NA MO SA DAN TUO SU QIE DUO YE E LA HE DI SAN MIAO SAN PU TUO XIE
All Good and Wise Advisors!
Today you have asked Hsuan Hua to speak the Dharma for everyone. However, Hsuan Hua not only doesn’t know how to speak the Dharma, he doesn’t even know how to speak. But since everyone is so sincere in asking me to speak the Dharma, especially these young students, I am obliged to speak even though I do not know how to speak. What shall I say? Why do I say that I do not know how to speak?
Let me explain. It is because I only speak the truth, and no one in this world likes to hear the truth. Everyone likes to hear phony talk and words of praise. I don’t even know how to begin speaking hypocritical flattery! Therefore, you should all be psychologically prepared. Don’t wait until I say something unpleasant and then decide you don’t want to listen. Be psychologically prepared, so that no matter if I speak in accord with the Dharma or not, you are especially careful not to take a loss. This is what I want to tell you in advance.
Do you all understand what I said? [Assembly: “Yes.”] So you all understand me even though I don’t know how to speak? Isn’t that strange? [Applause] So we will not translate to Taiwanese or English, in order to save time. Is that all right? [“Yes!” Applause]
What I want to say is, “Too much happiness leads to sorrow.” If you become extremely happy, you will feel sad afterwards. Whether or not you believe this principle, that is what I say. I say what I feel like saying regardless of whether people believe it or not. This is what I will say even if you consider me someone who doesn’t know how to speak. I haven’t come here just to flatter you with words of praise. I know that all of you who share the same vows, whether you are elderly, middle-aged, or young, have heard a lot of that kind of talk. Now I’ll give you something that tastes different and say some things that you don’t like to hear. I will tell you not to pursue happiness.
What is happiness? True happiness is not worldly happiness. Rather, it is a happiness that is always present in your own mind, which you need not look for outside. If you seek outside, you won’t find the ultimate happiness. If you want the ultimate happiness, you must have considerable cultivation, considerable learning, and considerable attainment. Only then will there be peace and joy in your own nature, which is the real happiness. If you seek for happiness outside, you may attain it, but it will only last for a moment. If you fail to attain it, you will be full of afflictions. If you are insatiably greedy, you worry about getting things, and then you worry about losing them. None of this is true happiness. True happiness comes from not seeking anything. When you reach the state of seeking nothing, you have no worries. Seeking nothing, you have true happiness, and your nature is stable and tranquil.
You can search outside all you want, but you won’t find true happiness anywhere. The enjoyment we pursue in this world—eating, drinking, making merry, driving an expensive car, owning a plane, or buying a ship and taking a cruise—is this happiness? This is just wasting your energy and wasting your wisdom. True wisdom cannot be found in these external things. True joy comes from being carefree and happy. We all have this within us, and we need not search outside for it. But people always seek outside themselves, and end up cheating, flattering, and fighting one another in order to obtain an artificial happiness. The Buddha said such people are to be pitied. They are lamentable. So do not forsake what is fundamental to pursue the superficial. Do not act in an up-side down way. What I’ve just said is something no one likes to hear.
What do I call happiness? Not fighting is happiness. Not being greedy is happiness. Seeking nothing is happiness. Not being selfish is happiness. Not wanting to benefit yourself is happiness even more. Not telling lies—that’s true happiness. If you lie, you will feel remorse in your heart because you know you have deceived someone, and there will be a stain on your conscience. If you are a person with no conscience, that’s another story. People’s minds are not the way they were in ancient times; morality has perished; and the world deteriorates day by day. In this situation, we must quickly awaken. How can we awaken? If we are students, we should apply ourselves diligently, studying in the morning and in the evening. In the past, Zhong Ni (Confucius) took Xiang Tuo as his teacher. We must pursue our studies as earnestly as the woodcutter who put his book on a log he was hauling, the oxherd who hung his book from the horn of the ox he was riding, the student who studied at night by the light of fireflies collected in a pouch, or the boy who read by the moonlight reflected off the snow. Only then can we be considered true students. We should not just seek ease and comfort all day long and enjoy ourselves instead of studying. That is not happiness.
Now I want to tell you something that you may not be aware of yet. In the United States, and in the West generally, education is totally bankrupt. However, like the person who plugs his ears and steals a bell thinking that other people will not hear the bell, they claim that their educational system can still manage. Why do I say that Western education is bankrupt? Because Western educators have discarded the ethics of human relationships. Parents and children do not know their place, and the old and the young do not know their roles. In the West, children do not address their father as “Father.” Instead, they call their fathers by name. The order between elders and the young, and between superiors and subordinates, has been messed up.
Broken families are widespread; ninety-nine percent of the marriages in America end in divorce. If the children live with their father, all day long they hear him rant about how terrible their mother was. “If she hadn’t been so bad, I wouldn’t have divorced her,” the father tells them. The children think, “Oh, how awful my mother is! How I hate women!” So you see, those children end up hating women. If the children live with their mother, she keeps telling them how awful their father was. “That’s why I divorced him,” she says. The children end up hating their father. They get annoyed whenever they see a man, because they think every man must be that terrible.
Think it over. As a result of their parents’ divorce, the children learn to hate men or women and grow up to become troubled teenagers. If they hate their father, they will want to murder any man they see, finishing him off with one shot. If they hate women, they will want to shoot women. They see women as thorns in the flesh. Under these circumstances, how can the society function well? It is rotten at the core. Nevertheless, Americans have not yet realized the seriousness of this problem. They still think, “Our country is so rich in natural resources and material goods, and doesn’t lack anything. This is a good country.” They do not realize that it is already rotten inside, just like a tree whose trunk is rotten and whose roots are gone. This problem is caused by divorce. After a man and a woman get married, they are almost certain to get divorced, because they will get tired of each other and want to find new partners. The new partners turn out to be worse than the original ones, and the more they do this, the more of a mess it becomes. As a result, there are troubled children and broken families. This is because the five kinds of human relationships and the eight virtues are no longer functioning. Chinese people should not think that Western culture is so great, for it has become bankrupt at the very roots.
Furthermore, even if a couple stays married and does not get divorced, the man will find a lover and the woman will also get a lover, out of revenge. They become dissatisfied with each other and mutually want to take revenge. They disturb the family until it breaks up and is no longer a real family. That’s what happens if they don’t get divorced. There are still some people who understand principle and do not get divorced or find lovers, but they are in the minority. The vast majority of the people are constantly getting divorced.
It seems to me that Chinese people are also picking up this trend. That’s why I want to speak about the importance of the fundamentals of being a human being. We should quickly awaken from our confused dream. Don’t dream about the West anymore. I used to think the West—the United States of America—was really great. But when I got there, I found out—I’ll tell you the truth, and I’m not afraid if the Americans here oppose me—I think they are very stupid. What do you think? Did you hear about this trend in the United States before?
The Dharma Assembly at the Taipei Institute of Industrial Technology