Dharma Master Ji Qun (济群) Explains Profound
Original Chinese Language Article By: http://www.pusa123.com
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)
Translator’s Note: Mr Wang Ping of the ICBI Beijing Office recently met with the Ch’an monk Ji Qun (济群 – literally: ‘Ferry the Multitude Across the Stream’) who agreed for his talk on ‘Profound (Dharmic) Happiness’ to be translated into English and presented to the Western world (free of monetary charge) for the first time. His full title is ‘济群法师’ (Ji Qun Fa Shi), which translates as ‘Dharma Master Ji Qun’, although sometimes these kinds of titles can vary. Master Ji Qun was born in 1962, into a devout Buddhist family that lived in Fu-an County, Fujian province. He initially studied at the Zhi Ti (支提) temple situated in Ningde city, before moving to the ‘Xue Feng’ (雪峰) Temple situated in Minhou County, where he had a more indepth experience of the Buddhist monastic life. In 1979, his head was shaved by the Venerable Old Master Pu Yu (普雨) at the ‘Yong Quan (涌泉) Temple situated on Mount Gu (i.e. ‘鼓山’ – or ‘Gushan’). Of course, the ‘Yong Quan’ (or ‘Bubbling Spring’) Temple is where Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) was first ordained as a Ch’an monk in 1858/59. In 1981, Master Ji Qun received ‘full’ ordination at the Guang Ji (广济) Temple in Beijing – yet another temple historically associated with Master Xu Yun. Master Ji Qun is renowned as a great Buddhist educator in the modern age, but he also maintains a strong traditional Ch’an Buddhist practice, where he is the acknowledged 10th generation Dharma Descendent of the ‘Wei Yang’ (沩仰) Lineage of Ch’an Buddhism.
‘Profound (Dharmic) happiness should not be confused with the passing phenomenon of superficial (worldly) happiness experienced in life, as profound (Dharmic) happiness originates within, and emerges from, the essence of life itself. As profound (Dharmic) happiness originates within, and emerges from deep within the essence of life, it is the duty of every Mahayana Dharma practitioner to penetrate this process (through meditation and other Bodhisattva practises), and master its function, so that profound (Dharmic) happiness is continuously generated (from the heart and mind) to benefit not just ourselves personally, but also benefit unconditionally the innumerable beings residing in the ten directions. This is exactly what the Mahayana Dharma practice aims to achieve.’
Master Ji Qun’s explanation to the audience.
Bodhisattva Online Shanghai News, on March 28th, 2015 at 2pm, covered Master Ji Qun’s Dharma Talk infront of a crowd of 300 people, as part of the lecture series entitled ‘The Spiritual Essence of the Mind, and the Generation of Happiness’. Many people think ‘wealth creates happiness’, but Master Ji Qun taught everyone present that the ‘mind is responsible for creating happiness’. As wealth and empty mind essence constitute two aspects of existence, and given that wealth does not necessarily create happiness, it logically follows that it is the mind that is the seat of all happiness.
During this lecture, Master Ji Qun explored and analysed this topic of common concern for many (modern) urban people, and he did this from the position of five different but related perspectives. Master Ji Qun defined these five perspectives as follows:
1) Profound (Dharmic) happiness within adversity.
2) Profound (Dharmic) happiness as the product of blessings.
3) Profound (Dharmic) happiness as the product of realised understanding.
4) Profound (Dharmic) happiness in relation to desire.
5) Profound (Dharmic) happiness in relation to the empty mind ground.
Through these five examples, Master Ji Qun explained to the gathered urban population what they needed to do to gain profound (Dharmic) happiness and be content in their lives.
1) Profound (Dharmic) Happiness when Learning to Cope with Adversity.
Master Ji Qun taught that life is a combination of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ experiences and circumstance, and that if the mind is ‘attached’ to these experiences, it will discriminate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and there will be no ending to the suffering it produces. An individual will be attached to what is thought to be ‘good’, and will reject what is thought to be ‘bad’ – but ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are relative concepts that vary in meaning and implication for different people. If the mind is attached to phenomena, then ‘shock’ will be experienced when circumstances change. If the mind is detached from phenomena, then the ‘first poisonous arrow’ of the physical experience of adversity can be avoided (this is quite literally the physical shock associated with sudden change). If the mind is firm in its detachment, and sees the world correctly, then the ‘second poisonous arrow’ of intense emotional disturbance is also avoided.
The Buddha stated that the world is comprised of ‘cause and effect’ (i.e. karma). This means the world unfolds with a cause creating an effect in an endless chain or cycle of unfolding conditionality. Humanity creates this conditionality (both individually and collectively), but if the human mind can remain detached and indifferent to external phenomena, then suffering generated by ‘attachment’ is reduced and eradicated. Furthermore, with the generation of insight, an understanding is developed which exactly knows which ‘cause’ gives rise to what ‘effect’, so that outcomes will not be surprising. This understanding allows individuals to make better decisions in their lives and thereby limit the danger of producing adverse karmic effects (experienced as ‘events’ in the world). Good behaviour should attract good results, and bad behaviour attract bad results, but the experience of karmic fruit is not always this simple, as bad things can happen to good people, and good things can happen to bad people – for a time at least.
Therefore, adversity can also be an opportunity for growth and progress for some people. On the one hand, the Dharma tells us that the world is impermanent, and that the functioning of the universe, (which includes the process of life and death), or the functioning of human relations, are constantly changing. ‘If people develop the wisdom to see through the surface phenomena of existence (and into the underlying, empty mind ground), they will be able to understand how all physical behaviour originates from deep within the mind. This being so, then change will not cause psychological shock or physical damage.’
On the other hand, good times may not be ‘good’ (or as good as individuals think), and adversity may not be as ‘bad’ an experience for all concerned. In reality, some people during good times go under due to superficial living, whilst others blossom and grow in adverse conditions, becoming strong and brave in the process. Of course, there should not be set interpretations to these events, but to make an illustrative point there is an old saying which states: ‘Happiness can arrive as a blessing, and adverse times can be transformed!’. With penetrative wisdom and insight, an individual can ‘see through’ the superficial phenomena that appear as bad fortune (into the underlying empty essence), just as the empty essence can be seen as the basis of apparent good times. Freeing the mind from attachment to good and bad phenomena is an important step in achieving a profound (Dharmic) happiness that is not dependent upon the superficial nature of unfolding phenomena.
2) Profound (Dharmic) Happiness as the Product of Blessings.
Profound (Dharmic) happiness should not be limited as a concept to just the (outer) material world, but should be understood to include the physical body and the mind. In fact, profound (Dharmic) happiness originates within the mind and body, and without this process it could not exist in the (outer) world. In relation to the body and mind, there is the teaching of ‘Five Blessings Descending through the Gate’ (五福临门 – Wu Fu Lin Men), which lead to profound (Dharmic) happiness, and which are defined in the following manner:
a) Longevity (长寿 – Chang Shou)
b) Wealth (富贵 – Fu Gui)
c) Good health and inner peace (康宁 – Kang Ning)
d) Good virtue (好德 – Hao De)
e) To die of natural causes (善终 – Shan Zhong)
Within these ‘Five Blessings’, propagating ‘good virtue’ is of the utmost importance. Why is this? Just as a pure mind generates virtuous behaviour in the physical realm, and pure behaviour in the physical realm establishes a pure mind, the principle of ‘good virtue’ is essential for psychological and physiological health, but its positive effect does not stop here. If good virtue is manifest in all aspects of life, then endless blessings ensue, both for the individual and the collective. This is the path of virtue (道德 – Dao De) that manifests and expands without end throughout the mind, body and society. Everyone and everything benefits from the self-cultivation of ‘good virtue’. The mind (and body) will continue to strengthen and a perfectly balanced and harmonious personality will develop. If your behaviour is impeccable, then you can achieve great things within society (without resistance), because the ordinary people will respect you.
Dying peacefully is a blessing because it means that an individual drops their body whilst abiding in a tranquil and serene state of mind. Modern China faces the two issues of the spiritual well-being of the elderly, and the care of the elderly during the dying process. Many ordinary people fear death and tend to ignore its eventually, and so when it is near, it always seems to be a surprise. In reality, if people are to leave their bodies with a calm state of mind, they need the correct spiritual instruction and guidance. In ancient times, when a monk possessed great virtue, he was able to drop his body whilst sat-upright in the meditation position. Such great masters treated life and death with an equal indifference, and did not harbour any fear. Like the Buddha before them, these masters came and went freely with a calm and clear mind.
Fields of blessings must be cultivated or specific blessings will not arise. This means that virtuous karmic seeds must be sown in word, deed and thought. Generally speaking, there are three main ways to generate correct virtue which are a) being thankful (感恩 – Gan En), b) being respectful (恭敬 – Gong Jing), and c) being compassionate (慈悲 – Ci Bei) – all of which arise within the mind, and are related in both origin and manifestation. If a sense of gratitude toward all beings is maintained in the mind – this is the generation of the field of kindness. If you respect and cherish the Triple Gem (of Buddha, Dharma and Sangha), then a great virtue is developed that cultivates the field of respect (敬田 – Jing Tian). If you respond with compassion to the suffering of others, then this is the cultivation of the field of pity (悲田 – Bei Tian).
Ordinary people are often far to self-consumed with petty concerns and worries and have no time for the consideration of others. As this is not a virtuous mind-set, blessings will not arise. By paying attention to others with a sense of compassion and empathy is the beginning of both virtue and blessings. When we encounter others, we should do so with a mind enthused with a sense of profound joy and understanding, so that everyone feels listened to and cared for. With a mind and heart full of sympathetic joy, the blessings will soon start to manifest!
3) How Profound (Dharmic) Happiness and Understanding are Inherently Linked.
The type of world we perceive, is premised entirely upon our level of understanding and insight. The key is realisation achieved through meditative self-cultivation. If you want to achieve profound (Dharmic) happiness, then you must possess a mind imbued with an enlightened wisdom and understanding. In this way, a positive psychological state can be generated and permanently sustained in the face of the external world. Even if circumstances are difficult, matters can be directed or resolved into a more satisfactory state of being, through the use of correct and precise analytical wisdom. This reflects the saying ‘compassion has no enemies, and wisdom is untroubled’. It seems humorous to observe that the greatest enemy of happiness is worry, and the greatest enemy of worry is wisdom!
Looking into the everyday mind, it is obvious that for many ordinary people it is ‘attachment’ to self, family and work that dominates its functionality. This attachment is extremely ‘heavy’ with negativity and generates continuous suffering through creating an eternally fictitious world. In this state of being, nothing is real and all is delusional. Regardless of the myriad and endless attachments causing suffering, the central delusion is that of believing in a permanent and separate ‘self’. This is the essence of all suffering, and the most difficult delusion to break (through meditation and virtuous behaviour) – but it must be completely and thoroughly uprooted if suffering is to be ‘uprooted’ and eradicated from the mind, body and environment. Through the correct Ch’an Dharmic practice of holding the hua tou ‘who am I’ (我是谁 – Wo Shi Shei) – the surface activity of the mind is ‘halted’ and the empty mind ground is glimpsed, understood and finally integrated into wisdom and understanding. This is how the light of wisdom is uncovered, and allowed to function freely in all directions. This is seeing through all the troubles in the mind which are nothing but the endless surface movements. When this is realised, delusional living is abandoned, and living in a state of profound (Dharmic) happiness is attained. This is the blessing of wisdom that leads to profound (Dharmic) happiness.
4) How Profound (Dharmic) Happiness and Desire are Related.
Ordinary desire for worldly things can produce a type of happiness, but only in a fleeting sense. Why? This is because ordinary desire exists in the world of deluded duality and attachment, and is always seeking this or that to obsess over. The happiness it produces is narrow and relative, as one person’s worldly happiness is not necessarily another person’s worldly happiness. If you like sleeping all day, for instance, then if you are not lying down for much of a 24-hour period, then you will be unhappy because your desire has not been fulfilled.
In reality, the empty mind ground is simplistic and is not dependent upon ordinary desire for its existence or maintenance. In the modern world, everyone wants to earn money and possess the next attractive object, but even if you owned everything on the four continents and within the five oceans, desire would not be satisfied. Furthermore, because the hectic pace within the modern world, people do not rest enough and their health eventually suffers. Resting is important because it gives the mind time to calm down and weaken the bonds of desire. If the mind calms and meditation is used to develop this state, then it can be said that in this instance, the desire for enlightenment is a positive attribute. In this narrow sense only, a properly detached and focused desire can be useful to achieve a state of profound (Dharmic) happiness. Practising the Dharma is nothing less than calming the mind and penetrating its ‘still’ essence.
As people fear death, they understandably fight for survival, but this requires the ‘desire’ to be, to have, to possess and to accumulate. As physical possessions can come and go, and given that people and feelings change, attachments to objects through desire guarantees a continuous experience of suffering. It is the cycle of samsara – or the endless chasing after sensory objects for personal gain. No amount of satisfying ordinary desire will bring happiness, so make the decision to give-up excessive desire in your lives here and now.
5) How Profound (Dharmic) Happiness and the Inner Mind are Related.
From the Buddhist perspective, it is the inner mind that is the field where ‘good’ and ‘bad’ experiences manifest. As the mind interfaces and interacts with the physical world, it is important for the mind to be kept spiritually healthy. To be spiritually healthy is an ancient way of explaining what is today referred to as possessing a ‘balanced’ psychology, but goes beyond the activity pf the surface mind to achieve it. Although the physical world unfolds as it does – following various pathways of cause and effects – the human mind can be gathered, focused, penetrated (through the hua tou method), and permanently altered so that the three taints of greed, hatred and delusion are ‘uprooted’ – never to return. If the empty mind ground is realised and integrated with (so that duality transcended), then even if the physical body is experiencing a painful experience in the outer world, the mind remains serenely ‘indifferent’, with the enlightened practitioner neither attached to the void (i.e. ‘inner mind’), or hindered by external phenomena (i.e. the passing material reality). Until duality is penetrated and transcended, the surface mind will oscillate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ experiences, preferring one and rejecting the other, according to karmic conditioning. The inner mind is the essence of the Buddha. Although the Buddha possessed a body with wonderful markings, and was able to give rise to certain types of miraculous powers – none of this was ‘real’ in the ultimate sense. If this is true of the Buddha, how much more so is it true for the likes of you and me? As a monk, I am particularly worthless within modern society, and so I must try very hard to fully realise my only single function – which is to fully realise the empty mind ground and help others to achieve this also. Money and desire will not help any of us in this most important of great and noble tasks. As I have no interest in money, I rely completely upon the power of the Buddha’s great example which is beyond any expedient value. This is exactly what you need to do – even though as lay-people you have to work for a living - and are far more important to modern society than people like myself. The Mahayana path of Dharma demands that the empty mind ground be penetrated ‘here and now’ regardless of worldly status. This can be achieved by anyone – either lay or monastic – and outer appearances and circumstances are of no lasting significance. Look within your minds with clarity and strength and never be swayed by external phenomena!
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2017.
Original Chinese Language Article: http://www.pusa123.com/pusa/news/fo/201587132.shtml
发布者:慧法 来源：济群法师博客 时间:2015-03-31