The Unrestrained Repentance Assembly
held continuously since January 25, 1992, was completed on July 22 (lunar date June 23). The Venerable Abbot asked everyone at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to pay attention to this date because two left-home people at the City bowed to three of their Dharma brothers as their new masters on that day. These two left-home people are the Chicago native Ching Sya (original Dharma name Heng Shun), and the Vietnamese Ching Er (originally named Heng Chang). The news about their cheating of the Venerable Abbot and mismanagement of temple funds was published in issues #261-265 of this journal's Chinese edition.
Because the Venerable Abbot could not bear to abandon them, and wanted to prevent their falling even lower, he told them to draw lots from among the names of five Dharma brothers. Consequently, they drew the names of Dharma Masters Heng Dzwo, Heng Feng and Heng Jang to be their new masters, and they also received the new Dharma names Ching Sya and Ching Er. This was their chance to leave home again, and to be people again. This lecture, which the Venerable Abbot called "Doing the Work of the Buddhas in a Dream," contains profoundly meaningful Dharma, vastly providing expedient teachings. The main points of the Venerable Abbot's lecture follow:
"This Dharma is level and equal, without any high or low." The Buddhadharma is level and equal. Originally there was no master and no disciples. There is no distinction in generations here. Once we become Buddhas, we are all equal. However, all the living beings in the Saha world have very great attachments: we attach to good, we attach to evil; some of us attach to conditioned dharmas, some attach to unconditioned dharmas. We make distinctions above and below, dividing into grades. This is just discriminating the various names and classifications in the world. The more we make these distinctions, the farther away we go from the Buddhadharma.
We have turned from the great to the small. But even though there are differences of generation, in cultivation we still want to make Bodhisattvas' vows based on the great vehicle. This is not like the Venerable Kumarajiva, whose teacher followed the lesser vehicle. Later, his teacher returned and bowed to his disciple Kumarajiva as his teacher. This was turning from the small to the great. Why was it done? It was to break living beings' attachments.
I've already said that I don't acknowledge them as my disciples, but I don't want to renounce them, so I am going to compromise, by asking them to follow other masters. The deep meaning behind this is to subdue your arrogance and contempt for others. Although they will bow to other masters, they will still stay in the Way-place (monastic community) to establish merit and virtue and eradicate their offenses. Now, however large our merit and virtue is, that's how big our offenses are. And however many offenses we have, that is how great our merit and virtue is. Why is this so? Shicam Buddha said,
Even though we may amass wholesome dharmas, they are basically illusory.
Even though we may create offenses, these, too, are illusions.
The body is nothing more than a heap of foam; the mind is just like a breath of wind.
These illusions have no foundation and no real shape.
If you recognize this, then don't ever commit the fault of being arrogant again. This fault is basically false and illusory, but the true is also illusory. Why don't you seek something true to do? Why must you do what's false, seeking false fame and false profit? In fact, the things we are doing today are also illusory; we are just in the middle of a dream doing the work of Buddhas. Everyone is dreaming. We dream coming and we dream going, but nothing is fixed. There are no fixed dharmas. This is called Anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.
In the dream, if we do things right, then we have merit. If we do things wrong, we have offenses."
Chin Er: I have followed the Master for ten years, and my will to cultivate is strongest now. If I want to benefit to the Way-place, I must change my way of thinking... I'm really grateful to the Master for giving me a chance to bow to my Dharma brothers as my masters. This way, cultivating from the lowest position, I cannot contend with them for fame and gain, or be jealous and obstructive. This is the best opportunity for me to cultivate. I really thank the Master for giving me the Dharma-door of the Flower Adornment Sutra. In the future I will rely on the
Flower Adornment Sutra to completely change my conduct and way of thinking.
Chin Sya: I looked down on these three Dharma brothers more than I did the other two Dharma brothers; that's why I drew their names to be my masters. My arrogance is very great. Whatever the Master tells me to do, I will do it. It's okay, it's okay.