PRACTICAL APPLICATION OF BUDDHISM
Because of general misunderstanding and erroneous interpretation of two Chinese Buddhist Terms, ?Chu Shi?(Beyond, or outside world, not of this world; of nirvana character) and ? Liao Sheng Szu?,(To understand and end ?birth and death; rebirth and redeath; life and death?) Buddhism is said to be a pessimistic religion. In order that we may have right understanding of Buddhism, those Buddhist terms need to be clarified. ?Chu Shi? in literal English translation means to go beyond the world, and ?Liao Sheng Szu? is to realize (the question of) birth and death. The Chinese character ?Shi? in the context of ?Chu Shi? connotes a period of time, thus ?Chu Shi? in Buddhist Terminology means transcending the barrier of time, or precisely speaking, passing through the three periods of time ? the past, the present and the future. Where comes the time? The answer is this: where thoughts arise and pass out alternately in succession, there is time. Consequently, the more the thoughts, the longer the time; the less the thoughts, the less the time. For example, when one is waiting for someone, the time seems to drag on very long. In contrast to this, when one sits down by oneself quietly for a comfortable rest, time passes away very quickly. If there is no arising and no cessation of thoughts in the mind, there will be no concept of duration of time at all, thus if the mind does not abide in the existence or extinction of illusory phenomena, it would be completely free of restrictions of time. From this, we can see that positively, ?Chu Shi? is neither pessimistic of the world nor escaping from the world. The Sutra says: ?Buddhism is inseparable from the world and leads one to constant practice of the Transcendental Way.? ?Buddhism is not only inseparable from the world but also aware of the world. Thus to seek Bodhi outside the world is as futile as to seek a rabbit with the horn.? From these sayings it is obvious that Buddhism never departs from the world; the Buddhist Term ?entering the world? means participating in the activities of the world, although actually Buddhism neither enters nor departs from the world, so those Chinese Buddhist Terms are but merely figurative speech. This also holds true with the phrasal term ?Liao Sheng Szu?, where ?birth? and ?death? refer to the arising and cessation of illusory thoughts and illusory phenomena. Without understanding the implications of those terms, people distort them by saying that Buddhist, in their fear of death, want to run away from the world an to seek an eternal life. IN reality, same as science, Buddhism is a Subject of practical Study of life, embodying both principles and methods of practical application; ther it differs from those theological religions, which are devoid of basic principles and also restricted in their application; again, it is at variance with Philosophy, which is theoretical and non-experimental.
In this last Chapter, let us see how Buddhism may extend its infinite services to the peoples of the world collectively and individually.
(A) Service in the Buddhist Sense
As seen in the first of the four Great Vows, ?I vow to deliver infinite sentient beings?, and also in Bodhisattva Samantabhadra?s Vow to be acquiescent with sentient beings, according to Buddhism, to serve others is identical with liberating sentient beings. This proves conclusively that Buddhism is a religion that is taking an active part in serving humanity and is giving its services unconditionally. But why does Buddhism teach us to serve others in such a dedicated manner? The reason is this: on the understanding that all sentient beings are fundamentally of one entity, and equal with one another, we can see clearly that as long as one makes no distinction between oneself and others, therefore, to liberate others is equal to liberating oneself and to help others is same as helping oneself, as verified by the Diamond Sutra: ?Although inestimable, innumerable and infinite sentient beings are thus led to the final Nirvana for the extinction of reincarnations, in reality, not a single being is led there at all. Why so, Subhuti? Because, if Bodhisattva still clings to the false notion of self, others, sentient beings and phenomenal continuity, he is not a (true)Bodhisattva.? Furthermore, since the self and others are identical with each other, so at the time of doing services to others, not only we should give no thought of it, but should do it gladly and gratefully as if we are repaying our debts to our benefactors. Someone may argue to say, to put sentient beings indiscriminately in the same category of benefactors as parents and teachers is too far-fetched and utterly unjustifiable. With this viewpoint, the writer begs to differ. To take sentient beings as our benefactors is neither exaggerated nor idealistic, on the contrary, it is but a simple statement of ordinary facts in our daily life. If we look into our basic needs, food, clothing, housing and transport, at once we can see that those people who give us services in connection with any of those essential things are rightfully our benefactors. First, take clothing, for example: from the geginning manufacturers get raw materials from farmers to the time customers obtain clothings from shops, this, as we can see, necessarily involves the efforts and labours of multitudinous people in business, industry and the farm, who are directly responsible for the production of clothing, let alone those who help us indirectly, say, those who are responsible for the transport of the finished products, e.g. makers of aeroplanes, trucks, motor cars, railways, accessory parts and tools, engineeers, drivers, etc. etc. Without their help, centainly we would not be able to get food, and any other basic necessities at all. In view of all this, should we not be grateful to all of them for giving us their services? Again, many a thing, for which we pay but a trifling sum, may be of enormous value to us. A book is a case in point. After all, this points out clearly that all those things bought and enjoyed by us are not made and given by a creator but are produced by a good many people. In view of their supplying us with those essential things in life, should we not be grateful to all them equally and indiscriminately? In short, it must be conceded that in our daily life we are indebted to humanity as well as individuals in one way or another. In return for what we have been benefited by humanity, we should emulate the positive spirit of Bodhisattva Manjushri?s Vows and work for the benefits of others incessantly. In this connection, it is vitally important for us to get, if possible, some right occupations to do, so that we may exert our effort for a worthy cause and, meanwhile, may contribute our services for others? benefits. This is the true meaning of services to society and humanity.