Affections in the Dharma

As human beings, Buddhist practitioners do have feelings and share affections.

Some Buddhists think that, since worldly sentiments can easily lead to attachment or can even be immoral in some instances, affections need to be infused with Buddha-dharma. The Buddha-dharma is pure and immaculate; so, affections expressed with Dharma will also be pure, unstained, and wholesome.

Buddha-dharma is not something existing outside of the world.  Sentiments in the Dharma cannot be separate from worldly affections. Otherwise it becomes vain and empty theory. Apart from human affection, where is “Dharma affection”?  Without people, who will study and practice the Dharma? Apart from human beings, how would the profound Buddha-dharma be expressed?

Therefore, although the Dharma is pure, unstained, and wholesome, it is people who are the essential part of studying and practicing the Dharma. Only when there are people who learn and practice the Dharma will it have its effect and its meaning be exhibited. Besides, affections in the Dharma do have the element of “affection”.

Although sentiment grounded in the Dharma is pure, it entails a process of purification and transformation from ordinary affection, and this requires wisdom.

There are sequences and steps in cultivating such wisdom. Through observing and investigating the myriad worldly feelings and sentiments, we see the variety of problems, suffering, and bondage; we also see clearly the root cause of the afflictions and suffering. We practice with proper methods to gradually adjust, improve, transform, and purify our body, mind, and actions.

This is the process that will guide and infuse worldly feelings with wisdom. With refined and purified human affection, relationships between people and all beings will no longer be tainted based on self-centered gains. People can live in harmony instead of harming or defeating others for the sake of selfish profits. If we all interact with others with pure motivations and actions, Pure Land is right on earth and in front of us!

In real life, unwholesome elements still exist.  However, as Buddhist practitioners, why not lead relationships with a pure and honest mind and the inspiration to transform ourselves?

Begin with this sentient being – yourself!  Purify your mind first; then, spread affections with the Dharma in all directions without boundary…

(1997/05/30 Written in Taiping, Malaysia. Published in the book “Joyful Chant of Life”)

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