Liaofan’s Second Lesson–Ways to Reform–Part 2

Three Methods of Practicing in Reforming (continued)

Changing through Reasoning

Instead, we can try to reform by understanding why we should not do something; for example, killing. To love all things is a virtue of heaven. Understand that all living beings love life and fear death, how can I be at peace with myself by taking another’s life to nurture my own? At times, animals such as fish and crabs have been cooked alive. Such pain and suffering reach down into their very bones. How can we be so cruel?

Here, Liaofan wrote about changing through reasoning by understanding the true reality and its principles. Achieving this, we will naturally no longer bear to eat the flesh of another sentient being. Before, since we were unclear of why we should not do something, we grudgingly tried to stop. Trying to force ourselves to do something is extremely difficult. Unhappy and unwilling, we will end up painfully struggling with ourselves.

But once we understand the principles and the logic, we can reconcile these problems. We need to constantly bear in mind that loving all things is a virtue of heaven. It is natural that we do so. Today, scientist are gradually beginning to understand that having a natural ecological balance is the same as loving all living things. If our naturally balanced ecological systems became unbalanced, every living being in the world will suffer from the devastation. A wise person would refrain from doing anything that would harm our ecological system.

It is a grave transgression to kill or harm another sentient being just to nurture ourselves. However, today, people regard this as perfectly normal. Some people even believe that animals are creations of God given to them to eat.

It is stated in the sutras: “A human dies and becomes a sheep. A sheep dies and becomes a human.” Life after life they will kill each other seeking vengeance. Thus, it is said that if we eat one pound of flesh, we will pay back one pound of flesh. A debt of money must be repaid in cash, and a life owed must be repaid in kind. This is the inescapable law of causality. Once we truly believe and accept this, we will never again think of harming any being because we do not wish to pay with our lives in the future.

In this segment of the text, Liaofan wrote about eating meat, of seeing sentient beings killed and of witnessing their pain and suffering that reach down to the bones. How could we bear to take their lives to nurture our own? Once we have finished eating, even the most delicious food becomes body waste. People long for delicacies and for food that tastes good; but no matter how we cook it the only thing that will enjoy the taste is our tongue, nothing else. Just for a few seconds of enjoyment we have killed countless sentient beings and committed innumerable transgressions!

Eating vegetarian food can be just as filling and nourishing. Some say that vegetarian food is not nutritious, but many vegetarians have lived long and healthy lives. Monks and nuns who become vegetarians when they were young are strong and healthy. To say that being a vegetarian is unhealthy is incorrect. When we take the life of another sentient being and eat them to nurture ourselves, we not only make enemies and incur their hatred, but we also reduce our good fortune. A truly intelligent person would never do this.

Another example of changing through reasoning is an easily angered. He or she can stop and think that we all have our strengths and weaknesses. If I touch on someone’s weakness, I should feel sad about their failing and forgive any shortcomings. If someone offends me for no reason at all, it is that person’s problem and has nothing to do with me. There is no reason for me to become angry.

Instead of losing our tempers and becoming angry, we should sincerely reflect and remind ourselves that we are only human and that each of us has faults. If we cannot forgive others’ shortcomings, how can we expect them to forgive ours? Thinking in this manner, we will no longer condemn others but will instead feel empathy for them. People only make mistakes due to their ignorance. They lack the ability to distinguish between true and false, proper and deviated and between harmful and beneficial. Thus, they cannot correct themselves, end their erroneous ways, or cultivate kindness. We should feel sympathy for them and not be reproachful. In so doing, we follow the Buddha’s and Bodhisattva’s way of relating to people and situations.

Liaofan said when someone offends us for no reason at all, it is their problem, not ours. If someone attacks us unfairly, it does not concern us. Even if they attack us physically, there is no reason to become angry. This body is not “me.” Purity of mind will never be hurt by attacks, as purity of mind by its nature contains nothing. It is a shame that we do not employ purity of mind when we interact with others or circumstances.

What we use is the illusory mind not the true self. Buddhism teaches us to seek the original self. Thus true, pure mind does not give rise to any wandering thoughts. Our surroundings will not affect the pure mind. If it does not concern us, why should we worry about it? Why should we be so attached to it? Once we sever all wandering discriminatory thoughts and attachments, what is there to concern us? Nothing.

I also think that no great person thinks that he or she is always right. Nor do intelligent people blame their faults on others. When things do not go the way we wish, it is because we have not cultivated our virtues and morals and have not accumulated enough merits to move others.

We should always reflect upon ourselves first. In so doing, criticism can become a training ground to refine our character and to strengthen our abilities. We should be very glad to accept someone else’s criticism and guidance. What is there to be angry and complain about?

This teaches us the best way to reform: to reform from the heart. In the Avatamsuks Sutra, the purpose of the 53 visits of Sudhana was to practice and learn from experience. Our best way to change is to cultivate and reform from the mind. To do this, we need to earnestly reflect.

When we do not succeed in our endeavors, when our speech and behavior are criticized, when others slander us and things are not going our way, do not blame others. Instead, we need to reflect and understand that it is because we have not yet succeeded in our cultivation of morals and virtues and this is the reason why we are unable to move them.

We need to first determine if we have mistreated others. When people verbally abuse, criticize and slander us, we should accept it with a grateful heart rather than a vengeful heart. Why? They have provided us with invaluable assistance that can help us reflect and correct our mistakes immediately if we do have these faults, or guard against them if we do not. If we are not at fault, do not blame these people; instead be encouraged to make further improvements. Sudhana adopted this method when visiting his 53 advisors to correct all of his shortcomings and to eventually become a Buddha.

The 53 visits are examples of training the mind through experience, through interactions with circumstances and others in our daily lives. Everything and everyone provides us with the means to contemplate. No matter who the individuals are, we should regard them as our teachers. We should regard what they teach us as lessons taught by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. We want to earnestly reflect, learn and practice. There is only one student—me. Everyone else is my teacher, my advisor, a Buddha and a Bodhisattva. They do not have faults, only I do. This is how Sudhana became a Buddha.

How did Sudhana cultivate? How do we cultivate? First, do not blame anyone or anything. Blame only ourselves. If other people are disagreeable to me, it is because my karmic obstacles have surfaced. All other people are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas without the slightest faults. Whatever I see that incurs my dislike is my karmic obstacle, my fault.

Criticism can actually be a good thing. It is not easy for us to discover our faults even when we try to. When others find them and tell us about them, it will save us a great deal of trouble. Therefore, we should be very glad to accept someone else’s criticism, as this is our training ground to refine our character and to fulfill our goals.

Since sentient beings have not yet found their true nature, we teach them to end their erroneous ways and cultivate good deeds. When we have uncovered out true nature, there will be no erroneous ways to be ended and no good deeds to be cultivated, for our minds will be in a state of purity and equality—the One True Dharma Realm—the state of non-cultivation and non-attainment. Within such states, we still do whatever is needed for cultivation and attainment. But, we do not attach to either extreme of emptiness or existence.

Likewise, in the face of slander, we should maintain the mind of stillness. Although the slanderous rumors and tales being spread like a huge fire, like a torch, they will eventually burn themselves out.

This talks about how to behave when others insult and slander us. If we remain calm and unaffected, everything will naturally pass. When others verbally abuse us, we do not need to respond in kind. When they curse us, we need to not say anything. After a few hours, they will get tired and stop. This is a very effective method to handle this type of situation.

It can also serve to improve our self-cultivation and help accumulate good fortune, for average people will praise us, saying that we are truly good practitioners! If it were not for those people insulting and slandering us, we would not have the opportunity to practice endurance. They have come to help us succeed in our practice. Why would we refuse their help? If someone treats us like this at work and we can interact with them with a pure mind, our supervisors will appreciate us, our co-workers will respect us and our opportunities for promotion will improve. Thus person has greatly benefited us. How can we refuse such help?

When insulted or slandered, we need to remember that these individuals are benefactors who come to give us a gift. We cannot return this kindness with ingratitude. First, they have come to test our level of cultivation. Second, we will accumulate good fortune and are about to gain the praise and respect of others. Therefore, these benefactors are not bad people, but are actually good friends whom we do not want to wrongly accuse.

If we become angry and try to defend ourselves when slandered, it would be like the spring silkworm spinning its own cocoon and suffocating itself. Becoming angry does not benefit us; it harms us.

As we have said, there are three kinds of giving: wealth, teaching and fearlessness. Practicing these will result in having what everyone seeks: wealth, wisdom and healthy long lives respectively. By planting good causes, we are assured of harvesting good results.

The second essential practice is the Paramita of Patience, which enables us to retain our good fortune. If we practice giving and gain good fortune, but do not practice this second Paramita, we will lose our good fortune. The Diamond Sutra tells us, “everything is attained through patience.” We need to cultivate patience to safeguard our achievements, worldly and Buddhist.

We often read in the sutras about the fire burning our forest of merits. What is this fire? It is anger and hatred. When we lose our tempers, we lose our merits as well. If you want to know how many merits you have, think of the last time you became angry. With one angry thought, the fire burns our forest of merits.

What is a merit? It is purity of mind, concentration and wisdom. Think about it, if we lose our tempers, how can we maintain our concentration and wisdom?  As for good fortune, it is our wealth and intelligence. When our minds attain Constant Mindfulness of Buddha Amitabha or One Mind Undisturbed, we can accumulate merits and virtues. But with just one outburst of temper, all is lost: no more Constant Mindfulness of Buddha Amitabha, much less One Mind Undisturbed. Therefore, we need to remain vigilant so as not to lose our merits.

In our cultivation on the path to awakening, our karmic creditors will often try to create trouble. Why? They have an overwhelming need for revenge. They see that we are about to succeed in our cultivation and know that once we have succeeded, they will no longer have the opportunity for revenge. Thus, they will do all they can to block our progress. And the way they do this is by making us burn our forest of merits. But, if we are determined not to have our merits destroyed, then no external force can do so.

Why would all of our merits be destroyed with just a little anger? Because we have lost our purity of mind. Therefore, all the teachings and attainments are based on patience and deep concentration. They are not only the key to our cultivation in transcending samsara, but the key to worldly matters as well. “To remain unmoved by slander” is deep concentration and is the revelation of wisdom. To become angry due to slander is a manifestation of karmic obstacles.

If we want to give up every time we encounter some small unpleasantness and are unwilling to be patient and accept the torment, then we will not achieve anything, regardless of how outstanding we may be in other areas. The key to success or failure lies in patience. If we can endure, we will achieve deep concentration. We will then uncover our true wisdom and be no longer affected by our external conditions.

There are other faults and offenses we can change. If we understand the principle behind the need for reform, we will not repeat our mistakes.

These are the main principles underlying our ability to change. Mahayana Buddhists adopt this method, as it is faster to reach achievement with it. Theravadans tend to change themselves through behavior, which is akin to slowly removing a tree by plucking off each leaf and branch. To reform in this way is difficult because we will have to correct each fault one by one which is very painstaking and time consuming. It is much wiser to change through reasoning than through actions for the mind is the root from which everything arises.


Changing from the Heart and Mind

What does “changing from the heart” mean? Although we have thousands of different faults, they all stem from the heart, from the mind.

Positive and negative karma as well as the entire universe are created from our mind. The Buddha told us in the Avatamsaka Sutra: “The nature of the Dharma realm arises from the mind. Nature is essence and essence is the mind.” How do Mahayana Bodhisattvas enter the hell realms to help the beings there? These enlightened beings do so by understanding the principle that everything arises from the mind. We learn from the Ksitigarbha Sutra that to break through the doors of the hells, one needs to understand that everything arises from our mind. What is Hell? A creation of our minds. Understanding this, we learn that there are no gates to hell—we can come and go freely.

We can correct our faults by beginning to change from our minds and practicing good deeds. If we practice from our minds, then even a small good deed, such as unreservedly giving a penny to a person in need, would be of infinite merits and virtues. Why? This deed comes from the great compassion in our true nature, thus the broadmindedness is boundless. The good fortune is infinite for the good deed arises from our minds and accords with our true nature. However, if the good deed arises solely from our actions, then it is a small merit for it did not arise from our true nature.

How do we reform ourselves from our minds? We sincerely cultivate by wanting to correct our offenses, practicing goodness and refraining from wrongdoings. When we correct from our minds, there is no such thing as should or should not. Reforming ourselves by reasoning and realizing the principle is conditional. However, when we reform from the mind, it is unconditional, pure and sincere. In this way, giving rise to even the slightest of kind thoughts will be in harmony with our true nature. Knowing that everything arises from the mind, we need to correct our faults by beginning from the mind.

            If my heart is still of thought, then actions will not arise and faults can be avoided.

This is an unsurpassed principle. Purity of mind can suppress the negative karma accumulated over infinite past eons. How can we attain purity of mind and stillness of thought? We can do so through the unmoved mind that is in deep concentration. This is called “One Mind Undisturbed” in the method of mindfully chanting the Buddha’s name. Once we attain this state, all of our negative karma will be suppressed. However, when a new wandering thought arises, our negative karma will again materialize.

What kind of mind are we using now? The deluded mind, not the true mind. There is no hindrance in the true mind. With the deluded mind, when we try to see something with our naked eyes, we cannot see it clearly. It is like looking through distorted glasses, seeing the external environment though a layer of delusion. This delusion is the Eight Consciousness’s and 51 mind objects; the glasses have become heavily contaminated. We then interact with the external environment through these consciousness’s and mind objects. Therefore, the environment has changed to that of the Six Dusts. If we do not apply these consciousness’s and mind objects to see the external environment, then we do not see the environment of the Six Dusts but that of the true nature.

The big problem is that we cannot rid ourselves of these distorted eyeglasses that are the Eight Consciousness’s and 51 mind objects. The goal of our practice is to teach us to let go of these and to transform consciousness into wisdom. Wisdom is the functioning of the true nature. Consciousness is the functioning of the deluded mind, the functioning of the Eight Consciousness’s and 51 mind objects.

Following this principle, ancient virtuous people taught us how to give rise to the Bodhi Mind and be constantly mindful of Buddha Amitabha. Single-mindedly chanting “Amituofo” day and night will reduce all of our wandering thoughts into one thought of Amituofo. Is Amituofo good or bad? Neither. It has nothing to do with the duality of good and bad for it accords with our true nature. The duality of good and bad only exists in our conscious minds, not in our true minds. With prolonged practice, we will naturally attain enlightenment if we are constantly mindful of Amituofo. Among 84,000 methods, this method is unsurpassed.

We have millions of faults; but we do not have to find them one by one. Practitioners specialize in precept keeping by reflecting on what went wrong and about the many mistakes they commit every day. They carefully look back and then correct them one by one. They not only reflect upon their behavior daily, but may also keep a record of their merits and faults.

To practice good deeds with one sincere mind means to have an absolute proper and virtuous thought as the first thought. There are no wandering second thoughts. To chant “Amituofo,” is to single-mindedly practice Constant Mindfulness of Buddha Amitabha and wholeheartedly seek rebirth into the Pure Land. The most marvelous way to reform and reduce our karmic obstacles is to have no wandering thoughts. This does not mean to not have any proper thoughts. Without proper thoughts, we become ignorant. Wandering thoughts are discriminary thoughts and attachments. It is not easy for average people to achieve the state of no wandering thought. However, everyone can achieve this by practicing the Buddha Mindfulness Chanting method.

What does proper thought arising mean? It is Amituofo: the most truthful and ultimate proper thought. The only important issue in our life is to constantly maintain proper thoughts, not to cling to deviated or erroneous ones and to be constantly mindful of Buddha Amitabha day and night, without interruption. If we can continue our cultivation in this way, then in three months we will receive wonderful results. If we can constantly maintain mindfulness of Buddha Amitabha, with this one thought we are assured of reducing our wandering discriminatory thoughts.

If we can continue this practice for three months, increasing the thoughts of Buddha Amitabha and decrease our wandering thoughts, we will be at ease and free in spirit. Our minds will become more serene and our joy from practicing the teachings will show that our karmic obstacles have been reduced. In the past, our minds were filled with afflictions and worries, and our futures looked dark. Now we can be happy, confident and wise as our lives become interesting and our futures become bright.

As we continue our chanting for half a year, we will receive even better results, which in turn will increase our confidence and determination. Anyone who really wants to go to the Pure Land will find that it is achievable after three years of cultivation of Constant Mindfulness of Buddha Amitabha. Numerous people have achieved this.

The method that I offer to everyone is to single-mindedly chant “Amituofo.” While our bodies remain in this world, we have no choice but to make a living to support ourselves. But after work, we can let go of thinking about work and mindful of the Buddha. When we work, concentrate on work. Once finished, begin chanting. While at work, when there is no thinking required, we could silently chant or play a cassette to listen to the chanting of “Amituofo” while working. When thinking is required, we can temporarily lay aside chanting to concentrate on work. When again thinking is not needed, we can chant or listen to the Buddha’s name while working. Buddha Name Chanting is the major issue in our life. Everything else is unimportant, unworthy of concern. This is the way to regret our wrongdoings and to reform from our minds. A learned practitioner will do so from the root, from the basics.

The best way to reform our faults is through cultivating our hearts for purity will surface right away.

The foremost way to change for us is from the heart. If we are able to let go of everything and concentrate on continuously chanting “Amituofo” for three months or even six months, our minds will be purified and the results will come forth. As for people learning to lecture on the Buddhist sutras, I always encourage them just one sutra. By reciting one sutra daily, we can attain purity of mind in three to five months.

If my heart is pure, I can recognize and stop an improper thought as soon as it arises. The immoral idea will disappear the moment I am conscious of it.

This talks of changing from the heart.  Wandering thoughts are afflictions and karmic obstacles. As soon as they begin to arise, we will recognize them and change them into Amituofo. As the six senses encounter the external world and a wandering thought, which may be pleasurable or unpleasant, virtuous or unvirtuous arises, we immediately replace it with a second though of either Amituofo or Namo Amituofo. Although the first thought is wandering and deluded, the second thought is Amituofo. This is to awaken. This awakening needs to be immediate so there is no room for delusion to grow. This is how we will effectively uncover our wisdom.

If we are able to persevere like this for six or twelve months, we will attain wisdom. Our eyes will be bright and our six senses will be intelligent and sharp. We will be able to completely understand everything that we encounter. Others may read and study extensively to be able to analyze matters, but they still may not reach the right conclusion. Whereas, having uncovered our wisdom, we may only need to see something once to perfectly understand it. Ordinary people do not have this kind of ability for this is the ability of Bodhisattvas: the true wisdom the Buddhas taught us to seek.

If I am unable to succeed at reforming my faults through changing the heart, then I will try at the level of understanding, knowing the reasons why I need to make the change. If I cannot succeed with this, then I will try to reform by changing through behavior. The best way is to cultivate the heart and understand the reasons behind the need to change. It is foolish to confine ourselves to reforming through behavior. This is the inferior way. Instead we should be reforming from the heart, for this is the best way to change.

If we are unable to achieve using the best method, then we have no choice but to try the less effective way, which is to try to understand why it would be best to change. When problems occur, remain calm and contemplate why it would have happened. Once the condition is clear and the reason is determined, our mind will instinctively clam down, our wandering thoughts will lessen and our anger will dissolve.

However, if as beginners, we have little sense of reasoning and cannot succeed through understanding, what can we do? We could use an even more basic method of reforming by changing through behavior and in this way, force the thought to dissipate by putting a check on our every action, finding our faults, and correcting them one by one. If we cannot do this, we will find ourselves in trouble, creating even more severe negative karma, and thereby bringing even greater suffering upon ourselves. This is why beginning practitioners were required to strictly abide by the precepts for they could not understand the reasoning. The spirit of abiding by the precepts is to refrain from committing further wrongdoings.

The best way to reform is to cultivate the heart and understand the need to change. An alternative way is to force ourselves not to commit the wrongdoing again. When we attain purity of mind and understand the logic, we will be able to uphold and understand the logic, we will be able to uphold and maintain good conduct. This is the best way to change. As we cultivate, we attain purity of mind while serving as a role model for beginners. Until we can do this, all three methods may have to be used to correct a fault.


The Desired Result of Reform

But even when we vow to change, assistance is needed to truly reform. We will need constant reminders from genuine friends who witness our actions in everyday life. As for our good and bad thoughts, we can ask the beings and spirits of heaven and earth to be our witnesses. We also need to be diligent and to sincerely regret day and night. If we can honestly regret for one or two weeks, one to three months, then in this way, we are assured of attaining good results.

We need to have a shameful heart, fearful heart and courageous and determined heart, for they are the inner, direct causes and conditions for reforming. But we still need catalytic factors, such as good spiritual friends who are on the path to awakening to remind us and to help us from the outside as our visible assisting factors. If we have a virtuous and sincere thought of trying to correct our faults, all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will be happy and all benevolent spirits will praise and respect us as they unobtrusively assist us at the same time. It becomes clear that one virtuous thought can result in inconceivable results.

Therefore, we need to truly change through actions when the condition is right. Day and night, we need to be diligent and sincere in our regretting. If we are not, then we will inadvertently create negative karma. So, we cannot be remiss!

What are the benefits of contrition? We may feel very much at ease and our hearts may feel light and generous. An intelligent person may suddenly become wise. Another might maintain a clear and relaxed mind even in a disturbing and confusing environment. We would also feel able to understand everything or to eradicate our hatred upon seeing an enemy while we remain happy.

There are many examples of desired results. If we were depressed or unhappy in the past, we can become cheerful instead. If we have many worries, they can be lifted from our mind after we reach understanding, and instead, we can become liberated and free. If we are confused, we can become intelligent and no longer be foolish.

We may dream of spitting out black things,, or having ancient sages or virtuous people encourage and escort us. We may dream of flying in space or of colorful pennants and ornately decorated canopies. Such phenomena are indications of a successful reform and a dissolving of past offenses.

“Black things” are pollutants or karmic obstacles. In the past, we may have had nightmares or confused dreams, but not anymore. Although we still dream, what we see is as clear as in daylight. This is obviously very good. We may also dream of ancient sages or virtuous people offering their help.

As Buddhist, we would dream of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas teaching us about the sutras and guiding us in our practice. We may also dream of flying in space, or of colorful pennants and canopies. These are indications of success in our attempts to improve. Whether in our daily lives or in our dreams, all these responses are signs that our karmic obstacles are gradually being reduced and eradicated and that our good fortune and happiness are steadily materializing.

We should not be proud that we have been made progress. If we become arrogant, then we will once again regress just as our karmic obstacles are being reduced and eradicated. We need to guard against becoming arrogant, to increase our resolve to attain even further self-improvement and work even harder at reforming. If we become satisfied with our accomplishments, further improvement will be impossible.

We are all just ordinary people with mistakes as numerous as a porcupine’s spines. Often when we look back, we do not even see our faults because we are careless and do not know how to reflect on our actions. It is as if a cataract is growing in our eye.

Liaofan taught his son to think about his ancestor’s behavior and then to examine his own. We are ordinary people with innumerable faults. Thinking back over today, yesterday, or last year or before that, if it seems that we have not committed any great mistakes or done anything seriously wrong, then this thinking is due to carelessness. It is as if we have cataracts blocking us from seeing our faults. This results in our failure to improve and is why we will forever be one of the crowd.

This is why Master Lianchi taught beginners to use a Merit-Fault Chart to that they would watch every though and deed. Only when we discover our many faults, will we be truly afraid. We need to change primarily from the heart and reinforce this with changing through reasoning so that we are concurrently practicing both the primary and secondary ways to reform.

All these are symptoms of having accumulated too many offenses! Our hearts may feel confused and oppressed, lacking energy. We will become extremely forgetful and filled with worries even when nothing is happening.

We will benefit by practicing Buddhism. Signs of others as well as our own great or small karmic obstacles can be detected. [When we commit too many offenses] our hearts may feel heavy and we may become extremely forgetful at work or study and be unable to lift our spirits. When those who are young unexpectedly begin to forget things like elderly people do, it is due to karmic obstacles. True cultivators in their 80’s and 90’s will find that their memories are still good.

Needless worrying is also an indication of karmic obstacles. The past is past, what is the use of dwelling on it? Tomorrow is yet to come, to wonder about it is to have wandering thoughts. Some people are extremely good at worrying and wondering about the past and the future. They can do so all day long. This is to make a mountain out of a molehill and this is a karmic obstacle.

When being kind to others, we may be met with hostility. For example, giving someone a gift, not only do they not thank us, they may even resent us for it. Another sign of misfortune is having nightmares where everything is confused and our speech and behavior are abnormal. Such dreams mean that when our speech is nonsensical and disjointed and out behavior becomes psychotic, we have come up against a major karmic obstacle. These are all signs of significant transgressions.

If we have any of these symptoms, we must immediately reinforce our willpower to correct all of our faults. It is necessary to start anew and not delay.

The presence of any of these signs means that we need to earnestly regret and rid ourselves of bad habits. We no longer have the time for procrastination or carelessness. If we do not change, there will be no future for us. Therefore, upon discovering any of these symptoms, we need to immediately correct our faults. Do not go astray on a deviated path and waste this lifetime. Only when we truly rid ourselves of bad habits and faults will we be able to accept the teachings, cultivate good deeds and accumulate merits.

In summary, how do we accumulate merits? First, we correct our faults to have the abilities and conditions to be able to accept the great teachings. But before accepting them, we need to perform more good deeds to meet the qualifications for being a Dharma repository. Then we can accept great teachings.