Comments by the Venerable Master Hua
January 1978
City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

The fact that Professor Shu has been chosen President of the United States Committee on Humanistic Studies indicates that America is truly a democratic country. From among the people qualified for such a post, including many native-born Americans, Professor Shu, Manchurian-born Chinese, was selected on the basis of his exceptional scholarship and outstanding personal merit. So we are very fortunate to have the Professor discuss with us his views today. What he has said is very valuable and important. I hope that everyone will take some time to reflect upon the principles he has discussed and investigate them deeply, and use them as founding principles for Dharma Realm Buddhist University.

Professor Shu has spoken of Monotheism, Polytheism and Pantheism. The only things he didn't mention were teachings on the non-existence of god or teachings on the existence of god. What is meant by "god" or "spiritual being"? The reference is to a very intelligent being. What is meant by "Buddha"? The reference is to a very wise being. There is not just one god or one Buddha. Gods are very democratic; anyone can be a god.

"Wrong," you say, "only the Heavenly Lord is the true God."

What can one heavenly lord do all by himself, I ask you?

We should be sure that Buddhism is grounded on democratic views. And the worship of God should become democratic in its point of view. Let us not be dictatorial. Let us not be like certain parties who stand on the heads of the people and oppress them. This is not right. Even less should religions oppress people. Religions should move people by the power of their positive influence. No one should be forced to believe in any particular religion. They should allow things to happen naturally, spontaneously. Every country talks about freedom of religion, and the meaning of freedom is not to bind people up and force them to believe in a certain religion. Don't put people in "jail" or force religious beliefs upon them saying, "You can only believe in my religion, you can't believe in other religions." That is like tying people up and taking their freedom of belief away from them.

Each person has his own reasons—his own set of causes and conditions, which have brought him to the human realm. There are a lot of criteria, which govern what religion a person will select. The reasons he is human, the criterion for his belief, and his present situation are governing factors of a person's life. It is better to let it happen naturally.

The Buddhism I explain is not the Buddhism of China, of Japan, of Burma, etc. The Buddhism I express pervades the Dharma-realm and the realm of empty space. The state of the Avatamsaka pervades the Dharma-realm and the realm of empty space. The Buddha said that all living beings have the Buddha-nature; all can become Buddhas. There is not a living being who is devoid of the Buddha-nature. All living beings can become Buddhas whether they believe in the Buddha or not. So Buddhism is not a dictatorial religion. It is not said that only I can become a Buddha and all of you must serve me. That's not the way it is. The Buddha said all people can become Buddhas. Not only can all people become Buddhas, all living beings can become Buddhas. That's why Buddhism is very democratic, very universal.

Some people say, "I don't believe in the Buddha; I don't want to become a Buddha."

Your not believing in the Buddha and not wanting to become a Buddha is a temporary state of mind. There's no way you can guarantee you won't change in the future. For instance, If today you eat a certain kind of food, tomorrow your tastes may change and you will want to eat something different. You are the same person, why do you want to eat one thing today and another tomorrow? This is a simple analogy. Today you want to wear a certain outfit but tomorrow you don't like it and chose something else, even to the point that when you sleep you want to sleep here today and there tomorrow. That's concerning food, clothing, and shelter: they fluctuate a lot.

In the same way, you can't say for sure that your belief in a certain religion won't change. "I took refuge with the Triple Jewel and I will always believe in the Buddha," you may insist. But there are lots of people who leave the home life and then return to lay life. Isn't that changing your mind?  Some who believe in Buddhism change their minds and turn to Christianity or Catholicism. That's changing your mind. If Buddhists can change their minds and turn to some other belief, how can you guarantee that those of other religions won't come to believe in Buddhism? And that's just talking about changes within a single life span. If we were discuss future lives, there would be even less control over what you come to believe. If you can guarantee in this life that you won't believe in Buddhism, or Catholicism or Christianity, can you guarantee the same for next life?

I believe for certain that you can't control the situation. If you can be in control, then you needn't die. So you aren't in control no matter how much education you have. When you die everything changes. "But I don't believe in future lives." you protest. Then there's nothing to talk about. If you feel that when a person dies there is total oblivion, then you have license to kill, set fires, and do whatever you want this life, because there will be no future life and you won't receive any retribution.

"That won't work," you say. "You must be responsible for what you do. If you do good there is a good reward and if you do bad there is a bad retribution." So you are aware there is retribution—but what will be the method of retribution? It's not for sure when you will have to pay up--perhaps this life, perhaps next. There are all different kinds of retribution.

So the Buddhism I explain contains everything to the ends of empty space and throughout the Dharma-realm. So those who can get out of the Dharma-realm don't believe in Buddhism; those who can get beyond empty space I won't count as Buddhist disciples. But if you can't get beyond the Dharma-realm, then whether you believe Buddhism or not is all the same. Whether you believe or not you still are a Buddhist disciple. Of course some will protest, but eventually they will know this is true.

I absolutely don't separate myself from any religion. I unite all religions. So I call Buddhism the "teaching of living beings." I call it the "teaching of all people." All people have the right to be Buddhas. I call it the "teaching of the mind." All beings have minds.

      Originally religions didn't exist. They came into being to cure living beings' illnesses—their greed, hatred, and stupidity. The more religions that developed, the more selfish people grew. Each religion said it was the best, the truest, or the highest. No religion says it is the worst. Why? It's not a good name, and they all want to have a good name. Whether they are really good is another question. Let us not have arguments among the religions where you say you are good and I say I am good and he says he is good, and no one admits to any bad. That's why I say, "I believe in Buddhism. It may not necessarily be good, but I want to believe in it." Why do I say it is not good? I see that no one person is completely good. Every human being has faults. And Buddhism is just made up of human beings, so of course Buddhism has faults. Buddhism pervades empty space to the ends of the Dharma-realm. How can you say that you can clean up all the places in empty space and the Dharma-realm and get rid of all the toilets? Could we have a world without toilets?

Lao Tze said,

Purity is the source of defilement.

Movement is the ultimate of stillness.

The good comes from the bad; the bad comes from the good the ultimate of goodness turns into bad; the ultimate of evil becomes goodness. When day is gone it becomes night; when night is gone it becomes day. The world changes so people in it want to understand genuine principle. What is it? It is our basic inherent wisdom Wise people don't get confused; confused people can't become wise. People who investigate religion should not wage war upon one another. Some say religions oppose one another but this is not correct. It is not the fault of the religion, it is that the disciples of that religion are not clear about the ultimate principles of that religion so they argue.

Lao Tze notes that the superior person does not contend, while the petty person likes to argue. He says,

Superior virtue is devoid of virtue; and so there is virtue.

Inferior virtue cannot renounce virtue; and so there is no virtue.


THE SUTRA IN FORTY-TWO SECTIONS, Available from BTTS Section 34 speaks of a monk who is thinking of retreating from his practice. The Buddha asks him, "What did you do when you were a householder?" Monk: "I was fond of playing the lute." Buddha: "What happened when the strings were slack?" Monk: "They didn’t sound." Buddha: "What happened when the strings were taut?" Monk: "The sounds were brief." Buddha: What happened when they were tuned between slack and taut?" Monk: "The sounds carried." Buddha: "It is the same with a monk who studies the Way. If his mind is harmonious, he can obtain the Way. If he is impetuous about the Way, this impetuousness will tire out his body, and if his body is tired, his mind will give rise to afflictions. If his mind produces afflictions, then he will retreat from his practice. If he retreats from his practices, he will increase his offenses. You need only be pure, peaceful, and happy, and you will not lose the Way."