For the first time, Meditation Master JinBodhi gave an in-depth talk on the nature of a buddha, and guided us to walk a luminous path of instantaneous buddhahood.

This is a spiritual journey which explores the depths of the soul and mind. Together let’s seek the true essence of learning Buddhadharma.

【You willearn】

  • Methods to achieve the state of “non-self”
  • Differentiate between “greed” and “necessary needs”
  • Understand “dharma joy”
  • The correct mentality of doing good deeds

【Featured aphorism】

  • A Buddha is about living the principle of compassion, believing in enlightenment not only for the self but also for others, and achieving perfect enlightenment.
  • The state of “non-self” is about giving more, having less greed and letting go of all attachments.
  • Everyone has kindness in their hearts. When their inner kindness and empathy are awakened, people help others without thinking too much about it; this is the embodiment of compassion.
  • The moment you realize the truth is the moment of enlightenment.
  • Obtaining dharma joy is about being blessed with auspicious energy by the Buddha while carrying out deeds of kindness.
  • Knowing good and evil, and being able to practice kindness, is enlightenment.
  • The moment of being aspired is the moment of awakening and achieving enlightenment; such is the way of achieving instantaneous Buddhahood.
  • Awakening is the arising of your aspiration to help all sentient beings, which is followed by an obligation to do good deeds like a bodhisattva.
  • Enlightenment requires sincerity and action; the more aspired you are to offer compassion, the more wisdom and energy you will receive.


Buddha is All-Compassionate

Buddhadharma is unimaginable, which means it cannot be described in human language. Buddhadharma is a flower blooming in the snow. Buddhadharma can make one rise from death, like a phoenix that rises from the ashes. It is a transformation from duckling to phoenix, slave to general, worker to boss, greed to enlightenment. All these are possible though unimaginable. Wealthy emperors renounced all their worldly possessions and comfort  to become monks. Music lovers claim Buddhadharma is music. Buddhadharma is beyond our imagination and ordinary people’s perception.

In Buddhist sutras, there is a definition for Buddha which is “enlighten self and others with perfect enlightenment and conduct.” To help you understand it easily, I add one more term to begin with – All-compassion, as compassion is essential; without it, Buddha couldn’t enlighten self and others, nor help people leave suffering and attain happiness. He couldn’t do it. Say, “I got a secret recipe for happiness, and I kept it to myself.” Ordinary people would say, “Look, I wear better clothes, make more money, live a happier life, I feel great! But I absolutely won’t tell others this secret recipe.”

Everyone thinks that way. But not Buddha, because he is all-compassionate. All-compassion means loving all sentient beings. Let’s put aside “helping all sentient beings.” First, we must have unconditional love. Buddha loves all sentient beings. To what extent? In ancient China, a virtuous emperor was described as “loving his subjects as his own children.” Buddha is like that, loving all beings as his own children or parents, bound by flesh and blood. When you suffer, he suffers with you. He feels not only your pain but also all your feelings. He puts himself in your shoes. As his great sincerity and compassion is completely blended with his flesh and blood, bone marrow and hair, he feels others’ pain. And that inspired his disciples, such as Guanyin Bodhisattva, to help sufferers whenever they cry for help, to listen for these cries, even to seek out crying sufferers to help save them.

For instance, your family member is gravely ill, you cannot afford the medical bills, you make little money, you have elderly and young to support, as well as the bedridden, sick one. The sick one is seriously ill and needs lots of money and a caregiver, too. So much suffering! Often, your next meal is not guaranteed. You cannot afford medication for the bedridden one. You cannot borrow any more money from relatives and friends. How can you live like that? You suffer!

Others may seem to be very happy, then their partner wants a divorce, so suffering arises. “I love you dearly and have been faithful, but you want to leave me!” One feels so wronged. “My life, my heart, and all my love is for you, but…” Some people’s loved ones die early. Some parents have to bury their children, whether due to illness, accident, war, or disasters. Imagine the child you raised dying in an accident. Though such an incident is a natural part of life, when it happens to you, you suffer great pain. All these miseries are hard to bear. Guanyin Bodhisattva seeks out these cries of suffering. Why? Because of his All-Compassion. Because of his great love. He views all sentient beings as his own parents, brothers and sisters, his own children, that is why he loves them so. It is the true reason for his great compassion.

Our mother and father are our Buddha and Bodhisattva in life. However, though parents are their children’s Buddha and Bodhisattva, they may not be so to others. They may be just an ordinary person, with greed, anger, and ignorance, they may abuse alcohol, pick fights and cheat, or do things way worse than that, even be corrupt state officials, but they are good to their children. This is parents’ selfish love. We should be grateful to our parents for their nurturing. To know how Buddha loves us, we just need to look at our parents. Buddha is like our parents, even though parental love is on a small scale. Great love is to view all sentient beings as one’s own children. That is the way. It is on a grand scale, neither small nor selfish. The difference between Buddha and ordinary people is: Buddha’s love to all beings is great compassion and unselfish great love. He feels the suffering of all sentient beings all the time. He selflessly loves and cares for them like his own children.

What is the relationship between selflessness and great compassion? The greatness lies in how there is no self. What is the “selfless” state? It is called the state of arhat in India’s ancient Sanskrit. An arhat to the Chinese is someone who is detached from greed. With greed, when we see pretty clothes, we would envy them and want them. If someone lives in a nice house, we would want the same or a better one. That is not the arhat state; the true arhat state means no greed. If someone is very cold, and he needs warm clothes, would he try to get a warm coat? Possibly. This is not greed. Because it is cold, he needs a coat. A poor person just needs a coat to keep himself warm while a richer person wants a good brand. He would not even buy it if it is not his favorite brand. That is an ordinary person’s behavior. The selfless state is free of greed. There is a line between need and greed.

Need Is Different from Greed

Need means necessity in our life, while greed is what exceeds that. For example, I need to eat, dress, and sleep every day, so I need food, clothing, and shelter. These are the three basic needs for everyone. If these needs cannot be met, complete chaos arises in the country. Families will not function properly; the society will be in turmoil. Thus, in many countries, such as in China, the government exercises strict economic control. Guaranteeing the food supply, including cooking oil, is most crucial. I am not sure about eggs or meat. In foreign countries, they regulate the prices of meat, eggs, vegetables, flour, and rice. Sometimes the government subsidizes farmers. For chicken farmers, one egg may sell for ten cents, but its production cost could be fifteen cents. Then the government may pay the farmer twenty cents. But at the market, people buy it for ten cents. Why does the government do this? Because the cost of producing the egg is high, but the farmers’ wage is still low — if their basic need for food cannot be met, they would revolt.  “You government officials enjoy the best food and drink. I cannot even afford soup.”

Some farmers would revolt, putting the country in danger. So in order to prevent this from happening, the government willingly subsidizes the farmers. These are the basic needs of people which must be met to sustain life. The concept of selflessness is about kindness, about being a kind-hearted, helpful person. But you need basic necessities to live, too. Say, if I do not have a warm coat in winter, I would be cold. I need a warm coat. A warm coat is not a luxury. It is entirely appropriate and reasonable. But if I see someone wearing a gold ring and want one too, that is a luxury. You live just as well without a gold ring. You will not starve. Wearing canvas shoes, you desire leather ones when you see people wearing those. That is OK. But that is a luxury, not a necessity.

We often encounter such issues in learning Buddhadharma. Ordinary people are happy with average clothes and food. But some may want nicer clothes to show their higher status. Some men go to work with the aim of providing better clothes for their wives in order to show their capability. This is greed. Although that idea originates from love, it is selfish love that turns into greed. Same goes for wanting better backpacks for your children. This is also greed. This part is very important.

Someone with great aspirations will not have such greed; he wouldn’t care about his clothing, as long as it covers his body and protects him from the cold. He has no excessive demands. The concept of being selfless is not easy to grasp. Here it means not greedy for personal interests. This is the first meaning. The second is that not only are selfless people not greedy, they have no self-interest at all. They would donate to the poor, starving people who are not conmen, but real victims of natural disasters. With their savings, they would relieve the needy of starvation, or help the suffering sick who cannot afford medical bills.

But self-centered people would think, “I made my money through great effort. Why should I give it to you?” They don’t know about the concept of giving. Of course generosity depends on whether you have unconditional love or great compassion or not. Compassionate people naturally help without hesitation.

Everyone Has Innate Kindness

In our own experience and in some good films, there are many stories about people’s kindness, about how both kind-hearted and selfish people helped others along the way. I remember a Hong Kong film. A big heavy signboard was falling off the top of a building. A woman and her child were walking by. It seemed they would be hit by the falling board. A would-be bank robber was nearby; his kindness arose. Upon seeing the problem, he forgot about robbing the bank, ran toward them with gun in hand, and dragged them to safety. Immediately the board crashed to the ground, making a big dent. At that moment, police officers got wise to his robbery plot and saw the guy with a gun dragging two people around, so they surrounded and arrested him.

Had he not come to save the mother and child, he wouldn’t have been caught. But he did and was put in jail. The mother and child were very grateful to him. So they bailed him out of jail. There was a law to permit this. In the end, we learned the husband of this woman had died. The family endured many disasters. The husband died, and the mother and child were almost killed. But luckily they were saved by the robber. They were very grateful to him. So they bailed him out. In the end, the woman and the robber got married. He started out as a mobster. If he had robbed the bank, he may have been shot to death.

Kindness is not exclusive to law-abiding people. Some people, because of poor education or bad environment, become criminals. It doesn’t mean they were born evil. Some have ability but no place to apply it. Some are put behind bars for small wrongdoings. They learn their lesson and can return home. But others were wronged and handed severe punishment, which hurt their immature minds and developed their hatred. In the end, they became fearless. With no proper ways of living, they stepped on the wrong path. After all, one has to survive. Everyone has this kindness. When his kindness arose in this film, the robber didn’t think. Of course everyone was asking, “Why did he do it?” He didn’t hesitate because they would die. All he wanted was to save them. You know why? (Kindness).

Actually, everyone has kindness and empathy. Are there any mobsters here? Raise your hand, please. You are too shy. If you are not a mobster, you should be more loving and philanthropic. Upon seeing those who are suffering, hard hit, weak and poor, we naturally feel great compassion toward them. Applying it in our life, we first should have empathy and sympathy. Sympathy, frankly speaking, is to have pity for others. Some might say, “I don’t want to pity others.” But if we have no pity for others, we have no compassion. Having pity on people is the heart of sympathy, empathy, and understanding. These are all displays of compassion. In the story I just told, when this mobster ran up to save the mother and child, he was selfless at that moment.

A smart guy might think, “What if the signboard hits me? Or what if I’m caught? I’d be found out.” He put himself in danger to save others. So the kid asked if he did it because of his mother’s beauty. In the moment, he didn’t even notice her beauty. That is his compassion. When compassion arises, people become selfless and help others. Every year we see countless news stories, such as a child was drowning and a young man jumped in to save him. The child was saved, but the young man died. Many stories like this. Actually, when many are helping others, they don’t think, nor do they think about causality. No time for that. With little time to think, their speedy reaction shows their selflessness.

So I hope all Buddhists are selfless, for we want to emulate Buddha to become the best person. With the merits we accumulate, total liberation then follows. We will be free from suffering and gain lasting happiness.

After Becoming Enlightened, Enlighten Others Right Away

“Enlightening self and others.” What does that mean? It means if we achieve enlightenment, we should also enlighten others. Correct! But can we feel self-enlightenment? I asked many Buddhists, visiting various schools in different places.

“Brother, you’re an old Buddhist, my senior.”

One said, “I haven’t practiced long, only for 40 years.” He was very humble. Wow, he is that good! Sometimes I was being difficult, and I threw this tough question, “Brother, what is Buddha?” Now I am asked the same question – that is my real karma.

He told me: “Enlighten self and others. Perfect your thoughts and actions.”

“Did you ever help anyone?” 


 “No? Then how do you learn Buddhadharma? Who did you enlighten?”

 He said, “I haven’t achieved perfect enlightenment yet.”

“When will you, then?”

“My master said in one of my next few lives.”

I said, “But you may be reborn as a bird or a stinking bug. If so, how could you help people? You couldn’t even help a bird. Birds may have their own language, but not such intricate language and philosophy as to achieve enlightenment, right? At most, they can get smarter.” So I ask you this question, “How enlightened must you be before you enlighten others?”

Whether you are truly enlightened or not, the moment you understand or even hear my teaching, you are enlightened. I remember that the following is repeated in the sutras: 12,580 bodhisattvas and commoners attended Buddha’s dharma teaching. After Buddha finished the teaching, the crowd was overjoyed, and they all achieved arhat status. They didn’t even cultivate, yet they achieved it. Buddhist sutras’ stories are correct. It means one is enlightened the moment one understands. Just like that. Understand? In learning Buddhadharma, what is the most formal teaching from Buddha? If a person’s sole focus is on attaining his own happiness, then he is not a true human being. Buddha didn’t say that, I did. If such a person is not human, what is he? Just an arhat, neither a buddha nor a bodhisattva.

What is a bodhisattva? We often say “bodhisattva heart,” that is, “being All-Compassionate.” That is true Buddhadharma. That is what true Buddhists must do. Now you have understood this. Some say, “I haven’t attained ultimate enlightenment.” But you should understand that one must do only good deeds. You know that you must help people. Surely, you know what compassion or kindness is, right? If you do, that is enough. Once, a practitioner told me that he was too ashamed to meet with me, yet he still came to my teaching. He wore big sunglasses, which made him barely prostrate. He accidentally broke his glasses.

“Master, I’m ashamed to see you!” He was so excited that I had to calm him down.

I said, “That’s fine. It’s ok. You calm down first.” I asked him why he was ashamed to see me.

“Well, because of my condition, I cannot help anyone. Also, I feel my practice is not good enough. I lack merit and virtue, dharma power, and insight. So I haven’t helped anyone.” That is not a Buddhist. A Buddhist needs to achieve liberation, and with unlimited wisdom help as many people as possible, and practice the way of compassion. Say, I am an educated, knowledgeable CEO. With my wisdom, I have made lots of money, built buildings, helped many seniors and disabled people. Perhaps, I alone helped 100,000 people, thanks to Buddhadharma’s inspiration. I have done the right thing. Now, let’s say you are a farmer, you don’t have that kind of ability, nor wisdom, nor that much money. It doesn’t matter. You can help people in your village.  As long as there are humans and living beings, you can help them if you have a loving heart. That is acting in the bodhisattva way. Why wait until enlightenment? When will it be? You don’t do good deeds, and you claim you are not qualified as your excuse. However, the reality is that you lack compassion.

You have not tasted the joy of helping people. Do you know what “dharma bliss” means? Not many know. Let me tell you. It has many meanings. First, it is the wonderful feeling we get during our Buddhist practice. This feeling is wonderful, thus it is a blessing. We may feel that we are floating. Our skin becomes fine and smooth. We may have been upset before meditating. But afterward we feel so comfortable and wonderful as our anger is gone. Or, our vision used to be blurry, now it is clear. We had leg pain in the past, now we are happy it is gone. All these are dharma bliss.

Also, after listening to Master’s or other enlightened sages’ teachings, you awaken, and you are filled with joy and reverence. That is also dharma bliss. Again, after you have helped people, your joy is dharma bliss. With deeper study, you realize this is not just one person’s joy. The joy you feel comes from the compassion that arises from helping.

Say, you helped someone with his work without expecting any return. That person is your neighbor, and he is weak and blind. So you help him once a week, such as cleaning his house. It is tiring and you work up a sweat and get your clothes dirty. After you finish, he expresses appreciation and respect. The joy that fills you makes you so comfortable and delighted. It is not just that you who feel joyful. In that instant, when the other feels grateful to you, you are truly helping him. You are practicing the bodhisattva way, and buddhas, bodhisattvas, and Master will bless you, to bestow the most auspicious energy on you according to your contribution and aspiration.

So when you feel so joyful, the fatigue from a day’s work will disappear instantly. Why? It is the work of Heaven. So, dharma bliss is not just one person’s joy. It is Buddha’s joy and your joy. Or, your joy is Buddha’s joy. That is true dharma bliss. Say, today I feel wonderful while meditating.  Does the wonderful feeling come from me? No. It is Buddha’s gift. It is the joy of Buddha, felt by me. That is how it works. There is a connection. It is the connection and transmission of energy between two lives. That is why we have such a wonderful harvest and feeling. Once you have this great compassion, or when you have kind thoughts and intentions, do you feel grateful as the energy gathers? In that instant, you feel awestruck, as you have received Buddha’s energy blessing.

The most important thing is to expect no return. We help not because someone is rich, or his children are good-looking, so you hope to marry one of them. You have no such expectation. Or maybe someone has authority that you want to exploit. No. We are not saying that we don’t help the rich, or the ones with authority, or the good-looking ones. No. It is that we have no greed in our mind. We help those in need, regardless of rich or poor, high or low. Status is transient. Perhaps you know people who were rich but are now penniless.

As Buddha said, “All these are just transient, including happiness, wonder, and appearance.” When we are young, we are beautiful. When we get old, we are not as beautiful. Life is the same. So are fame and fortune. Thus, the one who enlightens self and others will not wait. As soon as we understand the truth about compassion, we start doing good deeds. We don’t wait until we have achieved perfect enlightenment. Should I wait and do as Sakyamuni Buddha, sit and meditate for seven years and eight months to attain enlightenment? What if you don’t attain enlightenment after 70 years? Another serious question, what does “enlightenment” mean? Tell me, have you been enlightened? (Yes.) Raise your hand if you have. Then I will ask you this, “Do you know good from bad?” (Yes.)

“Do you get what your master said — do only good deeds and help people? Do you understand?” (Yes.)

“Will you do that once you are back home?” (Yes.) That is enlightenment. I have given you so many examples, if you still don’t get it, then forget about enlightenment. After you are back, your dharma brother or sister will ask you, “Brother, have you helped anyone lately?”

“No,  I will wait until after I have achieved enlightenment.” Well, then you are wasting your life. If I had to wait until the day I achieve perfect enlightenment like Buddha to deliver teachings, I wonder when that day would come. That is true. When I felt I would become enlightened, I didn’t feel it was perfect enlightenment. But I felt that if you cultivated with me, your body, mind, and soul would be healthy and happy. I was not sure if I could guide you to Buddhahood. That is what I thought. But I knew I could guide you to achieve compassion. That was my thought 20 years ago.

I don’t think I will achieve perfect enlightenment like that of Sakyamuni Buddha. Before I get there, I might freeze or starve to death, suffocate or die of boredom. As long as we kindly help people, that is enlightenment. I once met an elderly lady when she was sorting garbage in our building. Every evening, all the garbage was collected. She would separate everything accordingly: plastics, paper, cardboard boxes, newspapers, magazines, etc. She sorted the garbage of several apartment buildings. She didn’t wear gloves. That was how she did it. There were four other people working with her. The younger they were, the more displeased they looked. I saw them often. A young man helping with garbage sorting got very angry when he saw me. His heart had no joy. He was ashamed. Thus he looked very annoyed. He thought of himself as low and poor while others had higher social status. Thus, he didn’t want to talk to us. 

But that elderly lady, upon seeing me or anyone else, she would greet, “Ah mi tuo fo, have a good day!” She was poised, graceful, and well-mannered, not pretentious. I always felt this lady was emitting an aura of the Guanyin Bodhisattva. This bodhisattva was sorting garbage for us. Whoever she saw, her expression was so at ease and peaceful. She was sorting garbage, but you didn’t feel she was dirty. It is not that her face was dirty or her clothes smelly. No. It is like she was totally untainted. She was so noble and dignified. Later on, I asked some seniors living there, “Who is that old lady? I always felt this lady was so noble, how could she do such a low job?”

“Oh, you don’t know? Her husband died a few years ago. He was a billionaire 20 or 30 years ago. This lady was always beautifully dressed, and she wore the most fashionable clothes and all kinds of jewelry. She smelled of money. She turned her nose up at people, extremely arrogant.” However, before her husband passed away, not sure for what reason, she started to learn Buddhadharma. And she learned well. So wherever there was a disaster, she and her husband would help. The same for building temples. When there was news about misappropriation of public funds or money stolen by corrupt monks, she was not fazed. She only focused on offering kindness, and was aware that Buddha and Bodhisattva see all. “There are always bad apples. But what we follow with our heart is the way of compassion. No need to ask many questions, rather, do many good deeds and often.”

Her children were well-behaved. Before her husband passed away, her kids inherited their father’s business and expanded it. She didn’t have as much to do after her husband died. Her wealth attracted offers to join businesses. She was annoyed by this. She revered Buddha and could see that people’s greed was behind the offers. She wanted to do something to put them off. She started sorting garbage to find out if people were still interested. If anyone asked, she would claim to be a penniless widow. 

Then nobody bothered her. That is when she found great happiness and felt extremely rich. She had neither regret nor blame. It took her more than three hours daily to sort the garbage. The worse her working environment, the happier she was. How wonderful! I feel she was just like Guanyin Bodhisattva. She was also enlightening others. Such a low and filthy job, who wants to do it? All kinds of garbage were mixed together. If left unsorted, it would cause more pollution, as some of it wouldn’t decompose. She was practicing compassion. As long as people live, desperate voices will call for help. Many fellow practitioners are true disciples, who never stop taking compassionate action. They know they haven’t achieved total enlightenment, but they know what they must do.

After doing it for a long time, this action itself is ultimate enlightenment, though it seems simple. Enlightenment is actually right before our eyes, in that instant. What does “enlightenment” mean? Let’s study the practical side. Learning Buddhadharma is about leaving suffering and attaining happiness. If you understand “enlighten self and others,” just do it. Many of us practice meditation together. We need to eat and go to the bathroom, so we have to wait in line sometimes.

Someone might ask: “Oh, I can’t hold it anymore, may I go first?”

“No. Don’t you have any manners? Get back in line.” Well, if you really have good morals, respond kindly when people ask you for a favor. They must have a reason. They just couldn’t hold it any longer. Be generous and let them go first. Imagine learning Buddhadharma, tolerance and compassion here, yet getting upset when you are slightly nudged. It is a bit packed here, and you start to curse. If it were someone you love, you would not react that way. You need to view the matter across time and space. Those sitting near you may have been your parents in a past life, or your dearest love, or your beloved children. After going through many reincarnations, it means a lot to be able to learn and practice Buddhadharma together. Thanks to fate for bringing us together. Right? (Yes). Let’s not talk about helping people out in the world. In this hall, did we practice mutual love and respect? Did we? (Yes.) Louder! (Yes!)

I know some of you answered in low voices that lacked conviction and confidence. That is fine. As long as you start now, it is good. You will become a bodhisattva. In the sutras, “enlightening others” was raised by our Buddha. “Others” means non-family members, even total strangers. Buddha didn’t say “family.” No. You conduct yourselves to “enlighten others.” It is not about family connections. You are helping strangers. Helping those not related to you. Then your true compassion will be cultivated. Everyone has it. It all depends on who guides you. If it is a salesperson who guides you, you may think pyramid schemes are good. If you are guided by a mob, you may think breaking the law is fine as long as you have reasons. Now that we have learned and understood Buddhadharma, we must take action.

“Enlightening others” is something a Buddhist must do. Those who cannot love, help, and enlighten others are not even good people, let alone achievers of Buddhahood. “Enlightening self and others” is not like steaming Chinese buns. You take buns off the steamer only when cooked. No need to wait. Buddhadharma is so extraordinary, miraculous, and incredible. It is the very moment you have realized the truth. It is like asking for directions. Say, if someone tells you that to get to Tiananmen Square you need to turn right, would you do the opposite if you believed him? No way. You head the right way immediately. Same goes when you learn Buddhadharma.

Enlightenment Leads to Perfect Conduct

Thus, once you understand, you are enlightened. If you are, then start acting the right way. Compassion is the key to liberation and happiness. Self-enlightenment happens when you understand. Helping others to understand is how enlightening others is done. But to explain what Buddha is, these words suffice: “Enlighten self and others with perfect enlightenment and conduct, meaning after I have attained enlightenment, I help enlighten others which makes myself and others happy.” That is how to interpret it. “Perfect enlightenment and conduct” puzzles many great Buddhist masters. They believe they must attain perfect enlightenment before they can help others.

To me, “perfect enlightenment and conduct” can best be understood by using a dumpling analogy. There is a story about our neighbor. There were many extraordinary folks around us. This person had a huge appetite. One day this young man got very hungry. His mom was not home yet. He had nothing to eat. He was my neighbor to the left. He went to my neighbor to the right, knowing that they were steaming buns. He waited for a long time and then, as soon as the buns were served, he and all the other kids grabbed them. He ate six. After that, there was none left. Then he came to my home. My mom made steamed buns and rolls. So this young man had two buns and one roll.

He commented, “Your buns and rolls are very filling. I had six buns there, but I wasn’t full, but after three more here, I’m full. This is so great.” See? Isn’t that a wise guy? There are all kinds of wise people out there, and there is always someone better. As soon as you understand, do what is right. Act in accordance with your understanding. Nothing is absolute in this world.

What is absolute enlightenment? Enlightenment lies at the moment of realization. That is what the sutras always say. Those who have yet to be enlightened are confused, as if walking in darkness. With nothing to guide them, all they can do is stumble in the dark. Is this a good feeling? No way. What if you are blind, completely denied light? All you can do is fumble around in the dark. But if you understand, then you see clearly, as if there is a bright light illuminating your way at night, lighting up the ground and all the surroundings. It is as if the sun is out, so you can clearly see the path. Why is it not “perfection in enlightening others,” but rather “perfect conduct”? It seems you have already been enlightened. Yes. Action is about our conduct, anything we do or say. The most important thing is your intention. Does our intention count as action? (Yes.) It is called “perfect enlightenment and conduct.” “Conduct” means acting on it, doing something.

Let’s talk about actions. When I want to help people, I am genuine, not pretending. When you think, it is the beginning of an action. Where does the action come from? From your heart. Well, just thinking about it is real action. Anyone who wants to emulate Bodhisattva to do good deeds will become a bodhisattva eventually, for they will inevitably help people. When they start thinking about helping all the time, they will definitely act on it, knowing it is the right thing to do. You feel happy and joyful when you help people. You will also have more friends. Besides happiness, you get merits and wisdom. Buddhas and bodhisattvas will bless you, too. Your popularity improves. Those who frequently help people emit a magnetic aura.

A Westerner wrote about the “law of attraction.” People who have trouble finding a partner or job, please buy that book. What is the law of attraction about? You just keep thinking you will find a job. Many disabled people wish to run like an able-bodied person. But can they? Just thinking is not enough. Display your compassion by doing good deeds often, and you will emit such an aura. What kind of aura? The aura of attraction. Those who practice well have a strong aura of attraction. People like being around them and listening to their dharma teachings.

Do you like me? (Yes.) Thank you.

Thanks for liking me. (I love you, master.)

Sorry? I heard someone calling me. Anything? (I love you, master.)

Oh, you love me, thank you! I love you too. There are people who want to marry someone as soon as they like them. Please don’t. I cannot manage with so many female disciples. You cannot think that way. Loving someone doesn’t mean marrying them. Otherwise, you will marry many people in one lifetime. Of course when we love deeply, we tend to sacrifice ourselves totally. That is not the way. Let’s just guide people to let go of suffering and attain happiness. Selfish love leads to suffering. In selfish love, one part of happiness yields double suffering. Happy for three days, suffer for six, or even longer. A girl may be smart and beautiful, but after three years in a relationship, a breakup might make her ill. So, three years of happiness could net her a lifetime of suffering. That is the math. It is very painful. Thus, we don’t pursue the joy in selfish love, as it is followed by much pain.

Now let’s return to “perfect enlightenment and conduct.” Your action is decided by your enlightenment. The moment a thought arises, you act. This is my understanding. How does a thought arise? Let’s take this house for example. I love all the beings in this house, I want all to be happy and free of suffering, and not go to hell, including the earthly hell of walking the wrong path, such as gambling, fighting, killing, stealing, or doing drugs. A wrong turn can result in such wrongdoings. Let’s not take that turn. Take the path of compassion to achieve enlightenment. I must help everyone in the whole house.

The “whole” means “completeness or perfection.” Let’s use a water tank as an example.  If it is only 10% full, it is incomplete, only partly filled. It can only be called “perfection” when it is full, right? Since it is not full, my intention to fill it arises. According to Buddha, an intention goes beyond time and space. An intention to fill the tank will eventually make it full. Buddha watches us from beyond this space we call Earth. From thinking to achieving, humans may need an hour. But when Buddha views us from his great realm, his thinking becomes instant achievement. In his realm, time, and space are compressed. Thinking and completing come together in an instant. But for humans, completion may take a lifetime. For Buddha, starting and results both happen in an instant. He sees the cause and effect at the same time. Buddha’s message is that if you have great aspiration, you will have a great achievement.

The Greater Aspiration, The Greater Achievement

What is in Buddha’s mind? He wants to help all sentient beings, all humans, all karmic-bonded people achieve total liberation, leave suffering and attain happiness. Let there be no hellish suffering. Making such a true wish equals perfect enlightenment and conduct and a full store of merit and virtue. It all starts in the instant of aspiration. Time does not matter. Instant aspiration equals instant enlightenment and achievement. That is the way. Instant achievement is, in Buddha’s esoteric teachings, the way to achieve Buddhahood in this lifetime. This teaching highlights what Buddha is. It is just that we are ignorant, unambitious, and not yet ready, so we cannot understand it. When the time was right, I understood, and now I am helping you to understand. I feel your blessings are indeed bigger than the sky. (Got it.) The moment you have great aspiration is when you have achieved perfection. Here, “perfection” means “completeness.”

Buddha’s aspiration is always to help all sentient beings, not just humans, but all forms of life. Life forms are discussed in Buddha’s sutras. Humans are viviparous, born of their mothers’ wombs. Other examples are tigers, wolves, sheep, and cattle. Oviparous animals include snakes, turtles, chickens, ducks, and birds. Females lay an egg that hatches to become a new life. Then come the living beings born out of humidity, out of dampness. Given the right humidity and temperature, bugs, aquatic plants, and bacteria can be born. What else? Metamorphosis. So Buddha refers to all forms of life. He will help them all leave suffering and attain happiness. And it must be total liberation. Buddha has such a great aspiration, a perfect aspiration. Because he thinks of all sentient beings.

What about us? We can make a similar aspiration too. This is the aspiration of Amitahba Buddha and Sakyamuni Buddha. What about the Medicine Buddha from the Eastern Lapis Lazuli Pure Land? He made 12 great vows liberating all karmic-bonded sentient beings. His wishes mainly focus on human needs. So, if you make your greatest wish, and make every effort to realize this wish, if you are resolute, you instantly gain perfect enlightenment, and a full store of merits and virtues. You don’t have to wait, with perfect enlightenment, you may feel empty when you leave the center. You may doubt if you are truly enlightened, and question if you should go on helping others, or wonder why you still fail to get people to listen to your teachings. You may think these foolish people cannot see that you, a buddha, are right before them.

What do you do if you are really enlightened? You will turn your enlightenment into the joy of helping people, thinking, “It’s my duty to help people as I’m Buddha’s disciple, the Bodhisattva’s embodiment.” Only if you define yourself as the Bodhisattva’s embodiment and practice compassion, can you be a qualified Buddhist. Otherwise, you would still have a problem understanding my dumpling analogy.

Before today, you may think it is simple addition, that if one dumpling doesn’t fill you, you would keep on eating until you are stuffed. Similarly, you keep doing good deeds to achieve enlightenment. Yet, doing good deeds is not the same as eating dumplings. Doing good deeds has no end. Enlightenment is achieved at the instant of aspiration. Now that you have awakened and been enlightened, doing good deeds becomes your mission in life, your job. After realization, practicing the way of Bodhisattva and vowing to help all sentient beings is perfect enlightenment and conduct. According to my understanding, whoever has such realization and aspiration, and takes actions is a buddha.

A disciple once asked me, “Master, I’m 50 now, what will I become at 80 if I keep on practicing?”

I said, “If you practice now, you’ll achieve right now.”

“Me, with my looks, can I achieve enlightenment?”

Well, people have different looks, there is not a look of enlightenment. Will only those who resemble Buddha achieve enlightenment? No. Accomplished masters of the past all had their own features. So regardless of looks, anyone can achieve. Not necessarily highly educated ones either, even if you are illiterate, if you sincerely think and act this way, you have achieved it. Then some Buddhist practitioner may say, “It was said that we must perfect ourselves first, and our body must be like a diamond first, before we can go out to help people.” Is that right? (No.) No, it is not right. Some bodhisattvas may have lost an arm because they went to war. Some may have lost an arm, an eye, a pair of ears, or a leg. Can they achieve perfect enlightenment? Yes, if they make such a vow. Thus Buddha said the greater your aspiration, especially of compassion, the greater your energy and wisdom. We are building many Bodhi Meditation Centers around the world.

Someone said to me: “Master, you must be tired from building so many centers.”

“True, it’s not easy.”

“But don’t worry, Master.” Well, I am not worried. Why should I be? Ordinary people might say buying a house, finding a job, or doing a thing is difficult. But how difficult must it be to do so many things? Well, it is not hard. Helping people was my vow 20 years ago or from my past life. This lifetime, I came just to do this. I will do as much as I can. If I can do it big, I will not do it small. Thus, I have prepared myself for countless scenarios. Someone might wonder: “Aren’t you afraid of failure?” I will not fail. How can you fail when you help people?

“Well, if you didn’t heal him, it’s a failure, right?” I may not have healed his body, but I may have healed his mind, right? Because countless illnesses are caused by bad karma. If the karma is not eliminated, the illness cannot be healed. Some may have lost their arm, or one arm hurts like hell, but he can still achieve enlightenment, right? Sudhana achieved enlightenment from practicing prostration. What dharma school did Guanyin Bodhisattva practice? “The Dharma of Perfect Hearing,” which tunes into the misery of the world.

All these dharma schools come into being because of great compassion, not because of how great you are or how special you are. If we see a super-being with three heads and six arms, we would say he is a monster. Normal human beings have similar abilities. How do we measure their achievements then? We use our aspired mind. Some, due to historical reasons or their past lives, suffer some illnesses or imperfections, yet they are awakening at the same time. In generations of great masters, including future enlightened beings, how many of them became monks because of a failed marriage? Many. You might say they escaped from their marriage. But the pain from that failed marriage leads to future liberation and enlightenment. It is pain that helps them attain enlightenment. Thus, pain can bring about achievement.

Someone might say, “I come to practice to cure headaches. I practice and then I’m awakened.” But, for some reason, though you have achieved enlightenment and helped many people, your headaches stay with you forever. If its cause is traced, perhaps you were a butcher once and cut off pigs’ heads with little effort. Some amateurs would have to make a huge effort, maybe cutting their fingers, but they still cannot kill a pig. If you are the expert at killing pigs, and you kill pigs easily, today’s pain, the headache, is really nothing. Just see it as paying back the debt. You still live and no one cut off your head.

There are many unspeakable secrets that is hard to explain. So, when we have some obstacles in our body, it doesn’t matter. The most important is to break through this hurdle so that we will be reborn as a new, pure, and compassionate being. That is the right way it should be. That is the real truth. If you still have an illness, it doesn’t mean you haven’t awakened. Please don’t get it wrong. The second patriarch Hui Ke cut off his arm when he was initiated. The reason is that he had killed many people, his enemies. After he cut off his own arm, he felt calm. Otherwise, he would have always been restless and lived in nightmares.

Then how could he achieve enlightenment? So, pain can turn into achievement. Just as manure can fertilize crops. It is food for the crops. The crops flourish into grain and fruit that we can eat. This world is filled with contradictions which we rise above. Because of your pain, you are motivated to practice every day. Because of your pain, you will become enlightened one day. Now you have finally heard my words, you have achieved enlightenment.

Is this enlightened being a buddha? Only a Buddha “enlightens self and others with perfect enlightenment and conduct.” Now that you have understood and made great aspiration, you are a buddha. 2,500 years ago, the enlightened Sakyamuni Buddha awakened under the Bodhi tree, realizing that all sentient beings have an inner buddha, but they don’t see it due to focusing on mundane things. Buddhadharma is just like the beacon in a dark night, guiding all sentient beings onto the path toward light and liberation. If you sincerely aspire, the greater your aspiration, the greater your energy and wisdom.