RESPONSIBILITY IN A TROUBLED WORLD
An address delivered by the Venerable Master Hua on Saturday afternoon, September 3, 1977, on the occasion of the visit by Mr. Chou Ching Wen to Gold Mountain Temple in San Francisco, Calif.
by Bhiksuni Heng Hsien
What our guest, Mr. Chou, just said concerning the problems of society, of the world, and of individuals, when taken altogether, may be summed up in four words GOOD AND BAD RETRIBUTION. He spoke of the victory of the good and the defeat of the evil, due to which this world has still not been destroyed. Should the good be defeated and the evil destroyed, then the principle of heaven would no longer exist. If the principle of heaven no longer existed, then our world would come to an end, because, If this persisted, things would be daily blacker and more confused. Therefore all of you should know, what are the Final Days? When people become most stupid, those are the Final Days. When is it a time of light and illumination? It is when people have wisdom. When people have wisdom, then there is universal illumination. When every single person is stupid, then that is the long, dark night. Furthermore, the long, dark night one wants exchanged, but everyone likes universal illumination. If people are always in the dark and gloom, they feel it's very stifling.
So the world moves into the Final Days, and after the Final Days there is a further time of reappearance of the light. That is because worlds come into being, dwell, decay, and disappear. They come into being for twenty small kalpas, dwell for twenty small kalpas, decay for twenty small kalpas, and disappear for twenty small kalpas. We people are in the world for only the batting of an eye-lid, very temporarily. Nonetheless, no one can put it down. Everyone is attached to it, and feels that their being in this world is real. And so, if they fight for fame, they die from fame; if they battle for profit, then they die from profit. Why do they fight for fame and battle for profit, so up-side down? It is just because of greed, hatred, and stupidity. They do not recognize greed, hatred, and stupidity, and so those who are greedy for fame die from fame, and those who are greedy for profit die from profit. They become stuck to whatever they are greedy for, and, being glued to it, they are not free. Therefore greed, hatred, and stupidity are the common enemy of mankind. Why is our world so rotten? Why is there murder, arson, robbery and theft? It is because of greed. If no one had greed, without your telling it to, this world would become good. If no one were greedy: "I don't want any of your things. I'm not greedy even for the most valuable things you own;" if there were no greed, then this world would be peaceful. So the fundamental resolution of the world's problems would be to find a way to teach people how not to be greedy, how not to hate, and how not to be stupid. If you could do that, then this world would have no problems. However, it isn't easy; because if you tell people not to be greedy, they get even greedier. That's because this world is one of mutual cheating. Mutual cheating means, "You cheat me, and I cheat you." As Lao Ts'u said, "When wisdom appears, there is great hypocrisy."
When the Great Way declines, there is Righteousness.
When Wisdom appears, there is great hypocrisy.
When families are not united, there is Filiality.
When countries are disordered, there is Loyalty.
Didn't Professor Yu say a few days ago that all professors cheat their students? If professors cheat their students, then, to look at the other side of the coin, why shouldn't students cheat their professors? Every student has a "cheating-sheet" up his or her sleeve. When they get to the examination hall—this country basically has "open-book" tests, but they still don't feel that's sufficient; they write out "cheat-sheets" which they stick into their sleeves and let slip out enough to copy from onto their examination papers. So if students cheat professors, and professors cheat their students, "If "you were to say that when the students get out into the world they won't start cheating everybody, no one would believe you; because that is what they have studied. So when they become businessmen, they are scheming merchants and racketeers who only aim for profit and would go to any lengths to cheat the public, such as adding water to rice to make the sacks weigh more; and they all cheat each other.
High and low, the stupid populace and the farmers all can cheat. Farmers can cheat? Farmers use synthetic fertilizers that when placed in the ground make the crops come up really fast and be harvested really fast. However, they are deficient in vitamins, and people get cancer from eating them. So you see, not to speak of cheating people, that's killing people, isn't it? Those who raise chickens inject them with scientifically developed hormones, and in a single month the chickens gain several pounds. Then they sell them. But when people eat the chickens, because of the synthetic chemicals inside them, their blood and energy are altered, they get cancer and this and that illness, and eventually they die and become...chickens! When people die and are buried in the ground, they can become fertilizer which can nurture everything.
So right now this is a world of mutual cheating. Why is that? It's because of greed, hatred, and stupidity. Those three poisons, greed, hatred, and stupidity, have poisoned people rotten now. Therefore, as Mr. Chou said, people will soon fill up the entire planet, and so due to the pressure of circumstances, there are some stupid scientists who are fast looking into colonization of the moon, colonization of the stars, colonization of the sea, and eventual colonization of empty space. When the earth has no more room, we'll just go up into space. Those are all fantasies. In general, in this world, good and bad are established in complementary relationship to each other, and so are victory and defeat and truth and falsity. If you have good progress, badness is its foundation. Even if you don't feel it's progress, it tags right along with progress.
These days everyone knows about and likes to watch television. How do kids learn to be bad? It's from watching television. Why are there so many single mothers now in no matter what country? That comes from watching television too. Television shows you how men and women do this, that, and the other thing and...oops! Without a teacher they master it on their own. No one has to teach them for them to understand. So that's made this world all messed up, each day worse than the last. Basically there is a part of this that is good, but the bad part is showing. That's the current world situation. What can be done about it? What we can do is, since we are a part of humankind, to do good in our own persons, and get rid of our own faults and bad habits, eliminating our greed, our hatred, and our stupidity. If we want to influence all under heaven, we must start with ourselves. If I'm not yet good and I go around saying, "You're not good, you're not good, and you're not good," without even being good myself, what good does it do for me to tell other people they're not good?
Therefore, people who want to take all under heaven as their own responsibility should first start with themselves in every particular, in order to be able to influence everyone to do good. However, it is not easy. Look at how bitterly Sakyamuni Buddha cultivated: that was in order to influence humankind to have blessings and no suffering. What I say is:
To endure suffering is to end suffering;
To enjoy blessings is to destroy blessings.
The Buddha wanted to rescue living beings so that they could all leave suffering and attain bliss; but as soon as he lifted this one out of the sea, that one would fall in. Living beings are endless, and so the karma of living beings is endless too. Even though that is the case, shall we just say, "I won't pay any attention. This world can go bad and I won't pay it any notice?" No. However much we can do, we should do that much. That is our responsibility upon coming into the world: to do as much as we can. If you can do one bit, then do one bit. If you can do two bits, do two bits. That's my outlook, and what all of your outlooks are, I don't know. The outlook of some, though, is to drink a little milk and eat some chocolate every day and if those problems are resolved, then everything is fine.
The Venerable Master Hua before Gold Mountain Temple with Mr. Chou Ching Wen, fellow Manchurian and former secretary to Chang Hsiao Liang, son of the Ch’ing Dynasty General Chang Tso Lin.