Transform Fate Through Virtuous Deeds and Meditation
A Dharma Teaching by Grandmaster JinBodhi
Karma: Life’s Cause and Effect
We’re here to make our life better: to be healthier, happier and more successful. But to make your cultivation of virtuous deeds and meditation effective, firstly, you need to know the root cause of your problems – debts have to be repaid. In your previous lives, you may have killed people as a criminal or soldier. You may have been a notorious thug, a thief or a swindler.
In this lifetime, even though we live in a civilized country, we have stolen, lied or cheated. There’s no perfect person. Perhaps in past lives in uncivilized places, we did countless bad deeds.
The harm we previously perpetrated on others has circled back to manifest in our current life – the negative karmic effect. Many people do not have their wishes fulfilled in this lifetime. When they pursue wealth, money slips through their fingers. There are others who acquire wealth, only to see it disappear.
Some, because of failing to cherish a good partner, end up alone. Why do so many people suffer misfortune? Some may say it’s because they lack intellectual abilities. But why aren’t they smart? Some reply that a lack of intelligence is hereditary, pointing to the fact that their parents aren’t so bright either. I would like to ask why those people ended up as the children of not-so-brilliant parents. My answer is negative karma. I tried explanations other than karma, but couldn’t find another satisfactory answer. There is no other way to explain life. Karma determines everything, including who your parents are.
Changing Your Fate Through Virtuous Deeds
You can change your negative karma by accumulating merit through doing good deeds, such as donating your money or skills to help those in disaster-stricken areas.
Sakyamuni Buddha advocates the following: no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying, and no alcohol. I have added: no drugs, no gambling, and no eating of turtles, snakes or dogs. Also, it may not be a good idea to eat very expensive delicacies.
To change your lives for the better, follow those rules and also perform acts of their opposite: Instead of killing, protect all sentient beings; instead of stealing, contribute often to worthy causes.
Differentiate between duty and offering. A man says, “I helped my mother-in-law.” This is his responsibility and it is different from charitable giving. Some say, “I often help my wife.” This is your duty as a husband and cannot be compared to an act of offering.
Another principle I wish to highlight is no sexual misconduct. Sexual misconduct results in emotional stress. Infidelity causes problems for both families. It can lead to breaking up your own family and the suffering of the other family. “No lying” is the toughest rule. Who doesn’t lie? However, white lies can be pardoned. For example, if your miserly friend asks whether you’ve eaten and you reply untruthfully that you have. Such insignificant lies don’t harm anyone. I formulate my response after analyzing the other person’s nature and behavior. Sometimes, untrue replies aren’t lies. You’re just providing a reply and there’s no guilt attached.
To change your fate for the better, you need to do more good deeds. Buddhist scriptures note how doing positive deeds alters one’s destiny.
There are many kinds of good deeds: Help print Buddhist scriptures that benefit many; support a self-cultivator or an eminent master who has achieved great merit and virtue, immense wisdom and illumination and energy. Such a distinguished master can be compared to a protector who can substantially alleviate your negative karma with his energy and merits, blessing you with auspiciousness.
Likewise, an accomplished practitioner can use his blessings and merit for the benefit of all sentient beings who have affinity with him, alleviating their suffering and helping them to be reborn in the Pure Lands. That is to say, the Western Pure Land or the Eastern Land of Lapis Lazuli, as long as the benefiters have such a wish. If you are living happily now, you may not think about cultivating merit. I am highlighting that the energy of cumulative merits makes it possible to transform your fate: Start doing more virtuous deeds and fewer negative acts.
Meditation Transforms Life
I had an elderly relative who once worked in government. As he aged, his health worsened: diabetes, deteriorating eyesight, he could barely walk on his own. He didn’t have the chance to learn meditation from me as he lived in Mainland China. So I sent someone to teach him. He initially refused. However, when the doctor told him that modern medicine couldn’t do much to help his conditions, he made a decision to practice The Meditation of Greater Illumination, chanting and prostration.
His daily practice averaged between four and seven hours for three to four years. One day, he said to his family, “I thought the buddhas were imaginary, created by people. But I see for myself that Buddha is here, floating in the sky, talking with me and smiling at me, with many buddhas behind him.” He wasn’t lying. You could tell from his expression and tone and how he described in detail what each buddha looked like and the garments they wore. He also heard celestial music. Two hours later, he passed. He died auspiciously, free of disease, at over 80 years old. The power of meditation is extraordinary and miraculous. If you have meditated a short time, you may experience some physiological changes. Some diseases are slowly transformed, some will diminish, and others will be eliminated, as evidenced by the testimonials you shared.
There can be other physical improvements one may experience. For example, many people with dry skin find their hands become smooth. Middle-aged or elderly practitioners find the age spots on their face, arms and body begin to fade after three months of practice. These are true stories.
About 10 percent of the population doesn’t sweat. After about a month of practice, your hands and feet, as well as your body, will start to perspire, opening up the meridians. Not sweating means there’s a blockage. It’s amazing that many diseases have disappeared. That’s how much energy comes from meditation.