YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW

Reflections upon Reading the Venerable Master Hua's Book

WATER-MIRROR RETURNING TO HEAVEN

By Wu T'ien Chen

I happened to read the Venerable Master Hua's book Water-Mirror Returning to Heaven. The phrase Water-Mirror refers to the flowers reflected in a mirror, and the moon reflected in the water. The Master likens this world and everything in it to flowers in a mirror or the moon in the water--possessing an appearance, but no actual reality. The Venerable Master is so right!

Today, in the world, the nations fight with each other, families fight with each other, people fight with each other and yet, what is there that is worth the struggle? People in this world are as if dreaming a dream. The pleasant dreams may raise our spirits and make us happy for a moment, but the heart-breaking dreams do just the reverse. Why waste so much time dreaming?

So the Venerable Master brings up the inscription on the washtub of T'ang, "Renew yourself today. Renew yourself each day. Always renew yourself," in order to wake up. From today on we should be new people. We should open our eyes and take a look at the world, which is overflowing with evil. The Master also mentions the words of poet T'ao Yuan Ming, in his poem "The Return:"

I know that for my past faults, nothing can be done; yet there is time in the future to make amends.

Though I'm still not far from the path of confusion,

I have realized that today I'm correct and before

I was wrong.

SO why should we continue to let the troubles and trivialities of life weigh us down until we are "dead-alive"?

I'm basically not very bright. I have no roots in wisdom, no understanding of the principles of Dhyana samadhi, but as I read, and reread the story of the life of the Great Master Ch'ang Jen, I am extremely moved. I have understood something of the principles at their deepest level. The principles of Buddhism tell us that in order to understand one's mind and view one's basic nature it is necessary to view all worldly existence as if it were "dust," "red dust." Although it towers thirty thousand feet in the air, it's still nothing but dust, so why should we take it as something substantial and real? We should toss out all the worrisome troubles of the common world, and with sincere hearts revere the Buddha and seek rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

What is suffering? What is bliss? Itís all a case of ďThose who are kind, see kindness; those who are wise see wisdom.Ē Everyone in the world is afflicted with worries; itís just a matter of degree. Those who can be content are always happy. Those whose minds are pure are truly free.

But itís only now that I have awakened to this principle, and I feel that human life, yes, is like the flowers in the mirror, the moon in the water; only when we cease from our grasping will we be able to gain genuine freedom.

Soon to be Published:

THE LOTUS SUTRA, VOL. 1, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The Buddha appeared in the world in order to lead all living beings to understand the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. "For the sake of all living beings, I preach the One Buddha-Vehicle. If you are able to receive these words with faith, you shall all be able to become Buddhas. This vehicle is wondrously pure and supreme. In all the worlds throughout the universe there is nothing more exalted."