By Nhat Quan
As a layperson, in your daily life, in addition to your responsibilities and obligations towards your family and society, you also have to take care of your food, clothing, money, family burdens, parents, brothers, wife, and children. . You also have to take care of contributing to society, and also have the additional responsibility of protecting the Three Jewels, helping monks and nuns have conditions, time to study and practice. That is, in addition to social issues, the duty to take care of the family, the duty of a citizen in a country, and also to protect the Three Jewels is not an easy thing to do. To do this, it is required that Buddhists have solid Bodhicitta, clear perception, correct understanding, and understanding of the causes of merit and karma to be able to do so.
In terms of society, in the current era, with the development of multifaceted globalization, you pay much attention to the economic aspect, because it brings material benefits to people. However, besides, it entails many unpredictable relationships, in which the distinction between rich and poor has made people difficult to approach, and not friendly to each other.
Because of the difference between rich and poor according to Buddhist teachings, karma is understood in simple, common sense as cause and effect. According to the law of cause and effect of wealth and poverty, those who lack altruism, who only care about their own interests, and who do not think about others are those who have miserly karma. Therefore, giving and making offerings is the foundation of good things to erase the gap, creating conditions for people to be closer and closer to each other. Especially for those who are walking on the path of enlightenment and liberation.
As it was said once, in this world, the rich, the glorious career, the success, the fame, and fortune do not come naturally, but it is the result of their cultivation and accumulation of virtue in many previous lives. Nothing in this world happens by accident. If you want to be rich, powerful, and prosperous in the future, in this life you must know how to give, make offerings, help, and share according to your ability. As a Buddhist, you must be aware of this, if you want to be rich, and have a lot of wealth, but at the moment you don't know how to do good deeds, you probably don't have the opportunity to get rich.
Practicing doing meritorious deeds, giving alms, making offerings or helping, and sharing love with others is the first goal in Buddhism. The Buddha taught you to know how to let go of greed, selfishness, pettiness, and meanness, only knowing how to live for yourself, whoever suffers regardless. Buddhism always encourages you to give up such a narrow, selfish lifestyle, because it loses the meaning of humanity. On the contrary, Buddhism advocates living in harmony with humanity, with the concept that everyone is a lover and relative, so each person has the responsibility and duty to love, care for and help each other in the spirit of selflessness, and altruism.
The reason is that Buddhism clearly sees that the lives of all species must depend on each other, and no species can be separated from the mutual support that can survive in this vast and harsh universe. The Buddha has practiced becoming fully enlightened, he clearly sees all the differences and disagreements between humans and all species, like a person standing on a high floor looking down at the crossroads and seeing rich, happy, wealthy people materially adequate, the poor and destitute, the hungry and destitute, wandering. The rich, the cowardly, the ugly, the beautiful, the stupid, the wise, the short-lived, the long-lived, the happy, the miserable, etc. Therefore, the Buddha affirmed:
- If you want to enjoy good retribution now and in the future, you must know how to plant blessings right now to reap blessings.
So what is a blessed person?
People with blessings are those who have a stable life, full material means, a house, money, fame, good food, and warm clothes. Living in a family above and below, being respectful and polite to the people above, loving and caring for the people below. Be filial to grandparents and parents. Parents know how to teach their children good and right things, stay away from evil friends, stay close to good friends, live in love, and help others.
If you do not do merit now, but want to be blessed in the future, it is not possible. Just like before, you have never done meritorious deeds, now do not be blessed to enjoy. Remember, doing the goodwill of course be blessed, and enjoying the blessing without continuing to do good will end the blessing. Knowing this, each of you must try to cultivate virtue. A day in the world should be a useful day for you and for others, without harming anyone. On the contrary, people live in poverty, not enough food to eat, and not enough clothes to wear. In the family, there are often quarrels, disagreements, and conflicts with each other because of poor virtue.
So what is a blessing?
Blessings are actions, words, and thoughts that bring happiness to people now and in the future. People who know how to do good deeds are good people, so they are loved and close to everyone. Thanks to that closeness, you easily sympathize, understand, love, tolerate, and forgive each other, ready to commit and serve in the spirit for the benefit of others.
Among the deeds that are considered meritorious, which are mentioned and praised by many people are:
- Road construction, and bridge construction
 Transport is an extremely important factor in all activities of the society. Even in your small house, there needs to be a path, and from village to village, from region to region, all need roads to communicate. You travel to do business, buy and sell, study, visit... Almost all human activities are related to the road, including air and waterway. If the roads are blocked, all your activities will face many obstacles, even causing serious accidents.
At present, in advanced countries, roads belong to national projects and are constructed with high technology. The highways and the high-speed train tracks are executed to perfection. The transport network within the country, and across the country are constantly developing. The UK and France have completed the tunnel through the Manche, to connect the two countries by the road going under the sea.
In the past, construction techniques for bridge and road construction were still poor. Dusty dirt roads and jagged roads connect villages and towns together. People have to overcome dangerous hills and strong rivers with their feet or with horsepower. Even sitting on a horse-drawn carriage, with round wheels, was not happy because of the fierce shock. Due to limited traffic, cultural exchanges and social development are limited.
Therefore, the construction of roads and bridges is focused on. Talking about building bridges and roads as well as the merits of doing this, in the scriptures of Northern Buddhism, there is a bodhisattva named Dharanimdhara with the vow to forever appear in samsara to sow conditions with people by repairing roads and bridges. The story is:
- In the past life, Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara was born right at the time when the Buddha of Universal Light appeared in the world. When he heard about the Buddhadharma, he immediately set out to leave home and vowed that as long as he lived, in that life he would use all his strength to build bridges and roads for sentient beings. Whenever he saw a dangerous place, he repaired it so that the traffic road would be safe and convenient.
Therefore, since becoming a monk, Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara often goes to rough roads, wharves, rugged fields, or uneven roads. In order to prevent harm to horse carts and ox carts, he immediately laid them flat, built bridges and sewers, and worked diligently in this way through countless Buddha appearances.
When Vishvabhu was born, the world was often hungry. He worked as a transporter, regardless of near and far, only renting for $1.00 dollar. If a buffalo cart got stuck in the mud, he would come to help and save all the sufferings of sentient beings. Or there are sentient beings in the markets, needing someone to move materials and carry things, he immediately comes to help, when he carries or carries to the place, he puts it down to the ground, then leaves immediately without taking payment.
In addition to building bridges and building roads, seeing old people or children having to carry something heavy and bulky, Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara hurriedly ran to carry it, regardless of the distance or near, and absolutely did not accept any kind of recompense. Therefore, he was respected by many people.
For many such lifetimes, Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara worked hard with one heart, without entertainment, without fatigue, without complaining, and without boasting.
Once, when the king set up an altar to make offerings to the Tathagata, Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara knew about it. He immediately hurriedly carefully repaired the road that the Tathagata was about to cross to make it smooth, and then stood respectfully waiting for the Tathagata.
When Vishvabhu passed that road, he praised the bodhisattva Dharanimdhara for his spirit of working for people and reached out his hand to rub the top of the bodhisattva's head, saying:
- You develop the mind to repair all roads so that everywhere is flat. If the land is flat, the mind is also equal, in the future you will attain enlightenment very quickly.
Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara, hearing Tathagata's explanation, immediately became enlightened, knowing that there is no difference between his body and the world and all things, and he knows that his nature is inherently calm and immaculate, no self exists. So he attained Arahantship.
That is the story of the past life of Bodhisattva Dharanimdhara. And a touching story is told in Collecting Sand and Stone, translated by Do Dinh Dong as follows:
Zenkai, the son of a Samurai, travels to Edo and becomes the servant of a high-ranking official there. Zenkai fell in love with the officer's wife and it was discovered. In self-defense, Zenkai killed the husband and led his wife to escape.
Later, due to poverty, the two became thieves, but the woman was so greedy that Zenkai became scornful. Eventually, Zenkai left the woman and went to a remote province called Buzen. In Buzen to redeem the past, Zenkai decided to do some good deeds in life. Knowing that there is a dangerous road on the rocky mountainside that has injured and killed many people, Zenkai decided to dig a tunnel through the rock.
So Zenkai begged for food during the day and dug mountains at night. When Zenkai was over 30 years old, the tunnel was dug 695 meters long, 6 meters high, and 9 meters wide.
Two years before the road work was completed, a son of an officer killed by Zenkai, learned the sword and became a master of the sword, found Zenkai, and wanted to kill Zenkai to avenge his father. Zenkai says:
- I will give my life for you, but let me finish this work. When the job is done you can kill me as well.
The mandarin's son agreed to wait until the day was done. Months passed and Zenkai continued digging. The mandarin's son became depressed because he had nothing to do, so he began to help Zenkai dig mountains. After helping Zenkai for over a year, he came to respect Zenkai's courage and character and respected Zenkai as his Master. The tunnel was finally completed and people were able to pass through safely. At that time Zenkai said:
- Now that the job is done, cut off my head!
The young man said through two tears:
- How can I cut off the master's head?
In this story to show you, Zenkai's hard work and tunneling have erased the deep hatred of the son of the official who was killed by Zenkai. In addition to this, Zenkai enjoys immeasurable blessings in the future.
This blessing does not stop at the person who makes contributions, even those who support directly or indirectly are also blessed. Indeed, there was a Buddhist who sold soy milk to workers while working on the road from Phan Rang to Ninh Chu. This Buddhist, although her livelihood is based only on selling soy milk to support her family, this Buddhist is not so important, so she half-sells and half-helps to foster health for the workers building the road nearby. But no one expected that this Buddhist is creating great merit. Due to the help and health promotion for road workers, one day, the head of the project found out about her poor family and he helped this Buddhist to open a grocery store right in the middle of the market in the city of Phan Rang, this Buddhist escaped poverty.
The blessings of building bridges and roads do not stop at escaping poverty but also increase life expectancy. Mr. Nguyen Van An, in Phan Thiet, Binh Thuan, just 29 years old, one day dreamed that his dead father appeared and said:
- Your life will end this year, you can ask master Tuong Kim to save you.
When Mr. An woke up, he was confused and did not understand anything. One day, a monk suddenly came to his house for alms. Mr. An immediately asked for their name, the monk said his name was Tuong Kim, and Mr. An knew that this monk was very good at divination. At that time, Mr. Nguyen Van An asked about longevity, and master Tuong Kim immediately said:
- Your digital life is very short, I'm afraid you won't live until next year.
Hearing that, Mr. An desperately begged to save his life, the monk took a cup of water, blew into it, then gave it to Mr. An to drink, saying:
- Tonight, if you dream of good omens, let me know.
That night, Mr. An dreamed that he went to a mandarin mansion, on the left side of the corridor there were a number of men and women in well-dressed robes standing together, looking happy. Meanwhile, in the corridor on the right, there were also some people standing, but they were all shackled and chained, crying bitterly. At that time, a person standing next to Mr. An said:
- On the left side of the corridor are the bridge builders to repair the road, and on the right side are the road vandals who destroy the bridge. If you want to live a long life and enjoy happiness, you can choose it yourself.
Mr. An immediately volunteered to do his best to repair roads and bridges. Later, when he met the master monk Tuong Kim, he said:
- Your lifespan has increased.
Indeed, Mr. An lived to be 92 years old, and his children and grandchildren for five generations were all prosperous. And another proof, in Bong Son, there is a man named Nguyen Phu Tho, a rich man who is very happy to do good deeds, but until middle age, he still has no children. One day, he met a fortune teller who said:
- Your destiny has no children. If you want to have children, you should build bridges and roads.
Mr. Nguyen Phu Tho asked:
- How can I do it?
The other said:
- The construction of a bridge, no matter how big or small, is not necessarily new, just repairing the damaged part is also included in that number.
Mr. Phu Tho gladly followed such encouragement, where he needed to build a new one, he built it, and where it needed to be repaired, he fixed it, without any difficulty. Until Phu Tho was 60 years old, he still had three sons in succession, who later grew up to be successful businessmen. Mr. An lived to the age of 84 when he died very peacefully. That shows you, in any social context, the repair of roads, connecting bridges and culverts is always a necessary job and is praised by everyone. For the Law of Karma, the reward of building roads and bridges is extremely great. The good results that come from that good karma can be listed as follows:
- Because it makes everyone's life convenient, all your activities and plans will go smoothly.
- Because it makes pedestrians safe, you yourself do not have an accident while on the road.
- Because it makes it easy for people to walk, you yourself will be healthy, not handicapped
- If you use your strength to build a road, the retribution will be to have better health than the person who makes you reap more success in your work.
- If you use the money to hire people to work, the retribution is to be rich and full.
- Always have high houses, wide doors, full vehicles, and convenient transportation.
The opposite of the good karma that builds the road is the bad karma that breaks the road. Those who obstruct traffic will also suffer corresponding retribution such as:
- Hard to move,
- Life activities are hindered,
- Disabled legs and poverty.
For public welfare works such as roads and bridges, if you can't protect them, then don't infringe on them for your own benefit. Bridge-building and bridge-breaking are two distinct classes of people. Good and bad retribution are also two different paths. If you think that there is no cause and effect, you are bound to have a severe disaster.
In short, cultivating merit through giving, making offerings, building bridges, and building roads is the best and fastest way to sell poverty. At the same time, it is also a means to help people get close to each other in the spirit of mutual affection, mutual love, and mutual support. It is the essential dharma of Buddhism that goes into people's hearts, good for religion and beautiful for life.
- People people who do good deeds
House house doing good deeds
People help each other
All live in peace.
There are many ways to cultivate merit, if you know how to give at the right time, in the right place, to the right object, the merit will be endless. When practicing giving, even if you are a poor person or a beggar, you must respect and be sincere to have merit. And if you give alms with a contemptuous attitude, you will still be blessed, but you will have to bear the retribution of hatred later.
Blessings are enjoyed, but misfortunes are still suffered. If you want to have a good life in the present life, right here and now you must practice cultivating merit to prepare for the future. All worldly material possessions, fame, houses, money, and fields you will not be able to take with you when you close your eyes and die. Only the good or bad karma you have created in your life will follow you into another life. Therefore, you must choose wisely, and regularly plant merit to create good karma. To prepare for the process of rebirth, to use in the next life even when you are reborn in the realm of the Buddhas.
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