By Nhat Quan
In the temple there is a rule when eating rice, monks, and nuns often remind the sentence:
- Buddha taught monks and nuns when eating to think about the five contemplations
While eating, if the mind is distracted, the donor's offerings are difficult to digest
The Five Contemplations are:
1- This food is a gift of heaven and earth and everyone's hard work.
2- Please live worthy of receiving this food
3- Please prevent habits, especially irregular eating habits
4- Only eat foods that nourish themselves, and prevent disease
5- Because I want to accomplish the path of understanding and love, I consume this food
And the venerable ones also warned:
- Five Contemplations, if left, gold is also easy to melt,
If the three minds are not exhausted, the water is also difficult to digest.
The three minds are:
1- Greedy mind
2- Anger mind
3- Delusion mind
Also, call these three minds the three poisons or call them the three poisons of affliction.
Therefore, if a bhikkhu who has ordained a home life has received an offering from a benefactor, he must practice cultivation and propagate the Dharma to be able to digest it. Otherwise, even drinking a drop of water, the sin of not doing but eating is hard to avoid. Let's talk about eating:
- When you are eating, you should not covet worldly delicacies but always keep mindfulness. Of course, this is an indispensable condition, and at the same time, we must also pray for sentient beings to use the joy of cultivation as food, and to fill their stomachs with the joy of practicing Buddhism.
The reason the monks and nuns have to contemplate like this is because everything in the temple, from the rice to the clothes that the monks and nuns use every day, nothing is made by the work of the monks and nuns. which is entirely made by Buddhists, compatriots, and benefactors.
In addition to the food and clothing needed in daily life, there are also medicines when sick, which are also offered by donors. People in the world have a body, it is difficult to avoid diseases and illnesses. If there is a sickness, there must be a medicine to cure it, a small disease to treat a small one, and a big one to treat a big one. People who have left home do not make money and do not have accumulated assets, so when they are sick, they also rely on medicine to treat them.
In general, what is used for the whole body, the mouth is like clothing, eating and drinking utensils are used for sitting, and all four things are used for the body and mouth, none of which is made by monks and nuns. All are made by donors and laborers and brought to provide for monks and nuns to use.
Therefore, monks and nuns must reflect on the five contemplations for self-discipline and practice the path of karma, to call it a gift for a benefactor. Because, among the donors, there are rich people, making a small donation, which does not affect the family's economy. But in the real world, there is often a phenomenon that the more money people have, the more they refuse to give alms, while the more needy people are, the more they develop the mind to give. In an era where life is not easy, the vast majority of donors themselves have a very difficult life. The reason why I specifically mention poor donors is so that you have to be ashamed to practice.
That is to say that monks, and ordinary people, instead of being a donor, make offerings to support monks and nuns with enough means to practice, on the contrary, there are people who meet big things, they get big things when they meet small things, they collect things small, inciting to wink at others to steal, or to take advantage of and defraud the temple, the heavier it is. Because when monks and nuns practice, as well as when eating, they are mindful, and they all pay attention to their donors, but sometimes when they are distracted, they still have to suffer bad karma, how about those who steal things forever greedy mind, not knowing how to practice, but only thinking about the immediate benefit.
These are a few simple reminders of the venerable ones, but they are urgent and very touching. It is worth every Buddhist, as well as monastic, to keep it in mind and think.
You should think, about bringing the year-round labor of the farmers, the weavers of the poor people to bring you a comfortable life, if you don't use the practice to study, preaching beneficial practices, in the middle of the calm night, put your hand on your forehead and wonder, is your heart still? If you are a person of little conscience I think you cannot rest easy, unless those who have no sense.
Think about it, taking the wealth of the peasants and the poor masses to feed your body and support your family makes you ignorant of the sufferings of hunger and coldness of other people, if you are not self-cultivation, not encouraging others to practice together is not reasonable at all. Those who know about good or bad karma a little should see that there are observations:
- It's not acceptable.
As a Buddhist, you must parallel to practice compassion and wisdom together. Virtue and wisdom must be dignified. If you give alms, you will be blessed, when sentient beings use it. On the contrary, if you have a greedy mind, even a grain of rice or an inch of cloth will have to be paid back, and evil results are difficult to escape. So you have to follow the five contemplations and practice seriously to call it a bit of gratitude for the person who made offerings for you. Of course, it's not that today you invite the benefactor to eat a vegetarian meal, tomorrow you give the benefactor an offering, and the day after tomorrow you do something for the benefactor, it is considered gratitude to the benefactor. True Benefactor doesn't need those. People say:
- Come because of the Dharma, not because of food.
Or there are true Buddhists who often say:
- It is because of cultivating merit and virtue that it does merit, not for the sake of profit.
- Because of liberation, cultivate the Way, not for the sake of profit.
Therefore, to truly repay the benefactor, you must generate the Bodhi mind, use the Buddha Dharma to guide the benefactor and make them practice according to the Dharma, from which the body and mind will be liberated. If it is not compassion and wisdom parallel to practice together, not only will it not be possible to repay the benefactor, but it will also be difficult to get rid of sin.
Compassion and wisdom parallel to practice together are two great doors that practitioners of the Bodhisattva practice must cultivate:
- Compassion is useful to help sentient beings,
- Wisdom has the function of praying for the Buddha Way.
If you don't focus on doing good work, that's it. If you don't develop the mind to study, that's okay, if you don't have the grace to go to the temple, that's it. But when you have a predestined relationship to go to the temple to do meritorious work, you must of course keep moving forward in two ways:
- Above learning Buddhism, and below transforming sentient beings.
Virtue and wisdom are two great adornments, attaining Buddhahood, which is also dignified merit and dignified wisdom as it is often said. Those two great adornments of merit and wisdom are actually due parallel to practice at the same time. Because you constantly save sentient beings, you accumulate immeasurable merit. Because you are constantly on the Buddhist path, you accumulate generous wisdom. It is often said that bodhisattvas must cultivate the six paramitas. The practice of studying, giving, keeping the precepts, and being patient in the six paramitas is the accumulation of merit, the practice of meditation and wisdom is the accumulation of wisdom, and progress is the integration of the two adornments. Cultivation of virtue must, of course, be continuously improved, but the cultivation of wisdom must also be diligent and tireless, and not lazy so that you can be blessed with dual wisdom. When the six paramitas of cultivation are complete, they can complete the Adornment of Wisdom and Adornment of Good deeds and become the supreme Buddha, the supreme righteous enlightenment, so the Buddha is called the Adornment of Wisdom and Adornment of Good deeds, that is, perfect, that is. Virtue and wisdom have been fulfilled.
Compassion and wisdom parallel to practice are just talking about practicing and studying Bodhisattva's conduct in the human world. Adornment of Wisdom and Adornment of Good deeds is about the fruit of having unsurpassed enlightenment. Regardless of whether it is using compassion to save sentient beings in the human world, or attaining supreme Buddhahood and fulfilling the two great strictures, it can make the benefactor enjoy the blessings of the Buddha's teachings, and it can also help them to attain Buddhahood, all sentient beings receive the blessings of the Buddhadharma.
The benefactors are those who have faith in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Three Jewels Sangha. As a person who generates the Bodhi mind to save sentient beings, the benefactor is also a living being. Through listening to the Buddha's teachings, you believe in cause and effect, then:
- Turning evil towards good, practicing the right way, following the Buddhadharma,
So you will get:
- Good results in heaven or the human realm
- Or attain the status of liberating the two vehicles,
- Or attain unsurpassed Bodhi.
A monk, a nun, a lay Buddhist, if you can do this, then no matter how much wealth you receive, you will not only have no crime, but the donor will also have great merit. Assuming that is not the case, even if you only receive a grain of rice or an inch of cloth from the donor, you will also have an obligation in the future to return it. If you owe your past life, you can't escape the evil results. Ancient virtue often said:
- A grain of rice of the people in the ten directions, as big as Mount Sumeru
If you do not practice and study the Way, you must wear a feather and a horn to pay the debt.
To say that you wear feathers and wear horns is to say that in your next life, you will be reincarnated as a buffalo and a horse to pay for your previous life's karma. In this regard, a practical proof can be given:
Once upon a time, there was a monk who lived in a grass hut. At that time, there was a mother and son from a certain family who offered food and clothes to the other monastic, so that he could safely practice the Way and not have to go down the mountain to beg for food. This monk practiced continuously for 20 years in the mountains, but before and after he could not be enlightened by Zen philosophy, so he felt ashamed and often thought:
- I accept people's offerings like this forever, but the practice does not correspond, how to repay people later?
Because of that, he intends to go everywhere looking for teachers to study the Way. Hope to be bright and see nature. One day the monk said it to the follower and left the follower to go. Devotees earnestly keep expressing their wish to make offerings to that monk for the rest of their lives. The monk told his true thoughts to his followers:
- It's not that I don't like this place, but because I haven't had a clear mind to see nature, I can't swallow the offerings of your friends like this forever, so I have to go to find a teacher to study the Way, in order to liberate great things birth and death. Believers see the monk's decision, so they don't beg anymore, but only invite the monk to stay for a few days, tailoring a warm shirt for the monk.
The monk saw that the followers were so urgent, so he accepted. The mother and daughter of the other family took advantage of the short days, cutting and sewing a warm shirt for the monk. For every stitch of the needle, recite a holy verse from Amitabha Buddha. After sewing, pack four pieces of silver to give to the monk as a fee. One day, the mother and daughter sincerely gave it to the monk, the monk also took it and planned to go the next morning. That night also diligently meditated as usual. At midnight, The Monk saw a pupil wearing a blue shirt, holding a flag, and a few people following him beating a drum, waving a gong to open the door, and a few guests carried a large lotus flower in front of the monk and said: :
- Welcoming the Zen master to the lotus throne.
When the Zen master heard this, he thought to himself:
- I practice meditation and never cultivate in the pure land, so how can I be reborn in the West?
This is not true, the ghost must have come to disturb me. Thinking so, the monk ignored it. But that pupil still insists on asking the monk not to hesitate for long. In that situation, the monk held a small bell to lead the ceremony and inserted it into the lotus. When the time had come, the pupils immediately led the group of people to beat the drums, raise the flag, then open the door to go out.
Early the next morning, the mare of that believer's house suddenly gave birth to a small bell. When the man who take care of the horse saw it, he was very surprised and rushed to tell the owner. The mother and daughter of that family ran out to see that the small bell for the ceremony belonged to the monk. For unknown reasons, it could enter the horse's belly. Unconsciously extremely surprised, immediately entered the monk's place, the monk was about to leave. The follower asked the monk if he had lost anything, and the monk said he had nothing to lose. The mother and son of that family brought the small bell to the monk to see and said that it belonged to the monk, and for some reason, it was born from the belly of a horse. The monk looked at the small bell and heard that he was also afraid of sweat, so he made a verse saying:
- A fold of a monk's robe is a skin,
Four pieces of silver are four horseshoes,
If I don't have strong concentration,
I have become your pony.
After reading the entire verse, the monk returned the shirt and four silver shards to the mother and son of that family, then decided to go to study religion.
In short, from the story, it can be understood that monks and nuns are ordained if you do not often reflect on the five contemplations of practice. If you do not practice properly and accept offerings from devotees, those things you enjoy will be difficult to digest. As for ordinary people who develop greed and steal from the Three Jewels, you will have unpredictable retribution.
As a Buddhist monk, nun, or layperson who knows how to meditate on the five contemplations of practice, it is considered that if you have the practice, you must have merit. A monk or nun who does not know how to meditate according to the five contemplations to practice is considered very guilty. So you have to know, everywhere there are good people and bad people, Buddhists who develop their minds to study or make offerings are following the religion and not following people. Some people may not be good, but the Dharma is eternal and the truth, so if you follow the Dharma, you can't go wrong:
- If you give alms to the poor, there is merit in giving to the poor.
- If you make offerings to the Three Jewels, there is merit in making offerings to the Three Jewels.
And this merit belongs only to the person giving and making offerings, no one is allowed to share at all. So as a lay Buddhist, you should stand on your own to practice, not for the good or bad of a few individuals in a specific temple that is sad and dissatisfied, and then stop going to the temple to study. It is a great loss for you, so in Buddhism, there is a saying that circulates:
- Money goes to the temple door, then happiness goes to the benefactor's house.
- If you have the merit of practicing, giving, and making offerings to the Three Jewels that do not turn back, you will be fully rewarded.
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