Buddhism is all about achieving a calm and pure state of mind. If you can subdue your delusion and take good care of your mind at all time, you would attain the state of permanent tranquility and ultimate enlightenment (nirvana). What is "Nirvana"? It is ultimate silence with no deluded motion of the mind. It is also a state with no cycle of birth and death.
Our thoughts are the source of bitterness and happiness
It is of course impossible for ordinary people to keep their mind absolutely still, which is why we need to put in more effort to be mindful, otherwise, it is easy to forge evil affinity which leads to regrets whenever any unwholesome thought arises in our mind.
A shift in the mind to be kind brings joy, and the joy is heavenly. On the contrary, evil thoughts bring mental disturbance that can be very torturing.
There is a group of loving and caring commissioner members in Tzu Chi who not only help the poor, but also educate the rich. Before helping the poor and educating the rich, they must first change their own mindset. In the past, most of their priorities were themselves, after joining Tzu Chi, they have given up on personal material pursuit to uphold loving kindness, to do good and benefit others without complaining. In addition to helping the poor and educating the rich, everyone now must take turn to volunteer at Tzu Chi Hospital. Although it is hard work, they are filled with joy, because they are serving others joyfully.
Without joy, there is no ease of mind. A person who is not genuinely joyful would still be often troubled and trapped in interpersonal affairs and conflicts and the person will keep creating negative karma.
If you can't be happy with people and things, you will never find peace even if you live in a leisure environment. For example, when you see or hear something that feels unpleasant to you, there will be hatred and annoyance in your heart, and such is the mind of an ordinary being. An ordinary being is one who is always discontented, the better the environment the more inadequate one feels. Such a person is not aware of his or her blessings, even if he conducts his cultivation in the jungle, he will never become a sage.
Although Tzu Chi commissioners are lay folks, they often maintain a happy mind. Such mind is truly hard to come by! Such mind is the same as the Buddha's mind which can turn a polluted place into pure land.
A wrong thought could lead to endless mistakes
When I visited a patient at Tzu Chi Hospital, a doctor who was conducting ward rounds told me, “Master, there is a patient who wants to see you!"
And so, I followed him to see the patient. As soon as I entered the ward, I saw how the patient was in agony, and so I asked her, "What happened to you?
The patient replied, "I accidentally ate the wrong thing!”
The patient's oesophagus was completely damaged by poison, and it was extremely difficult for her to speak. The doctor explained, "Her oesophagus has been damaged by drug."
There was a man and a girl who stood next to her bed. I thought they could be her husband and daughter. The patient appeared to be around forty years old.
After I walked out of the ward, I asked the doctor about her condition. It turned out that this woman had impulsively swallowed highly toxic drug because she was full of anger and grievances. Not only was her oesophagus destroyed, even her stomach was completely corroded. This is exactly what it means by “a wrong intention in a split second could lead to many wrong thoughts in the future”. From then on, she must live a hellish life! If she could just endure for a moment, she could turn the crisis into an opportunity and lead a harmonious life. What a pity!
I once saw an article in the newspaper that read "religion can resolve marital crises". After reading it carefully, I found that it was a discussion about marital issues between the reporter and a Tzu Chi commissioner. The Tzu Chi commissioner said, "When my husband scolded me in the past, I would rebut him twice for every word he said." After joining Tzu Chi, her outlook on life has completely changed. When the husband scolded her, she would run to the mirror and smile at the mirror. After her husband is done with releasing his anger, she would show her husband with the same expression she sees in the mirror. This is indeed a very good idea!
If you have a goal in life, you will know how to subdue your mind. That Tzu Chi commissioner has already found her goal in life, and that is to be awakened to truth and be diligent. You will only see things through and let go if you know how to endure. If you can’t see things through, you wouldn’t be able to be diligent in cultivation because your mind is still spinning around interpersonal affairs and conflicts.
The purpose of practising Buddhism is to subdue our mind, let our mind remain tranquil and calm with no arising thoughts. When there is no more afflictions and troubles in your mind, you would attain the state of Nirvana.