The Proper Dharma Dwells in the World
Excerpt from instruction given by Master Hua, November 10, 1979.
What is meant by causing the Proper Dharma to dwell long in the world? It means reliably and honestly cultivating and not being greedy for fame and profit, not craving or seeking after offerings and money. If all left-home people can maintain the precept of not holding money, if they can sleep sitting up, if they can eat one meal a day at noon, if they can at all times wear their precept sashes, and if all of them can strictly hold the precepts purely, then that is the Proper Dharma dwelling in the world, it just means actually following the Buddha's teaching and respectfully offering up all good conduct
You should take a look at the left-home people at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. They aren't greedy. Everyone works silently, strictly maintains the precepts, reveres the Dharma of pure eating, and everyone brings forth a great resolve for Bodhi.
My vow is that wherever I go, I will only allow the Proper Dharma to flourish, I will not allow the Dharma Ending Age to set in. The ending of the Dharma means that fundamental Dharma has disappeared and only superficial aspects remain. It has left the root and main trunk and dwells only on the tips of the branches, so to speak. During the Dharma Ending Age, it is very difficult to tell the true from the false, for they exist side by side. You need the Dharma-selecting Eye to tell them apart.
What is the Proper Dharma? It means not being greedy for name and profit and not being selfish. The people of the Dharma Ending Age are all immersed in deviant knowledge and deviant views. Whatever is right they will say isn't right; whatever is wrong they'll say is right. This is mistaking fish eyes for pearls. Even when the Proper Dharma appears right before their very eyes, they do not recognize it.
As far as competition between themselves and others, they are really capable of that. An example is competing with each other in building temples. "If you build a temple that is seventy feet tall, I'll build one that is seventy-one feet. If you build a temple that is seventy-two feet, I'll be sure to build one that is seventy-three feet. No matter what, I'll have to be that much higher than you." They do not consider, "This person has much higher cultivation than I do. They do not compete about who cultivates the best. They only know how to compete in building temples.
Wasting the donors' rice and gifts,
They lead others to fall into the hells.
If the causal ground is not true
The resultant ground will be crooked.
What is the value of competing in building temples anyway? After you've built so many grand temples, nobody dwells or cultivates in them. Isn't that a pity!
Such are the signs of the Dharma Ending Age. Also, people will "disrupt the harmony of the Sangha." When you lay-people make offerings to members of the Sangha, be sure not to be greedy. One person makes special efforts to protect the Dharma of a single Sanghan, another makes efforts to protect another Sanghan, and in this way, the Sangha is caused to break up. They no longer want to dwell in one place together. So lay-people compete, vying with one another to make offerings to a particular Sanghan, to the point that the left-home person gets to live alone in a little temple of his own, and becomes muddled—idling his time away, not doing anything of real value. What type of merit and virtue have you accrued through this?
What I say are true words. Left-home people should live together in a large Way-place. In this way they can aid each other to practice the Way, watch over each other, urge each other on. If a left-home person lives alone, then he can do anything he pleases. If he doesn't want to work hard, nobody bothers him; if he wants to eat some good food, he can; if he wants to eat a little meat, drink a little wine, that's no problem. All this is because the lay-people are mistaken about making offerings to a single Sanghan, thinking it is extra merit and virtue. Actually, you're helping them fall into the hells. Then where would your merit and virtue run off to? What I say is something that most people do not like to hear.
You should know that protecting the Triple Jewel means supporting a large Way-place. You should support a place of real cultivation. You shouldn't single out a particular Sanghan and vie with others to make offerings to him or her. This is totally not in accord with Dharma. When I speak like this, many left-home people are sure to object violently. Why? Because to live with the assembled Sangha means that they would not be able to do as they please. If you dwell in a large Way-place, you cannot sleep any time you wish, nor eat any time you want. You cannot eat meat or violate precepts any time you see fit. You cannot do just anything that strikes your fancy. Whereas, if a Sanghan stays alone, he or she can do anything at all. Now, of course, there are people who cultivate alone who are salwart cultivators and they work very hard, but such ones are in the minority. They are rare in the world and few and far between.
Why do lay-people single out a particular Sanghan and make offerings to him or her? They think this brings special merit and virtue. Little do they know that this is called "disrupting the harmony of the Sangha." The word "Sangha" means a "harmonious assembly," which means by definition they should live together compliant1y in one place. If you are living all by yourself, with whom are you harmoniously assembled? Everyday you hang out in the company of lay-people, being harmoniously assembled with them. If you do that, then you turn into a layperson.
Now my words are hard to take but:
True words grate hard against the ear but bring benefits to practice.
Good medicine tastes bitter to the tongue, but helps cure the illness.
I am sincere in everything I say. A left-home person is not "private property." He or she belongs to the public-at-large—to act as a field of blessings for living beings. That is the way we live at Gold Mountain Monastery and at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. We always have many people dwelling together, adhering to the rules of pure practice. Then people can keep watch over one another and exhort each other on in the work of changing from the bad to the good, but not in the sense of competing with each other.
Why do people slander others and praise themselves? It's because they are greedy for offerings. Just take a look around you, at those racing for profit and fame—heaven and earth are filled with such people. These people do not know who the Buddha is, what the Dharma is, or what the Sangha is. The word "Sangha" denotes at least four left-home people harmoniously assembled, living without any contention. A single left-home person does not warrant the title "Sangha."
Nowadays there are people who do not even understand the meaning of the Triple Jewel, but want to establish the Four Jewels, the fourth being lay-people. Not only do they not make offerings to the Triple Jewel, they want the Triple Jewel to make offerings to them! Such a phenomenon is a sign of the Dharma Ending Age, beyond a doubt.