Embrace your advantages and deploy your blessings for the good of others

Every day I choose a quote from a Buddhist source that runs on the homepage of Buddhistdoor Global. Tuesday’s theme is Pure Land-inspired, and today I picked one that seemed particularly thought-provoking to me: “Being born as a human, having heard of the Buddhist teachings, and encountered with the unsurpassed great teaching of Amitabha’s deliverance, it is really a wholesome condition resulted from the karma of the past lives! … So, we should celebrate this joyful condition and cherish it. Also, share with others our belief” (this passage is from Master Huijing).

As we become more environmentally mindful and aware, we appreciate that our responsibility as human beings is to engage in stewardship of the planet. Having the immense evolutionary luck of being the “dominant” species on the planet means that we have disproportionate moral responsibilities to all beings and the natural world. Similarly, if we grow up in families with a degree of privilege, good parents will educate us about our debt to society and the civic duty of care for those less fortunate than us. We should all be mindful of what our present life has given us, think about the responsibilities that such privileges denote, and reflect on how we can direct them to activities that make us worthy of such fortunes.

But there is one blessing that Buddhist practitioners sometimes forget to reflect on with deep gratitude: the fact that they even have had contact with the Buddhist teachings, let alone accepted them and now have access to the fruits of practice. In his passage, Master Huijing specifically addresses the Pure Land teachings and Amitabha’s message of deliverance. Coming across the Pure Land scriptures is, without exaggeration, the culmination of eons of past good and fruitful conditions that has led to this wonderful encounter with Amitabha in your own life. Sharing, furthermore, is caring. Let others know of your friendship with him. It is their good karma, their good blessing, to even hear the name of Infinite Light and to have the opportunity to draw closer to him. 

Even rarer is being born with all the Ten Assets in place. The Ten Assets are a list of factors in Mahayana Buddhism that are particularly crucial to the attainment of Dharma’s insight in our world:

  1. One is a fully equipped human being, physically intact and functioning well as either a man or a woman.
  2. One has to be able to meet a Dharma teacher and ask him or her for teachings.
  3. Having received the teachings, one has the capability to practice the Dharma.
  4. One is not physically or mentally disabled to an extent that prevents Dharma practice.
  5. One hasn’t committed one of the five grave actions, which would render it extremely hard to attain any level of realization in this life.
  6. A historical Buddha must have manifested in this world.
  7. This Buddha must have revealed the teachings.
  8.  Those teachings must still be accessible today.
  9. There must still be teachers to pass on the doctrines.
  10. The teachers must be able to teach the Dharma properly.

Karma is a fickle, unfathomable thing. How often we forget that the historical Buddha himself said that human rebirth, being born with the conditions that allow us to be reborn in the Pure Land and attain Nirvana in this Dharma-ending age, is infinitely precious and uncommon. Embrace your karmic fortune and direct it to benefit all beings.

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