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Preface to the Merciful Admonishments of Tien Jen By Kuo Chin-chong

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The collection of teachings contained in this volume, The Merciful Admonishments of Tien Jen, is aimed at nourishing the withered spirits of humans after too long in the dark, and to awaken goodness and wisdom within every person. As a vehicle for rebuilding moral character and values, and providing hope for lost souls, this is a vital book.

Looking around at today's society, we see the proliferation of crime and moral decay, corruption and greed, violence and destruction. Criminals, who are getting younger and younger, amaze us with their willingness to stop at nothing. Their world is that of a war zone. Worried, some people emigrate, leaving their homeland for a lonely, yet supposedly "stable" and "safer" life in a strange land. But do they really gain security and stability? Only they know the answers. It is said that tough punishments should be meted out in a chaotic society. In Taiwan, laws have been frequently revised, making punishments heavier and heavier. And while the Legislature introduces one bill after another, has crime really diminished? Can strict regulations and stiff punishments truly stem the decay of human nature? The people know the score, but do those in power understand?

Recently, President Lee Teng-hui has often raised the catchword of a "revolution of the spirit," calling for the nation's people to respond to the largest movement since Taiwan's widely-acknowledged "economic miracle." Yet revolution does not just come for the asking, much as the corruption of the human heart did not happen overnight, but has deepened over time. What we see is just the tip of the iceberg. Serious depravation might lead to a ruined individual reputation or a jail term at best, or can rock the nation's foundations at its worst. We certainly hope the authorities are aware of this aspect of human nature.

So is humanity really hopeless? Not necessarily. Two and one-half millennia ago, Mencius said, "When the world becomes overly indulgent, come to its aid with the Dao." Today, the disorder and myriad other problems of individuals and even all of society can very simply be resolved with the Dao. The reason is that the Dao is aimed directly at the human heart and mind. The mind is the master of the body, with dominion over behavior. In contrast, all systemic institutions and laws are superficial solutions, as the inner mind and spirit must be stilled with the Dao for achievement of true resolution.

The great teachers of the five great religions (Buddhism, Confucianism, Judeo-Christianity, Islam, and Daoism) each transmitted the Dao. This is inherent in the words we use to describe their teachings, such as possessing the Dao (enlightenment), receiving the Dao (spiritual transformation), cultivating the Dao (spiritual refinement), transmitting the Dao (propagation), all of which are really all related to the Dao. This insight points to the fact that the great teachers of the world's great religions were really all of one heart, but today their teachings have become alienated via human factors, thrusting today's religions into conflict with one another. This is much like a family of five brothers who, once very close, each go on to establish separate businesses and drift apart in ways their parents could have never expected.

It is indeed true that "all men are brothers," and that the global village is not just a dream. This is a dark age, but also the brightest age of hope and expectation of a great coming. When each individual embraces the Dao from the soul, changing from inside and seeking the path to truth, all hearts shall be filled with love. When this happens, the heart becomes one with the Dao, one with the Buddha and the saints. When this happens, the world will certainly change.

Mencius said, "People are good by nature." Human nature, bestowed upon us by Heaven, is absolute goodness and beauty. But this is defiled over time by the environment, causing people to lose their true selves. Therefore, a transformation is necessary whereby a thorough cleansing with the truth takes place, creating new people. Without exception, the classics bestowed by the great teachers of the five great religions convey the common message that "all sentient beings possess Buddha nature--every person can become a Buddha." In other words, as long as all people grasp the way to enlightenment, the world will return to goodness. So rather than curse the darkness, why not light a candle? From one flame countless candles will be lighted, and the day that the world becomes an earthly paradise (the Buddhist "Pure Land") is close at hand.

This book is an attempt to synthesize the teachings of the great religious classics and to impart the good word of the Maitreya to help steer people away from false paths and guide them to proper methods of cultivation. Master Tien-Jen, Mr. Kuo Chin Chong, is filled with compassion for humanity. Since his enlightenment as a young adult, Master Kuo has concentrated all his efforts and wisdom toward guiding us to our own illumination. This volume represents this wisdom as delivered in teachings in Taiwan and abroad, compiled by associates into seven chapters. Chapter One explains the origins of the Mandate of Heaven; Chapter Two describes the practices of the enlightened masters; Chapter Three discusses the revelation of the truth; Chapter Four clarifies the essence of amassing souls; Chapter Five explains the enlightenment of the heart and true nature; Chapter Six discusses correct methods of propagating the Dao; and Chapter Seven offers kernels of wisdom on cultivating the Dao. Finally, an Afterword, taken from a lecture delivered by Master Tien-Jen, provides further enlightenment. Each sentence represents a pearl of wisdom, and a key to opening hearts. For beginners, it is perhaps best to begin with Chapter Three, proceeding to Chapter Five, Chapter Seven, and the Afterword. Once the wisdom within has begun to make its mark, the reader can absorb it all together in a single volume. Like the enjoyment of good tea, this wisdom should be sipped lightly and ruminated, not gulped down quickly. Taken slowly, it will leave a lasting impression on the "palate," in this case the heart and mind.

The publication of this book represents the culmination of tremendous efforts, yet as one volume it stands as a monumental work capable of transforming spirits and inspiring hearts. In this sense, it represents a light in the darkness of today's confusion, and a wake-up call to humanity to return to our true, fundamentally good nature. In this time of chaos and disorder, natural and human disaster, it is a true treasure of salvation.

It is our sincere hope that this warning bell will ring out with the good news, becoming one with the sprit of humanity and guiding us from the torment of greed, blindness, ignorance, and the endless suffering of life's cycles. Thus released, humanity shall be emancipated, free to live in happiness right here on Earth.