Among the expedients, for example, trying to be reborn in heaven or become an Arahat, are generally more tortuous ways of attaining Buddhahood. For instance, through the practice for achieving a heavenly realm, we may be reborn in the heaven of Longevity, and be caught in one of the Eight Miseries, obstructing our progress on the Buddha's path. On the other hand, those who practise with the aim of self-emancipation only may attain Arahathood and be released from samsara, but this will be like a person who gets attached to the enjoyment on the way of the journey and forgets about the final destination. This journey is neither direct nor fast.
Thus, it is better for us to take the straight and direct route. We start out as a human and, if necessary, we should try to be reborn as a human again, remain in this state until we achieve Buddhahood. We should not aspire to be reborn in heaven nor attain the fruits of the Arahat practice. It is best if we depend on the human form as we work towards attaining Buddhahood. Some people think that they are pursuing the path to Buddhahood, but actually, they are engaging in the esoteric practices of the devas. Some ignore the cultivation of wisdom and devote all their attention to acquiring concentration (samadhi), which really aims at rebirth in the heavens. Some study the Mahayana doctrines, but do not possess great compassion. This is similar to following the path of a selfish practitioner. Of course pursuing courses as such may also lead to Buddhahood eventually, but the way is a tortuous one.
When we practice Buddhism in these modern times, it is important that we should first pursue the right path as a member in the society, and not segregate ourselves from home or country. We should start on the path from Human to Buddhahood in order to avoid any misunderstanding in the society. Modern people have a different disposition from those of ancient times, especially the Chinese who lay a great deal of emphasis on moral human relationships. Chinese Buddhists particularly, must develop their moral practices and human relationships first.
With the accumulation of righteousness in this world, the causes and merits needed for us to progress towards Buddhahood will also increase. None of us should waste our time, we should fully utilize the short life span that we have and strive diligently towards the goal of Buddhahood.
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