南無薩怛他 蘇伽多耶 阿羅訶帝 三藐三菩陀寫（三稱）
我從六八年到兩、三年以前吧，兩年的樣子，多數都是講經說法，有人我也講，沒有人我也講。那時候講經在金山寺，最初講這個《楞嚴經》是在 Chinatown Waverly Street 那兒，是在三樓。那個地方就有五十呎長，二十五呎寬，我在那地方講經。禪堂就有六、七、八十人，在那兒住的人就有五十多個，怎麼住呢？這五十呎乘二十五呎，去這個門口，去廚房、廁所，然後那個廳裡頭地方不是很大，就是五十多個人在這個廳裡住。人沒有地方住了，就在這個 roof，就是天頂上，在 roof 上邊弄這麼一個四方的木頭 box（箱子），坐到那裡頭，外邊用膠布一擋，下雨也不怕，就在那裡頭住。那時候人這麼苦幹，要在那兒聽經，在那兒學習佛法。也曾經一連氣打過十個禪七，有三十多個人也都沒打過禪七，沒打過，三十多個人打，到最後就剩兩個人。那時候我看人太多了，地方太小了，我得想法子找大的地方，於是乎就找到十五街舊的金山寺。搬到那個地方，我給它起個名字叫 ice box，叫雪櫃。什麼叫雪櫃？沒有暖氣。以後有人看著我們冷得那個樣子，像雪櫃似的，就有人發心來裝暖氣。裝了 gas heater（暖氣）裝了兩個，兩個 gas heater 裝上，還單出個這裝的錢，以後用的錢他沒給。沒有法子！我沒有這筆錢！所以暖氣也不敢開。裝上幾年，就大概開了一次。開了一次就受不了了。現在萬佛城 gas（煤氣）、電一個月就要四、五千塊錢，你說這眞是要命。我本來不願和你們大家說的，不過既到這個地方，我要告訴你們，現在這麼好的房子，比那的房子也是好得多，樣樣都比那時候好；可是現在有的人還是怕冷，他要用 heater。我們那時候，誰也不敢用 heater，為什麼？要錢嘛！
Na Mwo Sa Dan Two Su Chye Dwo Ye E La He Di
San Myau San Pu Two Sye (3x)
The Poor Monk Takes Suffering As It Comes
All Good and Wise Advisors: In 1962 I went from Hong Kong to Japan, and then from Japan I came over to America. It's been over thirty years now. But in these thirty-some years, I am still the same, and I have nothing unusual to talk about, I haven't accomplished anything, or established anything. I'm still just a poor monk here in America. I haven't dug up any gold! Other people came to America to mine for gold, but as for me, I haven't dug up any. I haven't dug up any, because I have no wish for it, so I'm still a poor monk. Not only am I a poor monk, all those men and women who left home with me -- the men are poor little monks, and the women are poor little Bhikshunis. In all these years at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, everyone has taken the suffering as it comes, cultivating the Buddha dharma.
Bringing the Dharma to the West and Turning the Dharma
When I first came to America, I lectured on the Dharma on Saturdays and Sundays. Most of the people in the United States have jobs, and if I lectured on the Sutras during the usual times there might have been no one to listen. In that period, there was only I, giving lectures twice a day every Saturday and Sunday, once in the afternoon and once in the evening. This was from 1962 to 1968. Sometimes we would have a Buddha's Name Recitation Session and twenty or thirty people would come. Sometimes we held a Chan Meditation Session and twenty or thirty people would attend. There were never a lot of people. When I first started lecturing on the Sutras, three people would come to listen. One person would be sitting there to hear the lecture. Another one would lie down to listen. And the other person would be neither lying down nor sitting up. How was this? His body would be reclining on the floor, or on the couch, but his two feet would be propped up on the table. That's the way he listened to the Sutra lecture. Have you all ever seen anything like that? Although it was this way, I didn't let it bother me, and still lectured on the Sutras for them. As a result, the number of people gradually increased.
In the summer of 1968 when school students were on vacation, someone requested me to lecture on the
Shurangama Sutra. Therefore I began giving lectures on the
Shurangama Sutra. In a span of ninety-six days, I spoke for ninety-five days. During this period I took only a half-day break each week. On Saturdays, I took a break in the morning, and lectured as usual in the afternoon. At the start, I gave one lecture a day. But after lecturing for over half a month, I figured that I wouldn't be able to finish lecturing the Sutra in ninety-six days. Therefore, I lectured twice a day for a while. Then I thought I still wouldn't be able to finish, even with two lectures per day. After that I gave three lectures a day, each lecture lasting two hours. But even then, I still couldn't finish, so in the end I lectured four times a day.
That was like traveling at rocket-speed. I finished lecturing the
Shurangama Sutra in ninety-six days. Why did it take so long? It is because there was also translation then. I lectured in Chinese, but hardly anyone, only four or five people, understood Chinese. The others, over thirty people, only understood English, not Chinese, so we had to translate. At one point, the translators actually went on strike. Oh! None of them showed up. They all went on strike simultaneously. I had no other recourse but to translate myself. I didn't even know how to speak English, but I had picked up a few sentences from listening to them speak. I would translate the sentences I remembered. What I didn't remember, I would tell them to study on their own. Hah! Although I'm very stupid, I still have plenty of ways. I lectured and translated for myself that time. After that, the four or five people who translated for me would take turns translating. Although there was just one of me, those four or five people would translate in shifts, with a different person everyday. When I translated for myself, they were so badly intimidated that they never dared to go on strike again. Going on strike is an American habit--that's all they know how to do. But that time when I lectured and translated on my own, they felt it was no use to go on strike; they could not get anything from it, so they didn't go on strike anymore. Thus the lecture on the
Shurangama Sutra was completed. In the ninety-six days of vacation, I lectured for ninety-five days. That was the period when I was on my own. On my own, I have also been a teacher for more than thirty students. I taught them everyday. There was no such thing as teachers taking turns. Now for the same number of students, four or five teachers are needed to take turns teaching them. I really wonder what they are teaching. That's something I don't understand, so I won't discuss it anymore.
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, I advocate that teachers teach voluntarily, without receiving a salary. In our elementary schools I am now promoting the policy of not taking salaries. In our middle schools the teachers don't receive salaries either. For the time being, the university does not have volunteer faculty, because it takes a lot of energy to teach at the university level. The teachers may be paid, but their salaries are lower than at other places. There isn't any more money to pay them.
From 1968 until two or three years ago, I frequently lectured on the Sutras and spoke the Dharma. I lectured whether or not there were people. I was lecturing on the
Shurangama Sutra at Gold Mountain Monastery. At first the lectures were at the place on Waverly in Chinatown, on the third floor, which was fifty feet by twenty-five feet. Sometimes during my Sutra lectures, there would be sixty, seventy, or eighty people in the Chan Hall. Over fifty people were living there. How did they live? After the doorway, kitchen and toilet were subtracted from the fifty by twenty-five feet space, it was not very big in the hall. Yet we had fifty-some people to accommodate. When the living space ran out, people would go up on the roof and set up a wooden box for sitting. After they covered the box with plastic, the rain was no longer a problem, and they could live inside it. Ah! Back then people really suffered a lot in order to listen to the Sutra lectures and study the Buddhadharma there. Once we even held a ten-week Chan meditation session; in one breath we held ten continuous weeks of Chan. These thirty-some people had never been in a Chan session before. Ah! Thirty-some people participated, but only two were left by the end. Then I noticed that there were too many people and too little space, and thought about finding a bigger place. I found the place on Fifteenth Street which was the former Gold Mountain Monastery. After we moved there, I nicknamed it "the icebox". Why was it called that? Because there was no heat. Later on, someone saw us freezing there, like in an icebox, and volunteered to install heaters. Two gas heaters were installed, but he only paid for the heaters, and didn't give us any money to pay for the gas. There was no way--I didn't have the money to pay for the gas, so I didn't dare to turn on the heaters. Several years after the installation, we had probably only turned it on once. After that one time, we couldn't take it anymore. At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas now, the gas and electricity bill is four or five thousand dollars a month. Wouldn't you call that outrageous? Originally I didn't want to tell you all, but since come to this point, I will tell you. Now we have such fine housing, much better than before. Everything is better than what we had then. However, now some people are still afraid of the cold, and want to use heaters. Back then, none of us dared to use a heater. Why? Because it cost money!
To be continued