(Words to the wise)


Address: Delivered by the Venerable Master Hua to a seminar of college students at Redwood City, California, May 11, 1975.

Translated by Bhiksuni Heng Yin
Reviewed by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
Edited by Bhiksu Heng Kuan
Transcribed by Upasika Kuo Lin

At the invitation of: Professor Lewis Lancaster, UC, Berkeley

All of you fellow students with bright futures, today we have again the opportunity to meet together and use our wisdom collectively. The wisdom that each of us has is inherently complete. But because we are unable to use that wisdom, and only use ignorance, our wisdom does not manifest. We should now think of a way to return to our wisdom.

How can we get our wisdom back? We must first break through ignorance. When you have broken through ignorance, your inherent wisdom will manifest. If you wish to break through ignorance, you must first have a method. Having brought this up, I remember in the past someone once asked me a question: "If the world: religions were considered all together, ultimately which one of them is the best?" That's what he asked, but what he meant was, "You think Buddhism's best, don't you?" and he expected I'd certainly reply, "Buddhism is the very best." But I didn't say that. I said, "The religion you believe in is the very best. Why? Because if it was not good, you wouldn't believe in it. If you want to believe in it, then it's good."

A General Explanation of the Thousand-Handed Thousand-Eyed Great Compassion Heart Dharani Sutra by Tripitaka Master Hua will be available early in 1976.Order now this secret school sutra.

Now we should take a look at all the world's religions and pick out the one, which is the best. I'll be very frank and tell all of you. All of the religions are the best. And all of them are the worst. If you believe in it, then it's good and right. If you don't believe in it, then it's not good, and incorrect. We speak of religion in terms of belief and non-belief. In Christianity they say that those who believe will be saved, and that those who don't believe don't obtain salvation. This dogma is present in all the other religions as well. Ultimately which one should we believe in as being the best?

We should pick a religion, but in doing so, we can't select just by the way it looks. If you see that it has authority, power, position, and many followers, that doesn't necessarily mean it's good. For the most part people are blind, and they are being led by the blind. When someone who is sightless leads the way for others, he and those who are following him all fall together into a pit of fire, and only then realize that they have taken the wrong road.

What, then, should we take as our standards of good or bad? We should make our investigation in terms of true principles. Which religion is magnanimous and unselfish? Which is not exclusively out for the take of propagating itself, but works for the benefit of all mankind and truly benefits people? That's the good one. If it operates for itself, as if thinking, 'I will cause my religion to flourish, to prosper,' that's being selfish. Believers may say, "You may only work for my religion. You're not allowed to believe in any other religion." That is also selfishness. As a religion, which truly wishes to rescue mankind, the Buddhadharma takes into consideration all the causes and conditions as it works to save them. Why do I believe in Buddhism? And why have I become a Buddhist Dharma Master? Because I feel that the Buddhadharma is in no way selfish. There is nothing in it that is for self-benefit. It is worthy of belief. And this worth is awesome and extremely great. Its doctrines are lofty, profound, and ultimate. This is the reason why I believe in Buddhism.

I believe in Buddhism, but I don't hope that you will. Then you reply, "But then you're being selfish. You believe yourself, but you don't want anyone else to believe." It is not that I don't want you to believe. It is simply that I am not pressuring you to believe. I don't pressure people to believe. I would never employ tactics of force to get people to believe. You have eyes, take a look. Why should I use force to get you to believe?

In the end, whether you believe or not is a matter of causes and conditions. If in previous lives you believed in Buddhism, if I tried to sway you to disbelieve in this life, I couldn't do it. You would insist on believing. If in previous lives you didn't believe in the Buddha, in this life, if I proselytized to make you believe in the Buddha, you might believe in him, or you might not. If you don't believe in the Buddha in this life, there's even less hope for you in the next. It is a matter of planting seeds and reaping the harvest. If in/our past lives you believed in the Buddha, in this life you will continue to do so.

Discussing the word faith it is said,

"Faith is the source of the Way and the mother of merit and virtue.

It develops all of one's good roots."

Faith is the foundation for the cultivation of the Way, and it develops your good roots. We should believe the true principles and not just the superficialities. Do not go around saying, "This Sutra was spoken by the Buddha, that Sutra the Buddha did not speak." This wastes a lot of time and keeps you from cultivating the Way. You should cultivate according to the Buddhadharma. How? For example, you can cultivate the four truths: suffering, origination, extinction, and the Way. And you can cultivate the twelve causes and conditions: ignorance which conditions action, action which conditions consciousness, consciousness which conditions name and form, name and form which condition the six sense organs, the six sense organs which condition contact, contact which conditions feeling, feeling which conditions craving, craving which conditions grasping, grasping which conditions becoming, becoming which conditions birth, and birth which conditions old age and death. After the twelve causes and conditions there are the six paramitas: giving, morality, patience, vigor, dhyana samadhi, and wisdom. These are Dharma doors, which we should cultivate. Don't just use intellectual zen and rap all day long reciting things, like saying, "Gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother of pearl, agate, carnelian, coral," just talking about the seven gems When you've never seen them. That's of no use. Don't investigate the Buddhadharma with intellectual zen. You have to use genuine skill, real skill, and cultivate the four truths, the twelve causes and conditions, or the six paramitas and the ten thousand conducts, or whatever method you find appropriate. You really have to become proficient with it before it counts as cultivation. Before you are actually able to use a method, you can talk until the heavenly flowers fall in colorful profusion and gold lotuses well up from the earth, but when it gets right down to it, when asked whether or not you have ended birth and death, all you can reply is, "What?" "What?" That is of no use.

We were talking about faith. What about it? It has ten virtuous qualities and you should know what they are. Because of the limited time I can't explain them in much detail. My disciples who have just finished speaking have done all my work for me so I'll be better off doing a little less and saving my energy.

The ten virtuous qualities are: 1) ONE DRAWS NEAR TO A GOOD FRIEND. You should not draw near to those who do not have wisdom. You should draw near to good knowing ones.

2) ONE MAKES OFFERINGS TO ALL THE BUDDHAS. Since we believe in Buddhism we should make offerings to the Buddha. Make offerings of flowers or incense or anything else that you like.

3) ONE NURTURES GOOD ROOTS. We should cultivate and nourish those good roots, which are not yet complete.

4) ONE RESOLVES TO SEEK THE SUPREME DHARMA. We should bring forth our resolve and make our will determined; we should make a vow and say, "I will certainly seek the most superior Dharma."

5) ONE'S HEART IS ALWAYS COMPLIANT. Your heart should always be as soft as water, able to endure anything without temper. Being compliant simply means not having a temper. If your heart is compliant then you are

6) ABLE TO ENDURE SUFFERING. One is able to endure suffering. "To endure suffering is to end suffering. To enjoy one's blessings is to diminish one's blessings." To be able to endure suffering is the sixth.

7) ONE'S COMPASSION IS DEEP AND BROAD. You should be compassionate towards everyone, and this compassion should be deep and broad, not an ordinary, common kind of compassion.

8) ONE'S HEART HAS A VIEW OF PROFOUND EQUALITY. We should view all living beings equally, as one substance.

9) ONE DELIGHTS IN SEEKING THE GREAT VEHICLE. We should like the Great Vehicle Dharma. A lot of people say, "Oh, the Great Vehicle Dharma wasn't spoken by the Buddha." Oh? The Great Vehicle Dharma was spoken by you? Is that why you want to study it? If it wasn't spoken by the Buddha, then was it spoken by ghosts? If it was spoken by ghosts, even though I don't want to be one myself, knowing the tricks of ghosts isn't all that bad. I know the tricks of ghosts.

Don't listen to those people who understand and yet do not understand, who don't understand yet act like they understand. Don't listen to those big uncle know-it-alls. Big uncle know-it-all knows everything. He hasn't seen it, but he knows all about it. He's never heard it, but he understands it. In actuality he does not know anything at all. He is just a blind man leading the blind. He is one of those. Don't listen to the speech of that kind of person.

10) ONE SEEKS THE WISDOM OF THE BUDDHA. The Buddha has great wisdom and our wisdom should be like that of the Buddha. We should make sure that the day eventually comes when we penetrate through to the Buddha's wisdom, and our wisdom becomes the same as the Buddha's. Then to the end of empty space and the Dharma-realm all things and all actions will be completely understood.

I've given Buddhism another name. I don't call it Buddhism. What do I call it? I call it People-ism (the religion of the people). Why? Because people become Buddhas. It isn't that the Buddha becomes a person, but that people can become Buddhas. So Buddhism can be called People-ism. It is also called Living Beings-ism (the religion of living beings) because people are just living beings, and living beings can become Buddhas. How do living beings become Buddhas? If their hearts take pleasure in investigating the Buddhadharma, in this way they become Buddhas. If your heart does not take pleasure in investigating the Buddhadharma, you cannot become a Buddha.

You can also say that Buddhism is the teaching of the mind. It can be called your teaching, it can be called my teaching, because Buddhism is alive and without any attachment whatsoever. If you insist on calling it the teaching of the Buddha, then you have an attachment. All living beings have the Buddha-nature and can become Buddhas. It is only because of false thinking and attachment that they do not certify to this. If you study the Buddhadharma you should break your attachments. When you have no attachments, you will then certify to the Thus Come One's Dharma Body, and to the end of 6mpty space in the Dharma-realm there will not be a single thing that does not belong to you. If you have an attachment, then even the smallest mote of dust is not yours. That's the way it is.

Today there is not a lot of time, but whoever is not afraid of wasting his precious time can ask a question. If we run out of time today, the doors at Gold Mountain are always open, and no matter who you are, if you come with questions, you will be welcome. According to my understanding I will give you an answer. If I don't understand, I will tell you I do not understand. I would never tell you something that I do not even understand myself and thereby cheat you. And if I do understand, I am even less capable of standing up on an old Dharma Master's pulpit to cheat you even worse, because I do not have a dharma even the size of a speck of dust. The dharma is entirely yours. So if I told you I had a dharma to teach you, I'd be cheating you. Because I do not wish to cheat you, we can all use our wisdom to the utmost to look into these questions, to discuss the questions. I would like this very much and am waiting. No matter who you are, to the end of empty space throughout the Dharma-realm, all the good knowing advisors everywhere can come to investigate questions, and I will welcome them.

QUESTION: If one is to cultivate breaking attachments and at the same time cultivate compassion, how is it possible to avoid forming an attachment to compassion, or to what one studies or to those with whom one studies or perhaps to one's teacher?

ANSWER: Compassion must be cultivated and those attachments which one has must be broken. Compassion and attachment aren't the same. The feeling of compassion and the forming of an attachment are definitely two different things. They can not be the same.

QUESTION: We have listened you talk about the six paramitas and the twelve links in the chain of causation and the four noble truths and the three jewels. Could you show us something of the first principle of Buddhism?

ANSWER: I can not say the slightest thing, because whatever is spoken is not the primary principle. In the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Bodhisattva Manjusri asked this of Vimalakirti, and Vimalakirti shut his mouth. Manjusri Bodhisattva didn't say anything either.

QUESTION: You were speaking of vows made by the monks. What would happen if one were to make a vow and not be able to fulfill it?

ANSWER: In that case one is merely a flower that does not bear any fruit.

QUESTION: Why did the Dharma Master come from the West?

ANSWER: I was afraid of starving to death. Because I was afraid of starving to death, I came to the West because there is more food in the garbage cans than people can eat. That's the first and not necessarily the true answer. And the second is that I came to see all of you. But if none of you can see me, it's still okay. Okay, okay, everything's okay. This is my view. It's time to return. Probably there are no more important questions to be asked. Having eaten you are going to eat again, and wearing clothes, you're going to keep on wearing them. Those who sleep will continue to sleep. When you wake up you will put on your clothes, and when you are done putting on your clothes you will eat again. These are very important things. And when you're done eating then you can go study.




Maitreya Bodhisattva's birthday
Elder Master Hsu-yun's birthday

New Year's day

January 31

full moon

1st month/15th

February 14

new moon 2nd month/1st March 1
Sakyamuni Buddha left home 2nd month/8th March 8
full moon 2nd month/l5th March 15
Kuan Yin Bodhisattva' s birthday 2nd month/19th March 19
new moon 3rd month/1st March 31
Great Master Ch'ang-jen's birthday--full moon 3rd month/I5th April 14
Chunti Bodhisattva's birthday--
Master Hua's birthday
3rd month/16th April 15
Great Master Ch'ang-chih left home 3rd month/17th April 16
new moon 4th month/1st April 29
Manjusri Bodhisattva's birthday 4th month/4th May 2
Sakyamuni Buddha's birthday
(celebrated May 2nd)
4th month/8th May 6
full moon 4th month/15th May 13

BEGINNING MARCH 12, 1976 Gold Mountain will hold a one week meditation session in honor of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. The session
will consist of alternate periods of silent-sitting meditation, and walking-chanting meditation. Instructional talks will be given daily by the Sangha. There will be two vegetarian meals a day. Dress in comfortable warm clothing and bring a sleeping bag and blanket. Come and do what you have never done before. Ignore your mail, phone calls, visitors, television, and the rest of the dust. Just for one week. Do what the others at Gold Mountain do. For just one week. Turn your hearing within and listen. Let the mad mind rest. Just for one week. Apply now before you talk yourself out of it. As the Sutra in Forty-two Sections says, "Be careful not to believe your own mind. Your mind cannot be believed...when you become an Arhat, then you can believe your own mind."

Truly recognize your own faults,

And don't discuss the faults of others.

Other's faults are just your own--

Being one with everyone is called great compassion.