Bringing Benefits to Others
After we have aroused bodhichitta, there is a precept of “bringing benefits to others”, which is to benefit and help others. To do so we should start from the beings around us, and the beings who have affinity, as “the Buddha helps those who have connections with him”. Say, if you are a lay practitioner, you should start from your family members, try your best to establish virtuous connections with them, plant virtuous roots for them, and lead them to take up Dharma. What is the meaning of becoming a Buddhist? It is to have correct awareness and right view in the continuity. Without correct awareness and right view, even performing refuge-taking for one hundred times is still useless, and cannot be counted as having taken up Dharma.
The four methods of winning over — giving, kind speech, cooperation with others to lead them into the truth, and altruism — — are the methods the virtuous teacher or the Guru employs to approach and save disciples. We can also use these methods to benefit others. Especially at the very beginning, we shall not go head-to-head with him, but guide him gradually. Giving is to give for him, and make him happy. Kind speech is to talk nicely, which is also “using skillful methods”. About cooperation with others to lead them into the truth, for the purpose of guiding and saving him, you can also do the same thing as he does. Say, he is very fond of talking, then at the beginning you should spend more time talking with him, gossiping a little bit. Dharma practitioners shall not gossip, but at this time you should gossip intentionally. Be agreeable with him like this, and looking for chances to gradually guide him. As long as you approach him sincerely, there must be chances. The forth method is altruism. If he is in business, and needs your help, you just help him with his business. In order to guide him, you can accord with him, which is also “being agreeable with sentient beings”.
Bodhisattva Samantabhadra has the King of the Ten Vows, one of which is being agreeable with sentient beings. However, doing so requires the merits of precepts, concentration and wisdom. Otherwise, it is not being agreeable with sentient beings, but creating karmas with the beings.
“Precepts” is to keep the mind pure, without desire, or selfishness. “Concentration” is to possess the power of meditation, so that one’s own belief and view will not shake. “Wisdom” is to have wisdom, exploiting a number of skillful methods. When you practice being agreeable with others with such precepts, concentration and wisdom, how are the beings able to run away? It is easy to talk about “being agreeable with sentient beings”, while in action, not everybody can make it. But we should have confidence in ourselves.