CALL FOR THE UNIFICATION OF WORLD BUDDHISTS:
AN ADDRESS DELIVERED BY
THE VENERABLE TRIPITAKA MASTER HSUAN HUA
AT YEU NAN KUO SSE
SAIGON, VIETNAM, IN DECEMBER 1974
NAMO, HOMAGE TO THE
ETERNALLY DWELLING BUDDHAS OF THE TEN DIRECTIONS.
Before I speak, I would first like to beg something from each of you. Some of you are thinking, "At Gold Mountain Monastery you say, freezing to death, you don't climb on conditions; starving to death, you don't beg; and dying of poverty, you ask for nothing. Now that you have arrived in Vietnam, why do you start begging? Doesn't this directly contradict your basic principles?"
No, it doesn't. There's a difference between the kind of begging you are thinking of and the begging I want to do now. What I wish to beg from you is not your money or your goods. What is it?
It's your basic, inherent afflictions. I first want to beg all of your afflictions from you. Give them to me. The more afflictions I have, the better. The fewer afflictions each of you have the better. I should have more and more afflictions and you all should have less and less. So first of all I want to beg affliction from you.
After you have given me all your afflictions, give me your greed, your hatred, and your stupidity. Give me your three poisons, and then your morality, samadhi, and wisdom will naturally be perfected. So the first thing I want to do today is beg.
You should make use of the full capacity of your mind, and not squeeze it into the size of a mote of dust. The capacity of your mind exhausts empty space and the Dharma Realm. Don't let it shrink. It should be so big that nothing falls outside it, and so small that nothing is within it. Your heart should embrace the void and your capacity should pervade realms as many as there are grains of sand. When your mind's capacity is equal to that of the Dharma Realm, you will then be able to do the work of the Dharma Realm, and you will be able to teach and transform the living beings of the Dharma Realm.
If we do not engage our mind's capacity, all we will understand is "Vietnam, "or "Japan," or "China," or "Thailand," or "Burma," or "Ceylon, "--such small territories, such small countries--and we will not be able to teach and transform all the living beings in the world.
As Buddhist disciples we should take the entire Dharma Realm as our common home, and exist within it as one substance, as a unity. We must not set up boundaries between ourselves and other living beings. Whether one is a Buddhist disciple of the Great Vehicle or of the Southern School, all boundaries should be broken through. We should join together to organize a World Buddhist Organization and step forward to propagate the Buddhadharma throughout the entire world. We should not be content to know only our own small nations, but should raise our eyes to view the entire world.
It is now the scientific age, not a time of muddle-headed days with out-moded thought. Every one of us should open the doors and windows of our minds and strive for mutual understanding and cooperation. Helping others is just helping ourselves; we should look on others just as we look on ourselves.
We must have a method to bring about the union of all Buddhists into one substance, and that method is just to form an organization in such a way that all Buddhists, regardless of what school or sect they belong to, will break through their sectarian views. Do not hold to factions, do not hold to views of the Great or the Small Vehicles. Buddhism is of one substance. Not only should we view ourselves as one substance with all Buddhists, but we should view ourselves as of one substance, even with those who do not believe in the Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha himself said, "All living beings have the Buddha nature. All can become Buddhas. It is merely because of false thinking and attachment that they are unable to certify to that attainment." In view of these few sentences, the fact that presently we are attached to such concepts as "I am Chinese," or "I am Vietnamese" or "I am Thai" or "I am Burmese" or "I am Japanese" or "I am Indian" or "I am Ceylonese" shows that we have not opened the full capacity of our minds. In not removing these attachments, we are unfilial disciples of our teacher Sakyamuni Buddha, and we are disobeying the Buddha's instructions.
If we wish to propagate the Buddhadharma widely, we must break our attachments. When we have broken our attachments, our minds will encompass the world and the Dharma Realm. We should tear down all boundaries because Buddhism basically knows no boundaries whatever. If you have a boundary, that is not the Buddhadharma. Why? Because the Buddha's teaching exhausts empty space and pervades the Dharma Realm. The Buddha said, "All living beings have the Buddha nature; all can become Buddhas." This means that not only do those living beings who believe in the Buddha have the Buddha nature, those living beings who do not believe in the Buddha also have not lost their Buddha natures; it's just that right now they don't believe. In the future they will believe. If they don't believe in the future, then in the future after that they will, and eventually, the day will come when they believe in the Buddha. So I strongly advocate that we refrain from drawing boundaries, and do not set limits on the Buddhist doctrines. There should be no boundaries; all boundaries should be broken through. If the concept of self and others is completely done away with, what further boundaries could there be?
I just said that I wanted to beg from you, and I haven't finished begging yet. Now, not only do I wish to beg your afflictions, your greed, hatred, and stupidity, but I wish to beg you, your selves. Having begged for you, we can go off together throughout the universe. That's my aim. We shall run throughout the worlds and use the light of the Buddha's Teaching to illuminate all of the dark places. We shall cause the doctrines of Buddhism to extend throughout all worlds' not only throughout this Saha world, but throughout the worlds in the east, the worlds in the south, the worlds in the north, and the worlds in the west, the worlds above, and the worlds below. To the end of empty space and throughout the Dharma Realm, there will not be a single place in which we do not spread the Buddhadharma.
Someone is thinking, "Oh, but now it can't be done. America, there were people who brought forth the resolve to leave the home-life and become Bhiksus and Bhiksunis. In 1968 the work of translation began. For several years we have simply gone ahead working steadily in the face of difficulties. Very few people know of the work of translation that is being done at Gold Mountain Monastery.
Now there are genuine members of the Sangha among Westerners, and their translations are most likely to be accurate. Previously, Buddhist Sutras were translated either by Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, scholars, or professors. With their viewpoints being those of outsiders, it has been difficult for them to make accurate translations. Even if they have understood a bit of Buddhadharma or known a few Buddhist technical terms, or doctrines, they still have made mistakes in translation. For example, in translating The Dharma Flower Sutra, a certain professor translated the term "doubly complete" as "two-footed." The Chinese term liang tsu refers to the completeness of blessings and wisdom, a double completeness. Taking the second part of the compound tsu, literally, he translated it as "two-footed." So it's "Take refuge with the Buddha's two feet." Well then, why not, "Take refuge with the Buddha's two hands"? Or his head? Why just take refuge with his feet? An obvious mistake.
You are all no doubt aware of the historical account of Buddhism. When Dharma Master Hsuan Tsang and Dharma Master Kumarajiva were translating Sutras, there were at the very least eight hundred or more people, and sometimes more than three thousand assembled together in the Translation Center to participate in the work of the Sages, that awesome task. In this way they were able to complete a translation of the Buddha's Teachings, the Three Stores (Tripitaka) and the Twelve Divisions. The Three Stores are the Sutra Store, all the Sutras spoken by the Buddha; the Vinaya Store, the moral codes taught by the Buddha; and the Sastra Store, the commentaries and discussions. Some missionaries translated the Three Stores by saying, "They are three kinds of "store-them-aways." They say, "The Sutras--store them away! The Vinaya--store it away! The sastras--store them away! Don't let anyone read them!" Would you say this was a mistake or not? That is how some of the missionaries are translating at present, I know.
Now, the Twelve Divisions they translate as, "The Dharma Flower Sutra Division, the Vajra Sutra Division, the Amitabha Sutra Division, this division, and that division, this, that, and the other division..." It won't work; it just won't work."
Why won't it work? Give me a reason!
"It's the Dharma-ending age, the Dharma-ending age. Don't bother to cultivate, it's the Dharma-ending age, the Dharma-ending age. It's all over, finished."
Perhaps it's all over for you, but it's not all over for me. I say it is the Orthodox Dharma Age. I say it is the beginning of the Orthodox Dharma. According to the power of my vows, I will not permit the Dharma-ending Age to occur within the Buddhadharma. Wherever I go, there is only the Orthodox Dharma. There is no Dharma-ending Age. I have made this strong vow. I pay no attention to whether or not I shall be able to fulfill it, I have simply made the vow, and in places where the Dharma-ending Age has descended, I transform that Dharma into the Orthodox Dharma. That is my doctrine.
The doctrines in Buddhism, as it has existed for the past several thousand years, are all-inclusive. They exhaust empty space, pervade the Dharma Realm, and reach every corner. But, frankly, I know how it has been with the Greatly Virtuous High Sangha Members of other countries. Chinese Buddhism, for example, enjoyed a period of great prosperity and popularity. However, for the past several thousand years in China, the greatly virtuous high Sangha members have been too conservative. They've been so near-sighted that they never translated the Buddhist Tripitaka into any other language of the world in order to spread the Buddha's teaching. Why was this? Because they only thought about spreading the Dharma in China. It never occurred to them to translate the Buddhist Sutras into other languages so that everyone could understand the Buddhadharma. Consequently, although the Buddhadharma flourished in Asia, in the West people know very little of it, because there have been no Buddhist Sutras available for them to read. Westerners may have wished to leave the home-life, but the causes and conditions have not presented themselves and they have had no opportunity to do so. Consequently there are very few people who have left the home life in the West.
decades ago I advocated the translation of the Sutras into English,
French, German, Portuguese, Spanish--into all the world's languages—so
that all Western people might obtain the bright illumination of the
Buddhadharma's light. This is the thought I had several decades ago. But
it was only a thought. I had the thought, but I didn't have the strength.
Then, in 1962, it seemed as if the conditions had matured and so I went to
America. My goal in going to America was to carry the Buddha's Teaching to
the West. Then, in until they have twelve divisions. This, too, is a
I hope that every country will translate the Sutras into its own language. If everyone agrees with my opinions, then we should form an organization to expedite the translation work. I hope such an organization can be founded.
In America, July 4th, 1976, marks the bicentennial anniversary of the founding of the country. On that day I hope that all the world's Buddhist disciples will come to America to attend the celebration. After the celebration we will take advantage of the opportunity to found an organization, to establish a Traveling World Buddhist Propagation Organization. We shall meet for sixty days or perhaps ninety days and in this time exchange our ideas and exchange our thoughts on how to cause the Buddhadharma to spread and flourish, and how to extend the Buddhadharma throughout the entire world. As Buddhist disciples, we must shoulder the responsibility for propagating the Buddhadharma and not limit ourselves to the small territory of one country. We should unite and organize without making distinctions between schools or sects, or Great and Small Vehicles. We should have neither schools, nor sects, nor vehicles. We must insist on the entire substance, not just one small part. We should undertake this responsibility for the Buddha's Teaching. Don't see yourselves as so miniscule! Everyone should make the vow to cause the Orthodox Dharma to dwell long in the world. Don't allow the Dharma-ending Age to descend.
What is the Dharma-ending Age? It is created by people. If you think it is the Dharma-ending Age, then it is the Dharma-ending Age. If you practice the Orthodox Dharma, then it is the Orthodox Dharma Age. Orthodox and Dharma-ending are concepts created by people, they are not determined by Dharma itself. The Dharma has no Dharma-ending or Orthodox Periods. Don't be so shameless! Don't rationalize saying, "Buddhism has nothing to do with me." Say instead, "I am a part of Buddhism. I should work for the good of the prosperity of the entire Buddhadharma."
The Venerable Abbot of Gold Mountain addresses Saigon Buddhists.
Those in this great assembly in Saigon were so delighted to hear the Dharma expounded by the Venerable Master that they applauded at every possible chance—clapping several tens of times in all.