With commentary of
 Tripitaka Master Hua

Translated into English by
Bhiksuni Heng Yin
Reviewed by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih


All at once, throughout the house, a fire breaks out, setting the house ablaze.


All at once, throughout the house/Throughout means all around, on all sides, everywhere. This refers to the eight sufferings. The eight sufferings pervade the four elements and the four types of birth. The eight sufferings have been discussed many times before. They are:

1. The suffering of birth.

2. The suffering of aging.

3. The suffering of sickness.

4. The suffering of death.

5. The suffering of being separated from loved ones.

6. The suffering of being together with those one hates.

7. The suffering of not getting what one seeks.

8. The suffering of the raging blaze of the five skandhas.

The four types of birth are:

1. Birth by womb.

2. Birth by egg.

3. Birth by moisture.

4. Birth by transformation.

      Each type of birth has its own suffering. However, creatures born from wombs know only the sufferings of womb-birth and know nothing of the pain involved in egg, moisture, or transformation birth. When you become one of those kinds of beings, you will know the suffering that type undergoes. Now, we have not entered the other classes of birth, so why talk about their sufferings? Because the greatly wise Buddha has already pointed the Way for us clearly, we know the eight sufferings pervade the four births.

"Throughout" means the sufferings pervade the four births and the four elements.

"All at once" refers to the four types of birth and the four elements and the eight sufferings all as impermanent. Because they are impermanent, it says, "all at once." You could also say that the eight sufferings exist "all at once," or that one kind of suffering comes to exist all of a sudden. They are all impermanent.

A fire breaks out/Quite suddenly, a fire arose. Fire refers to suffering. Suffering basically does not exist, but because of ignorance, various forms of suffering arise. Ignorance is the worst thing. Our tempers are just the fire-energy of our ignorance. Once the fire of ignorance arises, one doesn't understand anything at all. One has no judgment, no reason, and understands nothing at all. That is just stupidity. Because of stupidity, these sufferings come into being, and the fire of ignorance arises. You might also say that the fire of the five skandhas, form, feelings, perceptions, impulses, and consciousness, arise. The five skandhas are like a fire.

Setting the house ablaze/This refers to the five skandhas, which burn our bodies. The house represents the body. The five skandhas dwell within the house of the body and they set five kinds of fires, which burn the house down. The fire is our tempers. It is said:

The body of a tiger, and ignorance's blaze,

Are the roots of errors from former lives' days.

The fire of ignorance is as fierce as a tiger, and it comes from former lives. In former lives one created too many offenses, and so one now has no merit and virtue. Therefore, in this life one has a big temper. This big temper is terrible! But, you might also say it is the very best. How can you say it is both the very best and the very worst? No matter what it is, within the good, there is bad, and within the bad, there is good. Things get good bit by bit, and things go bad, bit by bit, too. In what way is anger the very worst thing? After you get angry you feel uncomfortable all over, even very pained. Wouldn't you say that was bad? It is very bad for the body.

In what way is anger the very best thing? Once you get angry and realize it is painful, you won't let it happen anymore. Thus, you get rid of your anger. No more tiger; no more fire of ignorance. They are gone because you have awakened. You know that anger is not good. It's like slapping yourself. If you get angry, you suffer. Realizing it is painful, you quit doing such stupid things as getting angry. Isn't that the very best? You have escaped from what is not good. If you can fight your way out of the enemy's trap, you are a hero. Students of the Buddhadharma must break through ignorance. How? As I just said: wake up; if you get angry and don't even realize it's a stupid thing to do, you get angry a and again, three times, four, five, up to less times—ah! Ignorance, ignorance, and pop!--you die of rage!

Buddhists must cultivate patience.

What is patience?

When the most unbearable thing happens you, you view it as if nothing were happening. You put it down. You cool off your brain steady yourself. When something happens, immediately get angry. Cool off, and approach it in a reasonable manner. Then you won't off the fire of ignorance. There's no end talking about this, but in general, the fire of ignorance can burn our bodies and ruin them. It can burn your house to ashes.


      The Elder’s sons, ten, twenty, even thirty of them, are inside the house.


      The Elder/as previously stated, is the Buddha, the Thus Come One. His sons/refers his "true sons," and "initiate sons." Ten refers to the Bodhisattvas, twenty/refer the Sound Hearers, and thirty/refers to that Conditioned-Enlightened Ones. Others say the ten are the Sound Hearers, the twenty, the Conditioned-Enlightened Ones, and the thirty are the Bodhisattvas. Either way is all right. This is just an analogy, after all Dharma is flexible, not fixed, especially analogies, because they aren't real to begin with. Even though they aren't true in fact, they are true in principle.

The disciples of the Three Vehicles are within the triple realm, so the text says, are inside the house/They have heard the Buddhadharma in the past. In former lives, for limitless aeons, they had listened to the Buddhadharma, and so they had a very close, natural relationship, like that of blood relatives like father and son. Because their affinities were so strong, they became the Buddha's "sons," Dharma Princes. The Dharma Princes of the Great Vehicle were the Bodhisattvas. The Dharma Princes of the Middle Vehicle were the Conditioned-Enlightened Ones. The Dharma Princes of the Small Vehicle were the Sound Hearers. The number in each category is not fixed, however, for some of the Small Vehicle may gone over to the Middle Vehicle, and some of the Middle Vehicle may have gone over to the Great Vehicle. They were all within the burning house. The thirty sons represent the Buddha's retinue. Other than the thirty sons, there were beings in the five paths, the "five hundred people," who were not as close to the Buddha. So, the sons represent those of the Three Vehicles.

Conditioned-Enlightened Ones are part of the Buddhas 30 sons


      The Elder, seeing the fire arise from the four sides, is greatly alarmed and makes the following reflection: "Although I have been able to escape safely through this burning doorway, all my children remain inside the burning house, happily attached to their amusements, unaware, unknowing, not alarmed and not afraid. The fire presses upon them and the pain will sear them, but at heart they do not mind it, nor have they any thought to escape."


The Elder/is the Thus Come One. Seeing/represents the Buddha's vision with his Buddha Eye, and this is not ordinary seeing. Seeing the fire arise/ represents the Buddhas with the vision of his Buddha Eye, viewing the living beings in the six paths.

      On all four sides/The beings in the six paths undergo the sufferings of the five skandhas. This suffering arises from the four di­rections. The four directions represent the Four Applications of Mindfulness: Mindfulness with regard to the body, feelings, thought, and dharmas. This was explained earlier in the passage about "Thus have I heard." You should know that the body is a very unclean thing, a useless thing. Do not act as a slave for the body, a servant for the body. As the poet T'ao Yuan-ming said, "My mind has been my body's slave." In his elegant essay, The Return, he writes,

I am going home;

My fields and gardens are choked with weeds.

Why should I not return?

My mind has been my body's slave.

But why should I remain melancholy?

Having awakened to the past,

I need not reproach myself.

I know that in the future I can make up for it.

I know that I am not far from the path of confusion.

But I'm now awake to the present as "right" and the past as "wrong."

He says, "I am going home/I want to go back. I should return to my home." But, we shall change the meaning here a bit and say, "I want to return to my Buddha-home."

My fields and gardens are choked with weeds/We can change it and say, "The field of my mind has been choked with weeds." The mine is like a field, and it has been badly neglected. Why? Because we have not studied the Buddhadharma, and the "grass" has grown up our minds. The more "grass" there is, the stupider we become. The weeds are choking gardens of our minds, and if we don't hurry and study the Buddhadharma, our minds will wild and uncultivated.

"Why should I not return? I should hurry right up and go back. My mind has been my body's slave/My mind has been working for body. But why should I remain melancholy? Why should I be so unhappy and so depressed? Having awakened to the past, I need not re­proach myself"/Awakened means to understand. "Ah! I know that everything I did before was incorrect."

T'ao Yuan-ming called himself on his own faults. We all make mistakes. The only thing to be afraid of is that you aren't aware of them. If you know about your own faults, then you are on your way to being a good person. Knowing that he was wrong in the past, there is no use wasting time in self-reproach.

"But I know that in the future I can make up for it/In the future I can do better.

"I know that I am not far from the path confusion/I am like a lost sheep on a crooked path. The path of confusion, the stupid things I did, are still close at hand, but,

"I am now awake to the present as 'right' and the past as 'wrong'/I know that what I did before was wrong. I plan to do better in the future."

This essay is extremely good.  I like it very much. Later, if you want to learn it, I will explain it to you.

The Elder saw the big fire arise from all four directions. The four directions refers to the Four Applications of mindfulness, the first of which is to contemplate the body as impure. It is not a clean thing. Knowing this, you will not act as a slave for the body, as T'ao Yuan-ming so aptly wrote, "My mind has been my body's slave." His meaning was much like that of the Sutra.

Ten Types of Wisdom of those of the Three Vehicles

Why does it say "thirty" sons? Why doesn't it say "eight" or "nine?" If you add them up, 10 + 20 + 30 = 60. Sixty represents the Six Perfections of those of the Great Vehicle.

Why does the text say "ten?" This is because the Bodhisattvas, Sound Hearers, and Conditioned-Enlightened Ones, these Three Vehicles, all have ten kinds of wisdom.

1. Worldly Wisdom. Although it is said to be worldly wisdom, it includes transcendental wisdom, because the sages of the Three Vehicles have used worldly wisdom to enlighten to all worldly dharmas. After that, they seek world-transcending Dharmas. Therefore, although it is said to be worldly wisdom, it is also transcendental wisdom. To put it another way, worldly wisdom itself is just transcendental wisdom. If you don't have worldly wisdom, how could you possess transcendental wis­dom? World-transcending wisdom is born from worldly wisdom.

2. The Wisdom of Others Minds. Sound Hearers, the Conditioned-Enlightened Ones, and the Bodhisattvas all have this wisdom. It is the spiritual penetration of knowing the thoughts in other people's minds. This spiritual penetration is produced from samadhi. The Arhats, that is, the Sound Hearers, find it necessary to "intentionally observe" by means of the "wisdom of others' minds." This means that they have to use their minds to observe. If they do not, they won't know what it is that someone else is thinking, and what it is that they are about to do.

The wisdom of others' minds, which the Conditioned-Enlightened Ones possess also, involves the "intentional observation." However, they do not need to be sitting in Dhyana cultivating samadhi to carry it out. They just "intentionally observe," and, whatever you had in mind to say or do, they know. Thus, the Conditioned-Enlightened Ones are one level higher in this respect than the Sound Hearers.

At the Bodhisattva level, the wisdom of others' thoughts does not require them to "intentionally observe." They can know any time. Thus, they are one level higher than the Conditioned-Enlightened Ones. There are a lot finer discriminations, which can be made, if one were to explain it in detail.

3. The Wisdom of Suffering. What does suffering have to do with wisdom? If you understand suffering, you will want to end suffering. If you want to end suffering, you can be rid of suffering. If you have no wisdom, how can you understand suffering? If you have wisdom, you will suffer and not even realize you are suffering; If you have the wisdom understand suffering, you can end suffering.

4. The wisdom of origination. This is second of the Four Truths. Origination refers to the accumulation of afflictions. What does it have to do with wisdom? If you can know that origination involves affliction, if that isn't wisdom, what is it? If you lack the wisdom of origination, you won't even know it is affliction. When affliction besets you, you’ll think of it as bread and butter and eat your fill! Why? Because you lack wisdom. With wisdom, when it comes you'll be aware: "Ah hah! That's affliction." That awareness is just wisdom.

5. The Wisdom of Extinction. What is extinguished? Affliction. With the wisdom of origination you still need the wisdom of extinction which eradicates affliction. When affliction is extinguished, Bodhi is produced, and thus you obtain the Four Virtues of Nirvana:

1. Permanence.

2. Bliss.

3. True Self.

4. Purity.

      6. The Wisdom of the Way. In cultivating the Way, you also need wisdom. If you have no wisdom, you won't be able to cultivate. You’ll waste your time all day long, and time will run out on you. In cultivating the Way, you need the Wisdom of the Way.

7. The wisdom of Dharma. Dharma is the Buddhadharma. If you want to cultivate the Buddhadharma, you must have the Selective Dharma The Selective Dharma Eye is just wisdom, our wisdom eye. With the wisdom eye, you won't do stupid things. Without it you will.

What are stupid things? In studying the Buddhadharma, it is of primary importance that you not commit the Ten Evil Acts. Secondly, you must diligently cultivate the Ten Good Deeds.

The Ten Evil Acts

Three are committed with the body:

1. Killing,

2. Stealing, and

3. Sexual misconduct.

Three are committed with the mind:

4. Greed,

5. Hatred, and

6. Stupidity.

Four are committed with the mouth:

7. Abusive speech,

8. Double-tongued speech,

9. Frivolous speech, and

10. False speech,

The majority of our offense karma is created with our mouths. How can the mouth create offenses? By talking. If you say good things, there is no offense involved. Strangely enough, the mouth delights in speaking evil, in gossip, and in slander. That's the easiest place for the mouth to go wrong and create offenses. One gossips because one lacks the Selective Dharma Eye, one lacks wisdom. No matter what Bodhimanda it is, don't speak of its shortcomings. Their faults and problems are their own. We don't want to go there and put in our two cents. This is because:

Others' wrongs, others' obsessions,

Are their bad karma and their trans­gressions.

It is also said,

Good and evil are two diverging roads.

You can cultivate the good, or commit offenses.

      If you cultivate the Way, you cultivate it. If you create bad karma, you create it. That's just the way things are. There's nothing strange about it. Those who cultivate the Way should support the Bodhimanda. Then you will be creating merit and virtue. You should not try to break up the Bodhimanda. If you break up the Bodhimanda you create offenses. If you support it you establish merit. If you have the Selective Dharma Eye, you will not ruin the Bodhimanda. If you don't have it, you will get involved in various stupid actions.

8. The wisdom of comparison. Like the wisdom of the Dharma, in which one uses the Selective Dharma Eye, this wisdom is one of comparing and choosing the superior Dharma-doors to cultivate.

9. The wisdom of the ultimate. Among the Three Vehicles this is wisdom at its extreme point, exhausting all principles, in which nothing is not known and seen.

10. The wisdom of non-production. This is the wisdom of the Patience with the Non-production of Dharmas. If you obtain this Patience, then in the Three Realms you do not see a single dharma produced, and you do not see a single dharma extinguished. This experience cannot be fully expressed in words, nor can it be forgotten. You bear it in your mind; you know it yourself. It is like the person who drinks water and knows for himself whether it is cold or warm.

These are the Ten Types of Wisdom, and each of the Three Vehicles has these ten. Thus, the text says, "ten, twenty, or even thirty." The people of the Three Vehicles are all in the burning house. The Elder, that is the Buddha, using the Buddha eye, sees the living beings in the six paths being burned by the fire of the five skandhas, and, seeing the fire arise from the four sides...

The four sides, as I mentioned earlier, resent the Four Applications of Mindfulness; The Four Applications of Mindfulness are:

1.    Contemplate the body as impure.

2.    Contemplate feelings as suffering.

3.    Contemplate thought as impermanent.

4.    Contemplate dharmas as without self.

Our bodies are unclean things. In what way? Take a look. Perspiration flows from the entire body, and once you perspire, you smell. Tears and matter flow from the eyes. Wax oozes from the ears and mucus flows out of the nose. Saliva and phlegm flow from the mouth. These seven orifices are always leaking unclean substances. Then, add the eliminatory orifices and you have nine holes which constantly ooze with impurities. Everyone is familiar with these impurities. In our flesh and blood there are many kinds of bacteria, as well, which are impure. Someone may not believe this at all, but in the future, advances in science will no doubt prove that the flesh and blood are unclean. It's all very complex. Especially when people eat a lot strange things, which get into their systems and do strange things. The matter in the digestive system is also unclean. So why should you be so caught up in working for your body? First of all, contemplate the body as impure.

Secondly, contemplate feelings as suffering. Pleasurable sensations are enjoyable at first but one soon grows tired of them, and they become disagreeable. It's a very obvious principle that there is nothing much to pleasure in itself.

Thirdly, contemplate thought as impermanent. Thought after thought changes and moves on. Thoughts are like the waves on the sea. When one thought passes, another takes its place. Produced and extinguished, thoughts do not stop. Therefore, contemplate thoughts as impermanent. Past, present, and future, none of the three phases of thought can be gotten at. So contemplate thought as impermanent.

We are never aware of where our thoughts have run off to. Mencius said, "If people's chickens and dogs run off, people go after them. But, if their thoughts run off, they don't know to go after them." If someone's dog runs away, they may even go so far as to put an ad in the paper saying, "I have lost my dog! It's such and such a color and weighs so many pounds, and is of such and such a breed." If their chickens run off, they look for them everywhere, but when their minds go running off, they don't go after them. Where did their thoughts run off to? How can thoughts run off? When you have false thinking, that is just your mind running off. You may false think all day long. You think about getting rich, think about being an official, think about seeking fame and profit—these are all false thoughts. If you are destined to become an official, you will quite naturally do so. If you are destined to be famous or wealthy, it will happen according to your fate. You don't need to have false thinking about it and seek after it. Nevertheless, people insist on seeking after fame and profit, wealth and position, and don't understand that they should do good deeds. If you want your future to be bright, you should merely do good deeds and not ask what the future will bring. If you do good things, things will naturally go well for you.

Fourthly, contemplate all dharmas as without self. Not only is there no self, there are no dharmas either! Make empty both people and dharmas. Empty the emptiness as well.

The Four Applications of Mindfulness are very important. But, if I spoke of them in detail, what with The Dharma Flower Sutra being so long, when would I ever finish? So, I have just commented on them briefly.

Seeing the firebreak out on all four sides, the Elder is greatly alarmed/What does this mean? Doesn't the Elder represent the Buddha? How can the Buddha be afraid? The Buddha is fearless. How can he be frightened? His great alarm is a manifestation of his great kindness and compassion. The Buddha is afraid that living beings will retreat from their resolve for Bodhi and so he is alarmed. If they retreat from their resolve for Bodhi, they will enjoy no bliss. With kindness, the Buddha bestows joy upon living beings. With compassion, he relieves them of their sufferings. The Buddha's fright represents his kindness and compassion for the living beings undergoing all the manifold miseries they must suffer if they retreat from the thought for Bodhi.

And makes the following reflection: "Although I have been able to escape safely through this burning doorway/"I" is the Elder referring to himself. The door represents the doctrines of emptiness and existence. The four sides of the door represent existence. The center of the door, which one goes through, represents emptiness. Although we speak of emptiness and existence, originally there is no emptiness or existence, because the Buddha, in the "burning house," relies upon the final principle of the Middle Way to cultivate and accomplish the fruition of Buddhahood. He has escaped the burning house through the burning doorway.

The Buddha has safely escaped because he is not harassed by either the Five Skandhas or the Eight Sufferings. Nor is he shaken by the Four Inverted Views. The Four Inverted Views are four types of upside-down understanding and views. Common people and those of external religions take the Four Virtues of Nirvana and wrongly apply them to conditioned existence. Thus, their views are upside-down. The Buddha is not shaken by these four, and so he has escaped safely. He is secure and tranquil, having escaped the Three Realms.

The Four Inverted Views

1.    Taking what is impermanent as permanent.

2.    Taking what is not bliss as bliss.

3.    Taking what is not true self as true self.

4.    Taking what is not pure as pure.

Although the Buddha has escaped, "All my children remain inside the burning house."/I living beings are still inside the burning house and we cause the Buddha to worry. "Happily attacked to their amusements"/In the burning house, the children, the disciples of the Three Vehicles and the five hundred people and all beings in the Three Realms are busy playing. Amusements refers to their attachment to views and to love. They have been shaken by states of love and views. In the Great Compassion Repentance it says, "Love and views are the root, the body and mouth are the conditions for the creation of all offenses within all of existence." Love and views are at the heart of the problem. The body and mind are the agents. Within the twenty-five planes of existence in the Three Realms, one is caught and does not wake up.

Amusements means that one accomplishes nothing. Attached to the five defilements: forms, sounds, smells, tastes, and tangible objects, to the five desires: wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep, in the end you do not obtain the slightest advantage. Your birth into this world has been in vain. You live and die in vain and your whole life amounts of nothing. Born muddled, you die muddled. As though you are born and die in a muddle, you have no thought to escape.

If one asks, "How were you born?"

"I don't know," you answer.

"How do you plan on dying?"

"I don't know," you answer.

You have no thought to escape birth and death. This is just like children playing. They play together and jump about all day. As they play, they are unaware/Although they are within the burning house, they don't realize it's on fire. They don't say, "It's on fire. Let's get out!"

Unknowing/means that they don't understand that fire is a "hot dharma." In the hot dharma of fire, their bodies may be seriously harmed, but they don't know this and so they are...

Not alarmed/Children who have never see a tiger may be told about tigers, but they won't recognize one when they see one. If they accidentally run into one, they'll say, "Where did that big kitty come from?"

Unafraid/They don't know that the fire can rob them of their very lives. They do r understand how fierce the fire is.

What is more, living beings are unaware c suffering, unknowing when it comes to origination, not alarmed at what injures the Way, and not frightened at the prospect of losing extinction. We haven't awakened to suffering, don't know about origination, and are not alarmed when our karma of the Way becomes obstructed, and are not frightened at the thought of losing the happiness of Nirvana. Not having heard the Dharma of the Four Truths means that they lack "hearing" wisdom and "considering" wisdom.

Three Types of Wisdom

1. Hearing Wisdom. This refers to listening to the Dharma. After hearing the Dharma, one needs:

2. The Wisdom of Consideration. With this wisdom, one thinks about what one has heard.

3. The Wisdom of Cultivation refers to putting what one has heard into actual practice.

If one lacks hearing and considering wisdom, one is unaware. If one does not then cultivate while in the burning house, one is unknowing. Without vision and understanding, one is not alarmed. If one lacks the understanding that comes from consideration, one is not frightened.

The fire presses in on them, and the pain will sear them/Living beings in the five paths of rebirth and those of the Three Vehicles are within the burning house and yet they are not afraid. The fire will soon burn them to death. The fire pressing in on them refers to the three sufferings, which oppress the body:

The Three Kinds of Suffering

1. The suffering of suffering. This refers to the suffering of poverty. If poverty is suffering, what about prosperity?

2. The suffering of decay. When one's blessings run out, things go bad. This is the suffering of decay.

3. The suffering of process. This refers to the suffering involved in the life process itself, from birth to middle age, from middle age to old age, and finally death.

These three kinds of suffering, also called three kinds of feelings, are like a fire pressing in on one.

The pain will sear the living beings, those of the Three Vehicles, and the Buddha. The living beings and those of the Three Vehicles are like the Buddha's sons. The Buddha's sons will be burned in the fire. Won't this cause the Buddha to suffer? The pain will sear them, and the Buddha himself will personally undergo great suffering, just as if his body were being stripped of its flesh.

But at least they do not mind it, not have they any thought to escape/ The fire bums right beside them, but they are not disturbed by it in the least. Heart refers to the sixth mind-consciousness. The first five consciousnesses are linked to the sixth and the sixth has no thought to escape. Would you say this was delusion or not? If it were not delusion, how could they be seared by the fire and not even think about running away? Deluded by what? The three poisons: greed, hatred, and stupidity. Greed, hatred, and stupidity have deluded them to the point that they add suffering atop their suffering and grow more a more deluded.

Now, I will explain this passage in terms of the Five Evil Turbidities:

Happily attached to their amusements/This refers to the turbidity of views and the turbidity of afflictions, in other words, love and views. Once you have views, you turn your back on enlightenment and unite with the dust. You have afflictions because you have love. Where there is love, there are afflictions. Take a look: there are some very intelligent people who are so caught up in love that they do nothing all day but laugh and then cry. When they have finished crying, for some reason unknown to them, they start to laugh. When they have laughed for a while they start crying again. Why? It's because there is affliction inside of love and it creates a lot of problems.

Unaware, unknowing, not alarmed, and not afraid/refers to the turbidity of living beings. The fire presses upon them and the pain will sear them/refers to the turbidity of the lifespan. But at heart they do not mind it, nor have they any thought to escape/is in reference to the turbidity of the aeon. We living beings, caught up in the five turbidities, have forgotten about returning home. Giving rise to views of people and self, right and wrong, all day long we run about hither and yon in the five turbidities, rising and sinking without cease. Sometimes they bob to the surface, other times they sink to the bottom, just like fish in the water having such a good time; But, who knows when the fisher man's net will come and rob them of their very lives?

We living beings in the five turbidities are trapped in a net, which is even fiercer. What is the net? It's our karma, our offense karma. When your offense karma hooks you, you'll be just like fish caught in a net. When people are caught by their own offense karma in King Yama's net, they are dragged into the hells to undergo suffering. Is this frightening or not? You shouldn't think this is such a peaceful place. Don't assume that the world is such a fine place. It only seems fine to you because you haven't awakened from your dreams. Once you wake up you will know that this is not such a safe place to be.

Tonight there was a small earthquake. Everyone has been saying for a long time that San Francisco was due for an earthquake. Why hasn't that happened yet? I'll tell you: it’s because of the power derived from our recitation of the Surangama Mantra. This power has scared away the demon kings who do not dare come near to disturb us. After this, whenever you recite Sutras or Mantras, you should contemplate and concentrate on causing San Francisco to be very calm and peaceful, without any trouble.

      We are here studying the Buddhadharma, and when new people come, we should treat them warmly. You should welcome them as you would your own brothers and sisters. The Dharma-protecting lay-people of long-standing should give up their seats to the new people and let them sit at the tables because the old-timers can get by sitting just anywhere. And don't look down on new people saying, "That person is crawling with demons." He doesn't under­stand the rules or how to bow or how to recite the mantras..." While we don't go out into the streets and drag people in for lectures, when they do come we must certainly invite them to the lecture and give them a place to sit. We should be especially polite to them and not slight them because they don't under­stand the Buddhadharma. When all of you first came, did I look down on you? Was I aloof towards you? I welcomed you all. But now, you must welcome the new people. Before, I didn't have so many Western disciples. Now that you have taken refuge with me you should support your Master and take a share of his load. Don't let new people feel very disappointed and make them want to leave. This is not such a large group, after all. We must lead many people to study the Buddhadharma and then there will be hope for the future. Take note of this. The Master's disciples should support the Bodhimanda. Supporting the Bodhimanda is just supporting the Master. Being good to everyone is just supporting the Bodhimanda. So treat all the new people well. Look after them and don't look down on people. You were once just like them, you know. Now that you are a bit different you should think of a way to cause them to be different, too. That's the attitude that students of the Buddhadharma should have.

To be continued