Right: Ven. Master Hsuan Hua
Left: Chancellor Richard Yang
Ven. Master Hua's Talk on April 7, 1993 at Long Beach Sagely Monastery
Today, the weather is warm, clear, and breezy, and our picnic outdoors is a way to enjoy Nature. We can enjoy the sun's rays and eat our meal at the same time; this is all part of living in Nature.
Every one of us should take care not to get attached to anything. If we can expediently adapt to the situation at hand, clearly discriminate between right and wrong, and have Dharma-selecting Vision, then we have a kind of wisdom. If we just feel restricted and uncomfortable wherever we go, then we have afflictions. On the day that we took refuge, we said, "Living beings are limitless; I vow to cross them over." We should ask ourselves if we have crossed over any living beings. If not, then we should think of a way to cross them over.
"Afflictions are inexhaustible; I vow to cut them off." We should ask ourselves whether we have cut off our temper, and whether we have smashed through ignorance. Have we broken through the obstruction of states? Is it the case that we cannot see through anything, that we cannot put anything down, and that we get afflicted about everything? The most important thing for people is to not get afflicted. Someone says, "Dharma Master, you're wrong. The Sutras tell us that afflictions are just Bodhi." The meaning there is that in principle, afflictions are Bodhi, not that afflictions literally "are" Bodhi. If you can become so that you have no afflictions, then that's Bodhi. If you still have afflictions, then you have not reached the point where it becomes Bodhi. Therefore we say, "Afflictions are inexhaustible; I vow to cut them off." We definitely must cut off afflictions, smash through ignorance, break all attachments, sweep away all dharmas, and leave all appearances--just that is Bodhi. We need not search afar, for Bodhi is not far from us. It is as easy as turning your palm over. Turning afflictions into Bodhi is as easy as flipping your hand. If you can flip it, then it's Bodhi. If you cannot, then it's afflictions. We should ask ourselves if we have cut off afflictions. If not, then we have to think of a way to cut them off. If we have already cut them off, then we still have to cut off coarse delusion, subtle delusion, and delusion like dust and sand. We have to put an end to these three kinds of delusion. The cultivator's task is to cut off ignorance, coarse delusion, subtle delusion, and delusion like dust and sand.
"Dharma-doors are immeasurable; I vow to learn them." This is talking about the gates and paths into the Buddhadharma. There are eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors, so they are called immeasurable. Since they are immeasurable, we must vow to investigate the Buddhadharma--only then will we be able to put an end to delusion, attain the truth, and quickly realize Bodhi.
"The Buddha-path is unsurpassed; I vow to realize it." Have we realized the unsurpassed Buddha-path? Have we learned any Dharma-doors?
If we have, we should work harder and learn more. If we haven't learned any, we should hurry up and learn. If you want to study Buddhism, you have to be brave and vigorous, without laziness. "The Buddha-path is unsurpassed; I vow to realize it." Have we realized it? If not, we should find a way to cultivate so that we can realize Buddhahood.
When we take refuge, we have to make the Four Vast Vows. If we can all base ourselves on the Four Vast Vows, we will soon realize Buddhahood. If you cultivate according to the Four Vast Vows, you will quickly become a Buddha.
Therefore, when we cultivate the Tao, we should not seek in lofty or faraway places. If you can see through and put down what is right before your eyes, you will be free and at ease wherever you are. But if you cannot see through things and put them down, then you will not be free no matter where you go. (Gwo Syang: Shr Fu! There's a dragon in the sky. The dragon's head is right behind you.) Oh! Howard, hurry and go chase after the dragon! Ha! (Gwo Syang: There's a big pearl by the dragon's head.)
(Editor's Note: This was the 16th of the third lunar month, the birthday of the Venerable Master. The Venerable Master had lunch with the assembly in the garden of the monastery. After the Venerable Master had finished giving a talk, Upasika Gwo Syang discovered that in the originally cloudless sky, a gigantic dragon had appeared, stretching across the whole sky. The dragon's tail was in the northwest, and the head faced the southeast, in the direction of the Venerable Master's Dharma-seat. The dragon head was very clearly discernible, and there was also a colored pearl in front of its mouth. After ten minutes, it began to fade away. Then a slightly smaller, white flying phoenix appeared to the west. Seeing these auspicious omens of the flying dragon and phoenix appear in the sky on the Venerable Master's birthday, the disciples who had come from all directions received the benefit of the Master's virtue. )