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Blog » Sweet Dews Of Dharma Talks » 2015 » Cherish What You Have

Cherish What You Have2015-04-14



Spoken by Dharma Master Heng Jai
English Translation by Lotus Lee 

The flavor of the Buddhadharma is bitter, then sweet. Frequently, the process of cultivation goes through suffering first and then happiness. Why do I say that? Think about the things that we usually regard as suffering or as happiness. For example, if you had to work during the New Year while everyone was on vacation, you might regard this as suffering and be very unhappy. Frankly, in Buddhist terms, this is called “having false thoughts.” If it wasn’t the New Year, or if everyone had to work as well, would you still regard going to work as suffering? Or, if you had set certain goals for work which you might be able to meet by working harder, such as getting promoted, you would not regard working during holidays as suffering, would you?

Why do we suffer? Perhaps we see that other people have big houses while our own houses are shabby, or other people have happy families and while our own family members are constantly arguing. All of these make us feel bad. Where does suffering come from? Have you ever thought about that? Now that we have learned the Buddhadharma, we understand that a cause will definitely yield a result. Therefore, whatever I encounter in the present is a product of what I have created in the past. If I plant oranges, I am only going to get oranges. If I was expecting to get apples instead, then the outcome would make me miserable.

Consequently, in life, we should regard whatever we possess at the moment as the best. There are two sides to every coin. For example, if you are not the prettiest person on the block, you can think: I may not be the most beautiful or have the most adorned physical appearance, but I’m happy the way I am. Since no one will try to court me, and I will have less afflictions. Once you think about it this way, you will no longer feel that you are not beautiful or that you do not have anything. It will cease to make you suffer. When you are not suffering, you don’t have to make a particular effort to search for happiness, because lack of suffering is happiness.

We should cherish what we have and use what we have to create our own future. Do what you are capable of to the best of your ability; do good deeds and plant wholesome causes. If you have a beautiful smile, you can show it to others, so that they will be happy upon seeing it. By doing so, you can plant seeds of happiness which will ripen in the future.

Living the life of cultivators, we get up very early and sleep late. The early mornings can be very cold, and it can feel like suffering in general, but by living in this way, we are planting seeds for attaining liberation in the future. If you look at it from this point of view, then you will no longer be restricted by your surrounding environment. After you get used to the cold, it will no longer affect you. For the same token, when we are not as dependent on the material world, it will have no power over us.

Recently I heard a story about a former homeless person. He wanted to change his life for the better, so he quit smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs, and was able to get a job driving trucks. However, his job was very demanding, as he had to work seventy hours a week. One time, he came to CTTB to participate in a session, but he only had enough money to stay for one week. Before he left, he complained that his boss abused him and made him work seventy hours a week. He wanted to resign, but if he did, he wouldn’t have anything and would have to go back to living on the streets. Someone asked, “Haven’t you saved any money over the past five years that you have been working? At this point, it’s not the question of whether your boss overworks you, but the fact that you don’t know how to manage your money. If you are working seventy hours a week it should be quite possible to save up money. You say that your boss is giving you a hard time, but who is it that is giving you a hard time, really?”

This is what I mean by not knowing how to put one’s possessions and conditions to good use. If you know how to use what you have to your advantage, you are a most wealthy person, because the value of your wealth is unrelated to the amount of money you have or the size of your house, but instead depends with how you use what you have. The Venerable Master once said: “Increase the things over here, and the things on that side will decrease; decrease the things over here, and the things on that side will increase.”

If we can always be mindful of the Buddhadharma and stop comparing ourselves with others, then we will be happy, and being at peace is a blessing. Plan your life and put whatever you have to good use, and you will be able to live an easy life and create your own future at the same time.

In the New Year, I hope that all of you will be able to level up in your cultivation and work harder than before. For instance, if you used to recite the Buddha’s name two thousand or three thousand times a day, you could increase that number so that you are always living in the sound of the Buddha’s name. When you live in the sound of the Buddha’s name, you will not have as many scattered thoughts. Your mind will become more pure and have less afflictions. Our afflictions are a kind of false thought that is out of touch with reality, because we have afflictions when we are unwilling to face reality. If we are able to face reality in our lives and ask ourselves where we should be and what we should be doing, then we will not have too many afflictions. The reason we have a lot of afflictions is because we tend to forget where we are standing and mistake the position of others for our own.

I hope that all of you will try to learn from anything and anyone, regardless of where you are or what you are doing. Even if someone is doing something wrong, you can still learn from them by remembering not to make the same mistake. However, even when you are observing someone else’ mistakes, your mind should be at peace, and you should not get angry. We should try not to get angry; the Venerable Master said that getting angry is one of the worst things you can do. Even if someone is doing something wrong, you should try to communicate with them and not get angry.

Since we are human, we tend to observe the world from our own point of view, but now that we are learning the Buddhadharma, we should realize that this ego of ours is actually very tiny. We should let it grow in capacity so that we will be more accepting of others and not always insist on adhering to our own viewpoints. If we can take our surroundings into account and ask ourselves what we should do or say to make matters better, then we will be able to do things in a more well-rounded way, and it will be easier for us to succeed in our cultivation.

I hope all of you will be able to increase your merit and wisdom, and attain Buddhahood soon. Amitabha!