Creating a Virtuous Circle

2007-12-03
The Huayan World is a seed world, “seed” being a type of memory. These memories have been accumulated in past lives and completely fill the Dharma-dhātu; they are rather like plant seeds which transmit life from one generation to the next. Our past, present, and future existences and saṃsāra itself are produced by these memories.

Life is a function of consciousness, and consciousness is a function of memory. Buddhism speaks of eight types of consciousness, and herein can be found the repository of these memories. When the conditions are right, these memories give rise to a new life.

One’s position in saṃsāra is determined by one’s past actions of body, speech, and mind, accumulated over innumerable past lives. Wholesome actions in past lives result in good conditions in subsequent lives.

We are constantly producing memories. As soon as we have a thought, a corresponding memory is simultaneously produced, which at some time in the future will serve as a conditioning factor for a new life. In practicing Buddhism we orient our lives to the principle of “refraining from all evil, doing all that is good,” and this is a way of establishing wholesome memories. We need to learn how to manage not only our present life, but also our future lives. By following the path of virtue we leave behind all types of unwholesome actions.

It’s extremely important to establish a virtuous circle in life.

We need to use right view and clear comprehension to observe every thought that arises in the mind, and also to guide our interactions with others.

When our motivation is unwholesome, things go badly and our lives become chaotic and confused. For this reason we need to be sure that all of our actions are motivated by a wholesome state of mind, one which is oriented towards benefiting both oneself and others. Self-benefit means cultivating personal integrity; benefiting others means helping others to be free of suffering and attain happiness. This is how to create a wholesome circle in life.

We also have to be careful to not underestimate ourselves or become depressed about the setbacks we encounter in life. We all have the Buddha-nature, but after we are born the originally pure mind tends to get entangled in the world, giving rise to much confusion and suffering. So our task is to return to our intrinsic Buddha-nature. As soon as we set the bodhicitta in motion and cultivate wholesome thoughts, the mind begins to become purified. The main goal of Buddhist practice is returning to one’s intrinsic and genuine self.