How to Attain Transcendental Wisdom
Cultivate seriously and uphold the precepts carefully at all times and in all places, setting an example with your own conduct.
We have to use the false to facilitate the cultivation of the true. We should follow the example of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, who have transcendental wisdom and inconceivable spiritual powers. How did they attain their wisdom and powers?
To put it in a nutshell, when they were on the causal ground, they cultivated seriously and upheld the precepts carefully at all times and in all places. They had perfect deportment while waling, standing, sitting, and reclining, setting an example with their own conduct. They spared no effort for the sake of living beings and took all the work and blame upon themselves. They never showed off or publicized the meritorious deeds they did to benefit living beings; they took rescuing living beings as their personal duty. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas helped living beings without seeking any rewards or feeling any regret. They showed great kindness to those with whom they had no affinities and practiced great compassion by regarding all beings as identical with themselves. Through such cultivation, they attained transcendental wisdom and inconceivable spiritual powers.
When listening to Sutra lectures, we have to contemplate and digest what we hear before we can receive the benefit. Otherwise, after having listened to many lectures we’ll begin to neglect the doctrines spoken in the Sutras, or even put the principles on the back burner, neither investigating nor contemplating them, only using our worldly intelligence to do muddled things. This kind of foolish behavior is unfilial to the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, our ancestors, parents, and teachers. We should earnestly practice and uphold the Buddhadharma, and not be lazy or careless. We must be cautious at all times and places, be vigorous, and strictly uphold the precepts. These are the guidelines cultivators must follow.
If we have improper habits and faults, we must correct them. We cannot cling to our faults, refuse to correct, even defend them. That would be "helping King Zhou perpetuate evil." King Zhou was a depraved tyrant during the late Shang dynasty, and evildoers are said to have helped him in his tyranny. The "King Zhou" of cultivation is Mara, the demon king. When the demon king sees the Buddhadharma flourishing, he feels uneasy and does all he can to destroy Buddhism and disrupt its Way-places. If you have a Way-place, he’ll come to disturb it. If you don’t have a Way-place, then he’ll come to disturb your body and mind, making you feel restless and ill at ease, so that you cannot practice the Dharma. This is a case of direct sabotage. There is also indirect sabotage, such as enticing you with all kinds of states that cause you to lose samadhi power, get carried away and fall into his trap, losing the resolve to cultivate.
Therefore cultivators should be as calm and steady as Mount Sumeru, remaining unmoved no matter what states they encounter. Then the demon king will be helpless to do anything; he will have to abandon his armor and run away.