However, there are also people who have extreme greed, cruelty, and hatred. They destroy the morality of others, making the society more chaotic. They do not direct people to noble things but sin and evil, making people fight with others. Those people are the most wicked ones. The retribution for them is they will be kept torturing, burning and stabbing in hell in countless lives.
Also, many people think they do not do evil deeds, and that’s enough. In fact, they are mistaken. Not doing evil deeds is not a good thing. If you do not commit evil deeds, you are not bad and not good, but your bad deeds are waiting to be done. So, you must always do good deeds. These good deeds will help to stop your evil thoughts. If we do not do evil deeds, bad ideas are still in our mind, and until we do good deeds, these bad feelings are gone.
For example, there are two feelings inside our mind. One is a sense of compassion and wanting to help others; the other is a sense of miserliness. We seem to have two opposite feelings at the same time. Because there are times that we are miserly and do not want to help anyone, but there are times we are generous and want to help many people. That is we are both good and bad. Now, if you say, “Well, I won’t be miserly!” and you do nothing. So, will you not be miserly anymore? Not at all! If you do not want to be miserly anymore, you have to give alms. When we give alms, our miserliness becomes weaker and weaker, and at some time, it will disappear. That is, due to our specific actions, we can change our mind, but not our thought that can do it. Many people say that they will convert their mind by staying away from others and practicing the Dharma. The truth is they cannot change their mind to be good this way. In fact, they should make an effort to help others and thanks to those actions, their mind will be changed.
Keep in mind that our thoughts will turn into actions, but our actions will help to convert our mind. So, if you want to aim at good deeds and end evil deeds, you have to do good deeds. It is not as simple as we say we won’t do bad deeds and that’s it.
There are also people who say, “I just need my mind to be pure, not good and not evil.” Those who understand like that made a mistake. Why? – Because a pure mind is the result of mind full of good thoughts. Those who have only good thoughts will have a pure mind. When our mind is pure, we do not think about good or evil, but its root is good. Only when we have only good thoughts, we will have a pure mind. Remember that.
However, although we do a lot of good things, our selfishness, greed, and hatred still exist though they are very subtle, so do not be subjective. For example, we do a lot of work for charity, often help others, give alms to the poor then don’t hastily think, “Because I do a lot of good deeds, I am no longer a bad one.” But we should believe that as long as we have not yet become Buddhas, our seeds of selfishness and evil still exist even though they are feeble, but sometimes they appear to dominate us. Though we do good deeds, our bad thoughts remain. Sometimes we cannot control these bad ideas; they will make us do wrong things without our recognition.
This problem also happens to the ordained as well. Some monks preach morality to people, but we are not sure that they have no bad thoughts at all. Because they have not yet become Buddhas, their evil thoughts remain.
So, what should we do? We have to rely on the Buddha, i.e. to count on the power of the Buddha. Every day, we should bow to the Buddha sincerely. When we have an enormous reverence for the Buddha, naturally we are protected by the Buddha’s power. When our evil thoughts appear, mysteriously, we recognize them and overcome them. We have to do this many times before we completely stop our evil mind.
For Buddhist monks/nuns who strictly obey the precepts and stay in temples all day long and do not do anything wrong still have evil thoughts in their mind. We don’t know when these ideas will dominate them. And when they leave temples to do something, they do not have brothers remind them, so their evil thoughts quickly come back.
Therefore, practitioners, especially the ordained should bow to Buddha every day. Thanks to a genuine reverence for the Buddha, we have a blessing to control our potentially toxic thoughts. Although we have not yet been able to eliminate them, they cannot govern us anymore. The earnest merit that we earn from our reverence for the Buddha helps to keep our religious life at peace. Therefore, the merit from bowing to Buddha is so great.
Laypeople should do it as well. We should remind ourselves that being laymen, we are inferior to the ordained, so we should strive to practice the Dharma more and more. Although the effort we make to practice the Dharma, our bad feelings (greed, hatred, and selfishness) still remain. We have to fight against them harder than the ordained, because the ordained are in favorable conditions, they can control their mind more easily. We are still in life, so we have to fight with others and fight against many bad things. That’s why we should rely more on the Buddha. We should bow to the Buddha every day and beg for His support to make us more virtuous and commit fewer mistakes.
And when there is a profit coming to us, we should carefully consider it is right or wrong if we receive this benefit. We should make money to raise our family, to make offerings to the Triple Jewels and to do good deeds. We need money for right purposes, but we should recognize if it good when we receive the money when it comes. But thanks to what that we can know if it is right or wrong. It is the merit from bowing to the Buddha. If we bow to Buddha daily, naturally, we will be wise and honest, so that we can recognize what should/should not be done.