Today we will discuss how to practice the dharma.
Mind can either be pure, impure, or neutral. Dharma is how we think when we
have a pure mind. I will now give you the details. The main point of dharma is
to benefit all sentient beings. But our abilities are limited, since we are
still in samsara. If we become enlightened, we can help sentient beings. To
get enlightened, we need to practice the main essence, which is to cultivate
By thinking of the sufferings of all beings, we form the resolve to become
enlightened for their sake so we can benefit them. Merely wishing to benefit
beings is insufficient. We need to practice and have devotion to the Buddhas.
There are four points to generating bodhicitta. We should not distinguish
between enemy and friend. In truth, there is no such distinction. Our enemies
in past life might now be our friends, or vice versa. Friends can become
enemies even in this life. Or even in a single day. By thinking in this way,
we develop equanimity. We need to cultivate this even to the extent that
someone is harming our family, we have equanimity. By becoming experienced in
this practice. we can extend equanimity to all beings.
All sentient beings wish for happiness, but they do not know the cause of
happiness. They seek happiness, but their actions lead to more suffering.
Wishing that other beings have happiness and its cause is compassion. It is
like a mother's attitude to her children. Compassion should be extended to all
sentient beings. It should be boundless. Wishing in this way is known as
One should meditate like this not just for one person, but for all sentient
beings. One should feel this is happening to me when you see someone
suffering. From this we generate the desire that all beings be happy. A loving
mind is one of the roots of enlightenment. One should think that if other
beings are happy, mine is also increased. That is how we should think when
reciting "may all beings have happiness".
There is both absolute and relative bodhicitta. Relative bodhicitta is also
divided in two, aspiration and actual. One is just the wish to benefit others
and the other is carrying the wish out by cultivating the six
The first perfection is giving, the perfection of generosity. If we have
regrets when giving, one should make oneself give more than we originally
planned to. One should cultivate generosity to the extent that one is willing
to give away one's body. We wander in samsara because of our attachments.
Generosity trains us to give away what we are attached to.
The second perfection is morality. If one has a wish that someone comes to
harm, we need to practice morality to turn this around. If we can recognize
our negate thoughts and deeds one forms the wish to replace them with positive
ones. We need to pray for the person we wished would come to harm.
The third perfection is patience. If someone wishes to harm us, we should
think this is a result of karma from a past life and not get angry. Patience
is control of our anger. Our first thought may be something negative, but we
should recognize our anger and control it. One of my teachers was imprisoned
by the Chinese for twenty-five years. They gave him a lot of trouble. He
thought that this must be a result of past karma, which took away his all his
feelings of anger and dissatisfaction. Patience is more powerful than
prostrations to accumulate merit. Just as the greatest demerit is anger, the
greatest merit is patience.
The fourth perfection is perseverance. Perseverance means to not be lazy.
Instead, we should delight in practice. Our effort should not just be for a
single day, but should be continuous.
The fifth perfection is concentration. It means to focus the mind and not let
it go here and there. Focusing on compassion and loving kindness are forms of
concentration. We need to control the mind.
The sixth perfection is the perfection of wisdom. Knowing that happiness comes
from merit and suffering from demerit is wisdom. The three kinds of wisdom are
hearing the teachings, thinking about them, and meditating on them.
Buddhism is not alone in teaching that one's spiritual progress depends upon
the practice of the Perfections -- or, we could say, Virtues.