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Practice is Becoming One with Buddha
What is most important in our study and practice of Buddhism is letting our heart/mind become one with the Buddha. This means letting it become pure and free from troubles, letting it feel the joy of life and persevere on the right path, so that our life has a constant support to rely on. From the moment we are born until we reach right understanding we are constantly producing delusive thoughts and attachments. To rid ourselves thoroughly of all our delusive thoughts is not an easy task. Quite often we take one step forward and then again two steps back, pulled by the force of habit. For this reason it is important to have a method which helps us to purify our heart/mind and to firmly establish it on the path.
I started practicing Chan meditation at the age of fifteen, experiencing a joy that was so far beyond the joys of worldly life that it propelled me forwards on the path, and helped me to set my heart firmly on it. However, by the time I turned twenty I had become so good at having fun that my resolve to stay on the spiritual path weakened. This continued until I decided to become a monk at age twenty-five, putting all my efforts into practicing meditation and paying homage to the Buddha. This helped me to turn around and gradually return home to the heart again, letting it become one with Buddha.
So when we practice Buddhism, we do need a stable support for our practice, and seated meditation, reciting mantras or the name of the Buddha are methods that help us become one with Buddha and live our life as Buddha. These methods help us to settle our heart, to produce less delusive thoughts and thus have less trouble in life. By maintaining our practice in daily life and training ourselves to constantly let our heart/mind be one with Buddha, we bringing that very heart to perfection.
How do we do that – how do we train our heart/mind? We need to set out and start with Right Views. As long as we have not yet encountered the Buddhist teachings, our hearts are restless and constantly changing, fluctuating between highs and lows like the waves of the ocean. Mixing up both wholesome and unwholesome thoughts, we become confused, lose ourselves and easily do stupid things. Buddhism guides us to adjust our thoughts through practice until we reach Right Views and understand that everything in this life is dissatisfactory, constantly changing and empty of intrinsic existence. Everything arises out of karmic circumstances, and what we reap in this life is what we have sowed in a previous existence. If therefore we want our future to be bright, we need to learn to be compassionate, to be of service to others, to embrace others, to be able to see things from their perspective, and not to harm anyone. Thus our lives will naturally have less problems, less trouble.
At its base, Buddhism teaches us how to assume responsibility for our own lives and for our karma. It teaches us how to assume our responsibilities and not to run away from them, to carry that which we need to carry. To practice Buddhism actually is very simple: it is to practice the way of the Bodhisattva, the being-toward-enlightenment, and do that which is good. The more we are able to do this, the more our karmic circumstances will be positive. No matter whether our circumstances are positive or negative, we have to face what is right there in front of us. If we can face it straightforward and with Right Views, and if we often engage in good deeds, good Karma will naturally come our way, and bad Karma will naturally leave us.
This is my hope for all of you: that from moment to moment, you can be one with Buddha. and perfect your practice and learning. May you obtain many blessings, good Karma and the highest Prajna Wisdom
Dharma Master Hsin Tao
(Translated by Maria Reis Habito)