The phrase “not thinking of goodness nor of evil” has made our practitioners misunderstood for long time. The misunderstanding is that goodness is something precious in life, which is considered the same evil.
Does the Patriarch’s state seem to deny the fact of goodness as well as evil? Or look down to goodness and evil?
Today, we must clearly explain His state to be exactly His meaning.
The reason there is no talking about goodness is simply that the mind is purely good. Talking more about goodness is excess. Goodness is natural. It must be nature that covers practitioners’ minds and hearts. There is no need to talk about goodness any more. There is no talking about evil, because the mind disapproves of evil. We shouldn’t understand the meaning of that goodness and evil are the same.
We should emphasize the meaning of “not thinking of goodness nor evil” that we absolutely respect the goodness and completely disapprove of the evil. This understanding is in accordance with the Buddha’s saying in Dharmapada Sutra:
Avoid doing evil
Do goodness tirelessly
Keep mind serene
These are the Buddha’s teachings.
The basic doctrines of Buddhism can be never changed. We should never change the meaning of Dharma. If we understand that the meaning of “no goodness” is not to do good, and the meaning of “no evil” is the same with goodness, then we misunderstand the basic doctrines of Buddhism.
Therefore, we must understand the meaning of Right Thought that the purely good mind is the sound base on which meditation-concentration is relied.
First, we think about set up of morality, because our mind by nature is considered as not moral. We live impressionably, get mad when to be sneered, get happy when to be praised, get hatred when to be scrambled. This is habitual living, the vulgar reaction of humans. This is not moral living.
Now, we understand Buddhism, we shouldn’t live in that vulgar impressibility any more. We should no longer vulgarly react like that. We must practice Right Thought. From now on, for the rest of our life, we should be aware that any thinking that brings sorrow to our mind is wrong thinking. We can evaluate our thinking by our morality and tranquil mind to see if our thinking is right or wrong. If our thinking helps us increase our compassion-loving for people, and keep our mind serene, then our thinking is right.