The Reactions of Our Heart

A true heart is not influenced by external distractions, a heart free of distractions is a purified heart. To cultivate with a pure heart will bring tremendous benefits to yourself. An example is when chanting sutras and mantras. The merit accumulated from chanting sutras and mantras is incredible. We can refer to “The Shurangama Sutra Chapter on Great Strength Bodhisattva’s Perfect Penetration through Mindfulness of the Buddha” and its explanation on how we can use the six senses to maintain purified thoughts in chanting the Buddha’s name. 

In our life, we are used to wearing our heart on our sleeves; however, changes in our environment and surroundings causes us to react in certain aways. This can include our emotions, making a decision, selecting an item from a group, and general reaction to joy/sorrows. From a Buddhist perspective, these environment/surrounding changes are not stable and can easily shake us up. Only when having a true heart can we make good choices for ourselves. A true heart can be compared to a mirror. A mirror’s function is to show you a reflection. Any items placed in front of the mirror will be shown its’ reflection. A mirror would not create other objects out of thin air or would not judge the object placed in front of it. Of course, it would not have an attachment to the object and produce negative karma for itself. 

Sentient beings have difficulties in holding onto a true heart simply due to attachments towards surrounding illusions. This heart of attachment is built on the six gunas (sight, sound, smell, taste, feeling from touch, thoughts & ideas) that our six senses perceive. Having attachments to them will produce a lot of karma. Whether it is good or bad karma, this will limit you to continuing existence in the six realms of samsara. 

  • Our daily lives bring about a heart full of complex impurities, not allowing us to discover the true heart we once had. So, where do these complex impurities originate from? They originated from ourselves. At the same time, we also possessed a pure heart. It was not produced by us or something that was the result of our cultivation, so unlike a heart full of impurities, this true heart can not be tainted. 
  • A heart full of complex impurities creates trouble and is the root cause of the six realms of samsara. 
  • A calm, purified heart relieves itself from its’ own troubles, and removes the path towards being reborn in the six realms of samsara. 

Even if you took your Bodhisattva Vow Precepts and put on Dharma robes; or shave your head and put on precept robes, as long as you haven’t found your true heart, then you are still considered part of the ordinary sentient beings (which is nothing to be arrogant about). When you do find your true heart, you are able to empathetically understand that all sentient beings possess a heart that would guide them to Buddhahood. Again, it is not something to be arrogant about. In the end, they’re convenient titles to have. As soon as sentient beings succumb to rash thinking, they will fall prey to their own karma accumulated through greed, hatred, and delusions. Some people may enjoy lots of blessings however their heart always feel uneasy while there are some that enjoy little amounts of blessing but feels content. A peaceful wellbeing does not depend on how much blessing you receive, nor does it depend on whether or not you become ordained, but whether or not your heart can respond and adapt to the changing surroundings. This is the power of our heart, and the same heart used to obtain Buddhahood. 

By Jimmy Chang

Translated by Terence Kong