The police will come to take me to
Venerable Master: Because Guo Jin
didn’t come, you translate, Guo Ning. Ask that girl whether she is a
man or a woman.
Girl: I’m female.
Venerable Master: Why did you shave
Girl: Because I’m a Buddhist.
Venerable Master: Are you a
layperson or ordained?
Girl: I’m a layperson.
Venerable Master: Since laypeople
generally have hair, why did you shave yours off? Who told you to shave
Girl: I did.
Venerable Master: Have you realized
the fruition of the Way?
Girl: I don’t know what that is.
Venerable Master: To realize the
fruition is to have control over your own birth and death. You can be
born or die at will, but you don’t die by committing suicide. [silence]
Why aren’t you answering?
Girl: Because I’m trying to think
of what to say. If I say yes, then you will tell me to die.
Venerable Master: This dying is not
a case of me telling you to do so, but something one just does on one’s
own. If I told you to die and you did, then I would have broken the
law, and the police would come to take me to jail. Have you seen other
Buddhist laypeople shave their heads, especially women?
Venerable Master: Then why do you
want to be the first?
Girl: It’s an offering to the Buddha.
Venerable Master: Where is the
Venerable Master: If the Buddha is
everywhere, then which one are you making an offering to?
Girl: The one where I am.
Venerable Master: How long is your
Girl: It’s no length.
Venerable Master: Shakyamuni Buddha
in a previous life spread out his hair to cover the mud, enabling
Dipankara Buddha to walk on his hair. He used that to make an offering
to the Buddha. If you were to encounter such a situation now, what
would you use as an offering to the Buddha? [Everyone laughs.]
Girl: Oh, I would lie down.
Venerable Master: What if he crushed
you to death?
Girl: That would be all right.
Venerable Master: This is not just
Girl: I’m not.
Venerable Master: Where do you live
Girl: I’m going to be living in an
Venerable Master: I’m not asking
about tomorrow. I’m asking about yesterday and today.
Girl: Yesterday I stayed with a
friend who is a Zen student. Before, I had a room in an apartment.
Venerable Master: Have you been
living with hippies?
Venerable Master: What was the point
of shaving your head yourself?
Girl: Like I said, it was an
offering to Buddha.
Venerable Master: Where is the hair
you shaved off now?
Girl: I don’t know.
Venerable Master: If you don’t know,
then what are you using as an offering to the Buddha?
Girl: That’s not the offering. It’s
using not having hair as an offering.
Venerable Master: Hmm. Using not
having hair as an offering? What is the difference between having hair
and not having hair?
Venerable Master: Then why did you
want to shave off your hair as an offering to the Buddha?
Girl: Why not?
Venerable Master: Because in
Buddhism it is important to have the appropriate style. It would be all
right if you were a left-home person. But you yourself admit that you
are still a layperson. Since you are a layperson, and all the laypeople
especially women, have hair, why do you want to be different? Are you
trying to be unusual, not like other people?
Venerable Master: Do you want to be
a lay Bhikshuni?
Girl: I don’t mind.
Venerable Master: You can’t be a
lay Bhikshuni, but you can still be a lay Buddhist. However, it would
be better for you to let your hair grow out. Okay?
What we’ve been talking about reminds me of
something that happened in the past. What took place is very clear. It
could have happened yesterday, or last year, or two years, three years,
four years, five or six years ago, or even a hundred years ago--that
part is indistinct. At the time, I had some dictionaries, but not
single-language dictionaries. They had English, Chinese, Sanskrit,
French, Spanish, Portuguese and German--probably that many languages.
Those dictionaries were like precious jewels to me. However, some of my
fellow students didn’t have those dictionaries, and when they saw me
consulting my dictionaries, their faces would drop, and they would even
shed tears. I don’t know if it was from jealousy or admiration or what.
The first day I didn’t think anything of it, nor the next. But by the
third day I began wondering, “What’s wrong with them? Oh! It’s because
they don’t have dictionaries.” From that point on, I no longer wanted
the dictionaries—which were like precious treasures—for myself. I gave
them away for everyone to use. After that, I no longer needed to look
words up in the dictionary to know what they meant. I recognized them
without a dictionary. I myself didn’t know why, and I still don’t.
I also remember something else that happened to
me. I realized that each person wants to be better than everyone else,
smarter and wiser. At that time I made a peculiar vow. What was it?
None of you knows. I vowed that I wanted to be more stupid than anybody
else, to give away all the wisdom which I was supposed to have as a
gift to all people. I wanted to be stupider than any person, more
stupid than any living being. After I made that vow, I did in fact
become stupid. Stupid to what point? If I had money, I wanted to give
it away so others could use it, as well as any other possessions I had.
Not only did I give away dictionaries, I even gave away my body, mind,
and life. That was what I did in the past, and now I don’t know if I
recalled this in a dream, or while eating or sleeping, that probably
such a thing took place. This is true, actual, and not false.
[To the young laywoman] Don’t believe your own
mind. Because you have not certified to the Fruition, you cannot
believe your own ideas. That’s from the Buddha. The Buddha said, “Be
careful not to believe your own mind. Your mind is not trustworthy. It
is only after you certify to the Fourth Stage of Arhatship that you can
trust your own mind.” Once you have achieved certification to the
Fourth Fruition of Arhatship and have ended birth and death, then you
can believe your own ideas, trust your own opinions and understandings.
Beginning of Emptiness-Ruling Spirit
Spirit named Far-Reaching Wondrous Sound obtained the liberation door
of light of wisdom to see universally throughout the ten directions.
Venerable Master: Last night’s
Five Coverings are still covering us. Today we need to remove the
coverings, take them off. Whoever can take off the coverings will
achieve freedom and ease, but anyone unwilling to remove them will not
be free and at ease. If you want to remove the coverings, then speak up
Heng Shou: The first is desire, the
second is anger, the third is drowsiness, the fouth is restlessness,
and the fifth is doubt. Yesterday’s explanation was a little incorrect.
Venerable Master: What do you think
about what he said? Was is right or not? [discussion] That’s from the
Heng Shou: It’s from the Discussion
of Great Vehicle Doctrines, not a dictionary.
Venerable Master: Oh, it wasn’t a
Heng Shou: No, it was the Discussion
of Great Vehicle Doctrines.
Venerable Master: So you didn’t use
the dictionary I gave you?
Heng Shou: No, I couldn’t. It was
too big. It’s all I can do to handle English.
Venerable Master: Great Master
Yongjia said, “It’s not that I, the mountain monk, presume there is
self and others, but in cultivation one must be careful not to fall
into the pit of annihilationism and permanence.” Since we are currently
lecturing the Sutra, we have to make it understood and investigate it
thoroughly. If everyone really understands it, then we will not have
wasted our time. However, if you remain silent when you don’t
understand, and also remain silent when you do understand, then only
you yourself know ultimately whether you understand or not, and no one
else knows. In that case, it’s very easy for fish eyes to pass for
pearls. Hence there is a certain amount of difference between the way
we are lecturing Sutras and the way it is/was done in China. Here,
everyone has the right to speak. There is freedom of speech, and no
matter who lectures incorrectly, any of you can raise the issue for
investigation. Don’t hesitate or say you don’t dare talk. Even if I’m
the one who says something wrong or explains a principle incorrectly,
any one of you can bring it up for discussion. Therefore we are equal,
and you should not view things in terms of rank. Don’t have the outlook
of there being a Master and disciples.
When it’s a matter of theory, of principle, no one
should be allowed to bluff his or her way through. You have to
investigate honestly. Consequently, Great Master Yongjia also said, “If
you have doubts that are unresolved,” then you should ask about them.
If you wonder about something or don’t understand something, you can
ask about it. “If you have doubts that are unresolved, you must
directly attack.” We need to attach. It’s not okay not to attack. What
must be attacked? We should attack the truth. We absolutely have to
work together to make the truth emerge. It’s not for certain that the
way I see things is entirely complete. The group as a whole is a Sage.
We should pool our collective wisdom. You think of things I didn’t
think of, and someone else thinks of something you didn’t think of.
Then we put it all together. That’s known as the collective mind being
the Buddha’s mind, and the theories of the group being the theories of
the Buddha. We should all speak up without formalities of politeness
and bring the truth to light together.
To be continued