To be enlightened, you don’t have to sit long hours in absolute stillness or spend your nights with just ancient Buddha statues and dim lighting. Even if you are an ordinary person occupied with house chores every day, you may still achieve a state of enlightenment.

How can we become enlightened? What should we do after we’ve achieved a state of illuminated consciousness? Grandmaster JinBodhi leads you to open the door to enlightenment using his humorous words, great energy and wisdom.

【You will learn】

  • Multiple ways to achieve enlightenment.
  • Letting go; the truth of “reducing greed and self-attachment is to gain”
  • The laws of humans and Nature
  • The laws of cause and effect

【Featured aphorisms】

  • A more tolerant worldview can change opinions and behaviors for the better, thus improving quality of life.
  • Be a kind person, and learn to change your mind and thoughts, thereby changing your fate.
  • While learning Buddhism, we should seek to get to the bottom of matters and investigate their origins.
  • Reducing greed and self-attachment is to gain.
  • We self-cultivate for a better life rather than giving up on life.
  • Not having opportunities to improve your state of mind is worse than having a low state of mind; not having a chance to be enlightened is worse than being enlightened slowly.
  • If you’re attached to merits and virtues, you’ll have no merits and virtues.
  • Give alms and help others without seeking merits or virtues; altruistic action is the supreme merit and virtue.
  • Applying what you have learned to real life is true enlightenment.
  • Forcing others generates resentment, but offering gentle influence and guidance produces love.


Our practice is to rid us humans of inner and outer impurities caused by ignorance, stupidity and sin. The more ignorant, the more rigid the person is. Upon hearing the same sentence, what each of 3 people interprets and how each responds varies. Say, I ask, “Is everyone at ease now?” Some may think: “Is Master asking me whether I am at ease mentally or physically?” Others may think: “What is the use of being at ease?” Some with a higher mental state may say: “I don’t pursue ease. I don’t know.” There are different responses based on a person’s understanding power.

Differences in people’s understanding power arise for various reasons. First, varied karma, or various degrees of negative karma. If you have lots of negative karma, you may be born into a family that endures hardship and have relatively ignorant parents. You will suffer more. Usually, suffering facilitates enlightenment, but due to bad karma, ignorance remains despite suffering; there is no chance of awakening or transforming one’s fate in this lifetime.

In fact, being able to transform one’s fate is sometimes the result of awakening. Without the chance of awakening and transforming fate, your parents suffer and you suffer even more. Even your children will suffer in the future. There is no chance of transforming their fate because of heavy, negative karma.

Say, you are born into a poor family. But because of past-life virtues, or offerings made to Buddha and bodhisattvas, or vows, the buddhas and bodhisattvas will give you the chance to liberate and learn to transform yourself. They will bestow us with opportunities at major junctures in our lives. So, some take advantage of them and awaken.

When I say awakening, I don’t mean enlightenment such as grasping Buddhadharma or letting go of ignorance. This is different. He has been liberated. He may be more broadminded, nicer to others, or have more organizational and leadership abilities. His life will be transformed.

Say, his parents are laborers, and his fate was to be a laborer. This changed because of his offerings in the past, his vows, or perhaps his offering of a flower to Buddha, which he didn’t buy at a store. He was on his way to see Buddha to express his reverence. Though didn’t believe in Buddha completely, he felt a need to offer to a higher being. When he saw a pretty wildflower, he thought to offer it to Buddha.

Perhaps, just because of this kind action, in this life he may have the opportunity to awaken. This awakening isn’t Supreme Enlightenment, and can’t turn him into a saint, but it can transform his life conditions and life perspectives. Transform perspectives, actions and fate. Remember it well.

(Transformation of perspective will change one’s behavior and hence one’s fate.)

So when one’s thoughts or consciousness, some might call it worldview… I am not sure if they are the same thing. But they are related. When one’s thoughts change for the better, become more forgiving, one’s personal conduct will change accordingly. Say, he used to curse at everyone and beat small animals, but now he lets them be. Instead, he gets along with people and can make friends, treating them to tea or food, attending others’ weddings and funerals, and helping others to build a house and move into it. Thus, his human relationships transform in every way.

A change in our thoughts leads to a change in our behavior and fate. First, you have changed your human relationships. You had no friends in the past, but now you have several friends. Because of your social network, you meet a friend’s uncle who is an entrepreneur. His company needs a driver. You can drive. You don’t excel at academics, but you are good at driving. Because of the change in your thoughts, inspired by learning Buddhadharma, you are not all-compassionate, but you no longer hurt others. Also, you know how to be grateful now.

Since you were recommended by a friend to be a driver for this rich man, you know you should not hurt him, you should be loyal to him. Gratitude makes you loyal to the uncle, for his kindness in hiring you. You are grateful to him since he gives you wages that allow you to support your wife and children. When you come home on payday, the children are very happy to see you carrying a lot of groceries. In the summer, you can buy your children soda or ice cream. Your children are very happy.

In the past, you had very little money. Even if your children were very hot and asked for ice cream, because you didn’t have money, you would stop them from asking. Many poor parents treat their children this way. Now someone hires you, is nice to you, and gives you bonuses because of your loyalty. Now, you have money to buy your kids ice cream. You can show them your fatherly love. So your family and financial situation has changed. So, you become more tolerant.

You are grateful to your boss. When he talks, you listen carefully. When you find he is truly wise, you respect him. What does your respect bring you? You will humbly observe and listen to him discuss and plan things. You see how he is magnanimous, forgiving and at ease in everything he does. You naturally learn from him.

The manager of a subsidiary company retires. The successor isn’t quite qualified. You think the boss needs a person to fill the spot. So, you volunteer yourself for 2 months, or until the right person is found. Your way of thinking, communication skills, and behavior impress your boss. Though you are a driver, he thinks you are wise, poised, decent and principled. So, he gives you a chance. Maybe after taking the position, your capability surpasses that of all other managers.

Thus, such a small transformation of thought induces a series of changes in your whole life and fate. What is fate transformation? It starts with the mind. With a change of mind comes a change of fate. It is also thought transformation. Transformation of the mind starts with being kind. Then our fate is transformed.

Hearing me, you may say: Master always tells pleasant stories. In fact, I have also told you many unpleasant stories. You may say there aren’t many good bosses; many are not so great. Good or bad, a boss employs people, right? A boss who doesn’t employ isn’t a boss, right? To be a boss, he has to delegate his work. Who works for him? Those he thinks highly of. Who takes charge of important things for him? People who have loyalty, capability, good principles, no greed or selfishness. All serve the big cause. His salary is the gain of his labor, and it shows that the boss prizes him.

Bosses need people to work. Whether you are hired or not depends on your ability, your mind and thoughts. Are you tolerant and compassionate? In my class, you are tolerant and compassionate. But when you are working, when difficulties arise, you may not withstand the test. When your stupid, lazy and cunning co-worker gets a salary raise, but you don’t; and your supervisor or others belittle you. How do you feel? Can you still keep a compassionate heart? It is not easy. Fortitude is required.

In fact, what we practice for here is fortitude. If you have learned Theravada Buddhism, the authentic esoteric dharma, you must have meditated and know a bit about the 4 dhyanas and 8 levels of samadhi. If you meet a master who truly practices, and use this dharma to help others, you may have to practice for at least 15 years.

You exercise daily for stamina to accomplish advanced kung fu. But in many dharma schools, you couldn’t attain enlightenment after meditating daily for 15 years. Why? Both you and your master waste time. The master is testing you; he won’t let you become enlightened until he is dying. How do I treat my disciples? True liberation works like this: If you get it today, I will urge you to do enlightening deeds tomorrow. If you are liberated, then act.

The concept of changing our view liberates us. First, we change thought or mind. Then we act and do things. Good fortune is an eventual result. It comes naturally, not from desiring it. After you have changed your mind and thought, you start acting. You know you need to be grateful, diligent, determined and unafraid of setbacks. You continue to constantly act according to your best personal principles. After a while, your boss may discover you and assign you important tasks. Eventually, you get promoted and achieve more.

Thus, thought transformation is also awakening. The process itself is awakening. With thought transformation, you are awakened. After awakening, you do enlightened things, right? You admit to yesterday’s wrongdoings and absolutely won’t do them again. Instead of doing bad deeds, you show gratitude for others’ kindness. This shows you have got it and have started to act accordingly. If we are awakened, we need to do enlightened things.

What dharma do we practice after awakening? Buddhadharma. What is the meaning of “Buddha”? (All-compassion.) Yes. Why is it all-compassion? Let me answer, since your answers may vary. Please remember my basic teachings. What is all-compassion? Helping all sentient beings. All-compassion is Buddha-nature; helping all sentient beings is Buddha’s action. Be clear about this. Distinguish between his vow and his action.

Say, after my awakening, I meditate. I must be meditating for a purpose. In the Buddhist community, why would I meditate after awakening? To help all sentient beings. An awakened Buddhist, whether he meditates, studies medicine, exercises, chants, builds temples or meditation centers, sculpts Buddha statues, or even scolds people, is helping and guiding all sentient beings.

(A change of thoughts show your enlightenment Once enlightened, do things the enlightened way. Learn buddha’s all-compassion to help all sentient beings.)

Now we are clear about how things are interrelated. What is the essence of Buddha? (All-compassion.) The essence of Buddha is all-compassion. The very core of Buddhism, which made the skeptical young me study it in depth, is not superstition. Buddha didn’t claim to be a god or promise you riches if you believed in him. He is not like that. He guides us to dig deep and find the essence of the truth.

In Chinese Buddhism, it is called “discourse to seek the meaning of meditation”. Dharma brothers and fellow practitioners, instead of talking nonsense, dig deep to understand matters. When excruciating pain arises from meditation, the teacher asks, “Who is in pain?” You say, “I am.” Where is the pain? In the leg. Which leg? The right knee joint. Show me where the pain is located.

Some of you are in pain now, right? Feel into it a bit. Where is the exact pain point in your leg? If you can pinpoint it, identify the peanut-sized area, then I can pull it out. Can you find it? Is it still painful if you can’t find it? When you truly feel into it and can’t find it, the pain is gone. Then you discover it is illusory pain. If a Buddhist wants to awaken, he needs to support difficulties himself to dig deep into the truth and inquire into the origin of matters.

A wealthy person suddenly lost all his money, so he was suffering. “Buddha, I even burned 3-meter-high incense to ask for your protection. Why did you make me lose the money?” Buddha didn’t answer him because the man talked nonsense. It is simple: Why did he make risky investments? If he put his money in a bank, usually he wouldn’t lose it, right? It is he who invested it and he still blames Buddha.

Burning incense is meant to protect you from doing silly things. But because he thought he was protected, his greed grew. Of course he lost money. Have you observed this scenario? If not, you may have seen it in the movies. The money you invest is not yours anymore. You have lent it to others or, in reality, given it away. If it comes back, then it was lent.

I am giving you a compelling example. Today you lost your money. Let’s see why. It is because you have money. As my mother would say, you have got money to burn. It is impossible to lose money on stock because I don’t have money to buy any. Many buy stocks or mutual funds because they have extra cash. It is just lying around, right? Sometimes it is just a matter of a name. Somehow, the ownership changes from your name to that of another.

Because it is superfluous in your hands, it may very well disappear. You don’t have the capacity for this sum of money, so you have the notion to get rid of it. The penniless only think of getting money into their pockets, while the rich worry about how to spend their money. Do you understand? This is the reality for all beings.

Once the money is gone, the person will blame Buddha, Heaven, Earth, and others. He blames himself for trusting the wrong person. First, he is the one who is witless. Second, he is lacking in merit. If he had merit, then he didn’t cherish it. If he had the right amount of wealth, then he wouldn’t let it go, right? But once he has more than his allotted share, he can’t keep it. Anyone with extra money would think about investing.

In Chinese, we use the same verb to talk about investing money as we use to talk about throwing marbles. Instead of “investing”, you are “throwing” it away. Many investments are like meat buns thrown to dogs. Got it? When you have awakened, then that classic proverb of meat buns thrown to dogs takes on deeper meaning. You have awakened. You understand how and why he lost his money. It is the result of his stupid behavior.

Did Buddha make him lose the money? It is because of his greed. Greed caused it. This talk is meant to convey that when we learn Buddhadharma, we seek the ultimate truth. Do you understand what “seek the ultimate truth” means? Remember it. To rephrase, it is “getting to the root of the matter”.

(Get to the root of the matter. Learn to understand the origin of things. Only then may we awaken.)

What is meditation for? Its most important goal is wisdom. If all sentient beings have done evil deeds and don’t get to the root of the matter, then it is generally called ignorance. What is ignorance? Confusion, stupidity and lack of knowledge. You might be educated but still lack knowledge. Lack of knowledge leads us to make mistakes.

In the village, we could see babies crawling on the ground. One year old or 6-month-old babies will pick up chicken poo and put it in their mouths. After eating it, their expression isn’t so good. They stick candies, leftovers, and even pencils in their mouths. Maybe they poke themselves in the eye. Adult sentient beings are no different from babies, only the mistakes made by adults are greater. Children may kill or blind themselves or eat poisonous stuff. They are subject to many dangers. Though the mistakes made by adults and children vary, they are similar in some ways.

Let alone in the world of the Divine, even in this knowledge-rich human world, a mountain villager without any education or knowledge of the human world doesn’t know how to conduct himself. A basic human instinct is self-protection, right? When coming to a city and meeting new people, they shake hands. But a person who’s ignorant would hide his hand. What do you want? Arrest me? Nowadays, people go to school and know how to read. However, they lack philosophical concepts to help them lead better lives. The society teach them to take in an effort to make themselves better.

After meditating, you can’t just give up everything. You should let go gradually. Then, we will feel more relaxed. As I spoke earlier, the penniless find all kinds of ways to make money, right? After having made enough money to meet daily needs, what would they do with their extra cash? They would find ways to get rid of it. After learning Buddhadharma, to help us understand better and live more freely, we should spread our wealth around.

Rather than depleting one’s fortune, it actually dispels one’s disasters. In dispelling our disasters, we also benefit others. To you, helping others is what Buddha does. In reality, donating to the poor is very practical. You have released your burden, but others benefit. People like this never lose money, because they won’t make risky investments. Nowadays, many conglomerates are adept at grabbing money. The more they invest, when financial crises occur, they suffer great loss. The industrial or manufacturing companies seldom lose.

Buddhadharma helps us leave suffering and gain happiness. This is the true purpose: self-liberation. No matter what career you have, even a housewife taking care of husband and children, you need to learn to let go. Letting go has to be done sensibly. It is not: Since I should let go, I’m abandoning my husband, children and house. Where can you find another house? You have to have a place to live. Face reality.

We let go of 100 percent of our greed. Say, you have an extra $1 million. Instead of investing in stocks, you’d better take $100,000 to treat people to food and another $100,000 for practitioners who meditate painstakingly in solitude. How wonderful! Deposit the rest in the bank. You will be at ease. Reducing greed means gaining.

A relatively awakened disciple had a large company. He had the chance to meet me and asked, “Please, Master, give me some guidance.” I said, “I don’t help with business affairs.” He said, “Whatever you suggest will be great.” A renowned international pharmaceutical company gave him an opportunity to invest in a joint venture. He happened to own the real estate where they wanted to build a factory. So he wanted to participate in the joint venture.

When he was describing it, what manifested in my mind were zero, nothing and qi. All 3 manifestations meant one thing. He said, “Please explain, Master.” I asked, “What is the market value of your lot?” “It is about $1 billion at least.” US dollars. He was blessed to have met me then. I told him my feeling. He was truly blessed. About a year or half a year later, he made a point of finding me, and he bought me a very expensive watch — the most expensive one in the world. I dare not wear it.

Initially, I was unclear about its price. I asked a watch shop. Ordinary shops didn’t know. I ran the gamut of ordinary to premium watch shops, and finally found a very high-end watch shop. My watch surpassed the best in the shop. It is expensive, exclusive, and made by a Swiss master watchmaker. The certificate in the box I brought along was autographed by the watchmaker. The watch was extremely expensive.

I asked my disciple, “Why did you give me such an expensive thing? “You want me to wear it or lock it away? I fear losing it if I leave it at home and being robbed if I wear it. Are you trying to torture me?” They were kneeling before me, smiling “Master, this is our tiny offering.” I heard it is worth several million US dollars. Anything else is better than this, right? If it is worth only a couple of hundred dollars, I can wear it. I said, “Such an expensive watch makes me suffer. Why did you spend so much money on it?”

He said, “In fact, Master, you saved us $1 billion. The money for the watch is nothing.” “Was your investment successful?” He said, “When empty manifested in Master’s mind, I decided not to do the joint venture.” When he gave up the opportunity, others grabbed it. A joint venture with such a renowned company attracted many investors. But because of my feeling, he didn’t do it. He was truly blessed and had great composure facing such a tremendous temptation.

If he had succeeded in that investment, then 10 years later he may have earned another $1 billion. Good for him that he often reads my books. That helped him. When he taught a business management class, he had many admirers. He was intelligent. So he bought me such an expensive watch. I blamed him for wasting money, but he said that I saved him $1 billion. Otherwise, his net worth would have been halved. He sent me a gift because I helped him save money. Of course, he understood my intuition. He had the insight to listen to me at the time.

All others were like wolves grabbing at meat. Right? Who can restrain themselves? So after he gave up the chance, another entrepreneur rushed in to cooperate with that company. This entrepreneur had less money than him. After the venture, his loss was huge. He immigrated. Why? He immigrated to escape his debts. His company was listed. The capital was lost. Even if his company only had half a billion at the start, it would have lost $1 billion.

(One goal of meditating is attaining wisdom. To reduce greed and learn to let go is in fact to gain.)

Do not think blindly: Today I let go of all my basic necessities and career. Some ancient Buddhist stories describe how someone becomes enlightened in an instant and gives up everything. I believe we are gradually enlightened beings.

Enlightenment comes in 2 ways; the difference is in timing. One is gradual enlightenment. It is safe. The other is sudden enlightenment: “Oh my, I have reached Buddhahood. I will give you all my belongings.” But the day after tomorrow the person will return for his belongings, because upon reaching Buddhahood, he finds that he still needs to eat and drink. He wants his belongings back. It’s pretty sad. So, I like gradual enlightenment.

Enlightened is what enlightened does. Having attained small enlightenment, don’t do things requiring great enlightenment. Do things gradually. You can adjust as you go; this way is reasonable and steady. This is wisdom. Apply your enlightenment step by step to your life and daily conduct. Take this realistic approach. Don’t do this: To become a disciple because of my fame, you give me half your net worth, a few hundred thousand.

Let me tell you: After seeing this, some would curse me secretly. No one has actually done this. If someone did, I wouldn’t take the money. First, I don’t want to create trouble in your life. Second, I am not as greedy as that. Third, if it is yours, then it is not mine. If you give it to me today, I won’t take it. Even if you learned dharma from me and awakened, I wouldn’t take it. I can’t even stand expensive gifts. The money is yours to use well in your life.

Be it letting go or donating, it should happen slowly. Don’t seek quickness. Seeking quick results when pursuing enlightenment is dangerous. Life may burden you with 100 pounds of pressure. It is pressure, but at the same time, a necessity of your life. If you let it all go now, you may not get used to it. You will suffer from over relaxation and stresslessness.

Can people who are used to living on a high plateau live better on a plain? Not at all. The whole body is used to living on a plateau. Say, you are used to living with 0.3% oxygen content in the air. You move to a place with 10%. How do you feel? Faint, because of too much oxygen. This symptom causes early death. The illness induced is unknown. But it causes early death for sure. The heart and brain can’t stand it.

Many plateau people moved to India and inland China, places nearer sea level, which led to earlier death for them. This is what you are used to. Deep-sea fish can only live freely at a depth of 200 meters; the fish will die if they are nearer to the sea’s surface, without the pressure of the water. So, progress slowly.

Firstly, we practice to live a more beautiful life. It is not about giving up your life. Some ask, “Does being ordained mean giving up your life?” Let’s ask all the monks and nuns here: “Have you given up your life since being ordained?” No. You still have to face life and make a living. While making a living, a truly compassionate person still considers how to feed all sentient beings, right?

Is it enough only to think about it? No. What method or dharma power do I use to feed all sentient beings and employ the jobless? Use wisdom. These are practical matters. We are not afraid of great enlightenment, we are afraid of no enlightenment. A small bit of awakening is most practical. One needs to learn nonstop. The constant learning leads to nonstop small awakenings — like climbing stairs step by step. It is truly good.

Find time to climb a mountain. Upon reaching each new level, do not climb nonstop to the top, because you may become out of breath. You have also missed the beautiful scenery. Every 30 steps, have a rest. Taste some tea and perceive the Way. Most importantly, take in the scenery. At every level, the view has its unique beauty. Because of the effort spent on each stage of the climb, you truly appreciate the panorama you see; it brings you delight.

You take in the view and feel open and broadminded. Suddenly, your heart is open. Through your eyes, this world enters and melts into your heart. Wow, the world is so large! It was pointless to be angry at your neighbor. Do you feel sorry about breaking a small bowl? No. Your heart opens suddenly. Many issues are resolved. Thus, on different levels exist varied views. I like our cultivation to be like this. Take one step at a time and look back every 10 steps. This is a good mental state of being.

We are not afraid of low mental states, we are afraid of never reaching a higher realm. We are not afraid of poor or slow comprehension, just that we won’t have opportunity for enlightenment. Thus, giving is not throwing it all away, but reducing greed. Also, giving means donating to those in need, even if it is not a lot. When you see a poor person, or a practitioner, make an offering even if it is just $1. This is giving. Such giving cultivates huge compassion. It may bring us great wealth.

Giving is letting go. Yet, you get more in return. In The Diamond Sutra, Buddha said that if a bodhisattva is attached to the merits of donating, he will get no merits and virtues. Say, you want to offer your master a million dollars, a big amount. Your master accepts. You expect no return except merits and virtues. After the offering, you want merits, virtues and blessings. Are there no merits and virtues to be had? Yes, there are.

But this excerpt from The Diamond Sutra is for advanced, greatly insightful and highly achieved disciples who have practiced and attained the highest realm. Buddha told such devout disciples: Are you still attached to gaining? This includes merits and virtues. No attachment to gain of any kind. But he didn’t say you shouldn’t accumulate merits and virtues. This is the first thing.

Second, what if I tell you today that your acts of giving and offering return no merits and virtues? In fact, it is a test for the greatly aspired, for those accomplished in helping others, for truly awakened disciples. It is a life-or-death test. If helping all sentient beings and offering render no merits and virtues, will you still continue? If you do, you receive supreme merits and virtues, which are without attachment. It is incomparably noble.

If you want to find the shadow of a truly compassionate person, it is easy. When your mother was breast-feeding you, did she think she was owed $10,000 for each suck? When she fed you, all she cared about was that you wouldn’t starve, right? She cleaned up your pee and poo, a smelly job. But when she was a girl, she wouldn’t even touch dogs. Because you are her baby, even your pee and poo are smelly, your mother handled it just fine.

Her figure changed through giving birth to you, but she is still happy, right? For fear of losing her beauty and dignity, she didn’t decide to not feed and raise you, did she? If a woman gives birth to a child, she will love him. This is the nature of a mother, same as that of buddhas and bodhisattvas. She asks for nothing in return. A mother’s love asks for nothing. Right?

Offering with no expectation in return is the action of a true Buddha’s disciple. Giving without expecting merits and virtues is the action of a true bodhisattva. This is the essence of The Diamond Sutra’s teachings, which are meant for the greatly aspired, truly noble, highly accomplished bodhisattvas.

(In practice, don’t seek quick enlightenment. Step-by-step enlightenment is the most reasonable and practical. Seeking no merits and virtues when giving and offering is the supreme merit and virtue.)

Also, when we look at life’s pressures with wisdom, instead of letting go, we transform our viewpoints. Transforming our views induces varying effects. We view matters differently. Say, someone with a family says: “It would have been good if I had come 2 years ago, as I was single.” “Do I need to divorce to practice?” “Don’t I need to be single to achieve enlightenment?” ” If I awaken today, will I give up my family?” Many fellow practitioners, male and female, have said this to me. “Master, it is too late. It is a pity that I am married.”

What does that mean? If you had practiced here for the past 2 years, perhaps you would be eager to find a husband. It is not too late. Self-cultivation is not about deserting your husband or wife. Not necessarily. We try not to abandon what we have. Is what we have harmful? Not necessarily. Your afflictions may be self-created. Feeling troubled after quarreling with your spouse, you come to Master. You say, “Because of my marriage, I am unhappy.”

After learning with me for 2 months, you say, “Master, I am liberated.” “How?” I ask. You say, “My suffering was self-created. I have got it.” He got married and started treating his wife like a slave. Of course that is not OK. Sometimes, a party sets overly high expectations. For example, some women stress hygiene. They ask their husband to brush his teeth excessively and shower in the evening and in the morning. In some cold areas of North China, most people are reluctant to bathe that much. So, sometimes our expectations are too high.

Perhaps the wife expects the husband to dress up like a handsome prince. If he really dresses up, other women might fall in love with him. Shouldn’t the wife be worried? If he doesn’t dress up, she is ashamed. If he does, isn’t she in danger? She doesn’t think about the potential side effect, only caring about superficial appearances. That is not OK. Just go with the flow. As long as he looks like a person, it should be OK. If you want to change him, do it slowly. Don’t seek quick results. Seeking quick results can only cause affliction.

Young people tend to behave like this, because of their lack of knowledge and understanding of the world and themselves. Because of their shallowness, they blindly seek the spouse of their fantasies. Young girls wish to find a Prince Charming. If he isn’t handsome, he can’t possibly be a prince, right? In fact, many powerful emperors were fairly ugly, but their charisma was internal, not external, Young girls do not understand this. So their high expectations only harm themselves. Thus, their suffering and hurt are self-created, right?

The enlightenment I talk about should be applied to our lives. The dharma learned here does not ask us to quickly cast away our troubles. My husband brings me suffering, so I desert him. You come to learn with me, but you will suffer if you keep the same mentality.

Maybe your perception of Master is also a kind of fantasy. Maybe you say, “Master, let me cook for you”, and then find that Master eats as much as 3 people do. “Oh my, he eats more than a pig.” Maybe you see Master drooling in his sleep. “It is so disgusting, even worse than my husband”, you say. “I am going to leave Master. He is so clueless, yet he has made so many people believe in him.”

I am not disappointed, but you are. You are suffering anew. You have come to liberate yourself from suffering, but sink into an abyss of despair instead. This suffering is again self-made, right? Our worldview or knowledge of the world and people is too narrow, so we should read extensively to learn about human behavior and Nature’s laws.

(Enlightenment entails understanding humans and Nature’s laws. Wisdom transforms one’s view of life’s pressures.)

Two people from the same village react differently upon encountering birds. The village houses had yards with trees. I was a guest at one of the houses, and I was sitting under a tree and heard a group of birds chirping. The host said, “Wow, look, they’re here because of Master’s merits and virtues. So many birds have come to praise Master and bask in Buddha-light.” In fact, birds usually come to his yard since he tosses grain to them. I was very happy, not because he praised me, but because this person is full of compassion.

The next day, I was a guest at another house. They were very happy to see me, too. A flock of birds also came to the tree in his yard. Maybe the same group, hard to tell. The birds were chirping joyfully. He said, “Master, you don’t fear noises?” I said, “No.” He took out a rifle. I asked: “What do you want to do?” He said, “The birds are disturbing Master’s chat. I am also afraid they might poo here.”

We were drinking tea under the tree. He was afraid that bird poo might drop on the table. “I will shoot them away,” he said. “Don’t,” I said. “If you are afraid, we will move to another place.” He responded, “I won’t really shoot. I will just scare them away.” In fact, to have sentient beings come to his home is a blessing. He said, “My rifle has no bullets.” He understood me then and got embarrassed.

The nature of all sentient beings varies due to karma. Upon seeing the same birds, one person is full of joy whereas the other gets annoyed and lashes out. The annoyed person will engage in retaliation or even harm. The joyful person is not only accepting, but also giving. As we all know, the joyful one is the happiest. Seeing these birds, he thought they were auspicious, and he was joyful.

Are the birds at the other house annoying? When one is annoyed, one sees everything as annoying. Why is he not calm? Karma and the 5 desires are burning in his body. Greed for money and women, and infinite greed, burn in him and make him agitated. If you can’t calm down, you are annoyed by everything. If he had some common sense, then he would know that to have birds like swallows or pigeons visit his yard is very auspicious.

Birds are not as cunning as humans. They fly over because they like your home. Yet not only do you not let them come, you try to kill them. That is no good. When you have killing intent, birds won’t visit, even mice won’t come. When your home is too clean for cockroaches, I suspect that something is wrong. When there is no human vitality in your house, it is frightening. I have been to homes like this.

Because I was going to visit, the rooms had been cleaned. Sitting there, I felt like I was at a funeral. The bedding was pristine and immaculate. The shoes were lined up to bid farewell to the corpse. Everything was so tidy and solemn. The air conditioner was on so high that there was no need for a fridge. The room was ice cold. Though I was confronted by eyes filled with emotion, I still felt a lack of vitality or human energy. That is not good.

We often talk about feng shui. Let’s talk about energy or qi. A home needs human energy, peaceful energy, and an atmosphere of warmth. If your house has cats and dogs, unmade beds and happy, lively inhabitants, then it is especially full of human energy. It is bad when everything is restricted by rules. That is no good. I am sorry. My words may have hurt many people. But a truly good feng-shui master, upon coming to your pristine house, would suggest you adopt a few birds.

He may be too polite to say your house has no human energy. Put something alive and vital in the house, a few pots of flowers that make you smile. Where there is exuberance, there is vitality. When there is warmth in your heart, you are warm to others. You are happy upon seeing birds. You said, “Oh, how nice that you. have come to sing to me!” You can talk to them as if they understand. I believe that is the way to live happily.

Instead, you think you are wise, and shoot them away for the sake of cleanliness. What is the point of being so clean? You are not operating a restaurant that faces health inspections. No need. Who is checking? If we think it is OK, it is OK. This is the way it should be.

A Buddhist saying goes: “Be at ease as you find it”. It sounds so easy and light, but the feeling is hard to achieve. We want to achieve this state, but actually it is very difficult. It sounds so light and easy, but it is hard to apply in real life. Very difficult, indeed. Thus, we need to learn to find and achieve such a state. If we apply our learning to life, it is true enlightenment. If not, it is fake enlightenment. No learning or no application gets you nowhere.

No application indicates you are stuck in the status quo. You don’t know good from bad. If one knows what is good and bad, kind and evil, only then can one choose accordingly, right? When you don’t know good from bad, what are the consequences? You don’t understand life, death and danger. Say, a mountain herdsman who has never been to a city arrives at an intersection and continues on through a red light. A life-or-death disaster is about to happen.

Many matters are like this. We who do not know kind from evil or good from bad, just as he who doesn’t know traffic rules, may face death. Once we understand, we can tell good from evil and avoid evil, danger, affliction, and things or events that cause suffering and illness.

(Apply what we learn. Clearly see causes and truth. Face life with a warm heart. This is true enlightenment.)

Be kind to all. This, in itself, is a great teaching. Be kind to all. Have no evil thoughts. Then, we do not plant any evil causes or evil seeds. When you cause a small hurt upon another, he might avenge it. Some murders may be caused by one curse. He was already very troubled.

Say, an immature young man curses and humiliates a youth afflicted with polio who can’t walk. The young man humiliates him by cursing his disability. The disabled youth is already bitter and afflicted. Life is not easy for him. Most people can run, but he can’t even walk. Furthermore, because of his disability, many universities won’t accept him, due to poor health even if he did well academically. Of course he is going to be upset.

Can he be mentally stable despite all this? There may be other imperfections. Then someone provokes him. His anger has been stored for over a decade. The other young man humiliates him at his most desperate and depressed point. His stress has reached a breaking point, and then someone humiliates him. The disabled youth reacts foolishly and kills the other young man. Such cases can happen.

When we hear of murder cases, we often sympathize with the victim because we do not know the whole truth. Many murders are not the result of great hatred, but small causes. When this small cause becomes an explosive power, we need to decode what is going on inside the murderer. To you, it is a curse. The murder victim says to the King of Hell, “I have been wronged. He killed me because of a curse. Why didn’t he just slap me? Why kill me?”

The King of Hell replies, “You deserved it because you humiliated him.” “Why could I curse others without repercussions?” asks the murdered young man. “All those you cursed are healthy and able-bodied. They were your friends and you cursed each other daily. Everyone was used to it. But you cursed a person whom you shouldn’t have. This curse turned to dynamite, becoming the motivation for murder.”

If the young man had known the result, would he have dared to curse the disabled youth? No way. Because we have learned the causality of matters, we should be prolific about creating positive bonds with others and treating others with compassion, warmth, peace, and friendship. It is about tolerance without greed. To benefit others, we use our abilities, physical strength, intelligence, money, material goods, etc., to give and to form extensive kind bonds.

Treat seniors, whether they are your in-laws or your own parents or others, kindly. Say, a woman marries a man. Obviously, his parents gave him life. The parents love their son, the husband, dearly. The daughter-in-law, who forces the son to forget his mother, is seen as the enemy by the husband’s family. It is clear that she will divorce sooner or later. If your brother got married and your sister-in-law treated your mother similarly, you would hate her too.

We must learn to put ourselves in others’ shoes. If, when we think about it, we decide that our behavior isn’t good, then we will know to do better and to be more tolerant. If you are married, you should treat your in-laws better than your own parents. You may quarrel with your own mother, and neither of you will hate the other afterwards. But without mother-daughter relationship, things are different. Humans are practical. We should face this reality. We need to be reverent toward our in-laws.

At home your mother provides you meals, you can stay in bed. Once you are married, you get dinner ready for your mother-in-law, she may not always get out of bed. When your in-law doesn’t want to eat, she is either sick or angry at you. What should you do? You need to express devotion even more. You can’t say: “If I make dinner for you and you don’t want to eat, you can starve to death.” Unless you don’t want the marriage, don’t do that. If you do, serious consequences may happen on that very day.

Please note: Life is not easy. Learn to bear things. How can we truly bear things? Learn to understand. Look upon your in-laws as your own parents. Then it will be smooth sailing. Put yourself in others’ shoes. So, a daughter-in-law who wants to be happy in her marriage can utilize the dharma treasure of making her in-laws happy. This will partly bind your husband’s heart to you. If you are gentle and tolerant toward him, you have bound his soul to yours. In your husband’s heart, you will be a goddess.

This is a secret dharma teaching. It works for both sexes. If we can put ourselves in others’ shoes, we don’t set ourselves above others. Familial love doesn’t come from force, but from touching gestures. Affection comes from being moved by emotion. Touching gestures produce affection; force creates hatred. Whatever method you use, even if you do it secretly, once your thought arises the other will perceive it. It is as simple as that.

Is all this related to our dharma practice? Yes. (Yes.) If you don’t understand this, how can you possibly be liberated? You may be peaceful in class, can you remain so at home? Why is she so miserable and hurt when facing life’s realities? She doesn’t know how to conduct herself and doesn’t see the Way clearly. This is the Way of personal conduct.

The Way to be a Buddha surpasses basic familial principles. If you want to benefit all sentient beings but do not even understand family, the structure of family and how suffering and happiness arise, how can you teach the public? Thus, you must learn to understand. You want to awaken so that after awakening, you refrain from doing silly things. You are calm, so there is no fodder for quarrels at home; it is no longer a battlefield or the set of a soap opera. Your home is full of calm and loving-kindness. Only then can you be truly calm and pure.

Let’s put aside the deep purity of the 6 faculties mentioned in Buddhism. Let’s speak of the shallow purity of the 6 faculties. No more cursing, quarreling, crying for divorce, beating of children, or complaining of in-laws. This way, you are basically calm. These non-peaceful things are enough to prevent anyone from becoming a Buddha. If you can deal well with your family relationships, you are a true Buddha.

Whether they are truly enlightened or not, life is the true litmus test for great self-cultivators. If you can live a mundane life of family, daily life and work and do well at it, that is true enlightenment. Otherwise, life is superficial, lacking in true substance. To understand others and get along with all sentient beings, compassion is the best way.

(Understand causality. Let’s learn to put ourselves in others’ shoes. Learn to be compassionate and tolerant. Let’s test our mental state of being in everyday life.)