Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation

Sep 01st
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Home Feature Stories Volunteer Sharing Cleansing Myself with Dharma-Water

Cleansing Myself with Dharma-Water

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The author (back row, second from left) participates in the Water Repentance musical interpretation. Photo: Philip KayAs Tzu Chi celebrated its forty-fifth anniversary in 2011, Dharma Master Cheng Yen encouraged her followers to study the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance text and her Dharma as Water teachings based on the text. These teachings show that our minds accumulate endless afflictions and disturb the harmony of the universe. To restore balance, we need to repent by expressing sincere regret for our wrongdoings and use Dharma like water to wash the impurities from our minds.

Before we can repent, we must recognize our wrongdoings. Dharma as Water states that all humans unwittingly commit wrongdoings due to greed, anger, and hatred. We become attached to things in the world and constantly covet more. We are covered by afflictions just like a mirror is covered with dust. But we can cleanse ourselves by reflecting on our actions, speech, and minds. Then we can begin to sow good seeds.

I am the only child in my family and was raised by my grandparents, uncles, and aunts. As a single child doted on by so many caring adults, I became indulgent and arrogant, always considering myself superior to my peers. As an adult, I became a very organized and responsible mother and wife, but I ran my family as if I were running a business. When my expectations were not reached, I became furious. I would scream and shout, slam things,and even threatened to commit suicide. I felt that I should be angry when others did not do the jobs I assigned them. My entire family lived under a very intense and stressful atmosphere, but I never thought that what I did was wrong.

When I joined the Tzu Chi study group on Dharma as Water, I was awakened by one of Master Cheng Yen’s daily teachings: “a person with a bad temper and foul mouth cannot be considered a good person, no matter how good the heart is.” When I heard her say that “temper is temporary insanity,” I started to think back to all my behaviors, words, and tones. I finally saw my evil face and cried. What a terrible person I had been. I knew then that I had sown many seeds of negative karma and I finally understood why I was not closer with my children. I deeply regret my past behavior and am working hard to change myself. My words caused evil karmas, so I now strive to avoid the four unwholesome acts of speech—speaking abusively, telling lies, using insincere flattery, and gossiping to create conflicts between people. I do not want to be the thorn that spoils the pretty rose anymore.

Inspired by Dharma as Water to reflect on her life, the author shares her story with fellow volunteers. Photo: Philip KayIn addition to the four wrongdoings of speech, our minds also constantly create greed, anger, and ignorance. We are attached to what we see, what we hear, what we smell, what we taste, what we want, and what we like. The mind is just like a painter. We can paint a big picture filled with our desires and dreams. Driven by desire, we will never reach inner peace. I am not an impulsive shopper, but every time I receive a coupon I am tempted by the illusion of savings. I shop because I think that I lack that one outfit to wear to work or that I need another pair of shoes to match my outfits. Master Cheng Yen says that our needs are few, but our wants are many. So, I have reevaluated my wardrobe and closet to determine what I actually need and what I just want. I have begun to reuse some of my long-abandoned items. By doing so, I realized that not only can I save money to help people in need by reducing my purchases, I can also help the environment by not discarding those items. Now I have greater peace of mind and have also saved myself from the hassle of shopping.

I have always enjoyed eating many different kinds of food including poultry, beef, and all sorts of seafood. I felt that I could never eat too much meat. When I started to have cholesterol problems, my doctors recommended that I eat less meat, but I did not really care. I thought the issue was not urgent. Then, through Dharma as Water, I learned that the retribution for killing is suffering torture and pain by falling into hell or the hungry ghost realm, or illness and early death if reincarnated within the human realm. My high blood pressure is linked to my consumption of meat. Since I do not want to die early, I realized it was time for me to follow Buddha’s teachings and sincerely repent for killing. All beings are equal and have the right to live; none should be killed to satisfy my appetite. I decided to follow a vegetarian diet and show compassion for all living animals. I will not kill any creature to satisfy my personal desires.

The opportunity to study and practice the Dharma as Water teachings on the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance is a priceless gift from Master Cheng Yen. She constantly reminds us to take care of our minds and cultivate good seeds by showing contentment, gratitude, benevolence, and acceptance of all people in our daily affairs. The purpose of studying Dharma as Water is to help all disciples grow their inner wisdom and enlighten their lives by following a vegetarian diet, practicing the Dharma, cleansing inner impurities, and stopping bad habits. A peaceful mind leads to a peaceful community and, in turn, a peaceful world.

The act of repentance is tantamount to the purification of the heart, like a clear stream flowing over the heart, cleansing away its defilements.
Jing Si Aphorism by Dharma Master Cheng Yen

Story taken from USA Journal No. 34, Winter 2012