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Power Of Mind    
Hua Yen        

  Treatise on Response and Retribution

Part I
  Greetings everyone! Recently, people have requested me to lecture again on the Treatise on Response and Retribution hoping to broadcast it on television. This is a good deed. But, it would take a long time to lecture on this subject. In Singapore, I am currently lecturing on the Flower Adornment Sutra, the Infinite Life Sutra and the Earth Treasure Sutra. Lecturing on these three sutras already takes a large amount of time. I feel it would be too much to add another one. Therefore, I decided to make use of the time already allocated for the Morning Talks for the Treatise. I estimate that it will take two to three months to complete this series.

  This is a very important subject. In the early part of the nineteenth century, Master Yin-Guang dedicated himself to advocating teaching on the Law of Cause and Effect. When Master Yin-Guang was at Pu-tuo Mountain, the citizens of Ding-Hai County invited him to give Dharma talks there. Due to his very heavy native accent, Master Yin-Guang sent another Dharma master in his place to give the lecture. What sutra was lectured on? The Guidance to Hidden Merits of Wen-Chang Di Jun. It is surprising that the material chosen was a Taoist text rather than a Buddhist sutra. Throughout Master Yin-Guang's life, he especially advocated Liao-Fan's Four Lessons and the Treatise on Response and Retribution. Both during his lifetime and after, he was often criticized for doing so. But these were only viewpoints of ordinary people.

  In Buddhism, there is a saying, "Any teachings told by completely enlightened people are perfect and complete". Another saying asks "Which teaching is not the Buddha's teaching?" What do these two sayings mean? To be honest, how do we differentiate between worldly teachings and the Buddha's teachings? The differentiation is in our minds. There really is no difference between worldly teachings or the Buddha's teachings. If we have wandering and discriminatory thoughts and attachments, then all teachings become worldly teachings. Even learning the Flower Adornment Sutra would be a worldly teaching. Why? Because we cannot transcend the six realms. If we rid ourselves of wandering and discriminatory thoughts and attachments, then all teachings can help us end the cycle of birth and death and transcend the six realms. This why every teaching is the Buddha's teaching. We need to understand this truth. Yesterday, we visited the Archbishop of Singapore at the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd. A man asked me, "What is the difference between soul in Catholicism and Dharma-nature in Buddhism?" I told him that those with souls still have discriminatory thoughts and attachments. Those who have uncovered their Dharma-nature no longer have discriminatory thoughts and attachments. He understood immediately. Are they the same? Yes, souls and Dharma-nature are one and the same. But one has discriminatory thoughts and attachments and the other has severed these. With discriminatory thoughts and attachments, there will be obstacles in everything. Severing discriminatory thoughts and attachments, all teachings are interwoven perfectly.

  All sentient beings in the universe belong to one Dharma-nature, one Dharma body. We are told in the Flower Adornment Sutra, that "All Buddhas throughout the universe in the past, present and future all share one Dharma body". This sounds very familiar to many of us. If we commonly share one Dharma body, then would every Dharma not be Buddha Dharma? How can the Treatise on Response and Retribution be an exception? It is also a Buddha's teaching.

  Every word and every passage in the Treatise on Response and Retribution and the Guidance to the Hidden Merits explains the Five Fundamental Precepts and the Ten Good Conducts. The Five Precepts and the Ten Good Conducts are the foundation in Buddhism (and in almost every religion and faith system). If we do not abide by them, then we are on a deviated path. No matter which method we practice, whether we are a novice, an Arhat or a Bodhisattva, if we do not abide by these, then we are on a deviated path. Then how can this be called Buddhism?

  The Treatise on Response and Retribution and the Guidance to Hidden Merits are good reference materials, which provide a complete and practical explanation of the Five Precepts and the Ten Good Conducts. Master Yin-Guang understood that in our time, this world would face major chaos and disasters. There is only one way for us to avoid these disasters. It is to help every sentient being become awakened, to refrain from wrongdoing and practice good deeds. In this way, even if the disasters cannot be totally eliminated, their frequency and severity can be reduced. This can be done.

  Practitioners from Taiwan have asked me if Taiwan can be exempted from these big disasters. The answer is yes, without doubt. However, the Taiwanese have accumulated an enormous amount of negative karma. When did they begin committing their bad deeds? No more than twenty years ago. Before that, the Taiwanese were very law-abiding and courteous. Thirty years ago, it could be said that the courtesy of the Taiwanese was the best in Southeast Asia. The people were kind and friendly. Hence, it is only in the past twenty years that the Taiwanese have committed bad deeds. During this time, the general mood of society changed. However, not that many people have committed bad deeds. And they have not done so for long. Fortunately, there are many kind-hearted people and those who recite "Amituofo". Thus, even if disasters occur, they will not be too severe.

  On the other hand, the Japanese have been committing more bad deeds. The consequences that they will have to endure and suffer in this big disaster will be more than ten times those of the Taiwanese. In view of the principle of response and retribution (the Law of Cause and Effect), if we plant good seeds, we will obtain good results. If we plant bad seeds, we will definitely obtain bad results. This is the true principle of response and retribution. Therefore, Master Yin-Guang did his utmost to advocate these books, which contain the true wisdom for saving the world from major disasters. But what he had advocated for a lifetime was only truly understood by a few. After the Master passed away, even fewer people advocated these books.

  In 1997, I received my first invitation to lecture in Hong Kong on the Surangama Sutra. I stayed in Hong Kong for four months. For the first two months, I stayed at the Master Tan-Xu's Chinese Buddhist Library in Kowloon. The latter two months, I stayed at Master Dao-Zhi's way place, the Brightness Lecture Hall on Lang-Tang Road. At the Chinese Buddhist Library, I discovered a large collection of books printed by Master Yin-Guang's Propagation of the Teachings Society. I follow the teachings passed on from Master Yin-Guang. My late teacher, Mr. Bing-Nan Lee, was a student of his. Thus, I have a strong regard for Master Yin-Guang's teachings and the books he had advocated.

  I have read all the books printed by the Propagation of the Teachings Society. I then realized that the Treatise on Response and Retribution, Complete Book of Mr. Chou and Liao-Fan's Four Lessons, have been the most widely circulated. The Chinese Buddhist Library had also collected many volumes of their books. I brought a copy of each one back with me to Taiwan. When I saw the copyright page, it showed that each book had at least ten or fifty thousand copies printed. There have been over ten editions of each book. I was very surprised that over three million copies have been printed, when only one or two thousand copies of the other books were printed. Why did he print so many copies of these three books? This caught my attention.

  After careful consideration, I realized that Master Yin-Guang took great pains in trying to save our world from major disasters. These three books are excellent. Today, we see many books on ancient prophecies from the west in many bookstores around the world. I have seen at least ten different versions. They all predicted that 1999 will be Armageddon and that major disasters will probably continue for twenty-years. They will result in the complete annihilation of the world. This period will start around 1990 and end around 2010. These books tell us that these disasters will occur as a result of the sins committed by human kind. That these have so angered God that he will punish the world.

  However, they only speak of predestination and cannot be compared with Liao-Fan's Four Lessons and the Treatise on Response and Retribution. These two books explain how to help save the world from disasters while the former ones only tell of impending annihilation but not how to avoid it. There is another book called the Bible Code, which shows more understanding than the rest because it concludes that everything depends on our hearts. If we are able to correct our wrongdoings and be kind-hearted, then we can eliminate these disasters.

  However, this is still too general. There are no specifics on how we refrain from wrongdoing and practice good deeds. But, even this is incomparable to the three books advocated by Master Yin-Guang, which provide us with clearer and more complete explanations on accomplishing this. But, truthfully, we have realized this too late. We lack good fortunes. Why do I say that we have realized this too late? Because we have yet to translate these books into foreign languages to be circulated worldwide. We did not realize the importance of translating them into other languages. To have done so would have benefited the whole world. This is what we did not realize. Now it is already too late to do much. However, we still hope that everyone will do their best in the translation of these books into foreign languages for free worldwide distribution.

  People who have the opportunity to read these books will be fortunate. It is our responsibility and mission to encourage everyone to read these book many times and practice their teachings daily. Not only will this change our own karmic results but it will also stabilize society and help sentient beings escape sufferings and disasters.

  When I returned from Hong Kong, I recommended to the Taiwanese that they read these books. This is a copy of the first edition of the Compilation of Response and Retribution that I printed. Since then numerous editions have been printed. I believe that at this time we have printed about one hundred thousand copies. But, our abilities are limited. Now in Taiwan I have advocated and circulated the Compilation of Response and Retribution, the Complete Book of Mr. Chou and Liao-Fan's Four Lessons. I have also lectured often on these three books and cannot even remember how many times. This copy is the same one that I have used for past lectures. Hence, I have highlighted, underlined and annotated important points in it.

  A few days ago, fellow practitioners requested me to lecture on the Treatise on Response and Retribution. For the sake of convenience, I am using my old copy, which will replace the need for current preparation for the lectures. I hope everyone will take this matter seriously, end all erroneous ways and practice all good deeds. Master Yin-Guang used these three books to help us make up for our deficiencies in abiding by the precepts.

  The ancient patriarchs of the Pure Land School, taught us to abide by the precepts and chant a Buddha's name. If we just chant a Buddha's name without abiding by the precepts and practicing virtues, we cannot be born into the Western Pure Land. As the ancient patriarchs said, "If we chant a Buddha's name with a scattered mind, even to the point of loosing our voice, it all would have been in vain". Thus, it is most important that we harbor kind hearts, say kind words and do kind deeds.

  The Treatise on Response and Retribution arrives at this same conclusion. It explains that if we have a kind heart, say kind words and do kind deeds, then virtuous spirits will protect us. The Pure Land School teaches that reciting "Amituofo" ensures birth into the Western Pure Land. Presently, there are many disasters occurring in our world. But, there is no need for us to panic in the face of these disasters.

  Yesterday, we visited a home for the elderly. We saw around twenty people who are at the final stage of terminal cancer. I talked with the Catholic nuns about the need to give the elderly hope not sadness and about religious education. There is no death for humans. Birth and death are very common and is simply a changing of environment. By helping the elderly change their thinking, they will view and accept death more easily and thus, more calmly. This is a turning point. We can improve our surrounding and live a happier life. Therefore, religious education is very important.

  At their Home for the Hearing-Impaired, the nuns give individual care and guidance for the children who live there. The elderly also receive individual attention. How can we not do this? Individual guidance is given to the elderly. Constant kind words of comfort are equally important when educating children. If we often talk to the elderly and explain the teachings to them, we can help them to escape from the sufferings of birth and death. As for Buddhists, we can encourage them to seek birth into the Western Pure Land. For Catholics and Christians, we can encourage them to be born into Heaven. Heaven is far better than the human realm. This is education. Not only should we help them in their material needs, but also in their spiritual needs as well.

  The area of entertainment needs to be considered as well. Yesterday, the nuns told me that young people often volunteer to come and sing for the residents. But, they said that the residents disliked this entertainment. We talked of how the elderly dislike modern music and did not want to listen to it. We discussed how the elderly felt about it, how they enjoy the music from their youth. How they are touched when they hear this music. Most elderly do not like modern entertainment. They like old movies and music. We should provide them with entertainment that they are familiar with.

  We need to consider all of these points. When chatting with them, we need to ask them their likes and try to fulfill their wishes and needs. In doing so, we will be truly caring for the elderly and helping them to be happy and carefree. Only then will we have fulfilled our responsibilities. I talked to Mr. Bock-Guan Lee concerning this matter yesterday. He said that he would do his best to find music and old movies and donate them to the Homes for the Aged. There are numerous Chinese in the home. These deeds will help us to refrain from wrongdoing and practice good deeds.

  Since there are many booklets on the Treatise on Response and Retribution, we shall use this one. However, I have found that only one thousand copies were printed. This is far too few. This pocketsize is very good to read and is convenient to carry around. We should often read it. It also includes the "Guidance to Hidden Merits of Wen-Chang Di Jun", which makes it ideal. Over the next two to three months, we will use the half-hour Morning Talk to study this booklet. This is all for today. Thank You!

Part II
  Today, we will begin our lecture series on the Treatise on Response and Retribution. The essay is short, with just a little over one thousand three hundred words. The full title is the Treatise of the Exalted One on Response and Retribution. The term ¡§Exalted One¡¨ was a form used to address someone in a highly respectful manner. All the teachings of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are from the revelations of their self-natures. We would be mistaken to think that Buddhist sutras are Buddha Shakyamuni¡¦s own ideas. In numerous sutras and sastras (commentaries on the sutras), the Buddha himself said that throughout his life he never lectured or said a single word. This is not false modesty but the truth.

  Ordinary beings are attached to their ¡§self¡¨, their egos. Thus, when lecturing they will use ¡§I said¡¨, ¡§you said¡¨ and ¡§he said¡¨. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are not attached to the form of self. The ¡§Diamond Sutra¡¨ explained very clearly that not only are they not attached to the form of self, but also are not attached to the forms of other beings, phenomena or time. They do not even have any wandering thoughts. They have no thoughts of self, beings, phenomena or time. Not only are there no attachments, there is not even a single wandering thought.

  Then, where did the Buddha¡¦s ideas and words come from? They arise from the revelations of the self-nature, our own true self-nature, not that of others. We need to understand this. The revelations of our self-nature are genuine. If revelations come from the consciousness, which contain the viewpoints of individuals, then they are unreliable. In Buddhism, it is said, ¡§to obtain clarity of mind to see into one¡¦s true nature is to become a Buddha".

  There are great sages in this world. Have they seen into their self-nature and become Buddhas? The Buddha expediently explained that worldly sages have not seen into their self-nature. He speaks the truth. It is written in numerous Mahayana sutras and sastras that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas manifest in this world in different forms according to the beings¡¦ needs and teach according to the beings¡¦ abilities to understand.

  How do we know that the sages are not manifestations of Buddhas? In the past, people said that Confucius was Tong-Ru Bodhisattva. Someone asked me if this was true. The ancient patriarchs would say that we cannot say for sure because we have no proof that he was a Bodhisattva. We cannot answer as we please without being absolutely sure. We say that he was not, but theoretically, he could have been a manifestation of a Bodhisattva. If we have truly achieve this state, then all sentient beings are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

  The same logic applies to the title and content, which begin with ¡§Exalted One¡¨. As Buddhists, we know that these words are the revelation of our self-nature. Virtuous nature is unsurpassable. If we understand and uphold the teachings, then we are in accordance with our virtuous nature. True goodness accords with our virtuous nature. However, if we act contrary to it, then our actions are tainted, are impure. This is the highest standard to differentiate good from bad. ¡§Exalted One¡¨ is used in this context to remind us that we need to be alert and not careless.

  As for ¡§request¡¨ and ¡§response¡¨, ancient people have used the example of a growing plant to explain ¡§request¡¨. A response would be the fruit. These two words are used in the title to explain that when there is a request, there will be a response. What is the reason for this? Request and response arises from our self-nature. Our self-nature pervades everywhere, throughout all time and space. Today, we talk about the dimensions of time and space, but within our self-nature, there is no distinction between time and space for they are one. Thus, with a request, a response will naturally follow.

  If we pull on one of our hairs, it will affect our whole body. This one hair is so small, yet our whole body feels the discomfort. The removal of the hair is the request or action and the discomfort is the response. Thus, we understand, we cannot think that our thoughts, speech and actions are inconsequential. Even the weakest thought pervades the entire universe. Currently we are deluded, but are unaware of it. Just like this hair on our body, if we were to pull on it, the entire body will feel it. This is something we know.

  This is our body, but we have yet to realize that all sentient beings in the universe are part of our pure Dharma body. We are one entity. Since we are one entity, the request and response are inconceivable. When there is a request, there will be an immediate response. Request and response are essentially cause and effect. The request from sentient beings is the cause. The response from Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or heavenly beings is the effect.

  Understanding this principle and truth, we will know what ancient masters meant by ¡§ We reap what we sow¡¨. This metaphor is very profound. It tells us that by planting a good seed, we will harvest a good fruit or effect. If we plant a bad seed, bad consequences are sure to follow. From beginningless time, all sentient beings have committed more bad than good causes. Thus, in this lifetime, if we were to think calmly and carefully observe our surroundings, we will realize that there are more bad than good conditions. Good conditions help us to achieve in our practice and virtuous conduct. Bad conditions increase our improper thoughts and bad conduct. From this, we will know what our future consequences will be. All these are the principles of request and response. Ancient people also often said, ¡§Heaven¡¦s net has all-encompassing mesh. Nothing can pass through it". These words also explain the principle of request and response. This is the truth, the true reality. The guiding principles of this treatise are contained in the opening sentences. ¡§Neither disasters nor good fortunes will come without reasons and conditions, we incur them. The reward of good or bad is like the shadow accompanying the form.¡¨ The rest of the text is the elaboration and explanation of these two lines, which will enable us to understand them more deeply. This will in turn help us to see whether our thoughts, speech and behavior accord with our virtuous nature. We can think and act in ways that accord with our virtuous nature. We should not think or act in a manner that does not accord with it.

  In both Mahayana and Theravada sutras and sastras, the Buddha taught us that if we want to achieve in our practice in this Dharma Ending Age, the first requirement is to be close to kind friends. For example, we read in the Sutra of Good Fortune and Misfortune that the Buddha first told us to learn from an awakened teacher. In Mahayana sutras, an awakened teacher is a kind teacher.

  The Earth Treasure Sutra explained that the viewpoints and minds of sentient beings in the six realms are fickle, just as a proverb says, ¡§one takes on the character of one¡¦s company¡¨. This tells us that we, ordinary beings, are affected by our surroundings. We are still unable to change the environment to accord with our minds. The reality is that we are influenced by our environment. Then, the environment is very important to us.

  Ancient patriarchs and masters, who had genuinely practiced, attained deep concentration and wisdom, and were able to change their environment and not the other way around. However, they still needed to select a suitable environment when teaching students. Why? Because these students were ordinary beings who were as yet unable to change the environment and thus, were affected by external conditions. We, too, have to be selective in the learning environment for our practice. First, we need to have good companions and teachers. Being constantly near these good companions, teachers and cultivators will help us greatly in our practice. We read in the biographies of eminent monks, nuns and laypeople that they stayed with and learned from good teachers and companions for at least ten, twenty or sometimes even thirty years. Some stayed with their teachers their entire lifetimes. Why did they not leave their teachers even after they had finished learning from them? To set an example for future students so that they would also remain with their teachers to assist in guiding new students. They did so until their teachers passed away. Then they left to propagate the teachings in other places. We have read that many ancient patriarchs did so thus they practiced what the Buddha taught.

  However, it is entirely different if the conditions for doing this are not present. But regardless, we need to wait until we have truly achieved in our practice before we leave our teacher. What is an achievement? There are standards in Buddhism. First, from the viewpoint of wisdom and understanding, we have the ability to differentiate between true and false, proper and deviated, right and wrong and good and bad. Second, we have the deep concentration to not be affected by external situations. In other words, the external environment does not tempt us. As is said, ¡§to not attach to external phenomena and to remain unaffected within¡¨.

  If we have not met these two conditions, then it is a risk to leave our teacher because we have afflictions within and face external temptations. We will regress in our practice if we cannot overcome these temptations. But today, we have abandoned respecting teachers and revering their teachings. There truly are no kind teachers for us to be close to and thus, learn from. What can we do? If we could find friends who share common ideals and goals, then we could emulate the ancient patriarchs and masters and encourage one another in our practice. Furthermore, I recommend to everyone that Buddha Amitabha is an excellent teacher. Where is Buddha Amitabha? In the ¡§Infinite Life Sutra¡¨ and the four sutras of the Pure Land School. We recite, explain and learn the teachings together daily. By doing so, we have not left our teacher.

  Here in Singapore, I am using the Internet to create affinities with friends (around the world) and bringing a little benefit to everyone. Although we are far apart, with the use of modern technology, it is as if we are together. Always remember the first two lines at the beginning of the text to help keep us mindful of the teachings. Every individual has his or her retribution or reward, as does every family, society, country and even the world. No one can escape the Law of Cause and Effect.

  Today, we understand that due to our shared karma, society is in turmoil and much of the world is in conflict. Knowing this, how can we resolve predestined disasters? If all of us are awakened and understand the true reality, resolutely refrain from all wrongdoings and practice all good deeds, let go of selfishness and work for the sake of society and all sentient beings, then these disasters can be resolved and eliminated.

  Natural and human-made disasters are the results of our bad karmic deeds. If we stop committing bad karmic deeds, then not only will all human-made disasters be eliminated, but all natural disasters as well. How can we be freed from natural disasters? The Mahayana sutras state that ¡§the environment changes according to our minds¡¨. Only with deep comprehension of this principle will we be able to believe and be willing to practice.

  The paragraphs in this treatise are logical in order. Ancient people have divided them into sections. When we read the commentary with its word by word explanation, we see that there are ten paragraphs. Here (in Singapore), as we study this book, we will do so section by section, which is similar to the outline teaching method used in Buddhist texts. I will explain clearly in later lectures how the passages are divided as we go along. So, what is this first paragraph about? The first four lines are the general principles of the treatise. This is all for today. Thank you.

Part III
  Greetings to everyone. In the Chinese classic, ¡§I Ching, the Book of Changes¡¨, we read that ¡§A family that accumulates goodness is certain to have abundant happiness and a family that accumulates evil is certain to have abundant misery". ¡§Certain¡¨ means that there is no doubt about it. In other words, there is no doubt in the certainty in the Law of Cause and Effect. It is the truth. If we are willing to perform good deeds and accumulate merits and virtues, then our good fortunes will naturally follow. If however, we only do bad deeds, then even though our families or ancestors may have accumulated good fortune, or we were born into a wealthy and reputable family, our reputation will eventually be ruined and the family will decline.

  Not only are examples of this found throughout history, but if we were to observe carefully, we can also find them in our present society, whether in the east or the west. This proves that what ancient people said is true and accurate. The principle of response and retribution helps us to recognize and understand the Law of Cause and Effect as well as providing us with the standards to use for our daily conduct. Thus, we will naturally watch over and restrain our every rising thought, word and deed. The sages teach us to welcome good fortunes, avoid misfortunes, refrain from wrongdoings and practice good deeds. This is education. Unfortunately, this education no longer exists today. Then, what exactly is being taught at government educational institutions?

  In my early years as a monk at Ling-Ji Temple in Yuan Mountain, one of my daily chores was to sweep the leaves from the large front yard where there were many trees. One day, several students passed by on their way to go sightseeing on Yuan Mountain. Upon seeing their bearing and conduct were not like those of educated people, I sighed and said, ¡§It is a pity that these people are uneducated.¡¨ I said this to the monks who were sweeping the yard with me, but the students overheard our conversation. They turned around and asked me, ¡§ Did you say that we are uneducated?¡¨ I replied, ¡§Yes, you do not behave like educated people¡¨. The student argued, ¡§We are fourth year students in the Law School at Taiwan University. How can you say that we are uneducated?¡¨ I said, ¡¨Okay, if you say that you are, then explain what education is?¡¨ He could not answer. Thus, his bluster dissolved and he calmed down. That was forty years ago. Students then were different from those of today. After he had calmed down, he turned around and asked for my advice. I then told him that education teaches us how to conduct ourselves as decent people. ¡§Have you been taught this before? He replied "No!¡¨

  The objectives of ancient Chinese education have remained unchanged from the Xia, Shang and Zhou Dynasties till the last years of the Ching Dynasty (a period of approximately four thousand years). There are three goals in education. First, it teaches us the relationship between humans. To be filial and respectful to parents, teachers and elders and to love and live harmoniously with siblings and friends. Second, it teaches us the relationship between humans and nature. Third, it teaches us the relationship between humans and spirits of heaven and earth.

  ¡§Have you learned these before?" "No". This education teaches us how to apply these principles in our daily lives. So, just by looking at your appearance, I can tell that you are uneducated. He then asked, ¡§What do you think college education is?¡¨ ¡§Good question. You are now studying at a 'Knowledge Learning Institute'¡¨. ¡§Does this name seem reasonable to you?" I asked. I further explained that an ¡§Advanced Knowledge Learning Institute¡¨ is a more accurate name for today¡¦s colleges. It is not education. People these days have discarded and forgotten true education. What else is there to say?

  Thus, there are reasons for people¡¦s sufferings and chaos in society. Societies only know about the teaching of scientific technology and have discarded fundamental education. We read in the Preface of Master Qing-Lian¡¦s Commentary on the ¡§Earth Treasure Sutra¡¨ that there are three objectives of the Buddha¡¦s teachings. First, refrain from wrongdoing and practice good deeds. Second, break through delusion and become awakened. Third, change from an ordinary person to a sage.

  I have said in lectures that we are taught to stop committing bad deeds and to accomplish good deeds. This is to prevent us from falling into the three bad realms. From this, we can still obtain the good fortunes of humans and heavenly beings in this and future lifetimes. This is education. Second, changing our delusions to awakening helps us to transcend reincarnation in the six realms to the Four Sage Realms of Sound-hearer, Pratyekabuddha, Bodhisattva and Buddha of the Ten Dharma Realms. We change our delusions to awakening, to unceasingly elevate our state of mind. This is education. Last, the final goal is changing from an ordinary person to a sage, transcending the Ten Dharma Realms.

  In pursuing clarity of mind to uncover our self-nature, we become Buddhas. This is education. On the other hand, what are we taught today? We are taught scientific technology and we use this knowledge and our skills to create karma. A few days ago, a practitioner from Australia told me that outstanding people like scientists are extremely bright to have invented atomic bombs and nuclear weapons. But once invented, these bombs and weapons are used to kill hundred of thousands of people. The retribution of these outstanding and talented people will be in the Avici Hell.

  Confucianism and Buddhism do not teach people to do such deeds. Buddhist sutras and precepts tell us that creating these weapons to kill sentient beings is equal to committing the most serious offense, that of killing. In the past, making weapons like bows and arrows was already considered a most serious offense. The Buddha clearly explained that when we kill an animal, ¡§the human will be born a sheep and the sheep will be born a human¡¨. There will be no end to the revenge. We cannot even repay the karmic debt incurred for killing one animal, not to mention the killing of a huge number of people! We will fall into the Hell Realms. People often say, ¡§It will take infinite eons to turn ourselves around.¡¨ This is the truth. I have said this many times and still need to repeat it many more times. Why? Because we cannot understand and remember what this means. Originally, this world was multicultural. It is impossible to change it into a monoculture. Why? How do we know this is impossible? Our body is a small universe. The external environment is the great universe. The great and small universes are all one. However, since the great universe is complex, our small universe will be as well.

  Buddhism teaches that our minds and environments are equal. Our bodies have various parts. Our eyes cannot do what our ears do. Our ears cannot smell and our nose cannot taste. It is multicultural. How can we integrate them? Is it possible to say that I only want the eyes and nothing else? No. They are diverse cultures and yet every one is first. No one is second. Our eyes are foremost in seeing, our ears are foremost in hearing and our nose is foremost in smelling. All are first; none are second. As soon as one is second, conflicts will arise. So, there is no second. From this, we realize that all existing phenomena in the entire universe are first. Nothing is second.

  Thus, when I visit the leaders of various religions, we often talk about being first. Everything is first. Buddhism, Christianity and Islam are all first. In this way, all of our problems will be solved. Buddhist sutras are first; the Holy Bible and the Koran are also first. When all of our problems are resolved, we can all live together harmoniously. If what I believe is true and what you believe is false, how would we not fight? And to fight until we kill each other is the most serious karmic offense. This only brings continuous revenge. The Buddha taught us that the difference between ordinary beings and sages is that the former are deluded and the latter are awakened. In a moment of awakening, one is a Buddha, Bodhisattva or a sage. Awakened to what? Awakened to the fact that all teachings and phenomena are equal and that everyone is foremost. When we read the ¡§Flower Adornment Sutra¡¨, we will see that from beginning to end, everything is first. Nothing is second. In the ¡§Surangama Sutra¡¨, we have read the ¡§Twenty-five Methods to Perfect Complete Realization¡¨, which is represented by twenty-five Bodhisattvas. Everyone is first. No one is second. Once we understand that all teachings are equal, that all are first we will mutually respect one another. Love and respect for others will naturally arise from within us. Only in this way, can all of our problems be solved, and can stability and peace exist in the world.

  All sentient beings can equally live happy and fulfilling life. Today, many leaders often repeat these words. However, their conduct actually disturbs and destroys peace. Their conduct completely violates their thoughts and speech. Why? Frankly speaking, it is because they have not been truly educated. Today, this problem has developed until it has now reached its most critical stage, the annihilation of our world. Christianity and Catholicism call it Doomsday or Armageddon. When is Armageddon? It is this year, 1999. We are very fortunate to live in this time. Can these great disasters be resolved? Yes. The Buddha tells us that ¡§the environment changes with our minds¡¨. He explained that natural and human-made disasters are the dependent reward, our environment and minds are the proper reward. As long as we refrain from wrongdoing and practice good deeds, break through delusion and become awakened, then these disasters will be resolved.

  If the conditions to establish our Amitabha Village have not yet matured, we can first establish a cultivation hall and a lecture hall. This will be my twelfth year of lecturing in Singapore. I am deeply grateful to Mr. Bock-Guan Lee for his dedicated support, for adorning this way place. Now everyone comes to see the cultivation and lecture halls at the Singapore Buddhist Lodge. Why did we do it this way? To help all sentient beings eliminate and avert from these disasters. Whom do we lecture for? We lecture for all sentient beings in the universe and for all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Why do we chant ¡§Amituofo¡¨? Certainly not simply for ourselves but for all sentient beings and to eliminate disasters. The merits will be small if we do this for ourselves but will be great if we do this for all sentient beings.

  In Buddhism, accumulating merits and virtues are not based on the physical aspect but on the intention. It is to be broad-minded. What is broadmindedness? Our mind is broad when we constantly think of others and all sentient beings. But, on the other hand, if our every thought is for ourselves, our own family, community and our way place, then our merits will be small. As the Buddha told us, ¡§the environment changes with our minds".

  What is Proper Reward? It is our mind. All existing things arise from our minds and change with our perceptions. Therefore, our minds can transform the environment and all existing things. From where do we begin practicing Buddhism? Begin by practicing the intentions, understanding and conduct of Bodhisattvas. Most important are the aspirations and vows of Bodhisattvas. These are basic to learning Buddhism. When the basics are correct, everything else will also be correct.

  The ¡§Treatise of Response and Retribution¡¨ begins with the aspirations and vows of sages and teaches us how to put them into practice when interacting with people, matters and objects in our daily lives. Ancient virtuous people said that this treatise provides us with the steps to ascend from ordinary beings to sages and is the key to changing misfortunes into good fortunes. Throughout Chinese history, many people had practiced in accordance with the teachings in this treatise. The responses that they received were unusually wonderful. Numerous cases and accounts used in this compilation explain the results from practicing good or bad deeds. Compared to what we see in life, these accounts are still very limited.

  Cases and accounts on response and retribution are too numerous to count. If we observe carefully, these can be seen all around us. How can we not believe and practice accordingly? It is logical that Master Yin-Guang used the treatise as the base of Pure Land practice. A Pure Land practitioner who truly practices the teachings of response and retribution and who chants ¡§Amituofo¡¨ is assured of being born into the Western Pure Land. If our conduct violates the teachings of response and retribution, then even our chanting ¡§Amituofo¡¨ will not ensure our birth into the Pure Land. Thus, throughout his life, Master Yin-Guang put all his efforts advocating this teaching. We should realize that this was due to his high level of wisdom, great compassion and kindness. Thus, we ought to be respectful, grateful and abide by these teachings to repay our gratitude. This is all for today. Thank You.

Part IV
  Good morning, fellow students. Throughout Chinese history, the "Treatise on Response and Retribution" has been well recognized by the majority of the people. Many have adapted the teachings and the results have been inconceivable. The "Compilation of the Treatise on Response and Retribution" is a collection of accounts telling of the remarkable results from responses. Ancient people had guided and encouraged us to be kind and honest. Although my last visit to Australia was only four days, the practitioners there used the opportunity to ask me to lecture on the essence of "Liao-Fan's Four Lessons". The principles of response and retribution have been previously explained in the main theme at the beginning of the book.

  "I Ching, the Book of Changes" explained that "A family that accumulates goodness is certain to have abundant happiness and a family that accumulates evil is certain to have abundant misery". Those who are kind and honest are assured of having good fortunes. Those who are caustic are assured to fail although they may presently be living in prosperity. If we observe carefully, these principles and this reality can be seen all around us. Therefore, the prosperity of an individual, a family, a group, a country lies in honesty and kindness, in severing wrongdoings and practicing good deeds.

  Ancient people have said that those who understand these principles should widely circulate these teachings. In other words, we should emulate Master Yin-Guang. Throughout his life, Master Yin-Guang wholeheartedly circulated "Liao-Fan's Four Lessons" and the "Complete Book of An-Shi". The circulation of these three books has far surpassed that of Buddhist sutras and commentaries. Why did Master Yin-Guang do this? To save the world from severe disasters. What is the cause of these disasters? Our improper thoughts and conduct.

  As Buddhism explains, "Dependent reward changes with proper minds". Dependent reward is our thought and conduct. When our hearts are virtuous and kind, our environment will reflect this. When our hearts are not virtuous, our environment will worsen. Therefore, we need to be familiar with and deeply contemplate the teachings in this book and put them into practice. Daily, we need to check our every rising thought, word and deed to see if they accord with the teachings of the "Treatise on Response and Retribution". We can think, say and do everything that accords with the teachings and refrain from all those that contradict them. We need to contemplate often the meanings within the teachings and exert ourselves in our practice. We will then have a boundless and bright future.

  I began to learn Buddhism when I was twenty-six. Many practitioners knew that I did not have good fortune and was not supposed to have a long life. They said that I would not live past the age of forty-five and I believed them. Since, many people in my family had not lived beyond forty-five, I accepted that I would not do so either. The lack of good fortune is the result of not practicing for it in past lifetimes.

  Thanks to having a few good roots, intelligence and wisdom, I was able to accept virtuous teachings. When Mr. Jing-Zhou Zhu introduced "Liao-Fan's Four Lessons" and the "Treatise on Response and Retribution" to me, I was touched after reading them. I realized what my faults were and began to reform. I learned patience and tolerance. The good fortune and the long life that I now have are the results of my practice in this lifetime, not from those in previous ones. I owe this to the teachings from Master Yin-Guang. I have lectured numerous times on these three books. Since fellow practitioners have requested that I do so again, I have agreed to do so because now is a perfect time.

  What is the reason behind the lack of achievement in our learning and practice? If we can just determine the cause and remove it, then no matter what method we practice, we will attain results. It is especially important to do so today, when disasters are increasing in severity and frequency. Last month, in Australia, a practitioner brought me three books on "Ancient Prophecies". In two weeks, I had finished the books and understood that what I had read in the past were only excerpts. Due to my insufficient cultivation, I was unable to understand without reading the whole book. So, I read the original book by Nostradamus, recognized around the world as a great prophet. He was like Mr. Kong in "Liao-Fan's Four Lessons". Nostradamus' predictions about future changes and societal disorder were very accurate, but he did not tell us how to resolve them. Mr. Kong's predictions about Mr. Liao-Fan's future were very accurate, but he was unable to tell him how to change it.

  Mr. Liao-Fan was extremely fortunate to meet Zen Master Yun-Gu who taught him that we create our own destiny and thus, we can change it. Mr. Liao-Fan was able to do this. Throughout Chinese history, there have been many people like Mr. Liao-Fan. Once we are able to understand these principles and methods, we also will be able to create and change our own destiny. In this way, our future will be bright. However, it is not easy to understand these principle and methods, so we need to put forth the effort to learn them.

  Here in Singapore, we have the opportunity to lecture extensively on great sutras. These teachings have been clearly explained to us but do we genuinely understand them after listening to a few lectures? Not really. Hearing and listening to these principles only a few times cannot build our confidence, much less help us to deeply understand them. Fortunately, the "Flower Adornment Sutra" is very long. At the rate we are progressing, I estimate that it will take approximately fifteen years to complete the entire lecture series. If the conditions to become immersed in and to practice the teachings for fifteen years exist, then many people will become awakened. But, without this much time, we will not be able to achieve attainment.

  If we are unable to listen to live lectures, then the alternative is to choose a secondary method like listening to audio or videotapes or downloading from the Internet. When we immerse ourselves in the teachings and practice daily, without interruption, it will take three to five years of accomplishment to build up our confidence. Modern people are different from ancient people who had calm minds and hearts that were honest and kind. Today, people are brusque, impatient and impetuous.

  Without these three to five years of being immersed in the teachings, we cannot build up our confidence. With eight to ten years of study, we can truly understand the teachings and the way to practice. I myself am a good example. Throughout my life, my mind has been calm and peaceful because I have no desires. I do not compete with others or ask for anything. Therefore, my mind has been calmer, more peaceful than others. This has been a great help in my learning and practice.

  If our minds are unsettled, impatient, impetuous and have strong desires for fame, wealth, lust, food/drink and sleep as well as the Six Dusts of sight, sound, smell, taster touch and thought, then these will become the greatest obstacles to our cultivation. They will only result in our committing bad karmic deeds. And this is why we have not achieved in our practice. When one individual practices, that individual attains good fortune. When one family practices, that family attains good fortune. When people in one region practice, that region can be exempt from disasters.

  Singapore is not that big. I have been lecturing here for around twelve years. Why is it that with the same amount of time spent in lecturing, results can be seen here but not in other regions? Because the education received by Singaporeans is different from that of other regions. Singaporeans are honest, well mannered and law abiding. Thus, they are able to think and practice earnestly after listening to Buddhism. When they feel that something is good, they work hard. As more people work hard, it becomes the accepted thing to do. There is a good reason why Singapore, although a very small country, is well respected by people all around the world. Education is the primary reason. I understand that Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew received a British education. If he had received a (traditional) Chinese education, then the government would be even better than it already is. The Chinese have genuine wisdom and extensive experience. We need to understand what we are taught in Chinese education. From the Han Dynasty (twenty one hundred years ago) to the early part of this century, the three goals of this education have never changed. First, it teaches us to understand the relationship between humans and how to behave as a decent person. Second, it teaches us to understand the relationship between humans and nature. Third, it teaches us to understand the relationship between humans and the beings and spirits of heaven and earth. If we thoroughly understand these relationships, then we are sages.

  Buddhist education has three goals. Whether Theravada or Mahayana Buddhism, whatever school, all have three goals in their teachings. First, to refrain from all wrongdoings and practice good deeds. In the Five Vehicles of Buddhism (Humans, Heavenly beings, Sound Hearers, Pratyekabuddhas and Bodhisattvas), the teachings help us to be born as a human or heavenly beings and not into the lower three bad realms. Second, to change from delusion into awakening so we will be able to transcend the six realms of reincarnation. While transcending, we become an Arhat, a Pratyekabuddha, a Bodhisattva or a Buddha. Third, to change from an ordinary person to become a sage, in other words, to transcend the Ten Dharma realms. In the "Flower Adornment Sutra" we learn that this is to become a Dharma Body Bodhisattva.

  If we do not know and understand the guiding principles of the Buddha's teachings, then what are we learning? Only when we genuinely understand them, will we know the kindness of others and be able to repay our gratitude. Many worldly people do not know the kindness of others. Therefore, they do not know to repay their gratitude. In Mahayana Buddhism, knowing the kindness of others and repaying their gratitude is a required practice for Second Ground Level Bodhisattvas. So, even high level Bodhisattvas practice repaying gratitude. Second Ground Level Bodhisattvas have eight courses in their practice and this is one of them.

  We also need to constantly bear in mind that we need "to practice filial piety for our parents and to be respectful of our teachers and elders". This is the foundation of our practice. From this we expand and praise filial piety and respect to include all sentient-beings. The "Brahma Net Sutra", a precept sutra, explains that "All men are my father. All women are my mother". This is unsurpassed filial piety and respect.

  Today, many people are surprised when they see our sincere loving-kindness and our unconditional giving to religious groups and to people from different cultures. I explain that we are practicing the teachings of the "Flower Adornment" for we understand that all sentient beings throughout the entire universe are our pure Dharma Body. Knowing this, how can we not care for, support and give to others. If everyone understood this and was willing to do likewise, then there would be no more natural or human-made disasters. This is practicing Buddhism. But, how many people truly understand? We need to daily adopt what we have learned into our every thought and deed. Therefore, we must truly exert ourselves to learn and practice the teachings in the "Treatise on Response and Retribution". The cases, examples and accounts on cause and effect are richly collected into the "Compilation of the Treatise on Response and Retribution". It would take too much time to study every one of them. I can only remind practitioners to earnestly recite and uphold its teachings and to seek our own happiness and good fortunes. This is all for today. Thank you.

Part V
  Good Morning fellow students and everyone. The principles in the ¡§Treatise on Response and Retribution¡¨ are very profound and the cases, examples and accounts on cause and effect are numerous. The ancient people have shown us great kindness in encouraging us. The teachings in ancient books teach us that in all teachings, especially those that are virtuous; confidence and belief are crucial to achievement. Whether we seek true happiness in this lifetime or birth into the Western Pure Land, everything depends on confidence and belief. The Buddha often said in the sutras that ¡§the world is impermanent, countries are fragile and in danger¡¨. Life is very short. When our next breath does not come, this life will be over. Thus, having one thought of firm belief is one thought of good root. When our belief increases, our good roots will mature. We need to work to accomplish this and not just wait for it to happen. If we believe that we can wait until tomorrow or the next year and spend our time doing little, then we will waste this precious lifetime and fail to attain birth into the Western Pure Land. We will regret this in the end. Therefore, we should build our confidence and practice diligently.

  In Buddhism, whether it is exoteric or esoteric teaching or any others, ancient patriarchs taught us to start from the basics. What are the basics? The mind. In worldly teachings, Guan-zi, who was from the Spring-Autumn Period once said, ¡§Greet people with joy for they are like our brothers¡¨. This is logical. ¡§To greet people with anger will result in conflicts, war and death¡¨. In Buddhism, we are taught to greet everyone with a smile. In Buddhist way places, the first thing we see as we enter is the Hall of Heavenly Guardians. In the center of the hall is Maitreya Bodhisattva, whose image is that of the historical monk, Bu-Dai. He teaches us to cultivate and broaden our minds, to tolerate and forgive others. The first requirement in learning Buddhism is to know how to regard all beings with joy. Our achievement lies in our own virtuous conduct, which is incorporating genuine learning and wisdom into our daily lives. Confucius was an average citizen without social status or wealth. How did he attain such remarkable accomplishments? Buddha Shakyamuni was a prince, yet he renounced his throne and his wealth to lead the life of an ordinary citizen. What were his achievements? Frankly speaking, he attained the pure, equal and compassionate mind to care for all sentient beings.

  After almost fifty years of learning and practicing Buddhism, I have summarized the Buddha¡¦s teachings into a single guiding principle for our practice. If our every rising thought, word and deed do not go against this guiding principle and we practice according to the teachings, we will naturally attain achievement. Throughout my life, I have never withheld any knowledge or experiences about Buddhism, but have shared and dedicated them to all who wish to learn. When we cultivate, we must first practice a mind of sincerity. Do not be afraid that others may treat us insincerely. Treat them with sincerity. We need to understand that when others treat us insincerely, it is due to their lack of understanding of the true reality. They do not understand that all sentient beings in the universe arise from one origin and that the entire universe arises from our self-nature. Thus, it is logical that they will use insincere minds when interacting with others. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have understood the reality. After immersing myself in the Buddha¡¦s teachings for almost fifty-years, I have also realized this reality. If we still treat others insincerely even after realizing this, then we are wrong. We should not repeat this mistake.

  To nurture minds of sincerity and purity, we let go of all attachments, let go of the rights and wrongs of others. When we are free from all these, we will attain purity of mind. To nurture our non-discriminatory mind, we need to let go of all wandering and discriminatory thoughts, rights and wrongs, and inequalities. Then, a mind of equality will be attained. A mind of purity and equality is a mind of sincerity and awakening. Using this mind to regard all others and objects, our loving kindness will naturally reveal itself. Therefore, the full title of the ¡§Infinite Life Sutra¡¨ has given us the practice guidelines, which are purity, equality and enlightenment. In the Pure Land School, we practice to attain purity and equality of mind. With this mind, we will be awakened. Awakening is sincerity and compassion. It is cultivating our mind, constantly caring for all sentient beings, especially those in suffering.

  Suffering covers a very profound and extensive area. Today, those with wealth and high social status also suffer. Most people do not realize this. What are their sufferings? After they die, they will fall into the Three Bad Realms. How could they not suffer? They are deluded by the Five Desires of wealth, lust, fame, food or drink and sleep, and the Six Dusts. Although they may be practicing Buddhism, it is more of a pleasure than actual learning. They have no true understanding of Buddhism. They have no opportunity to listen to lectures or to learn of it. Instead, their affinity and condition lie in worldly interests (such as entertainment and worldly affairs). Most people admire and envy them, thinking that they lead happy and fulfilling lives. But these people are wrong. How long will such happiness last? After they die, they will descend to the Three Bad Realms. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas understand that all beings are suffering, not just those who lack the necessities of life. Their sufferings are just more apparent than those with wealth and prestige. The latter do not know how to cultivate their minds. In the blink of an eye, they will fall into the Three Bad Realms. This kind of suffering has gone unnoticed by us. Today, people living in poverty are those who spend their days chanting "Amituofo".

  In a few years, they will become Buddhas or Bodhisattvas after they attain birth into the Western Pure Land. They will be forever freed from sufferings. But, most people today do not understand the true reality. They only see the present, not the future. Without the decades of learning and practicing Buddhism, I too would lack this understanding. All Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and sages are compassionate. In Buddhism, we often say ¡§Compassion is the basis and expedient ways are the means to help beings awaken¡¨. With this compassionate heart and the use of expedient ways in our daily lives, we help to educate sentient beings to awaken. Practicing the teachings in our daily lives is cultivation. Practicing the teachings when interacting with people, matters and objects is helping others to be awakened. In other words, our cultivation and helping others to be awakened should accord with sincerity, purity, equality, proper understanding and compassion. We will then no longer be ordinary beings but sages. We would do well to practice filial piety to its utmost and have compassion and loving-kindness for all beings. When encountering goodness; joy and happiness will arise as we assist others to achieve. When encountering badness, we will be able to endure and tolerate all adversities. When we closely observe everything around us, we will see that those who are sincere and kind towards others have immeasurable good fortunes and virtues.

  Buddha Shakyamuni and Confucius are excellent examples of this. Throughout his life, Confucius accorded with the Five Virtues of gentleness, kindness, respectfulness, thriftiness and humility when he interacted with others and dealt with matters. They are our role models in learning and cultivation. Buddhism is not a religion, but an education. In other words, Confucius and Buddha Shakyamuni are our best role models. They are what we would call voluntary social educators. As their students, we would do well to emulate them and follow their teachings. Master Yin-Guang especially advocated this book as a starting point for practice. This is using an appropriate method, the initial skillful method in practicing Buddhism.

  We will now read the text. The first passage is ¡§The Exalted One says, neither disasters nor good fortunes come without reasons and conditions, we incur them. The result of good and bad is like the shadow, accompanying the form¡¨. The first two sentences are the main principle of response and retribution. Actually, the rest of the text explains this first passage. The first sentence is primary and the second sentence is subordinate. With thorough understanding of these two sentences, we can hasten all good fortunes and avoid all misfortunes. We can become sages, virtuous people, patriarchs and Buddhas. Where do good fortunes and disasters come from? From our own deeds. This is the basic principle of response and retribution. It is as the Buddha said, ¡§To break through all delusions and attain awakening. To escape sufferings and attain happiness¡¨. Delusion and awakening are what we can control. Suffering and happiness are the results of what we have done. Wisdom and happiness are good fortunes. Delusion and suffering are misfortunes. This treatise mainly explains the intentions or minds of sages. Can we obtain good fortunes and happiness and avoid all misfortunes? To do so by requesting the protection of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and heavenly beings, and asking for forgiveness of our offenses is superstition. This conflicts with the principle of response and retribution. If we genuinely understand this passage, we will no longer plead with spiritual beings to protect us for we will understand that to do so is superstition.

  "Neither disasters nor good fortunes come without reasons and conditions, we incur them". We are responsible for everything that happens to us. If we practice good deeds and refrain from all wrongdoings, we will obtain good fortunes. If we do not correct our faults and continue to do bad deeds, we will incur misfortunes. It has nothing to do with others. We need to understand this. Buddha Shakyamuni repeatedly said in Mahayana sutras, ¡§The Buddhas do not liberate sentient beings¡¨. This is true. How are sentient beings liberated? By self-realization, cultivation and liberation. This is the truth. Would self-realization, practice and liberation not be ¡§We incur them¡¨? It is not because of others that we fall into the Three Bad Realms or the Hell realms, but our own erroneous ways. How can we blame others for our own retributions? Although Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are very compassionate toward us, they are unable to increase our good fortunes, to bear the consequences for us or to eradicate our offenses. If they told us this, we would not believe them. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas taught us where good fortunes and misfortunes come from. Buddha Shakyamuni helps us to understand the truth and reach self-realization by clearly explaining to us the principle of the true reality of life and the universe. Once we realize this and no longer commit wrongdoings, misfortunes can then be eliminated. If we exert ourselves to practice good deeds, then good fortunes will be ours. This is the genuine teaching of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Once we have heard the teachings and have found them fair, reasonable and proper, we will accept them and seek our own good fortunes. It is the same for a person, family, society, country or world. I hope everyone will attend to his or her own practice. This is all for today. Thank you.

Part VI
  Yesterday, we discussed the first passage, ¡§Neither misfortune nor good fortune will come without reasons and conditions, we incur them¡¨. This explains the principle of response and retribution. Although the words seem simple, the principles within are very profound. From the scientific perspective, it is the response from mind waves. The mind is real, but the waves are a figure of speech, an analogy. In physics, electric waves, which are equivalent to speed of light, seem to travel the fastest. But, the rate of mind waves is many times faster than the rate of light and electric waves making them virtually incomparable. Electric waves travel only 300,000 kilometers per second. Once a thought arises, its' waves instantly pervade throughout the universe. I have explained this numerous times in lectures. This explains the principle of response and retribution. The ¡§Compilation of the Treatise on Response and Retribution¡¨ provides countless cases and accounts as proof. If we calmly observe our environment and ourselves, we will be able to experience the true phenomena of response and retribution or what Westerners understand as the truth. The fifth passage of this book used a quote from the "Platform Sutra" by the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Master Hui-Neng. "All the fields of merit are within one's own heart". It concisely explains the whole text. It has the same meaning as the ¡§Neither misfortune nor good fortune will come without reasons and conditions, we incur them¡¨. Our every rising thought brings good luck or bad luck, good fortune or misfortune. Good luck and bad luck are small rewards and retributions. Good fortune and misfortune are bigger ones. Buddha Shakyamuni told us that these are created by our minds. He also said that good fortune and misfortune, happiness and sufferings are results of thoughts, words and deeds. But most people lack this understanding of the truth. Those who realize this understand that happiness and good fortune are sought on our own. But, if we were to accord with our afflictions and wandering thoughts, we will incur misfortune.

  Are we able to eliminate all natural and human-made disasters? Most assuredly, yes. With what method? Through Education. During my last trip to Australia, Mr. Uri Themal, the Executive Director of Multicultural Affairs in Queensland, came to visit me. We discussed how we could achieve racial and religious harmony, seek common ground, lay aside our bias in reaching mutual respect and harmonious living. My answer was through education. Chinese ancient sages taught us that ¡§education is most essential in establishing a new government, training its leaders and governing its people¡¨. Today, in order to reach social harmony and world peace, there is no other alternative but through education which would be the principle of response and retribution. With thorough understanding of the principles and the true reality, we will naturally restrain our every rising thought.

  We should exert ourselves to practice good deeds, but what are the standards for goodness? The Ten Good Conducts. If everyone practiced the Ten Good Conducts, then there would naturally be no natural or human-made disasters. The Buddha told us in sutras that if we have wandering thoughts that accord with anger, jealousy and sexual misconduct, then the hell realm would appear. We need to clearly understand how the hell realm is formed. If our wandering thoughts accord with greed and stinginess, reluctance to offer others our possessions and to give, then the hungry-ghost realm will appear. If our wandering thoughts accord with ignorance and we have no ability to differentiate truth from falsehood, proper from deviated, right from wrong, and we consequently mistake good for bad, advantage for disadvantage, then the animal realm will appear.

  Consequently, the Three Poisons of greed, anger and ignorance are the karmic causes of the Three Bad Realms. Today, when we calmly observe people in our society, we see that the Three Poisons exist within each of us. Furthermore, they are continuously increasing at a terrifyingly fast rate. Our increasing thoughts and behavior of greed, anger and ignorance speed up the formation of the Three Bad Realms. We would not have to wait to fall into the Three Bad Realms, we would be leading the lives of beings in hell, hungry ghost and animal realms while still in the human realm. This is terrifying!

  Today, there are some awakened beings and people with noble ideas who want to save our society from disasters. Master Yin-Guang repeatedly explained that in order to save our society from all disasters, it is too late to advocate the great principles of Confucianism and Buddhism. Thus, he advocated the books ¡§Liao-Fan¡¦s Four Lessons¡¨, ¡§The Treatise on Response and Retribution¡¨, and ¡§The Guidance to the Hidden Merits of Wen-Chang Di Jun¡¨ to help relieve beings in misery and suffering.

  Of all the bad karmic deeds, killing and sexual misconduct are the two most serious offenses. Thus, the writer, to heighten our awareness, in the ¡§Complete Book of An-Shi¡¨, went to great lengths to explain and emphasiz that these two fundamental offenses are the root of all ills and misfortune. Practicing the Ten Good Conducts redeems us from all disasters. The Buddha Name Recitation method is the foremost virtuous method. Thus, towards the end of the ¡§Complete Book of An-Shi ¡¨, a chapter on ¡§Specifying Methods of Returning to the Western Pure Land¡¨ is included to encourage us to chant ¡§Amituofo¡¨ and seek birth into the Western Pure Land.

  Once we realize the karmic causes of the Three Bad Realms, we also need to understand the causes of the Three Good Realms. Although Asuras in the Three Good Realms are able to practice good deeds where their thoughts and conduct correspond with the Ten Good Conducts, they were born into the Asura realm due to their arrogance, fiery temperament and determination to outdo others. Only when our thoughts and interaction with people, matters and objects consistently abide by the Five Fundamental Precepts and the Ten Good Conducts can we be born in the human realm.

  If we elevate ourselves by perfectly practicing the Ten Good Conducts, then we will attain birth in the Heavenly Realm. It is obvious that the primary objective in the Buddha¡¦s teachings is to guide us in refraining from all wrongdoings and to practice all good deeds. This is to ensure that we will not fall into the Three Bad Realms in our next life and still be able to attain the good fortune of the human and heavenly realms. But, we still will have not yet transcended the Six Realms of Reincarnation. Those who are wiser understand that the Three Good Realms do not solve the ultimate problem.

  To rise higher than the Three Good Realms is to transcend the Six Realms. This is like the state of an Arhat, who understands the reality of life and the universe. Understands that as we read in the ¡§Diamond Sutra¡¨, ¡§everything is like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow¡¨. Therefore, to rid ourselves of thoughts of self-attachment is the state of no-self in Buddhism. This means if we still have a self, reincarnation in the Six Realms still exists. Without ¡§self¡¨, we transcend the Six Realms and attain the state of Arhats.

  We would do well to understand that all phenomena in the universe arise from conditions while the nature itself is empty. How are phenomena, the Six Realms and the Ten Dharma Realms formed? All phenomena arise from the same condition. Once we understand this principle, we will be able to let go of even the smallest attachments knowing that it is wrong to have them. This is the state of Pratyekabuddhas and is higher than that of an Arhat. When we realize the truth about our bodies (that they are composed of the Five Aggregates of form, feeling, conception, impulse and consciousness, that are the five constituents of all existences, are not real in themselves and only arise due to a cause and a condition), we will be able to help and educate all sentient beings and to practice the Six Paramitas. Then we will be engaged in the career of Bodhisattvas.

  If we have sincere and non-discriminatory compassion for and guide all with our proper thoughts and conduct, then we are practicing the conduct of the Buddhas. We can either become Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. We can transcend and become sages as long as we return from improper thoughts and conduct. So, why not exert ourselves to earnestly study and practice? Emulating Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is auspicious and contains boundless good fortune. Therefore, misfortune and good fortune are not fixed or permanently unchangeable, but lie in a moment of thought. Ordinary beings like ourselves are only aware of good and bad thoughts, not knowing that there are numerous differences in good and bad. But, Buddhism provides us with clear and thorough explanations.

  When our thoughts change, our environment changes as well. The ¡§Flower Adornment Sutra¡¨ tells about the living environment of Buddha Vairocana. We also learn of the pure adornment of the Western Pure Land, Buddha Amitabha¡¦s world, which is filled with jeweled trees and fragrant houses. Where do they come from? From the sincere, compassionate and non-discriminatory mind to educate all sentient beings. The Earth is our living environment. People today say that our earth is unwell, severely ill with natural and human-made disasters. Where do these disasters come from? From the Three Poisons of greed, anger and ignorance. Greed results in floods, anger and hatred result in fire while ignorance results in wind. Earthquakes come from perturbed and indignant minds. Our state of mind today causes these natural and human-made disasters.

  Natural and human-made disasters can be resolved but not by scientific technology. I have often said that politics, force and economics cannot resolve them either. The ultimate solution lies in the transformation of our minds. Only ancient teachings and Buddhism help us change our way of thinking. Many religious leaders I have met around the world realize how frightening the disasters in this world can be. All of us wish to find a solution for attaining peace, harmony and cooperation among all religions. In Buddhism, this is an initial stage of awakening, a good sign. Education is needed for our goals to be attained. We discussed how religion alone would not solve our problems. Today, we have religion but lack education. This is what I said at the World Conference on Religion and Peace in Sydney.

  In religion, we would do well to put more emphasis on education. How can we educate followers to bring forth non-discriminatory compassion for all. For example, Christians and Catholics speak of how god loves all people. To say that God loves all people does not mean that He loves only his followers. God also loves those who do not believe in Him. He loves all human beings, worldly beings. There is no differentiation. In Buddhism, the emphasis is on sincere and non-discriminatory compassion for all sentient beings. We should give unselfishly and unconditionally to help all sentient beings. In doing so, we can solve all problems. Helping people with conditions attached will not solve anything. Once we learn this, we need to put our learning into practice or else it will have been futile and we will still be facing disasters. Hence, we must immediately practice what we have learned in our daily lives.

  Today, we visit different racial and religious groups. Through our sincere loving-kindness and unconditional giving and support, the responses received prove what Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the Exalted One said, ¡§we incur them¡¨. What we have received is warm loving-kindness from them. From this, we deeply realize that there is hope for social stability and world peace. We need to depend on the caring guidance and compassion of all religions in advocating great loving-kindness to resolve the present disasters. We need to deeply realize this. This is all for today. Thank you.

  Treatise on Response and Retribution (Tape 7) Good morning all fellow students! Yesterday I lectured on the first two lines of ¡§Treatise on Response and Retribution¡¨, ¡§Neither misfortune nor good fortune will come without reasons and conditions, we incur them¡¨. There are countless cases, examples and accounts of past dynasties within the ¡§Compilation of Treatise on Response and Retribution¡¨. We need to be familiar with and consider every one of them. Due to time restrictions, we cannot explain all but will select and emphasize important points.

  The Buddha often tells us in Mahayana sutras that ¡§everything arises from our minds¡¨. This is the Buddha¡¦s correct perception and is also the meaning for ¡§we incur them¡¨. Ancient patriarchs told us that ordinary beings have many wandering thoughts and these can be categorized into three types: wandering thoughts of the past, present and future. If we often dwell on past honor or disgrace, feelings of gratitude or resentment, joy and sorrow in life, all these are wandering thoughts of the past. This is especially so for the elderly. Invariably they recall their youth and repeatedly tell their life stories to younger people repeatedly. These old stories belong to wandering thoughts of the past.

  Sometimes we currently hesitate whether or not something should be done. These are wandering thoughts of the present. The third type is wandering thoughts of the future. In fact, future events are unpredictable. Some people there are many unlikely occurrences such as wealth, status or power. These thoughts are categorized as wandering thoughts of the future.

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