A Delusional Mind Generates Delusional Views
By Master Zhisui
1. Maintaining the initial aspiration for enlightenment is not easy.
After extended exposure to the Dharma, some individuals may become what we call "Buddhist know-it-alls". These individuals presume to have experienced and learned everything there is to know and, consequently, nothing appears significant enough for them to take an interest in. Regrettably, their reverence for the Dharma tends to wane over time, in contrast to their initial enthusiasm. As a result, it is crucial to consider how we can sustain and cultivate our own enthusiasm for the Dharma. This is an issue that merits our attention.
Initially, these individuals held the Dharma in high regard, exhibiting a deep reverence for all things Buddhist. They would humbly prostrate before the statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, striving to eliminate their deluded thoughts. However, as they gained more diverse experiences, they began to view the Buddhas as unremarkable and started acting in accordance with their whims. Their once profound sense of respect, reverence, and eagerness to seek the Dharma has now dwindled. This is the reason why they struggle to maintain their original aspiration for enlightenment.
Maintaining an unwavering Bodhi mind to attain liberation from samsara is a tremendous challenge that requires long-term commitment. If the determination of everyone to seek the Dharma could remain as vigorous as it was during its initial stage, attainment of Buddhahood would be swift.
However, why is it challenging to maintain the initial motivation for spiritual cultivation? Karmic obstacles are the reason. They initially yield to one's passionate enthusiasm for the Dharma, but as one gains some understanding of the Dharma, these karmic obstacles resurface and revert to their original state.
In reality, our journey of practicing the Dharma resembles a pendulum, constantly swinging between karma and the Dharma. When swinging towards karma, the sensory pleasures of the mundane world appear alluring. It becomes challenging to maintain our spiritual practice. For example, those who practice Amitabha-recitation may initially display great diligence and zeal, only to slacken over time. Thus, spiritual practice becomes an ongoing process of continuous swings. It is crucial to make constant adjustments, like calibrating a pendulum, to keep it in a balanced state.
2. Buddhism confronts the issue of birth and death and provides solutions.
Buddhism delves into the profound issue of birth and death, and provides solutions. By learning the Dharma, we gain a better insight into the true meaning of life and death. The value of the Dharma transcends monetary considerations, as no amount of wealth can alter the mortality of our existence. The Dharma is akin to invaluable medicines and precious jewels. They cannot be measured by money.
However, because the Dharma cannot be measured by money, many may perceive it as of little use. This is due to their lack of understanding of the importance of the Dharma and the immense benefits it brings to sentient beings. It is a pitiful human condition that our lack of wisdom makes us ignorant of the intention of Sakyamuni Buddha manifesting in this world. Over two thousand years ago, the Buddha pointed out the fundamental problem of all sentient beings - life and death. He wanted us to be aware of this important issue and to contemplate it. However, many may find the broad and complex nature of this topic uninteresting, and therefore are unwilling to think deeply about it. However, the lack of interest or unwillingness to contemplate it does not diminish the inherent value of this teaching. Its value remains overlooked.
Understanding the true nature of life and death, and realizing the ultimate truth of existence allows us to transcend birth and death and attain liberation, which is the ultimate goal and meaning of the Dharma. After surpassing birth and death, where do we go? We enter the state of neither arising nor ceasing, which is referred to as "non-arising" in the Dharma. In the "Heart Sutra," there is a phrase, "Neither arising nor ceasing, neither defiled nor pure, neither increasing nor decreasing." This represents the state of a sage, free from birth and death, changeless, and unaffected by increase or decrease. In contrast, the mind of an ordinary being undergoes birth and death, experiences changes, and is subject to increase or decrease.
3.A delusional mind generates delusional views
It is difficult to truly comprehend the state of neither arising nor ceasing from a mundane perspective, and no one can clearly describe what that state is. Let's consider what it would be like in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Some people start planning, saying, "I will build palaces and pavilions for myself, decide on the decoration, arrange everything, and live a life of chanting sutras, reciting the name of Amitabha accompanied by the sound of striking the wooden block." They imagine it for themselves. But by what standard do we use for our imagination? It is still the worldly realm standard. For example, if we think someone else's mansion is excellent, we will think, "I will also build a mansion in the Pure Land," and our preference is still based on things in the mundane world, or the standards of cyclic existence.
The state of a sage is beyond our imagination. The Sutra of Perfect Enlightenment states that ordinary beings "generate delusional views with a delusional mind.” When we, as ordinary beings, try to imagine the state of the Dharma realm of non-arising or the state of a sage, we perceive it with a delusional mind. People often ask, "What is it like after enlightenment?" But without experiencing enlightenment, we do not know what that state is like. Without becoming a sage, we do not know the state of being a sage. Therefore, we can only discuss and imagine these things based on the words in the scriptures, but we still do not truly know. In other words, we can only understand it by entering that state ourselves.
Although we may not fully comprehend it, we can set a goal to aspire to the state of a sage, to enter the state of a sage. The state of a sage is free from afflictions, greed, anger, ignorance, and the cycle of birth and death. Who wants to live in a world with so many afflictions? Everyone desires a pure, liberated, carefree life. The Pure Land can satisfy our needs, that is why it is superior to the Saha world.
As for the nature of the Land of Ultimate Bliss and the state of a sage, we can only have a rough understanding through words. It is only by being reborn in the Pure Land and truly entering the state of a sage that we fully comprehend it. At present, we can only roughly understand through scriptural texts.
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
- Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
- Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
- Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
- Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime
The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha
If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings