The Basic Practicing Method For Buddhists

Most people consider themselves as Buddhists, but do not know how to practice. They do whatever other people suggest. Not only this makes them become superstitious, it is a reason for other people to criticize Buddhism as it is unbeneficial and mystical. To correct this error, we need to know which basic method to practice and which method of emancipation to attain. We need to apply Buddhist dharmas in our real life to prove that Buddhism can truly relieve sufferings and bring happiness to human being. If we can do that, we won't feel regretful for disgracing Buddhism as Buddha's disciples.

The Basic Practicing Method

At the beginning of the practice, Buddhists must learn how to "transform their three karmas from bad to good." These three karmas are the body, mouth, and mind. When we were unaware of the practice, we unrestrained our body, mouth, and mind from malicious and atrocious acts. These actions have caused sufferings to us, other people, families, and society. Robbers and killers will soon be apprehended. Their love ones at home are in despair as well as the victim's family. The government has to put so much of effort to capture them. Just some crazy and cruel actions of several people could mess up the society's system. Such actions are called "Making bad deeds." But now that we know to practice, we should transform our body, mouth, and mind to make good deeds. Seeing a victim with no caring from his/her relatives, we should have a compassion to console, care, and take him/her to the hospital. These actions are called "Making good deeds." These good deeds will bring us happiness, ease the victim's pain, and get people's consent. They are also the practical development of a good society. An iteration of a bad deed is a karma, which is a habit that is hard to change. Let use drinking as an example. Taking a few drinks once in a while would not be a problem to a person. However, if he/she drinks every day, then for sure he/she will become addicted. This addiction is a "bad habit" or "bad karma." Instead of drinking, he likes to help people and keeps doing so. This will create a "good habit" or "good karma." In both cases, they are habits; But one will lead him/her to sufferings and the other one will lead him/her to happiness and peace. It is why Buddhists should evade the habits of suffering and maintain the habits of happiness and peace. This is a transformation of the three karmas from bad to good. An ignorant person will find happiness from others' sufferings, while a bright person will find happiness from helping others to liberate from sufferings.


Many Buddhists have taken a refuge in the Three Jewels just because they want peace and their wishes to become true. Thus, when a negative occurrence occurs or someone is ill in the family, they will ask the monks/nuns to pray for them. If the monks/nuns are busy, they immediately get upset and stop attending the temple. When facing with many dissatisfied matters in life, they blame for not having the Buddha's bless. If someone says there's a holy shrine somewhere, they will rush to be there. Attending the temple with a purpose of praying for peace and blessings, it is so easy for these type of people to give up if their wishes don't come true. There are numbers of people who have designated their life to the monks/nuns after taking a refuge in the Three Jewels. It is common that they ask the monks/nuns to find a good date for their children's wedding, to recite for their health recovery, to pray for the liberation of their deceased family members. If the monks/nuns don't accept these requests, they immediately stop attending the temple. This type of taking a refuge in the Three Jewels is like paying life insurance for themselves and their family.

It's no surprise that there are many people who would practice inconsiderably by just knowing when to chant, to pray to the Buddha, and to eat vegetarian foods. Other than those times, they are no different from other people. They will get even on any issue. How good would it be when we can only practice one to two hours of the twelve hours that we have per day? We make bad deeds in ten hours and reserve only two hours for good deeds. This is too little. Sometimes we become vegetarians to practice in the six days of the month and leave 24 days without practicing. This is not enough. When someone insults us during these days, we would say, "If I am not a vegetarian today, I will show you." This type of practice is quite inconsiderable.

It is even worse when people afraid that the more practice they do, the more karmas will come. Like if a negative incident occurs in the family during their time of reciting Lotus suttra, they will claim that recitation has caused the karma to come. I wonder if the existence (coming) of the karmas is the lessening of the karmas or the development of the karmas? If the coming of the karmas is their lessening, then we should recite more to diminish the rest of them. But if it is the development of karmas, then it is unreasonable because our three karmas are pure and peaceful during the recitation The body is erected means the body karma is pure and peaceful, the mouth is chanting the Buddha's words means the oral karma is pure and peaceful, and last, the mind is focusing on the recited words means the mind karma is pure and peaceful. How can bad karmas develop? This belief or reason to be afraid is groundless. As Buddhists, we should be smart to disbelieve this type of ridiculous matters.

Practice Is A Combat With Evils

People who arise their mind to practicing are like the soldiers who are in combat with evils. Thus, we should fight bravely. First, we have to fight with our own karmas and evils of afflictions. Like a person, who has just vowed to practice endurance, gets angry when someone insults him/her. Right at this moment, if he/she could control the anger, he/she would win. But if it exposes through the speech or body, he/she will loose the control. A former alcohol addicted person has just ordained the Five precepts and vowed to quit drinking. If he/she has a courage to quit drinking, he/she is a winner. Otherwise, he/she is a looser. Being able to control the anger is a victory over the evils of afflictions, while being able to control the addiction is the victory over the evil karmas. Our afflictions and karmas are so many and deep. Only being warriors, we can defeat them. Those two examples above are called "Internal evils."

All difficulties and obstacles that are caused by outer objects are called "External evils." A married man at the age of thirty after his ordainment of the Five Precepts is attracted by a pretty lady. Defeating this immoral passion is a tough battle for him to do. If he is unbrave and undetermined, he will violate the third precept. Another example is a person who has vowed to quit drinking after taking a refuge in the Three Jewels. During his relentless battle with his addiction, his friends have tried different mischievous ways to convince him to drink. In this case, if he doesn't have a strong mind, he won't be able to win the situation. The external obstacles are innumerable, therefore, as Buddhists, we should bravely fight for the victory and never let the External evils surrender us.

Once we accept fighting, we have to face them. So, we cannot be coward to plead for peace. The encounter with the enemies and the winning of the battle will advance a soldier's rank and give him a wreath on his neck. It is the same for us, the practitioners, to defeat the Internal and External evils in order to be in the glorious place of a complete virtuous person. As a soldier, our eye sight should be bright and our hearing should be sharp to constantly observe each move of the enemies. A split second can cost our life. As practitioners, we should recognize each of our thoughts and actions. A split second will allow the invaders of afflictions to revolt and that will cost our body (discipline) and life (wisdom). Thus, not only we practice during the time of chanting, praying to the Buddhas, and eating vegetarian foods, we have to practice in each moment and hour. If we can do it, we will have a chance to win the evils.

A practice is a termination of the bad habits. It is easy for youngsters to practice because they have not yet influenced with the bad things. An undrinking person will have no problem to practice not drinking, while an addicted person will find it's tremendously difficult to quit. If we know to practice in our childhood years, it is much easier. Don't wait until we carry so much of illnesses and so many bad habits to practice because it's quite difficult. But with a determination, anyone can do it no matter how difficult it is.

Actualize The Basic Practicing Method

To actualize this basic method, the Buddha had forced the Buddhists to exercise the Five Precepts, after taking a refuge in the Three Jewels. All five are used to restrict us from making bad deeds The first three are for the body and the last two are for the mouth. So far, the Buddhists have only transformed two karmas, the body and mouth. Though, the effect is great. Like a person, who is not committed to killing (except in military services), stealing, adultery, lying, and drinking, is considered to be a good person. He/she has reduced so much of worriness and fear in his/her life and brought much of happiness and peace to his family. Besides, the society doesn't have think much about him/her. Let's imagine a village, where its people are exercising the Five precepts. Do you think killing, stealing, deception, adultery, and vandalizing can occur? Most likely not, except these are done by invaders. Nowadays, we are always afraid to go out. Why? Isn't it because we are afraid of being harmed, robbed, or deceived by someone? The law officials have to put so much of effort to investigate just because the people don't care to practice. If they know to practice and are willing to practice, the government will have less problems to deal with. Because everyone has bad habits, the government has to enforce the rules; otherwise, lots of demoralized incidents will occur and much of sufferings that people will cause to each other. From his compassion, the Buddha had to force his disciples to abide the restrictions so that they can reduce the bad habits and develop good ones. From here, the sufferings are diminished and the happiness and peace will grow. This is the goal of relieving all beings from sufferings of Buddhism.

For us to become a better person, the Buddha had taught the practice of the "Ten Good Deeds." This method is a true way of transforming our three karmas body, mouth, and mind. The three deeds of transforming the three evil karmas of the body are "no killing, no stealing, and no adultery." The next four deeds are used to transform the four evil karmas of the mouth: "No lying, no slandering, no harsh speech, and no idle talk." The last three deeds of transforming the three evil karmas of the mind are "no greed, no hatred, and no illusion." These ten good deeds will make a perfect person. Analyzing them from inside out, we will see how effective the "Ten Good Deeds" are. A person, who cannot be controlled by greed, will have a control of himself/herself when facing with all temptations in the world. If materials, beauty, fame, and benefits cannot influence him/her, he/she is completely pure and noble. If the anger cannot affect him/her, he/she will have a clear mind to solve all incoming problems. Being able to control the anger, he/she will never say evil and do ruthless things. Thus, he/she will never have a regret, while gaining his/her family's love. Remember that only when we can solve problems with a clear mind, we can take over bigger or more important tasks. By looking at all concepts or matters with an unbiased view, we will gain people's understanding and compassion. False views are always the cause of conflicts and hatred. Having no false views is having an open, generous, bright, and pure mind. In addition, by having no false views, we can live in harmony with other people, who have different views from ours. The life of sufferings or happiness is started from the understanding or conflict. Having no false views, but right views is a real happiness for a human life. The body and mouth become good or bad depend on good or bad thoughts. The reason that the "Ten Good Deeds" can make a perfect person is its focus on the mind karma. The Five Precepts can only transform our body and mouth. Therefore, to be more completed, we need to advance ourselves by practicing the "Ten Good Deeds."

Transforming Our Three Karmas
Is The Rudiment Of Buddhist Dharmas

During Tang dynasty, a Chinese Zen master had found a good place on a tree for a self practice. He used woods and tree branches to build a seat, which was similar to a crow's nest, on that tree. Later, he became enlightened. The residents called him Zen master "Chao Ya" (the master who sat in the crow's nest). At the time, a famous poet named Bai Ju Di had just been promoted as an official of this district. The popularity of the Zen master got his attention so he immediately made a visit with many questions. His last question was "What is the main idea of the Buddha's teachings?" Sitting on the crow's nest, the Zen master replied, "Never do evil, always do good, and keep the mind pure are the Buddhas' teachings." Official Bai smiled and said, "An eight-year-old kid can remember that by heart." The Zen master replied, "Yes. An eight-year-old kid can remember it by heart, however, an eighty-year-old man still cannot do it." Official Bai made a bow to the Zen master and left.

This story gives us an idea that the focus of Buddhism is to teach its followers to transform their three karmas from bad to good. "Never do evil" means to terminate the three evil karmas. "Always do good" means to practice the three good karmas. "Keep the mind pure" means to put more focus on the mind karma. If the mind karma is good, the body and speech should be good and pure. The mind karma is the most important one because it's the motivator of the body and mouth. All Buddhas and Sakyamuni had taught us this method of transforming the three karmas. Therefore, Master Chao Ya said, "It is the Buddhas' teachings." Another significant point that we should know is the underestimation of official Bai when he said, "An eight-year-old can remember it by heart." The Master struck him by saying that "An eight-year-old can remember it by heart, but an eighty-year-old still cannot do it." Remember that religion is a practice not a thorough study. Asking religious questions for a purpose of remembering the answers is a vain joke. Only when we apply the Buddha's teachings in life, we will see their effectiveness. Doesn't matter how good a drug is, if people just know the name, read the label, and study the formula without taking it, their illness will never be healed. On the other hand, if they practice the Buddha's teachings like taking medications for their illnesses, then their sufferings will decrease. Studying Buddhism for an understanding and elaborating purpose is like a person who is still hungry even though he brags about his taste in different kinds of drawn cookies. Only a person who applies his/her study in practice is a true Buddhist.

To summarize this chapter, I would like to say that we need to realize the focus of Buddhism, which is "to transform our three karmas from bad to good." This is the basic step that everyone should do. If everyone is fully good, then the society is perfect. By practicing the transformations of our three karmas, we are moving forward on the path of morality, contributing the joy to our family and society, and building a perfect civilized society. This civilization is the civilization with morality, of love, compassion, and noble people. Therefore, in the suttra of the "Ten Good Deeds," it stated that a person who achieves the practice of Ten Good Deeds will be reborn in Deva realm, which is called the Deva Vehicle in Buddhism. To me, a person who practices the Ten Good Deeds is a perfect person and a society of many perfect people is a perfect society. This is the Buddhas' teachings in this sentient world.