We have to practice the Dharma in a down-to-earth manner in order to benefit from it.
We study Buddhism together every day, and every one of us has his or her own understanding. However, if we don’t actually practice, our understanding is useless. Having studied the Dharma, we should practice it in a down-to-earth manner in order to benefit from it. If we merely talk about it without practicing, we are like “stone men” who aren’t of much help to Buddhism.
If we want to benefit Buddhism, we should propagate the Dharma by setting an example with our own conduct, by observing the four great deportments; upholding the five precepts; and using the Four Unlimited Minds of kindness, compassion, joy and giving to rescue living beings. We should discipline ourselves by means of the Six Guiding Principles of not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing self-benefit, and not lying. If we use these guidelines to propagate the Buddhadharma, we can sustain the Proper Dharma Age and keep the Dharma-ending Age at bay. Demons and externalists will be so terrified that their hair will stand on end, and they’ll run off as soon as they catch sight of us. It’s our virtuous conduct, not the use of spiritual powers, that scares them so.
If we can combine understanding with practice, we will surely succeed in our cultivation. Demons and evil spirits will surrender right away, because we will have true wisdom; we’ll be able to distinguish true from false, and we’ll know what should and should not be done. Having this clear understanding, we won’t do muddled things, nor will we have any troubles or afflictions. We’ll have reached the state of continual clarity and unmoving brightness. If we can be like that, the Buddhas of the ten directions will joyfully applaud and praise us. But if we demean ourselves and don’t seek to advance, the Buddhas will tearfully sigh, “We spent so much energy, but not a single living being has been liberated. This is really too difficult!”
We should practice every little bit that we learn; in this way we can gradually accumulate learning, just as one gathers sand to build a pagoda. When our skill matures, we’ll naturally succeed.