By Nhat Quan
All people in society want happiness and want to avoid poverty and suffering. But most of you do not know how to manipulate to get happiness and avoid poverty and suffering.
In Buddhism, it is through ignorance that most people create more and more causes of suffering for themselves. Things don't just happen without a cause, so the source of all that poverty and suffering is your own creation of unwholesome karma. Unwholesome karma is the actions of body, speech, and mind that arise from negative emotions and feelings such as attachment, anger, and ignorance. These are the three main afflictions when you create unwholesome karma, the result is always suffering, trouble, or unhappiness.
Indeed, hunger and poverty are misfortune. You don't want to be poor. Even if you don't want to be rich, extremely rich, and have a lot of money, you also want to have a well-off, affluent, and comfortable life. At least there is food, clothing, a roof to shelter from rain and sun, and a means to make a living... But being so poor that there is no food, and no clothing is a misfortune.
Even more unfortunate is being poor but still in debt. Being indebted to others but unable to pay, begging for debt, making an appointment to meet tomorrow, then being asked by the creditor, asking for it over and over again, at the end the creditor has to foreclose on the house, force it to tie, beat... is what great misfortune.
Looking at human life, the young Bhikkhus could not help but mourn for the world. So a young monk asked the Buddha:
- Are people in such circumstances a great misfortune?
On this occasion the Buddha taught:
- Although they are poor and miserable, according to the Blessed One, such people are not the poorest, the most unhappy!
The young bhikkhus asked:
- Then, in Buddhism, what kind of person is the poorest?
Buddha taught:
- If anyone is for kusala, even if he has a lot of honeysuckles, lapis lazuli, crystal, mani, coral, amber, onyx, mother of pearl, jade, red stone... But he does not believe in the holy Dharma, does not keep the precepts, does not listen to the Buddha's teachings, does not give alms, and does not have wisdom. In My Holy Dharma, I call it poverty, unwholesomeness.
(The Poverty Sutra, Majjhima-Nikaya, no. 125).
Turns out, material poverty, being so poor that you have to borrow money and not being able to repay it, to the point of being tied up, beaten, imprisoned by creditors, etc., is still not the most unhappy poverty in your life. Those who do not possess faith in kusala dharma, do not keep the precepts, do not know how to listen to the Buddha dharma, do not know how to share good deeds, do not have the wisdom to know everything, are really the poorest and most unhappy people.
Obviously, if you live without faith in kusala, which means you don't believe in good things and don't believe in cause and effect, then you don't have the will to strive to rise up to change your life on your own. That way you can't get out of poverty even if you have other people's help, relief, and business conditions.
If you don't know how to keep the precepts, don't know how to practice, don't know how to make offerings to the Three Jewels, and don't know how to help the poor, even if you are rich, you will soon be poor again. Therefore, the most terrible real poverty is the poverty of knowledge, the poverty of morality!
The reason is that for the Holy Dharma, that is, the teachings of the Buddha, which is like a great sea, containing many precious treasures, countless fancy precious things, all kinds of jewels such as honeysuckle, lapis lazuli, mani, coral, amber, onyx, mother of pearl, jade, red stone ...
The Dharma of the Tathagata is also the same, full of precious and rare treasures, which are:
- Fourfold stage of mindfulness, Four right (great) efforts, four sufficiences, Five roots, five powers, The seven Bodhyanga, Eight Noble Paths... are such treasures that you don't know, don't believe, don't study, don't practice... No matter how rich you are, you are still a poor person. Therefore, the poorest, most unwholesome thing in life is that you turn your back on the Three Jewels and the Holy Dharma.
If you have turned away from the Holy Dharma, you are poor, but you still do evil with your body, speak evil with your mouth, and have evil thoughts, you are taking on unwholesome debts! In life, sometimes you only see people who borrow money. When you are in debt, then find ways, to do everything to repay the debt, even if it is wrong or bad, still despite creating bad karma. So instead of paying off debt, you're taking on more debt without even knowing it!
You are familiar with the concept of money and material debt but have not heard of the concept of unwholesome debt. The concept of unwholesome debt shows you many times when you are getting rich very quickly by taking on unwholesome debt that is:
- The body does not give up any evil deeds, the mouth is not afraid to tell the untruth of things, and the mind is constantly thinking to benefit you. That is, regardless of humanity, morality, law ...
When you have created unwholesome karma, you want to hide your body's evil deeds, you do not reveal yourself, do not want to speak out, do not like to be reprimanded, and do not like to listen to what is right. You want to hide evil words, and evil thoughts, do not express yourself, do not want to speak out, do not like to be reprimanded, and do not like to follow what is right. These actions, in the Buddha's holy Dharma, are called unwholesome begging for debt.
Usually, you not only hide your evil deeds of body, speech, and evil thoughts, but you also make excuses for your unwholesome actions. If concealment fails, and someone finds out and advises you, that doing so, such behavior, such evil, and such impurity is a thorn in which to hurt everyone, you will immediately make excuses, saying:
- I don't do that, I don't act like that, I'm not so evil, I'm not so impure.
Thus, in the Buddha's holy Dharma, it is called unwholesome debt collection.
Whether you are in a deserted forest, on a mountain, under a tree, or in a secluded place, seclusion is called practice but still remember three unwholesome things: desire, anger, and harm. Thus in the Buddha's holy dharma, it is called unceasing unwholesome debt.
Once the body has committed evil deeds, the mouth has spoken evil words and the mind has thought evil thoughts, therefore, when the body breaks up, after death, he will be reborn in an evil place, which is hell, a hungry ghost, or an animal. Thus, in the Buddha's holy dharma, it is called the bondage of akusala.
Buddha concluded:
- I have not seen any bondage as painful, as heavy, as cruel as the bondage in hell, hungry ghosts, animals. These three afflictions of suffering can only be known to an Arahant, who has completely destroyed them, uprooted them, and will never be reborn again" (Majjhima-Nikaya, Sutra of Poverty).
Due to unwholesome debt, sentient beings are bound in hells, hungry ghosts, and animals. It is the most painful, heavy, cruel realm. Therefore, when living in the world, instead of trying to get out of material poverty by borrowing unwholesome debt, it is better to say:
- Drink water when hungry, but when torn, make it fragrant
To avoid being caught in the three evil ways. And those who are already rich, are getting rich very quickly in terms of material possessions, and should also look back to see if they have debt and unwholesome debt.
Therefore, in order not to fall into poverty and misery, you must be aware. In this life, you are fortunate to have a precious human body. This precious human body is difficult to obtain, however, it is very easy to lose it at any time. You have this precious human body as a result of having accumulated merit and virtue from countless previous lives.
As a disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha, you have the opportunity to practice the Buddha's teachings. During his lifetime, Buddha Shakyamuni taught countless different practices for the benefit of all sentient beings. Because each sentient being has different capacities and karmic practices, you need different teachings. Just like in order to cure every disease, it is necessary to find a special remedy for each disease. Likewise, you need many different kinds of teachings, with varying degrees, to purify your good karma
Someone asked:
- How to purify the seeds of karma so that they do not ripen and bear fruit?
You can purify unwholesome karma by practicing and using the four antidotes.
First of all, you have to express your attitude:
- Feeling remorse for the unwholesome actions that have been created
- Put faith in the help of refuge objects such as Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha
- Practice good karma to balance bad karma
- Determined not to repeat the offense.
Remember, the seeds of good karma can be destroyed when you get angry or have wrong views. That's why you must cultivate wisdom and awareness to keep watch over your mind from falling into such negative attitudes and states. Although it is difficult to avoid afflictive emotions, especially anger, you can eliminate your past and present unwholesome karma by practicing purification methods such as chanting Luong Hoang Sam and Thuy Sam sutras, prostrate to the names of the Buddhas. And protect the good karma created by dedicating the merit to pray for all sentient beings to attain enlightenment soon.
In general, there are many methods to treat diseases such as taking medication, physical therapy, changing diet, and changing the way of life and work. Likewise, there are many methods for purifying karma. Remember that karma is not destiny, it cannot be changed. When you know that karma is not destiny, so when karma is not fixed, that is, it has not happened, you can change it. There is no unwholesome karma that cannot be purified and cannot changed.
The main teaching of the Buddha is the emphasis on the law of karma. Karma is created from the activities you perform with your body, speech, and mind. Talking about good karma is doing everything with compassion and love. To get rid of poverty and suffering, you must train your mind to practice compassion and love. You must cultivate true compassion for all sentient beings. Of course, compassion means wishing all beings to be happy and free from all poverty and suffering. If you don't sow the cause, there will never be any fruit. All effects come from the cause. Everything has a cause, nothing can happen without a cause. It is thanks to the good karma that you have accumulated from previous lives that you now enjoy the good results you have today. Therefore, the cause of all poverty and suffering is unwholesome kamma and the cause of happiness is wholesome kamma. You must try to eliminate the cause of suffering and plant the cause of happiness. The true source of happiness does not come from external conditions but from within your own mind. If you know peace, you will be happy. Conversely, if your mind is not peaceful, you will never be happy.
Here is a sample story for you to ponder:
At that time, the Buddha was residing at Sàvatthi, at the Vihara Anàthapindika. A young man, Subha Todeyyaputta, came to pay homage and said:
- World-Honored One: What is the cause, what is the predestined relationship between human beings, that we see some people with small assets and some with great assets?
Young man, listen and think carefully, I will say:
- Here, young man, there is a woman or a man who does not give alms, make offerings to monks, nuns, or brahmins with food, drink, clothes, vehicles, ... doing good deeds. Because of that karma, after the breakup of the body, after death, one is reborn in the bad realms, in the bad destinations, and in the lower realms. If he is allowed to go to a human being, wherever he is born, he must suffer poverty and have small possessions. The way to small fortune is not knowing how to give, make offerings and do good deeds
But here, young man, there is a woman or a man who gives alms and offers to monks and nuns or brahmins food, clothing, vehicles, etc. Do good deeds. Because of that karma, after the breakup of the body, after death, he is reborn in a good destination, in the heavenly world. If he could go to a human being, wherever he was born, he would be rich and have many possessions. The path that leads to many possessions, Young man, is to give alms, to make offerings to samanas or brahmins... in general, to do meritorious deeds.
Another very important thing is that you should practice patience. If you don't practice virtuous patience, all attachment, anger, and ignorance will destroy your peace and happiness and bring countless sufferings to your life. This adversely affects yourself, your friends, your family, and all sentient beings. Practicing patience is the source of peace and happiness in your life and all sentient beings. This comes from your own positive thoughts. To achieve peace of mind, it is essential that you cultivate compassion and love and direct these qualities toward all sentient beings. Compassion and genuine love are the essences of bodhicitta, the motivation for action for all bodhisattvas. Bodhicitta or compassion is the wish for all sentient beings to be liberated from the sea of samsara's suffering and thereby realize Nirvana. Nirvana means peace and happiness. You should visualize that all sentient beings were your parents in a previous life. As a result, you will naturally generate a sincere desire to help them liberate themselves from the sea of samsara. This is true compassion and love
At present, your love and compassion are lacking, still limited and conditional. You only love or have compassion for someone because they are your loved ones, friends, or family. Such compassion and love are fundamentally selfish and not genuine compassion. Genuine love and compassion should be directed towards all sentient beings without exception, not just your family or friends. Just like a mother's immense love and compassion for her children is always overflowing, full, regardless of whether the child is good or bad.
In the same way, you must practice compassion and equal love for your enemies as well as for your loved ones. You must train your mind to cultivate bodhicitta in this way. Therefore, you must practice patience. This is extremely important!
In short, if you practice contemplation of karma in your daily life, you can develop the realization that you are the master of karma and will be responsible for your actions. As a result, you will have the right attitude to live, accept the unsatisfactory things and be grateful for the lucky things in life. A deep understanding of karma also helps you to be prudent, and deliberate in each act of creation to avoid unwholesome karma and develop the causes of happiness and liberation. This will surely lift you out of poverty and will bring you peaceful experiences now and in the future.
With an understanding view of Karma, you see that human life is precious because it is an opportunity for you to accumulate immeasurable merit and purify countless negative karma. This is also the only place that allows you to freely decide the nature of happiness or poverty for your present and future life.
So use your human body most effectively, stay away from worldly delusional desires, and commit and strive diligently to practice towards enlightenment and liberation!
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