January 29, 1974 (Tuesday evening)
On Virtue in the Path
Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Cultivators should value virtue in the spiritual Path., Such virtue takes the form of benefiting others. Put aside the concern for helping yourself and devote yourself to helping others. Be willing to take harm upon yourself in order to protect others from harm. In other words, if you want to benefit others and not harm them, it is essential to cultivate virtue in the Path. The Path is external, whereas virtue is internal. Externally, you nurture the Path by cultivating various paths. Once you are in accord with the Path on the outside, a sense of great happiness wells up within. You have attained virtue in your mind.
When you have virtue, everyone admires you.
When you are in accord with the Path, everyone respects you.
Once your conduct is virtuous, everyone thinks well of you. If you are virtuous, then people will be delighted even if you were to scold or beat them. If you lack virtue, then even if you make obeisance to people, they will want to kick you. Virtue wins everyone’s respect. Therefore, it is of the foremost importance. All of you should keep the words “virtue in the Path” firmly in mind, so that you see them as soon as you open your eyes.
Some people have no concern for virtue or the Path. It could be said that they have forgotten what is most fundamental. The most fundamental thing is virtue in the Path. Without virtue, one cannot follow the Path to its end and realize Buddhahood . Buddhas are adorned with the myriad virtues. Having perfected and realized the myriad virtues, they were able to become Buddhas.
Virtue in the Path represents righteous energy. It can be compared to the sun and moon. It is equivalent to heaven and earth. Therefore, no one can afford to overlook virtue in the Path. Virtue in the Path also serves as our place of practice. Virtue in the Path requires cultivation. If you cultivate, you can be virtuous. Without cultivation, there is no virtue.
Therefore, if cultivators fail to consider virtue, they will not be able to cultivate. Virtue in the Path consists of renouncing oneself for the sake of others. Forgetting about ourselves, we should help others; we should do that without harboring even a single thought of selfishness and without ever thinking of our own benefit. A mind devoid of selfish and self-benefiting thoughts is a virtuous mind.
Thus, in everything they do, cultivators should pay attention to virtue. Do everything within your capacity to help others. Supporting the bodhimanda is a way of helping others. You are practicing the Path when you protect the bodhimanda from troubles. Therefore, each of you should use your utmost ability to perfect your virtue. Then, you will have some accomplishment.
Don’t be so preoccupied with yourself that you cannot forget about yourself. To practice the Bodhisattva Path, you must forget yourself. While it is important to enlighten yourself, it is even more important to enlighten others. As students of the Buddhadharma, we ought to realize this and never forget about helping others.
Timely Teachings. Page 293