A General Discussion of Money

Composed by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

      Two spears battle for gold, the air is thick with killing.

      It is over money that people in the world quarrel and bicker.

      Wise ones who use it well can transcend the three realms.

      Stupid mongers who are upside-down can hardly escape their offenses.

The ancients said,

If wealth could be pursued through seeking, then even as mean a task as being a flogger1, I would willingly do.

If wealth cannot be attained through seeking, then I will pursue what I really delight in.

Another saying goes:

Riches and honor are what all people desire.

But if the wealth is not obtained by means of the Way,

I will not abide in riches.

Poverty and lowliness are what all people detest.

But if the wealth is not obtained by means of the way,

I will not avoid poverty.

      On contemplating this, we cannot forget our integrity in the face of profit and gain. We can't harm others to benefit ourselves or be unscrupulous, scheming, crafty, and usurping, creating offenses and violating the law, injuring the country and suppressing the people. The great turmoil in the world and the destruction of humankind is due to the imbalance of people's wealth, we are Buddhist disciples, how can we not watch over ourselves at all times?

A verse reads:

Do not become upside-down because of yellow and white.2

Below there is stone and earth, above there is the azure sky.3

Cause and effect is without bias, retribution comes around.

The seed of good and evil is planted within a hair-space.

If you are afraid to fall into the hells after death,

While alive, be careful not to muddle your mind-field.

Waiting until you are thirsty to dig a well, is really too late.

You'd be lucky if you made it through the gate of justice.4

1A mule or horse-cart driver, considered a very low occupation in old China.

2Yellow and white, respectively, gold and silver

3Stone and earth refers to the earth spirit; the azure sky means the lord above.

4The gate of justice is that gate at the door of the hells, when a dead spirit goes in front of the court of judgement, his offenses and men are tallied up. From this his next path of rebirth is determined.