Bhikshuni Heng-yin

What did Bodhidharma say when the Emperor Wu of Liang asked, "All my life I have built temples. What merit have I gained?"

Bodhidharma shook his head. "No merit. None at all," he said. Of course the Emperor had to be number one in everything. He was seeking fame, not the Dharma.

Today, among those who have left home, many concern themselves from morning to night with the question of building temples. They spend sleepless nights thinking, "So and so is loaded. I'll borrow a few million from him and build a fantastic monastery," and in this way the days and months fly by and they have worried themselves old and gray. Have they forgotten that this kind of activity is nothing but self-seeking?

Why do people leave home? People leave home for one reason: To realize Buddhahood. The Sangha's first duty is to cultivate the Way.

If you lack real cultivation, others see you and think, "Why, he's just like me. Why should I give my money to him?" and all your energy in this direction goes to waste. And what if you got the money and built a thousand temples--What would you do in them? Read the newspaper?

On the other hand, suppose that you did your job, cultivated, and realized the Way. Seeing your spiritual penetrations and wonderful gifts, everyone would say, "Hey! The Buddhadharma is indeed miraculous." You wouldn't have to lift a finger, to say nothing of stooping to beg. You'd have all the temples you needed to teach and transform living beings. Wouldn't that be fine?

Now that the Dharma has been transplanted on American soil, cultivators should pay particular attention to the problem of solving birth and death. Go forward with vigor and certify to the fruit. Let's remember this and realize Buddhahood, not real estate.