Great kindness for those without affinities;
Great compassion of being one with all
I recall that about six years ago, there was a drought in the Midwest. California was also suffering a serious water shortage due to drought. In order to seek rain, we hastened to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to pray to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva to protect us and quickly send down a rain of sweet dew. We also beseeched the Venerable Master to seek rain on behalf of living beings. The Master said,
“If the assembly sincerely recites the Great Compassion Mantra, a rain of sweet dew will soon fall on the drought-stricken areas.” So everyone happily went home and continued eating their three meals a day and reciting the Great Compassion Mantra. After about a week, not one drop of rain had fallen. I anxiously went to Gold Mountain Monastery to ask the Venerable Master about this, and I brought a box of cherries that were new on the market to offer to the Venerable Master and other Dharma Masters. I didn’t know that the Venerable Master had already gone for several days without eating in order to pray for rain. The Master said,
“Because people’s minds are corrupt and the world is corrupt, the gods, dragons, and rest of the eightfold division of Dharma-protecting good spirits are not offering protection. I am fasting in order to dedicate merit to living beings and pray for rain.” I then understood the compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (the Venerable Master) in taking the karma and suffering of living beings upon themselves, transforming the power of compassion into refreshing sweet dew. The rain finally poured from the heavens, watering the parched earth. The mind-ground of living beings was also moistened by Dharma rain and irrigated with wisdom. The rain fell heavier and heavier. Meanwhile, the Venerable Master grew thinner and thinner...
When the Way is lofty, the dragons and tigers are subdued;
When virtue is great, ghosts and spirits are respectful
One day when I was driving the Master up a mountain, I was following the car in front of us very closely. When we were almost to our destination, the car in front took a wrong turn and I followed it. The Master suddenly asked,
“What happened?” I said, “Master, the car in front took a wrong turn.”
“How do you know?” the Master asked. I replied, “Because it turned around and came back to the original road.” Then the Master said,
“If you blindly follow others, you will always go wrong.” This incident made me realize that if we cultivate blindly, we will also go astray!
When we had ascended the mountain, I drove through a grove of redwoods and came to a meadow. The green mountains on all sides surrounded a spring. In front of us was an old house. For the sake of courtesy, the Master asked me to go say hello to the owner. Before I could ring the doorbell, a vicious dog chased me back and I nervously hid behind the Master. My face had turned greenish, and I said,
“Master, the house must be empty. Otherwise, with the dog barking so loudly, why haven’t we seen anyone come out?” The Master said,
“There’s someone there. Come, let’s go take a look together.” When the mean dog saw the Master approach, amazingly, it began backing up, step by step.
“Just what did the Master say to it?” I wondered. Then I heard the Master say,
“How are you?” to the dog. The dog crouched down and watched the Master walk by, not making a sound. By then, the owner had come out and showed us around the property, taking us to a place higher up on the mountain. At that place there were also several large dogs and a flock of turkeys. When they saw the Master, they became totally quiet and didn’t call out. What had the Master said to them? As I was wondering, I suddenly heard the Master say,
Cultivators should cultivate to the point that they don’t fear any animal at all...
Then I understood. When a cultivator has cultivated to the point that he doesn’t have the slightest inclination to fight or kill, he can influence fierce animals to become peaceful.
That must be the difference between a sage (the Venerable Master) and an ordinary person (me)! I mused about this, and then asked,
“How should one cultivate?” The Master said, “Cultivate according to the six great principles.” I suddenly changed the topic and asked,
“How can there be water on such a high mountain?” The Master said,
“The auspicious energy of this land is due to the fact that the living beings cultivating here have no greed. As it is said,
‘When the ordinary mind dies, the mind for the Way comes forth.’ For every day one cultivates, one gains a day of merit.” I asked,
“How should one amass merit?” The Master said, “Do good deeds without letting anyone know. As it is said,
‘Intelligence is aided by secret good deeds. Secret good deeds lead you on the path to intelligence. If you fail to perform good deeds in secret and merely rely on your intelligence, you will be outsmarted by your own intelligence.’ You should repent at all times. When the karma you created in the past disappears, then all merit and virtue will be accomplished.” I asked,
“How can one cultivate to be as greatly wise as the Master?” The Master said,
“First cultivate to be without outflows.” I asked, “How should one start?” The Master said,
“Start with your mind. As it is said, ‘When one meditates to the point of having no mind, that is the Way.’” Then I understood the line in Great Master Yongjia’s Song of Enlightenment:
“The mind is the root; / Dharmas are dust. / The two are like streaks on a mirror. / When the streaks are entirely removed, light begins to appear. / When mind and dharmas
are both forgotten, / Then the nature is true.”
I went with the Venerable Master to visit many mountainous areas throughout northern California and obtained many precious teachings from the Master. Thinking of this always makes me cry. Although the Master has now left the world, he has left behind Dharma of endless benefit and profound wisdom.