We should imitate the conduct of all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and sages of the past. We should resolve to correct our previous mistakes and not let our old habits and faults lead the way.
A cultivator should use his/her sincerest mind to make vows. One’s vows should be maintained at all times. If one forgets one’s vows less than five minutes after making them, it’s the same as not making them at all. We need to be very certain about why we made vows, and not treat vows like some sort of routine, made just for the sake of appearances. That would be completely wrong and would go against the principle of making vows.
People who make vows should recite their vows every day in order to remind themselves and to spur themselves on to accomplish perfection, so that their initial resolve in making vows doesn’t go to waste.
Bodhisattvas certify to the fruition of unsurpassed right enlightenment because they make vows very sincerely and actually practice according to them. If we truly practice every one of our vows without the slightest falseness, we will become Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
The Buddha is a greatly wise one, and we are greatly deluded ones. We want to learn great wisdom, so we must take the Buddha’s mind as our own mind and take the Buddha’s vows as our own vows. We should always practice kindness, compassion, joy, and giving; endure what is difficult to endure; do what is difficult to do; and do whatever is true and real. Then we will obtain true responses. Therefore we should pay special attention to making vows.
Amitabha Buddha was able to create the Land of Ultimate Bliss and gather in all living beings because he made forty-eight great vows. We should learn from the conduct of past Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and sages. We should resolve to correct our previous mistakes and not defend our shortcomings or let our old habits and faults lead us astray. If we can do this, we would be “uniting with enlightenment and going against the dust.” If not, we’ll be “uniting with the dust and going against enlightenment.”
If we can courageously correct our mistakes, face reality, accept trials, and be able to endure tests, we will become accomplished. Do not have a deep-rooted view of self or an ingrained “self-image.” We should recognize that the self-nature is bright and open; that’s why it is called the “perfect, bright, and pure” mind. No habits or faults attach to this true mind. So don’t compare Buddha- nature to material objects, which are formed by a false combination of the four elements.
Why do we abandon reality to chase after the false? Why do we neglect the root and seek the branch-tips? Because we don’t recognize our own natures. The self-nature is not the least bit defiled. It is pure and clean, like a bright mirror. It reflects objects when they appear, and returns to purity when the objects are gone.
If cultivators cannot correct their errors, it amounts to having no cultivation. There is a saying that, “At the age of fifty, the offenses committed at forty-nine become apparent.” People who have this awareness are people with wisdom, and their future is promising. People who never recognize their own faults end up being muddled all their lives, seeking empty fame and false values, confused by worldly corruption. Such people are pitiful.
The City of TenThousand Buddhas is a Way-place that is protected by ten thousand Buddhas and illumined by a pervasive bright light. I hope all of you will get rid of the darkness in your minds and use the bright candle of wisdom to illumine within, so that the affliction of ignorance is swept away. Be especially careful and cautious in this regard.