My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling ones,
I hope everybody is well. I am sure you remember, as we talked, that this precious human rebirth is just about one time and to open the mind toward Buddha, Dharma and Sangha is extremely fortunate, unbelievably fortunate. First we have a human rebirth, and not just that, but a perfect human rebirth.
The Omniscient One explained that every day, every hour, every minute, every second, the number of beings from the intermediate stage who are reborn in hell is like the amount of dust particles of the whole earth. The number of beings who are reborn as pretas is like the number of grass blades growing on the ground; there are so many. The number of beings born as animals is like the number of sand grains on the floor of the oceans.
The number of beings that are reborn as devas and human beings is like the number of dust particles that come under your fingernails when you scratch the earth. Like that you can see that deva and human rebirth is extremely rare. This is because the causes to be born as a human or deva have to be virtue—positive, pure action—and the causes to be reborn as a hell being, hungry ghost or animal are nonvirtue. Even if we collect virtue, it is so little and so rare because we don’t know Dharma and we don’t know how to practice.
The great bodhisattva Shantideva, who was from Nalanda University in India, the ancient university where there were three hundred pandits excellent in the five knowledges—not only in Buddhism, but having knowledge of poetry, logic, handicrafts and so forth, and then also having knowledge of Dharma, outer knowledge, so expert.
As Shantideva mentioned in A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life [Ch. 1, v. 28]:
The sentient beings, even though they don’t like suffering,
In reality every day and night they run to create the cause of suffering, nonvirtue.
That is due to ignorance; they don’t know what the cause of suffering is,
And they believe the action that they are rushing toward day and night is obtaining happiness.
Day and night, every action is nonvirtue. The cause of suffering is due to ignorance. Even though what they wish for is happiness, they destroy the cause of happiness day and night, as if it were an enemy. That is totally wrong understanding. Even if you explain, they don’t have the karma to understand. Only if it’s explained as a wrong philosophy, then they believe it. It is so difficult. That’s why those who get reborn in the higher realms are so few, but those reborn in the lower realms, it is beyond our imagination how many there are.
Those who receive a perfect human rebirth, which at this time is much rarer than just a normal human rebirth; just to be born as a human being alone, we need the preliminaries of pure Dharma practice and pure morality. In this life we can stop rebirth in the lower realms and we can receive rebirth in the higher realms, as a deva or human, and also to a pure land of the Buddha, and then in some pure lands we can become enlightened.
The basic method for this is by taking refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and by protecting karma, such as by taking the pratimoksha vows, if not the five lay vows, then four, three, two or one lay vow. Then also there are the eight precepts which can be taken by lay people, the one-day pratimoksha vows, the eight Mahayana precepts which are only for one day. Then there are the 36 vows of a novice monk or nun, 253 vows of fully ordained monks or 364 vows of fully ordained nuns. The vows are for protecting karma.
Of course, there are those who practice the Mahayana teachings and there are also the bodhisattva vows and tantric vows. The pratimoksha vows are to achieve liberation from samsara. The bodhisattva vows are to achieve enlightenment for sentient beings. The tantric vows are to achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible; to achieve enlightenment in one lifetime. Highest Yoga Tantra is the quickest way to achieve enlightenment.
To achieve ultimate happiness, liberation from samsara, there are the three higher trainings—the higher training of morality, the higher training of wisdom and the higher training of concentration. This is what makes us achieve enlightenment, by taking bodhisattva vows and by practicing the Mahayana teachings and generating bodhicitta on the basis of all sentient beings; by generating bodhicitta and following the six paramitas. This is what makes us achieve enlightenment.
Then the tantric vows. There is lower tantra that makes us achieve enlightenment in this life. There is the path having signs and the path not having signs. Then there is the Highest Yoga Tantra path, the fourth one, which is practicing the generation state and completion state.
Of course, this life doesn’t last forever, and as you know, it can be stopped any time. This opportunity is most unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, such an unbelievable opportunity, but it can be stopped any time. It is just this one time that we have been born in the Southern Continent where there are tantra teachings—not Hindu tantra but Buddhist tantra taught by Omniscient One—that give the opportunity to achieve enlightenment in this life.
Then to be able to free sentient beings from the oceans of samsaric sufferings, not only that but to do it quickly, to be able to do that and to bring them to enlightenment quickly. Therefore we are unbelievably fortunate, most lucky!
Therefore, to not waste this [opportunity] and to constantly, day and night, make it most worthwhile, most beneficial for sentient beings, not only for yourself. That is the best benefit, to benefit all sentient beings. That is the best benefit for yourself. Serving others is the best benefit for yourself. To not harm and to cause happiness for others is the best benefit for yourself.
Regarding Dharma practice, chant OM MANI PADME HUM or the Medicine Buddha mantra and practice whatever you can. Especially do the morning motivation, The Method to Transform a Suffering Life into Happiness (Including Enlightenment). This has the blessing of the speech and the daily motivation, which is very important. It’s most important to live the life with that as much as possible.
Also, to live the life with a good heart toward others, the numberless sentient beings. To help others, to not cause suffering and to cause happiness up to enlightenment—from this life’s happiness up to enlightenment. This is the way to live the life in the most meaningful way; a perfect, best, happy life. This is how to live the happiest life.
I wanted to mention one thing. These days I have added in my prayers for the worms and insects harmed by growing, picking and offering flowers. So many worms die or are killed for the flowers. Often where I go there are flowers in my room, therefore after lunch, if I do purification of pollutions received, I also normally try to do dedication, especially for the calves, because I drink so much tea. I dedicate like this:
Due to all the past, present, and future merits collected by me and all the three-time merits collected by numberless sentient beings and numberless buddhas, may all the calves who suffered so much, or who have died for this milk—the mothers and babies who are separated, with so much suffering and worrying—may they never be reborn in the lower realms and may they immediately be reborn in a pure land where they can get enlightened. May they receive a perfect human body, meet the Mahayana teachings and meet a perfectly qualified Mahayana guru revealing the unmistaken path to enlightenment, and by pleasing the holy mind of the virtuous friend, may they achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.
These days I also include the worms that have died. I guess worms died for the flowers. I should also dedicate for the people who killed the animals, so I also started to dedicate for the people.
Anyway, of course, flowers are very beautiful. Of course when people own flowers, it’s not so easy, and they have to indirectly kill worms and insects for the flowers to grow.
For this enjoyment we can also collect so many causes of happiness, all the happiness, as I have mentioned, and especially the happiness of enlightenment, by offering these beautiful flowers to the Guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. All this is received by the kindness of sentient beings, the animals that died for this, the human beings who worked so hard.
What I wanted to say is this, if there are a lot of animals and worms that die, then I think it’s better not to dig for the plants in the garden. If you want flowers, you can buy them from the flower shop. You can put flowers there in pots, so you don’t have to dig.
Anyway, in case some worms get killed or something, maybe you can offer candles to the Buddha for those worms and dedicate like this:
I dedicate all the past, present and future merits collected by me, and all the three-time merits collected by numberless sentient beings and numberless buddhas, for that worm to never ever get reborn in the lower realms and to have a higher rebirth, and to generate bodhicitta and achieve enlightenment as quickly as possible.
At least do something like that, to pray for that worm, in case one gets killed.
Regarding flowers, maybe buy flowers which are in a pot from the garden shop. You can buy them and make offerings with them, and it is easy.
Thank you so much. I hope to see your family soon. Thank you very much for everything.
With much love and prayers ...