ENG060 Bhikkhuni Triệt Như
THE SOUND OF MUSIC ADMIDST THE SKY - No 04
Translated into English by Ngọc Huyền
THE PHARMACY OF ORIENTAL MEDICINE
When I was a little girl, one day my mom gave me a piece of paper on which there were some illegible Chinse scripts and told me to go to the herb pharmacy to get some drugs. At that time, life was simple and peaceful. People were kind and moral. In the streets, most of them were pedestrians and bike riders. A few of them were moto cyclers. Automobiles reserved for VIP only. Entering the eastern drug store, I timidly handed the herb doctor the paper and waited. He took a glimpse on it, turned back to the cabinet and quickly pulled a drawer, grasped a small handful of leaves, put them on a big paper. Then, he looked at my paper again, opened another one to take some other herbs and placed them on the same paper. How I admired him! There were hundreds of drawers. How could he remember them? On the walls of the store were all the shelves that all looked alike each other. Without labels, who could memorize them all?
Now I know why he could remember all herbs in each small compartment. You surely get the answer, too. The pharmacies of western drugs now are similar. Though all medicines are displayed in the counters and might confuse us, the pharmacists and pharmacy technicians know the locations for each well. In a house, for instance, if someone asks where the salt or the sweet rice is, the house lady can locate them immediately. If you need a hammer or a pincer, the landlord can show you right away.
Let’s go and get the common denominator for those “clearly-known facts”.
- First, should know each medication or each of your things.
- Categorize them in a reasonable order
- Memorize them
- After using, put them back to their own places.
It is the same way to form our cognition. The medicine storage is the metaphor for our condensed cognition.
In life, everyone has his own house, or a kind of storehouse. Keeping something for future use completely depends on us. If we usually clean up our houses, it recommends taking care of our Mind in the similar way. Every day or every week, we dump the yard debris, or waste material from our house into the trash bins to keep it tidy and clear. Then, every day, we should be mindful of our thinking to see which might be greedy, selfish, arrogant or close-minded in order to stop it right away. Also, spoken words in frustration or anger are often rough, evil, hard to accept or cast down listeners. We have to tell our Mind to stop creating such verbal expression.
Every passer-by who sees the front yards with well-trimmed bushes and plants, pretty flowers knows the people in the families have a good life and care for their houses. Similarly, when contacting with us, everyone sees our poise, happy attitude, harmonious speech will know we stay in wisdom, inner peace, and rapport with every situation.
Human beings usually assume they can hide their mind. Actually, the insightful people can see it. Also, people are often unable to see their own one. The reason is they prefer looking at someone’s to guess or predict it.
We’re heading toward mind culture. We’re in hope that we’re advancing to be better human beings and to lead a wiser and nobler life. What should we do now?
- Learn the truth in life: everything comes into existence thanks to different conditions. Then, everything should be changed. When possessing wealth, fame, high social positions, love, health…, should appreciate them. When losing them, there should be no regrets and sorrow.
- Memorize and ponder over those principles to get deep comprehension
- Check on your mind all the times to detect wrong ideas about other people in order to stop all in time. No matter how our mind might be, know it as-is.
- Keep observing our mind, we’ll forget to look outside. Resultly, we won’t be allured by the surroundings. It is the very preliminary for the so-called “Under various phenomena, no effect on mind”.
My dear friends, mind practice is obvious in such a way. It is neither really necessary to refer to Reflection, Anupassanà, Stoppage, Samatha, Awareness, Samàdhi, Wisdom, Prajna….. nor to the Four Contemplations. But the achievements include all of them. For instance, good comprehension of the life truths is Reflection; more pondering over them refers to the Three Practice: Listening, Thinking and Mind Training; and realizing how the mind currently is implies the Four Contemplations. Is it right?
Now, folks, let’s talk about the Buddhist sutras.
Our mind, generally speaking, looks like an herb pharmacy, a house or a storehouse. The sutras call it the subconsciousness, the Alaya-vijnana or the Tathagata storage where an individual’s long-term memories from his various lives are recorded and preserved. It is non-physical and includes both positive and negative thinking and affection, the infinite-accumulated ignorance, the infinite-accumulated latent seeds, good and evil deeds in the past lives. It also consists of insights, wisdom and purity. With that, what should we do?
- Prevent negative things develop into bad thinking, speech and actions
- Cease mind performance. It’s the temporary Stoppage, Samatha, and Concentration, Samàdhi.
- Transfer the bad seeds into the better ones. What stored in the subconsciousness are dormant kernels that will turn into young shoots when gathering enough conditions. The transfering processes are the functions of the insights achieved from the practice of Reflection.
- Always review our mind and the role of alertness, the Sutta of the Horse Closeness.
- In daily routine, practice the awareness approach: know our current mind and realize what we are doing.
The vital practice is to turn back and reconsider yourselves, my dear friends. When we always take care of our houses, inside and outside, to keep them nice and clean, then, we won’t have time to do it for the neighbors. Is that true, folks? Our neighbors might not need our help ‘cuz it might not be the ways they like. So, how come we frequently look at different people to nick pick negative things and laugh at them? We even twist their manners and verbal communication to make fun of them and scorn them. Those are the reasons for tons of gossips in life. Not to know ourselves but only to scrutinize other people is also the main impediment to our spiritual improvement. If one of our two feet is beyond “the circle of Bhuddità, the Ultimate Realizing Nature”, devil and demon would eat us at once.
Centuries ago, in the “Pilgrims to India”, a monkey with supernatural abilities named Tôn Ngộ Không before flying to the Buddha for help, reminded the great monk Hsuan-Tsang “ Stay in this ring for your safety, Master. When you get out of it, ghosts will catch and eat you instantly.”
My guys, you, too! Remember to dwell under the hoop of the Ultimate Recognition, the nature of transparent awareness, to get secure, to form no new karma and to block the old ones from rising up. There you go! You are liberated and end up all sorrows.
When you guys launch your mind out to mock at people and make troubles, you go over the red line. Then, what? Devils of greed, furies and ignorance show up at once together with demons of old and new karmic effects rush out to closely surround you. That’s why people usually complain they take long term mind practice, but the insight and calmness is not generated. You don’t know how you are. Eh, what is it? Alas, incognizance! The Buddha and all the Patriarchies have continuously reminded us. But we have looked another way and ignored it.
My friends! Due to that, the Arahats farewell us and depart to the Nirvana. They will never turn back. And the Bodhisattvas might as well return to our realm to chant the eternal old melodies. Who know when the latter could stop such never-ending tunes?