Once when I was at Gold Buddha Monastery before I had left the home-life, someone asked the Master to write in calligraphy a verse from the Vajra Sutra. The Master did as requested, and I watched from the side. Then, without my asking, the Master wrote for me in calligraphy “For So-and-so to remember me by: Diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom; and put to rest greed, anger, and stupidity.” I didn’t really understand, but I was very happy to have it, and so I framed it and hung it up. One day my professor saw it and asked me, “Your Master is a cultivator, why would he want someone to remember him the way worldly people do?” Although I knew the Master was not sentimental the way worldly people were, I didn’t understand much Buddhadharma and couldn’t answer him. Several years later, on the day I left home, I went to the Abbot’s quarters after lunch. The Master told me, “You see, you wanted to leave home for so many years, and now your wish has finally come true.” He also said, “The mind is like a wild monkey running here and there. If you don’t pay attention to it, it will go out of control. Whatever your mind believes in and thinks about will one day come true.”
That reminded me of the words “For So-and-so to remember me by” which the Master had written several years back. The meaning is that we must pay attention to our thoughts. We must keep our mind pure and avoid impure thoughts, not let our thoughts be a confused mixture of good and evil. In studying and practicing the Dharma, we have to use the Master’s Six Guiding Principles. Only by cultivating with a true mind will we be able to realize the fruition sagehood. If our mind is a mixture of good and evil thoughts, our future attainment will also be a mixture of good and evil.
I deeply feel that the essence of the Master’s teaching is to use the mind well. We should constantly reflect upon ourselves and ask: “Is my thought proper? What am I thinking about?” If we want to become Buddhas or sages, we will certainly be able to accomplish our aim as long as we are mindful of it. On the other hand, if we indulge in idle thoughts and daydream about improper things as we are reciting the Sutras, we will not achieve sagehood. I have set down this personal experience as an encouragement to others.
We must always remember to put our mind to good use.