Delivered by The Venerable Master Hua, Los Angeles, February 1978; translated by Bhiksuni Heng Hsien

It is said:

If the cause ground is not straight,
Then the fruition will be crooked.

If when cultivating the Way one does not truly and actually use effort, and does not cultivate the Way with a straight mind, but instead wants to take short cuts or else is greedy for bargains--being greedy for bargains meaning being greedy for what is easy--and doesn't want to do difficult things, that is what is meant by the causal ground not being straight. If in your cultivation on the causal ground you don't act truly, when you arrive at the fruit and it is time to reap the fruit, it too will be very mixed up. It won't be perfect. Consequently when we are cultivating the Way, we must bring forth a true mind, a straight mind, a mind for cultivating the Way.

Once we people are born into the world, if we don't find means to cultivate the Way and escape from this sea of suffering, this boundless sea of suffering, that is truly pathetic, truly pitiful. You could then say that we have wasted our lives and have let this lifetime pass in vain. Even if you live for a hundred years, it's still like a lightning flash, that brief a period of time, with nothing fantastic about it. Our lives are like water bubbles in the sea of suffering—nothing to banker after, nothing to take as true. When impermanence arrives for you, no matter how much money you have, or how many beautiful possessions, you still will have to put them down. However, the offense karma that you have created during your life will go along with you wherever you go. If you go to the heavens, it will accompany you to the heavens. If you go to the hells, it will follow you to the hells—your offense karma, that is. If it is good karma, it will accompany you to the heavens your bad karma will go along with you as you fall into the hells. Even if you have gold and silver piled high as a mountain, if you try to give the ghost of impermanence a little money to bribe him into not dragging you off, you won't be able to do it. Therefore, based upon the previous principles, we should hurry up and bring forth the resolve for Bodhi, and bring forth a true mind to cultivate. Then in the future, when it is time to receive our retribution, there won't be messed-up circumstances.

People are produced through the combining of the four elements: earth, water, fire and wind. The warmth in our bodies belongs to the element fire. Saliva and the rest of the watery parts of our bodies belong to the element water. The solid portions of our bodies belong to the element earth, while our breath belongs to the element wind. The four elements combine to form a body, and when the four elements split up, each returns to its own place. The solid returns to the element earth. The warmth returns to the element fire. The moisture returns to the element water, and the breath returns to the element wind. That is, the combining of the four elements produces a person, and at the splitting apart of the four elements, each returns to its own place. We people are that way, coming into being as people, but, when split up, not people. That is our birth, dwelling, change and extinction. We take birth as people, dwell in the world, which is dwelling, then change. When we get old we start to change, and when we have changed to the ultimate point, then we become extinct and disappear. Birth, dwelling, change and extinction are what we people have, and are equivalent to birth, old age, sickness and death.

Our planet, too, has coming into being, dwelling, decaying and going empty. When the planet is coming into being, there is a great rain. When that great rain falls, there is no tree, which can withstand the force of the great rain, inasmuch as after that great rain has fallen, the planet can come into being. The element earth, the force field of earth, dwells upon the force field of water. Without water our planet would be ruined. If the planet earth were all dry with no water, the planet would be destroyed. The element earth of our planet, the force field of earth, is supported by the force field of water, the element water. Water supports it. The force field of water is supported by the force field of wind. Water is upheld by the power of the wind. These force fie1ds--1itera11y "circ1es"--are what Newton described as the earth's force field, the earth's gravitational force; but he did not know that the force field of earth was sustained by the force field of water. What sustains the force field of water? It is the force field of wind. The force field of wind supports the force field of water. The force field of wind is just the wind's gravitational force. Upon what does wind rely? Wind relies upon space. It is supported by space. Therefore, when a planet is coming into being there will be a huge rain which no buildings or houses can withstand. In the same way, at the time of decay, there is also a great rain. What proof is there of that? Take a look at how rain erodes mountains so they become level, the mud from the mountains being eroded away. That is just a small-scale instance of coming into being, dwelling, decay and going empty, not the actual ones. It's a scaled-down version, and it proves that our planet is produced through water and destroyed through water. Water, too, is brought about by wind and destroyed by wind. There is a force field of space, which sustains the force field of wind, so wind, too, is produced by space and destroyed by space. Therefore, this is a principle of endless, non-stop interchange of coming into being, dwelling, decay and going empty.

For a three thousand great thousand-world system to come into being takes twenty small kalpas. What is meant by a 'small kalpa'? Right now our lifespan is going through a period of decrease. Every hundred years our lifespan decreases by one year, and our bodily stature decreases by one inch. Our lifespan decreases from eighty-four thousand years, decreasing one year every hundred years as our bodily height decreases by one inch. Right now the human lifespan has decreased to an average of sixty years. Having reached sixty years, it afterwards will continue to decrease. When it has decreased to the point that the average human lifespan is thirty years, there will be an epidemic, a disaster, of plague. The plague disaster will be such that when people fall ill with this sickness, they will die very fast. It will not be easy to cure, and very many people will die. Afterwards, the human lifespan will continue to decrease, and when it has decreased to ten years, then people will be capable of killing each other as soon as they are born. One infant child will be able to kill another infant child, and the killing karma will be very heavy. That child will be able to kill this child, without having to use knives, clubs, swords or guns to kill. They will be able to kill people with a blade of grass, due to the weight of human beings' killing karma. As the slaughter goes on, here and there people will come to feel that all the mutual killing has no meaning to it, and they will truly repent and reform. Having truly repented and reformed, they will advise each other not to keep on with the mutual killing. Since they cease to kill, there will be more good thoughts, and with more good thoughts, and increase will start. To what point will it increase? The lifespan will also increase one year every hundred years, and the bodily stature will increase one inch. When it has again increased to eighty-four thousand years, that one increase and decrease from ten years to eight-four thousand years and back again to ten years is called a kalpa. You calculate how many years that is. A thousand of those individual kalpas taken together, a thousand kalpas, is called a small kalpa. Calculate how many years there are in that. Twenty small kalpas amount to a medium kalpa. Four medium kalpas make a great kalpa. Consequently, the world comes into being for twenty small kalpas, and goes empty for twenty small kalpas. Coming into being, dwelling, decaying and going empty; coming into being, dwelling, decaying and going empty-that is the way of the world. Therefore, it takes a world twenty small kalpas to be destroyed, and when it is being created it also takes twenty small kalpas. It doesn't go bad in one fell swoop.


Plans for expansion of Gold Wheel Temple become a necessity as the great assembly grows to standing-room-only proportions. Shown at left are participants at the recent Medicine Master Assemble.

That is how our planet is destroyed, but when one planet is destroyed, another planet is produced. That, too, is an example of non-stop births and endless transformations. We people just know about this one planet of ours, and are unaware of all the other planets. However, there are limitless and boundlessly many other planets—there's no way to know how many. They are numberless there being as many planets as fine motes of dust. Now the people of our planet go to the moon, and to a few planets. In the future people will find it a lot of fun to go from the earth to the moon. They will be like children at play, like children with two houses: when they've played in one house, then they go to the other house to play. They keep going back and forth between them, and then come to feel it's perfectly meaningless to keep going back and forth, and so they set one of the houses on fire and burn it down. When the one house is burned up and doesn't exist anymore, they move to the other house to live. Our current going to the moon and the other planets is just like the child's playing in two houses. Playing, we ruin this planet, so we move to another planet to live. Having ruined that planet, we move on to another planet, and when that one too is wrecked, we move on to yet another planet to live--having nothing to do and finding something to do. When we've made enough money on this planet, we go to another planet to invest in some land and open a jewel mine, figuring to strike it rich. As it turns out, however, our beautiful dream does not materialize, and we die. That's just how muddled and confused people are, not knowing how to stop, and always feeling there's some hope in the world. Their hopes are very large. You investigate it. When they are small, they want to grow up. Having grown up, whether boy or girl, they want to marry. Having married, they want to have children and get rich. After they have had children and gotten rich, they die. They've been muddled and confused their entire life, busy as all get-out, establishing their reputations and making their profits; but when it's time for birth, dwelling, change and extinction, birth, old age, sickness and death come.

Due to that, we people should realize that everything whatsoever is impermanent. If even the planet can go bad, how much the less can we people. Then, upon realizing that all is impermanent, we should hurry up and find a way to cultivate. Realizing that everything is impermanent, you should not have so much craving and attachment. You should recognize that a person's life is just like having a dream, and is also like putting on a play. You shouldn't take it as so important. If you look upon it as very ordinary, then you won't have so many afflictions. The reason we people have so many afflictions is that we feel everything as real. We fear taking a loss, and are afraid of not getting a bargain for ourselves. As a result, we become angry, and the more we go on, the more trouble it is. I think it is a lot of trouble too.