By Nhat Quan
Many people think that following Buddhism is eating, dressing, and living an ascetic life. If you think like that, you understand Buddhism according to your personal concept or understand it from real-life experience, or define Buddhism in some external form, but you refuse to understand Buddhism according to Buddha's teachings.
In life, you go to find a happy and prosperous life, by trying to learn a certain knowledge such as medicine, literature, or a certain profession. The general purpose is to find a career to respond to material life and to nourish this small body. The reason is that this body needs to eat and drink to maintain it. But eating and sleeping is not enough, because there is reason, thought, emotion, or generally, a spiritual life. So it's not unusual to learn to follow the Buddha's teachings, or in other words, to study the Buddha's teachings. The goal is to balance both material and spiritual lives, and ultimately to overcome the sea of suffering, and live in equality, enlightenment, and liberation.
1- In terms of equality, it means that there is no longer class distinction in a happy and harmonious lifestyle. Because according to the Buddha's teachings, all sentient beings have the same potential to become a Buddha, as long as they know how to practice body and mind in accordance with the Dharma.
2- In terms of Enlightenment, it means that you understand and realizes the three insights, the three dharma seals, and eliminate the three delusions. Broadly speaking, you already know:
- First, clearly see your life and that of others in the future.
- Second, clearly see your past life and that of others in the past.
- Third, be free of your afflictions and suffering in the present.
- Fourth, understand life as impermanent, ever-moving, without permanence and cessation.
- Fifth, understand that you and things in space are not-self, there is no entity of the self of people and things, but a relationship of dependent origination.
- Sixth, understand that life is imperfect and suffering.
- Seventh, overcome ignorance or, no longer have the instinct of blind lust.
- Eighth, transform misleading views and thoughts, no longer see knowing and wrong thoughts.
3- In terms of liberation, it means that there is no longer desire and defilement like the jungle. Know that liberation or nirvana is possible in this present life and after you have died. Furthermore, in liberation or nirvana, there are four characteristics. That is:
- True peace,
- True happiness,
- True of yourself,
- Clean environment.
In Buddhist terms, it is true eternalism, true bliss, true self, and true purity.
So, in order to achieve the above-mentioned goals of Buddhism, you need to choose and practice the method that best suits your foundation and level, although Vietnam has many different cultivation methods such as Zen Buddhism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Mantrayana or Mystic doctrines. However, the following method can be applied to all of you, not only in Vietnam but also around the world. That's the Tam of no smuggling and compassion to save suffering.
- Threefold training is a practice that is no longer confused with suffering, and no longer superstitious, focusing on three main subjects, which are: Studying precepts, learning concentration, and learning wisdom. That is, virtue, fitness mind, and intellect, to neutralize lust, anger, and delusion mentally.
- Compassion to save suffering in order to perform financial gifts, fearless gifts, and Dharma gifts. That is the specific practice of doing charity work for society, health, and education in terms of material things, in order to improve poverty, disease, and illiteracy for the poor.
Developing the mind to study and follow the Buddha is to seek to become a Buddha. Therefore, if you want to become a Buddha, you must study and practice the Buddha's conduct. To do so you must keep the five precepts. You come to Buddhism to want to go beyond the ordinary life of the world to achieve truth, goodness, and beauty. If you come to Buddhism without overcoming the mediocrity of life, still continue to drift with dull temperaments, worse than ordinary people, it will only make you more miserable, not a religious person. Therefore, you must have the right spirit of cultivation. That means cultivating good karma, generating bodhicitta, deeply believing in cause and effect, diligently practicing, and trying to preserve virtue to be worthy of the name of a virtuous practitioner, in order to bring happiness to you, your family, and society.
Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, practice according to the Buddha, practice the practice of chanting, recite the Buddha's name, studying the sutras, meditating, practicing the Way... have very clear purposes. According to the Madhyamagama Sutra, the Buddha taught three main purposes:
1. Want to self-regulate:
Self-control means mastering yourself and conquering lust, anger, and malice. Thus, subduing yourself means gaining freedom. Freedom is the eternal desire of mankind, an essential need after the need to eat, but the nature of freedom is not the same. The more people seek freedom outside, the more freedom they lose, so someone said:
- Man has only the freedom to choose to lose his freedom.
The concept of loss of freedom in Buddhism is bondage, being entangled in lust, anger, and harm. So self-mastery, self-mastery of your lust instincts, self-conquest is self-imposed freedom.
The Buddha further taught that Buddhists have the ability to self-regulate themselves, even if they seek profit, fame, career, and love building... when those things are failed, changed, or destroyed, betrayal... he is still safe, stable, free from sorrow, grief, lamentation, madness, suicide... That is the first purpose of Buddhism.
2. Want to achieve purity and peace:
Peace of mind depends on your thoughts and feelings. If your mind is dominated by worry, sadness, and fear, then you cannot have peace. Peace and happiness go together. Whether or not happiness depends on a stable psychological attitude. For example, if you are healthy and wealthy, but your heart is boiling with lust or hatred, you cannot have peace and happiness. A person full of fame and success, whose heart is dominated by anxiety, insecurity, and fear, cannot be happy.
The Buddha taught that a person who achieves purity and peace is one who when unpleasant things come when worries and fears come, they are not dominated and entangled by them. And a person who is not dominated by thoughts of lust, anger, and ill will, who attains such pure states, has no greater happiness than peace of mind. This is the second goal of Buddhism.
3- Want to attain liberation and nirvana.
This is the ultimate goal of all Buddhists: End all suffering, escape from birth and death, samsara, and attain perfect wisdom. Real and lasting suffering is ignorance; True and eternal happiness is the cessation of ignorance. That is to the shore of enlightenment, which is the cessation of ignorance, the birth of wisdom.
That goal can be divided into two parts: near goal and distant goal. Near is the attainment of a life of freedom and happiness, far is the attainment of the eternal peace of Nirvana. The Buddha's teachings help people control and control themselves. This is the first step, the foundation of all virtues, and all progress, thereby realizing purity and peace of mind, transforming the entire life that once brought insecurity into happiness. Saying the near and far purposes are easy to understand, in fact, the two are one. Realizing freedom and self-control leads to peace and happiness. Having peace and happiness leads to Nirvana. Nirvana is realized in this life.
A society in which everyone knows how to pursue the above three goals and knows how to observe the five precepts is the most exemplary and civilized society. If you want to be like that, you must study with good teachers or friends who have experience in practicing and learning the Buddha's transcendental conduct. The Buddha is the perfect person representing the all-truth, all-good, and all-beautiful ethics.
Only with human morality can there be compassion, wisdom, justice, and true happiness in the family. Society is truly civilized in both aspects: material and spiritual. Thus, a person who wants to learn the Buddha's teachings and virtues must first take refuge in the Three Jewels and observe the five precepts. The Buddhist then diligently cultivates virtue and learns the practices of liberation, by improving all activities in life, such as:
1- Wholeheartedly believe in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Protecting the throne of the Three Jewels, so that the Buddha's Dharma lasts, often recite Buddha's name to keep the mind calm.
2- Strictly observe the precepts that you have received to avoid causing evil karma and retribution later.
          3- Practice a period of fasting and vegetarianism to cultivate compassion, reduce aggressiveness, and protect health and less illness.
4- Get rid of the aggressive, greedy, stealing, and lying characters to become gentle, upright, and sincere person.
5- Eliminate bad habits such as Gambling, smoking, wasteful eating, etc. must be kept thoroughly in dressing, sleeping, thinking, and practicing a simple lifestyle. Reduce petty needs, unnecessary material things, no fuss, no eccentricities, no luxury, no indulgence.
6- Do not be lazy to rely on others but must be diligent and wise, diligently study with independent will, self-reliance, patience, and endurance to overcome all hardships and obstacles.
7- Working must have a sense of responsibility, the work must be gentle, neat, clean, and tidy.
8- Actions, gestures, and words must always be gentle, modest, not conceited, and contemptuous.
9- For oneself, it is hard to control the false mind, for people, it is generously tolerant and enthusiastic to help and advise people around. All are towards the good path, cultivating morality, promoting wisdom, and abandoning superstitious customs.
10- Often study the scriptures so that you can learn to understand and properly practice the Buddha's Dharma.
11- Every month, you should go to the temple for at least two days of repentance, in order to do away with the sins of the past, to repent of the old mistakes, and to avoid leaving the following mistakes.
 12- Memorize the chants in common rituals so that you can blend them in when chanting together.
In addition, spend a day or two at the temple to study contemplation or practice the Pure Land Meditation to learn higher teachings and practice a simple meditative lifestyle for a whole day in the fresh and pure air. This allows the soul to enjoy moments of lightness and peace that cannot be found in the world.
It can be said that studying and practicing the above things has made a personal revolution, giving up evil rules and improving evil for good. Worthy to be a sincere and true Buddhist step by step towards liberation.
Thus, the purpose of Buddhist teaching is to teach you to be a Buddha and a Bodhisattva. Buddhist teaching, from beginning to end, is actually three things:
1- The first thing is to teach people to abandon evil and cultivate good,
2- The second thing is to teach those who break the delusion to turn to  enlightenment,
3- The third thing is to teach people to turn mortals into saints.
Called a saint, is, someone who understands the truth of the universe and lives, and understands the reason of cause and effect, then this person is called a saint. The Buddha is the enlightened one, while the Saint is the one who knows, but having knowledge will lead to enlightenment not far away.
You today cannot be enlightened because of the veiled defilements, delusions, discriminations, and attachments that prevent you from becoming enlightened. Buddha and Bodhisattva teach you to let go of delusions, discrimination, and attachments, then you will definitely be enlightened immediately. Partial renunciation has partial enlightenment, two-part renunciation has two-part enlightenment, these are obstacles. Enlightenment is wisdom, a virtue inherent in your own nature, not from outside.
Practicing Buddhism is like choosing this profession in society. You must have a professional spirit, promote and spread to people in the monastic society. The Buddha's education is a multicultural social education, it is not divided by race, region, or religion. To guide equality, it is also necessary to take yourself as a model, because the broad masses of society make a good example. The spirit of Buddhist study is to guide everyone to the point of consummation so that everyone can break their delusion and become enlightened, everyone can become a saint and become a sage, completely without obstacles and without harming anyone. Based on the sincere heart, the Buddhists call it the Bodhi mind, the real heart towards people, sincerely accepting everything. Others use kusala citta towards you, you use kusala citta towards others. Other people use an unwholesome mind toward you, you still use good mind towards others. Others believe you, you trust people; Other people don't believe you, but you still believe them.
That's why the ancients used to say, you must have sincere intentions, good intentions, pure love for people and animals, give freely and unconditionally, respect elders, and help all sentient beings. This is the Buddha's behavior, the Buddha's principle of dealing with people and accepting things. You have to study actively.
Whether or not you can outperform others is entirely in your own mind. If you are willing to sacrifice yourself, you can transcend. The delusions, distinctions, attachments; Fame and benefit, five pleasures, and Six dusts must be removed for clean. So, as a Buddhist, you must work to overcome your own habitual afflictions. You have to fix yourself to do what needs to be done. When the mind is pure, the mind is concentrated, it is not difficult. The difficulty is because of the many expectations, still the many desires. This is the great obstacle, which not only hinders your practice but also leads you to the three evil paths, leading to hell. Therefore, cravings and fancies must be abandoned to be clean. Life must be accorded with conditions, determined not to run under objects that are conditions.
The purpose and aspiration of Buddhist learners is only to hope that all sentient beings are in harmony with each other and live in harmony. But all sentient beings are different, so the retribution is not the same. These differences from their present and past karma are not the same. So from above the effect you can see the cause, from above the cause you can see the effect, then you already have wisdom. If this is to achieve the real goal, politics cannot do it. If politics can achieve this goal, then Shakyamuni Buddha with the status of a prince, can become a king. He knows politics is unattainable. Nor can force solve this problem. You see in the sutras, Buddha Shakyamuni when he was young, was very skilled in martial arts, he could be a general, he could be a marshal, but he gave up everything. He knew that this matter could not be achieved by force, not even economics and science, and technology could do it. The only method that can get a good effect is to only guide sentient beings to cultivate virtue, so Shakyamuni Buddha chose this work of social education, wholeheartedly engaged in educational work in a multicultural society. Buddha Shakyamuni is such a person, you need to be clearly aware. His great ideal and will is to help all sentient beings leave suffering and enjoy happiness, love each other, and live in harmony.
In short, the purpose of practicing following the Buddha is to initiate your thoughts in your language and your creations. So that you can use a pure mind. Pure love for people. Pure is the mental conduct of helping others to break the delusion of enlightenment, completely implementing it into the present life. This is both merit and truth. You can use this merit to dedicate to your parents, brothers, and relatives. If your parents have passed away, this merit can help them improve their dignity. If your parents are unhappy and fall in a bad way, this merit can help them to be reborn. This is the true transcendence, it is not necessary to invite monks and nuns to chant sutras to be able to be transcended. Doing this is a necessary belief of Buddhists, only supporting this prayer 20%, most of the rest is completely on your actual conduct.
Finally, if you practice and follow the Buddha in the present and in the future, you have been, are, and will be the one who is walking on the path of cultivating body and mind and improving social life
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