delivered by THE venerable master HSUAN HUA

trans: Bhikshuni Heng Chen

     reviewed: Bhikshuni Heng Ch'ing

edited: Bhikshuni Heng Yin

All of you Good Wise Counselors...

Someone is thinking, "I'm not a Good Wise Counselor." You may not be one now, but in the future you may be a Good Wise Counselor. So now I'm calling you by that title ahead of time. If you want to become a Good Wise Counselor, then in the future you will be just that. If you don't wish to become a Good Wise Counselor, there still will come the day when you will be one. If you aren't one in this life, next life you will be; if you aren't one next life, you'll be one in the life after that. Not only will you be a Good Wise Counselor, in the future you will Become a Buddha. Quite unexpectedly, you'll become a Buddha. How? By obeying the instructions of a Good Wise Counselor and conducting yourself according to the teaching. In this way in the future you will become a Buddha. So everyone has the right to call himself a Good Wise Counselor.


"... regardless of race, creed, nationality, sex..."

      Just now someone asked, "Who is the head monk?" Gold Mountain Monastery doesn't have a head monk. At Gold Mountain Monastery everyone is a small monk; there are no great monks. There are also no venerable old monks and no head monks. Why not? Because this is a democratic nation. Since we live in a democracy, Buddhism, too, must certainly be democratic. Therefore there are no head monks. In tact, there isn't even a teacher: Really, as a teacher I quite often function in the capacity of a disciple. The rule at Gold Mountain is that whoever has wisdom is the teacher. No matter who you are, if you want to come to Gold Mountain and be the teacher, all you need is wisdom and you can do it. Thus, Gold Mountain is decisively democratic.

      Take today, for example. Four men were scheduled to speak to you. The women were not going to have a chance to, as the saying goes, raise their eyebrows and speak their minds, and deliver a rebuttal. So I instructed four women to speak as well. In this country, what with the Women's Liberation Movement in full swing, you cannot promote the men and suppress the women. It isn't right. I uphold justice, and before everyone assembled here, I uphold the equality of men and women. None are exalted and none are humbled. We used to say "Chairman," but now we say "Chairperson." This is very good. Chairperson. Not Chaircat or Chairdog, but Chairperson. We are all people; we aren't dogs or Cats. And not Chairgod, either, because god hasn't ever been in the chair. Anyway, four women were also called upon to speak, and perhaps they spoke even better than the men. Things must be fair and equal.


      I would like to talk to all of you about a very important principle. It's also a very ordinary principle, an unimportant principle. It all depends upon your way of thinking. If you think it's important, then it is. If you think it is ordinary, then it's ordinary. If you think it's not important, then it's of no consequence. Everything is made from the mind alone.

      What is it I wish to talk about?  Wealth, sex, tame, food, and sleep.  These are the five roots of hell.

      The errors that we worldly people make all are due to the greed for these five.


The Chinese character for money(   -ch'ien) is written with the radical for gold  

  with two swords beside it on the left. So the ancients said, 

Two swords fight over gold, the lust for killing surges high; Everyone creates an uproar over it. Those who are able to use it transcend the Triple Realm; Those who can't use it will be forced to pay for their crimes.

      Wealth is the characters for two swords fighting over the character for gold. Why are there wars in the world? They are all on account of wealth. Now, we don't use gold, we use paper currency, gaudy pieces of paper.   Although it's only paper, it has us all in subjection, completely upside-down. For the sake of wealth people are drunk while they live and die dreaming. For the sake of wealth they do all kinds of evil things. However, people who know how to use wealth can do good things.

      The strife in the world is caused by wealth. "Two swords fight over gold, the lust for killing surges high. Everyone creates an uproar over it." Everyone has a lot of trouble because of wealth. They have many afflictions. Your greed is insatiable, and when it isn't satisfied you get angry. Your greed turns into hatred; your hatred turns into stupidity, and you do all kinds of stupid things. What stupid things? Killing, arson, and all kinds of illegal acts--all done for the sake of wealth. Why does a thief become a thief? Because of money. Why does a businessman go into business? He wants to make money. Why does a robber steal? Because he wants money. Money controls people to the point that it seems they've gotten drunk. It makes them so confused that they don't understand anything. Money is so fine; it makes them forget who their father is. They start calling money "Daddy." Whoever has money is "Dad." Those without money become the children of those who have money. Because of money, a lot of unjust things are done, and many wars are waged.

      There was once a multimillionaire whose wealth surpassed everyone else's. He had three sons. The first he named "Gold," the second, "Silver," and the third, "Karmic Obstacle." When it came time for the old man to die, he questioned his sons. "Gold," he asked, "will you come and die with me?"

      "No deal," said Gold. "I certainly won't." 
      Then he asked Silver, "Son, would you die with me?" 
      "Forget it," said Silver, "I don't want to die with you."

      Finally, he asked his third son, Karmic Obstacle, "Won't you Come and die with me?" 
      "Okay;" came the reply. 
      So it is said,

You can't take your gold and silver

with you on your dying day,

But your Karmic Obstacles

will stick with you all the way.

      I just said people call money, "Dad," and many people objected to this.  "Not me," they think. Well, I haven't, and you haven't, but I'm just bringing it up for the record.


      Men and women love each other. If you tell them not to, they will most certainly object. Men desire beautiful women; women long for handsome men--they get terribly attached to each other. This is the problem of sex.

      Long ago, Chuang-chou, the Chinese sage, was walking down the road, when he met a very beautiful woman. She was as lovely as a goddess. She was standing beside the road, fanning a grave. "I don't understand," said Chuang-chou, "Does a dead person still mind the heat? Why are you fanning a grave?  Who is buried there?"

      "Oh, he's my husband," said the women.
      "But he's dead?" said Chuang-chou. "How could he still mind the heat?"

      "Of course he doesn't mind the heat," she replied, "But if the grave isn't dry, how can I remarry? It would be too uncouth to remarry before his grave is dry. I wouldn't feel right about it. So I must hurry and fan the grave dry."

"This is terrible," Chuang-chou thought, and he returned home.

      Chuang-chou had a very pretty wife, young, attractive, and gentle.  Chuang-chou said to her, "Today I saw something quite strange. I saw a woman on the roadside fanning a grave. I asked her why she was doing that, and she said it was because it wouldn't be proper for her to remarry until her former husband's grave was dry. If she fanned the earth dry, she could remarry at any time."

      From this we can see that the nature of romantic love is basically unreal. If her husband were alive, she would never have treated him that way.  She would never have said, "You'd better hurry up and die, and then I will fan your grave dry and remarry." But once he was dead, not only did she talk about it, she did it; The human heart is indeed treacherous!

      When Chuang-chou's wife heard this she replied, "That woman was simply not respectable. If you were to die, I would never remarry, no matter what."

      Chuang-chou had some spiritual penetrations, and he said, "Okay, okay, maybe I will die soon." Shortly thereafter, he took ill and died. His wife held a funeral for him and a prince from the country of Ch'u came to the funeral. Actually, he had come to bow to Chuang-chou as his teacher because he had heard that Chuang-chou had spiritual penetrations. He said, "When Chuang-chou was alive, I wanted to become his disciple, but I had no affinity, apparently. Now he is dead! Did he leave any books that I could read?"

      The moment Chuang-chou's wife laid eyes on the handsome, young prince, she lost control of herself and started flirting wildly. When she did this the prince said, "This is impossible. I want to bow to my teacher and his coffin hasn't even been interred. How could I marry you? It's out of the question. If you really are sincere in your feelings, then take an ax and hack open the coffin as a token of your sincerity. Then I will marry you."

      So Chuang-chou's wife did just that, and as soon as she had hacked the coffin open, Chuang-chou himself came back to life and sat up in the coffin.  The prince disappeared without a trace. Chuang-chou said, "You said you wouldn't fan the grave, but you couldn't even wait until I had been lowered into the ground to marry a prince! "

      His wife was speechless. This proves that sex--everyone think it over—is ultimately meaningless.


      If people aren't greedy for wealth or sex, they may be greedy for fame.  They enjoy nothing but running around promoting themselves in all kinds of ways. They may like fame, but in the end, fame won't die with them. It's false. Therefore, fame isn't necessary.


      The fourth desire is for eating good food. People tend to like good food, yet the most delicious food turns into a repulsive things once it gets into your stomach. So eating isn't meaningful either.


Once there was a Dhyana Master named Kao Feng Miao who fell asleep as soon as he sat down to meditate. After this had gone on for a while he thought, "This just won't do. If I fall asleep as soon as I try to cultivate, how will I ever get any samadhi power?" He ran off to the mountain face called Western Heaven to the Peak of the Inverted Lotus to sit in meditation and conquer the sleep demon. "See if you still dare to sleep:" he said to himself, knowing that if he fell asleep he would fall off the cliff and be smashed to death; it was a ten thousand foot drop straight down into the canyon. He sat down, and as soon as he did so, he fell asleep: He fell asleep and tumbled over the cliff, but Wei T'o Bodhisattva couldn't stand to see him fall, and so he caught him in mid-air.

"Who came and caught me?" asked Kao Feng Miao, now wide-awake.
"Dharma Protector Wei T'o," came the reply.

Kao Feng Miao began to meditate again, but he struck up some false thoughts, too. "Just now Wei T'o Bodhisattva came to rescue me. There probably aren't any cultivators like me in the whole world;" He became very arrogant, and Wei T'o Bodhisattva came to speak to him again. He said, "You are so arrogant, I won't protect your Dharma for 80,000 great aeons:" When Kao Feng Miao heard this, he became greatly repentant and cried for several days. Then he thought, "Before I knew that Wei T'o Bodhisattva was protecting me, I cultivated the Way. Now he says he won't protect me, but that's no reason for me to quit cultivating. What's the use of crying and being so spineless:" Thereupon he again sat in meditation. After a while, he fell asleep and tumbled over the cliff again, but, again, Wei T'o Bodhisattva rescued him.

"Who caught me?" he asked.

"Dharma Protector Wei T'o," came the reply.

      At this, Kao Feng Miao got angry. "Old Wei," he snapped, "you said you wouldn't protect my Dharma for 80,000 aeons. Why did you save me again?"

      Wei T'o Bodhisattva calmly replied, "Because you cried so bitterly, your repentance has already exceeded those 80,000 aeons; that's why I came to protect your Dharma."

      So sleep isn't easy to cope with either; everybody likes to sleep.  Nevertheless, wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep are the five roots of hell, and everyone should take care with regard to these five matters.

      Does anyone have any questions they would like to bring up? Feel tree to do so.

      Student: When one becomes enlightened does everyone become enlightened with you, and is there any enlightenment when one becomes enlightened?

      The Master: Why should one want to become enlightened? The term  "enlightenment" is just a word, but because people hear it said that the Buddha was enlightened, they wish to be compared to him and so refer to "enlightenment." It enlightenment was referred to as a "dog" no one would want to be called enlightened: Wanting to get enlightened is in itself an attachment. If you want to "get enlightened" you are still attached to the concept of "enlightenment." You should not "want" to become enlightened. In genuine enlightenment one is "enlightened and yet not enlightened; not enlightened and yet enlightened." The experience cannot be tagged with a word such as "enlightenment." Without even the word "enlightenment" there may be true enlightenment.

      We are not at Gold Mountain Monastery to become enlightened. We are there just to practice according to instructions and to cultivate.

Student: In order for someone to get enlightened doesn't he first have to break through ignorance? In order to do this he has to cultivate for many lifetimes. For example. If in this life, I'm a burglar and my final goal is to become a prince, don't I have to live my life as a burglar before I can become a prince? If I say I'm a prince, that's just a false name. So, looking at it this way, we are now common people and should acknowledge the fact. Don't we have to walk to the end of that road before we can start thinking about getting enlightened?

      The Master: Everyone can become enlightened. You don't know for how many great aeons you have cultivated in past lives. Everyone has a share in enlightenment. However, if you want to grow crops, you can't say, "My crop is growing too slowly. I'll help the plants grow by pulling them up each an inch." The plants have to grow by themselves; you can't help them grow. You asked a very good question. Yes, one must cultivate slowly.


The Venerable Master Hua and members of the Gold Mountain sangha address students at the University of California at Davis.