Why have we created so much bad karma in the past? Looking into it carefully, we can see that throughout beginning--less eons, the three poisons of greed, anger, and delusion have been the reason. Our bodies kill, steal, and engage in sexual misconduct; our mouths engage in lying, frivolous speech, harsh speech, and divisive speech; and our minds indulge in greed, anger, and delusion. But now we want to repent of all our evil karma and reform. It is said:
Great offenses which fill the heavens
Are eradicated by a single thought of repentance.
Another verse says:
Offenses arise from the mind, and must be repented in the mind.
When thoughts are gone, offenses also disappear.
With thoughts forgotten and offenses gone, both become empty.
That is called true repentance and reform.
Offenses come from the mind and disappear because of the mind, and so the mind must repent of them. Using your true mind to repent and reform of the karma you have created, the mistakes made can be dispelled from the mind. With that, the offenses also vanish.
It is said that if you correct your faults and errors, they vanish. But if you conceal your offenses, they double. The great heroes and outstanding people of ancient times were all courageous in correcting their errors. Thus the ancients said,
A superior person's error
is like a solar or lunar eclipse
which is seen by all.
If he immediately corrects it,
everyone looks up to him.
A superior person's error is like solar or lunar eclipse in that everyone notices it. If he corrects himself right away, people then respect and admire him.
Intelligent people correct their errors, deluded people don't. The ancients also said,
People aren't sages or worthies─
Who can be without faults?
To courageously correct one's faults
Is the greatest good of all.
Wise people vigorously change their faults and take delight in reforming themselves. That's why others look up to such people, praise them, and recognize them as great. In ancient times, Zi Lu [one of Confucius' disciples] rejoiced when people criticized him, and the Great Yu [Emperor of China, c. 2205 b.c.] bowed in respect when he heard of the goodness of others. Those two are good models for us.
A talk given on March 1, 1977,
at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, San Francisco