108 Adages of Wisdom IV
The Environmental Protection of the Mind

1. Use ordinary mind to face unordinary circumstances.

2. Even if you're right, don't be harsh to others. Express correct views gently.

3. Become aware of your breathing the moment you feel agitated or emotional. Experience and feel your breath and you will soon become calm.

4. The mind is agitated by either the environment or the body. Be watchful of body and mind to maintain a peaceful and stable mind.

5. Let others be your mirror. If your words or actions discomfit, shock, or cause concern to others, immediately reflect on your behavior, express remorse, and improve.

6. The mind is our teacher. We are in the Pure Land when our mind is unified with whatever we do, wherever we are, at all times, in all places.

7. If other people's praise or criticism affects you – whether it makes you happy or sad – it means that you have neglected to take care of your mind and spirit.

8. Anger may stem from the body, perception, or many other causes. It's not necessarily an indication of poor cultivation. If you can look within, dissolve your anger, you will harm neither yourself nor others.

9. Take care of your mind, no matter the situation. Keep inner mind calm and peaceful. This is spiritual health; this is protecting the spiritual environment.

10. Unpleasant encounters, unhappy situations – we must mend our own minds, not other people's minds.

11. Someone we like or dislike, happy or difficult situation treat everything with calmness and equanimity – this "treating right and wrong with gentleness."

12. Gentleness is a mild heart and a flexible attitude toward others and in dealing with situations. It is not a sign weakness.

13. Freedom is not life without obstacles; rather it is the ability to be calm and stable in body and mind when confronting obstacles.

14. People may seek satisfaction by exploiting the environment, they may seek social justice, they may seek social equality, and indeed they may enjoy some degree of success in these endeavors, but ultimately they will fail to truly bring conflict to an end.

15. Letting go does not mean giving up. Letting go means not thinking of the past, not thinking of the future, a mind that lets go. Giving up means believing in nothing, abandoning all faith and courage.

16. When we have faith and hope, we have a future.

17. Regret is a kind of emotional affliction. Repentance is a practice.

18. Being anxious and worrisome is useless. Being mindful and focused is a must.

19. Relax when you are sick, carry on and do what you must do. This is a healthy way to handle sickness.

20. Sickness need not be a source of suffering; the same is true for poverty and physical labor. But when the mind is distressed, that is true suffering.

21. Take your illness as an experience. Then it will not be suffering.

22. Take adversity as something interesting, you will harvest a very different crop.

23. If you are prepared for a setback, then you will not fear setbacks.

24. It is impossible to have a carefree life; our bodies may experience sickness and pain, our work may be troublesome, the environment may be beset with calamity. But if our mind is at peace, then we will be at peace.

25. The world can face great danger and calamity at any time. If we are mentally prepared for anything, then when misfortune strikes we reduce the potential injury to the bare minimum.

26. If our views are correct, then we know that birth, aging, sickness, and death are natural and we will not blame others.

27. Ponder for two more minutes, and opportunities may reveal themselves; as long as we have one more breath, our potential is unlimited.

28. As long as we have one breath left, when we alter our thinking the environment will change along with it, because the environment is impermanent.

29. It does not matter how much the environment changes, as long as we face it with calm and composure, we will certainly find a solution.

30. The Chan practice of inner environmental protection is to maintain stability, harmony, clarity, whether we are busy or not, alone or with others.

31. No need to fear the sound of opposition or obstacles. If we can face and accept them then these conditions become a force to help us to grow.

32. We have to respond to problems with calm. If our minds are not equanimous and harmonious, then we will likely say the wrong things and make the situation worse.

Fulfilling Responsibilities

33. If you want to harmonize with the environment, first harmonize yourself.

34. Relax and experience body and mind, then you will be in harmony with yourself.

35. Harmonize yourself first to deeply understand the processes of the self, including your merits and weaknesses.

36. Do not think you know it all; do not belittle yourself.

37. Do not compare yourself against some standard; do not compare yourself with others. Just be diligent in the present and be prepared at any time for the future.

38. Ordinarily people like to boast about their strengths. Our strengths should be developed, but there is no need to exaggerate them.

39. People usually hide their shortcomings and avoid confronting them. Face them with openness, and then these shortcomings and other problems will actually decrease.

40. Know clearly your strengths and weaknesses, observe the meaning of life and existence. This is the beginning of self-affirmation.

41. To affirm yourself and not attach to strengths or weaknesses, to not become arrogant or regretful and still be diligent in all endeavors – this is an attitude of selflessness.

42. Each individual has his or her own disposition, wisdom, environment, physical makeup, and background. There is no need to compare. As long as the individual is solid, taking each step in life with certitude and stability, then he or she will be able to make something out of life.

43. If you uphold clear principles of life’s values and abide by them without being swayed, then as you pass through each stage of life, all experiences will add to the feast of your life.

44. Being selfish and self-serving may seem to be a way to protect yourself, but this is not so. One who is self-serving actually harms others and ultimately, himself.

45. Those who are selfish, self-serving, and insatiable act this way due to feelings of insecurity.

46. Conflicts usually come from an over-assertion of personal views.

47. Self-centeredness is a fundamental factor for survival; from this perspective, it is not necessarily bad. However, if a person's self-centeredness is too strong, always feeling that one is right, with an insatiable desire for gain, or feeling arrogant or self-disparaged, then it will be very difficult to be happy.

48. If you can transcend selfish and self-serving attitudes, along with thoughts of your own gain and loss, then your heart will truly be open and receptive. Concerns for your own gain and loss will also decrease.

49. Transcending individual concerns for gain and loss, you will be able to regard society's and humanity's gain and loss as your own concern.

50. We hope to have health, happiness, and harmony for ourselves, and we wish that others may have the same. Self-interest exists here, but it is very different from selfishness. Such an attitude of benefiting others is known as Bodhi-mind or bodhichitta.

51. The real value of life comes from offering ourselves to others; this is where we grow and form connections with others.

52. There is usefulness in the talents we were born with. When each of us is born, we bring to this world our life purpose and capacities. Our "usefulness" is measured by our ability to contribute to humanity in the history of our times and to the whole of society.

53. Even though our individual lives are miniscule, as long as we can fully utilize our strengths and develop our capabilities with utmost effort, then we will fulfill our roles of inheriting the past and inspiring the future of civilization.

54. As long as gratitude fills our hearts, and we are diligent, then we can be like a tube for blood transfusion—we receive nourishment from our predecessors and we also transport the nourishment we have to future generations. To do this is to fulfill our duty.

55. One day in a monk’s life is one day of work. No matter who we are or what status and role we play, as long we are diligent and responsible, taking hold of the precious present moment, then we protect our spiritual environment.

56. Offering ourselves, our knowledge, and everything to the benefit of our family, friends, and even all sentient beings without any reservation or complaint is to be someone who everyone needs – an "important person."

Wisdom and Compassion

57. The suffering and joy you feel comes from the mind’s perception. If you take all of life’s favorable and adverse experiences as a process to develop wisdom and compassion, then you are free.

58. If you do not entertain thoughts of gain and loss, then in Chan you are "one with nothing to do." Having nothing to do does not literally mean doing nothing. Rather, it means your mind is unobstructed when you engage in any task.

59. We will be a harmonious and peaceful person if we take the peace, joy, and fortunes of others as our own source of joy, peace, and fortune.

60. Everyone has the capacity to help others. We can help others through our sincere appreciation, encouragement, consolation, and guidance.

61. Flowers blossoming and bearing fruit is a natural phenomenon. Flowers blossoming and not bearing fruit is also natural. Both accord with the workings of causes and conditions.

62. A "cause" can be understood as the main factor, our own subjective initiative; "conditions" are objective, auxiliary factors. We can control the "cause" but the "conditions" must be cultivated and fostered.

63. Someone who understands causes and conditions can be freed from the bondage of suffering and afflictions.

64. We should not get caught up with success and failure. The diligence and thoughtfulness we put into our work, irrespective of its outcome, can be translated into favorable conditions for our own growth.

65. Take hold of the workings of causes and conditions; if they are not "ripe," then wait and continue with diligence. When causes and conditions are ripe then they can be put to good use.

66. "Understanding life" is different from merely "accepting life." Accepting life can mean being pessimistic, or giving up on life. Understanding life is to understand that all things exist through causes and conditions. Whatever is supposed to come, favorable or adverse, it will come.

67. Those who understand life will meet life's rewards and challenges with openness.

68. Under all situations, we have to be respectful to others, be responsible for our obligations, and resolve our own problems with wisdom.

69. Compassion not only means not harming others but also actively helping others.

70. Under all circumstances, if we do not harm and obstruct others, then this protects us and others.

71. Don't interact with others or handle situations from your own standpoint. Instead, be objective, or even act from a standpoint that is beyond subjective or objective, and you will be less prone to mistakes and more compassionate and understanding of others.

72. There are really no bad people in the world, only those who make mistakes. There are no evil people, only those whose thoughts have deviated from the norm.

73. Compassion stems from an attitude of equanimity, nondiscrimination, and non-opposition toward all people.

74. Wisdom is the ability to respond to every situation, under all circumstances, with clarity and stability, as if one's own self is reduced to zero.

75. Resolution of a problem is good. If it cannot be resolved, or if there are negative repercussions, do not be hindered. As long as we have done our best there is no need for blame.

76. Compassion means to help, forgive, accept, and positively influence others. Wisdom in responding to difficult situations means the ability to face, accept, respond, and let go.

77. Compassionate love does not distinguish between friend and foe. The manifestation of wisdom is to appropriately resolve all problems.

78. Compassion must be accompanied by wisdom. The kind of compassion that lacks wisdom may very easily end up harming yourself and others. Even with good intentions, such "compassion" is still prone to mistakes and harming others.

79. Compassion does not mean allowing others to walk all over you or be a deferential phony. Rather, a compassionate person engages in benefiting others and elevating the spiritual environment of humanity.

Happiness and Blessings

80. In Buddhism, to "live in the world" does not mean to merely "be in the world" or to "attach to the world." To merely be in the world can mean to live without any purpose or to live in confusion, creating more problems for the world. To attach to the world can mean to depend on or be concerned with those things that are only relevant to you.

81. In Buddhism there are also such concepts as to "enter the world" and to "transcend the world." To enter the world means to participate in and help the world. It is an attitude that gives primacy to benefiting others. To transcend the world refers to those who prefer to dwell in the mountains and forests and not get involved with worldly affairs so as to focus on spiritual practice.

82. Bodhisattvas have the heart that transcends the world but actions that enter the world. They are involved with the society and help all those who need it, without concerns of worldly fame, recognition, or reward. These are the actions of a truly liberated practitioner.

83. We have to know that life is full of challenges. If we are mentally prepared for them, then we will not feel obstructed when they arise.

84. If we recognize that the world is imperfect, that showers may bring life, but thunderstorms destroy, then we will not anticipate everything to be perfect.

85. We should often ask ourselves, "Am I happy?" "Am I truly happy?" Happiness is not some external stimulus, but a genuine sense of wellbeing and serenity.

86. To refrain from hurtful words is to extend care toward others and ourselves.

87. When we interact with others, giving them space is to give ourselves space.

88. We have to maintain an enthusiastic and positive attitude in whatever we do. When we are happy, those around us will also be happy.

89. Pursuing happiness without taking responsibilities produces a happiness that is short-lived and burdensome.

90. When we offer ourselves to the benefit of others, we grow. We feel a sense of accomplishment. Such feelings bring joy and consolation.

91. When we look at the world with hatred, revenge, and insatiable desire, we drive happiness far away.

92. Benefiting others more and lessening selfishness brings peace, harmony and happiness.

93. Earn money without selfishness and allow everyone to earn money. When everyone has the opportunity to earn wealth, this is the most reliable kind of wealth.

94. There is a proper way to acquire wealth. In addition to our own good fortune accumulated from past lives, we have to be diligent this life and broadly establish affinities with others.

95. There is monetary wealth, wealth in wisdom, and wealth in blessings. Having all three assures peace, health, happiness and blessings.

96. To do good deeds and help others leads to wealth in blessings. Correct views and the knowledge to alleviate vexations is wealth in wisdom.

97. Monetary wealth is important, but if it is used to save lives and do philanthropic work, then you are truly a rich and honorable person.

98. To have a happy life, develop these three Qs: IQ to learn, EQ to manage oneself and others, and the MQ, moral intelligence, to cultivate, benefit, and care for others.

99. The more challenges we face in the environment, the more we must take care of our body and mind to do more beneficial things for others.

100. Those who benefit others do not worry about being taken care of. When we have altruistic vows, we will have the mental fortitude to take care of others and ourselves.

101. Our lifespan may be brief, but our compassionate vows must be unlimited.

102. Exert yourself in all your efforts and accord with the flow of causes and conditions. When conditions become ripe, our work will bear fruit.

103. All the things we do for the benefit of sentient beings will eventually be completed if we have the heart to accomplish them.

104. It doesn’t matter if a good deed is big or small. Always have good intentions and then your mind will be at peace.

105. The best kind of vow brings benefit to yourself and others. But if a vow is only for your benefit, make sure it does no harm to others.

106. There is an order to developing aspirations. Begin small with what's close at hand. Start with good intentions, positive speech, and good deeds. These are things that everyone can do and vows that everyone can make.

107. Positive speech, good deeds, and the lessening of negative karma can change your lot in life. These are the conditions that can transform collective karma.

108. We can let others know of our good deeds but we should not expect rewards. We can encourage everyone to do good deeds, so that doing good things becomes the norm. We will create positive influences and lasting effects.

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