Choeze Kuchen | Pure motivation and great conviction
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Pure motivation and great conviction

Pure motivation and great conviction are very important regardless of whether the activity performed is great or negligible. Pure motivation is what results in great merit.

 

Impure motivation is having jealousy, greed, desire of benefitting oneself or one’s family and other negative and selfish thoughts before performing the deed. Pure motivation is doing the virtuous deed without any prior negative and selfish thoughts.

 

  1. The shepherd lets the herd go in front and will count all the animals in the herd to ensure none of the animals are missing.
    The motivation like that of the shepherd is to lead all sentient beings to enlightenment before one attains enlightenment.
  2. The boatman ensures all the travellers in his boat reach safely to the other shore together with him.
    The motivation like that of the boatman is to attain enlightenment together with all sentient beings at the same time.
  3. The king cultivates himself and takes measures to put himself in a position to lead his country before actually doing something for his country to make the country strong and make his citizens contented.
  4. The motivation like that of the king is to become enlightened first before leading others towards enlightenment.

If you have impure motivation, on the outside the deed you perform may look good, but the result will be negative as the deed is unvirtuous due to impure motivation.

When trying to cure patients, the patients of the doctor with the pure motivation would be the ones who see better results as the doctor would put in much more effort in curing and caring for the patient.

The best motivation is that of the shepherd. Some may think, “If I lead others, then what about myself?” That is an unnecessary worry. If you have already lead others towards enlightenment, it is impossible that you alone would stay in samsara by yourself. Why we remain in samsara is due to our selfishness. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas always do things for others and do not care for themselves. Actually, if you have the motivation of the shepherd, you would probably gain enlightenment much faster than if you had the other two motivations.

 

As a vajrayana practitioner, we should have the motivation of a shepherd. Before we perform any deeds, we should consider if our motivaion is pure or impure. At that instant, if you find that your motivation is impure, you should change it to be a pure one. You must constantly perform the checking yourself. It is easy to check our mind as it belongs to us and nobody else. The real practice is to check our mind frequently.

 

Pure motivation is very important especially to those who are in a profession where they directly help others, such as doctors and teachers. They must have pure motivation in order to help much more people effectively and efficiently. Take for example 2 doctors, one who has good qualifications but not genuinely concerned about helping others and one who does not have good qualifications but has the pure motivation to benefit others. When trying to cure patients, the patients of the doctor with the pure motivation would be the ones who see better results as the doctor would put in much more effort in curing and caring for the patient. With pure motivation, one will benefit more people better and at a faster speed. This is especially true for teachers and doctors who are in a profession where they can help many directly.

 

If you have impure motivation, on the outside the deed you perform may look good, but the result will be negative as the deed is unvirtuous due to impure motivation. If you light just one small lamp with pure motivation, the merit would last much longer than performing a great deed with impure motivation. The best motivation to have is that of the shepherd man.

Pure motivation can be applied to whatever activity you perform, regardless if it is related to Dharma. Slowly we start this practice and with experience, the pure motivation would come easily. We have to change our bad habits which are due to ignorance. Through countless lifetimes, we have accumulated much negative karma, we must have the patience to slowly change ourselves. It will not be easy, but with time, we can make the change.

 

For lay people, especially businessmen, it is very difficult to have pure motivation when working. They feel that they have to tell lies or their business will not be so good. But you can still try to do business with a good motivation. How to do so? For example, before starting on a deal, think that whatever profit I get, I will donate 40% to charity and for the rest, I will keep for myself and my family. If you do this, then it is ok. It may even make your business more successful as you had kind intentions before starting out on the deals. Even if you can’t give 40%, even 5% is good, as long as you have thought of benefitting others, and not just only yourself.

 

We have to try to think for others, not just ourselves. If you think for others, you will become very relaxed in your mind. If you only think for yourself, gradually you will develop stress and feel more pressure. So try to think of benefitting others. Even though you can’t benefit masses, if there is just only one person in front of you who needs help and you have given assistance with pure motivation, it would make you happy and your mind relaxed.

 

Wealth, good facilities, infrastructure and material goods, these give us good health and comfort, but not true permanent happiness. That is why you can observe that there are rich people who are very stressed. Poor people may have to live in discomfort, but they may not be unhappy if they are contented and do not harbor selfish thoughts. Material wealth may cause one more suffering due to the grasping and attachment one has for it.

 

Past Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and great masters took refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, they did not take refuge in material wealth! Material wealth only gives you temporary happiness. We all need material wealth to survive, but we should not put in extra effort just to gain material wealth. Take for example a diamond ring, we wipe it and make it shiny, we carry it around with us, tell it that we love it very much and show it off proudly to others, but the diamond ring cannot reciprocate our love or do anything for us, it may even make us feel uncomfortable having to wear it on our finger. So it only makes us look stupid that we spend so much time and attention on an object that cannot love or care. That is what attachment does to us.

Wealth, good facilities, infrastructure and material goods, these give us good health and comfort, but not true permanent happiness. Material wealth may cause one more suffering due to the grasping and attachment one has for it.

We all need material wealth to survive, but we should not put in extra effort just to gain material wealth. It only makes us look stupid that we spend so much time and attention on an object that cannot love or care. That is what attachment does to us.

Past Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and great masters took refuge in the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, they did not take refuge in material wealth! Material wealth only gives you temporary happiness. We all need material wealth to survive, but we should not put in extra effort just to gain material wealth. Take for example a diamond ring, we wipe it and make it shiny, we carry it around with us, tell it that we love it very much and show it off proudly to others, but the diamond ring cannot reciprocate our love or do anything for us, it may even make us feel uncomfortable having to wear it on our finger. So it only makes us look stupid that we spend so much time and attention on an object that cannot love or care. That is what attachment does to us.

 

Motivation is important, like when parents discipline their children, from the outside, it looks bad, but actually the parents only want the best for their children. Their motivation is pure. We should not only focus on appearances, it is the motivation that counts.

 

There is a story, a few centuries ago, about the Jowo statue in Tibet which is very precious. A king during Buddha’s time requested that the statue be made and invited a statue maker from the deva realms. The statue was invited from India to China and then to Tibet. In Tibet there is a saying that if you do not visit the Jowo statue, then your life has been a waste. People put in great effort to go and visit the Jowo statue. There was a man from the southern side of Tibet who was simple-minded. He saw the shrine and thought that the offerings were food for Jowo. He thought that the lamp was lit up to ensure that the butter did not harden in the cold weather. As he was hungry, he took the torma (food offering) and dipped it into the butter and ate it. When he looked at Jowo’s face, it was still smiling and he thought that Jowo was so nice as he was happy to share his food. He then told Jowo that he will now circumambulate him and put his shoes in front of Jowo and asked Jowo to help take care of them. When the caretaker of the temple came, he was very upset as he saw that the shrine was ruined and someone has disrespectfully put his shoes in front of the Buddha statue. He wanted to throw the shoes out, but the Jowo statue spoke and said, “Do not throw them away. Gonpo Ben has asked me to take care of them, it is my duty to do so.” When Gonpo Ben has finished his circumambulation, he thanked the Jowo statue and invited Jowo to his home. Jowo accepted the invitation. Gonpo Ben then went home to tell his wife that Jowo would be visiting them.

 

One day when his wife went to the river to get water, she saw that the Jowo statue was inside the river. She ran back to tell Ben who went to the river and dived in to fetch the statue. He actually managed to get the statue out. When he reached a stone on the road however, Jowo told him that he cannot enter a lay person’s house and disappeared inside the rock. Ben had very pure motivation and therefore managed to see, talk to and even touch a real Buddha. Even though his actions appeared disrespectful, it did not matter as he had pure motivation.