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The Daily Enlightenment
 Quote: Six Perfections

For generosity, nothing to do,
Other than stop fixating on self.

For morality, nothing to do,
Other than stop being dishonest.

For patience, nothing to do,
Other than not fear what is ultimately true.

For effort, nothing to do,
Other than practise continuously.

For meditative stability, nothing to do,
Other than rest in presence.

For wisdom, nothing to do,
Other than know directly how things are.

– Milarepa

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  May Courses
 Feature: Are You Reborn Or Reincarnated?

You can always change…
to be better… and better…
till you become the best.

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At first glance, the words 'rebirth' and 'reincarnation' do not seem to differ much, if at all. Yet, technically speaking, they are worlds apart. 'Reincarnation' has connotations of a fixed entity incarnating time and again across many lifetimes. The common term for such an immortal entity is the 'soul', that migrates from one body to another upon the expiry of one's physical life. This is a concept embraced by Brahminism in the Buddha's time, which evolved to be Hinduism today. There is however an unresolvable dilemma from adherence to these beliefs… If one has an essence that is incapable of change, how can one truly become a better person? Would one not be 'fated' to remain the way one is forever? And if there is such futility, why even speak of the need for spiritual cultivation?

In the Buddhist teachings, teachers and scholars thus prefer to use the word 'rebirth' to express 're-becoming', as the Buddha realised and taught that not only from life to life, but from moment to moment too, there is no physically or mentally enduring soul-like entity in all sentient beings. How do we exist then? As continuums of continual change. From this moment to the next, we are fluxing in all manners physically, even if undetected. For example, not a single cell remains static; undergoing growth, ageing, death and renewal instead. We are changing mentally too, with our thoughts about ourselves changing by the end of this sentence, which at least subtly adjusts all other thoughts about everything else. Likewise applies to other physical and mental phenomena in the universe.

Precisely because we can change dynamically, we can spiritually evolve to be better persons, to increase in virtues such as compassion and wisdom, and decrease in faults such as hatred and delusion. However, as change can occur both ways, we might devolve to have less virtues and more faults too. This is why we need mindful and diligent spiritual cultivation. Although we do not have souls, according to the Buddha, we all possess something much more wonderful – Buddha-nature – the constant potential to become Buddhas. Just as Buddhahood transcends the limits of birth and death, mind and matter, Buddha-nature is likewise so. The only difference between us unenlightened beings and the Buddhas is that they have actualised their Buddha-nature fully, while we are learning to do so!

All in Samsara
are of the nature to change.
Only our Buddha-nature
is not subject to change.


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 Excerpt: Why Be Particularly Mindful Of One Buddha?

With spiritual focus
comes spiritual calmness.
With spiritual calmness
comes spiritual clarity.

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The Third Doubt: Doubt Of Particular Mindfulness Of One Buddha

Question: All Buddhas of the ten directions, and all their Pure Lands, have Dharma-Nature that is equal, with their meritorious virtues likewise equal. Practitioners [should be] universally mindful of all their meritorious virtues, for birth in all these Pure Lands. Now then, to particularly seek [birth in] one Buddha's Pure Land, this contradicts with the nature of equality. Why seek birth in [Amitā(bha) Buddha's (Amituofo)] Pure Land?

Answer: All Buddha Lands, in reality, are all equal. However, sentient beings' spiritual roots are dull, and those defiled and scattered are many. If not with focused fastening of one's mind on one subject, Samādhi is difficult to accomplish. Focused mindfulness of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo] is One Form Samādhi. With their minds focused wholeheartedly, they will attain birth in that [Pure] Land [of his]. As the Sūtra On Rebirth As Aspired says, 'Universal Vastness Bodhisattva asked the Buddha, "The ten directions all have Pure Lands. Why does the World-Honoured One particularly praise the Western Pure Land of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo], with focus on sending sentient beings to be reborn there?"

The Buddha told Universal Vastness Bodhisattva, "Sentient beings of Jambudvīpa have minds that are much defiled and scattered. Due to this, there is particular praise of one Buddha's Pure Land in the West, to enable all sentient beings to focus their minds on one subject, and easily attain rebirth [in that Pure Land]. If generally mindful of all Buddhas, as the subjects for mindfulness of [all] Buddhas are broad, their minds will thus be scattered, and Samādhi is difficult to accomplish, thus not attaining rebirth [in any Pure Land]."' Moreover, to seek one Buddha's meritorious virtues and all Buddhas' meritorious virtues is without difference, as they are of the same one Buddha's Dharma-Nature. Due to this, mindfulness of Amitā[bha] Buddha [Amituofo] is mindfulness of all Buddhas. Birth in one Pure Land is birth in all Pure Lands. ... Continue here

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 净土十疑论 The Treatise On Ten Doubts About Pure Land ('The Faith Factor')
 隋天台智者大师著 Written by Sui Dynasty’s Tiantai Tradition’s Great Master Zhizhe
 优婆塞沈时安英译 Translated to English by Upāsaka Shen Shi’an
 Links



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407: Tone

Super Short Stories
330: Profundity

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