Master Jingzong; English translation by Foyuan, edited by Jingxing
In life, the first thing we have to do is to take good care of ourselves. If we don’t do so, who will? During all these years as a monk and an Amitabha-reciter, I have always felt that someone was looking after me. This is the “I” of my Buddha-nature protecting the ordinary being “I”.
As ordinary beings, we have many shortcomings: greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance and doubt. Who can pardon us? Only Amitabha Buddha and our Buddha-nature can do so. The ordinary being “I” who is full of greed, hatred and delusion seems to be a separate entity – a poor little human being. Why not forgive him?
If you stubbornly take the “I” who is afflicted with greed, hatred and delusion for the real “I” [of Buddha-nature], then you have no way out. In fact, this ordinary being “I” is just a separate being that came into existence due to some karmic causes and conditions. So be kind to it, which means being kind to all sentient beings including ourselves.
Adopting such a separation approach, the “I” of Buddha-nature quickly retreats to one side and we can then see clearly the iniquitous ordinary being “I”: this pitiful tiny sentient being. Why should I not care for him?
If we want to take good care of ourselves, we must allow some living space in our mind. Only with this mental space will there be a living path underfoot – a way out. Without it, there is only a dead end.
What is this living space in our mind? It is emptiness. The mind needs space. Holes have space. If there were no “seven holes” in the head [i.e. eyes, nostrils, ears and mouth], we would die. Emptiness creates space. We need emptiness in order to have a way out.
It is good to have an empty space because it means there is room for turning. For example, if you want to move a table into a room, you must have space. If the door is too narrow, the table will not fit no matter how we turn it.
Space is essential. Why do stampedes happen? It is because of overcrowding; there is no room at all. Without empty space, we can do nothing. With space, we can turn freely, we can shift.
All places need emptiness, especially the mind. If there is no space in the mind, we become headstrong. Open a peanut kernel into halves and you will find an embryo between them. The two kernel parts are never tightly closed. There is always room in between, or there will be too little space for the bud to grow.
Therefore, there must be space in our lives and in our minds. Space is the emptiness which can hold all things. When our minds can hold all things, no problems can occur. Without emptiness, we can only suffer from a mind crammed full of afflictions.