Chiu-Nan Lai, Ph.D.
An Indian student of a Himalayan High Lama asked how he could change the sufferings and many misfortunes which have happened to his family for many generations.
His ancestor – the father of his paternal grandmother and some villagers had harmed a Tibetan monk on his pilgrimage to India. When the monk passed through their village on his way home, they robbed him of his money and possessions and forced him to jump into the river to his death. Subsequently a series of misfortune befell the student’s clan which continues to this (student) generation.
Ingrained in ancient Chinese culture is the understanding that the actions of ancestors affect their future generations. As recorded in I Ching: “families who perform good deeds will enjoy good fortune” [Lai, 1987]. Future generations will benefit from the virtue and merits accumulated by their ancestors.
In his book The Key to Creating One’s Destiny (The Four Lessons of Liao-Fan) [Translator’s Note I], Mr Yuan Liao-Fan of the Ming Dynasty, mentioned many historical facts of people and events. Many of the descendants of ancestors who had done a lot of good deeds tend to have great accomplishments. Mr Lin Zexu (Wenzonggong) from the Qing Dynasty could have made a fortune from opium, but his integrity and stand against the opium trade cost him his job. However, in each of his generation, there were outstanding descendants, among which, scholars who had attained the titles of Jinshi (metropolitan graduate) and Juren (provincial graduate) [Translator’s Note II]. Families that amassed their wealth through opium trade lost their fortunes after a few decades and none of their descendants were well-known.
Mr Nie Yun-Tai, who wrote Bǎofù fǎ “How to Preserve Your Wealth”, mentioned that many rich families in recent times were unable to preserve their wealth. Some families lost their fortune within five to ten years. Some squandered their wealth within two to three decades, others in forty or fifty years. Among the affluent families from 50 years ago, it is extremely rare to have one or two families out of a hundred that still preserve their fortune, have good descendants who are scholarly, hold proper jobs and have desire to better themselves.
Descendants should also help their ancestors clear their bad karma and accumulate merits. Who could guarantee that none of their ancestors have ever committed murder, robbed, stole, being corrupted, destroyed temples, and/or forced monks to disrobe? The method taught by this Nepalese High Lama can be applied by everyone, especially for families with many misfortunes and disasters or have unscrupulous descendants.
It is our duty to not only help eliminate our family disasters, but also to help our countries and planet to ward off calamities. Whether it is natural or man-made disasters, love is the most powerful healing force.
Many years ago, a teacher from the United States regularly brought over twenty of his more experienced students to places around the world that suffered from natural disasters. For twenty-four hours a day, they would take turn to send love to the locals and bless the place and people. Each time, there were very good outcomes. Once he went to a politically unstable South American country. Together with his students, they continually sent love. In his public talks, he advised the local people that if they wanted to change the government, they must genuinely love their people, land and the government. Within two years, amazingly, the political situation improved.
Not only can major situation changes, things in daily life in general can also be different. Perhaps it is because many people grow up with overly high expectations from their parents. Children might have received many criticisms, and thus they habitually criticize other people and things that they dislike. But criticisms only make things worse.
I had a colleague who had nose cancer, which was later removed. Since young, she felt that her nose was too flat and never appreciated her nose. It is unbelievable that prolonged criticism would lead to cancer.
To change reality, one can start by changing dreams. Stanford University had a Dream Research Lab. They trained volunteers to be aware when they were dreaming. Perhaps, before going to bed, one could repeatedly remind oneself, “I am dreaming”, and then go to sleep. During the day, from time to time, one could also pat and remind oneself that “I’m dreaming”. So, in the dream, one would also involuntarily remind oneself, “I’m dreaming”. Once the volunteers were aware that they were dreaming, they could use left and right movements of eyeballs to communicate with the researchers and start performing pre-arranged activities such as singing, counting, running, reciting poetry and so on. The brains and hearts of the dreamers were hooked to various monitoring devices. The impacts of the activities in the dreams were found to be similar on the brains and bodies as when they were performed awake. Singing and poetry reciting show right-brain activities, and counting or arithmetic indicate left-brain activities. When the dreamer ran in the dream, the heart rate would accelerate.
Some who had nightmares for years, once they realised that they were dreaming, they effectively improve the dream and their nightmares stopped.
One lady dreamt for years that something was chasing after her from behind. Once she learned how to be aware when she was dreaming, she turned her head around and found that there was nothing behind her. Another person saw a very gruesome face in his dream. He did not respond with his usual fear, but rather treated it with love. As a result, the hideous face kept altering and changed into a very gentle face.
Our dreams reflect our deeply stored consciousness. Hidden emotions and negative emotions that have not been alleviated would appear in our dreams. So dreams can more realistically reflect our inner world. This inner world also projects onto our feelings and experience while we are awake. Whether it is what we went through during the day or the experience in our dream, they all originate from us.
The external world is like a mirror. When we face the mirror and smile to the person in the mirror, the reflection from the mirror also smiles back. If we glare at the mirror, the person in the mirror similarly glowers at us. We would not be angry with the person in the mirror nor would we be stubbornly yearn for the person in the mirror.
However, in daily life, we crave for or get disgusted with the images projected by the external mirror. If we want the person in the mirror or in the dream to treat us with warmth, we must love the person in the mirror or the person in our dream.
Those who have experienced love since young, no matter if the love came from their parents or caregivers, it is easier for them to receive and give love. Such a person would be happier. On the contrary, if the parents did not experience love in their childhood, they would not be able to give love to their own children. These people are filled with loneliness and are not happy. In a culture with strict discipline, most people do not experience warmth and are not happy. People from such culture may also easily do violence onto others.
Everyone pursues happiness and joy. You can start from yourself. Smile at the mirror when you look into it. Appreciate and bless the person in the mirror. Love and care and help this person in the mirror. Be aware what the mirror can reflect onto you. Your transformation will also transform the person in the mirror. Gradually, the big mirror of society will also start to transform. When every person looks into the mirror and smile with care and warmth, that is a blissful and happy society.
I once read a parable: God led a man to visit Hell. He saw a dining table surrounded by people with sad faces. On the table were many plates filled with delicious foods. In front of everyone were spoons with very long handles.
The length of the handles was as long as the table. Then God said, “Let me show you Heaven”. The scenario was similar to the previous room. A table was surrounded by people, but everyone was smiling, happily enjoying the food on the table. The difference is that these people were feeding each other across the table with the long spoons. Although this is a metaphor, it portrays the difference between a painful and a happy society.
Translator’s Note I: The Key to Creating One’s Destiny (The Four Lessons of Liao-Fan) is translated from Chinese Version by Dr Chiu-Nan Lai.
Translator’s Note II: These are different levels of academic achievements in ancient China which ultimately qualify the scholars to attend Chinese Imperial Exam held by the emperor.
The original Chinese article is published in the Aug 2015 issue of Lapis Lazuli Light magazine and is accessible online at: http://www.lapislazuli.org/tw/index.php?p=20150801.html