It is said, “Every family has a Sutra that’s hard to read.” [Every family has a skeleton in the closet.] When can we finish reading this Sutra? Or when will this Sutra not be so hard to read? No one knows. We cultivators can say that we have finished reading this difficult Sutra. Now we are reading the easy Sutras.
Today I tell you of these causes and conditions, reminding you to recognize the question of birth, old age, sickness, and death. When we encounter these states, we should be able to put them down and not be bound by them. It is best if you can face a state with no mind, regarding it as something ordinary. If you can remain unmoved in your mind, then you are in a state of unmoving thusness and clear and constant understanding.
People in this world are often influenced by situations, instead of being the ones who influence situations. That’s why they are aimless and cannot hold on to their principles. People are born muddled, live their whole lives muddled, and die muddled. We are cheated once, don’t learn anything from it, and come back to be cheated again; in that way we revolve in the six paths. It’s like gambling-you’ve already lost but you still want to make bets.
There’s a saying, “Live frugally so you can place a big bet.” Trying to win back their lost money, ordinary people always want to stake everything on one bet. But the more you gamble the more you lose, and the more you lose the more you want to gamble, until you find yourself sinking in quicksand, unable to pull yourself out. In the end you lose everything, including your family heirlooms and the Dharma treasures of your own nature. All is lost, and still you fail to return to the source and go back to the origin. You don’t reflect within and return from delusion to enlightenment; you don’t unite with enlightenment and go against the dust. Being born and dying in this world again and again, you struggle in the bitter sea of birth and death. You strive to climb out, but just as you get your head above the waves, you’re submerged again. Thus the cycle goes on, never coming to an end.
Those of you who have entered the monastic life must cultivate diligently, otherwise you won’t be able to escape rebirth in the six paths. If you can quickly withdraw, and know that gambling is no good, then as the saying goes, “The return of a prodigal son is something that even gold can’t buy.” At that time you will know the truth of the saying, “Whoever gambles, loses money; whoever doesn’t gamble, wins money.” Just as in chess, there are always winners and losers. A chess player won’t always lose, nor will he always win. With that principle, we can understand our mind and awaken to the Way as we face situations. Good advisors: Take birth and death seriously, develop the Bodhi mind, and stop bobbing up and down in the sea of suffering. People who aren’t willing to leave the sea of suffering are fools. If we crave worldly pleasures, we’ll never finish reading this difficult Sutra. We have already left the home life, so we shouldn’t waste time reading this difficult Sutra that can never be finished.