Archive for May, 2010

02
May
10

The Platform Sutra – The Formless Stanza


Talk presented by Venerable Guo Xing

On Sunday, March 7th, Abbot Ven. Guo Xing continued his talk on the
topic of "The Platform Sutra – The Formless Stanza". Venerable gave
examples of daily life to explain how discrimination, prejudice, and a
judgmental mind bring out both sides of things, such as good and bad,
right and wrong. With a calm and stable mind, we can see the original
nature and beauty of things, without labels, then transcend from good
and bad, right and wrong. By knowing it’s our own discrimination that
makes us see things as good or bad and right or wrong, we often compare
ourselves to others with our own standards in mind. If things meet our
standards, we see it as good and right, if not, we see it as bad or
wrong.

    Everything is neutral. If we put aside these standards,
we will see things for their face value. Sometimes, we can ask
ourselves, "Who is judging this?" when we criticize other’s faults. If
we think using structures like I, this person, and my standard, the
result will come with answers that fall in "good or bad" and "right or
wrong." If we could take these structures of thought off our minds,
there would not be "good or bad," "correct or incorrect" issues. We
often set a standard in our mind and use it to measure and judge others
and different situations. In turn, others also have their own standard
in mind to measure and judge people and situations as well. This
standard makes us live comfortably or uncomfortably. In fact, all events
are neutral. It is our discriminate mind that limits us from seeing
things as they really are. It also explains that when we have standards
set in our mind, we have faults when we criticize others.

    Our mind should function like a mirror. As an old Chinese
saying goes, "When a foreigner stands in front of mirror, it shows a
foreigner, if a Chinese person stands, it will show a Chinese person.
Shi Fu used to say that he could get along with anyone; he even gets
along with ghosts! Sometimes, we cannot get along with children because
we think they are childish, or we can’t get along with elders because we
think they are needy. It is all because we have set this standard to
limit ourselves. We often blame external situations instead of seeing
our internal problem. We should think if it is the external situations
that limit ourselves, or it is our inner situations that limit
ourselves. We should understand it is our own standards that give us the
limitations that bind us and make us feel the way we feel. We should
think of dealing with the external situations, or indeed, we should deal
with our internal limitations.

    If one discards the faulty mind, vexations will be broken.
This sentence talks about if we let go of the idea of "I," "others,"
"right and wrong," we will get rid of greed, hatred and ignorance. When
we feel we are right, our mind will raise the greed, if we see wrong in
things, we give raise to the hatred mind. We are then affected by greed,
hatred and ignorance. We also have to let go of the idea of "wrong,"
and the idea of "right."

    When hate and love don’t operate in the mind, one can then
stretch out one’s legs and rest. We love "right" things and we hate
"faulty" things. The hate and love are from our discriminate mind, and
it has nothing to do with the mind of wisdom. Love makes us comfortable,
hate makes us uncomfortable. Love and hate do not bring us mind of
equanimity, and the nature of true mind is equanimity. The goal of our
practice should be to focus on the mind of equanimity, which functions
likes a mirror, reflecting the phenomenon truthfully as it is. Chasing
after joyous feelings and resisting painful ones do not bring us
equanimity. Venerable encouraged everyone to practice the mind of
equanimity.

    By answering the audience’s questions, Venerable mentioned
that in order to connect with others through friendly relationships and
to help others, we can cultivate Bodhisattva’s four qualities to make
amicable relationships: be giving, speak kindly, act in ways that
benefit others, and be cooperative with others. These practices will
help us understand each other and let us be willing to take advice from
each other. Venerable said that in Sakyamuni Buddha time, there was an
old lady who lived in the east side of the village, even Buddha wanted
to teach her Dharma and she would not listen to him. And yet, the
trusted relationship established through lifetime after lifetime that
Buddha built with his disciples, some disciples got enlightenment just
heard Buddha said to him "Here, Bhikkhu." Similar situations happened to
some great Chan masters and their disciples, and with only one
sentence, his disciples attained their enlightenment.

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