Dharma talk: Planting the Seeds of Buddhism and Cultivating Good Roots
Planting the Seeds of Buddhism and Cultivating Good Roots
A Dharma Talk given by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Buddhism has just planted the seeds of Bodhi in the pure soil of the West, and now they have already sprouted and put forth the tender shoots. I hope everyone will be a good gardener and diligently water them and fertilize them often, so that they thrive joyously and grow more flourishing every day. Then eventually the Bodhi blossoms will open and bear the fruit of Bodhi.
The analogy of seeds can also be used to explain humaneness. When planting the various grains, we must choose the large seeds, because they will produce strong sprouts and will yield a bountiful harvest in the autumn. Farmers understand this. If good seeds are not selected, and the fields are not tilled, irrigated, and fertilized, then come autumn there won’t be any harvest. “Each bit of tilling yields a bit of harvest.” This can also be applied to the situation of students studying in school. If you study hard and understand the principles in your textbooks, you will surely be able to make useful contributions in the future.
People who are learning and practicing the Buddhadharma are sowing seeds in the ground. Once the seeds have been sown, will they sprout? It depends on various conditions. When all the right conditions are present, the seeds will sprout and grow in due course. If the various aiding conditions are not all present, the sprouts may wither and the seeds may go bad. It also depends on whether we sowed our Bodhi seeds deeply and firmly enough when we made our resolve for Bodhi.
If we sowed them deeply and firmly enough, the seeds will surely take root and sprout in the future. However, if you want to reap the Bodhi fruit, it will take considerable time, and it depends on how well you apply effort. If your cultivation advances well, and you become enlightened, realize the fruition, and accomplish the Way, then you have reaped the harvest.
During the process of taking root, sprouting, growing leaves, flowering, and bearing fruit, a considerable time of care, watering and adding fertilizer is needed. What is the fertilizer? It is studying morality. Every aspect of cultivation must be based on morality. “Not going against morality” should be our fundamental precept.
A Confucian maxim says: “Virtue is fundamental. Wealth is incidental.”Virtuous conduct is the foundation of a person, while wealth is an insignificant thing. Cultivators should always be thrifty and avoid wasting money or resources. That way, over the days and months, they can foster their practice of virtue. Then the branches and leaves will grow abundantly, the fruits will accumulate. If you don’t add fertilizer, and you make no effort to care for and waste the plant, it will be easy for the branches, flowers and fruit to wither and die. Therefore, the foremost precept for cultivators is to place emphasis on virtuous conduct.
Virtuous conduct begins in small places. “Do not think a good deed is too small and fail to do it.” Don’t wait around for a big good deed to do, because there aren’t that many big good deeds. A mountain is an accumulation of specks of dust. Although each speck is tiny, many specks piled up can form a mountain. Virtuous deeds may be small, yet when many are accumulated, they will form a mountain of virtue.