Internally Cultivating Sincerity, Integrity, Faith, and Steadfastness; Externally Practicing Loving-kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Equanimity

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The beauty of the world of Tzu Chi comes from cultivating sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness internally, while practicing loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity externally. This is our place of spiritual practice.

I often say, “A slight deviation will take us far off course,” hoping that no one goes astray. However, from what we just heard, there seems to be some deviation. For example, we should be cultivating sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness inwardly, while practicing loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity outwardly. We must all constantly remind ourselves to heighten our vigilance. We must have faith, for faith is the source of the path and the mother of merits; it nurtures all roots of goodness.

I often say that we must have faith in our own selflessness and trust that there is love in others. The word “faith” is extremely important. A good person must have faith as well as trustworthiness.

In addition to faith, there is steadfastness. The words taught by the Buddha are true, not false. Those who have faith must have a sincere mind. We must be honest with people, speak words that are true, and when we do things, we must be steadfast and grounded.

Sincerity means having the most sincere thoughts. When Tzu Chi volunteers serve, none of them is being forced to do so; everyone serves others with sincerity in their hearts. I often speak of “working willingly.” This sense of willingness comes from the utmost sincere intentions in our hearts. Dear Faith Corps bodhisattvas and volunteer bodhisattvas, I believe that you have never been as joyful doing other things as you are when doing the work of Tzu Chi.

Only by conducting ourselves properly can we truly gain people’s trust and broadly open our path. Inwardly, we cultivate sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness. Outwardly, we practice giving and serve others. Loving-kindness is giving others joy, compassion is relieving others’ suffering, having joy for others is exercising our wisdom, and by giving with equanimity, we realize the essence of education. The hope for this world lies in educating people, as this benefits and creates blessings for them. If everyone mindfully receives their education and learns a skill to make a living, they will not be poor in the future.

The Dharma masters are already engaged in spiritual practice. In Sanskrit, monastics are called “sramana,” which literally means “diligence and cessation.” Diligence refers to diligently cultivating precepts, Samadhi, and wisdom; cessation refers to ceasing and eliminating greed, anger, and ignorance. We must personally abide by the rules and inwardly cultivate sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness. Outwardly, we must practice loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. I am not just saying this to Tzu Chi volunteers; in fact, this is the duty of all spiritual practitioners.

We must be steadfast and grounded — not have our heads in the clouds. As human beings, our spiritual practice depends on ourselves. When it comes to our inner cultivation and external practice, remaining steadfast and grounded without any falsehood is the state we should cultivate inwardly. The spiritual training ground of our minds is very simple. By demonstrating faith, steadfastness, sincerity, and integrity in our daily living, we are engaging in spiritual practice. In the Tzu Chi School of Buddhism, we engage in inner cultivation through meditative contemplation, while our external practice comprises serving others in the world with loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. The Buddha teaches us to practice these Four Infinite Minds and to widely apply them in all that we do. Actualizing the Six Paramitas: giving, precepts, patience, diligence, Samadhi, and wisdom, in all actions begins with loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity; these form our external practice.

Inwardly cultivating sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness will help us constantly keep our minds pure. In this way, we may then grow like lotus flowers in this evil world of Five Turbidities. Lotus flowers grow from the mud yet remain undefiled. As we go among myriad sentient beings, many things will arise which are unpleasant to see and hear. However, with a mindset of gratitude, understanding, acceptance, and contentment, we will not be defiled by these things. Moreover, we will be able to eliminate our afflictions and give rise to loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Tzu Chi volunteers go among people to practice the Bodhisattva Path, so we must have loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. This loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity must begin with sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness.

Since day one, Tzu Chi has remained consistent in its principles for more than forty years. Inwardly, we cultivate sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness, and outwardly, we practice loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. The Jing Si Dharma lineage is the teachings underlying our spiritual practice. This spiritual practice is not about going to a temple to worship or hold rituals. Instead, we take the Dharma to heart, and from our hearts, we exercise love to pave a path for helping others. This is the path of Tzu Chi.

“The Jing Si Dharma lineage is a path of diligent practice.” When we walk into our spiritual home and enter the Jing Si Dharma lineage, we must practice sincerity. Our minds must be reverent, and we must be sincere in how we treat others. Along with sincerity, we also need integrity. This means that our hearts, conduct, thinking, and actions must all be proper. These are all part of the Eightfold Noble Path that we must practice.

As for faith, it is the source of the Way, mother of merits. We must all have faith in the Jing Si Dharma lineage. Our spiritual practice must return to that of the Buddha’s era. To accomplish this, we must begin by opening the door and paving the path in our hearts. We must all have faith.

Spiritual practice truly begins with cultivating our minds, not seeking after things. Seeking causes suffering, so we must not pursue our desires endlessly. Not only must we cease our endless pursuits, we must also give of ourselves to others without seeking anything in return. In fact, because suffering sentient beings inspire love in our hearts and strengthen our Bodhisattva aspirations, we must be grateful.

We must have sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness; we must be steadfast and grounded in our spiritual practice. This does not come from praying, but from actions. This is what makes the Jing Si Dharma lineage a path of diligent practice.

Our minds are our spiritual training ground. When we open the door to our hearts, we use sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness to pave a path of love. Using love to pave the path, we go among people and apply the Dharma to transform them. This is how we transform others with the Dharma. What Dharma do we use? The Dharma of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. We must have great loving-kindness without regrets, great compassion without resentment, great joy without worries, and great equanimity without expectations. With this love in our hearts, we can go among people and transform the world.

I often say that the Jing Si Dharma lineage is a path of diligent practice. We must have tranquil minds and engage in earnest contemplation. Every day, when we face people, matters, and things, we must apply meticulous contemplation and safeguard our minds. We must diligently walk the path, for learning to deal with people and matters is part of our spiritual practice.

In the Zen School of Buddhism there is a saying that even carrying firewood and water can be a form of meditation. Samadhi is a state of mind cultivated through meditation. We must have the right Samadhi, right understanding, right views, and so on so that we can bring these into our daily living. Thus, in our everyday conduct, we must first engage in inner cultivation. Inwardly, we cultivate sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness. Once we have worked hard to cultivate our minds, all of our external behaviors will exemplify sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness.
The Tzu Chi School of Buddhism is a road through the world. We must follow this road to go among people and practice the Four Infinite Minds of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. This is our external practice. When we are accomplished in our inner cultivation and external practice, we will attain all kinds of virtues.

How do lay people engage in spiritual practice? The method I have given everyone is the practice of sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness. If we are able to practice sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness, our character will naturally become upright. Then, with an upright character, we will be able to establish a harmonious society in this world.

Inwardly, we cultivate sincerity, integrity, faith, and steadfastness; outwardly, we practice loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. With great loving-kindness, we have no regrets, because our love is infinite. With great compassion, we have no complaints, because our vows are infinite. With great joy, we have no worries, because our happiness is infinite. With great equanimity, we have no expectations, because we realize infinite gratitude. I hope we can all have great loving-kindness, great compassion, great joy, and great equanimity in our hearts. I hope that we can use our love to serve others without regret. I hope that in order to relieve sentient beings from suffering, we can forever give of ourselves without resentment or worries, and I hope that we will have great joy and gratitude.

“The affinities of bodhisattvas are with suffering sentient beings.” If there were no suffering sentient beings, we would not need bodhisattvas. A bodhisattva is accomplished in all practices because of people who are suffering. So, we must use a joyful heart as we give of ourselves and serve others.

Teachings
March 12, 2000
Opening of the Zhongshan Tzu Chi Service Center in Taipei
October 26, 2003
Conversation with Tainan Commissioners and Faith Corps Leadership
December 22, 2007
Context for the Teaching: Master Encourages the Abode Monastics During Wisdom at Dawn Dharma Talk
March 20, 2008
Wisdom at Dawn Dharma Talk
July 29, 2009
Morning Volunteer Assembly
January 14, 2010
Conversation with Xiamen Tzu Chi Volunteers
March 11, 2012
Wisdom at Dawn Dharma Talk
January 2, 2017
Taiwan Northern Region Year-End Blessing
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