An informal talk by the Venerable Master Hua at Gold Wheel Temple in Los Angeles, February 19, 1977.

Translated by Bhiksuni Heng Chen,
Revised by Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih

Since this Buddha hall has just been established, everyone must work very hard and be industrious for the sake of Buddhism. You must be more patient. Whoever you are, you must take Buddhism as your personal responsibility. That way, day by day, Buddhism can spread on a vast scale, since formerly there wasn't any Buddhism here. If Buddhism had existed here before, not only could it not spread on a vast scale, but it could grow old and die. It's just the same as we people. As soon as a child is born you help it; you read to it and have it study rudimentary matters, and when it has grown up it can take charge of managing things. Buddhism is the same. Right now it is just beginning, and, as with the child, everyone must extend a hand to protect and assist it. Every single person must shoulder the responsibility for it and not look at Buddhism as being somebody else's affair. Take Buddhism -as your own responsibility. Why? Because all of us recognize the false, but don't recognize the true. We can't be earnest about what is true, but we are deadly serious about false things. What's false? Everything in the world is empty and false; it's as though we were dreaming. Days pass by one after the other, and day by day our energies disperse. They disperse until we grow old, and then it's not long until we die. We've just come to understand a little, and then we die. We've told ourselves the experiences of this life-—that all things are like "dreams, illusions, bubbles, like dew drops and a lightning flash; contemplate them thus." But before people have gotten old and are about to die, they don't "contemplate them thus." They feel that all things are not dreams, that all things are not illusions, not bubbles, shadows, dew drops, not a lightning flash. They feel that they are true. But after they have experienced them, they tell themselves that nothing has any value. "After closing their two eyes, they let the human domain slip from their hands." They say, "Next time I come I'll try it out again." And after they've died, they still have to come again and give it another try, and when they do come back it's the same as it was before.


Shown above are the Venerable Master Hua and disciples at the entrance of Gold Wheel Temple in Los Angeles. The Venerable Master and reads composed the couplet, which flanks the door:

"With giving, precepts and patience caused by vigor, Dhyana, Prajna and vows reap the fruit of Bodhi."

Well, this is the way things are; everything is empty and false. No matter how much status and weal you have, no matter how much glory you bask in---it's all false.

The ancients had a verse that expresses this very aptly:

Riches and honor are like an early-morning's dream.

Your gold and silver are piled up like mountains,

But once you close your eyes everything is gone.

Empty-handed you go to see King Yama;

Regretting the past, you shed remorseful tears.

No matter how much wealth you have, it's just like an early-morning's dream, so all these hippies say, "Drop out, drop out, drop out! Wealth and honor are like an early-morning's dream, so I don't want them. I'm a hippie: I study freedom. 'Birth and death are just Nirvana; afflictions are just Bodhi.' The greater my afflictions are, the better!" But they miss the point and misunderstand the meaning of freedom, just like a certain lama who tells people to do what they like to do and that's the real meaning of freedom. He himself likes to smoke, so he smokes, he likes to drink, so he drinks. But if that's the case then it should hold that if someone likes to kill he can kill; if someone likes to set fires, he can set fires. This is to misunderstand the meaning of freedom. There's another verse that runs:

Honor and rank are a floating cloud;

And the flesh and blood before your eyes are not/true.

Kindness and love turn into enmity and hate;

Do not bind up gold with cords and sashes;

Jasper ornaments and jade tie up the body;

Purify your mind, get rid of desire, escape from the/red dust;

When not one single thought is produced, the entire substance manifests;

When the six organs suddenly move, you are covered/over with clouds.

Honor and rank-—this means being an official. Officialdom is like a cloud floating in the sky. Whatever husband, wife, son, brother, or friend you might see right in front of you, before your own eyes—they're all false. When the time comes for you to die, and you say, "Will you die with me?" they will answer, "I still don't dare to die." You see, fathers and sons are se close, but they don't want to accompany each other in death. So it's said, "Honor and rank are a floating cloud; And the flesh and blood before your eyes are not true. Kindness and love turn into enmity and hate." If you love someone but are just slightly not good to him in some way, then he'll hate you. This is the case with many people; they hate each other to death! Maybe the girl hates her boyfriend, or the boy hates his girlfriend. Jasper ornaments and jade tie up the body. You shouldn't have so much reward for precious things that you can't put them down. Whatever you can't put down becomes an attachment. You like to drink wine, and can't give it up; you like to smoke, and can't give up smoking. You don't put them down because you like to do these things. Your enjoyment of them is even more of an attachment, and is certainly not freedom because you still have this liking. "Purify your mind, get rid of desire, escape from the red dust." Purify your mind so that not a single thought is produced in it. "When not one single thought is produced, the entire substance manifests; when the six organs suddenly move, you are covered over with clouds." As soon as your six organs--eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind--move, they give rise to the five skandhas. This is certainly not "ten thousand miles without a cloud, ten thousand miles of sky." Purify your mind--your mind must be pure; don't give rise to a single thought, and the entire substance will manifest. Hang up desires, that is, don't have any desires. If people don't have desire, this is the greatest happiness. Whatever you are greedy for is a desire—greed for wealth, sex, fame, profit, food, and sleep. Why do you go around begging from people all the time? Because you like money. Sex: why do you like women so much? You like them. Why do you like fame so much; why are you so attached to fame? You like it. You can explain all this with that one sentence: "I like it." Why do you want to eat good things so much? "I like them." Why do you sleep so much? "I like to." It's all liking. One "I like" explains everything, right? So if you say that doing what you like is freedom, as the lama does, then it holds that one can kill people if one likes to; one can set fires if one likes to. If one kills someone, that's breaking the law. If one commits arson, that's illegal, too. "Well, there's nothing I can do about that, because I like to," is all those who hold to this theory can say.

Instead, you must purify your mind and get rid of desire. If you don't like anything, you are "without liking and without worry;" and then "everything is okay." That's the meaning of my motto "everything is okay."  How can the concept of freedom being the right to do what you like compare to the freedom gained from a pure mind devoid of desire? So, purify your mind, get rid of desire, and you will obtain your original share of inherent happiness.

THE TEN DHARMA-REALMS ARE NOT BEYOND A SINGLE THOUGHT. An illustrated handbook of the realms of being as Buddhism describes hem. Poems and commentary by the Venerable Master Hua. Second edition. Paperbound, 72 pages, 5 ˝ x 8 ˝, $3.00.