Friday, November 7, 2008

Disciplines (守戒)

You do not have to be constrained by the disciplines when you are not transgressing any. However, we have made numerous mistakes in our past lives in the cyclic existence that frequent repentance is necessary. Unless you have already attained the state of enlightenment, you still have to repent your mistakes and observe the disciplines strictly.

When you have attained the state of enlightenment, you can then break free from the disciplines; you would appear as if you are a person who is not observing the disciplines but they are in fact inherent in your actions. The Crazy Monk Ji-gong (济公活佛) appeared to be breaking the rules often but, in fact, he was an enlightened Arahat who did not need not to be bound by the disciplines. Even though he appeared to be eating meat and drinking wine, he was in fact doing soul deliverance for the animals that he ate.

A person who has not attained enlightenment must observe the disciplines at all times. But he cannot accuse others for not observing the disciplines as he does not know if the other party is an enlightened being. Grand Master drives a big car and lives in a big house; some people thought that Grand Master is not an enlightened being and that he has transgressed the discipline forbidding a cultivator from enjoying the luxuries in life. They did not know that Grand Master is in fact an enlightened master. Grand Master said, “If you accuse me for transgressing the discipline just because of my driving a big car, wearing nice clothes and having a Rolex watch on my wrist, then you would also be accusing Amitabha Buddha for living in luxuries too. For the Western Pure Land is fully decorated by gold and jewels everywhere, far surpassing the luxuries in this world by a million times.

So, we should observe the disciplines. But we should not be bound by the disciplines blindly. We should observe the disciplines with flexibility and understand the true spirit of disciplines. One should not follow the disciplines blindly but should apply them accordingly in the different situations. Disciplines are very crucial that they should be observed until the day you attain enlightenment; by then you can break free.

The Vajrayana masters said: “A rabbit should not follow the snow lion in leaping across the same distance. The rabbit will not be able to make it and will fall into the deep valley.” Lion is the king of mountain; it can do a powerful leap. An enlightened master may appear to be breaking the disciplines when he is actually trying to help the sentient beings in secret, for the sake of transmitting the teachings. No matter what, disciplines are still crucial.