Modern people who are practicing Buddhism has a desire to liberate others, even though they themselves are unenlightened. Consequently, they fall victim to other’s evil ways and were liberated by them instead.
In this advice, Master was critical of practitioners who are weak in practice but trying to influence others into Buddhism. While this is a noble intention, one might consequently fall into the trap of worldly influences.
In one Buddhist story, an elderly lecturing monk couldn’t attain enlightenment because he was too caught up in his teaching career. Subsequently, his student became enlightened but not him.
There is nothing wrong with focusing on one’s practices to gain enlightenment and not be entangled with the mundane affairs of relatives and friends. When one is entangled in the businesses of others, it becomes an obstacle to their practice.
This advice shouldn’t be construed as being selfish. From a Buddhist perspective, our practice is meant to achieve enlightenment. It is like trying to save ourselves from drowning. To quote an example, our effort to help others should follow the safety instruction in a plane. When the oxygen masks are deployed during an emergency, we put on our mask first before helping the person beside us. It is being practical not selfish.
Likewise, when our mind is still spiritually weak and unstable; it would be foolish of us to mind another person’s business. Please note that master was criticizing those practitioners who are “busy body” acting beyond their capability and trying to convert others into Buddhism.
Imagine going around trying to solve other people’s problem, “lending a listening ear” and consequently being troubled by their problems….
“This life is like acting in a TV series. Each person plays various roles. The plots are filled with sorrows and joys, acquaintance and departure, Anger, lamentation and exhilaration. The people watching the drama also emotionally fluctuate with joy, sorrow and grief when they appears along with the plot. However, such emotions are nothing but delusion caused by our own eyes grasping or being averse to situations in Samsara.
A good practitioner understand that their life is just a short phase of their endless Samsaric existence. They learn not to grasp at various situations in life. Just like not being caught by the plot in a movie. That distancing, protects us from being too emotionally invested. That creates a conducive mind for enlightenment.
Our perception of Samsara is the same. Good times or time of adversities, kindness or evil; they cause our emotion to rise and fall accordingly. Unfortunately, our karmic habits are deep and our sights grasp at whatever we experience as real. Furthermore, we are easily influenced by evil and not by good.
When one sees evils, they suits one’s vicious karmic habits, and one rejoices and take them to heart, and follows along; but when one hears the deeds of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, like Buddha Shakyamuni, Guanyin Bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, etc., one becomes embarrassed and self-defeating; thinking: “those deeds are only meant for Buddhas and Bodhisattvas”. Thus, their praises of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are empty and insincere. They think, “We are only ordinary people and thus can never perform such noble deeds.” Consequently, one never improves to do good. Instead, one’s negative karmic habits become deeper and deeper. All this is because one lacks the power of an aspirational enlightenment vow.
The purpose of practicing Buddhism is to gain enlightenment. In another words, we are not praying to Buddha and treating him like a God. Instead, we should aspire to become Buddha. In another word, we need to be enthusiastic about gaining enlightenment and be willing to commit ourselves in practice towards actualizing that goal.
When we have sincere determination and aspire to be enlightened, the power of that enthusiasm will encourage us towards good and avoid evil.
Hope you find Master Guan Qin’s advice useful. May all be well and happy.