Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi 菩提比丘
Closing Talk at the 2013 BAUS Summer Camp
The BAUS summer camp of 2013 is coming to an end. But even though you’ll soon be going home, you should not think you are leaving the monastery. Rather, you should take the monastery with you: take it with you in your heart. And at home, you should try to apply the principles that you learned at the monastery to your everyday life, for the Buddha Dharma does not only flourish in a monastery. It flourishes best in the human heart, and we help it to flourish by putting the Dharma into practice in our daily lives.
In Buddhism, we often use the simile of the lotus flower to illustrate how purification occurs in the midst of turmoil and trouble. The lotus flower grows up in the mud at the bottom of the lake, but it rises through the muddy water and emerges on the surface of the lake. Here it blossoms in the light of the sun and displays its beauty, giving delight to everyone who looks at it! So, you should make your heart like the lotus flower. Let it blossom amidst all the turmoil of your daily life.
In your daily life, there will be problems in the family, problems at school, problems with friends and neighbors, problems at work. All these problems are like the mud in the lake. As followers of the Buddha you should apply the Dharma to purify your heart, make your heart rise up through the mud and dirt of worldly affairs and let it blossom, showing its sublime beauty.
The sublime beauty of the human heart is manifest in three qualities:
One is purity of conduct which means that you should try to live by the Five Precepts, which enjoin: not taking life, not stealing, not committing sexual misconduct, not speaking deliberate lies, and not using intoxicating substances that cloud the mind. By following the precepts, you will be sure that you are not harming any other living beings.
The second quality is wisdom. Wisdom isn’t just a spark of illumination that comes through deep meditation. Wisdom is a practical capacity that you can apply in everyday life. In this context, wisdom means knowing how to distinguish what is good and what is bad, what is wholesome and what is unwholesome, what is beneficial to oneself and what is beneficial to others. Wisdom means knowing how to make the right distinctions and how to make the right choices.
The third quality, the third ring of petals in the lotus flower, is compassion. Compassion is the quality that causes one’s heart to be moved by the suffering of others. A compassionate person feels the suffering of others as one’s own. But just feeling the suffering of others is not enough. A compassionate person is ready to act, to help alleviate the suffering of others. And this is the quality that we need most in the world today!
So, to sum up, to live like a lotus flower in daily life we need three qualities. First, we need the morality of the precepts as a guide
to right conduct.
Second, we need wisdom to distinguish what is good and what is bad and to choose the good rather than the bad.
And third, we need compassion to make us responsive to the sufferings of others and to help reduce the suffering in the world.
If you live in accordance with the Buddha Dharma, you’ll find that your life is truly beneficial, truly worthwhile for yourself, and truly beneficial for others—for your family, your school, your neighborhood, the country and the whole world. Your heart will be as beautiful as the most splendid lotus flower.
May you all have many blessings in the years ahead, and we hope to see back in the year of 2014!
Thank you very much!