Don't Solicit Offerings Everywhere
In the Dharma Ending Age, all people are infected by thoughts of greed. It's become a serious matter now. Left- home people are prone to greed, and lay people are even more so. Because of greed, left-home people beg for gifts and offerings everywhere they go. They do it to the point whenever a lay person sees a left-home person coming, he gets scared and runs away, just as if he had seen a monster or a ghost. The resourceful left-home person, however, has many effective ways to handle the lay person who tries to escape. Even though he has run far away, the left-home person will catch him and pursue his affinities. People in the Dharma Ending Age are quite prone to creating this serious problem.
Cultivators of the Way, in the past, those who lived in the mountains and the wilderness, did not want to see anybody, and would seek for nothing. They led a simple lives in the mountains, planting some vegetables for food, and as long as they don't starve to death again this year, that was fine. A true cultivator would never beg for alms everywhere he goes. It's not only men who go begging nowadays, but also the women, who are seeking for things. What kind of a world has this place become! It really surpasses my understanding! At every hand, people are climbing upon conditions, begging for alms, and seeking for affinities.
When I came to the United States, I knew what was happening and wanted to change things. So my principles were,
"Freezing to death, we do not scheme.
Starving to death, we do not beg.
Dying in poverty, we ask for nothing.
We accord with the conditions, but never waver;
We remain steadfast, yet accord with every situation;
These are our three great principles.
We dedicate our lives to do the Buddhas' work.
We forge our lives as our basic duty.
We rectify our lives to fulfill the Sanghan's role.
We express our ideals within our daily affairs,
So that within our daily affairs, our ideals shine forth.
In this way we continue unbroken the legacy of the
Patriarch's mind. "
These are the Three Great Principles and this is how I propagated the Dharma.
The Spirit of the Sagely City
But how many of you people at the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas really understand the Three Principles, which is the lineage of the Patriarch's mind, and our Six Rules: no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuing self-benefit, and no lying? How many people here at the City really understand these things, and really put them into practice? Not to speak of actually practicing them, how many of you remember the names of these simple Dharmas? You all have forgotten them. And if you don't remember them, what are you doing here, after such a long time? You could say, "I am here learning how to eat one meal a day." You don't need to study to learn that. You could say "I am learning how to wear my precept robe." Well, that's another thing you don't need to study. If you want to have the qualifications to live here, you have to be at least familiar with and able to memorize these Three Principles, which is the lineage of the Patriarch's mind, and the Six Rules which you must understand thoroughly. If you don't understand these teachings, and you are simply passing the time away, then what value is there in your living here? So that is one point I want to make.
People who live at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas have to pay attention to the Three Principles, the Lineage of the Patriarch's mind, and to the Six Rules. This is the bottom line, the minimum requirement that everyone must put into practice and pay attention to. And if time permits, you should memorize the Shurangama Sutra, the Dharma Flower Sutra, and the Flower Adornment Sutra. If anyone of you can recite them all, then you are really a cultivator at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. You are qualified to be a member at the City, a member among the Ten Thousand Buddhas. Let's ask ourselves which one here has memorized them well? Someone is saying, "Venerable Master, you have never told us to do this; how would we know?" Do I have to tell you to do this? At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, if you want to bring the ten thousand Buddhas to accomplishment, then you must have first completed the requirements, which need not be taught. Who taught the Buddha back in his time? Therefore, all of us must courageously advance and bring forth a Bodhi mind. Some residents here lived at the City, but then left after a while; some went to exploit their environment, here and there. Some returned to lay life, too. Driven by their desires, these people couldn't bear it anymore and left the Sangha. Some tried to get rich because of a desire for wealth; some went to chase women out of a desire for sex. Some women went back to lay life, because of men. Such people can't see through or let go of any of these things, thus they went back to lay life.
The Dregs of Buddhism
What's more, there are people who before they came here, claimed that they admired the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, how they respected the cultivation at the City. They also announced that they followed the rule at the City to eat only one meal a day. They are putting on airs, but are they really eating one meal a day? Or are they simply advertising for themselves that way. Even if they really do eat one meal a day, there is no need to tell people about it. Once they tell the public, there must be something goes wrong. You may advertise that you are like the cultivators at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas who eat only one meal a day. Yet who knows whether or not you are eating food on the sly? Will they tell you if they steal food?
You also put on an act by wearing the precept sash, to show off that you are someone from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. This way you announce to the world, "I have been to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. I learned such and such a Dharma there. So and so at the City generated my internal energy, and when I caught on, I was able to understand the mind and see the self-nature and I became enlightened." Why would he say so, if he wasn't trying to cheat people? I wouldn't buy his story in any case. I don't know how to generate my energy, or how to pull it back. How could I accept such flattery? With his eyes staring wide open, he was telling a bold lie that he had gotten some kind of responses. He said "Gwan Yin Bodhisattva instructed me, Earth Store Bodhisattva told me something, Manjusri Bodhisattva rubbed my head, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva blessed me. So I have spiritual ability, I can do such and such, and I want to go all over the place to take people across." Actually, if you go everywhere to take people across, can you claim to have crossed yourself over? You still have thoughts of greed, of fighting, of selfishness, of self-benefit, and of seeking. You are creating false speech and bragging about yourself, day after day. How can you have this response and that response? I don't believe that anyone who really has had a spiritual response would make it known to others, or advertise himself . He wouldn't want anybody to know at all. What is the point of spreading such news? If you tell a stupid person, he will believe whatever you say. If you tell an intelligent person, he wouldn't believe you in any case. All of you should pay attention to this point.
Anyone who praises himself and disparages others or feels arrogant, to the point he thinks he is superior to everyone else, is already finished. He is the dregs of Buddhism. What does that mean? The dregs of Buddhism refers to people who are arrogant, full of self-praise and slander of others, people who are jealous and who obstruct others. They are devils who want to cause Buddha-Dharma to disappear more quickly. There is no way such types could ever get close to the borders of the Proper Dharma.
No true cultivator will try to be special or try to startle the world with some kind of outrageous, deceitful ideas. It would never happen. A real cultivator always conceals himself and never shows off. Why would he publicize himself? Why do you want people to believe in you? Do you people who have come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas really want to know the spirit of the City? Can you fulfill it? The spirit of the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is the Three Principles, the Lineage of the Patriarch's mind and the Six Rules. Anyone of you who has lived in the City, or who newly arrived and want to stay here for a long time, should feel great shame and not lie and boast of your accomplishments like others do who live outside of the City.
Money Obstructs Cultivation
I said that left-home people crave for affinities and lay people crave for merit and virtue. When they hear that someone is a cultivator, they make offerings to him. Or, if they hear that someone is recognized as cultivating the Way seriously and sincerely, without laxness, lay people will hurriedly go and venerate him and make donations. Before he received their offerings, this left-home person may have been okay; he actually cultivated the Way. After he received the offerings and became rich he was capable of doing anything. What was he suddenly able to do? He could do every bad thing there was to do, extravagantly, in a dissipated and dissolute way: he drank, ate, gambled, and made merry. He didn't have to put forth any effort, because he used the money you lay people donated. If he had not spent it all recklessly, that would really have been a mistake. You see, your donations stuffed this cultivator's stomach full of deviant knowledge and views, and he could not cultivate any longer. Would you say that you have created more merit and virtue or more offenses? So after he died and fell into the hells, he went to King Yama to file a law suit. King Yama said to him, "What right do you have to sue anybody? You have been frequenting brothels, gambling and drinking. You deserve to fall into hell." He said, "At first I was not leading this kind of life as a left-home person. I cultivated the Way properly; however, some ignorant lay men and women came to make offerings to me. When I had so much money that there was nothing I could not do. All because of them, I was able to commit these offenses. Now I have fallen into hell, and by rights, they should be here, too." King Yama answered, "I cant do that." "King Yama, you are unfair. Obviously, they are the ones who have sent me here. How come don't have any blame, and only I am guilty? I won't accept this. I request an appeal." he says.
To be continued