The Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is a place for cultivation. The gods, dragons, and the rest of the eightfold division of spirits constantly protect this Way-place. If you bring forth the resolve for Bodhi, they will surely protect you and cause your body and mind to be at ease. You will have great attainments and great responses. If you don’t harbor any hopes or expectations, these things will happen naturally. If you crave accomplishments or responses, however, you have violated the Six Guidelines of the Sagely City by being greedy.
Cultivators at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas follow these Six Guidelines in their daily activities.
1. Not to fight. Never fight with anyone. Don’t contend over fame or benefits. If there’s something that other people desire, give it to them and don’t contend. It is said,
“If people contend over things, there’s never enough to go around. If everyone
yields, there’s always a surplus.”
2. Not to be greedy. This doesn’t mean saying we’re not greedy, but then being as greedy as ever when states come up. That would be wrong. Our words should reflect our behavior, and vice versa; they shouldn’t contradict each other. Only when we do away with greed can we develop a noble character.
3. Not to seek. If we seek something, we suffer and get afflicted. Of course if our desires are frustrated, we’ll also be afflicted. It’s said,
“When we seek nothing, we’ll have no worries.” This statement is absolutely true. When we reach the state of seeking nothing, our character will naturally be lofty.
One of the Eight Sufferings is the “suffering of not obtaining what one seeks for.” If you can’t get what you want, you suffer. If you do get what you want, you still suffer. Worrying about obtaining something and then worrying about losing it－is it worth the trouble? You’re just making yourself suffer. If you can realize this and let go of things, you won’t suffer or get afflicted anymore.
4. Not to be selfish. Everyone has selfish concerns. We always think of ourselves first, and of our own children and grandchildren. So as cultivators, we must cultivate until we reach the state of
“no self.” Without a self, what would we contend for, be greedy for, or seek for? We wouldn’t want anything at all. We ought to learn the Bodhisattvas’ spirit of renouncing themselves for the sake of other people. Why is the world so badly polluted that it can never become clean and pure? Just because everyone is selfish and wants to benefit themselves－“this is mine; that belongs to me”－so the world is in chaos and there is no peace.
5. Not to pursue personal advantage. If people don’t care to benefit themselves and are always content with whatever comes their way, they will naturally get along peacefully. Like fish who fall for the bait, greedy people forget justice when they see profit. Consequently, they do things that offend the heavens and go against principle. How many people have ruined their reputations and exhausted their family fortunes in pursuit of profit? Some have even destroyed their families and brought their country to ruin, so that they themselves end up homeless.
6. Not to lie. Under no circumstances should we ever lie. We should honestly report what we have seen and heard, speaking only the truth and not saying anything that is not based on the facts. We should know that if we fabricate lies or say things that hurt others and are of no benefit to ourselves, after death we are bound to fall into the Hell of Pulling Tongues. There is no doubt about this, so be careful!
What I’ve said to you today is very simple, but if you can apply these principles, you’ll derive inexhaustible benefit. As the saying goes,
It may be well spoken and wonderfully stated,
But if it’s not practiced, it’s not the Way.
The Way has to be practiced. If it’s not practiced, how can it be the Way? Virtue has to be done; if one does not do it, how can there be virtue? If you can actually apply the Six Guidelines of the Sagely City, you will naturally be lofty and noble in character.
I will say one last thing: Don’t do foolish things, such as plugging your ears and stealing a bell [thinking that no one can hear the bell ring just because you can’t]. You cannot fool yourself, nor can you fool the Buddha. What’s the point of filling your mind with cunning schemes, thinking you can hide from your conscience－isn’t this just inviting ridicule? I hope people at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas will maintain excellent moral conduct and be models whom the whole world will marvel at.