RECORDINGS OF CLASSES
Sunday Class WPCS
|Reading Material : The Path to Truth — For the Modern-day Bodhisattva Practitioner|
|9-The Path To The Truth-For the Modern Day Bodhisattva 12 Jan 2020 (Short Notes pdf)|
|8-The Path To The Truth-For The Modern Day Bodhisattva 22 Dec 2019 (Short Notes pdf)|
|7-The Path To The Truth-For The Modern Day Bodhisattva 8 Dec 2019 The Difference between Practice & Cultivation (Short Notes pdf)|
|6-The Path To The Truth-For The Modern Day Bodhisattva 1 Dec 2019 Let Things Be n Don’t Do Anything. This is True Patient Endurance. (Short Notes pdf)
Ref. book: The Path to Truth for the Modern-day Bodhisattva Practitioner by Master Shih Cheng Yen (page 26).
When we learn, we must learn with the correct approach. It is a trap to learn with all our past memories and conditionings. If we learn from this mindset, we will not have the confidence and will fail to learn successfully because we will keep on questioning via our views and opinions and in do so we are not listening, e.g. comparing with our past experiences. We have to enquire whether the questions we put forward are important and relevant or are we just questioning based on past conditionings which is not relevant to the current new learning. To learn we must listen attentively with an open mind to develop the new understanding then put it to test or investigation before accepting it.
When we learn, we need to learn from someone who is proven to be successful in that field. Not just chase after people that we hear is famous with a string of qualifications.
Brother Teoh shared his story about him teaching his brother-in-law on how to make good money from stock market investments. He realized how his brother-in-law was hindered by his past failures in the stock market investment that prevents him from listening attentively with an open mind.
We tend to learn from the level of knowledge (following the old way) that we had acquired previously. We think we understand and start to improve ourselves through using the newly acquired knowledge from the level we are at previously. However, when we learn this way, we are wasting our time as this is thought based learning that is not effective. We are still doing things the same old way because we are trying to improve from our current level of wrong understanding, which is not from a clean slate to learn new understanding to do things differently (i.e. with understanding) instead of speculating which is a form of punting and this is not investing. For investing is to grow our investment with proper and good understanding.
To learn successfully, we must start with a clean slate. We should throw away all our old rubbish which is not effective and irrelevant. We start from zero base, and investigate the truth of the new teaching with an open mind. We should not be comparing our old way of learning with the new way. Understanding the new way which is the successful way is most important.
Strive on with heedfulness to awaken, so that we do not have to suffer. As Master Cheng Yen says, “Just do it”. Brother Teoh said, ‘Don’t try to know’. Why? Because the thought is trying to know through memory. The thoughts will make your heedless and hinder progress. ‘Just do it’ or ‘don’t try to know’ means just silent your mind to develop the sati, understanding and awakening. When sati is developed or mind has entered sati, the form and mind will understand. Then the understanding will arise. This is true cultivation. Don’t ask irrelevant question before that, because all this question come from your thoughts and they are your doubts.
What is relevant is to cultivate the 5 Spiritual Faculties leading to a very stable sati.
Ask questions with understanding. Learn the Teaching first. Then put it into cultivation/practice. Ask questions after we have developed the cultivation then all the questions will be self-answered.
Strive on to develop sati first. Then stabilize this sati by having a good daily religious routine – e.g. Upon waking up and before sleeping, maintain awareness, pay respect to triple gem, do some puja chanting, meditate, share merits, transfer merits, make aspiration and develop daily mindfulness training: mindfulness of 4 postures and all actions and movements in present moment in daily life.
Listening to dhamma. Then reflect and contemplate on the Teachings. That will enable us to straighten our views to develop yoniso manasikara (initial wisdom borne of 2nd turning wisdom). Apply the 2nd Effort to prevent the unwholesome thoughts from arising via this wise attention at the moment of sense experience. Only understanding and wisdom frees the mind. Then cultivate following the 10 steps as stated in the Avijja Sutra.
We will start to understand, there is no point in arguing. We will just want to resolve all issues amicably following Noble 8-Fold Path.
We will accept things and people as they are with understanding.
It is still alright for some of you to only have this dhamma understanding when you are already quite old, as this understanding can be brought forward to our next life through our vows and aspiration. Vow to have such right dhamma understanding early in all our future lives’ coming.
We only need to have faith, sincerity and diligence to stay on the Path. Have patience endurance to let things be (different from suppression) and don’t do anything. Patience endurance is wisdom. Let things be means accept the really of the moment with understanding. Don’t do anything means don’t react or stir your mind or become emotional so that no evil will take root and thoughts will lose its power to delude you. After that, act with clarity and wisdom to resolve issues/matter amicably. If you insist to be right, you will suffer.
Everything starts from zero. From the great void all things come. Tzu Chi also started from zero when they started but was able to establish itself to its current strong position after 40+ years due to its founder’s sincere determination. From a backward country, China also becomes the world’s 2nd biggest economy after about 40 years. All Buddha and all Bodhisattvas also started as a normal Puthujjana. Everyone has the Buddha nature. Just do it! Don’t underestimate your great potential. You can be a Buddha too!
The 5 aggregates of form and mind (guests) are not you. Remember that you are the host and not the ‘guests’ of the mind. Since you are the host, how can you suffer when the 5 aggregates of form and mind arise and pass away? You only suffer when you grasp and cling on to them with delusion. When you are not deceived by them, you are free.
Understanding must be established so that wisdom (wise attention at the moment of sense experience) spontaneously comes out and prompt you to act appropriately when confronted with any life situation.
Please refer to the very good Thursday class outline short notes dated 24 October 2019, prepared by Sister Tammy for further understanding of the topic.
Also, to refer to page 17 of the transcript book: ‘Lesson 75 of the 6th Patriarch platform sutra’ for more explanation on the topic.
Meditation is the journey towards self-actualization via the silent mind in pure awareness (just aware).
The moment you think or verbalize, there is no meditation.
Being conscious of life, may not mean, one is aware within. There is thinking in being conscious whereas there is no thinking when one is just silently aware. When one is conscious, one merely existed through life but when one is aware in life, one truly lives life with understanding.
(Above outline short notes draft was initially prepared by Sister Mun Yuen)
|5 The Path To The Truth-For The Modern Day Bodhisattva 3 Nov 2019 Art of Listening Understanding Seeking – J. Krishnamurti Quote (Short Notes pdf)
Teachings learnt (Pariyati) must be put into practice (Patipatti).
Rare indeed, is to be born as a human during the Buddha Sasana and able to encounter the Buddha dhamma. Therefore we need to seize upon this opportunity to cultivate sincerely.
We should make strong aspiration and resolve to come with this dhamma understanding, life after life.
Life itself is the cultivation because life itself is our best teacher. Wisdom borne of meditation can enable us to develop the understanding of life. Perfection of this understanding can lead one to realize Samma SamBuddhahood.
There are 2 aspects to the Teachings. The first aspect is for lay people to improve their lives. Lay people are taught to avoid all evil and to do more goodness. For this purpose, the Law of Karma is taught to lay people initially. However, having merits alone may not be enough, as merits only provide better conditions in life but when lay people are confronted with the First Noble Truth realities of life, they can be easily afflicted as they have not developed the wisdom to free their mind.
The second aspect is to develop wisdom so that we are not deluded by the phenomena world of consciousness, so that we do not cling to these sense experiences and suffer as a result. For this, the Teachings taught us to purify our mind. On this aspect of the cultivation, many cultivators are trapped in thought based meditation.
What we need to do, is to understand the Teachings clearly, then put them into practice to reap the fruit of our hardwork/cultivation.
Brother Teoh also discussed J. Krishnamurti’s quote on seeking Truth to understand the deep meaning of seeking truth. Many cultivators are trapped in such seeking. According to Bro Teoh, you can only seek with understanding. Not when you are confused. To seek from within the field of thoughts or the known (knowledge) is futile (or a waste of time and effort).
What happens if the ‘seeker’ is the seek? Seeker always seeks outside of themselves, not from within. When we look within, we can realize our true nature (within us), which is beyond this mundane mind or the thoughts. This is the unborn / true nature / the unconditioned. We just need to silent our mundane mind, to realize this Nature within. Then Meditate from that silent awareness nature within.
When we have wisdom we will not cling or hold, so there is nothing to let go. Who needs to let go? The deluded one who holds and clings, right? So this statement on practicing ‘letting go’ is a delusion, a fallacy although it may appear logical. We just need to realize this.
We cannot seek from the known, basing on the past (via our memory and knowledge) or thoughts. That Nature is without words or concept. It is just an awareness that can understand reality and the movements of thoughts from within.
Brother Teoh reminded us to read again Appendix 3 of the Heart Sutra to understand Sati and meditation clearly (all as shared and pointed out by Bro Song in his earlier sharing).
The moment you are attentive without thought you are already aware (in sati). So when you are attentively listening without thought that is true listening. This is what we call the art of listening. When you listen without verbalization, without chattering, without any reaction from our knowledge and memory, that is the silent mind listening. You just listen with an open mind. Then whatever you listen you can absorb very clearly. You will not prejudge. So dhamma is about learning how to silent our mind more and more and be more attentive.
When we attend Dharma classes, we get the chance to perform all the 10 meritorious deeds, needed to generate wholesomeness and build spiritual wealth. We do our puja offerings and chanting to develop the faith and understanding. We pay respect, rejoice, renew our precepts, make aspiration by invoking power of merits, share and transfer merits, listened to dhamma, straighten one’s views and meditate. All these are meritorious actions.
The Bodhisattva vows when cultivated properly will take us along the Path. Technically we do not need to do anything.
When we keep precepts and cultivate virtues, we have no negativities in us. We develop sati more easily. When sati stabilize, our mind can receive the Teachings more easily.
Sila, Samadhi and Panna are the Noble Eightfold Path equivalent.
Sila (Morality) – consist of Right Speech, Right Action, Right Thought, and Right Living path factors.
Samadhi (Meditative path/Bhavana) – consist of the Sati, Samadhi and 4 Right Efforts path factors.
Panna (Wisdom / right understanding) – consist of Right View which is the first path factor in the N8FP.
Buddha also taught us to practice Dana (generosity). So to complete the training we need to cultivate Dana, Sila and Bhavana (Samadhi + Panna).
When we more heedful, having less thinking, restlessness and stirring of mind, it is a sign of good progress in our cultivation.
(Above draft prepared by Sister Mun Yuen)
If we attach and cling to the 5 aggregates of form and mind, we will suffer. Although the 5 aggregates of form and mind are not real, but it is subject to the nature’s law of karma. This 5 aggregates of form and mind is dependent originating and dependent on its user’s content of consciousness inputted, will decide the type of karma that is associated with its arising. Hence, we need to know how to use it appropriately with wisdom to live the righteous life via avoiding bad karma.
Must live life following the Dharma way or righteous way. To avoid all evil, we must develop mindfulness and wisdom to put a stop to all negativities (to avoid negative karmic fruition in the future). To cultivate wholesomeness and blessings so that they will become our good inheritance in the future. When this happens, we will have the good life and our faith in the teaching will deepen and we will progress very fast along the Path of dharma. Our understanding will increase, along with joy and love, then we can be a blessing to all.
Planting the seed of Bodhi firmly to arise the Bodhi mind is very important and meritorious as it sets one firmly on the Bodhisattva path leading towards Samma SamBuddhahood.
It is important for cultivators to understand that attachment and heedlessness borne of delusion and ignorant will result in suffering. Therefore, one must develop Mindfulness leading to heedfulness and wisdom to root out delusion and ignorant.
Cultivate the third Right Effort to develop the virtuous thoughts of gratitude, contentment, respect, love and compassion, truthfulness, sincerity, generosity, righteous conduct, kindness and gentleness. Learn to be humble and appreciative of life and others who had helped us in one way or other.
When the mind has become agitated, just maintain awareness. Silent the mind. The agitation will cease. When you do not do anything (no more conditions to support the agitation), you will realize your true mind. This is right view. You will not have any of those negativities of mind states as you do not feed the negative thought with more delusion. You do not react based on the habitual tendencies, especially the psychology memories, thereby stopping the continuation of this dependent originating thought process.
Brother Teoh shared the collection of his very unique dharma quotes taken from his years of Dharma sharing by Sister Eng Bee. These quotes would greatly benefit kalyanamittas and they will be available to Kalyanamittas soon.
Whenever we are unhappy and not peaceful, the evil roots are there. Develop Mindfulness to check on the evil roots and arise the 4 right efforts to deal with them. When we input the wrong content of consciousness, we will grasp and attach to the 5 aggregates of form and mind (the wrong thought).
Understand the instructions clearly then just follow the instructions and do. When you are very still and quiet, find out in the meditation, “without thought, who are you?” The true mind can understand via seeing things as they are, without delusion. The true mind will understand how the unarisen mental hindrance comes to be. When we do not accept things as they are, we suffer because of our wrong view. For the world is the world. People are just the way they are. When conditions are such, things will be such. When we can accept things as they are, the mind does not stir. There is no more craving. We are able to see things as they are to accept the reality of the moment.
We must respond to karmic negativities with right view, by asking for forgiveness and vow not to repeat those mistakes again via cultivating the Buddha Dharma as advised by the Buddha. We invoke power of merits for causes and conditions to turn around and then we cultivate affinity with all Buddha and Bodhisattvas to help speed up our cultivation.
Our old conditionings from Dharma knowledge (not borne of awakening) are an obstruction to understanding Truth. We failed to check against the Essential Dharma and investigate into life.
Psychological Time is a movement of thought. Therefore timeless means no movement, no thought activity. Thought is a movement and that is psychology time. When we are loss in thought, we are never with the true mind because we are preoccupied with the thinking so how can you be aware, to understand what is going on in life via the direct seeing. Truth or the dharma is akaliko (timeless).
Thought arises when the mundane mind arises. That is why thought based meditation cannot awaken.
Sister Alicia shared that the Great Compassionate Mantra chanting finally kept arising by itself at the back of her head. Her awareness and the mantra chanting is as one. Brother Teoh explained that her mind must have entered sati, for her to have such ability. Together with wise attention (yoniso manasikara) at the moment of sense experiences developed, she will progress very fast.
Wisdom is never ending. Wisdom continues to evolve with civilization’s transformation and progress.
Brother Teoh went through the 6th Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra class transcript book (lesson 75) and emphasizes the importance of the Dharma contained in that book.
We should straighten our views to stop the grasping. Have right view with regards to the law of karma, law of mind and dharma are very important. It will lead to the understanding of impermanence, suffering state and non-self or empty nature of the 5 aggregates of form and mind. Having right view is very important as it will lead to right thought, right speech and right action to live life. To do this, we must constantly arise the 4 right efforts to cultivate it. After that work on the 5 ways to overcome unwholesome thoughts and emotion as taught by the Buddha (especially the 3rd and 4th ways which are the meditative ways).
(The above draft short notes was prepared by Mun Yuen)
Through the Bodhisattva Vows, we come to this world with understanding, not ignorance. The Vows and understanding will take us along the Path and shorten our cultivation process when we have the understanding.
We need to perfect love and compassion, patience endurance, renunciation and wisdom to fulfill our Bodhisattva vows.
The Bodhisattva way is not about self practice and being a hermit but to go beyond the Sainthood way into Life to realize Buddhahood.
When Tzu Chi’s activities are been performed with love and compassion, volunteers start to truly understand the Dharma. Through these activities, volunteers witness suffering and the Law of Karma.
The upcoming Brother Teoh’s 15th Annual Gathering of kalyanamitta (6 October 2019) will be an occasion for joy and wholesomeness, an opportunity for fellowship and interaction, a time to express our gratitude, joy, appreciation and thanks, sharing of cultivation experiences, counsel and motivating each other leading to deepening of faith and witnessing of noble characters and personality as express by the true Kalyanamitta who already has the dharma. True cultivators of the way is a blessing to all.
When precepts are kept, there are no more negativities of mind states. The world is not polluted by negative consciousness. These are blessings to the world which bring forth positive mind states for humanity. Develop the wisdom to free the mind. When we (the individual) change for the better, the world will also change for the better because we will influence the collective consciousness. When the individual changes, the totality will change.
When you have the dharma, others will feel good and safe when around you.
Tzu Chi’s 4 missions are:
Kalynamittas are free to join Tzu Chi and activities organized by other Buddhist organizations.
Sister Tammy shared her experiences of understanding the Teachings which evolved over the years of attending Brother Teoh’s classes and activities. Please listen to the audio recordings for the full details.
Just do it! Don’t try to know because the mundane mind will not understand. It will question why we need to take the trouble to do all the wholesomeness, etc. But when Tzu Chi volunteers go down to the field to see the sufferings, they will start to understand the Dharma.
This is similar to what Brother Teoh has been telling us all these while, i.e. don’t try to know while in meditation as we will create thoughts to prevent us from being just aware.
Brother Teoh went over the Avijja Sutta again. Just do step by step without the thought interfering. Just practice according to the Avijja Sutta. Free yourself from knowledge. Start from a clean slate. Narrow down to steps 2 (Listen to the Dharma) to develop the 1st and 2nd turnings wisdom leading to step 4 (Yoniso Manasikara) and step 5 (Sati Sampajanna).
Sister Alicia developed her understanding of the Teachings when she taught children to make lantern. The children are innocent and naïve, do not have much conditioning and followed instructions step by step. So it was not hard for the children to learn when they have no preconceived ideas. Learning the dharma is the same, be simple and start from a clean slate free of all knowledge and conditioning.
(The above draft short notes was prepared by Mun Yuen)
Lesson 2: ‘The Path to Truth for the Modern-day Bodhisattva Practitioner’ by Master Shih Cheng Yen, page x
Life itself is our greatest teacher.
Meditation is to be cultivated in the midst of life itself.
Dharma is life itself, for Truth is within life itself.
Every encounter in life can bring about spiritual practice.
Tame your mind via cultivating the 5 spiritual faculties, especially mindfulness to train your mind to go beyond mere thought conception (thinking) to realize the true mind (a place of pure, undistracted tranquility and well-being) with no thought.
Straighten your views so that there is less ignorance. This will reduce thinking. Straightening of views via the initial wisdom can be cultivated as follows:
Together, these two turnings wisdom will result in yoniso manasikara (initial wisdom) which is wise attention at the moment of sense experience. This initial wisdom will lead to a stable daily mindfulness with clear comprehension (sati sampajana). With sati sampajanna, sense restraint will come to be and then comes the three ways of right conducts. With yoniso manasikara, one becomes more heedful, composed, have less thinking, more aware to experience the tranquility and stillness of mind more easily.
One can then Root out habitual tendencies (borne of heedfulness) to transform how one lives life (from heedless living to heedful living).
Heedful living will Nurture our wisdom-life.
The above clears the misconception of Buddhism as being a religion that promotes escaping from society and the mundane world.
We only need to have Faith, Sincerity and Perseverance to cultivate successfully.
The following simple virtues are very conducive for cultivation and they are also very effective for cultivators to develop right thoughts and do away with all the negative tendencies associated with one who is without such virtues:
– Appreciative of life (When one is appreciative of life one will have gratitude)
– Contentment (With contentment one will not have crave, envy, jealousy and lust)
– Cherish your blessings (then one will heed the advice of the Buddha to take care of karma)
With these simple virtues one will arise mostly right thoughts, then evil thoughts cannot take root. These simple virtues will help overcome a lot of negative tendencies like envy, jealousy, craving, lust, lack of contentment and gratitude towards others, etc.
The Bodhisattva Way has 3 stages:
From 0 (source) comes 1 (first thought of ignorance). From 1 comes infinity (the myriads creations). When mind arises, everything arise. So take care of mind or suffering will follow.
Acting from memory (often are your accumulated wrong views, opinions and conditionings including your fear, worry, anxiety, phobia, insecurity, scars of memories, etc.) is not acting at all.
Act according to understanding or the Dharma way following N8FP is true action. One need to cultivate wisdom to transform and free. To do this one must meditate to develop the contemplative and direct seeing WISDOM to awaken to the Truth.
Sister Karen shared how her life and fate changed for the better after cultivating the beautiful Dharma as taught by Bro Teoh. She was full of joy, when told by an old friend of her who can read palms very well – who compared Sister Karen’s palm lines when she was 35 year old to her current age palm lines. According to her friend, her palm lines have improved a lot compared to her earlier palm lines. The unwholesome palm lines were all gone and replaced with good and wholesome palm lines.
(The above draft short notes was prepared by Mun Yuen)
Lesson 1: ‘The Path to Truth for the Modern-day Bodhisattva Practitioner’ by Master Shih Cheng Yen.
Brother Teoh introduced and explained the reason and significance for using the above new reference book. It is mainly to develop the understanding of how the various Buddhist traditions with their unique specialty of understanding had contributed to world peace and help transformed our world for the better. To do this work, we need to train more Bodhisattvas with the proper understanding to do this work. These are Modern-day Bodhisattvas who live among fellow living beings and integrate with society to be a blessing to all.
Blessings that we received are not due to luck but mainly due to our virtues borne of wisdom because without wisdom, there is no real virtue.
Our Taiwan spiritual trip in 2014 led by Brother Teoh visited 4 great Buddhist traditions/organizations, each with their own specialty of understanding. Fo Guang Shan excels in Buddhist education, Tzu Chi emphasizes compassion in action, Fa Gu Shan focuses on meditation and Zhong Tai Chan Shi advocates planting the seed of Bodhi to walk the Bodhisattva way.
Each and every Bodhisattva is different and they have their own ways. Brother Teoh’s mission this life is to share the special unique Truth that his nature had understood to help Bodhisattvas progress faster along the path of dharma.
We need to aspire to have certain understanding of some of the important essential Dharma whenever we choose to come or have to come to this world, if not we will be wasting a lot of our time trying to develop such understanding every time we come to this mundane world.
Whatever we had cultivated will be stored up in our spiritual and karmic Natures. The wisdom, merits and blessings that we have cultivated, can help us in our cultivation if we know how to make use of them through invoking the power of merits and blessing for us to progress successfully along the path of dharma.
Among all the different schools of Buddhism, the common ground is the Four Noble Truths, although the emphasis is different. All subsequent teachings originate from this Four Noble Truths.
There is a discussion on “Why all Samma SamBuddha choose to realize Buddhahood in the human realm?” (Please refer to the audio/video recording for the details).
A good and virtuous mind is enough to do wholesomeness. There is no need to insist on having money to do or perform wholesomeness. When we radiate love (metta), have wholesome thoughts, cultivate the four right efforts, meditate, being mindful and heedful, we can perform all the 10 meritorious deeds, including rejoicing and providing service etc. to help promote dharma activities and cultivation; these are wholesomeness that can be done without having to spend any money.
Sharing by Kalynamittas who return from their recent 10-days retreat at Ajahn Anan’s forest monastery (WMJ) in Rayong, Thailand:
(Please listen to the audio/video recording for details).
Brother Teoh explained that all their above sharing have a common root cause. That is, when you seek, that seeking is a form of craving. Actually, there is no need to seek (wanting things our way and feels frustrated when it does not turn out in our favour). If things are meant to be, they will happen according to our parami. When we change the way we live life for the better (following the dharma way which is the righteous way), our karmic nature will change for the better too to improve our life.
We need to be able to see clearly the root cause of our sufferings so that we can free ourselves and be at peace. Enquire deeply on: “Who is unhappy? Who is complaining?” It is the egoic mind with the self-delusion. When we understand, we can just accord and flow with conditions to be at peace at all time.
When we feel negativities, we have self-delusion. Wrong thoughts are thoughts that condition our greed, craving, anger, hatred, fear, worry and anxiety, etc. and these thoughts with the evil roots made us evil. This is how we can check our cultivation. We must have mindfulness and understanding when these wrong thoughts arise. We must also understand what constitute evil. Because of these negative wrong thoughts, the ego complains.
Signs of progress are, when we don’t react and complain anymore. When we can have more love, peace within, joy and happiness through our own understanding of the dharma (the essential dharma) as taught by the Buddha. No more seeking.
(Above outline short notes draft was prepared by Sister Mun Yuen)
Cultivating The Bodhisattva Way 7 Oct 2018 – 14 Jul 2019
6th Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra 14 Jun 2015 – 9 Sep 2018
Satipatthana Sutra Recordings 12 Jan 2014 – 19 Apr 2015
Heart Sutra 2012 Recordings 12 Feb 2012 – 19 May 2013