At the beginning of this lecture, the Teacher said that the Buddha teaches us: our dead bodies in the reincarnation, if piled up, would be higher than the Mount Sumeru. It means that death is something that we must encounter, no matter we are rich or poor, we therefore must learn to understand what kind of mentality we should have to confront the thing which superficially seems to be the physical death but is actually the transformation of life form. It is like changing job and house, we always want to get a better one. Only when we learn with such mentality is it positive and optimistic, and truly helpful both for the living and the deceased.
Therefore, the Teacher summarized the key points of the Chapter 7─Benefiting the Living and the Deceased. “Although now and then sentient beings may generate virtuous thoughts and gain good benefits, they mostly retreat from their initial resolve. If they encounter evil conditions, in every thought they increase and add to the unwholesome.” Such a cause will appeal to the following results: “These beings, should the results brought about by the unwholesome karma they generated be reckoned, would certainly fall into the lower realms.” Accordingly, the compassionate Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva teaches beings to chant the names of the Buddhas for the relatives and friends who are at the end of life, the moment of life forms changing, enabling them to follow the Buddhas’ names and initiate the mind of asking help from Budddhas in the most helpless stage of the intermediate state. Otherwise, as the Sutra said “living beings who are accustomed to evil begin with a minute amount then quickly escalate into measureless evil”, when the beings were alive, the amount of evil they do is definitely more than the good. As a consequence, we can imagine that there is a very high probability that beings will fall into the lower realms, at this moment, the most useful ways to help them are to offer the Buddhas, chant the names of the Buddhas, and widely perform good deeds during the forty-ninedays periods after their death for them. And the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva particularly teaches us that the living should be careful not to kill other beings on the days when the relatives and friends are nearing death because it would just be a drag on the deceased to make their condition of wrongdoings deeper and more severe. Even when the living make vegetarian meal offerings to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha for the deceased, they should pay attention to respect the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and cherish the resources (equal to cherish beings), and then it would be helpful both for the deceased and the living.
The second half of the lecture entered into the Chapter 8 of the Sutra. The Teacher encouraged us by the scripture that cultivating the mind is like walking on the spiral stairs, we may constantly see the same scenery (confront the similar problems), but don’t be discouraged, because with you keep moving forward, the higher place you have reached. However, it is still necessary to stay humble, rely on the good teacher and keep learning so that we would not fall into the dangerous paths which is difficult to get out, and then we can turn to the right paths, enjoying the true freedom and happiness.
The attendants of the lecture were very grateful for the Teacher’s teaching because she skillfully guided us through raising questions to us, stimulating us to think and realize the meaning behind the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas’ talking and making us to understand the reasons and the context of every convenient method the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas teach us instead of rote learning so that we can stabilize each step in doing everything sincerely, benefiting others and ourselves and being truly happy sons of the Buddhas.We are so grateful to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and the Teacher for teaching us how to face the transformation of life forms, like the navigation simulation, guiding us know what we can do in daily lives to accumulate wisdom for ourselves and not to get into the wrong directions. With the map of Buddha Dharma, we can then be settled and happy in the journey of life.