• By Nhat Quan
    Talking about faith, in the Avatamsaka Sutra, the Buddha taught:
    - Faith is the mother that gives birth to all merits. People without faith cannot generate merit.
    Among all of you, everyone has faith. However, some people have more, and some people have less. In that more or less, there are sometimes strong and weak times, increasing and decreasing times. Therefore, you must do something to strengthen your faith and make it grow more and more, without retreating or stopping.
    According to the Buddha's teachings, if you want to nurture growing faith, you must have a clear concept, like a gardener. When seeds are planted, or rice and beans grow, grass also grows. Plant flowers, the flowers will be lush and fragrant, and the grass will also crowd the rows. Likewise, when you already have good roots, you encounter Buddha Dharma and have faith in the Three Jewels. However, when you believe in the Three Jewels, evil spirits also appear as Buddha, Sangha, and Buddha's teachings, causing you to be misled, when your practice does not achieve results, causing you to lose faith.
    Therefore, your beliefs must be guided by intelligence, not everything anyone says you will believe. If you are gullible, you can easily fall into superstition, even fanaticism, which is dangerous, and when you go down the wrong path, you will definitely fall into ruin. Therefore, when you hear something that Buddha taught, don't rush to believe it, verify it again, because if you believe easily, you will easily get caught up in mistakes, with no way out. Buddha taught that if you miss a step, you must stop, but it is better not to miss a step.
    Buddhists with good roots should direct their minds to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, and must follow the Buddha's teachings. Taking the precepts as a teacher, in other words, taking the precepts as a yardstick to identify real practitioners or fake practitioners, helps you not to misunderstand. Nowadays, some Buddhists are gullible and make the mistake of taking advantage of fortune-telling and reading hexagrams, or soliciting donations to build temples. Buddha knew that evil spirits would do this, so Buddha forbade practitioners from using the left and right path. Buddhists should remember that cultivators who still rely on the left path are against Buddhist law. If you follow them, you are on the wrong path.
    You nurture true faith by studying sutras, laws, and treatises thoroughly. According to the Japanese Buddhist tradition, Buddhists must study many sutras, rules, and treatises to recognize fake monks or real monks. When you meet fake monks, at first you may be in love with them, and do whatever they say, but when you wake up and understand, you will easily lose faith and develop the idea that all practitioners are fake. Thinking like that, you have committed the great crime of defaming Buddhism.
    Those of you who practice and have not yet developed wisdom, based on the sutras, laws, and treatises to know what is right, practice it; if what is wrong, you do not follow it. However, people can also falsify scriptures and laws. Therefore, the Buddha allowed people to propagate the Dharma in areas where customs and practices did not accept what the Buddha prohibited, so they were allowed not to do it. Because if you stubbornly do it, it will lead to bad consequences.
    According to the spirit of Buddha's teachings, you should not do anything that customs and traditions do not accept. Any place or period where Buddha's teachings are not respected should not be applied in that place or at that time. Where changes are needed to develop Buddhism, the great Sangha group should gather to decide, individuals should not decide. Because the Buddha is alive, he can make the decision, but in Nirvana Buddha, there is no one with enough power like the Buddha, so he allows the great Sangha to make a more accurate decision. Simply put, Buddha gave the Sangha the right to make decisions. Vietnam has the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha. Buddhist countries all have their own association.
    The Sangha collective decides all monks and nuns must follow. This is allowed by Buddha, but on the condition that the group must have the wisdom of Arhat. If the group is still stuck in power, fame, and profit, it will not work.
    Therefore, practicing in the spirit of Mahayana Buddhism, if you cannot attain enlightenment on your own, but with a firm belief, the Buddhas of the ten directions will radiate blessings to help you attain enlightenment easily. Especially practicing the Medicine Buddha Dharma, praying to Buddha to protect your mind so that your mind will naturally become pure and your wisdom will naturally brighten.
    Duoc Su Temple & Ten Thousand Medicine Buddha Temple have two days of meditation every month. Every year there are 5 retreats, each retreat is three days. During those retreats, there is chanting, meditating, and praying to the Buddhas in the ten directions to release light to light up your mind. This Dharma Buddha Shakyamuni did and taught you to experience. Indeed, Buddha went through three stages of meditation:
    - Earlier in the day, he attained Knowledge of one's past life,
    - In the middle of the night, he attained a clear vision of the saint and
    - When the Morning Star rose, He attained The deliverance of mind from passions.
    Buddha meditated at Bodhi Gaya for 49 days and nights, and on December 8, he attained enlightenment.
    From this idea, Bodhisattva Samantabhadra taught his friends to practice virtue and he said that thanks to achieving this dharma, Bodhisattva Samantabhadra became a superman. But on the path of practice, because you have not yet reached this point when you succeed, you have the confidence to move forward, but when you fail, you lose faith, your mind retreats, and you fall deeply.
    Reality shows that there are Buddhists who are determined to practice almsgiving and want to help people practice Bodhisattva conduct. When such thoughts arise, charity workers monks, and nuns also come to invite them participants and ask for donations. But in reality, when many people come to ask, they are afraid, the first time they give a little, the next time they give less, and in the end they don't give and just run away, that is their mind has withdrawn.
    History records the story of Patriarch Upagupta being invited to his home by a wealthy but complacent female benefactor who had never had the heart to listen to the Dharma. He refused, saying it was not the right time. When that benefactor ran out of blessings and was seriously ill, Patriarch Upagupta came to visit. She cried and said:
    - When I was rich, you didn't come, but now that you're here, I have nothing left to offer.
    He said now is the right time, because you have nothing left, so you will listen to the Buddha's teachings, keep your mind pure, and look towards the Buddha, the Buddha will receive it. Because she heard people say that offering offerings to monks is a blessing, but as a result, she became a foolish demon, because she developed arrogance, relied on her own alms, and lost her mind in the path of evil. In the end, having lost faith in the Three Jewels, Patriarch Upagupta came to save her.
    If Buddhism had many people like Patriarch Upagupta who practiced in-depth, then Buddhism would certainly flourish. If only the surface is present, Buddhism can easily decline. Indeed, Buddha taught that because the worms in the lion's body eat the lion's meat, people in Buddhism can easily cause the religion to be corrupted.
    On the path of practice, all Buddhists should consider this. Buddha taught that when you listen to someone say something, you should verify whether what they say is true or not and whether the speaker has practiced the results or not. If they just talk, you shouldn't listen. Buddha is different from evil spirits at that point. Evil spirits talk a lot, but cannot do anything. Buddha did not say much, but he did it, or he did what he said. Buddha does not make promises, but He provides for those who need salvation.
    Please look at the life of Buddha so you can believe it. The Buddha was born into a noble family and had a life with an abundance of material things, but these things did not tempt him, even though he had not yet become a monk. His noble life is such that you have to believe in Buddha.
    When the Buddha practiced, he did not beg for food, because he did not lack anything. But he used the method of alms to help lay people plant good roots in this merit field. Therefore, you firmly believe that Shakyamuni Buddha is determined to truly practice because he clearly knows that everything in this life is unstable.
    Buddha advises you that being born as a human being and encountering Buddha's Dharma is very precious, you must be determined to find your path after death. Buddha did not deceive anyone, because he did not take advantage of any power in this life, so you believe in Buddha. Listening to the Buddha speak, you feel like he is speaking to you, making you peaceful and liberated. But Buddha Nirvana, you are far away from Buddha, you cannot meet Buddha in the flesh. However, Buddha affirmed that he did not enter Nirvana. He entered Nirvana only by leaving the body of the seven elements, but the Sambhogakaya and the Buddha's Incarnation did not disappear but still existed in this life. This principle was taught by the Buddha in the Lotus Sutra that when he became Buddha in Saha, he had the name Shakyamuni, but in other places, he had a different name.
    On the path of practice, you have a broader vision, called the history of faith, the history of good roots. Looking with faith, with your mind, you can see far away, but to do that, Buddha taught you must clear away all afflictions, dust, and karma. Buddha said to cut off worldly desires to see what your mind is like. You are a Buddhist, once you have faith and know how to nurture faith, you will definitely keep embracing Buddha's feet, even if you die, it's okay. It means striving to achieve the goal of returning to Buddha, becoming Buddha, then Buddha will definitely protect your thoughts. If your mind is wandering this place today and chasing that place tomorrow, then the path to the Western Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha or the Eastern Pure Land of Medicine Buddha is still a long way off.
    When you know how to nurture faith and make a determination, your life will change for good. Indeed, as for me, there are many things that I thought I could not do, but I succeeded, thanks to the support of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and dharma protectors. The same goes for faith, if faith does not waver, good things will come. The difficult things you can overcome help you become more confident. If you are gullible and easy to believe, you will be led by evil spirits. Because the demons are right about your desires, you listen and accept. This is very dangerous.
    Therefore, Buddha advised you to cut off your greed to see the true reality. For Cultivators and Buddhists, wisdom is born through the practice of studying the Sutras, Disciplines, and Commentaries. Therefore, once a Buddhist studies a lot and penetrates the sutras, if you see something compatible with the sutras, then follow it. If you don't see something compatible with the sutras, you check and don't follow them, so you don't make mistakes and go far on the path.
    Once you have solidified your trust, you won't be angry at the person who provokes you, and you won't be tempted either. When you demonstrate the spirit of non-greed, non-anger, and minimize material things, not be influenced by material things, Buddha will protect you. You must keep your mind pure, then Buddha will protect you, your wisdom will shine, and you will not make mistakes.
    During previous retreats, I once guided Buddhists to the Rose Garden in Oregon, and then to Multnomah waterfall. I saw a Buddhist with a cane in his hand and walking unsteadily. Yet wherever anyone goes, that Buddhist also goes. I went to the top of the Multnomah waterfall and saw this Buddhist who was able to climb up. As for those who think they have to find something to eat and then go, but when they are full and their stomach is heavy, they have to rest. Just eating and resting is the end of a monastic life.
    Seeing that, I think that once you have determination, you can climb any mountain. It's the same if you practice Buddhism for a long time, once you have faith and that determination, the path of studying is thorny, no matter how long you will reach it. Like a person who sees a high mountain and does not dare to climb it. While, there is someone who takes one step, bows once, and then slowly and gently goes to the top of the mountain. Because when they think and do so, in their minds there are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas protecting them.
    The period of Patriarchs and Arhat Saints maintained a strong Buddhist Dharma but is now the period when there were many monks and only formality was emphasized, Buddhism declined. Therefore, when Buddhists strengthen their faith you must see the depth. If someone is not a good person, you should not be friends. If someone is not a Saint, you should not worship them. If you make friends with the devil, you will surely die.
    In short, in the tendency to foster faith. First of all, you must realize that you are a person with full blessings, to be a complete human being, and to meet the Buddha Dharma. Therefore, you are determined to follow Buddha's teachings and verify your life, to cut off afflictions, karma, and mental troubles. When you have a wise master or wise friend to help you on your path of learning, you must maintain faith and practice so that your wisdom will sublimate and your virtue will be perfect. That is the true element of cultivating trust.
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