. . 【書籍目錄】. .
1. 有感而發 李家同 推薦序.
2. 尊重生命‧愛惜自己 編輯部序.
3. 殺人償命，欠債還錢 宣化上人 開示.
12. 談墮胎 釋恒雲.
13. 孩子們，對不起 曾媽媽.
14. 一輩子的痛 楊果同.
15. 讓錯誤不再發生 王士明.
16. 那是一條命 凱西‧陳.
17. 對自己的生命負責 于安.
18. 母子連心 謝果馨.
19. 行醫的迴盪 莊雅媜‧臨床心理師.
1. 有感而發 李家同 推薦序.
2. 尊重生命‧愛惜自己 編輯部序.
3. 殺人償命，欠債還錢 宣化上人 開示.
12. 談墮胎 釋恒雲.
13. 孩子們，對不起 曾媽媽.
14. 一輩子的痛 楊果同.
15. 讓錯誤不再發生 王士明.
16. 那是一條命 凱西‧陳.
17. 對自己的生命負責 于安.
18. 母子連心 謝果馨.
19. 行醫的迴盪 莊雅媜‧臨床心理師.
1. On Reflection.
A Preface by Chia-Tung Lee.
Professor of National Chi Nan University and Ex-President of Taiwan Qing Hua University.
When I read the manuscript of this book, I was shaken. One of the articles in the book entitled “Don’t Let the Mistake Happen Again” especially left me with many feelings. The author, Shi Ming Wang, mentioned that he is carrying an unshakable sense of shame and guilt for the rest of his life. Why? He wrote that: .
“I couldn’t believe that as a student less than twenty years old, I did a terrible thing and brought a life into the world, then ignorantly deprived him of the right to live!”.
After reading this account, I suddenly thought that, “In our schools today, how many students are in similar predicaments as the young Mr. Wang?” It has been thirty-three years since I started teaching in 1975. During these thirty-some years, I have witnessed the atmosphere on our campuses changing from being plain and simple to being permissive; our permissiveness in schools has surpassed that of some countries. In the past, men and women on college campuses were basically shy towards each other, and they acted with propriety in their relationships. During their courtship before marriage, couples respected each other’s integrity. This self-restraint on both sides had a certain beauty, and it also prevented a dark shadow from hanging over the couple in the future..
As for nowadays, let’s take premarital sex as an example. In the past, such an act was prohibited in both Eastern and Western societies. However, these days, it is common for young students in Taiwan to steal a taste of the forbidden fruit during their summer vacation, and then when school starts they try to clean up the mess they have made. In addition, gynecologists have indicated that in recent years, abortion is no longer limited to the month of September (i.e., when school starts); rather, now, abortion is taking place almost every day! What really chilled my bones was when I heard that young students are using abortion as a means of birth control, with a manner-of-fact attitude; and the age of those who are having abortions is declining!.
We also discovered that although the birth rate in Taiwan is decreasing gradually, the popularity of abortion is increasing day by day. In comparison to sexually liberated France, the number of abortions in Taiwan exceeds that of France by six times! After industrialization and urbanization, social structure and human relations are a lot more complicated than they were in the past. Our society’s value has undergone chaotic changes, and as a result, people now are led to focus on wealth and brand names, in other words, hedonism. In addition, given the speed of information dissemination (such as the internet), there is immediate access to limitless information telling one to indulge in one’s sexual desires. Due to lack of restraints imposed by a proper sense of morality, young students, who are originally innocent and full of vigor, are sinking to the level of selling their bodies for money or dealing with the embarrassment of pregnancies resulting from premarital sex..
When we see the situations that the students are in, we can’t help but worry. What went wrong with our education? What should we do in order to rescue these young children? Shouldn’t we tell them what they can do and what they can’t do, based on basic principles of morality? We need to let the students know clearly and unequivocally the difference between right and wrong, and not “As long as I like it, there’s nothing I can’t do.” We don’t want to have more students be like the young Mr. Wang, ending up with an unshakable sense of shame and guilt for the rest of their lives!.
Without proper views, it would be like walking in endless darkness; we won’t even know when we wander onto the wrong path. Similarly, most people have the wrong view about abortion; they don’t think an unborn fetus counts as a life, so they think it can be gotten rid of casually. Actually, a life comes into being at the moment of conception, or else how can a fetus gradually grow day by day? Similarly, those of us who have been born are considered alive because we can move and grow. Therefore, an unborn fetus is alive, just like us..
I am a Catholic, and the Catholic religion has always treasured life. Although the “Innocent Little Ghosts” is written from the Buddhist perspective, its compassion and love towards all living beings is very moving. In this book, the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua’s explanations and answers to questions about abortion gave me a new perspective, and the true stories based on personal experiences serve as great warnings. I believe that, this book will guide many people towards the correct view of abortion, and be a great help to our society and save many lives! I sincerely hope that the word “abortion” will become a term of the past and let more lives continue to live as a result..
2. Respect Life, Cherish Yourself.
All babies in the world are fortunate, regardless of what kind of family they are born into. This is because they have an opportunity to be born as human beings in order to learn and gain experiences. However, due to various reasons, many unborn babies are aborted by their mothers. They don’t even have an opportunity to take a breath of fresh air; although their lives have taken form, they lost their rights to live..
When a mosquito bites you, what is your first reaction? Many people slap the mosquito, in an attempt to kill it. A mosquito only bites us out of hunger, and we immediately react with anger and a wish to strike back. How about the innocent fetuses that are aborted? What they lost are their rights to live. Accordingly, their anger and vengeance surpass our imagination..
Given the societal trend towards laxity and the emphasis on eugenics, the abortion issue is becoming graver day by day. Can abortion really solve social problems? Can abortion lead to improvements of the human species? Actually, only by not transgressing what is right, can social problems be solved. As for excellence of the human species, it depends on the state of our minds and our actions, and not on our race or physical condition..
In the past, people chose abortion as a necessary last resort; maybe they couldn’t support another child financially, or they were afraid to have a child out of wedlock. However, now social customs have deteriorated to the point that even gynecologists are shaking their heads, because many young women think having an abortion is not a big deal. Some even have several abortions in a single year. This trend is really worrisome. Another difference between the past and the present attitude is that these days, there are fewer and fewer young women who would cry their hearts out in abortion clinics. Rather, they act as if they don’t even care. In addition, most people consider having an abortion as nothing unusual. Such changes in social norm are sad and heartbreaking!.
An eminent Chinese monk who moved to America, the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua had clearly seen how the negative retribution resulting from abortion is increasing in its intensity day by day. Out of pity for people who engage in untoward actions because they don’t understand the principle of cause and effect, he repeatedly instructed everyone with the upmost sincerity, and alerted us to the seriousness of abortion. For example, the Venerable Master said, “Everyone think about it, if you kill a child even before he or she has a chance to be born, would you say the retribution for such conduct is severe or not?” He further advised that, “It is better to prevent problems from happening, rather than feeling regret afterwards. Before you get married, don’t take birth control pills, and don’t engage in sexual intercourse....”.
An abortion not only extinguishes a life, it also harms the couple. This is because an abortion not only leaves scars on the woman’s body and mind, it also causes the man to share undeniable responsibility, which may result in a lifetime of shame and guilt. It can even cause disharmony in a family. Many who had an abortion hide this fact, not daring to talk about their experience, or having no one to talk to. To counter the feeling of shame or remorse, the Venerable Master instructed that, “No wholesome deed is greater than correcting one's own faults;” and “Do more virtuous and meritorious deeds, do more repentance and reform, and recite the Buddha's name more often.” In other words, it is never too late to make up for one’s mistakes, such as doing something wholesome on behalf of the life that was lost, and thereby giving oneself a new start in life. .
By publishing the “Innocent Little Ghosts,” we hope everyone can view abortion with the proper perspective, reflect and understand the issues surrounding abortion, and truly comprehend the principle of cause and effect. We definitely should not treat others’ lives lightly. Rather, we should treasure life and cherish the affinity between the unborn child and us. We also hope that the entire world will address this issue properly and understand the importance of teaching children about ethics and morality, thereby guiding the next generation onto the correct path. Finally, parents should set good examples for their children by their own behavior. Don’t make earning money as the priority, and let computers and T.V.s be the children’s companions as they grow up. Rather, parents should treat educating their children as their most important responsibility..
3. Those who Kill will Repay with Life;.
Those who Owe Money will Repay with Money..
A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua.
Why do people get strange diseases nowadays? These diseases come from the act of killing. .
The deepest animosity in the world is created by killing. It is said, “Those who kill will repay with life, those who owe money will repay with money.” If you kill other people's father or brother, your father or brother will in turn be killed by others. In this way, people cruelly kill each other without end. It is because of too much killing that one's retribution ripens in a short period of time, and thus the saying, “One receives his retribution in the present life.” .
Let's take abortion for instance, which is fiercer than highway robbery. Think about it, by having an abortion, you are terminating a life before his or her body can completely take shape! With deepest enmity and greatest resentment, these little ghosts of aborted fetuses “complain about the heavens and blame other people.” Their hatred is more powerful and poisonous than atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs; they are determined to seek revenge. Given the prevalence of abortion nowadays, these little ghosts of unborn babies are everywhere, outnumbering the old ghosts in the world. Some people don’t know why they are sick. Actually, they are sick because they have caused too much animosities and resentments. For example, in most cases, people have cancer because they have taken many lives. Being unable to appease the animosities from living beings they have killed, these individuals end up with cancer.....
4. Questions about Abortion and Infant Spirits.
Answered by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua.
It is better to prevent problems from happening, rather than feeling regret afterwards..
Question: If a married couple has no choice but to get an abortion due to financial difficulties or other reasons, will the consequence be as serious? .
The Venerable Master: Since the financial conditions are not permitting, a pregnancy shouldn’t have happened in the first place; in this way, they can avoid the resulting trouble. Given their existing financial difficulties, why do they wait until the problem arises and then try to find a solution? They should have taken precautions against the problem from happening. Why not come up with other good ideas? As it is said, “Why wait until the wood has been made into canoe [before realizing one needs firewood to cook a meal]?” Why wait until when it’s too late to do anything? They should have included the possibility of pregnancy in their annual budget..
Question: Venerable Master, some unmarried mothers are causing a lot of social problems, and then there is abortion.... I wonder what opinions or suggestions the Venerable Master has regarding these problems..
上人：這在英文的稱呼是 ”single mother” ── 這是人性的失去，所以在未婚就不守規矩了。不守規矩 ──好像現代一般的年輕人，他們歡喜跳舞、看電影、唱歌，歡喜這些吃、喝、玩、樂，結果就把人性失去了；把人性失去了，連自己都不知道自己是人了。人應該作人事，他們盡作鬼事，偷偷摸摸地就要不守規矩，沒有結婚就想試一試，結果就生了小孩子。這在西方國家是不當一回事，然而這在我們中國是覺得很羞恥的。.
The Venerable Master: You are referring the problem of single mothers. Unfortunately, these individuals have lost their sense of humanity, so they break the rules before they get married. Nowadays, most young people like to dance, watch movies, and sing. They enjoy eating, drinking, playing, and seeking pleasure. These desires and actions lead to a loss of their humanity, to the point where they don’t even realize that they are human beings. Human beings should act like human beings, but they do things like ghosts -- covertly not obeying the rules, wanting to try things before they get married... as a result, they have a baby. Things like these may not be big deals in the West, but they are thought of as great shame in China..
These problems arise due to a single thought of ignorance: Man chases after woman, woman looks for man.... Because of ignorance, karmic activity follows; after the karmic activity was performed, name and form, the six entrances, contact, and feelings come into being…, these are all generated by ignorance. As a result of being confused, emotional love arises, followed by the desire to grasp and possess, then many other problems appear... until old age and death arrive. This whole chain of events is called the Dharma of Twelve-fold Conditioned Arising..
Because people don’t understand the chain of Twelvefold Conditioned Arising, they do things contrary to this principle. As a result, their troubles grow bigger and bigger, to the point that they get pregnant. Things get even worse when, instead of giving birth, they get an abortion when the fetus is one to four months old..
The offense of abortion is very serious. You may think this is just a little ghost, but it has great spiritual powers that can cause you to die or catch various strange diseases, make you feel baffled and confused to the point of a mental breakdown.... The offense of abortion is greater than the offense of killing an adult. If you do not want to raise a child, why cause the conception? Why be so messed-up? Unfortunately, because man and woman don’t understand the principles of how to be a human being, these problems arise..
In order to solve these problems, we need to provide young people with sex education, and teach them not to engage in love affairs before they are fully matured and grown up, otherwise, they will encounter serious trouble. We should urge them to follow the rules..
Questions: Venerable Master, since you are back in Taiwan, could you give some advice to your disciples in Taiwan?.
The Venerable Master: The proper behavior between man and woman is the foundation of peace within a nation and peace in the world. If a husband acts unlike a husband, a wife acts unlike a wife, and children act unlike children, how can the world avoid being in disorder? I suggest that everyone should fulfill the proper roles of husband and wife, do not get a divorce, and take good care of your children. With every family happy and harmonious, the nation will naturally be in peace. .
In addition, I urge everyone to stop having abortions! Think about it, if living beings become resentful spirits even before they are born, with these vengeful little ghosts of aborted fetuses everywhere, how can the society be peaceful? These little ghosts can only be crossed over by genuine cultivators of the Bodhi Way who are not greedy for wealth. These little ghosts are really tough to deal with! It is very difficult to resolve these matters; hence, with karmic offenses pervading everywhere, how can there be peace?.
Question: How can Taiwan be saved?.
The Venerable Master: By not having abortions, by not killing living beings..
Question: Abortion constitutes as karma of killing. Since I didn’t study Buddhism before, I unknowing committed the killing offense. How can I make up for my offense?.
The Venerable Master: By doing more meritorious and virtuous deeds, by doing more repentance and reform, and by reciting the Buddha's name more often..
Question: I've heard that abortion is wrong in Buddhism, but I committed this offense in the past without knowing that it was wrong. What can I do now to redress the harm that I have caused?.
The Venerable Master: No wholesome deed is greater than correcting one's own faults. Even if your offenses are enormous, as if they were pervading the sky, if you sincerely repent and reform, they will be eradicated..
Question: Nowadays, there are many advertisements on “Making Offerings to Infant Spirits” in newspapers and magazines. Can we make offerings to infant spirits, or should they be crossed over instead?.
The Venerable Master: The term “Making Offerings” cannot be used in this context, because an infant spirit is not the Triple Jewel (the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha). If you consider making offerings to infant spirits, you will fall into the trap of erroneous views. Rather, it should be called “crossing over.” Crossing over living beings is not the same as making offerings to them, because the act of crossing over enables them to leave suffering and attain bliss. However, the infant spirits’ resentment is so great that they are difficult to appease. Given that the debt owed to these spirits involves taking lives, it needs to be repaid with life. However, if such debtors encounter genuine cultivators of the Bodhi Way who are not greedy for wealth, they still have a chance to cross over the infant spirits..
Questions: Many people pay money to make offerings to infant spirits, can these spirits’ resentment and grievance be redressed by doing so?.
The Venerable Master: No. .
Questions: Nowadays, many people take advantage of others by claiming to appease infant spirits as a way to make money. Some Buddhists really frown upon this practice. Venerable Master, what is your opinion? Will infant spirits cause the individuals who owe them ill health or other problems? Some people who had abortions are scared into spending money to buy plaques for infant spirits. Venerable Master, what are your thoughts on this? Are infant spirits really able to cause trouble? If so, how do we subdue these spirits? How do we pacify and comfort them?.
The Venerable Master: It would be better to have no plaque than to set up a plaque. What do I mean by this? One should not have an abortion in the first place; by refraining from abortion, one does not kill; by not killing, one doesn’t even need to set up a plaque. Setting up a plaque for fetus spirits is called “attending to the trifles and neglecting the essentials,” and it is like “covering up one's ears to steal a bell,” for one is deceiving oneself. Can those infant spirits be crossed over? Can the debts be settled? The answers are uncertain. Therefore, it is better to prevent problems from happening than to feel regret afterwards. Before one is married, one should not take birth control pills or have sexual intercourse. Why can’t you wait until you get married? Why are you in such a hurry?.
Question: Venerable Master, there are many strange phenomena in the world today, such as many unmarried mothers having abortions, rape, and homosexuality. How should parents educate their children in this day and age, so teenagers can develop both physically and mentally into wholesome individuals?.
The Venerable Master: This is an excellent question for it deals with the right solution to our social problems. The problems you described are very simple, because they are very easy to solve. Where did these teenagers come from? These troubled youths have parents, don’t they? However, their parents don’t know how to be proper parents – a father does not behave like a father, and a mother does not behave like a mother. Although they gave birth to their children, their focus is not on the children; instead, they are greedy for pleasure and satisfaction of their sexual desires. Acting just to please themselves, they only know how to procreate, but know nothing about how to educate their children. Men and women in our country are emulating the trends in Europe and America, by indulging in emotional love and sexual desires, dating causally, and chasing after the opposite sex; they think they are being very modern by doing so. Most people think that if a man doesn’t have a girlfriend, he is an idiot. Similarly, if a woman doesn’t have a boyfriend before she gets married, she is thought of as a mental case, and nobody would want to marry her! Since these individuals crazily indulge in emotional love and sexual desires, they don't care about their children after the children are born; they only care about themselves. In this way, it can take as soon as two and a half days after their wedding for them to start disliking each other, and they end up in a divorce..
After the divorce, their children are either without a dad or without a mom. Then, a judge decides that the child should stay three days with dad, and four days with mom. Since the couple no longer lives together, their child, no matter a girl or a boy, will go and live with dad for awhile. The dad will say: “Your mom is not fit to be your mom. She is not a nice woman, so I divorced her and found another woman. My present girl friend is the best, while your mom is the worst.” The child will think: “Oh, my mom is the worst!” When the child goes back to his or her mom's place, he or she ignores the mom, saying: “You are the worst. You are not fit to be my mom!” The child has only heard the dad’s side of the story..
The mom thinks: “My child has changed! I better come up with something.” She tells the child: “Your dad is the worst man. I could not stand him, that’s why I divorced him.” She then brings up a whole bunch of other reasons for divorcing her ex-husband, and causes the child to think that, “Oh, no! My dad is the worst man, and my mom is the worst woman! What should I do? Ah, given parents like mine, I should learn to be the worst child, too!” The child starts to take drugs and get into all sorts of trouble. He or she doesn’t care about anything, including his or her country, his or her family, and his or her body. He or she thinks: “I am a bad seed; both my dad and mom are bad, therefore, I also must be bad.” With this attitude, the child gives up any sense of right and wrong and does whatever he or she pleases..
Since some men have been discarded by women, and some women have been forsaken by men, they go to extremes. They become gay, and learn actions that go against our humanity. Because husbands and wives don’t know how to behave like husbands and wives, they end up creating huge problems that we face today. When families are broken, so is the nation. If everyone could be like the mother of Meng Zi or the mother of Yue Fei, both of whom were able to teach their son to become famous and sagely, there would not be so many troubled children. I have answered your question, and I don’t know whether I am right or not. If you are not satisfied, please find someone who is better qualified..
Regarding abortion, it is an inhumane act! Think about it, if you kill a child even before he or she is born, would you say the retribution of such a conduct is severe or not? Now I am going to tell you something whether you believe it or not: although it is only a little baby who has been aborted, this little ghost is even fiercer than a big ghost! Now cancer is fairly common in our society, and this illness is brought about by abortions. Since more fetuses get aborted, the number of little ghosts increases, and these little ghosts sprinkle poisons everywhere and cause disquiet among people. They think: “You made me die so early, I won't let you get away with it. I will also kill you!” Accordingly, we have a lot of strange and hard to cure diseases..
5. Debts Made in Confusion.
A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, June 16, 1980.
For people to become family members in this life, there must be causes and affinities from their past lives..
Everyone has a different appearance. In addition, their causes and effects vary, and their debts accumulated from past lives are also different. Some people owe so much that they can’t even pay off their debts in this lifetime. It is said that these individuals are “building a high mountain of debts.” This mountain is also a mountain of karmic obstacles, which is getting higher day by day. With new debts added on old debts, the debtors get even more entangled. Why is that? It is because these individuals specialized in usurious practices in the past. They were so greedy that they charged excessive interests and thought they were making a profit at their borrowers’ expense. However, they were actually hurting themselves, because their karmic offenses were getting heavier every day. Eventually these karmic offenses became so heavy that they couldn’t pull themselves out of the resulting retributions. .
Some people repay their karmic debts by becoming their creditors’ father, mother, husband, wife, son or daughter. It is said that “parents endure hunger as a way to repay their debts to their children.” Various kinds of causes and conditions have shaped our destinies in this life. However, most people do not understand that everything occurs due to prior causes and resulting consequences. Therefore, instead of owning up to their inescapable karmic debts, sometimes they don’t even acknowledge their debts to others; instead, they try to renege. Such unreasonable actions cause many troubles in the world -- you have your trouble, I have mine and they have theirs. Everyone has both wholesome and unwholesome causes and conditions, which are entangled and difficult to separate. Once in a while, when people encounter Buddhism, they will understand the truth a bit..
However, while being clear about the truth today, they get confused by tomorrow; being clear the day after tomorrow, but a day later they get all mixed-up again. They go back and forth between clarity and confusion until they have as much wisdom as delusion. When muddled, they don’t want to cultivate the Bodhi Path; in moments of clarity, they are willing to cultivate. Unfortunately, the time spent cultivating is a lot less than the time spent being confused. As a result, what they gained from cultivation is a lot less than what they lost due to confusion. Day by day, their wisdom decreases as their delusion increases. Driven by their ignorance, they end up engaging in all sorts of mixed-up conducts. With confused minds, their bodies also become confused; harboring greed, hatred and delusion in their minds, they use their bodies to commit killing, stealing and sexual misconducts. They create an innumerable amount of karmic debts while they are confused, and these debts are really hard to repay!.
Given all these debts, sometimes disharmony arise among one's family members -- between father and son, mother and daughter, husband and wife, elder brother and younger brother, elder sister and younger sister, or a brother and a sister. However, despite these family problems, one still refuses to acknowledge one’s mistakes and settle one’s debts; instead one feels he or she has been wronged somehow. Actually, all of this can be explained by the unchanging principle of cause and effect -- due to the causes one planted in the past, one reaps the consequence now. So, what is there to complain about? It is said that “If you understand cause and effect, you would not stand next to a crumbling wall.” In fact, we should not “complain to the heavens or blame others” for our misfortunes. Instead, we need to understand the principle of cause and effect, and plant pure and wholesome causes instead of confused ones. When our actions accord with the Bodhi Way, we should proceed; otherwise, we should retreat. Do not confuse good with evil any longer, or mix up the right with the wrong. If we can distinguish black from white and be clear on what’s true and what’s false, then we have an opportunity to return to our inherent nature, our wondrous Buddha nature, which is pure and bright..
6. Twelvefold Conditioned Arising
Excerpt from The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra with Verses without A Stand and Prose Commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua.
Twelvefold Conditioned Arising tells us that, "The way we die depends on the way we live.".
The passage in The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra, “No ignorance or ending of ignorance, up to and including no old age and death or ending of old age and death” refers to the Twelvefold Conditioned Arising. The Twelvefold Conditioned Arising is the reason that people are in the endless cycle of death and rebirth. The chain of the Twelvefold Conditioned Arising consists of: ignorance is the condition for karmic activity; karmic activity the condition for consciousness; consciousness is the condition for name and form; name and form is the condition for the six entrances (i.e., the six sense-faculties); the six entrances is the condition for contact; contact is the condition for feeling; feeling is the condition for emotional love or craving; emotional love is the condition for grasping; grasping is the condition for becoming; becoming is the condition for birth; birth is the condition for old age and death. .
What is “ignorance”? “Ignorance” is the lack of understanding. In everyday language it is called “being mixed-up.” It means that you have not understood the truth. Because you are so mixed up and you don’t understand, you engage in confused and erroneous activities. “Erroneous activities” in this context means doing something that you shouldn’t do. The erroneous activity leads to false recognition, or “consciousness.” Consciousness leads to mixed-up “name and form.” Mixed-up name and form leads to mixed-up entrances. Since human beings have six sense-faculties, sense data come into our bodies and minds through these “six entrances.” From mixed-up entrances, mixed-up “contact” arises. Where there is mixed-up contact, one wants mixed-up “feeling of enjoyment.” From such mixed-up feeling comes mixed-up “emotional love” or craving. From mixed-up craving, mixed-up “grasping” arises. Once there is mixed-up grasping, mixed-up “becoming” results. From mixed-up becoming, one then obtains “birth.” From birth comes “old age and death..
These conditioned causes start with being ignorant or confused. Because people are confused in the beginning, they are confused in the end. They pass through one muddled life to the next, and that next life is also muddled. The Twelvefold Conditioned Arising starts with the mental state of ignorance, and explains the causes of our confusion. Unfortunately, ordinary people can’t understand this principle, when in fact the Twelvefold Conditioned Arising tells us that, “The way we die depends on the way we live.” Unfortunately, because people don’t understand, they do things contrary to this teaching. As a result, their troubles grow bigger and bigger to the point that they become pregnant. Things get even worse when, instead of giving birth, they get an abortion during the first few months of the fetus’ life..
Where do people’s desires, whether for food or sex, come from? They are all products of ignorance. Ignorance is just another name for being confused. When thoughts arise, a desire to act follows. Because there is ignorance, there is sexual activity. The confused sexual activity stems from the state of being confused; this is how “ignorance is the condition for activity.” When confused activity exists, confused consciousness arises, which starts to make confused distinctions. This consciousness is also referred to as “the intermediate skandha body” (i.e., the intermediate existence between death and reincarnation.) When a man and woman engages in sexual intercourse, if an intermediate skandha body has causes for familial ties with that couple, it would seek rebirth as their child. The affinity between this consciousness and the couple is so strong that even if it were a thousand or ten thousand miles away and even if only the tiniest point of light were emitted by the couple during their intercourse, it would see the light and go to the couple to become a fetus in the mother’s womb. Therefore, it is said that “activity is the condition for consciousness.”.
“Consciousness is the condition for name and form.” In this context the phrase means that when the fetus comes into being, there is “name and form.” “Name” refers to the four skandhas of feeling, cognition, formations, and consciousness, while “form” refers to the form-skandha. Four of the fetus’ five skandha (i.e., feeling, cognition, formations and consciousness) exist in the mother’s womb in name only; they have yet come into being. Once the child is born, all five of his skandhas (i.e., his name and form) are complete, so are the child’s six sense-faculties or entrances (eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind). This is called “name and form is the condition for the six entrances.” These six perceptual faculties interact with their corresponding sense objects (sight, sounds, smells, tastes, objects of touch, and objects of mind) and give rise to the awareness of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touch and thoughts. .
Once the six entrances exist, the child becomes aware of contact. Therefore, it is said, “The six entrances are the condition for contact.” After contact occurs, the child starts to have feelings about his or her contact; this is called “contact is the condition for feelings.” Once there is feeling, love arises (e.g., loving pleasant situations and detesting unpleasant situations). Hence, “feeling is the condition for love.” After love arises, the child wishes to seek and grasp what he or she loves. Therefore, “love is the condition for grasping.” Thereupon one wants to possess his or her object of desires, and this grasping leads to becoming (in the desire, form or formless realms.) This is called, “grasping is the condition for becoming.” The next step, “becoming is the condition for birth” means due to grasping and attaching, there are further births. Finally, “birth is the condition for old age and death.” After birth comes old age and death. The entire process is the revolving cycle of the Twelvefold Conditioned Arising..
What if there were no ignorance? There would be no activity. In other words, when ignorance is extinguished, activity is extinguished. When activity is extinguished, consciousness is extinguished. When consciousness is extinguished, name and form are extinguished. When name and form are extinguished, the six entrances are extinguished. When the six entrances are extinguished, contact is extinguished. When contact is extinguished, feeling is extinguished. When feeling is extinguished, love is extinguished. When love is extinguished, grasping is extinguished. When grasping is extinguished, becoming is extinguished. When becoming is extinguished, birth, old age and death are extinguished. This is how to end the cycle of the Twelvefold Conditioned Arising. Therefore, it is said: “There is no ending of ignorance for its inherent nature is empty.”.
When all these connected twelve conditioned causes cease to exist, it is like a clear sky for ten thousand miles; it is also like a bright moon appearing as a reflection on clear water. If you truly understand the teaching of Twelvefold Conditioned Arising, it would be like drinking water; when you are thirsty and take a drink of water, you know for yourself whether the water is warm or cold. If you don’t actually put in the effort to cultivate and awaken to the principle of Twelvefold Conditioned Arising, it is useless even if you say, “Oh, the twelve conditioned causes are all empty, empty, empty!”.
7. Education Starts in the Womb.
A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Oct. 25, 1988.
A baby will be imprinted by whatever mindset the mother has during her pregnancy..
All good and wise friends, today we are together in this great hall to discuss education. Education is the foundation for everyone, if we neglect this basic issue, we will be “renouncing the essential while pursuing the trivia, ignoring what is near and seeking what is far away.” .
Education starts when we are born; what we constantly see and hear after our birth shapes our behavior throughout our lives. It is said that “Those who draw near to vermilion will turn red, those who associate with ink will turn black; something stained with gray will turn gray, something stained with yellow will become yellow.” It can even be said that education not only affects a person after his birth, but also when he is still in the womb. For example, if a mother were knowledgeable, the baby in her womb will be positively influenced to also be very smart and learned. If a mother likes to lose her temper while pregnant, her baby certainly will have a big temper. If a mother were very obstinate and refuses to take advice from anyone, her child will definitely be very stubborn and does things his own way without heeding the advice of others. Therefore, educating the fetus is very important..
Women are mothers of every citizen, and thus they are the foundation of a nation. Given this important role they play in society, all women should learn how to educate their children and this responsibility starts when they become pregnant. During their pregnancy, women should not fight, be greedy, seek, be selfish, pursue personal advantage, or tell lies. Because if a mother engages in any of these behaviors, her baby will be influenced accordingly and develop similar mindset. Consequently, the child won’t become a good citizen. Therefore, parents should start paying attention to educating their child when their baby is still in the womb..
Parents must set good examples for their children. They should not fight or quarrel so much, be selfish, seek self-advantage, be greedy, or lie! This is important because children will observe and imitate their parents’ behaviors. Indeed, children are highly susceptible to their environment. For example, by observing the way adults talk, children learn how to talk bit by bit. Therefore, parents should not say they are only capable of bearing their children, but incapable of educating them. By bringing a child into this world, you are adding a new citizen to your nation. However, if you don’t educate your children well, you won’t be fulfilling your responsibility to your nation and society. In other words, you will be held fully responsible if you fail to educate your children properly and they become problem youths, who may even harm the nation and society..
Therefore, as parents, you should make your children’s education as your first priority, instead of focusing mainly on earning money and pursuing fame. You should consider educating your children as your most important task. If you are able to educate your children well, it will be more valuable than earning a lot of money for them. This is because through proper education, your children will learn how to behave as upright individuals, and how to cherish their own bodies. Therefore, before children are old enough to attend school, their parents should be responsible for their education during this period of time..
As soon as children start school, teachers should set good examples for their students. Under the teachers’ positive influence, the students should learn how to develop upright characters and virtues, and how to show filial reverence toward their parents and respect toward their elders. From the very beginning, teachers should teach their students filial reverence. In the elementary school at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, students are instilled with the concept of filial reverence. They are taught to be obedient to their parents, and to help their parents when they go home. Therefore, their parents are very pleased with their behavior at home..
For teachers who have taken “obtaining outstanding people in the world to educate” as their true vocation and duty, they should shoulder the responsibility for educating other people's children. They should start with instructing the students not to smoke, not to take intoxicants or drugs, and not to get involved in improper relationships with members of the opposite sex..
8. Unreasonable Freedom.
A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, June 5, 1988.
If there were one thousand or ten thousand children who grow up without proper control, the same number of children would have gone bad..
What is education? It means we should teach children how to be upright human beings, and instruct them about the eight virtues of filial reverence, fraternity, loyalty, trustworthiness, propriety, righteousness, incorruptibility, and a sense of shame. They also need to learn how to “choose to follow what’s wholesome, and rectify what’s unwholesome; to proceed if it accords with the Way, and retreat if it does not.” The foregoing principles are parts of the Chinese culture in Asia. In the western culture, people have blind faith in freedom. They misconstrue their freedom to mean the freedom of being irresponsible, the freedom of having children without educating them properly, and the freedom of neglecting their elders. What is the point of having children if you were not going to educate them? Indeed, you would be committing an offense if you were to teach your children unlawful behavior. As for the elders, they should be taken care of. As it is said, “the elderly should be tended, the strong be employed, and the young be nurtured.” .
When a person gets old, he is very pitiful with failing eye sight and hearing, useless teeth, and all sorts of illnesses. From the perspective of education in China, raising children serves the purpose of preparing for one's old age. This is not based on selfishness on the part of the parents. Rather, it is because the parents have raised their children to adulthood, these young men and women should take care of their elderly parents, whose blood and energy have waned. Otherwise, what is the point of having so many children, what is the point of getting married? It would be meaningless! In this country, since people have misconstrued the meaning of freedom, they let their children grow up unchecked. As a consequence, you can see that if there were one thousand or ten thousand children who grow up without proper control, the same number of children would have gone bad. Maybe there are a few of them who have inherent humanity and kindness, and they will turn out wholesome and know how to help others. However, not everyone understands humanity and knows how to “choose to follow what’s wholesome, and rectify what’s unwholesome; to proceed if it accords with the Way, and retreat if it does not.” In describing children, there is a saying that, “Those who draw near to vermilion will turn red, those who associates with ink will turn black; something stained with gray will turn gray, something stained with yellow will become yellow.” Therefore, how can we not watch over and pay attention to our children?.
Why do many children in the West take drugs nowadays? Take a look! Elementary and secondary school students are drawn to drug dealers. They urge these students to take drugs, promising that, “These drugs will make you smart and happy!” After taking the drugs, these youngsters may feel happy, but actually they are getting more and more mixed-up! If you see people who are on drugs, it may seem that they are in samadhi all day long, because they can stand there and do nothing for hours. However, this is not samadhi; rather, these individuals have lost control of their minds under the influence of drugs. Aren't they walking toward the path of death? If you let children grow up with unchecked “freedom,” they would advance freely onto the path of death! This permissiveness is misinterpreted freedom, irresponsible freedom, and unreasonable freedom..
Let me once again tell all of you senior friends, middle-aged friends and young friends, you should pay attention to this point. What point? Nowadays, education all over the world has gone bankrupt to the point that there is no education at all! What does education teach you currently? It teaches you sexual conduct, and this is extremely wrong! Although sex education is o.k. in of itself, the focus should be on teaching students not to engage in improper sexual relationships. The students should be taught how to cherish themselves, and guard the purity of their bodies. Only until they are grown up, can these youngsters really understand sex. In addition, children who are only five or six years old should not be allowed to watch TV all day long. This T.V. monster has negative influence on these young children. For example, it has seduced these children into knowing how to kiss and hug each other. What kind of world is this? This type of freedom is really pitiful!.
Why do I say education in this world has gone bankrupt? Schools don't teach children the fundamental principles of being a human. What do they advocate instead? They encourage students to study whatever subjects that will help them to earn the most money. If being a doctor is the most profitable, then one goes to medical school; if going to the moon means having the highest salary, then one studies science. Focusing on making money, people end up neglecting their parents and spouse. In fact, they ignore everything but money!.
9. Those who Draw Near to Vermilion will Turn Red, Those who Associate with Ink will Turn Black..
A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua.
If you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend when you are too young, you will end up getting hurt. It's like cutting a little sprout before it is fully grown; what is the use?.
All of you students! The best days in one's life is the time before age twenty, referred to as “the golden age.” In this period, you have yet to lose your pure inherent nature, your Buddha nature. You are also easily influenced by your environment during this time. If you were around wholesome people, you will become wholesome, if you were to associate with unwholesome people, you will turn unwholesome. This is the principle of “Those who draw near to vermilion will turn red, those who associate with ink will turn black.” .
If you meet good teachers and helpful friends, you will attain genuine knowledge and develop proper behavior. In contrast, if you get to know teachers and friends who disobey rules, you will be influenced by them and become someone who also disobeys rules. In the short run, you may be a nuisance; in the long run, you may become the dregs of society. Be sure to remember your inherent nature is like a piece of pure white cloth, which will “turn gray if stained with gray, turn yellow if stained with yellow.” You are studying in an excellent environment now, and in the future, you should be able to benefit and improve the society. All of you should have the spirit of willing to sacrifice yourselves for the greater good..
The most important thing is that female students should not seek boyfriends, and male students should not look for girlfriends. Each one of you needs to maintain your position on this. It is not that you are not permitted to have a boyfriend or a girlfriend; rather, girls should wait until they are twenty years old and boys should wait until they are twenty-five years old before doing so. In this way, you won't get hurt. If children seek members of the opposite sex before they are physically mature, they will end up getting hurt and suffer losses. Therefore, even if you want to get married, you should wait until you are twenty or twenty-five years old. For this reason, the boy school and the girl school are separated at the City of the Ten Thousand Buddhas. You must not sneakily seek boyfriends or girlfriends. If I find out that you are doing so, you will be expelled. You should pay attention to this..
I am not forbidding you from having a boyfriend or a girlfriend. The point is if you prematurely look for a boyfriend or a girlfriend, you won’t be a good student or a wholesome person. Every one of you should be a good student and a good person so you can do beneficial things in the future. If you have a boyfriend or a girlfriend when you are too young, you will end up getting hurt. It’s like cutting a little sprout before it is fully grown -- it will be useless and end up being a weed. If we let our sexual desires develop too early, our successive generations will worsen. To select an outstanding seed to cultivate, we have to wait until the plant matures; a weed would be useless. Similarly, if you date the opposite sex when you are too young, such actions would be premature!.
Children in this country watch TV all the time. They watch so much T.V. that they know how to find a boyfriend or a girlfriend when they are only seven or eight years old. This is extremely harmful. In the future, if this trend continues, there will be no talented individuals in this country. Why is that? Everyone would be totally mixed-up..
10. Once We Lose our Human Form, We won't Gain it Back in Ten Thousand Eons.
A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua.
When fetuses are aborted, they lose their human bodies. Nowadays, people who died because they were aborted exceed the number of people who are alive!.
Question: According to Buddhism, “a human body is difficult to attain,” and “once we lose our human form, we won't gain it back in ten thousand eons.” Then why is the current world population increasing rapidly? Apparently, people being born outnumber those have died. How does Buddhism explain this? .
The Venerable Master: Although the current birth rate is high, how do you know that living beings that are dead doesn’t outnumber people who are alive? This number can’t be accurately calculated or proven by science; it can only be expressed with an analogy. When the Buddha was in the world, one time he grabbed a handful of sand and said: “Those who have gained their human bodies are like the amount of sand in my palm, while those who have lost their human bodies are like the amount of sand on earth.” The number of people living in the world seems measureless and limitless. However, how do you know that the number of people who have lost their human form is not countless times more than that?.
The number of people who died in the past is less than that of the present. Nowadays, it is hard to estimate the number of people who died due to tornados, fire, car accidents, plane crashes, wars, and nuclear explosions. In addition, it is most likely that once these people lost their human form, they won’t be reborn as human. They could be reborn as ants, mosquitoes, or wild beasts. How can we prove this number scientifically?.
After a baby is born, how can he or she suddenly have consciousness and feelings? These are fundamental questions that ordinary people ignore and fail to research for the answers. Although there is a great increase in human population now, living beings that have lost their human form are more than before. In the past, there were not so many ants, mosquitoes, bugs and other pests. How do you know that these living beings born from moisture, by transformation or from eggs are not human beings in their prior lives?.
After a person loses his human body, his nature will change and his spirit will be divided. For example, the spirit of one human being can be transformed into many kinds of animal, even eighty-four thousand mosquitoes. Because his wisdom is being divided into many bodies, the resulting beings are dull and stubborn. If he wants to regain his human body, he would need to be “transformed and re-smelted” as if in a chemical factory, the process of which probably would take a long time. .
Another point is, every time a person gets married, his spirits will be divided into one more piece after his death. For instance, depending on how many times a woman marries during her life, after death, her spirit will be divided into as many pieces as if by an electric saw and shared among her ex-husbands. The retribution is the same if a man has married many times. Another big problem is abortion. When fetuses are aborted, they lose their human bodies. Nowadays, people who died because they were aborted exceed the number of people who are alive! .
Regarding insentient beings, are they able to recover their spirits? Yes, if they meet an appropriate person who speaks the Dharma to them. Such was the case “when Master Dao Sheng spoke the Dharma, the stone nodded in agreement.” However, only when the insentient beings encounter sages or Arhats, can they have such an opportunity..
11. Reciting Earth Store Bodhisattva's Name Sincerely Can Eradicate Karmic Obstacles.
A Talk Given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
With every ounce of effort, there is a corresponding amount of harvest. .
When Earth Bodhisattva knows that you are reciting his name sincerely,.
he will eradicate your karmic obstacles..
It is said, “A straight mind is a place for awakening.” In other words, we must be honest and truthful in any situation, whether you are a Sanghan or a lay person. Do not lie, do not be an opportunist and take great risks for self-benefit, do not cut corners, and do not engage in flattery. We must have a truthful mind in all circumstances, instead of a mind that makes great comprises in order to accommodate others. To have a truthful mind means to cultivate the Path of Bodhi, and to never harm or obstruct others. If we harm or obstruct others, we create causes for negative retribution. When our retribution is upon us, if we don’t repent and instead continue to deceive others as much as we can, we will be creating even more negative karma, which is difficult to eradicate..
This time (1982) when I went to Asia, I met a young woman named Miss Wang in Penang. In her past lives, she really liked to eat bear paws and monkey brains. She cracked open the heads of monkeys to drink their brain matters. She also cut off paws of bears, pan-fried them, and ate them. Because of these past karmic offenses, she is born as a woman in this life. However, instead of correcting her mistakes and starting anew, she continued to create negative karma. She even killed two human beings by having two abortions. These two little ghosts of her aborted fetuses summoned all the ghosts of living beings that she had ever harmed in her past lives. Therefore, she ended up with cancer..
During my visit in Penang, this young woman brought forth a great resolve for repentance and her cancer went into remission. Unfortunately, about two weeks later she reverted back to her old ways, renewed her relationship with her boyfriend, and even engaged in acts not in accord with the Dharma. Shortly after that, her cancer came back. Her illness was caused by her karmic offenses. If she truly repented of her past mistakes and reformed, she had a one in ten thousand chance of getting well. Otherwise, there is no medicine that can cure her, and even the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can’t save her. It is said, “Offenses arise from the mind; use the mind to repent.” If we don’t repent and reform with a truthful mind, our karmic obstacles would return. In Ms. Wang’s case, since she did not truly repent and reform, she had a relapse of her cancer..
She should have written to me when she had the relapse. If she had told me the truth, perhaps there was something that could be done then. Instead, she lied to me and told me she was coming to the U.S. Before I left Malaysia, I instructed her that after she got better and could afford a plane ticket, she can come to America and leave the home life to cultivate. In other words, she was supposed to come to American when she was cured. However, this young woman came to America only after her cancer came back; she came to die at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. It was only when her illness was beyond medical help that she got on a plane with great difficulty, and arrived in the U.S. on the 24th of last month. With this kind of trickery, her illness will be even more difficult to cure. Since her behavior is completely deceptive, dishonest and disingenuous, even the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas won’t be able to help her..
She is in hospital now, and she has a 0.5 in ten thousand chance of survival. This evening, let’s sincerely transfer merit to her, hoping that she will recover. Even though she deceived me, deceived this place for awakening, and in a sense deceived everyone here, we all have compassion. She came from so far away, hoping that she could be saved from the threat of death. If she could be saved, we try our best; if she could not be saved, we still try our best. Our collective effort is powerful, as we sincerely help her to eradicate her karmic obstacles. Let’s follow the rhythm of the wooden fish, and recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name on her behalf. .
When we recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name, her karmic obstacles should have been erased. However, as her past karmic offenses are being eradicated, her new karmic offenses are accumulating as fast. Indeed, we are helping her to eradicate endless karmic offenses that she was born with. I think if we want to save this person, we need to begin a seven-day Earth Store Bodhisattva session tomorrow. Let’s recite the Bodhisattva’s name sincerely and transfer the merit to her, in the hope that she will recover. Whether you want to participate in the session is entirely up to you. However, all of us should use our upmost sincerity. When we help others with a willing heart, the Boddhas and Bodhisattvas definitely will help us, too. ....
Today, we make a resolve together to transfer merit to this young woman. Did her relatives ask us to do so? No, they didn’t. However, even if they don’t know, we are still transferring merit to her. As Buddhists, we don’t need to be asked before we help others. We feel sorry for this young woman, so we try our best to help her. We are relying on the awesome power of Guan Yin Bodhisattva and Earth Store Bodhisattva. It would be great if she regains consciousness; if she doesn't, it’s because of her heavy karmic offenses. Either way, we try our best. With this goal in mind, all of us should work hard!.
Nowadays, there are more and more calamities in the world, while fewer and fewer people cultivate the Path of Bodhi. In addition, there are more and more individuals who break the precepts. Why is the world getting worse day-by-day? We should examine this fundamental question. The cause of this problem is that people are not upholding the five precepts, especially the precept against sexual misconduct. Men and women mistakenly think that satisfying their sexual desires is a type of pleasure. As it is said, they “turn their backs on enlightenment and combine with the dust,” and “mistake the thief for their son.” They treat suffering as pleasure, black as white, and truth as falsehood. They are so muddled that they act recklessly and improperly, as if they were up-side down instead of right-side up. In addition, instead of knowing how to protect their precious spirit and vitality, young men and women do things everyday that end up hurting themselves. Man doesn’t know how to behave like a proper man, and woman doesn’t know how to behave like a proper woman; all they know is how to satisfy their lust..
In these days, male and female students, especially those in most famous universities, live together and engage in wanton acts. These actions often lead to unwanted pregnancies. To prevent unwanted pregnancies, contraceptives were invented. People think using contraceptives is better than dealing with problems associated with unwanted pregnancies. Actually, using contraceptives is improper because it goes against the biological function of sexual intercourse, and thus is a type of karmic offense. In addition, those who invented contraceptives end up hurting so many young men and women, because these youth are more likely to engage in sexual misconduct when they think they don’t have to worry about the possibility of pregnancy..
In addition to using contraceptives, men and women use abortion to deal with unwanted pregnancies that result from their lascivious acts. By having an abortion, they create a more serious offense – an offense of killing. Namely, while using contraceptives is an indirect form of killing, having an abortion is a direct act of killing. All these killings increase the amount of resentment and enmity in the world. This mounting negative energy, in turn, results in strange diseases. When you investigate further, you will find that if men and women are not breaking the code of moral conduct left and right, there wouldn’t be so many strange diseases with unusual and inexplicable symptoms that are incurable. .
現在所謂cancer不容易治，不單單是cancer病，還有其他種種不能治的病，都是因為這種問題生出來的──這是第一不守淫戒，第二犯了殺戒，犯了盜戒， 犯了打妄語的戒，犯了飲酒的戒。這五戒是人生最要緊的規律，人人都應該守五戒。在轉輪聖王教化世人的時候，人人都守五戒，奉行十善，人人都吃齋。所以那個 時候什麼災難也沒有，人類都有相當的福報，很多人都有神通，都開五眼了。那現在人一天比一天墮落，就搞得這世界一天不如一天，一天就壞過一天！.
Now, in addition to cancer, there are various other illnesses that are hard or impossible to treat. All these problems stem from first breaking the precept against sexual misconduct, then the precept against killing. These improper acts are followed by breaking the precepts against stealing, lying and taking of intoxicants, respectively. These five precepts are the most important rules in our lives. Therefore, everyone should uphold the five precepts. When the Wheel-Turning Sagely King was still in the world teaching and transforming living beings, everyone upheld the five precepts, followed and practiced the Ten Wholesome Deeds, and ate vegetarian food. At that time, there were no natural disasters, and people enjoyed a lot of blessings. Many people had spiritual powers and opened their Five Eyes. In contrast, nowadays, the moral standard is deteriorating day-by-day. This deterioration in human character is causing the world to deteriorate, too..
Do you want know why there are so many people with cancer? This situation is created by the karma of killing. Think about it, by having abortions, you are terminating lives even before they have a chance to be born. Under these circumstances, wouldn’t the enmity of these unborn fetuses be incredibly great?! In summary, the world and its people are getting worse day-by-day. All this is due to the karma of killing. .
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, everyone understands the cycle of cause and effect. Therefore, let’s reduce the negative karma in the world, so there will be fewer disasters, less suffering, and fewer diseases. Let’s take helping Miss Wang as an opportunity to recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name earnestly and sincerely. Recitation of Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name can reduce living beings’ negative karma, and let their enemies, relatives and creditors from limitless past lives be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. This recitation will also let all of our enemies, relative and creditors be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. .
Let’s take this opportunity to recite Earth Bodhisattva’s name with earnestness and sincerity. While we are helping others who are sick or suffering, we are also crossing over our parents, ancestors, enemies, relatives, and creditor from our every past life, and allow them to leave suffering and attain bliss, and end birth and death..
With every ounce of effort, there is a corresponding amount of harvest. When you recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name with earnestness and sincerity, Earth Store Bodhisattva is touched. Knowing that you are reciting his name with such sincerity, Earth Store Bodhisattva will eradicate your karmic obstacles that are hindering your realization of Bodhi. He also will help you cultivate the Path of Bodhi, progress on this Path without demonic interference, quickly eradicate karmic obstacles, quickly leave suffering, and be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Realizing all these benefits is one of the main reasons for participating in the Earth Store Bodhisattva session. So, let everyone be true and sincere, and cross over our parents, ancestors, enemies, relatives, and creditors from our past lives. Let them use this opportunity to leave suffering and attain bliss. Don’t let time pass in vain!.
. Although Miss Wang created much unwholesome karma in the past, she brought forth a great revolve for repentance in Penang . In front of a Dharma Assembly consisted of more than two thousand people, she sincerely discussed her unwholesome deeds, and asked for the compassionate aid of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Venerable Master as she resolved to repent and reform. At that time, her cancer went into remission. However, she reverted back to her old ways soon after her resolve, and used deceitful means to come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Since she was committing more and more karmic offenses, it was difficult to eradicate her negative retributions. Accordingly, even though the Fourfold Assembly in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas organized two Earth Store Bodhisattva sessions on her behalf and many doctors tried to save her, she passed away several weeks later. We can say that Ms. Wang was using her life’s story to speak the Dharma and let it be a warning to all of us!.
12. On Abortion.
Heng Yun Shi.
According to the Shuragama Sutra, "Love flows out toward its object, and so, on the strength of shared karma, a seed is drawn into the womb during intercourse." Once an embryo is formed in the womb, there is life!.
Question: If after an ultrasound examination, a pregnant woman finds out that her fetus has a congenital disorder, such as Down’s Syndrome, is abortion allowed in this situation?.
Answer: In terms of the precept against killing, to have an abortion is to kill a fetus. Therefore, it is considered killing a human being. Basically, in the case of a miscarriage or a fetus being stillborn, the mother doesn’t break the precept against killing because the fetus died naturally. However, if she intentionally has an abortion to terminate her pregnancy, she would have broken the precept against killing..
Question: Wouldn’t it be very difficult for the parents to raise a child with a congenital disorder?.
Answer: Indeed, it would be really tough for the parents, but having such a child is due to some kind of causes and effects. The deficient child is born to this particular couple, because he or she has affinity with these parents. It is said that “Husband and wife are connected due to either wholesome or unwholesome affinities in the past; they would not become a couple without prior affinities. Sons and daughters are born into the family due to their past debts – they are either seeking repayment or paying back what they owe; they would not join the family without prior debts.” It requires three kinds of affinities for a fetus to come into being: the affinity with the father, the affinity with the mother, and his or her own affinity. The Shurangama Sutra states: “Some beings are born due to being bound together by shared karma; other beings are born due to union or else due to separation. Based on deluded perception, sense-objects are mistakenly understood to appear; and because of deluded understanding, deluded thought arises. Hatred is the response to incompatible points of view, while love is the response to compatible points of view. Love flows out toward its object, and so, on the strength of shared karma, a seed is drawn into the womb during intercourse. Due to these causes and conditions, the fetus develops, passing through the kalala stage, the arbuda stage, and the stages that follow.” Shared karma means that the child’s karma and the parents’ karma have the same causes and conditions. Due to this shared karma, emotionally love arises up between the parents and the child, and they become inseparable as if they were glued together. Consequently, beings are born from a womb, from an egg, by metamorphosis, or in the presence of moisture..
When a person comes into being, the eighth consciousness is the first to arrive; when a person dies, the eighth consciousness is the last to leave. Once the consciousness is gone, one’s body becomes cold. Thus, it is said that “Whoever leaves last but comes first is the master.” During the period of time between when one dies and when one gets reborn, the eighth consciousness is called the “intermediate skandha-body” or the “intermediate existence body.” To the intermediate skandha-body, everything is pitch-black, and it is unable to see anything. But if it has a parent-child affinity with its potential father or mother (i.e., having shared karma), even if it were tens of thousands of miles away, it would see a little point of light when its potential father and mother are having intercourse. As soon as its ignorance arises, no matter how far away it may be, strength like a powerful magnet will draw it into the womb! This process is described by the Shuragama Stura as “Love flows out toward its object, and so, on the strength of shared karma, a seed is drawn into the womb during intercourse.” .
The kalala stage refers to the first week of embryonic development. The word “kalala” means “slippery coagulation,” a form coagulated like milk. The second week of development is called the arbuda stage when the coagulated form takes on a globular shape. After this stage, the embryo gradually develops into the shape of a human body..
According to the Twelvefold Conditioned Arising, “Ignorance is the condition for karmic activity.” In this context, ignorance refers to the emotional love that arises between a man and a woman, which leads to sexual intercourse. “Karmic activity is the condition for consciousness;” after sexual intercourse begins, a consciousness arrives, which is “a seed (i.e., consciousness) is drawn into the womb during intercourse.” At this time, the intermediate skandha-body becomes an embryo. In other words, a life has come into being! There is a special kind of primary and secondary causes that exist between parents and their child. Accordingly, special karmic causes must exist for the parents to have a child with Down’s Syndrome..
Before there was ultrasound tests, people gave birth to the fetus they carried. Now with ultrasound, people can discover that their fetus has Down’s Syndrome, and abort the fetus. By doing so, they think they are avoiding troubles in the future. Usually the affinity between the deficient fetus and the parents is unwholesome. However, the parents need to accept this. If instead of giving birth to the child, the parents kills him or her, this action will increase the unwholesome affinity between the parents and the child. This negative affinity probably will be even worse in their future lives. According to the Shurangama Sutra, among the twelve categories of living beings, there is one category called “beings that lack and do not lack thoughts.” It does not mean that those living beings don’t have any thoughts; rather, they have abnormal thoughts. For example, after its birth, an owlet would devour its mother and nourish itself with its mother’s body and blood. Science has also found a small beetle (Micromaltus debilis) that eats its mother. .
Why does the bird or the beetle eat its mother? There was great enmity between the mother and the child in their past lives. For example, in the past, the child was the mother’s benefactor. However, instead of being grateful, the mother thought of various ways to kill her benefactor. The mother finally succeeded, and the benefactor died with everlasting regret, with no means to address his or her grievance. Therefore, in this life the benefactor is reborn as the killer’s child and eats her out of revenge. There are always some kinds of cause and effect that underlie seemingly unusual phenomena such as this one. However, since most people don’t understand the principle of cause and effect, they think it is o.k. to abort a deficient fetus. Unfortunately, by doing so, they are making things worse for themselves. Basically, one should not abort the deficient fetus. Instead, one should have the baby, and thereby settle one’s karmic debts and be free of negative affinities..
Question: If a girl were raped and got pregnant, is abortion allowed in such a case? .
Answer: This kind of situation really deserves our sympathy. However, if the girl aborts the fetus, she would be killing a life. Therefore, even in these unfortunate circumstances, she still should give birth to the child. Although the girl may encounter a lot of hardship by doing so, from the perspective of causes and effects, having the baby is a better alternative than killing..
In current society, abortion is quite excessive. Let me tell you a true story as a warning. One layperson mentioned that shortly before his mother died of cancer, she behaved as if there were three persons in her body. Sometimes she behaved like a little boy, sometimes like a little girl, and moments later, she was herself again. When she behaved like a little girl, she even acted like a spoiled child to get his attention. It turned out that his mother had aborted two fetuses in the past, one was male, and the other one female; now they have come to find their mother and attached themselves onto her body. It is really unfortunate that in this world, everyone can only see the consequence, but not its cause..
Let’s think about it, after children are born, their parents treat them as precious treasuries and take care of them with the upmost attention to detail. However, the fetus in one’s womb is also one’s own child, how can one bear to kill him or her? If your abort a child, even if the child originally has positive affinities with you, such affinities would become negative like that of an enemy. The aborted fetus turns into “a little ghost who is difficult to handle.”.
The Shurangama Sutra pointed out that, “One should realize that debts should be settled, whether with money, goods, or labor, so that indebtedness can naturally come to an end. But if, in the process of repayment, beings take each other’s lives or eat each other’s flesh, then they may well continue through an infinite number of eons, eating each other and killing each other, as if they were turning ceaselessly on a wheel, now on top, now beneath. The wheel may never stop unless they undertake the practice of samatha, or unless a Buddha appears in the world.” This passage means that if the debts between living beings were financial in nature, then whether these beings are born as humans or animals, they would be able to settle their debts with money, goods or labor; and they can settle their debts either in this life or in future lives. Once the debts are repaid, the karma between the debtors and the creditors would cease to exist. Although there is no one controlling the whole process, the power of karma is such that no one is willing to accept a loss. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that no one tries to take advantage of others; only after fair repayments would the indebtedness naturally comes to an end..
可是如果是命債呢？在彼此結怨的中間，或者把對方殺了，或者吃對方的肉。那你吃我的肉，我就殺你的身；我吃你的肉，你又殺我的身；就像輪子轉來轉去，沒有停止的時候。除非得到楞嚴大定，或者有佛出世，給解除這種罪業的相；然後雙方互相都知道了，不再造業，這才能停止。 不然，這種血海深仇，是很難平息的。難怪宣公上人說：「我要勸大家不要再墮胎了，你想想看，一個生命還沒出世，就成冤魂，到處是要命的小鬼，你說社會會安寧嗎？這些小鬼需要不貪財、有道行的人才能超度。小鬼難纏啊！很難辦的，到處是罪業，你說能安寧嗎？ 」.
However, what if the debt involves taking of a life? During the process of mutual resentment, if one living being kills another or eats another’s flesh, then a cycle of eating and being eaten, killing and being killed will go on and on like the turning of a wheel. For example, you eat my flesh now, I will kill you later; I eat your flesh now, you will kill me later. This vicious cycle is endless, unless one attains the Shurangama Samadhi or a Buddha comes into the world and releases one from these karmic offenses. Only then would both the debtor and the creditor understand the need to stop creating further negative karma, and end this cycle of ceaseless mutual-indebtedness. Otherwise, it is very difficult to appease animosity that is as great as the sea. It is not surprising that the Venerable Master said: “I urge everyone not to have abortions any more. Think about it, if living beings become resentful spirits even before they are born, with these vengeful little ghosts of aborted fetuses everywhere, how can the society be peaceful? These little ghosts can only be crossed over by genuine cultivators of the Bodhi Path who are not greedy for wealth. These little ghosts are really tough to handle! It is very difficult to resolve these matters, and thus, with karmic offenses pervading everywhere, how can there be peace?”.
Question: My relative is an OB/GYN. If a pregnant woman has financial difficulties or already has too many children, is it okay for the doctor to perform the requested abortion?.
Answer: About thirty years ago, when I was still a layperson, I read a newspaper article written by a nurse. She said that at the hospital where she worked, young nurses were afraid to take the night shift. Why was that? In the evenings, cries of babies could be heard coming from the abortion clinic on the second floor, and these cries really scared the nurses. However, the author signed up for the night shift, because her family situation made it more convenient for her to work at night; besides, she was braver than others. What was her experience? Although she did hear cries coming from the abortion clinic late at night when no one was around, she ignored the cries and went about her work. .
One early morning, when her shift was about to end, a woman in labor arrived at the hospital. She looked very worried. When the nurse returned later that day for her shift, she found out that the woman had died during childbirth. Unfortunately, the baby’s father didn’t come to the hospital, so the baby was left alone in the nursery. The nurse didn’t know why but found herself taking extra care of the baby; perhaps she felt sorry for the motherless child. After the baby had been under her care for a while, the nurse arrived at work one evening and was told that the baby’s father had picked up the baby during the day. That evening, the nurse dozed off while she was at work; sometimes it was difficult to stay awake during the quiet hours of the night. While drifting in and out of sleep, she saw the mother who had died during childbirth. The mother said to her, “Thank you for taking care of my baby for so many days. I’m very grateful. I’ll help you to take care of the other children here.” From that evening on, the nurse never again heard babies’ cries coming from the second floor abortion clinic..
From true stories like this one, how can we claim that unborn fetuses are not alive? Are they just pieces of flesh? We too are made of flesh; what makes us alive and the fetuses not alive? If we cut a fetus from the mother’s body, where would he or she go? Will he or she wander around in the spirit world, forever homeless? Who will he or she hold responsible for taking his or her life?.
There was another story about a young girl who had an abortion in a hospital when she was still a student. Although the baby left her body quickly, the physical and emotional scars remained. A few years later, she was involved in a car accident at the intersection near the hospital where she had the abortion. An abortion harms both the mother and the child physically and emotionally..
A woman once brought her husband, an OB/GYN, to the temple. He had been diagnosed with cancer and hoped that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas could help him. He told me that he took good care of his body and exercised everyday to maintain his health. Therefore he had no idea why he still got cancer. Actually, with abortions being so prevalent nowadays, OB/GYNs especially need to be careful. A doctor’s duty is to save lives, and performing abortions is contrary to this duty. Whatever causes we plant, we reap the corresponding effects. Karma results from our daily actions, while we create a cause only once in a while. Let me give you an example to illustrate these concepts. If we plant seeds in the spring, we need to wait until autumn for the harvests. .
The seeds and their resulting fruits are the “causes and effects.” “Karma” is all the events that occurred between spring and autumn or the things that we do frequently. Going back to the OB/GYN with cancer, a woman creates a cause when she has an abortion, while the OB/GYN creates karma when he performs abortions frequently. A person who creates karma constantly may face its retribution constantly. Wholesome actions create wholesome karma, while unwholesome actions create unwholesome karma..
The Brahma Net Sutra’s Bodhisattva precepts states that “A disciple of the Buddha must not kill by himself, tell others to kill, kill with expedient means, praise killing, or condone killing. He must not use any methods whatsoever, not even mantras, to kill. He must not create any causes for killing, effects of killing, methods of killing, and karma of killing. As long as the being has a life, he must not end its life intentionally.” “To kill by oneself” means not only to take other’s life, but also to take one’s own life. “Telling others to kill” includes advising others to kill or sending someone to kill on your behalf. Whether the act of killing is done by your own hands or by others’ hands because you told them to do so, the offense is the same..
Speaking of telling others to kill, let me tell you a true story. During the 1980s, a manager came all the way from Southeast Asia to visit the Venerable Master at CTTB. This man had cancer and hoped the Venerable Master could save him. In CTTB’s Buddha Hall, the Venerable Master helped this man by letting him repent in front of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the Ten Directions and the Fourfold Assembly. The man talked about the evil karma he had created with his mouth, because he cruelly ate living beings’ flesh such as monkey brains and goose feet. The Venerable Master then asked him if he had ever killed a person. He replied, “Never. The only way I might have done so would be if I were driving what drunk and killed someone unknowingly.” The Venerable Master further asked, “How about your wife?” In surprise, the manager answered, “Oh, I remember now. I once talked my wife into getting an abortion!” All the lives he had taken were coming to him and demanding payments. Therefore, if someone asks you whether she should get an abortion, you should advise her against it. Don’t say things such as, “If you are in a difficult situation, just get rid of the fetus.” If you tell someone to get an abortion, it is considered as telling others to kill..
Upholding the precepts creates merit and virtue; breaking the precepts creates negative karma. However, causes and effects exist regardless of whether one has received the precepts. By killing a fetus, one will bear the consequences. I once saw rebirth plaques made by a mother who tried to cross over more than ten fetuses that she had aborted. It was frightening to realize how many lives she was indebted to! Our current ignorance creates a future full of ignorance, and a future full of ignorance causes us to be even more ignorant, thus creating a snowball effect. .
Question: Dharma Master, what is your view on “September as the month of abortion”?.
Answer: This is a question that a radio announcer asked me about ten years ago. When I said that I didn’t understand why September is the month for abortions, the radio announcer told me: “Since during summer vacations, many students have sex and get pregnant. So when it’s time for them to go back to school in September, they get an abortion.” If things were this bad ten years ago, we can imagine how things are now. Actually, all of us share some responsibility in this matter for the following reasons:.
First, our children’s diet. Human beings should be fed with human milk; however, most children nowadays grow up drinking cow's milk. Cow is an animal, and yet we feed our children milk produced by a animal. When children are old enough to eat solid food, they are fed with a lot of fish, meat, sweets and fried foods. Children on such a diet seem to grow taller and faster. However, even if their bodies were growing rapidly, this growth is not rooted in genuinely good health. In addition, due to their diet, these children tend to have strong desires, and their emotional maturity cannot keep up with their physical maturity..
Second, overwhelming influence of the media. While we are enjoying the conveniences brought by modern technology, the younger generations are being inundated by the media without any protection. These youngsters are extremely attracted by what they see; under such influences it is hard for them to keep their bodies pure and cherish themselves, and they also don’t know how to do so..
Third, our children’s education. Education should teach people how to understand the truth, instead of how to pursue profits and fame. Unfortunately, education nowadays is contrary to the Way. Without the nourishment provided by an education based on ethics and morality, the younger generations don’t have a strong foundation in how to be upright individuals. Instead, they are like rootless plants, being carried adrift by the tides..
Therefore, under the influence of these factors: a diet that increases desires, media that teach desires, and education that focuses on the wrong values, students naturally tend toward indulging in sexual desires without any restraint. By doing whatever they please, the month of abortion comes into being. If we can improve our children’s diet and education, realize the negative side-effects of modern technology, and strengthen our sense of ethics and morality, I think we definitely won’t have the phrase “the month for abortion” in the future!.
Once I attended a conference on “The Role of Buddhism and its Impact on Society.” I believe that Buddhism’s greatest impact is how it transforms our minds. As a member of the Sangha, I have found that I don’t need to go around and do things for others in order to benefit the society. Rather, I can share the proper views with others, and help everyone to attain such views. For example, the issue of abortion we have been discussing is one of the serious problems in society today. If everyone can understand the proper view of no killing, many lives will be saved. Helping people to understand this true principle is one way of upholding the Buddhadharma..
13. Dear children, I am sorry.
When one becomes pregnant, regardless of the amount of trouble, one must act responsibly by giving birth to the baby and raising him or her..
Dear children: Mom is writing to you today, but I don’t even know your name or gender. I can only address you as “the second child and the fifth child.” All of this is your mom and dad's fault..
Forty-one years ago, I was pregnant with you, the second child, only after being married to your dad for three years. I wasn't too concerned about this pregnancy. At that time, I have yet to study the Buddhadharma and didn’t understand the truth, and thus out of ignorance I committed a heavy karmic offense by having an abortion. This mistake has caused me everlasting sorrow. I was unconsciousness after the operation, and I dreamed that I died on the hospital bed. I also heard your grandmother said: “If you had known this earlier, you should not have gotten an abortion!” When I woke up, I realized that I just came back from death’s door. This dream is still vivid in my mind.
Three years later, I was pregnant the fifth times with you, the fifth child. At that time, I still had not studied the Buddhadharma, and I didn’t understand that when one becomes pregnant, regardless of the amount of trouble, one must act responsibly by giving birth to the baby and raising him or her. I created this karma myself, and I should have accepted the responsibility for my actions. However, being confused, I was greatly afflicted by your upcoming birth. Your two elder sisters and one elder brother were still young, and I got pregnant because of ineffective birth control. Therefore, I had another abortion, and created another karmic offense!.
Later on, I was very fortunate to encounter a Good and Wise Teacher, the Venerable Master Hua, and started to study the Buddhadharma. I also drew near the monasteries that he founded, in which the proper Dharma flourished. Only then did I understand that I should cultivate every day, repent and reform, recite the Buddha's name, and dedicate the resulting merits to you. In addition, I did various wholesome acts on your behalf, such as setting up rebirth plaques and receiving the Precepts for the Deceased on your behalf. I hope both of you will quickly leave suffering and attain bliss, and be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss..
Now I am already over sixty years old. Last year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I knew that the cancer was the ripening of my retribution from killing two fetuses, and I must accept it peacefully. Maybe because of my study of the Buddhadharma and the compassionate aid from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, although I had cancer, I didn’t feel much pain; even the operation to remove the cancerous cells was not painful. For over a year now, I have been living a normal life. Therefore, I am very grateful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas!.
However, your aunt was not as lucky as I am. Let me tell you her story. Both she and her husband had careers, and in their busy lives they didn’t have time to take care of children. Her husband was not present when she was delivering their second child, a boy. She did not study the Buddhadharma, and thus without consulting her husband or thinking more about it, she told the doctor with no hesitation that she didn’t want the baby. The doctor also killed the baby with no hesitation. Out of delusion, she committed a serious killing offense. When she was fifty-five years old, her retribution came -- she got cancer. Although she went through various treatments, such as surgery and chemotherapy, she still died in two years. Actually, your aunt was a very nice person, and many people were surprised that she had cancer. The principle of cause and effect is not something we should treat lightly!.
We had another relative, who also had career. She was very gentle and good-natured, but she didn’t study the Buddhadharma. I have no idea how many abortions she had. Later on, she got cancer, and there were tumors all over her body. She was very sick and in tremendous amount of pain, but her doctors could do nothing to help her. She died when she was only forty-five years old..
Talking about this relative’s age reminds me of you. If you were in this world, one of you would be forty-one years old and the other thirty-eight years old. Usually by this age, you would have a career and your own family. Speaking of being married, husband and wife should respect each other and control their sexual desires; this way, they won't get into the trouble of having too many children. A Buddhists family would be the best, since they understand cause and effect, and with wisdom and the ability to distinguish the true from the false, they won't commit karmic offenses. In addition, one should be a vegetarian, because a vegetarian diet will make one's body and mind purer, and one's desires lighter. In contrast, if one eats meat, one will have stronger desires, which makes it more difficult to control one’s sexual desires. If one gets pregnant, never ever shirk one’s responsibility. Don't create offenses like I did; I was truly ignorant then..
I am sorry, my children! Please forgive me for my ignorance which took away your opportunity to be born as human beings. I vow that I will leave the home-life and cultivate the Bodhi Way in every life. I would not have created these karmic offenses if I were not afflicted by the burden of having a family. I also would like to dedicate the merit and virtue of my cultivation to both of you, and respectfully ask Amitabha Buddha to take care of you. Finally, I wish that the word “abortion” will disappear from this world, and all living beings can leave suffering and attain bliss!.
14. A lifetime of Pain.
If I didn't have an abortion, there would be one more life in the world today. Accordingly, there is no way for me to be a proud mother, with the pain of shame and regret forever in my heart!.
In October of 1988, I did something that I regretted for the rest of my life – I had an abortion. At the time, I just graduated from high school, and when I realized that I was pregnant, the only thing on my mind was not to disgrace my mother. Therefore, without telling my family about my pregnancy, I consulted one of my friends. She immediately told me that she knew where to get an abortion, so we went to a private hospital. The entire procedure was over in merely 30 minutes (and this included ending a life)..
After the abortion, although no one could notice any change in me during the day time, I cried myself to sleep every night while apologizing to the life that I terminated. I felt really bad that I let the baby down, and it took me half a year to regain my peace of mind. Later on, I broke up with my boyfriend, because every time I saw him, I was reminded of my cruelty of depriving a child’s right to live. .
Three years later, I almost forgot about this series of events. One evening, I was on my way home, riding a bicycle with my college classmates. Unfortunately, at an intersection, I was in an accident involving a car. Although I fell down in the middle of the road, I was not badly hurt. After I stood up and walked to the road side, I was startled when I recognized the hospital near the intersection – it was where I had my abortion! I was astounded by this incredible coincidence..
Six months later, I met a boyfriend. He introduced me to Buddhism and encouraged me to study the Buddhadharma. It was after I studied the Buddhardharma that I realized I committed the most serious offense of killing. However, it was too late to undo what I did. The only things I could do were to repent of my mistakes, recite sutras and transfer the resulting merit to the aborted child, participate in Dharma Assemblies, and set up rebirth plagues for the aborted child. Now I am married and have children. When I watch my children growing up healthy, I often think that if I didn’t have an abortion, there would be one more life in this world. Accordingly, there is no way for me to be a proud mother, with the pain of shame and regret forever in my heart!.
I had a dream in the latter half of April, 2007. In the dream, I saw a Dharma Master shaving the head of a layperson (i.e., a part of the ceremony when one becomes a monastic), and the Venerable Master Hua was passing by. I was very happy to see the Venerable Master, so I hurried after him. The Venerable Master entered a hall, where two Dharma Masters stood guard at its entrance. A layperson in front of me tried to enter, but his way was blocked. However, I wasn’t afraid; the only thing I wanted to do is to follow the Venerable Master. To my surprise, no one stopped me when I tried to enter..
After entering the hall, I found the interior very solemn and adorned, but I didn’t see the Venerable Master. I was really worried and alarmed. The only thought I had was: “If I miss this opportunity, I would die.” So I knelt on the floor and wept. Suddenly, I heard a voice in the air saying: “Seek compassion, repent and reform!” Upon hearing this, I was startled awake. The feeling of panic and fear was still very vivid, my heart was racing and I couldn’t stop crying. It was seven o’clock in the morning..
I kept on trying to figure out the meaning of “Seek compassion, repent and reform,” and how to do so. I felt this was the way that the Venerable Master could save me, so I should treasure this opportunity. Later on, I called a Dharma Master and asked her how do I “seek compassion, repent and reform.” The Dharma Master compassionately instructed me to bow to the Sutra of the Buddha Speaking the Names of the Buddhas. It was amazing that when I made the call, CTTB was holding the Ten Thousand Buddhas’ Repentance Ceremony, where this Sutra was being recited..
After I studied the Buddhadharma, in addition to repenting of the negative karma I created by having an abortion, I kept wondering why I had not studied the Buddhardharma earlier. If I had done so, I would not have committed this serious offense. The Venerable Master had mentioned that the karma resulting from killing was very heavy in Taiwan for too many people were having abortions. Unfortunately, I was one of them! I am sharing my experience in order to caution everyone not to hastily commit a killing offense by having an abortion. Compared to the retribution resulting from a killing offense, the embarrassment of giving birth to a child out of wedlock is really minor. There is nothing that can’t be solved in this world, and thus never ever choose abortion as a solution; once a life is terminated, we can never bring it back! I can’t forget my abortion even if I try, and it’s a wrong that I can never redress for the rest of my life..
15. Don't Let the Mistake Happen Again!.
Don't think abortion is a mistake that only a woman can make. A man is also responsible and will experience the retribution as well..
From around 1987, the Taiwanese government started implementing a series of more permissive policies on campus. Before that, the regulations governing the students were quite strict. For examples, there were rules prohibiting students from growing their hair long, forbidding male and female students from having relationships on campus, and preventing students from going to dance halls. After the more permissive policies came into effect, couples could frequently be seen on campus, and during school holidays, students would go dancing with their friends all night long. It was in a dance hall that I met the main female lead in this story. After dating for a while, she got pregnant and she decided right away to have an abortion. Somehow, I felt getting an abortion wasn’t right, and I even voiced my opposition. However, at my girlfriend’s insistence, I finally gave up and accompanied her to a hospital. In merely half an hour, a life was terminated. While I was waiting for my girlfriend, I felt as if a knife were piercing my heart and I was in such agony. I felt terribly ashamed and guilty about the lost life. All this happened in April of 1989; I couldn’t believe that as a student less than twenty years old, I did a terrible thing and brought a life into the world, then ignorantly deprived him of the right to live!.
It was about the sixth night after the abortion that I dreamed about a little boy. He stared at me fiercely, with a knife in his hand. Suddenly, he thrust the knife at my neck, leaving a very deep cut. In the dream, I covered my neck with my hand, and I woke up from the pain. I knew in my heart that it was the aborted child who came for revenge! From then on, I often woke up from stomach-aches around four o'clock in the morning, and my health started to decline. I also got more and more irritable to the point that I frequently wanted to hit my girlfriend. At that time, I didn’t understand why my body and mind became like that. It was not until I took refuge with the Venerable Master Hua that I realized how terrible abortion was. I tried my best to repent and reform, bow to the Buddhas, recite Sutras and Mantras, and cultivate various merits and virtues. I only hope that “the child” would forgive me..
My retribution came ten years – I was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors found a malignant tumor about four centimeters in my neck, the place where the child wounded me in my dream. Although I seemed to be cured after the operation, I continue to cultivate diligently and transfer the resulting merits to the child, in the hope that I can make up for my big mistake..
At the time of the abortion, we were young and ignorant. We would not have made such a mistake if the society and schools held us to stricter standards, the prohibition on dancing was not lifted, we had more education on morality, or my girlfriend and I acted with propriety. In fact, in a couple, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the man or the woman who acts with propriety. Only one of them needs to insist on maintaining purity and a mistake would be prevented. .
By sharing my experience, I wish to remind everyone to follow the moral standards on premarital relationship, and don’t commit the karmic offenses of sexual misconduct and killing. More importantly, I wish to encourage young people to learn how to control their desires, concentrate on their studies, and be mindful of the admonitions from their teachers and elders. Sometimes we think those admonitions are old wives’ tales and ignore them, feeling that we can manage everything just fine. Actually, once a big mistake has been made, it is very difficult to correct. Don’t become someone like me, who carries an unshakeable sense of shame and guilt for the rest of his life. .
We still have a long way to go on our life’s journey. Therefore, we should stay calm when sudden urges arise. Don't think abortion is a mistake that only a woman can make. A man is also responsible and will experience the retribution as well. I sincerely wish that all of us will work together to provide more education and assistance to young people. I also wish that young people will quickly wake up from their confused dreams, and not let the mistake happen again!.
16. It is a Life!.
It is a life; a life that can't be treated lightly or as we wish, a life that can't be brought into being or be terminated as we please!.
Several years ago, a friend ahead of me in school was crazy about getting her fortune told. She looked for fortune tellers who were “very accurate,” and enjoyed listening to predictions about her life so much that she never got tired, regardless of how far she had to go or how long she had to wait in line. At that time, I was not satisfied with my life, my job and even with myself. So I hoped to meet a “superior person” who could direct me onto a new path, where I can fully develop and use my skills. My friend was wishing wholeheartedly to marry a wealthy man, so as soon as she heard about someone whose predictions were accurate, she would take a break from work and asked me to go with her..
The last time I went with my friend for fortune telling, we visited a fortune-teller who looked really strange. As long as you gave her your name and zodiac sign, she was able to tell you about your past in great detail. I heard that one of my schoolmates visited this fortune teller. When my schoolmate didn’t believe her, she described the surroundings of the schoolmate's home, and scared the schoolmate into nodding nonstop at whatever she said. I thought this story was quite interesting, therefore when my friend mentioned her wish to visit this fortune teller, I was very happy to go with her. Actually, I still don’t know why none of the fortune tellers we visited really answered my questions. No matter what I asked, they all replied, “You don’t have any problems,” then ignored me. To be honest, these visits were really a waste of time and money. In contrast, every time we went to a fortune teller, my friend kept on asking questions until I fell asleep. However, when it was my turn, the fortune telling consisted of only two or three sentences..
In this last visit, just like other visits to fortune tellers, I was dismissed by “You are fine, you don’t have any problems.” Then my friend started to ask all sorts of questions about her boyfriend, such as whether her boyfriend is good, whether he is faithful, whether he can earn a lot of money, whether he will let her use the money, when will he marry her . . . blah, blah, blah. I felt so sleepy just listening to her questions. Suddenly, the fortune teller told my friend to stop because she had something to ask my friend. She said, “Who are those three following you?” Good Heavens, what kind of question was that?! In an instant, my sleepiness was all gone. .
I bumped my friend’s leg under the table, but she signaled me to be quiet. The atmosphere in the room was suddenly very tense. The fortune teller stood up to fetch a piece of yellow paper, and wrote something on it that I couldn’t read. My friend started to cry, and asked whether they were boys or girls, what did they want, and whether they would hurt her? I suddenly understood -- the “they” being referred to were infant spirits! This would mean my friend had an abortion . . . three times!!! I totally forgot what the fortune-teller said after that. I just remembered that my friend kept on crying, and the fortune teller instructing us to burn paper money (as “offerings” to the infant spirits) and to bow to Guan Shr Yin Bodhisattva..
After this experience, I never went with my friend for fortune telling again, but she continued to go occasionally. I knew that she sponsored ways to cross over the infant spirits many times, and she also asked me to help her by finding out how to “make offerings” to infant spirits. It occurred to me that she had told me: “When I lived off-campus I was scared. Sometimes I could see ‘something’ resembling a child under my desk and played hide-and-seek with me.” I remembered telling her that there probably was something wrong with her apartment, and told her to recite the Buddha’s name. As it turned out, she had secrets that I didn’t know. .
A few days ago, a Dharma Master asked me whether I could draw some illustrations for a book about abortion that DRBA plans to publish. When I was reading the manuscript that the Dharma Master sent me, I felt tense all over and my blood was rushing to my head. I couldn’t shake this feeling for a long time. I have to be honest. I was having such a reaction because I have given some pregnant friends advice such as “If there is no other way, you are better off with an abortion,” and “You didn’t do this on purpose, so everything will be all right.”.
After I read the Venerable Master Hua's Dharma talks and what other Dharma Masters said about abortion, I was really frightened. I realized that a fetus is a life, it really is a life! A life that was brought into this world due to momentary pleasure, and then the very same life was extinguished because the pregnancy was unplanned, or having a child would cause problems, or for some other reasons. I wanted to weep, because I had said the wrong things to my friends! How could I have advised my friends without distinguishing between right and wrong, and told them not to worry so they could commit such terrible offenses again and again? After finishing reading the manuscript of this book, I tried very hard to compose myself. I wished to come up with some drawings quickly, because the Dharma Masters are waiting for them. I was trembling as I drew, because what I did really scared me. If I had learned the Buddhadharma earlier, if I had sincerely and diligently studied the Buddhadharma with the Venerable Master, I would not have become an accomplice to an abortion. In addition, my friend ahead of me in school and my other friends would have realized and admitted to their mistakes earlier, and repent and reform with sincerity. Although none of my friends have said so, I know they really regret having their abortions. What they did seemed to be always on their minds, for they keep on searching for “superior people” who can help them to cross over the spirits of their aborted children. An unforgettable sense of remorse follows them for the rest of their lives..
My friend ahead of me in school got married last year, and she had a baby. I haven't visited her and met her baby due to my work schedule. Over the phone, she told me it was really difficult to take care of her baby, because he kept on crying in the evenings and he had to be held in order to fall asleep and stay asleep. She had no choice but to resign from her job so she could take care of her baby. Since she barely had time to rest during the day and couldn’t sleep at night due to the baby, she was so exhausted that she was at the verge of collapse. I don't know whether these difficulties with her baby, who cries through the night, have anything to do with her past. However, I hope I can give her this book in person, so she and I can repent together and re-examine our attitude toward a life. Although a fetus may be just a piece of flesh in a mother’s womb, it is a life; a life that can’t be treated lightly or as we wish, a life that can’t be brought into being or be terminated as we please!.
17. Taking Responsibility for My Own Life!.
I can't claim that I was brave; I thought it was a realistic choice (to have the baby), and I felt a sense of peace once I made the choice..
Ten years ago, I did something wrong. Being confused, I got pregnant without being married. I knew then if I gave birth to the baby, I could only be a single mother..
In the endless cycle of death and rebirth, a human body is very difficult to obtain. Therefore, I thought if I were to terminate a life, I would be depriving someone of an opportunity to be born as a human being. This would be a very cruel act. Accordingly, I insisted on having the baby, no matter how much difficulty and hardship I might have to undergo. I would not have an abortion under any circumstances. After all, I must be responsible for my own life!.
Being single and pregnant, I caused an upheaval in my family. My family was of two minds; one faction, concerned about my future, thought I should give up the baby for adoption, while the other faction thought the baby was one of us now, and thus, we should keep the baby and raise him or her..
I gave birth to a baby girl, and being mother and daughter, I knew that there was a special affinity between the two of us. Therefore, I raised and educated her myself. I helped my daughter to study the Buddhadharma and guided her to develop a proper view of life, so that she could shape her own destiny and even be able to realize her “Dharma body and wisdom life.” I also started anew myself by observing the five precepts – no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, and no taking of intoxicants. By letting the precepts be my guide through life, I no longer will head toward the wrong directions..
Now my daughter is almost ten years old. As a single mother, I also had to fulfill the role of a father. Although it has been a hard journey as I encountered many obstacles on the way, I was doing what I was supposed to do. Regardless of my capability, I did what I could. Even if something was difficult to handle, I still handled it. In short, I tried my best. Now, watching my daughter growing up healthy and happy, everything was worth it, no matter how hard!.
In addition, I am very fortunate (probably with help from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas) that I have met people who I have wholesome affinities with, and they have encouraged me to keep moving forward. I also deeply believe that by upholding the Buddha’s teachings, I definitely can overcome various difficulties, and thus I remain confident about the future..
More than ten years ago, I didn’t use another mistake (having an abortion) to cover up my previous mistake (getting pregnant without being married). On the contrary, I faced my own mistake, and accepted responsibility for my actions. I can’t claim that I was brave; I thought it was a realistic choice, and I felt a sense of peace once I made the choice..
In addition, because I was a single mother, my parents were worried that I probably wouldn’t have too much of a future. Therefore, they wanted me to give up the baby for adoption. However my experience has been that by bravely facing one’s mistakes and calmly accepting one’s responsibility is growth and maturity. Because by doing so, you will develop a sense of unwavering determination that can serve you well for the rest of your life..
Finally, I would like to offer my advice to anyone who is single -- please maintain your purity and integrity, and don’t make the same mistake as I did ten years ago. Engaging in premarital sex is improper under any circumstances, for such an action is the cause of future suffering. Therefore, don’t be confused; rather, control your desires, act with propriety and decorum, and follow the rules. That is the only way that you can lead a wholesome life!.
18. The Hearts of a Mother and her Child are Connected.
Guo- Xin Xie.
The connection between the hearts of a mother and her child begins even before the child is born; it starts when the child is still in the womb. The child knows exactly what his or her mother is thinking..
I teach Buddhism to children. I remember once I talked to several parents about the principle of no killing. I told them that having an abortion is a form of killing, because it is taking the life of a living human being. However, a number of younger mothers in the group disagreed. Then, a mother responded by telling us the story of her three year old daughter. Mrs. Ye told us that she always planned to have only two children, so when her second child was born, she started to use contraceptives. To her surprise, after a number of years, she got pregnant again. She felt that it would be difficult to raise three children, so after getting her husband’s consent, she decided to abort the fetus that was several weeks old..
That evening, she dreamed about a cute little girl who told her, “Mom, please don’t get rid of me. I will be very good.” For three consecutive nights, Mrs. Ye had the same dream. She realized that her daughter was pleading with her not to have an abortion. After these dreams, Mrs. Ye didn’t have the heart to go through with an abortion, so she didn’t terminate her pregnancy and gave birth to a baby girl..
When I met this little girl, she was already three years old. She is very obedient, clever and cute, and she really likes to clean the bathroom for her mother. Mrs. Ye’s story confirms that abortion is a form of killing; in fact, by having an abortion we would be killing not just anyone, but our own child. There is a saying that “the hearts of a mother and her child are connected.” This connection begins even before the child is born; it starts when the child is still in the womb. The child knows exactly what his or her mother is thinking. This connection is also captured by the saying, “education starts in the womb.” We can imagine how pitiful it would be for a little baby who knows that his or her mother is planning to terminate his or her life. This baby’s fear and helplessness turns into hatred and resentment when he or she is killed. How can anyone bear this? Please think carefully before you act!.
19. A Doctor's Realization.
Ya-Jen Chuang, Clinical Psychologist
After listening to the stories of my patients with Bipolar Disorders, I realized why the Venerable Master emphasized the importance of upholding the precepts.......
I became acquainted with the Venerable Master’s teachings about four years ago, around the time when Taiwan had the SARS crisis. Actually, SARS is like the dangerous and contagious respiratory disease that the Venerable Master mentioned in his Dharma talks. As a health worker, I was met with fear once I left the hospital where I worked. Since I could be quarantined for even the slightest fever, it was hard for me to go anywhere. It was then my aunt sent me publications of the Venerable Master’s Dharma talks, and I began to study his teachings. The Venerable Master said that people who recite the Great Compassion Mantra and the Shurangama Mantra would be untouched by an epidemic. This was when I started to learn the Shurangama Mantra. .
While reading the Venerable Master’s lectures, I was amazed by the way he spoke the truth and promoted morality, without following traditional customs just to please people. Living in the Taiwanese society where truth is becoming rarer while lies are increasing daily, my respect for the Venerable Master arose naturally. His teachings guided me through difficulties and confusing situations in my career, transformed me from someone who never touched a Sutra to someone who wishes to explore the Sutra treasury, and helped me to understand mental illnesses from a Buddhist perspective. He also showed me the error of overlooking the precepts, and inspired me to learn and uphold the precepts instead..
When I graduated from school, I entered my profession with idealistic expectations. I worked alongside experienced and senior clinical psychologists whom I respected. One day, however, when I realized that my colleagues were treating my innocence and respect for others as weaknesses to exploit, I experienced a high degree of cognitive dissonance. I began to wonder whether in order to succeed in my profession, in addition to developing a specialty, I needed to learn how to exploit others’ weaknesses to benefit myself. However, I knew I could never do something like that. Fortunately, the Venerable Master emphasized the importance of following rules of ethics and morality. He also pointed out that living beings in the Dharma-ending age are highly contentious, and thus behaviors that benefit themselves at the expense of others are common. His teachings reaffirmed my original believes and allowed me to clearly distinguish between right and wrong at work, so I was no longer bothered by the fighting or the gossip..
Having grown up in Taiwan, as a student, I was required to study ancient Chinese texts (i.e., written in classical Chinese). However, I never understood them very well; I even guessed on my exams for those classes. Before encountering the Venerable Master’s teachings, I was already studying the Buddhadharma. I participated in Dharma Assemblies for meditation and recitation of the Buddha’s name, but I never thought about studying the Sutras. Since the Sutras are written in classical Chinese, I thought I would never understand them in this lifetime. Fortunately, the Venerable Master used simple and easily understandable language when he explained the Sutras, so I could experience the richness of the Sutras which surpasses our worldly knowledge. I also realized that the Sutras are talking about how we think and act in our daily lives, and this understanding prompted my interest to investigate the Sutras and my wish to explore the Sutra treasury. .
As a clinical psychologist, I have encountered some cases of mental illnesses that no amount of treatment could cure, even after using the entire range of psychotherapy and milieu therapy, and the newest medications. When I met with these patients, I could not help them, and so I felt frustrated and powerless. The Venerable Master said that people with mental disorders often have committed serious karmic offenses. Therefore, living beings, who they have harmed or are otherwise indebted to, are following them around, seeking revenge and repayment. In addition, people need to have merits, virtues, and good roots in order to encounter wholesome Dharma. Based on these principles, when I discuss with my patients about their daily activities, I put more emphasis on and encourage them to do good deeds, such as volunteer work, that will help them to gain merits and virtues. I also discourage them from wasting time in search of pleasure. .
The Venerable Master also mentioned that homosexuality is wrong. However, in the field of psychiatry, homosexuality is no longer considered as a disorder. I also have some friends and patients who are gay. I remember in one of Dharma Master Heng Sure's lectures he said that when the Venerable Master met people who are gay, he wisely and compassionately helped them from the perspective of reducing desires. I follow this teaching as a guideline in treating patients and interacting with friends who are gay. In actuality, not all knowledge is correct. Therefore, I am very fortunate to study the Buddhadharma and the Venerable Master's teachings, and use them to examine and reflect on the worldly knowledge that I use every day. .
Before I didn’t understand the reasons for upholding the precepts, and so I had doubts about this practice. I wondered, if I uphold the precepts just because others are doing so, how could it help me in my cultivation. However, after learning the Venerable Master’s emphasis on upholding the precepts and listening to my patients’ stories, I understood the importance of upholding the precepts..
Let me share some of my patients’ stories with you. I had a patient around 40 years old, who was suffering from Bipolar I Disorder. He told me that when he was young, he suspected that his girlfriend was being unfaithful and, without any proof, killed her. He was sentenced to prison, and after serving his time, he began his life anew. He worked hard, started his own family, and raised two children whom he loved very much. But just when he was able to enjoy the fruit of his labor, he fell ill. He was diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder. This disorder is a form of severe psychosis, with a very slim chance of recovery. His wife filed for divorce and took their children away. The patient was suffering tremendously as a result..
Another example deals with female patients with Bipolar II Disorder. When I asked them whether they had abortions in the past, it turned out that seven out of ten had. This type of Bipolar Disorder consists of two phases: the Hypomanic Episode and the Major Depressive Episode. During the Hypomanic Episode, patients experience euphoria, continuously seek to fulfill their various desires, and ignore potentially harmful results of their actions. For example, they may go on shopping sprees and end up in debt, or get involved in one-night stands. During the Major Depressive Episode, patients feel so depressed, helpless, and hopeless that they consider life is worthless or meaningless. These feelings may even lead to suicide..
The story that made the greatest impression on me is about a beautiful young woman who has a loving husband and two adorable children. After working hard for many years, the patient and her husband finally achieved a fairly high standard of living, complete with a house, cars, and children. Unfortunately, she was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. She was hospitalized several times, but the treatments were not very effective. Although she knows how to live a normal life, she could not do so because of her illness. When I got to the question of whether she had an abortion, she told me that before she married her husband, she was pregnant with their child. However, since they were not married and were afraid of the negative effect of the premarital pregnancy on their parents’ reputation, they chose abortion over giving birth to the child..
Another example is about a patient who is around 30 years old, and she suffered from recurrent Major Depressive Disorder. She also has a nice family. Her husband is a computer engineer who takes good care of her and their two children. Her daughter is only an elementary school student, but she is very considerate. Every time the patient is hospitalized, her daughter sends words through her husband, telling her how much she is loved and missed. After she returns home, her daughter keeps her company, encourages her, and pleases her by behaving very well. However, when symptoms of her depression recur, she repeatedly hurts herself. Whenever she feels really depressed or anguished, she throws herself against a wall or cuts herself. She tries to release her psychological pain by her physical pain. During the periods of mood-irregular exacerbation, she behaves like this almost every day. When asked, she told me that she had an abortion. Although I don’t know whether her ailment stemmed from her abortion, her condition is really sad..
After listening to these stories, I realized why the Venerable Master emphasized the importance of upholding the precepts. If people could uphold the precepts, those killings would not have taken place, and they would not have to endure the suffering of their retribution. Therefore, I resolved to learn and uphold the precepts. This year I am fortunate enough to receive the Lay Bodhisattva Precepts at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas..
Although I have never met the Venerable Master, his teachings continuously guide me toward the correct path in life. I believe in all of the Venerable Master’s instructions, and bit by bit I try to put his teachings into practice..
20. Verse of Transference.
May the merit and virtue accrued from publishing this book.
Help all aborted fetuses in the world to leave suffering and attain bliss, and.
May everyone understands the principle of cause and effect,.
be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss..