親下跪，我為什麼要給師父磕頭？」就在那個星期天 師父在Mission College（米慎學
When we set eyes upon him, our hearts palpitate
And all our bad habits and faults flee.
If we don’t cultivate diligently,
Then the karma of many past eons will manifest
And it will be difficult to enter the Way.
Becoming a Buddha is the most difficult of difficult things.
The teacher leads us in the door,
But we ourselves must cultivate.
It’s through our own mind that we become Buddhas
It’s also because of our mind that we fall.
The myriad dharmas are made from the mind.
I remember when I went to the Sagely City of Ten
Thousand Buddhas for the first time in May of 1987 (that was my first
contact with Buddhism and the first time I saw the Venerable Master),
the instant my eyes met the gaze of the Venerable Master, I felt as if
my heart had been dealt a heavy blow. I was both startled and
frightened. It was as if all the mistakes and wrong deeds I had done in
the past were presented before the Venerable Master. I didn’t have any
chance to hide. All of my personal habits and faults sprang forth from
my body in a rush. When I got home, of my own initiative I told my wife
that I would never drink alcoholic beverages again. Given my fondness
for drinking and my habit of wine-tasting, which I would never have
given up before, I couldn’t imagine why such a change had taken place
Later on, I had opportunities to draw near the
Venerable Master and receive the Master’s teachings. It was then that I
began to perceive that the Venerable Master’s awesome virtue exhausted
the bounds of empty space and pervaded the Dharma Realm. When ordinary
people face the Venerable Master’s gaze, it is like facing a
demon-spotting mirror. We lack proper views and proper knowledge and do
not know the direction of the proper path. Whether we are moving or
still, sleeping or awake, interacting with people or handling affairs,
we are never apart from our bad habits and faults. The Venerable Master
points out each of our problems, constantly telling and reminding us. I
recall the Venerable Master often saying, “Why are some people afraid
of me? Because they have ghosts in their hearts. Since they themselves
are ashamed, they are afraid of me.”
Temper is like Mount Sumeru.
Attachment to self is an impediment to the Way.
If these things are discarded
So that they vanish into thin air,
Then as easily as opening a door, one sees the Western land.
In one step, one enters the Buddha country.
A bad temper causes people to give rise to
afflictions. Before I met the Venerable Master, my temper was as high
and as great as Mount Sumeru. I would lose my temper over a trifling
The first time I went to the Sagely City of Ten
Thousand Buddhas to attend the Dharma session, I remember that after
lunch and after the refuge ceremony, the Venerable Master would sit in
the Buddhahall and allow people to bow and make offerings to him,
gathering in people in this way. Because I didn’t understand anything
at the time, I thought to myself, “Why is everyone bowing to the
Venerable Master?” I reluctantly knelt in front of the Master and said,
“I have a very bad temper. How can I change?” The Venerable Master’s
reaction was to shake his head and say, “Have no temper.” Not
understanding the meaning of the Master’s reply, I stupidly knelt in
front of him for several more minutes before leaving. After I got home,
I discussed it with my wife. My wife said that the Venerable Master’s
meaning was, “You should not lose your temper no matter what.” At the
time I said, “How could that be possible?”
However, now I want to say that I will try my very
best to do this. Why? Because afflictions are just Bodhi. Stupidity
represents darkness and wisdom represents light. The Venerable Master
symbolizes light. He leads everyone to leave darkness behind and to
walk towards the light. That’s why he is always reminding everyone not
to lose his or her temper.
If one cannot get rid of the five desires,
Then the six sense faculties, six sense objects,
and six consciousnesses appear.
With false thoughts and attachments,
One is made stupid and cannot see the nature.
If one can cast off attachments,
Then one will be at ease.
If one wishes to go to the Land of Ultimate Bliss,
What need is there to worry that one cannot reach it?
Before I became a Buddhist, I was a music lover.
During high school and college, I liked to play music, and my favorite
kind of music was rock-n-roll (demonic music). I especially enjoyed
playing the guitar. Even after I took refuge with the Venerable Master,
I couldn’t give up the guitar—I would still play it occasionally.
I remember once, the night before we were going to
the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to participate in a Dharma
session, after I had finished evening recitation, I had an urge to play
the guitar. Just as I was intoxicated by the guitar’s music, my wife
reminded me, “We’ve already taken refuge with the Venerable Master. You
should concentrate on cultivation and not be playing the guitar.” At
the time I felt as indignant and angry as a little kid who is playing
with his favorite toy when it is suddenly confiscated by an adult. So I
flung the guitar at the dresser and retorted angrily, “I won’t play it
anymore in the future. If it gets broken, I won’t be able to play it
anyway.” I had completely lost my sense of reason.
The next day we went to take part in the Dharma
session at the Sagely City. Before the noon meal, I went into the
dining hall to check the sound system as usual. Suddenly the Venerable
Master appeared in front of me and said to me with a kind smile, “Sam
Jing, please help me carry something.” I very reverently followed the
Master to a small room in the back of the dining hall. The Master
opened up a cabinet and said, “This is it.” I was shocked to see a
guitar lying in the cabinet. I was scared out of my wits, to put it
mildly. The Venerable Master said, “A certain Dharma Master used to be
very attached to his guitar, so five years ago I took it away from him.
Now he understands the principles, so I am going to return it to him.
He can use it in activities that are beneficial to students.
This incident shows that the Venerable Master’s
Dharma body is constantly with us. Every time we make a mistake, the
Venerable Master sees it clearly down to the last detail. In the course
of cultivation, the Venerable Master also uses different methods to
instruct and teach his disciples according to their individual
dispositions. He wants us to see through and renounce the five desires
and not let ourselves be turned by the six sense faculties, six sense
objects, and six consciousnesses anymore. If we can successfully put
them down and not cling to them, then we will be at ease and free of
impediments. According to our vows, in no time we will certainly be
born in the Pure Land.
Arrogance and self-conceit
Are absolute taboos in cultivation.
They cause you to cut off your own good roots
And refuse to listen to good advice from others.
You will not be able to develop proper views,
Nor enter the proper path.
Such cultivators will certainly end up
Next door to the demons.
Once when the Venerable Master was instructing us,
he described people with big egos as being “stinky” [in Chinese, the
character for “stinky” is composed of the characters for “self” and
“big”] and therefore repulsive to others. On the other hand, the
Buddha’s kindness and compassion makes everyone want to draw near him.
In the course of cultivation, an inflated ego and self-conceit are the
greatest impediments to practicing the Way.
Before I took refuge in 1987, I remember saying
to my mother-in-law at home, “I don’t think there’s any need for me to
kneel in front of anyone else. I don’t even kneel in front of my
parents, so why should I bow to the Venerable Master?” That Sunday, the
Venerable Master gave a Dharma talk at Mission College. After the talk
was over, everyone was bowing to the Venerable Master, and I was
deliberating over whether I should go bow or not. Finally, there seemed
to be an invisible force pushing me forward, making me bow before the
Master. The Venerable Master said, “You’re such a tall guy. Aren’t you
afraid you’ll lose face by bowing to me?” I was shocked, thinking, “How
did the Master know what I had said at home?” Later I analyzed the
matter and realized that my unwillingness to kneel and bow was due to
my arrogant character. Because the Venerable Master immediately
instructed, taught, and subdued me, pulling me out of my deluded,
ignorant world and setting me on the proper path, I am where I am
today. If I had been unable to accept his teaching, I would have
continued living with my mistaken notions without ever getting an
opportunity to walk on the proper path of cultivation.
I also remember that during the year of 1988, the
Venerable Master would sit on the sofa in front of the Buddhahall every
Saturday afternoon at Gold Mountain Monastery. On those occasions I had
the opportunity to draw near to the Venerable Master and converse with
him a little bit. I was rather naive, thinking that I had read the
Venerable Master’s books and gained some insight from them. I had
gotten rid of some of my vices—drinking, meat-eating, and gambling—and
smugly thought I was quite pure. So once I asked for instruction from
the Venerable Master, saying, “I don’t have enough samadhi power.” The
Master shook his head and put me off neither gently nor harshly,
saying, “You’re not ready to talk about samadhi yet.” It’s true, I’m
not ready to talk about samadhi, because I haven’t been able to
maintain the precepts strictly yet. So of course I’m not ready to talk
about samadhi. From the Venerable Master’s instruction, I realized that
I still had a lot to learn! The only way to learn would be to seek
instruction humbly. With self-conceit and arrogance, one is like the
shallow and short-sighted frog at the bottom of a well.
I also remember when I accompanied the Venerable
Master to Hualien, Taiwan, to propagate the Dharma in 1989. Before we
went to visit the Mercy Salvation Hospital, the Venerable Master
repeatedly reminded the laypeople that we should be respectful to
Dharma Master Cheng Yen and not be proud or arrogant. The Venerable
Master was always reminding us of the importance of not being arrogant.
Also, in 1988 when I followed the Master to propagate the Dharma at
Wonderful Dharma Monastery in Taoyuan, because there were many visitors
I had to go into the Master’s room to report to him many times. Every
day I was scolded by the Master, but I knew the Master was only testing
me and driving away my arrogance and conceit. These valuable
experiences have told me that if a person cannot be humble and lower
himself, he will not be able to accomplish his work in the Way. If a
person is self-conceited, then even if he were to master the classics
and Sutras, he would still end up in the retinue of demons after all
I was in worry and difficulty.
At a loss for what to do.
My teacher helped me without my knowing,
Bathing me with his kindness.
Only after a long time
Did I learn that this was my teacher’s doing.
In gratitude to my teacher’s grace,
I resolve to follow his teachings.
After graduating from graduate school, I got a job
as an engineer in an electronics company. Before I encountered the
Venerable Master’s teaching, I didn’t understand any principles and
didn’t know how to be a proper human being. I created many bad
conditions with people and constantly lived amidst the afflictions of
self and others, rights and wrongs, without being able to pull myself
out. After I took refuge with the Venerable Master, I still had some
afflictions. My supervisor in the company where I worked often gave me
difficult problems to deal with, and that caused me to think of leaving
the company. However, the job application letters that I mailed out
over several months’ time seemed to have sunk to the bottom of the sea
like stones. At the same time, the company was trying to cut down its
staff. Under this double-sided pressure, I felt extremely miserable.
One Saturday I went to Gold Mountain Monastery and requested to see the
Venerable Master. When I told the Venerable Master my situation, he
said, “Keep trying.” The following week, I had three interviews and
three job offers. I immediately went to Gold Mountain Monastery to bow
to and thank the Venerable Master. The Master said, “No need to thank
me.” I know one thing: As long as a disciple has faith in the Venerable
Master, when he is in difficulty, in a single thought the Venerable
Master will invisibly come to his aid, and after the matter he will not
acknowledge that he did anything, either.
Six years afterwards, I started my own business.
Actually, it was under the Venerable Master’s guidance that the
conditions for starting a business ripened. When the International
Translation Institute first moved to Burlingame, the Venerable Master
said that some furniture would be needed and that if the opportunity
arose, we should purchase some for future use. So I kept my eyes open
for auctions. In purchasing furniture, I discovered some equipment
related to my work, so I could enter that line of business.
When I was an engineer, I often wished I could
have a job that would support my family so I’d have more time to work
for the Way-place. The Venerable Master knew about my wish and guided
me onto that path, allowing me to fulfill my wish.
It was only after I had my business that I
realized all this was made possible by the Venerable Master’s
step-by-step guidance. I will forever remember the kindness the
Venerable Master has bestowed upon me. I venerate the Venerable Master
with all my heart.
Now that the Venerable Master has completed the
stillness, we should more than ever, with the attitude of “taking the
precepts as our teacher,” respectfully practice the Six Great
Principles. Let everyone unite under the Venerable Master’s spiritual
inspiration to make the holy teaching flourish again.