Buddhist doctrines "I create this world", and "all of us create
this world", is a view of life based on freedom and self-determination.
The Buddhist human relationship is neither one of master-and-slave, nor
that of father-and-son. Those who awaken first and advance the farthest
on the path to enlightenment are the teachers. Those who are late in
awakening are the students.
enlightened ones have an obligation to lead the slower wakers. It
is a duty instead of a privilege. The slow waker and the unawakened
will consider it their duty too to respect and obey their teacher's
guidance and instructions. In a teacher-friend relationship, they lay
equal emphasis on sentiments and reason. While in a working
relationship, both teachers and students stand on entirely equal
footing. Thus, a socio-cultural structure-built on the Buddha-dharma
must necessarily be one of teacher-friend relationship, and is most
consistent with the spirit of freedom and democracy.
Buddhism states that "I" can make the world, it is different from
the creation of the world by a God. When the Creator creates the human
beings and other myriad creatures, he creates them from nothing. This
is in contradiction to the moral-causation law of creation. Buddhism
holds that it is our karmic forces of mental activities and thoughts
that create the world. If we perform good deeds, then we are capable of
realising a pure and idealistic world.
someone said that Buddha, too can create a world. For
example, Amitabha Buddha has created a Western Paradise of Bliss
(Sukhavati). In fact, to draw a parallel between this creation and the
creation by the God is unreasonable.
we intend to talk about this creation to show the power of Buddha,
we simply reveal our ignorance of Buddha -dharma. It is of no unusual
feat by creating the world in accordance with the Law of Causality.
Even ordinary people can do this. Except the world they fashion is only
fit for hell dwellers, hungry ghosts, animals, human and devas
(deities). This is because ordinary people suffer from mental
defilements and evil karma, so the world they make is a foul and
unclean one. Buddha is replete with boundless and purified merits,
having wholly-completed the blessed-rewards and perfect wisdom.
Therefore, the world he creates is stately, pure and clean. This is the
Buddhist Law of Causality.
understood this point, Buddha's followers should in their
everyday life be mindful of their mental activities. Thus every thought
that arises from their mind should lead them to perform wholesome acts.
They should do so themselves, as well as persuading others to do the
same. Only then can we transform our world into a Pure Land (many such
worlds are already in existence in all ten directions of the world
3. To follow the Buddha is an advancement in life
order to understand the basic purpose of following the Buddha, we
must first recognise the value of human existence that we are playing a
leading role in the universe. Having recognised this value, we can
determine the correct direction of the path to head towards. It is
ourselves who cause the human suffering and happiness, and the
commotion and tranquillity in the world. There is no external authority
who govern our lives. Since we possess such a initiative power,
therefore we can uplift ourselves to perform wholesome acts.
be progressive is to perform wholesome acts step by step until we
reach the summit of ultimate truth. This is the purpose of following
the Buddha. It is human nature for us to look up to the good. Unless we
are confronted with failures in our lives and we are losers, then we
may be low in our spirits. Once we give ourselves up we might as well
be the scum of the community, but there are not many people acting this
way, and there are many opportunities lying ahead waiting for us to
discover them and improve ourselves.
people consider that good things in life consist of a happy
family with many children, good health, wealth and holding high social
positions, and this is certainly true to some extent. But according to
Buddhism, these are good fruits, not the good seeds. If we want to
continue to enjoy the good fruits then we must not be content with what
we have at the time. This is because good times will eventually come to
an end. Only by accumulating good seeds (performing wholesome acts) can
we maintain and progress towards a better life.
may be compared to our actions when we see a beautiful flower. Our
greed urges us to pluck it so that it becomes ours instead of taking
care and cultivating it. In this way, we may have possession of the
flower but we will soon lose it as it is impermanent. In addition, it
is also a wrong deed.
some people acquire wealth and social status within reasonable
means, they exploit others' benefits to their advantage. This is
because they lack the understanding of the spirit of progressive life.
Worse still, they do not establish the right outlook of progressive
people say, "I do not want to follow the Buddha nor attain
Buddhahood. All I want to do is to be a good person". This is not a
right attitude. As the ancient saying goes: "If we follow the best
examples, we may end up as moderately good examples. If we follow the
moderately good examples, then we may end up even below these". It is
right to start following the Buddha by becoming a good person but if we
are content in only trying to be good persons, then we may end up as
not being such good persons after all. Therefore, to follow the Buddha
is not just to be a good person, but we must set up a noble objective
to strive to accomplish. And accomplish we must, if not in this time,
then we should realise the objective in the future.
high cultures and religions in the world have noble ideals which
teach the people to strive and attain. Thus Christianity teaches people
to obey the will of, and learn from, God. Although Christians believe
that they can never attain the status of God and Jesus Christ, they
must adopt the teachings of universal love and self-sacrifice as Jesus
of Nazareth exemplified. They say the dust makes the human body,
whereas God endows the soul to the human. Because the humans commit
sin, so they degenerate. This has sullied the originally pure and clean
soul. Therefore, they teach people to firstly purify their dirty souls,
before admitting them into their ideal objective - the Heaven.
Chinese Confucians also say: "The scholarly should strive to be
virtuous; the virtuous, saintly; the saintly, celestial." The scholarly
people are the class of intellectuals well versed in various branches
of higher knowledge. Their ideal is to attempt to rank themselves among
the virtuous ones they see. Furthermore, the virtuous should attempt to
rank themselves with the saintly ones. But even the saints are not
all-knowing, so they too should attempt to be "heavenly". Thus, the
orthodox Confucian spirit is a constantly striving towards virtue and
Taoists, too, have a set of ideals for themselves. That is: "Heaven
models itself on Tao (the Way of Nature); Tao models itself on nature."
"Tao models itself on nature" means that we should follow the natural
law of the universe without artificiality. We should act in accordance
with the purest nature and the flow of non-intervention. This is their
progressive outlook on life. The world will be in a chaotic state if
the activities of the world, the individual activities and
inter-personal relationship do not act with the flow of the natural
law. The situation will worsen if we try to solve it using ways that
contradicts the natural law. Then suffering will set in.
the above observations, we find that the Confucianists follow the
virtuous acts of the sage and the saint. From there they uplift
themselves to the heavenly state. Taoists, on the other hand, advocate
acting with the flow of the natural laws of the universe. In short,
both of them have some means of guiding us to the ideal progressive
path of life.
people think that it is good enough for them to be good persons.
They do not approve of setting goals of uplifting themselves. The
mentality of "muddling along" cannot help them to improve themselves
and make any progress in their lives. If this is the mentality of the
nation or the people, then there is a crisis of degeneration. Most high
religions set a long-term promising goal. When we see the goal far in
front of us, we will long for it and admire it, and before we
accomplish it, we will constantly improve and uplift ourselves. Then
these are the real benefits that are yielded when we take up and
practise a religion.
do we uplift ourselves when practising Buddha-dharma? First of all
we must start with understanding the concepts of the Five-vehicles (The
Five-yanas). The Five-vehicles refer to the human, the heavenly
(celestial), the Sravakas (the hearer of Buddha-dharma), the
Pratyeka-buddhas (a self-enlightener, enlightened through reasoning the
riddle of life, apply to both Buddhists and non-Buddhists), and the
Bodhisattvas (or the Buddha). The human and the heavenly vehicles are
the foundation of Buddhism but they are not the heart of Buddhism. This
is because to behave well as a human is our obligation. It is common
that the blessed-rewards of our wholesome acts may enable us to be
reborn in the heavenly realms.
the life in the heavenly realms is happier than our mundane
world, the heavens are still within the three realms (Triloka, namely,
the sensuous desire realm, the form realm, and the formless realm) and
hence subject to impermanence. When the devas exhaust their celestial
blessed-rewards, they will degenerate and fall into the cycle of
significance of practising Buddha-dharma is to follow the
renunciation of the Sravakas and Pratyeka-buddhas, and to follow the
path of the Bodhisattvas and the Buddhas by benefiting oneself and
others (performing egoistic and altruistic acts). Thus, our worldly
activities do not contradict with our supra-mundane commitment.
However, the following of the path of Sravakas and Pratyeka-buddhas
should be expedient because our ultimate goal in practising
Buddha-dharma should be the attainment of Buddhahood. We can realise
this goal by practising the Bodhisattva's path.
Bodhisattva's path leading to Buddhahood is closely related to
cultivating the merits of the human, the heavenly and the hearer. It is
a gradual way upward. It will take us a tremendously long time and
require the accumulation of boundless merits. However, with this noble
objective ahead of us, it helps us to uplift ourselves towards the path
of performing wholesome acts progressively. It helps us to keep our
aspirations up and gives us much joy on the way. Thus, at least we will
not feel discouraged and allow ourselves to become degraded.
practising Buddha-dharma we must first take refuge in the Triple
Gem, namely, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. The Triple Gem is
highest ideal in which all practitioners can take refuge. All Buddhists
should rely on the Triple Gem.
Dharma of the Triple Gem is the Absolute Truth in the universe and
this mundane world and is the combined teachings of the Buddha. The
Buddha, the enlightener, is one who has attained the perfect knowledge
of this Truth. The Sangha or Religious Community comprises the
Three-vehicles, saints and sages. Although they are not fully
enlightened, they have already deeply dwelled in the Dharma and have
had varying degrees of intimate experience of the Truth. Therefore,
both the Buddha and the Sangha are the highest ideal model for all
is different to Christianity, Confucianism and Taoism in that
Christianity relies on a personified God; Confucianism, on human
saints; and Taoism on Eternal Natural Laws. Taking refuge in the Triple
Gem serves to unify the practitioners and Dharma so we can establish
the ideal belief. Why should we respect, prostrate, praise and make
offering to the Triple Gem? This is not merely a way of showing our
sincerity and belief, nor is it a means to seek and cultivate
blessed-rewards. In fact it is a way of showing our yearning for the
perfect wisdom and noble virtue of the Buddha and the Sangha. It also
expresses our longing for absolute faith in taking the refuge of
genuine dharma. Therefore we can completely realise the ultimate truth
of the dharma. The Chinese teachings of Confucius and Mencius have
their outstanding merits in that they guide the people in their
personal and social behaviours. However they cannot inspire people to
strive for a brighter future. Religions in general constitute a
precipitating force that urges us on towards goodness, no matter how
old or stolid we are. Thus, without sincerity, faith and actions, one
may not be considered a true practising Buddhist, even though one may
read the sutras, study Buddhist teachings, pay homage to Buddharupas,
or recite the Buddha's name.
true followers of the Buddha, we should place our major emphasis on
the Triple Gem as a noble objective towards which we can strive. This
effort, in addition to the compassionate vow of the Bodhisattvas and
Buddhas, will help our mind and body merge with the Triple Gem, so that
day by day our blessings and wisdom will grow, and we will draw nearer
and nearer to our objective of enlightenment.