The sages said, "If our wish is to be a Saint, then we will be a Saint. If our wish is to be a Buddha, then we will be a Buddha. If our wish is to be a sentient being, then we will be a sentient being. We will become whatever we set our mind on."
We must first establish our goal, once our goal is established, our foundation will be deep-rooted. A person who does not establish any goal is like a ship without a rudder. Without goal, we do not really know the meaning of life and have no direction. We must be careful and realistic in deciding what goal we want to establish and not of fantasy. That goal will then give us the fighting spirit and energy to fulfill and attain it.
Accumulating merits can alleviate the burden of evil deeds. What are evil deeds? They are those like gaining benefits at the expense of others' losses or sufferings, repayment of kindness with ingratitude, incurring bad debts without any intention to repay, any actions against our conscience and etc. People commit sin because they do not understand karma and reincarnation. Good deeds will be rewarded with good, and evil with evil. Contribution in any form to ease the burden and pain of another living being is considered good deed.
In the teaching of Tao it was said that, "It is very fortunate now that the Great Tao is widely propagated. We must accumulate merits and establish virtues in order to repay for our evil deeds, then we can alleviate the burden of these debts. If we wish to eliminate the burden of evil deeds of our past lives, we must pay back by merits and virtues."
Merits and virtues are earned through contributions and there are three types of contributions in the temple of Tao of Heaven:
1] Monetary Contribution - Money is the easiest form of contributions. This contribution usually covers the printing of religious books, building of temples and maintenance or help to cover expenses incurred during missionary trips. For example holy books that are given away for free and the saying is, "We can propagate to others only during our lifetime, but holy books can do it for many generations." There are many activities at the temples in teaching devotees and through monetary contribution it is like using the earthly wealth to buy Heavenly land.
2] Discourse Contribution - This means to propagate Tao on behalf of Heaven through preaching of the sayings of the Heavenly Beings and scriptures to every corner of the world with the aim of turning the world into Utopia. By setting up a house temple in this earthly world, a lotus flower will blossom in Heaven. This is because the discourse will lead us to understand the Truth of the cosmos, worship the Lord of all souls, respect all the Gods in Heaven, follow the law of the land, be patriotic, be responsible, restore the five bonds and eight cardinal virtues of morality, respect and be obedient to parents, honor teachers and esteem Tao, be trustworthy, live harmoniously with neighbors, get rid of bad habits and become good in all respect. By practising Tao after learning through the discourse, one will be able to purify the soul, be remote from lust and evil thoughts, uses the limited physical self to create an eternal life, restore the true self, return to God's Kingdom and convey the Truth to others. There is a limit to monetary contribution but no end to discourse contribution.
3] General Contribution - For those who are unable to contribute money or give discourse, this general contribution covers a very wide scope. With loyalty and devotion in this contribution it is said that big problem becomes small problem and small problem becomes no problem. Serving others, cleaning up the temple, providing transportation, cooking etc are examples of general contribution. Demonic interference will be reduced and one can become fearless and brave even in contributing the general contribution. No contribution is considered small as long as one is willing to contribute sincerely. It is known in the temple of Tao of Heaven that an old lady became a Saint after she returned to Heaven just by contributing cooking vegetarian food in the temple.
By coming in openly and giving away secretly, one will reach his goal of eternal peace. This is the saying of my Heavenly Teacher JiGong:
"All you disciples are seeds in germination. You must grow and be mature. You must get healthy and strong. There is a saying: 'the Way (Tao) is easy to repair (cultivate), but the Truth is hard to understand'. But the fact is: 'the Truth is easy to understand, and the Tao is easy to cultivate'. As long as you give, as long as you can twist your thoughts immediately, then vexation (displeasure, worry, annoyance, irritations etc) will go away. It is the Teacher's wish that all places in the universe can be set up into a Paradise and let everywhere become a Pure Land. If everyone can have peace and calmness in their mind, the dusty earth of the human world can naturally be transformed into a Pure Land."
The goal of contribution is stop the cycle of birth and death and end the suffering. To change the world into a Pure Land or Utopia where there will be no more killings and sufferings. The poor animals can firstly be spared from being slaughtered and then humans from being murdered. "Show mercy, in return you shall have mercy" said Goddess of Mercy.
Author: T.A Chew