Let There Be in Life Blossoms of Wisdom - Remarks by Dharma Master Hsin Tao on His Birthday
Thank you all for the warm birthday wishes. A birthday marks the beginning of life. What, then, do we do with life? Do good? Do wrong? Pursue Buddhahood? Or aspire to become a god? Options abound, but only a few would know how to blossom. Indeed, how? And how does one make sure that each blossom matures properly? Our life is like a flower that has an innate strength to blossom that can be observed, just like how a photographer captures that strength that renders the blossoming fresh and life beautiful.
How do lives blossom like flowers? What does one do with life? If no thoughts have been given to the issue, life goes on without a purpose until it reaches the point of no return. Therefore, some may aspire toward fortune and glory, some hope to contribute to humanities, some others just want to lead an ordinary life, while there are those who wish to become artists or a truth-seeking monastic like me who go for a life that is purpose-driven.
How does life keep spared from certain sufferings such as the threat of mortality? There is a systematic approach of a thinking process for the cycle of birth-aging-ailment-demise, which I refer to as the impermanence and emptiness of suffering. You follow the train of thought and you ponder how to depart from sufferings, which leads us to the right path of Dharma, and ultimately, Buddha.
I have learned from the wisdom of Buddha at the expense of a monastic life over the decades. Therefore, life in my case means to pass on Buddha's wisdom by carrying on Buddha's legacy and tradition in spreading out Buddhism to benefit all sentient beings and make it feasible for them to leave sufferings for happiness, to locate that Neither-Arising-Nor-Ceasing, as well as to know for sure how to craft and mold their lives into purposeful ones. I have been practicing the wisdom of Buddha for decades, and I feel comfortable in stating that I appreciate in full the bliss of Dharma.
Dharma itself is life and it clearly indicates how to walk the path of life, while allowing a gradual understanding of how to resolve issues of life and death. It demands hard studies and in-depth comprehension of Dharma in its limitless vastness to project life in proper juxtapositions as to its build-up, how to lead it in the right direction, and to help it find the ways to leave sufferings for happiness. We then learn from Dharma how to live our lives in such ways that our cyclic karma retains its all-fulfilling positivity.
I thank you all for the warm birthday wishes. 2020 marks a very challenging year and my retreat has kept me away from it all. I look forward to meeting everybody at the Water-Land Dharma Assembly to share our mutual blessings. My life in fact has been one in search of its own origin first, then returning to it only to relocate its exit. Life is samsara and it is cyclic, and it is critical that we become aware of how to make sure that our cyclic karma remains positive throughout the limitless time and space. In other words, we stay positively linked to the path of Buddhahood. To locate life's origin is Nirvana, and to locate its exit, Bodhicitta.
To assume responsibility for this dharma activity of Buddha , I must make certain that its inheritance is properly prepared for all sentient beings. Birthdays are like flowers blossoming, radiant and beautiful with unbridled hopes. Once set in the right direction and purpose-oriented lives light up and turn into connectivity nodes that celebrate lives' dedication and services. The best way to link up the nodes of vows is by the virtue of Bodhicitta, and turn the karma of the eight consciousnesses into those for Buddha. Once our connectivity nodes are all set, we live our cyclic samsara in ways that are best described as benevolent to ourselves and others as well, and that our awareness and deed are impeccable. Such are the paths we lead you to take.
We all must go the way of Buddhas and monastic disciples shall inherit the legacy of Dharma and nurture themselves to become good seeds for the inheritance. If the seeds are not good, the inheritance will be hindered and the tradition impaired. It is imperative that we blossom right and become flawless seeds. We, therefore, begin our studies with the mind, because its appreciation leads to the blossom of wisdom and the discovery of eternity, as well as the interconnection of lives. All lives are somehow interconnected in a mutually reliant symbiosis. Be it the animals and plants of the ecology or be it the hard- and software for the cyberspace, all forms of existence are interconnected one way or another. We would be denied such an understanding unless we practice Dharma, and without such enlightenment, we cannot renounce and let go of ego-centrism to integrate with all things. Ego-centric fixations need to be forfeited to truly appreciate ‘All being One and One being All’.
To learn the way of Buddha is to change from ‘Me/I’ to ‘Us/We’, and from ‘Us/We’ to ‘self-less’. Only a selfless mindset replaces confrontations with the recognition that all karmas accompany lives. To inherit and pass on Buddha’s legacy of wisdom is to blossom well like flowers at their best, which is a state referred to as ‘obstacle-free’. Obstacle-free lives are lives without halts of good deeds and without boundaries. All such beautiful lives hinge on a critical understanding that is enlightenment. The teachings of Buddha are to bring joy and keep people away from suffering. Let us hope that on our birthdays life blossoms like lotus flowers.