南無薩怛他 蘇伽多耶 阿囉訶帝 三藐三菩陀寫（三遍）
往往我們學佛，學來學去還有一種貢高我慢，有一種唯我獨尊的思想，覺得我比旁人都好，覺得旁人都不如我。那麼一天到晚執著這個我，一天一天的就過去了，想不到啊，要修行一定要慈心下氣，恭敬一切。慈心，對誰都有慈悲心；下氣，就沒有貢高我慢了，沒有我的執著，沒有人的執著，沒有眾生的執著，沒有壽者的執著，把這一切執著都破了，這才能實行菩薩道，就 Bodhisattva 所行的道路。在《法華經》常不輕菩薩是我們每一個人最好的修行榜樣。他怎樣呢？他見到一切的眾生，就先給眾生頂禮，心裡就想了，說我不敢輕視你等，你等皆當作佛，在未來的時候，你們都會成佛，所以我不敢輕視你；也本著「是男子皆是我父，是女子皆是我母」這種精神。他這樣頂禮不要緊，能折服自己的貢高我慢，一切的執著─也不執著我比人家好，也不執著人人都不如我。他看一切眾生皆當作佛，以這種的心量來行道；可是行道，行來行去，逆境就發生了，就著了魔了。什麼魔呢？遇到這個不講理的外道了。這個外道就說，「你給我授虛妄的記，這是不對的。」於是乎先就駡他，駡他，他也不怕，他還給他們叩頭；以後這個外道看他可欺負了，就打他，拳踢腳打，打得他痛了，就不在人的面前來叩頭了，他離這個人一百多步遠，就給這個人叩頭，見到什麼人，離得遠遠的就給這個人叩頭。叩頭就說，我不敢輕視你等，你等皆當作佛，這麼想念完了之後，起身就跑。為什麼他跑？他就怕這個人，又來追著他打，所以行菩薩道就這麼樣困苦艱難。我們行菩薩道，我相信也沒有像常不輕菩薩這樣的行門，這樣的去做去。人家說一句不好，也受不了了，不要說打，說一句受不了的話，就難過到極點。這是我們凡夫修行，和聖人的修行迴然不同的地方。
Ven. Master Hua's Talk at International Translation Institute, Burlingame on May 9, 1993.
Na mwo sa dan two su chye dwo ye e la he di san myau san pu two sye (3x)
Learning Dharma is more important than making money
We should strive to get ahead and fear to fall behind in our study of the Dharma. Take studying Buddhism as more important than making money. We make money to support our physical life, but we study Buddhism to nurture our wisdom-life, increase our wisdom. If we can nurture our Dharma-body and wisdom-life and make them strong and healthy, this is a million times better than making a lot of money. But the problem with us people is that we overlook the roots and go searching for the branchtips. That's to say, we make cultivation our second priority, and we take making money as number one. If we can use the money we make to support our Dharma-body and wisdom-life, and our study of Buddhism, then we truly understand how to be a person. If we only know how to pursue riches everyday, and forget all about our Dharma-body and wisdom-life, we have really renounced the root and gone after the branchtips. We've overlooked what is fundamental in pursuit of the superficial. So it's important to get our goals straight. We should regard money as a simply a support for the nurturing of our Dharma-body and wisdom-life. It is said that without money we cannot cultivate, so we need to use worldly money to support our cultivation of the Dharma-body and wisdom-life. If you can see it that way, then your books will balance correctly, and you will truly understand how to renounce the branchtips and return to nurture the root, which is your Dharma-body and wisdom-life.
Therefore, each one of you should study a Sutra that you like. Study it until you are able to recite it from memory at any time and place, without having to look at the book. Then it will not be that the Sutra is the Sutra and I am me. Rather, the thing to do is to take me and the Sutra, the Buddhadharma, and make them one and the same. Then what we cultivate everyday, and what we pay attention to, is just the Buddhadharma. People who are educated should investigate the
Flower Adornment Sutra, the Dharma Flower Sutra, and the
Shurangama Sutra. That's why when I came to America, I made it my first Job to lecture on the
Shurangama Sutra. When that was finished, I continued to explain the
Sixth Patriarch's Sutra, the Vajra Sutra, the
Amitabha Sutra, and so forth, and then the Dharma Flower Sutra, and finally the
Flower Adornment Sutra. Studying the Shurangama Sutra is for opening our wisdom, and the studying the
Dharma Flower Sutra is for realizing Buddhahood. It is said, "Wisdom is the Shurangama, and Buddhahood is the Dharma Flower." As for the
Flower Adornment Sutra, it's said, "There is no one who does not flow forth from the Dharma Realm, and no one who does not return to the Dharma Realm." By choosing the Sutra which we take delight in, we are matching our potentials. When our potentials are met, we should continue studying. Don't just be concerned about making money all day long, and forget all about the Dharma. In studying the Dharma, we have to know how to use it. We have to put it into practice ourselves. This is the way we begin to study the Buddhadharma.
In cultivating, we must be kind and humble
Often it's the case that we study Buddhism more and more, and then we get arrogant. We feel that "Only I alone am honored. I'm much better than other people. Nobody measures up to me." From morning to night, we are attached to the self, and time passes day by day. It doesn't occur to us that cultivation requires that we be compassionate and humble. We should be respectful, kind and compassionate to everyone. Humble means we cannot be proud. We cannot have attachments to self, attachments to others, attachments to thoughts of living beings, and attachments to thoughts of beings that have lifespans. Only when all such attachments are broken through can we truly cultivate the Bodhisattva Path. In the
Dharma Flower Sutra, we hear about Never-Slighting Bodhisattva. He is our best model for cultivation. What is he like? When he sees any living being, he bows to him right away, and in his mind he thinks, "I don't dare slight you because you will become a Buddha in the future." He says, "I don't dare to have a thought of slighting you, because all of you will become Buddhas in the future. Furthermore, he has this thought: "This man has been my father, and this woman has been my mother." Now the bowing that he does is just fine. It can subdue our arrogance and all our attachments, so that we no longer attached to the thought that we are better than others and others are not as good as we are. He sees all living beings as future Buddhas. That's the measure of the mind that he uses to cultivate the Path. But after he cultivated for awhile, he found himself in adversity, and confronted a demon. What was it? He met a member of a non-ultimate religion who said, "What are you giving me this phony prediction for? That's wrong." And so he scolded him, but Never-Slighting Bodhisattva was not afraid and continued to bow to him. Seeing that he could abuse Never-Slighting Bodhisattva, the cultivator from the other religion started to hit him and kick him. After being hurt like that, Never-Slighting Bodhisattva never bowed right in front of people again. He would bow a hundred steps away. While bowing to someone from afar, he would say, "I don't dare to slight you, because you're going to be a Buddha someday in the future." But as soon as he bowed and made his contemplation, he would stand up and run away. Why? Well, he was afraid that if he stayed around, he would be chased and beaten again. So practicing the Bodhisattva Path is really not that easy to do. When it comes to practicing the Bodhisattva Path, I don't think any one of us is up to the level of Never-Slighting Bodhisattva. If someone says the slightest bad word to us, we simply cannot take it, how much the less if somebody came around to hit us. If someone just says one unpleasant thing to us, we feel terrible. This is the radical difference between the cultivation of ordinary people and that of sages.
There is still a half hour left. If
anyone has a question, you can ask it. Ask simple questions,
because I don't know how to answer deep questions. But only
ask what you don't understand. Don't come here to show off.
My name is Joseph Wong, and I would like to ask the Master, why do Bodhisattvas make vows not to become Buddhas until their vows are accomplished? (Laughter)
Ven. Master: That's not a Bodhisattva, that's a ghost. The ghost has fallen into the three paths of suffering, and so he doesn't get to become a Buddha quite so quickly. It's a little slower for him. He's a lot like me in that regard. Why do I say that I'm a ghost? I'm sure you don't believe it, because I look like a person. It's because I have saved some ghosts, and they pulled me down into the hells. And when I wanted to come out of the hells, there was no one to pull me up, so I just roamed around and took a tour of the hells. I saw a lot of my old ghost friends down there suffering so much, so I thought I would wait for these hungry ghosts to become Buddhas first, before I become a Buddha. Now I don't dare compare myself to Earth Treasury Bodhisattva, whose vows are that he won't become a Buddha until the hells are empty. My vow is that as long are there is a single ghost, I will not become a Buddha. Now, this is speaking for the present. What happens to them in the future is not something I'm going to pay much attention to! (Laughter) That's another time.