There is Nothing that Must Belong to You Causes and conditions are outside of one's control and depend on the time and the environment. Therefore, there is really nothing that must belong to you, and that must be done by you. When it is feasible to do something, give your best effort to do it, but if it can't be done there is no need to be too disappointed or care too much about it. There are two lines from the Diamond Sutra on the wall at Nung Chan Monastery: “Abiding nowhere, give rise to mind.” “Abiding nowhere” refers to the mind without attachments, but it can also be taken to mean there is nothing that must be accomplished or done. It is very painful to hold onto a certain thing, event, or person so strongly. At the same time, one who does not want, hold onto, or need anything would be very isolated. So “giving rise to the mind” means being mindful at every place and time, and working hard to achieve a goal. “Mind” here is the mind of wisdom, of doing one's best, knowing each other, knowing the environment and oneself. It also means using wisdom to evaluate the subjective and objective conditions in the environment. We should use people to help accomplish endeavors we want to be successful, and use those endeavors to help people succeed. These two are complementary. Doing this while not being tied down or tying other people down is giving rise to mind. With this mind of wisdom, one can improve oneself and help others to succeed, to solve one's difficulties as well as others’ problems by adapting to conditions. This is a bodhisattva that can alleviate pain and suffering. Resources Liberated in Stillness and Motion, The Attitude for Practicing Chan, p. 149 Master Sheng Yen's Talks Given at Nung Chan Monastery, 1995. Book Store Liberated in Stillness and Motion Liberated in Stillness and Motion (Amazon)
There is Nothing That Must Be Done While Chan practitioners and non-practitioners share a common humanity, they have some fundamentally different attitudes. Something that appears to be of utmost importance to a non-practitioner may also be important to one who practices Chan, but not critical. In other words, from the standpoint of responsibility and conscience, if something should be done, but causes and conditions do not allow it, then not doing it may be the wiser course. The meaning of "not critical”is that there is nothing in this world that must be done, and nothing that one must do. How can there be nothing that is critical? It is because causes and conditions are inconceivable; success and failure cannot be decided by subjective conditions alone. As soon as objective conditions or factors change, the subjective conditions are also affected. There is a saying: “A flowering plant that is carefully looked after fails to blossom; a willow branch that is carelessly planted grows into shade.” Sometimes even with careful tending to, flowering plants will fail to blossom. Perhaps the soil is unsuitable or the season is not right for growing flowers. If the weather is unsuitable, then the environment is also unsuitable for flowers to blossom. On the other hand, sometimes a carelessly planted willow branch will grow into a tree and flourish. It is not because of us that the willow tree lives, but because the environment and weather were suitable for it to survive and grow. We should be everything wholeheartedly and with full effort, but success or failure does not depend on our personal involvement alone. If the environment and timing are not favorable, yet one insists that something must be accomplished, then that could be a dead end. Even if you work yourself to death, become very angry, or are ready to die, it still may not be doable, so why must it be done?
Since Buddhist mantras embody the blessed power from Buddhas’and Bodhisattvas’compassionate vows, we should recite mantras wholeheartedly as though we were connected to the mind of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. In this way, our mind doesn't differ from the Buddha's mind. Understanding the Mindset for Reciting Mantras In the Great Compassion Dharani Sutra, Maha-Brahma* once asked the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara to explain the characteristics of the Great Compassion Mantra, so that practitioners could understand the right mindset to hold toward mantras. Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva thus compassionately expounded the Ten Attitudes for holding the Great Compassion Mantra, and clearly pointed out the essentials of cultivating the mind: “ 1) It is equally merciful and compassionate; 2) It is impartial; 3) It is unconditioned; 4) It is unpolluted and unattached; 5) It observes emptiness; 6) It is respectful; 7) It is humble; 8) It is uncluttered; 9) It is not attached to self-centered points of view; and, finally, 10) it is the highest Bodhicitta. One should know that such attitudes are the characteristics of this Dharani, and one should practice accordingly.” Practice According to the Ten Attitudes All Buddhas tread a common path. Not only can the Ten Attitudes be applied to reciting the Great Compassion Mantra, but can also be used with other mantras to subdue afflictions and activate wisdom. The Ten Attitudes are: 1. Be greatly merciful and compassionate: Cultivate the attitudes of helping all sentient beings extinguish suffering, and giving them happiness. 2. Be impartial: Cultivate the attitude of helping all sentient beings equally, without discrimination. 3. Be unconditioned: Cultivate a straightforward, direct mindset, without contrivance or pretense 4. Be unpolluted and unattached: Cultivate a pure and liberated mind. 5. Observe Emptiness: Give rise to the wisdom capable