Whoever you are, when you come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, you must speak and act prudently. Subdue any thoughts of pursuing fame or benefit. Avoid arrogance. Don’t regard yourself as somebody special, put yourself on a pedestal and look down on others. That is conceited behavior. How can you accomplish the Way if your mind, body, and spirit are influenced by such defiled attitudes? I constantly tell you,
Truly recognize your own faults
And don’t discuss the faults of others.
Others’ faults are just my own;
Being one with everyone is called
Regard everyone as the same as yourself. Regard the happiness of others as your own, and regard their sorrows as yours, too.
“If people do good deeds, I’ll rejoice as if I had done them; if people do evil deeds, I’ll be as grieved as if I had done them.” If we think that way, we’ll get along harmoniously with others. In advising people who have broken precepts or encouraging people who uphold precepts, we shouldn’t be jealous of those who are capable, nor should we obstruct others in bringing forth the Bodhi resolve.
After I became a monk, I strove to do whatever work needed to be done around the monastery. Had I advertised my merit, there would have been no merit. Nowadays people worry about taking a loss or being cheated when they do a little work. They consider themselves smart, but actually their attitude is foolish. There is no need to publicize the work you do each day; the Dharma-protecting spirits will know and remember it well. When your merit and virtue are complete, you will naturally have a response. It is said,
Musk will naturally emit a fragrance;
It doesn’t need any wind to spread it.
Living beings have these faults: when they are supposed to work, they use the excuse of
“no self”; during mealtimes, they act as if there are “no people” other than themselves; when it comes to fighting, they assume that there are
“no living beings”; and when it comes to eating meat, they think that there is
“no life.” Yet, at the same time they shamelessly declare, “By eating your flesh I’ll liberate you so you can go to the Western Pure Land.” People think that is clever reasoning. Actually, though they don’t realize it, they outsmart themselves and end up losing in a big way.
We cultivators should always focus our minds and discipline ourselves, watch our own conduct, and not
“leave our home” in walking, standing, sitting or lying down. Not
“leaving our home” means not looking at others’ faults and not talking about others’ rights and wrongs. It also means using caution in our words and conduct, always reflecting within and examining ourselves, getting rid of our idiosyncratic temperament, and developing the skill of patience. In short, talk less and cultivate more. Don’t advertise yourself:
“I’m like this! I’m like that!” If you continue to cling to your worldly habits after becoming a monk, then what’s the point of becoming a monk? Think about it. Is that the way you ought to be?