(Continued from last issue)
One Meal A Day: The Custom is Carried On
As for the food we ate — I don't care if you all laugh — it was the food that others didn't want, the discarded produce that didn't get sold at the supermarkets. They were dumped in the garbage heap, and we went there to pick them out. After we brought the vegetables back, we would wash and eat them. We did this for many years, and even now people from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas often bring back the unwanted produce from the supermarkets. None of you knew about this. We couldn't even afford vegetables. As for rice, we were never short on that, and we could still get by. Because we have no money, we only eat one meal a day. "One meal a day" does not mean eating when we get up in the morning and again at noon. That's called "not eating past noon," not taking food in the afternoon. "Eating one meal a day" means when we get up in the morning, we don't eat and we don't even drink water. We eat one meal at noon, and we don't eat in the evening. So I told Upasaka Tsai from Taiwan, "You can look all over the world, but you won't find a place where the left-home people all eat one meal a day, except the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The foolish boys and girls there have taken a great loss in following my example of eating one meal a day. They are all so hungry they hardly stand it. It's really hard for them to take. However, it was announced in advance that those who leave home under me have to eat one meal a day, so they probably feel embarrassed to eat two meals.
Devoting My Life to Proclaiming the Proper Dharma
In the past, I alone would lecture the Sutras and speak the Dharma everyday. In these last few years, during my long illness, no one lectured on the Sutras or spoke the Dharma. Seeing this situation, I decided it still wasn't time to die, so I came back to life. I will be going to Los Angeles on the 31st.
Today is the 29th, so I will continue to speak Dharma for you. Tomorrow evening I will also speak the Dharma. If people come to listen, I will speak; if nobody comes to listen, I will also speak. If you all want to celebrate the New Year at home, then celebrate the new year. If you wish to celebrate the new month, then celebrate the new month. Nothing is forced. You don't need to say, "The Master is going to lecture, and I should go. It'd be improper not to go." Don't think that it's improper. Let's get this straight. I have said before that as I6ng as I have a breath left, I will lecture on the Sutras and speak the Dharma. When my breathing stops, I will stop speaking. When people ask me, "How is your illness?" I reply, "Up to today, 1 haven't died yet!" That's my answer. That's what I reply when the doctor inquires after me. I also give this reply to someone who is not a doctor. You see, when I became sick, all my disciples ganged together and just waited. They were probably thinking, "If we do not lecture, then the Master will definitely recover from his illness. But if we start to lecture, he will leave, and then what would we do?" Is this what you were all thinking?
Starting from 1968, I lectured on the Sutras and spoke the Dharma every evening. I gave my lecture whether people came to listen or not. I lectured despite the wind, the rain, and the snow. No matter what happened, I never quit. I never said, "Today I won't give a lecture!" I have never been weary when it comes to lecturing on the Sutras. This is because I have left home, and I want to act like a left-home person. I want to do whatever a left-home person is supposed to do. I won't do what should not be done, but I will do my very best to do what ought to be done. After receiving the offerings, respect and homage of the faithful of the ten directions, if I fail to offer the Dharma, how can I repay this debt? Therefore, I don't dare to "eat myself into a stupor and wait for death" in Buddhism. No matter what, I will do my best to fulfill my rightful duties. This is what I wish to tell you all today. You have known me for a long time, and even if I didn't speak, you must all have heard this before. So today I spoke about it again. What I can't finish saying tonight can be left for tomorrow. If you want to listen, you can spare some time from your busy affairs to listen a bit. If you do not want to listen, just treat it as if I hadn't spoken, and don't waste your time, for your time is very valuable. We seldom talk together, so these two nights I might as well save twenty minutes to answer your questions. If you would like, you may ask questions. If you have no interest in it, we can end the meeting a little sooner.