Dharma Talks


Translated by Bhiksuni Weng Yin
Transcribed by Upasika Km Chwan
Continued from issue #55

The Summer Sutra Study and Recitation Session is a method of cultivation for the summer months.  This winter we will begin a period of fourteen Ch'an weeks--ninety-eight days, two days short of a hundred days.  It will be much harder than the Summer Session, which is merely an entrance exam for the big meditation session.  How can you pass?  You should not even want your own life; just insist on cultivating.

"Isn't this insanity?" you may ask, "cultivating to the point of going nuts, cultivating until you don't even want to live anymore?  Wanting to do nothing, but cultivate?"

Maybe it is; maybe it isn't.  Everyone is crazy these days.  If you're not crazy, they think you are.  Maybe it is true and maybe it isn't.  Though practically everyone is crazy, they don't realize they're crazy.

Some people accuse me of being crazy and I say, "Maybe I am and maybe I'm not," because there are no fixed dharmas.  Everything is made from the mind.  If there is craziness in your mind, you’re crazy; if there is no craziness in your mind, you're not.  All dharmas arise from the mind.  When the mind arises all dharmas arise; and when the mind does not arise all dharmas perish.  Now, during the session, the mind will not arise and dharmas will not arise.  The state of non-production and non-extinction will manifest.

We just completed a ceremony, which is called "sprinkling clean."  Those who have studied Buddhadharma know what "sprinkling clean" means, but those who have not studied Buddhadharma don't know what we are doing--muttering "Na mwo Na mwo, Mwo la Mwo la," taking a bowl of water and sprinkling it all over.  Someone says, "I know.  You were getting ready to sweep the floor and so you sprinkled water on the ground so the dust would not fly around."

No. It's not to keep the dust down, but rather to keep the demons from flying around, because there are demons everywhere.  Whenever one convenes a Dharma assembly in a Bodhimandala, one should sprinkle it clean.  Otherwise demons may come to disturb the Bodhimandala and cause a lot of trouble.  "Sprinkling clean" keeps them away.

The water is called "sweet dew," Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's sweet dew.  It chases out all demons and ghosts so that the Bodhimandala is pure.  So the chant says,

The sweet dew from the Bodhisattva's willow branch
            Can cause one drop to pervade the ten directions.
            All filth and dirt are completely wiped away.
            Causing the platform to be totally clean and pure.

Although we are sprinkling clean, it is not that we are actually using water.  This is the verse that we recite when "sprinkling clean."  Now that I have explained it, you understand what we are doing.

Here at the Buddhist Lecture Hall there are five Americans who have left the home life and over twenty lay people.  Tomorrow we will begin the Kuan Yin session at seven in the morning.  It will end at six P.M. next Sunday.  At seven P.M. on Sunday we will begin the ch'an session.  Whoever has any questions should speak up.  Tonight we will talk, but beginning tomorrow two people are not going to talk.  They are going to give me five hundred dollars and I am going to advertise for them.  Although I haven't gotten the five hundred dollars I'm still going to give them an ad, because I believe that the five hundred dollars will eventually get to me.  Now here is the advertisement.  This week Kuo Chan and Kuo Fa are not going to talk.  I don't know if the two of them just fought with each other, or if they aren't on speaking terms with anybody.  At any rate, everybody should help them out.  This is to say that everyone should not talk in order to help them not talk.  Just don't talk to them.  If you can see them as if not seeing them at all, that's wonderful.  But can you do it or not?  If you can, then that's wonderful.  If you cannot, then recite Kuan Shih Yin until you obtain the "wonderful."  I'm not going to say anymore.  Okay, now, everyone will speak: 


Now we begin the summer session and that means that the passport office will be open again.  Passports will be given out to go to the Pure Land and become a Buddha.  There's just one problem, however: in order to get a passport you have to know where you came from and where you are going.  Otherwise, they won't give you one.  So I advise everyone who wants a passport to go to Buddhahood to find out where you came from and where you are going.  If when the questions are asked you know the answers, you'll get a passport.  Otherwise you'll just put in your application and be refused.


I have not more than a few words of advice for those who wish to obtain some good points from the mindfulness of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.  No matter what you're doing, whether you can see or perceive the reasons for it, or the wonder in it, you must do it without false thinking and then it will be wonderful.  So as long as you think, "What am I doing this for?" it will not be wonderful at all.  If you apply yourself without false thinking, it will be of considerable advantage.


Studying the Dharma is really wonderful, and the only difference between Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and us is just in our own heads.  Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva thinks that you and he and everyone else are just alike, one substance non-dual.  We living beings make distinctions between self and others.  If we can forget ourselves and forget about other people and simply recite Kuan Yin's name with one heart, then we will be one with Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva.


All of us are asleep, and dreaming.  Either we know it or we don't, and it doesn't seem to make much difference whether we know or not.  In the dream there are many things—birth, death, children—and they create a lot of problems.  Somehow we all got here, and although we are very fortunate, there's still much work to be done.  We will learn that we can wake up from this dream.  It takes a lot of work, but it is also magical, and really wonderful when you find that you are beginning to wake up.


Namo Da Bei Gwan Shr Yin Pu Sa.


There seems to be a buck-passing going on.  However, I have one small point to add: one who really understands Buddhadharma has no doubt.  But you may have a small question, "If I wake from this dream, what will I find?"

MASTER: Tonight everyone can talk and say whatever he likes.  Starting tomorrow no one can talk.  If you talk after today, you talk to yourself.


I would like to say something for the coining weeks, for the rest of the summer, and for the rest of our lives, and forever onward, to make us all work as hard as we can and put forth our best efforts to realize the fullness of our real selves.  Since I'm not much of a salesman, I don't know if I can convince anyone to do that.  But if I could I'd put the words together in such a way to cause you to do it. Since I can't, I won't; you'll have to find them for yourself.


Could the Master perhaps tell us more about Kuan Shih Yin?


I could, but I'm afraid if you learned a whole lot you'd get the obstacle of what is known.  During a Kuan Yin session you should just recite until you do so with an unconfused mind, because living beings are floating on the sea of suffering and eventually they drown; the only ones who can save our lives are Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva and Amitabha Buddha. Because of this we have gathered to recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva's name, hoping to go from the sea of suffering to the Land of Ultimate Bliss.  Kuan Shih Yin follows the sounds and rescues living beings from suffering.  If you call his name, no matter what problems or difficulties you have, Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva can solve them.  Kuan Shih Yin grants the "two kinds of seeking." He also releases us from "the seven difficulties."  He has 14 kinds of fearlessness, 19 ways of speaking Dharma, and 32 response bodies.  In fact no matter what you seek, Kuan Yin can help you.  Therefore you should sincerely recite the name of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva.

To be continued

Because the Dharma Talks which appeared in past issues of Vajra Bodhi Sea have recently been published in their entirety in a book called Pure Land and Ch'an Dharma Talks (BTTS, August, 1974, available through the Sino-American Buddhist Association), this series is being discontinued.  It has been replaced by lectures given by the Venerable Master Hua during an intensive recitation session in June 1970.

Cover Gatha: Composed by the Venerable Master Hu  
             Translated by Bhiksu Heng Kuan
             Calligraphy by Upasaka Lee Kuo Ch’ien
             Layout by Upasaka Kuo Hui Weber