Essence of the Infinite Life Sutra – Excerpt Twenty-Nine

The minds of these Bodhisattvas are upright. They are tireless in discussing and seeking the Dharma.

“The minds of these Bodhisattvas are upright.” “Upright” means sincere. We should treat others with a sincere mind and not be afraid of being deceived. We want to attain rebirth in the Western Pure Land in the future. All the beings there have a sincere mind. If our minds are not sincere, we will not be able to attain rebirth there.

A sincere mind should be nurtured in everyday life. We should interact with people and engage in tasks with the utmost sincerity. This is teaching us to maintain an upright mind.

“They are tireless in discussing and seeking the Dharma.” This sentence talks about cultivating oneself and teaching others. “Discussing” benefits both oneself and others. This is what is known about teaching: both teacher and student benefit. When one teaches another, one never tires. When one seeks the Dharma, one is also tireless.

Whether one seeks the Dharma or teaches others, the biggest obstacle is tiredness. When Confucius taught a student, he would not continue to teach the student if the student did not apply what he had learned to three other situations. But when Buddhas and bodhisattvas teach, they are tireless.

I remember one particular time when I saw Mr. Li teach. I was deeply moved. Mr. Li was over seventy years old at that time. Over a period of three hours, his students asked him many questions. He was unhurried and patient in his answers. This was very admirable. From this we know that Buddhas and bodhisattvas are tireless in teaching all beings.

There are many people who get tired in their learning, retrogress, and do not continue to make diligent and focused progress. Why do they get tired? Even though they are learning, they have not obtained the true benefits. If they have, how can they be tired? People get tired or retrogress because their minds are coarse and their goals are shallow. When they achieve a simple goal, they are satisfied and do not want to go further.

During the Tang dynasty, when Precept Master Daoxuan of Zhongnan Mountain was learning the Vinaya in Four Parts, he listened to the lectures on it for more than twenty times. He was thus able to become a patriarch.

People today listen to the lectures on a sutra once and do not care to hear it again. How can they succeed! When I was in Taichung, I listened to Mr. Li Bingnan’s lectures on Fourteen Lectures on Buddhism for eleven years. Only when I was thoroughly familiar with it was I able to taste the flavor of the Dharma.

Years ago in Taichung, at the request of eight people including myself, Mr. Li generated the mind to lecture on the Avatamsaka Sutra. Mr. Li would lecture one hour a week, and so it would have taken him sixty to seventy years to complete the lectures on the Avatamsaka Sutra. He was in his seventies or eighties. That meant that he had to live to one hundred fifty or one hundred sixty to complete the lectures. These are good examples for us. We should be tireless in cultivating ourselves and teaching others.