By Nhat Quan
Some people just like to do merit, sow the cause of wealth and affluence, but do not like to sow wisdom. Because they think that it is easier to plant wealth. Just giving alms, and doing charitable works will be blessed. While, If you want to have wisdom, you must study, practice, learn knowledge, and practice diligently. It is more difficult.
Because of such awareness, you should only worry about planting blessings so that in the present and future you will have wealth, wealth, and a prosperous material life. Such a concept, according to the true dharma, is not complete.
Maybe in your previous lives, you have sown great blessings and blessings, but in this life, you are rich even though you are not smart, not talented, have no talent, have no bravery at all. You are due to meet an opportunity, that opportunity is due to predestined blessings. Or by inheriting the property left by grandparents and parents. Or ask others to help you get rich, that's also due to the predestined cause and effect. However, if you want to keep your property and your career, and if you want to keep that property for a long time, you need to have wisdom.
There is no wisdom that has great merit, this case is very rare. Most people with wisdom have blessings because with wisdom they know what causes them to sow, and what conditions need to be supported to get the benefits they want. And how to keep that blessing forever. Long-lasting wealth is not only due to the blessings of the past life, or the gifts of the past and this life but mainly because you have wisdom, know how to continue to sow causes, sow predestined conditions so that the blessed field grows more and more abundant.
For example, you know how to make offerings, give the right Dharma to create blessings, know how to study hard, work diligently, know how to preserve money, and spend wisely. Do not spend wastefully, cleverly calculate business to make money profitable, and do legitimate business for a sustainable career, etc. If you don't have wisdom, you don't know how to create money effectively and legally, do not know how to get rich and maintain that wealth.
If there is merit without wisdom, it will be limited in many ways. When facing difficulties in life, difficulties at work, communication, and behavior, emotional relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, friends and colleagues. Difficulties that require knowledge, understanding, work skills, situational skills, life skills, etc., even if you have a lot of money, you can't solve them, because it's not a matter of fact anything can be done with the money.
Thus, blessings are necessary but not important, because if you are less fortunate but have wisdom, you will still have peace and happiness if you live well, and practice well if you have a positive outlook on life and lifestyle. However, if you want to have an ideal life, have many opportunities to practice, create more merit and blessings for yourself, want to promote yourself and benefit many people, benefit the people, society, for sentient beings, you need to have both wisdom and merit.
Therefore, the Blessed One often advises you to equip yourself with wisdom and merit. It's in good condition, it's necessary baggage. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are full of wisdom and merit, that's why they have the ability to help sentient beings. Therefore, the sutras often remind a person who cultivates has enough merit and wisdom is like a bird with two wings. If a bird loses a wing, it cannot fly. In the same way, if you have only wisdom, but are not blessed, it is also not good. Or if you are blessed without wisdom, you won't get it. So to have merit and wisdom, you have to practice at the same time. Those who practice those two parts will achieve good results. So say:
- Full of blessings and wisdom can you become a Buddha.
That is the basis of the spiritual path. Therefore, the Buddha not only advised his disciples to take care of wisdom cultivation but also advised his disciples to take care of cultivating merit at the same time. Then the question of how to cultivate merit, and how to cultivate wisdom.
If you want to cultivate blessings, you must have a compassionate heart, because you have a compassionate heart, so when you see someone suffering, you help them, so you will be blessed.
The sutras often teach, if you want to be blessed, you must practice giving. Talking about giving is divided into three parts:
- Giving of wealth, giving of Dharma, and giving of fearlessness.
These three parts of giving are born out of compassion.
* The first is the almsgiving of property. Nowadays, Buddhists often give away their possessions, but if they don't have money, how can they give? Buddha taught that almsgiving has two:
- One is an internal asset, the other is an external asset
To fully understand, anyone can give alms. You have money to see the poor and share your money with them, that is giving outside property. If you are poor and have no money, and see people in trouble, you take action to help them reduce their suffering, that is to give away the wealth inside. For example, if a Buddhist doesn't have money, he develops the mind to do meritorious deeds ... then that is the almsgiving of the inner property.
So in this world, everyone can do alms, but without compassion, you can't do alms. So on the way to practice, you must first generate compassion. Kindness is to bring joy, compassion is to save suffering. Bringing joy and suffering to people and living beings is called Compassionate Mind. The act of giving with inner or outer property are specific images that make people less miserable. In order to be fully meritorious by yourself, you must first have strong compassion. That is the first compassion,
* The second is Dharma almsgiving.
Giving Dharma is not having to teach Dharma like monks or nuns, but it is not necessarily only monks or nuns who can give Dharma. Monks and nuns teach Buddhists to understand the Buddhadharma, apply the practice, and alleviate suffering, that is, giving the Dharma. When Buddhists are imbued with morality, meet friends or relatives who are suffering, you preach to them. They have heard and understood, there is no more suffering, that is given the Dharma. Therefore, whether ordained or at home, anyone who is skillful in practicing and applying the Dharma can give away the Dharma.
But monks and nuns have greater and more primary responsibilities. Because monks and nuns are those who have given up their personal and family lives, only focusing on studying, the results of practice are also good, it is easier for Buddhists to believe in what they say. The lay Buddhists are busy with this and that, so they have little time to practice, and not much to study the Buddhadharma, if they give the Dharma to others, it is a little difficult to believe or believe a little. Except for your loved ones in difficult and difficult circumstances, you use the Buddha Dharma to comfort them, they will gradually wake up, these are some of the individual cases. Most Buddhists rely on monks and nuns to give the Dharma.
Thus, giving the Dharma is to bring the Buddha's true Dharma and tell it to Buddhists. When Buddhists understand, they will be less sad and suffering. Like if you are in a sad situation, there is a monk or a nun who comes to explain to him the Buddha's Truth of Suffering or explains the reason for cause and effect, etc. After hearing that, he hears and understands. less heartache. It is giving dharma to save suffering beings. Further, the Dharma giving helps Buddhists to practice, solving all old karma to be liberated from birth and death.
* Giving alms of not scare.
How can almsgiving not be scary? Normally people are not afraid of one thing, they are also afraid of another, there is always fear in their hearts.
One of the common fears for everyone is the fear of death. How to let go of the fear of death. To do this, you must first ask yourself, is there anyone in the world who has not died? Death is common to all, only the soon or later. It's an obvious fact that everyone has to suffer, so even if you're afraid, it's still inevitable. If you are afraid to avoid it, you should also be afraid. To be afraid but you can't avoid it and still be afraid, that's foolishness. Afraid of death, how miserable it is to sit there groaning and watch death come!
Now, if you don't want to be afraid of death, what should you do? With what against death? That is the key problem that the Buddha of the past was looking for.
Did Buddha die?
Many people say that the Buddha cultivates also dies, if we don't practice, we will die, so why practice? It makes sense at first, but it's not. The Buddha also died, but when he died he was free, not afraid, not sad. And you don't practice until you die in horror, not knowing what your identity will be. From that panic, you don't know which way to go.
So practice is to choose the path. Buddha clearly taught, whoever keeps the five precepts, cultivates the human vehicle in Buddhism, and gets on a human vehicle to go to the human realm. To practice the ten virtues of Buddhism is to get on a heavenly chariot to go to heaven.  To practice the Shravaka vehicle, Pratyekabuddha vehicle, and Bodhisattva vehicle are you who ride the vehicles of Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Bodhisattvas to go to the respective realms.
Within the scope of this article, I will only talk about two realms, the Human Vehicle, and the Heavenly Vehicle. The Buddhists are practicing the Buddhist Human Vehicle. If you practice thoroughly, when you close your eyes, you will become a person without doubt. Because of the principle of cause and effect, the Buddha taught that anyone who currently keeps the five precepts completely, when you close your eyes, will definitely be human. Because of the precepts of not killing people, life after life is long. Keep the precepts not to steal in the next life and have many possessions. Keep precepts not to commit adultery in a beautiful afterlife. Keep the precept not to lie in the next life, speak fluently, and say it, everyone respects it, and everyone believes it. Keeping the precepts not to drink strong alcohol, get drunk, not to smoke opium, to smoke drugs, in the next life to give birth to intelligent, clear wisdom.
Even in the present life, if you keep the five precepts, you will be loved by many people, because you are qualified as a human being. Currently, you keep the five precepts to protect the personality as a full person, when you close your eyes, you will return to being a human, no doubt at all. Buddhists just need to practice the five precepts, before you close your eyes and someone asks where you go after you die, you say you'll come back as a human. This car is old and broken, so it's better to get a new car, nothing to be sad about, so go away at ease. That's how to choose the path.
As for the wanderer, do whatever you meet. You do good, but you don't give up bad, so when you close your eyes, it's difficult to determine where you go, so it only depends on your heavy and light karma that you will be born in the realms. So the purpose of your practice is to make you a good person for your family and society in this life, and at the same time to prepare for the next life, when you close your eyes and become a better person. It is choosing the path of being human. Knowing for sure that you will be born as a human is less fear.
One step forward is to practice the ten virtues, when you close your eyes you will be reborn in heaven: Ten good deeds:
- There are three in the body
- There are four mouths
- Mind has three
Although the Buddha taught the practice of the ten virtues to be reborn in the heavens, he did not want you to go to heaven, but to return to the human realm. Because when you go to heaven, you can get whatever you want, just enjoy, play, and don't practice, until all your blessings slip down again. Up and down, down and up, after all, goes nowhere. Meanwhile, in the human realm, although there are times of joy, sorrow, and joy mixed with each other, thus waking you up. When you are too happy to just play, until you have an accident or fail something, you will be sad to wake up. Thus, having joy and suffering is the easiest situation to cultivate. That's why the Buddha said that you have to wake up in the human realm to cultivate, not go to heaven to cultivate.
If you prepare the way, you will be less afraid of death, because you already have the way. Do not know how to prepare the way, there you are shocked, scared, and very miserable. So anyone who knows how to practice is a wise person. Those who know how to prepare themselves for the future path are not foolish. People think that cultivation is disadvantageous and foolish, but the truth is not. Practice is about carefully preparing you for a good life now and in the future. In this world, if anyone gets what he wants, will he live long? Probably not, because you want to eat this dish and have this dish, you want to eat that dish and have that dish, and it's also not good for your health. If you want to enjoy money and beauty, you have it all, and then you get sick. The more you gain, the less energy you lose, no benefit! Do not think that satisfying all worldly pleasures is to live long. People who know limitations, know how to save money to live long. That's the truth.
All of you who have gone will follow good or bad karma and appear in the form of suffering and happiness. Then why don't you create good conditions, good karma to leave tomorrow leisurely? Now no matter how wise you are, how well you do business, or how rich you are when you die, those things will no longer exist. Exhale, not inhale again, you all let go of your hands and have nothing left. At that time, only good karma or bad karma helps you to reach the good realm, or bring you to the bad realm.
So, if you are good at commenting and meditating well, you will be prepared while you are still alive, creating good conditions for you when you close your eyes. After decades of taking care of this body, when it finally passed away completely empty-handed, it was a waste. If you just take care of life and prepare for death, the minute you leave will be peaceful. That's very good. Therefore, spiritual practice is a practical matter, not an idle, empty thing. Practice is an essential truth for you. Those who are good at cultivating the day of death are not afraid, those who are not smart are still afraid of death. Fear is still dead as usual. So, if you are close to dying, have the courage to see your relatives smile and say hello. Don't mourn and weep, it won't do you any good. Instructing people to know the way for tomorrow, and closing their eyes without fear is also fearless giving.
Thus, out of compassion, you practice the three acts of giving: giving of property, giving of Dharma, and giving of fearlessness. Depending on the basis, depending on the case, depending on the situation, you use those three things to give alms to people around. Practicing giving like that is very fair, rich and poor you can all do it. If Buddhists want to be blessed, they have to give alms. Because of your giving, merit increases, and merit increases, compassion increases. So if you have compassion, you know how to create blessings.
Next to compassion is Wisdom. The focus of Buddhism is to show you that ignorance is the source of suffering. Therefore, if you want to end suffering, you must uproot delusion. Because of ignorance, you create karma, one karma has not yet created another, so forever going in samsara has no end. If you awaken and have the wisdom to stop karma, one day you will be liberated from samsara. That is the end of suffering. So Buddha said:
- Suffering in hell is not suffering. The hunger and thirst of the hungry ghosts are not even suffering. Being an animal pulling carts and plows is not a pain. Delusion not knowing the way is really suffering.
Therefore, the Buddha used wisdom and enlightenment to save sentient beings, so that everyone would be awake and enlightened, then suffering would end. Also helping each other in ignorance, from one suffering to another, never-ending suffering.
As mentioned above, merit and wisdom must practice at the same time. If you practice Buddhism, you must have wisdom, you cannot practice vaguely. The world often says intellectual, and many people think wisdom is like Intellectual, actually, the two are different. Intellectual belongs to the discriminative part, and wisdom belongs to the truth part.
In Buddhism, wisdom is divided into three: Hearing, Contemplation, To practice. Hearing is listening or learning. Contemplation is listening, learning, and then thinking carefully, making the right judgment to believe and follow. To practice is to believe and then practice practice.
Hearing, Contemplation, To practice are the Three Wisdoms. These three wisdoms are still in samsara, so they say Outflow. In Buddhism, there are three non-outflow studies: Precepts, Concentration, and Wisdom. By keeping the precepts to restrain the mind from being lethargic and wobbly according to external conditions, the mind is gradually calmed down. From serenity arises wisdom. This is the wisdom that comes from concentration, and the wisdom above that comes from learning.
Learning real-life knowledge is called intellectual, that is, gathering the understanding of this person, that person becomes your understanding. So people with broad knowledge are called intellectuals. Wisdom in Buddhism is not like that. Studying Buddha is learning the Buddha's Dharma, that is the dharma of liberation from birth and death, the true dharma that is not born and destroyed, eternally unchanging.
A worldly person who has broad knowledge, meditates, and speaks a philosophy that is appreciated by many people is considered a talented person. However, philosophies that only apply for a while are outdated. So philosopher after philosopher is born and changes and people learn for a lifetime, but those philosophies have no ultimate, no end, it's only for a while, or just one stage. Given the appropriate favorable conditions of behavior, the theory is correct; when it is no longer relevant in another age, it will be obsolete.
Thus, on the path of cultivation, if you want to go to the true destination, you must silence all your wandering thoughts, then the true mind will appear. That is the final place called perfect wisdom. Buddha is Enlightenment, self-awareness, other people's awareness, and perfect enlightenment. Wisdom in Buddhism is not like the Intellectual usually in the world, because Buddhist wisdom is the kind of wisdom that takes you out of samsara. A cultivator who wants to go to that ultimate wisdom must try to cultivate concentration, concentration and then have wisdom. So Buddha said:
- Compassion and wisdom are the roots of spiritual practice.
Therefore, a true cultivator must first be enlightened, then be eligible to bring himself and others out of suffering. That is enough wisdom and compassion, or merit and wisdom. In Anguttara Nikaya I, part 5, Sumanà Chapter, there is a record of a question and answer between the Buddha and a princess named Sumana who asked the Buddha that:
- If there are two disciples of the Buddha who have true faith, purity, and equal precepts and wisdom, but one has the practice of giving, the other does not practice giving. After the breakup of the body and death, both of them are reborn in heaven or reborn in the human realm, is there any difference between the two?
The Buddha replied:
- Difference. That is, whether born in a heavenly realm or reborn in the human realm, those who practice giving are still superior to those who do not practice giving in terms of longevity, beauty, peace, happiness, and more good things, easy to achieve the kusala.
The Buddha's teaching is also the explanation of why there are two people doing the same thing, and one succeeds and the other fails because they differ in merit and wisdom. Having the same professional qualifications and professional capacity, this person does everything he does, and there are people who support and help him because this person is blessed with cultivation. The other person called, campaigned, and asked for help, but he did not receive an enthusiastic response because he did not cultivate blessings.
In short, merit and wisdom must be cultivated at the same time, because this is a measure to dignify oneself so that the present and future lives will be more peaceful and happy, and all things will be favorable and easy to accomplish. There should be no concept of just cultivating merit, or just cultivating wisdom. Because by doing so, you are missing out on the opportunity to make your life full of meaning and usefulness. Not only that, but you also lose the opportunity to create a sustainable source of happiness for the present and the future.
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