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Our Mentor » The Teaching of the Venerable Master Xuan Hua » Cultivation



Do not harbor animosity even towards the demons; treat them as good and wise advisors who aid you in cultivation.


Our varying degrees of false-thinking are due to the varying karma we have created in life after life throughout limitless eons. Heavy karma results in abundant false-thoughts; light karma results in fewer false-thoughts.


Cultivators should cultivate the Way in order to end birth and death and cross over living beings - not for the sake of obtaining  efficacious responses.

Cultivators of the Way should return the light and reflect within at all times. Do not seek outside, for the Way cannot be found there. In our inherent nature, we have everything that we need.


When we first resolve to cultivate the Way, our biggest obstacle is sexual desire. This remains the fundamental problem.


Cultivators of the Way! Take heed! Do not get into unwholesome relationships with anyone. Otherwise, entangled and confused, you will surely fall.


We are fortunate to have these human bodies. If we don't rely on our human bodies to cultivate now, what are we waiting for? If we wait until we lose our human bodies and then wish to cultivate, it will be too late.


Bring forth your true mind in studying the Buddhadharma. Your every move and action, your every word and deed need to be true.


You should conserve the resources of every Way-place. It is said, "Cherish all the properties of the Permanently Dwelling (monastery) as you would the pupils of your eyes."


Neither loving nor hating anything is the Middle Way. We speak of cultivating the Way, but what is this Way that we cultivate? It is the Middle Way - treating everyone with equanimity, kindness and compassion. However, we need to be prudent in our actions, don't fall into the cage of love between a man and a woman.

Cultivating the Way today with the hope of attaining Buddhahood tomorrow is like expecting to dig a well with just one scoop of a shovel. That would be impossible. Cultivating the Way is like grinding an iron bar down to the size of a needle - after you exert sufficient effort, you will naturally achieve your goal.


Before learning any mantras, you should first develop a proper mindfulness and a sincere intent. If your mind is not proper, then any mantra you learn will miss the mark. Only when you have proper mindfulness will you receive an efficacious response from learning mantras.


Ignorance has two accomplices or partners. What are they?  They are the desire for food and the desire for sex. Both help ignorance commit a variety of bad deeds.


It's said that "When you try to be good, karmic debts will appear; when you attempt to accomplish Buddhahood, first you have to undergo the insults of the demons." If you do not aspire to be good, your karmic debts will not know where to look for you. The more you resolve to be good, the more your karmic debts will come looking for you, determined to claim what you owe.


The difference between a Buddha and a demon lies in just a single thought. A Buddha has a kind and compassionate mind. A demon has a contentious mind.


Those who truly know cultivation do the work right in their daily activities, for every act, and every deed constitute cultivation.


A cultivator should not sell or advertise his cultivation. Whoever sells his cultivation will fall under the spell of demons.


Cultivators of the Way should, on all occasions, conceal their brightness and erase their tracks. They should not show off their extraordinary qualities.


Our minds always exist in someone else's place instead of our own, meaning that we are physically present but mentally absent.


Lecturing on sutras is cultivating wisdom. Meditating is cultivating Samadhi. Refusing to speak casually and irresponsibly is cultivating precepts.


It is said, "Affliction is Bodhi." If you know how to do it, you can turn affliction into Bodhi. If you do not know how, Bodhi can turn into affliction.


Cultivation is "training to play the fool." Training to play the fool means to appear stupid and inept. In cultivation, the more stupid you are, the better.  If you are foolish to the point of knowing nothing, you will also do no more false-thinking.


Ignorance means "not understanding." The root of ignorance is desire.


The main purpose of cultivation is to end birth and death, not to obtain efficacious responses.


A cultivator has to protect his purity  like the way he protects his eyes, which cannot tolerate a single grain of sand.


Gambling can create karmic offenses; making offerings can accumulate merit and virtue; meditation can eliminate delution and increase wisdom.


When we cultivate, we should watch our words when we live with others, and guard our minds when we are sitting alone. When a cultivator is in the presence of others, he should not talk too much.  When he is alone, he should guard his mind from selfish and idle thoughts. By doing so, over time, a cultivator will be able to see his own nature with single-minded concentration.


To endure suffering puts an end to suffering once it is gone, but to enjoy blessings uses up blessings once they are gone.


A true cultivator controls his own actions and behavior, and doesn't stray from his mindfulness whether he is walking, standing, sitting,  or reclining. Don't be a mirror which only can reflect others and not yourself.


Whoever has attachments has the "mind of a human" but whoever lives without attachments has the "mind of the Way."


"Someone who wants to escape death must first become a living dead-person." That means treating yourself as if you were already dead - with no greed, hatred, and delusion.


Whoever studies Buddhism must make vows, because the power of vows can spur you to advance toward the proper Way and prevent you from going astray. But if vows are not put into practice, they're just like blossoms on the trees that don't bear fruits, they're useless.


You can use your tongue to accumulate merit and virtue by speaking the Dharma. You can also use your tongue to create offenses by gossiping. If instead of speaking the Dharma, you gossip or speak frivolously, then you have created twelve thousand offenses.


A cultivator will naturally evoke efficacious responses, if in all circumstances he always uses attitudes of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving towards all people, no matter whether they are young, old, honorable or humble.


Cultivating the Way is nothing more than the practice of honesty and sincerity. As the saying goes, "If the mind is sincere, everything will be auspicious."


We should try to do good deeds constantly during our time here in this word. Each breath and every bit of strength we have should be channeled into performing good deeds and accruing merit and virtue. In this life, do not draw on the good roots you planted in past lives without cultivating more, and thus exhaust all the blessings you earned.


The Buddha can turn all living beings into Dharma vessels. Thus the saying: "Borrow the false to cultivate the genuine."  The "stinking skin bag" is just  our temporary residence so we can cultivate the Way. This is the meaning of "borrowing the false body (physical body) to cultivate the genuine body (Dharma body)."


Someone who is very greedy, insatiably greedy, in the future will fall into the hells. Someone who is very hateful, constantly flaring up day and night, will become a hungry ghost. Someone who is very stupid, always doing foolish deeds, will become an animal.


The greatest shortcoming of living beings is foolish love. Day in any day out, people live in their blind passion, unable to let go for a single moment. If they can only channel their lust into learning the Buddhadharma, never forgetting to study the Buddhadharma in every moment, then they could quickly attain Buddhahood.


One who is truly enlightened would not proclaim that he has attained enlightenment. When Sages appear in the world, they definitely do not reveal their true identity. For this reason, anybody who proclaims himself to be a Buddha or Bodhisattva is a twisted demon.


People of noble and virtuous conduct are limited neither by social status nor age. With quiet speech and silent actions, they just naturally project an awesome character that people respect. Their awesomeness does not evoke fear in others, for fear would make people stay away from them.  Rather, this is the type of awesomeness that inspires respect, not fear.


Everybody has three afflicted thieves, namely: greed, hatred, and delusion. There is no need to annihilate them; transform them into Bodhi seeds instead.


The Dharma is spoken; the Way has to be practiced. In order to realize any benefit, you have to actually practice according to the Dharma.