(Sharing from a fellow Buddhist — translated from Chinese)
Dharma brothers and sisters, after seeing that some Dharma friends are experiencing difficulties in their finances, I decided to share some of my personal experiences in the hope that it would be of use to others.
In the past, I had many difficulties financially too and often worried about money. After my marriage and setting up a family, we had some savings initially but my husband used them for an investment. I did not work and had no income, but my uncontrolled spending soon caused us financial problems.
At that time, my in-laws were a family of average income, my mother-in-law was quite thrifty. If I did not finish a bowl of left-over vegetables from the day before, my mother-in-law would reprimand me severely. I felt quite aggrieved and cried secretly. (Now I realize that I had been very petty and did not know how to appreciate my merits). When we went to restaurants, we would pick the cheaper dishes and we did not snack at home, everyone was quite thrifty. Even for going to the movies, my husband had to bring me secretly, knowing that his mother would be angry if she found out. After our wedding, my husband revealed to me that his family was laden with debts. When I learned this, I was shocked out of my wits.
There were many problems with my husband after our wedding, at that time I came into contact with the Ksitigarbha seven days group practice. In my eagerness to practice, I loved to make many offerings, give to the needy and release lives. But all these giving were accompanied by a kind of expectation or wish that I would be rewarded. I only hoped that something in my situation would change. My mother who knew somewhat of my financial situation, was saddened by my straits and would often support me secretly. Each time, she would give me quite a large sum of money, which, apart from supporting household expenses, I would use for myself quite sparingly, not daring to spend too much. I used most of the money for releasing lives, giving to benefit others etc. I spent most on releasing lives because I loved this activity. I released lives ceaselessly and managed to release a great many lives.
At the beginning, there was not much improvement. Until I gave birth to our first child, there were many obstacles, so I decided to start doing my Dharma homework properly. I continued to persist in giving. As long as there were places that needed donors, that had donation boxes, or donation drives, I would give a few tens of dollars, this became a deep habit of mine.
As my homework increased, my husband’s business started to turn around. I finally did not need my mother to help me financially. My husband would give me some money every month. Besides using it for household expenses, I would use most of it for releasing lives and giving. When relatives or other Dharma friends needed help urgently, I would try my best to help. Or if my friends liked something I had, I would give it out quite naturally. I knew that I had many negative habitual tendencies and used the method of generosity to reduce my greed and attachment.
As I persisted in practicing this way slowly, and as the volume of my homework increased, my husband’s business became better and better. We even got ourselves branded cars and large mansions. All the past debts of many decades finally got repaid, we got ourselves many real-estates in many places. Many of these properties were rented out at very good rates.
All these were just the appearances but many people envied me, thinking that I was still young and yet did not need to work and could just remain at home to bring up the kids, not even needing to do much housework. But it is due to these very same reasons that I felt that my negative karma was very heavy, as these enjoyments also used up a lot of my merits. Therefore, when I was home, I would try to help out with the housework and do whatever work I could do myself, not allowing other people to take my place in doing these work. This was to conserve my merits. I also tried to participate in internet volunteering. What is worth mentioning is that: my children are basically taken care of by me. Because the kids are young, the mother’s guidance and teachings are especially important. Even in a very well-to-do environment, we should learn to be appreciative of what we have. We should realize that the merits that enabled us to enjoy were obtained through hard work in the past. It came through giving and generosity. It came through maintaining moral discipline and holding precepts. If the children cultivated the habits of arrogance from infancy, it would mislead them and create a great mistake. The mother should inculcate her children with such values. Nowadays, although the children are still young, when they turn on the tap to wash their hands, they would automatically open the tap only slightly so that a small volume of water flows down. They have been trained in many such cute habits (such as conserving water) , there is no need to mention them all here.
Later on, my husband got progressively better and better. In the year when many in the same trade could not earn any profits, my husband even managed to make a killing. As to this, my husband feels that he has very good luck. But secretly, I knew that this was due to his past accumulated merits and also the merits accrued from the virtuous deeds I had done on his behalf by releasing lives and giving for other beneficial causes.
Some Dharma friends asked me why I don’t put some savings aside for rainy days. It is true that I never did so. I can never manage to save money, because I love to give and release lives. This has become a deep habit for me only that now I no longer expect anything much in return, it has simply become a good way of life for me. Although I do not really worry much about money now, strange to say, every time I needed money, there would always be some coincidental way in which money makes its way into my hands. Sometimes, the coincidence is so uncanny that it shocks me completely but I believe this to be the blessings of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
It may be because I used my husband’s wealth to make offerings and give generously that my husband also benefited. Many of my friends and relative often said, since I married into this family, the wealth of the family has prospered, they said that I brought wealth to my husband. Actually, they do not know that this is due to my strenuous effort in giving and doing my daily homework. In the same business deal, if my brother-in-law or sister’s husband went to negotiate, the clients would often refuse to accept the deal. If my husband went, he always closed the deal easily and the income would often be quite significant. My husband often commented behind their backs that my brother-in-law and sister’s husband did not do their work seriously, but I felt that this was not the true reason. I feel that this is related to one’s merits.
To summarize, when I was very poor in the past, I did not give, was thrifty, did not uphold precepts, did not practice seriously and everything was done in a superficial way. I was extremely attached to material enjoyments and had many negative emotions. Since doing Dharma practice, my family has been getting along well, my finances have improved by leaps and bounds. I know that my karmic obstacles are heavy and that my present good situation is just but an appearance. Only if my body and mind regains its purity, my mind placed on the correct Dharma path, all my mistakes of body, speech and mind are corrected, and I am able to take as my teacher the Buddha, Precepts and Suffering (for the sake of practice) would I be able to rest satisfied that everything is done well.
My Dharma path has been very long and my karma has been very heavy but the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have been kind and merciful, not abandoning me, allowing me experience so many positive changes in my family in a very short time. Even though not everyone in my family practices Dharma, but many things are gradually changing. For instance, if we met a handicapped person on the streets, my husband would tell me to give some money. If it had been the past, if he saw me giving money, he would definitely give me an earful. Or for instance, in our family, we predominantly take vegetarian food, when we eat out, we do not order live foods, so there is no killing. My husband now spends time with me and our children, chatting, interacting and playing games. He gives the children baths, it is a great change from the past when he barely came home, and ignored us for long periods of time. Even my mother-in-law has become more accommodating and understanding, our relationship has changed from one filled with quarrels to one that is much more harmonious. The Dharma practice and Buddhas and Bodhisattvas help us in every facet of our lives.
However, one should not be attached to such little worldly merits. A teaching once said, someone who is materially well-off and had a peaceful body and mind can truly be considered a person with merits. Learning from my experience, many of my surrounding family, friends and fellow-practitioners have now started to joyfully practice generosity. Many people who used to make fun of me are now filled with admiration for me and have started the practice of generosity themselves. Many of them have already received palpable benefits from giving.
Actually, I am still young, and my practice is immature, so I do not really have the qualifications to write such an article. But seeing often that people are complaining of a lack of money, and that some people who make great efforts are still deprived of wealth, I really wish to tell them, “Wealth comes from giving, holding precepts and doing Dharma practice.” Just look at someone like me: not working; bringing up the children; ignorant of many things; having a very simple mind and being quite stupid, when many other Dharma friends tell me something simple, I need to think about it for a long time before their meanings becomes apparent to me. Yet, I have money every month, I am able to do my Dharma practice, volunteer work, release lives, study the teachings, accompany my family and live a very joyful life.
I am grateful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Tonight, for some strange reason, I suddenly felt like writing this article. I hope it helps those who have the karmic connection. I am quite a simple and slow person, so it is better to leave a pseudonym. Thank you all my Dharma brothers and sisters!