The Essential Scriptures of the Buddha and Patriarchs
Secrets on Cultivating the Mind
By relying on worldly, conditioned merit, we will also avoid the suffering of saṃsāra in the three evil bourns. We will obtain the superlative karmic reward of rebirth among humans or divinities, where we will receive abundant joy and happiness. But how much more is this the case if we give rise to faith in this most profound approach to dharma of the supreme vehicle for only a moment: no simile can convey even the smallest portion of the merit we will achieve. As it is said in the sūtras:
If one takes all the seven jewels in all the world systems of this trichiliocosm and offers them to all the sentient beings of those worlds until they are completely satisfied; or, furthermore, if one instructs all the sentient beings of those worlds and causes them to realize the four fruitions [of sanctity according to the Hīnayāna teachings], the merit so gained will be immeasurable and boundless. But it is not as great as the merit gained from the first recollection of this dharma [of the supreme vehicle of buddhahood] for the period of a single meal.
Therefore, we should know that this approach to dharma of ours is the holiest and most precious of all; its merit is incomparable. As the scriptures say:
One thought of right-mindedness is a bodhimaṇḍa,
It is better than building seven-jeweled stūpas as numerous as the sands of the Ganges.
Those bejeweled stūpas will ultimately be reduced to dust,
But one thought of right-mindedness produces right enlightenment.
I hope that all of you who are cultivating the path will study these words carefully and keep them always in mind. If this body is not ferried across to the other shore [of nirvāṇa] in this lifetime, then for which life are you going to wait? If you do not cultivate now, you will go off in the wrong direction for ten-thousand kalpas. But if you practice assiduously now, practices that are difficult to cultivate will gradually become easier, until, finally, meritorious practice will advance of itself.
Alas! When starving people today are given princely delicacies, they do not even know enough to put them in their mouths. When they are sick they meet the king of physicians but do not even know enough to take the medicine. If no one asks, “What shall I do? What shall I do?,” then what shall I do for him?