
Just be enlightened, and know how to turn back, then the shore of liberation is here, and affliction and suffering will end! You should also not be pessimistic about the fate that has been arranged, accepting the so-called fate. On the contrary, you can actively transform your life, correcting the cause that has been planted and created before. Depending on what kind of seed the cause is after it is sown in the ground, you have to wait for enough weather and predestined conditions to reap its fruit, sometimes immediately early, sometimes late. Sometimes you get a sour lemon, but you can sell it and buy a sweet orange.
That is the case when you have sown bad causes, either in your previous life or this life, but thanks to good knowledge, reminders, enlightenment, and encouragement, you know how to restore good and return to the right path. Change the three bad karmas of body, speech, and mind, into three pure and good karmas, do many meritorious deeds, cultivate the mind, and nurture nature. You can reap good fruit, or at least reduce bad fruit. Thus, big things become small, small things become nothing. Just like sowing the seed of thrift, you can reap rich fruit, or at least reduce old debt. If you know how to study hard, there will be a day when you will pass, become famous, or at least be less stupid than before, your wisdom will be clearer.
If in your mind you have a tendency to cultivate or learn to become a person of understanding or enlightenment, then you must also prepare mentally to face two types of people who love and hate. The person who loves you is the one who always encourages, guides support, and helps you. The person who hates you is the kind of person who is always criticizing, nitpicking, and making things difficult. Therefore, the ancients taught:
- The person who compliments you and compliments you correctly is your friend.
The person who criticizes you but criticizes the truth is your teacher.
For the people of the world, this concept is indeed a guideline for a gentleman, in dealing with life, while seeking to learn. However, for people who know how to cultivate the mind and nurture their nature, from the point of view of Buddhism, others praise or criticize, right or wrong, you all respect them as a good teacher or a good friend.
The first type of person is likened to a bodhisattva of good conduct, such as a teacher, or friend who always helps you, who often gives sincere and timely compliments to encourage, motivate, criticize blame, or rebuke with all compassion, for your progress, not for their ego.
The second class of people is likened to the bodhisattva of evil deeds, such as the examiner of the exam school or the school of life. These people often praise and criticize not at the right time, not because of goodwill, but intentionally, maliciously, not because of you, but because of their ego.
Thanks to the first class of people, you gain understanding, gain knowledge, attain enlightenment, firmly cultivate and study, and know the right path to follow. Thanks to the second class of people, you get a degree in life, if you pass the test and pass the exam, or you know where your level of spiritual cultivation has come, what level has been achieved, buffalo herds to the what level.
In the temples, there are always idols of both types of people above, the statue of protect the dharma and the King of hungry ghost statue:
- Statue of protect the dharma with a handsome face, holding a sword of wisdom to cut afflictions, overcome suffering, and step on a poisonous snake with three heads at his feet, a symbol of the three poisons: greed, hatred, and delusion. This statue represents or symbolizes all those who have the merit to protect the Dharma in a peaceful way, the first class mentioned above.
- The King of hungry ghosts with a fierce face, sticking out a blood-red tongue, wearing three mountains on his head, and spitting fire continuously. This is a symbol of all those who have merit to help the Dharma through a tough way to deal with unruly and difficult people to teach. This is the second class mentioned above.
Therefore, you always sincerely thank the virtues of both of the above-mentioned people, who have helped you to advance in all aspects. According to Buddhist scriptures, living in this world, everyone receives four great graces, and should always know how to repay, with respect, offerings, and service. The four great graces are:
1. Parents' grace.
You are in this world because of your parents. Parents born and raised you to grow up very hard, and for many long years, you have become what you are today. With this merit and grace, you must know and should repay your parents with respect, and material and spiritual support. Among the ways to repay parents, the most important thing is to help parents understand the Dharma, and soon realize the right path, then they will forever be free from afflictions and suffering, and live a peaceful and happy life. And if just because you are defending your wife and children, or your husband and children, or just because of a reprimand, or displeasure, you are angry at your parents, then this should not happen. Sometimes because parents divide their wealth unevenly, many people in this world wipe away all their parents' favors from past to present, abandon their parents, don't nurture, don't care, did not visit, did not want to acknowledge. Sometimes they even turn to hatred, even kill their parents, and fight for property! It is the most serious of the five heaviest sins.
2. Gratitude to Beings
You are living in society, that is, there are countless human beings, countless beings living around, helping you in all aspects, materially as well as spiritually. For example, thanks to a farmer you have food, thanks to a worker you have clothes to wear, a car to go to, furniture, and a house. Thanks to the doctor, or nurse, your health is taken care of, thanks to the teacher, your knowledge is expanded, and your mind is clear. That is not to mention the cattle plowing the fields, the horse pulling the cart, the dog guarding the house, and the camel transporting. You must be grateful and repay society, by working diligently, helping people, and doing all kinds of things that benefit everyone. Do not squander food, products, possessions, or supplies, even if you buy them yourself. Because, it is the merit of society, and many other people are in need, many other sentient beings are in need of those things, so if you don't use it all, give it away, and don't waste it!
3. National Grace
You are living in a peaceful and prosperous country, with many social benefits, full of food and warm clothes, and comfortable and peaceful living. This is possible thanks to the leadership of the rulers. You must be grateful and repaid to the country, by trying to be an honest citizen, a person with a professional conscience, contributing to the construction of the country. Do not disrupt the social order and peace, do not cause suffering to people living around you, do not do things that benefit you but are harmful to others, and do not take advantage of loopholes in the law to harm people. Do not earn millions to live happily on the suffering of others. Nor should you go to this person, and speak ill of the other. No disputes, no enmity. If you want to live a peaceful and happy life, you should help others live happily as you do. Thanks to that, your mind is purified, your life is peaceful when your earthly conditions are over, and you will be reborn in a good land, in the Western realm of bliss. No fear of going to hell, no need to congratulate, in the newspaper!
4-  Grace of the Three Jewels.
Those who have experienced life, whether young or old, see impermanence, understand cause and effect, guilt and merit, have the right view, and know how to practice the eightfold path, thanks to the Three Jewels. Thanks to the Three Jewels for teaching you to practice, teaching you to help sentient beings, escape from birth and death, samsara, karma, and avoid suffering. So you, wake up quickly, cultivate your mind and nurture your nature, don't wait until the day you close your eyes and give up. If you are unfortunate enough to fall into the three evil paths, the hungry ghost hell, or an animal, no one can save you. Even if you recite the Buddha's name ten times or ten thousand times, it still won't save you, because it's too late! If you know how to cultivate your mind, nurture your nature, and know the value of the Three Jewels, you must repay the Triple Gem with diligence in practice, respectfully making offerings. By stopping karma and changing karma. Stop creating sins, creating karma, by helping others cultivate their minds and nurture their nature, so that together they can be self-aware, enlightened, and fully enlightened.
The Buddha taught that you carry four heavy gifts, according to the world, in which the grace of parents is the heaviest. Because without your parents there can be no existence of you. In addition, you are also indebted to good teachers, and good friends who help you understand the morality of being a human and grow up in life. You are also indebted to society because you cannot exist alone. According to today's concept, you also have an existential relationship with nature called the environment and a relationship with all species and all things. The grace of four according to the Buddha's teaching is to be grateful to the Three Jewels.
According to his Nichiren-Daishonin, of the four great graces, the Three Jewels are the greatest. Because the previous three graces are still in the cycle of birth and death, so you continuously receive each other's gratitude from beginningless past lives to this day and forever.
The grace of the Three Jewels is most important because it brings you out of samsara. Indeed, it is thanks to the grace of your parents that you exist, but if it were not for the Three Jewels to guide you, your existence today would not be a person with wisdom, a kind heart, and a blessing. Because what you have today is the result of past karma. Therefore, you do not think that there is only a relationship between you and your parents and friends now, but also a relationship of many generations. Realizing this, you are sure that all the Buddhists attending the ashram today have met and helped each other, and have practiced together in the bodhisattva's assemblies in the past leading to the harmony of cultivation together today. Therefore, for Buddhist disciples, the grace of the Three Jewels is put on top.
Reminisce about your parents, friends, and people who had good relations with you in your past life, and meeting in the present life will be nice to each other. Just look at the past to know the present, or vice versa, look at the present and see clearly how your past is. Having a lover in the present is a good relationship in the past; Those who hate and oppose you have been against each other in the past. Knowing this, you must reduce opposition, and neutralize enmity, in order to increase good merit and gain good friends.
So, on the basis of the principle of cause and effect as taught by the Buddha, your present parents can be your parents in the past, or they can be enemies of you in the past. If you were a loved one in the past, to be reborn as a parent now is to know the past well; but if your parents are hostile to you in the present, you must know that it is an injustice and karma to meet again. So the Buddha taught there are three classes of relatives:
- One is due to the past grace to be reborn as a parent,
- Second, because of past enmity, rebirth as a parent,
- The third is because your spiritual practice is sympathetic to the Bodhisattvas and Saints who are reborn as your relatives to save the world.
You are generally in the relationship of four graces, the relationship of parents, teachers, and society, knowing that you have also had relationships with each other from countless lives to this life. If you love your parents in this life, they were your parents in the past. King Suddhodana and Queen Ma Gia were the parents of Buddha.
Therefore, everyone is born with a social bloodline and a spiritual bloodline. The social bloodline is the body and blood bloodline. Spiritual bloodline is the relationship between your parents' souls and your souls that have existed in the past. As you know, in your body there are bloodlines of parents and grandparents. Therefore, there are academic families who are good at studying or have blood relatives who are good at technology. But spiritual bloodline is more important. Therefore, many times the parents are good, but the children are not good, it is because of the material bloodline, but there is no spiritual bloodline. Without a spiritual source, children cannot be like their parents.
As you know, what you receive today is closely related to all people and circumstances around you. So to create good conditions forever, you have to be grateful and return the favor. You repay the Three Jewels to take care of learning and guiding the next generation, called taking care of the future. Paying back to the Buddha, to the teacher, is nothing but doing what the Buddha taught and doing what your teacher did for you. Therefore, there is only one way, which is to work hard to promote the results of spiritual practice, and you will be rewarded with four graces. If you don't practice, you have to wear fur and cow's horns. This means that you have to be reincarnated as a buffalo or a cow to pay your debt.
The best way to repay your parents is to cultivate well. If you practice, your mind will be at peace, your parents, grandparents, and ancestors will depend on your peace of mind, but they will also be at peace. Because, in your body, there are your parents and grandparents, so they approach you very easily. If your loved one dies, if you mourn and grieve, the dead will suffer as well. When you practice, your mind is at peace, the mind of the dead follows your mind, and they are also at peace. Therefore, you pray for the deceased, but also effectively return the grace of birth to your parents' upbringing, because they are already in you.
As for social grace, you clearly see, if you purify yourself to become a really good person in society, then the people you relate to will also be at peace, so even if you haven't done anything, they are already at peace.
If you want to repay the favor in full, the best way is to practice and attain enlightenment. And what do you do for your loved ones, but you suffer, you will only make your loved ones suffer more. Certainly, repaying the grace according to the world never ends, but returning the grace according to the Buddha's teachings as mentioned above is the best way. If people who are still suffering are related to you and think of you, they will also be happy and liberated; that is the meaning of the grace to pay the right Dharma.
In short, you should know that resentment and hatred are the causes, leading sentient beings into the cycle of birth and death. Immerse all beings in the sea of suffering, never-ending, if you do not know how to get out, the suffering will never end. Even if you always do favors for anyone all your life, if you just refuse to help people once, they will immediately turn their backs on you! People wipe away all the good that others have done for them over a long period of time. But they only remember one last unsatisfactory thing, so how many previous graces are no longer anymore.
In this world, the word Kindness and affection is rarely seen, but the word Resentment is everywhere. Because of such conceptions, people are always rolling in samsara, in afflictions and suffering, borrowing and repaying loans, continuously throughout life, never-ending. There is only one way you can do that:
Kindness and affection try to repay, but hatred does not pay. And always remember to thank and return to execute the sentence:
- There are favors you must know and repay
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