Chapter 10 - On Habitual Patterns

1. Good-natured, even-tempered people are more accommodating and can get along with others wherever they go. However, being "accommodating" does not suggest that we should comply with whatever others say. Rather, we should keep a clear head as to the nature of the situation and use our own judgement. When things contradict the Dharma, (instead of going along,) we should stick to our own principles.

2. People may have bad habits, but they are not necessarily evil. Everyone is under the influence of varying degrees of habitual tendencies hence wrongdoing is inevitable. As long as the wrongdoer is willing to repent and rectify his/her misconduct, be as tolerant and forgiving as possible. There is no need to regard him/her as evil.

3. A little story: A had a habit of spitting all over the places and B tended to be suspicious. One day A spit in front of B. B considered it an insult and started a brawl. C knew about the habits of these two and came to mediate. Both knew they had been wrong and were determined to change. In the end, A stopped spitting and B overcame his suspiciousness.

4. Some people are in the habit of criticizing others whenever they open their mouth, even though they do not do it intentionally, nor do they realize that they are indeed "gossiping." This kind of habitual pattern is the result of continual repetition through the eons.

5. Another story: There were two people, one is beautiful, the other ugly. The latter realized her deficiency and tried to compensate by using heavy make-up. The effect, however, was quite the opposite. She might as well let it be.

6. We cannot expect someone to govern a nation well if he can not even handle his own family affairs. Likewise, there is a sequence according to which we should proceed our practice. First of all, we should get rid of our negative habitual patterns as well as all the bad seeds of delusion and vexation. Only by then will we be capable of leading the laity in practice and of converting other beings.

7. The greatest of our habitual tendencies caused by delusion is that we only see the mistakes of others, but seldom reflect on the shortcomings of our own.

8. Due to a lack of trials through hardships, those growing up under protective parents are most likely to become immature and weak in character. On the other hand, those who have to fight for a living tend to be more courageous and capable. For example, the little monkeys held closely by their mothers might be smothered while those who live independently in the jungles survive well. This is also true in our practice: the best conditions for practice are adverse conditions. That's why those who are most proficient in forbearance usually have experienced numerous circumstances that require their utmost tolerance. Therefore, adverse conditions should be regarded as challenging components aiding our practice.

9. We practitioners should not allow old habits and set patterns to take charge of our lives. If we do, not only will we be unable to make any progress in practice, but we also will create negative karma through our words. Remember, "What you eat feed yourself only. Similarly, the matter of your own birth and death can only be taken care of by yourself." Nobody -- not your loving family members or even your son -- can die (or live) for you. The only way you can learn how to walk the path to the Pure Land is through diligent recitation of the Buddha's name to the extent that you yourself can see clearly the path of birth and death.