As a human being, no one can avoid birth, old age, sickness, and death. Children going to school, adults going to work; family life, in everything we have reasons for worries. Our work not rewarded, meeting someone we don’t want to see, desires not satisfied, endless sufferings, bitterness burning our heart, this is our life. Under such pressure, how can we live without some kind of illness? The ultimate way to get rid of these sufferings is to look at them as emptiness. They are all void; nothing lasts forever. Get rid of our wants and desires! Only by doing this can we gain peace of mind; health comes with peace of mind. Although our house is filled with gold and jade, full of extravagance, we can not get rid of our life sufferings. Human has a greedy mind; our wants and desires never end. We reap the fruits of our actions. We have planted the seeds, we must harvest the fruits. Everyone will get old and then die; no one can get away from this cycle. This world is but nothing; when we know that nothing is real existence and nothing lasts forever, we let our hands of all things, and we can be free from life and death. But who in this world agree to this and can be so enlightened? Today, when I talk about the reasons for nothing like life and death, the reasons for no heart, no anything, and the truth of longevity, no one will believe in me. No one here will understand what I am talking about. Only sages can understand. So I am not going to talk about this. I am only going to talk about something that you might understand, that you might believe. So today I will talk about the methods to set your mind in peace, the way to good health. This you may understand. These are the first steps to deeper waters.
The greatest suffering of life is an uneasiness of mind. The fundamental cause of bad health is a daily uneasiness of mind, worries about gains or loss. Living in today’s society, we work hard to make a living. For this purpose, we travel fast, to and from, always on the go. We suffer from this hard work. For some people, they may suffer from love affairs with their girlfriend or boyfriend, the heart and feelings hurt with tears; for some people, to support a family, they need to work overtime and have lots of hardships. Eighty to ninety percent of our wants and desires may not be met or satisfied. Our school work may not be good enough; our colleague relations may not be good enough; our life quality may not be good enough. We are under lots of stress; they press our mind hard. We have too many worries during the day time, and we have frightening dreams at night. Our health problems may start from lack of sleep, bad appetite; then we may have bowel constipation; our liver may be deficient with fire; we may not normal breaths with our lungs. When sickness arises, we start to feel weak, lack of vitality and our health deteriorates. The cause of this—it’s all about our mind. We have too many wants and desires; we are not willing to put them aside; that’s the reason we feel uneasy. The way to recovery is but setting our mind back to peace. Only when we have correct thinking, the right mind, we can have a recovery. With peace in mind, we gain vitality that helps our blood and breaths flow naturally through our bodies.
In order to set our mind in peace or to balance it, we first need to know about our mind. When we have known about our mind, and we can control it, we can set limits on our wants and desires, and we can gain peace of mind. Our eyes, ears, nose, and body are the tools. The eyes catch color; the ears hear voices; etc. That triggers an image; our mind differentiates this image, over and over. In Chinese, the character想is made up of two words: mind(心)and image(相); there is an image over the mind. When we think about things over and over, our mind becomes a consciousness, an unreal mind. Our consciousness has a good side and a bad side. The good side, it can create things; human civilization is built on it; it can create a happy life. The bad side, it causes all the worries; it mixes the right things with the bad ones; it does all the evil things. Life is like a dream, but everyone lives in this dream and does not know how to wake up. Some people dream of having lots of money; some people dream of having lots of sex. Therefore, enlightenment is important. A man of enlightenment shall never have greed or a bad temper. He shall not take the wrong as the right; he shall not do things for his own benefits, with no regard for the wellbeing of others. He shall not sit there still all day and do nothing. He shall not be a cold blood animal, having no care for society. Our unreal mind, working on our own body, also shows the good side and the bad side. The good side, it can help us to balance the blood and breaths, and help us to live long. The bad side, this mind can bring about fire, attracted by liver-wind. Fire melts down gold; that means our lungs can suffer from this burning fire. So a person who works too hard shall feel weak in his heart and feel a burning fire in his liver. The liver is like wood, it defeats the soil, which is the digestive system. When our spleen and stomach suffer, we shall have bad digestion. Lack of energy again makes us uneasy at night. Soil defeats water, so our kidney water shall be in shortage. With this shortage of water, the fire will burn harder. Our heart is closely related to our kidneys; we will have weaker breaths, and this is the cause of lung diseases. All our body parts are connected to each other. Once an organ collapses, all the others follow. So the cause of disturbances lies in the mind. To recover from illness, we should set our minds in peace. To achieve this, we have to cut our wants and desires. Why we should cut our wants and desires? It’s because they are unreal. This is about knowing about our mind. And it is a process of enlightenment. The Buddha has tried very hard to tell us about this; he has urged us to wake up from our dreams.
There have been many definitions of the mind and how to set the mind in peace. Confucius says “set your mind upright”; Taoism says “clear and cleans your mind”; Confucius scholars of the Song Dynasty told us to put our mind in our empty body. What on earth is mind? The mind is the gathering of ideas and thinking; the mind is the wants and desires for something; the mind is likes and dislikes. The truth of our consciousness is about two minds: the real mind and the unreal mind. The unreal mind comes from the real mind. In that sense, the unreal mind is the same as the real mind. We give an example here. The real mind is water; the unreal mind is waves. Waves are the result of wind onto the water. When the wind stops, there will be no waves, only water. Water and waves are one thing, not two things. Stupid people see them as two things, but wise men see them as one. When waves flatten, it is water. When the unreal mind disappears, our real mind appears. The real mind is neither existence nor non-existence. If we say it is existence, we cannot find its form. If we say it is non-existence, it is everywhere. In fact, the real mind is like a shadow in a mirror or an image within a mirror. We can release our mind, control our mind, restrict our mind, or hold our mind. This is referring to the unreal mind. Whenever there are separated ideas, like,s or dislikes, that means the unreal mind. A person’s viewpoints, opinions, perspectives, ideas, and thinking, whether good or bad, right or wrong; are all part of the unreal mind. Even the idea of getting rid of the unreal mind is an unreal mind. All wants and desires even no want or no desires are results of the unreal mind. They are all the waves, not the water.
The above reasons may sound confusing and not easy to understand, but they are the truth. As humans, we have our worries and sufferings; these are the results of a misunderstanding of our minds. Our sufferings and worries shall be interpreted this way: sufferings come from worries; without worries, sufferings will disappear. Worries come from the mind. If we do not know that the mind is but emptiness, we will think of worries and sufferings as being real existence. This is away from enlightenment. This is karma. Our sufferings follow karma.
Buddha says all illnesses are related to the mind. All living beings have four kinds of reasons that result in illness: greed, bad temper, unawareness of karma, and pride. Effects follow the causes. Symptoms are fever, lung diseases, vomiting, uneasy skin or body, disturbed heart, diarrhea, the ache in the eyes or ears, back pains and stomach ache, crazy-minded, or bewitched by evil creatures. Buddha says: worries, past karma, and retribution for sins are three kinds of fatal diseases. Worries refer to our greed, bad temper, doubts, anger, confusion, hatred, jealousy, selfishness, craftsmanship, slander, no regrets, pride, indulgence, elegance, quarrels, flattery, unreasonable wants and desires, no respect for others, not following teachings, close relation with bad friends, endless pursues, greed for good food, bad ideas, and thoughts, evil deeds, being too talkative, weakness in speeches, etc. Past karma refers to serious criminal acts like killing one’s own parents. Retribution for sins refers to rebirth as a hell being, ghost, animal, or other evil forms. All these diseases as obstacles to enlightenment and longevity are caused by our minds. From the concept of karma, the Buddha says there are two methods to get rid of them: one is to have mercy for all living beings; the second is to give medicine to patients. The idea to nourish our mind is fundamental.