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Volume 4  No 2

The Voice of Bliss ... By Venerable Shen-Kai

1. Liberation is optimism

Liberation means to be set free from transmigration, from karma, from illusion, last but not least from suffering. If we must insist on having an advantage in all situation however small and trivial they may be, such as having the last word, then we become enslaved by our own habits. If we cannot achieve even such small libations, what more to speak of greater libations. The following article elaborates.

GENERALLY PEOPLE who do not truly understand Buddhism often mistake liberation to be a pessimistic outlook of life. This is not so. Practising Buddhism requires liberation from both worldly and supra-worldly matters. Seeking liberation is a very important method of enlightenment. Understanding and seeking liberation is in fact an optimistic and advanced outlook of life.

Many people know of the term 'liberation' but they do not know its real meaning. Thus, they misunderstand that death is liberation. Such a misconception needs to be corrected. Liberation is not as simple as is thought. True liberation means we need to be liberated at every moment and from every issue of our daily life. It is only through numerous "small libations" that we are able to achieve 'great libations'. If one wants only to commit evil deeds and does not recognise the importance of liberation, he may end up in jail or even transmigrate to hell after his death.

For example, by merely setting your eyes on a person, even a total stranger with whom you do not engage in conversation, may land you trouble. According to the Law of Causality, when two strangers meet, the encounter is possibly the fruition of causes and conditions created in a previous life. If the cause is pleasant then one feels good about the encounter, they may feel as if they have met before. If the cause is hostile, then mutual suspicion arises. If the person is of a bad character, complications may ensue. If these involve the taking of lives then the seeds of transmigration to the hell realm is sowed. Thus, a person who does not understand liberation can land himself in hell by a mere glance at a stranger. As human beings, we should live by the codes of ethics and morality, and be law-abiding citizens. At the same time we need to understand the importance of liberation.

To seek liberation one needs to purify the six sense-organs. These six organs refer to our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. For example, our eyes are pure when we refrain from what we don't need to see. We should not casually cast our eyes on whatever we feel like just because they do not cost us time or money. We are not liberated if we do that. If we are not careful with what we see, it can also cause us a lot of troubles. Confucius once said, "Do not look unless it accords with the rites. Do not speak unless it accords with the rites." This refers to the principle of liberation.

When we are greeted, we ought to reciprocate, perhaps with a sincere smile too. Unless it is necessary, we should not probe into other things like "where do you live" or even to the extent of exchanging addresses. If it is not necessary, such inquisitiveness also means that we are not liberated.

Take another example: a husband returns home a little late, the wife gets angry over it and it leads to a quarrel. That is not liberation. An understanding wife would have reacted differently: he is late probably because he has been very busy, invite him to a cup of tea, get on with preparing dinner and allow him to have a peace of mind. In this way, not only is she not suspicious of her husband, she also fulfils her duty as his wife. Even if he is having an extra-marital affair he will feel shameful and be repentant. Perhaps he will awaken to liberation and part with his immoral ways. Often times, an innocent husband may return late because of a heavy workload, only to meet an accusing and suspicious wife at home. Quarrels ensue and over time the marriage may be destroyed. We therefore need to know the wonders of liberation. Each and every one of us need to learn to be liberated. Whether it is between relatives, friends, colleagues ..... all people, over all kinds of things, we all need to practise liberation.

Liberation is very important in our lives. Wherever we are and at every moment we need to be liberated. It is only through liberation that we have a blissful and carefree life.

2. Cleansing the compound of our mind

All Buddhas taught that we have to 'Avoid all evils; do all that are good; purify the mind'. We are liberated from evil deeds when we stopped committing them. When we perform good deeds we have to liberate ourselves form these actions as well, i.e. without attachments. Purifying the mind is like sweeping the floor of our home clean of dirt and trash; cleansing the compound of our mind to be free of impure thoughts.

evils' means we have to cultivate conduct and eradicate all bad deeds. 'Do all that are good' means to perform the deeds that are beneficial others and to ourselves. For those who are used to doing bad and when they stopped doing so, that is liberation. Yet, there are many people who perform virtuous deeds, but they are not liberated from their actions. This is because when they perform good deeds, they are attached to them. The correct way to performing virtuous deeds is to be without form, that is, without attachment to any form whatsoever. The Buddhist principle of 'giving without attaching to any forms' means to purify one's mind. This mind, i.e. our thoughts, needs to be purified. This is the actual teaching of Buddhism.

Many people do not understand the meaning of 'purify one's mind'. The Jen Chen Buddhism uses the term 'sweeping' as in sweeping the ground clean of dirt as a simple analogy to purifying one's mind. Wherever we are, when we cleanse the compound of our mind at every moment, our thoughts are naturally pure.

Keeping the house clean is a daily affair in every household. Even if it is a new house, one can imagine what it would be like if we just move into it without sweeping it clean first. We should not think that our mind is already very pure and therefore there is no need to cleanse it. When we begin to pay attention to it, we will find that after a few days our mind is in a mess and constantly preoccupied with wild thoughts. Thus, purifying our mind is like sweeping the house daily to render it thoroughly spick and span, leaving behind not even a speck of dirt.

I wish to give you all a present, a broom, with which to sweep and cleanse the compound of your mind until it is spick and span.

Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre