Translations

Why Be Aware Of Negative Habits? 为何觉知习气?

习气存时,自己有所不知。

When [negative] habitual [forces] exist, [it is usually] oneself that has ignorance [of them].

[Note 1: This is so as one has been living with these habits based upon the Five Poisons of attachment, aversion, delusion, arrogance and doubt for a long time already, being so close to them that they are difficult to see objectively, critically and clearly.]

如官僚派之习气,唯无此派者知之。

Like [the] habitual forces of bureaucratic parties, only those without these parties know of [them]. 

[Note 2: As the saying goes, to fit in with social norms, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ If in Rome for a long time, one will so naturally behave like Romans, that one’s ways will not be felt as learnt. This is when only non-Romans can tell the ‘roman-ised’ apart from themselves.]

自己有此派之习气,虽他人说之,自己尚不知其何所指。

Oneself having habitual forces of these parties, although [with] others speaking of [them], oneself still [tends to] not know what [that] they [are] pointing [to]. 

[Note 3: One who is weak in mindfulness of their ways in comparison to others’ will find it hard to recognise personal differences.] 

学道之人,须去习气。

People [who] learn [the] path [to Buddhahood] must eradicate [their] habitual [forces]. 

[Note 4: Part of the path of purification, towards Buddhahood, is to transform all negative habits to be positive and finally pure ones.]

傲慢习气,实为入道之障。

[The] habitual force [of] arrogance, truly [is] as [an] obstacle [of] entering [the] path. 

[Note 5: If there is strong arrogance, it will be difficult to even acknowledge the need to start learning and practising the Buddha’s teachings, what more to recognise one’s faults through them, and through others’ appropriate admonishments. Humble sincerity is thus necessary to embark and progress on the path to spiritual perfection.]  

阁下于言动中详审体察,或可能知,知则尚有胜益可得。

[If] your distinguished self, of [your] speech [and] actions within examining [and] observing, perhaps [will be] able [to] know [them]. Knowing thus, yet has excellent benefits [that] can [be] attained.

[Note 6: Even with others’ pointing out of one’s mistakes, there must be increased personal mindfulness to clearly know and see them as they are, so that they can be transformed diligently, to become spiritually excellent.] 

此语无人肯说。光一向直心直口,不避忌讳。

These words [are] without people [who are] willing [to] say [them. However, Yìn]guāng [is] always [with a] straightforward mind [and] straightforwards words, not avoiding [anything] as taboo [for speaking].

[Note 7: Not many, if any at all, are willing to point out the faults, especially of those with great arrogance, who might be quick to take offence. Even if speaking forthrightly, is is possible to do so sincerely and skilfully, as in the case of the Master here. If there is that deemed taboo for speaking, it will be impossible to teach what needs to be learnt completely.]

欲阁下真得实益,故为略述所以。

Desiring your distinguished self [to] truly attain benefits, thus for [you] briefly stating [this] as a result.

[Note 8: We must cherish those who point out our faults to us, at the ‘risk’ of displeasing us, as it is with their admonishments received well, that we can truly better ourselves, so as to better benefit others too. They are effectively our good spiritual friends, who really care about our spiritual lives.

As the Buddha taught in verse 76 of the Dhammapada, ‘Should one find a man who points out faults and who reproves, let him follow such a wise and sagacious person as one would a guide to hidden treasure. It is always better, and never worse, to cultivate such an association.’

Even if those who point out our fault are not ‘actual’ spiritual friends, the edifying effect is the same. Even if our faults are not pointed out in a kindly manner to benefit us, but to offend us, yet, as long as what mentioned is true, we should be grateful for the ‘hard’ lessons received too.]

净土宗十三祖印光大师
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
复杨典臣居士书二
Second Reply Letter To Layperson Yáng Diǎnchén

Namo Amituofo : Translation by Shen Shi’an

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