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Purify your own Karma; No one can do it for you

Dharma Talk by Venerable Master Hua

(Vajra Bodhi Sea 1/86 pp. 19-20)


When we bow to the Buddhas, our body, speech, and mind karma should be pure. The body is capable of committing three kinds of evil deeds: killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct. If you deliberately kill someone or some creature, you cannot think that you can then go to a temple to bow and repent and that you will immediately be absolved of your offense. If you do not bow to the Buddhas ordinarily, but as soon as you kill, you wash the blood off your hands and run to the temple to repent, and expect to be pure, then you have the wrong idea. Killing is an example of impure body karma. Further, you cannot deliberately steal valuables and then think, “I have stolen, and thereby have broken the Second precept against stealing. I had better go quickly before the Buddhas to bow and repent.” Such a repentance is an impure action.

Whether you are a man or a woman, if you are deliberately promiscuous and then think, “oh, I have used my body incorrectly, I should quickly go bow to the Buddhas,” then although you repent, this too, is to be impure in body, speech, and mind while bowing to the Buddhas. If you refrain from killing, stealing, and committing sexual misconduct, then when you bow to the Buddhas, there will be a response.

The mind can commit three kinds of evil offenses: greed, hatred, and stupidity. I often talk about a mind and heart which are greedy. Why are we so hurried and flustered? Why is it that we never rest all day long? It is because of our greed. Hankering after this and that, covetous and lustful, our greeed stirs us up so we can never rest.

Following greed there is a mind and heart which is filled with hatred. If you desire something and you do not get it-if things do not go your way and you want them to-then you become afflicted with anger. It is stupidity which allows afflictions to arise. It is because you are so stupid that you can become afflicted. Those who are wise do not become afflicted no matter what difficulties they encounter-even if things do not agree with their wishes.

Stupidity can become so pitiful that it is ridiculous. How stupid can people be? There might be one who has not gone to elementary school or high school or college. He meets a person with a Ph.D and notices that most people address the Ph.D as Doctor so-and-so, praising him in this way. Envious of the Ph.D.’s special status, he also wants the same degree. But if he does not go to school, who will give him a Ph.D.? No one.

Another person who has not studied the Dharma or attended Sutra lectures hears that the Buddha was unsurpassed, the foremost person in the world, and so he wishes to become a Buddha right on the spot. Is that not stupid? Another wants to start a business without capital. How can you start a business without capital? There is yet another person who is extremely funny:he does not buy a horse-racing ticket and expects to win the feature race. Such stupid ideas are totally unreasonable and impossible. And yet some people are actually as stupid as that! There is a saying that illustrates the depths to which stupidity can go:

Day in and day out, may my beautiful flowers stay fresh, And night after night, why can’t the shining moon be full? I wish that all the springs on earth will flow with sparkling wine, And in the forests, all the trees will sway with gold.

Someone who likes flowers wants them to be always fresh and beautiful, so he says, “May my beautiful flowers stay fresh.” Now is this not a false thought? The person described in this poem thinks that the full moon is the very finest and wishes that it would never wane, and those who like to drink think, “I wish that all the springs on earth would flow with sparkling wine.” They wish that everybody of water would become wine so that whenever they want to take a drink, it would be convenient. Although they feel this is the best, it too is impossible.

Those who are greedy for wealth wish that all the trees in the forests would sway with money so that when they need money, all they have to do is pick it off a tree. This would be best for them, but it too is impossible and does not exist.

“Day in and day out, may my beautiful flowers stay fresh.” This is the thought of those who wish that objects of beauty will never change. They want money and wine everywhere, and a full moon every night. The full moon represents anger, so in this short poem we find wine, wealth, sex and anger. How does the full moon refer to anger? Such a person wants the moon to remain full, but it cannot be full every night, and so this person becomes dissatisfied, and dissatisfaction is just anger.

This poem discusses the subjects of wine, wealth, sex, anger, and of course, stupidity. If people were not stupid, they would not give rise to desire and all the other different kinds of afflictions which follow it. This has been a brief explanation of the karma of the mind.

Our mouths create many karmic obstructions and offenses, which are in general, grouped together under four kinds of evil speech. Irresponsible speech refers to discussions about improper things. For example, men like to talk about women and women like to talk about men. Speech like this is useless and unprincipled; it is basically depraved. False speech refers to lying. There are big lies, medium sized lies and small lies. If you have killed someone and are interrogated about it, a great lie would be to say, “no, it wasn’t me; I didn’t do it.” The same is true if you are questioned about stealing or sexual misconduct. Covering up your misdeeds is lying.

Harsh speech is very cruel, vicious and cutting, something which people do not like to hear. Duplicity is spoken by one who is two-faced. These are all descriptions of karmic obstructions, the evil karma done by our actions, words and thoughts. If you have these faults, then your three karmas are not pure. You cannot deliberately commit the ten evil acts and then bow to the Buddhas thinking that you can balance off the karma in that way; it will not work. You must be pure in your karmas of body, mouth and mind.