Considering the Sixth Patriarch’s virtuous conduct and Great Master Shenxiu’s cultivation, there should have been no conflict between them. However, their disciples were dissatisfied and tried to stir up all kinds of trouble. This unfortunate mistake hindered the development of Buddhism in China; it became a black stain marring the history of Chinese Buddhism. As it is said, “All good things encounter numerous setbacks.”
Since it was that way in the Tang dynasty, it’s no wonder that today’s Buddhism is rife with power struggles; people praise the religion when they are in it, but defame it when they leave it. In the past, such mutual slandering would happen between Buddhism and other religions, but now it happens right within Buddhism itself. Buddhists wish to destroy one another and cannot get along. In the present Dharma-ending Age, people’s hearts are no longer the way they used to be, morality has been forgotten, and profit is the only thing people care about.
Why do people fight? They care so much for profit, wealth, and power that they have forgotten about morals and mutual respect. This is a very sad thing for Buddhism. We should not be parasites of Buddhism, like the parasites on a lion’s body that feed off the lion’s flesh.
We should learn that:
Having fathomed our own nature and that of others,
We rank as one with Heaven and Earth.
When the mind is as bright as the sun and moon,
It dazzles like the springtime sunshine.
Having fathomed our own nature and that of others: we must fathom people’s natures, fathom our own nature, and fathom the nature of all things. To “fathom the nature” means to understand the principles. If you can fathom the nature, then your life will have a basis. This also refers to the three points mentioned in the Great Learning: “revealing the bright virtue,” “renewing the people,” and “resting in the highest good,” that is, reaching the very best place. To fathom others’ natures means to understand other people; to fathom your own nature means to understand yourself. To fathom the nature of things means to realize that everything in the universe is speaking the Dharma. There is nothing that is not proclaiming the wonderful Dharma! Every move and every word, every grain of sand and every mote of dust is expressing the truth in the primary sense. If you understand this, then “the Patriarch’s intent is found on every blade of grass.” If you don’t, then you think up lots of clever plans that never work. If you understand, then don’t be muddled. It’s not easy for muddled people to understand.
Fighting and competing are habits of worldly people. Cultivators should not forget their sense of honor when they see a chance to gain benefit. They should not turn their backs on the Way. They should not act as they please with no regard for morality, benevolence, and justice. Don’t do to others what you wouldn’t want done to you. Don’t be like the demons, who say, “I must do to others what I wouldn’t want done to myself.” Such a thought is totally improper. We should not go overboard in correcting mistakes, but they say, “We must overcorrect mistakes.” That’s wrong. They are just off by one word, by a hairsbreadth, but it throws them a thousand miles off the mark.
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, we should learn to take losses as much as possible. If someone is rude to you, you should reflect, “I lack the virtue to influence him. I must have been rude to him in the past, so he’s being rude to me now.” You can also think, “He’s my good advisor. He’s going to all this trouble to criticize my faults because he wants me to improve.” Contemplate all people as your good advisors, whether they praise you or criticize you. Don’t compromise your sense of honor in order to exploit situations for your benefit. Don’t go against your conscience and morals and act in confused ways.
We rank as one with Heaven and Earth. That means we unite with Heaven and Earth. Heaven, Earth, and Man are the three forces. When the mind is as bright as the sun and moon, / It dazzles like the springtime sunshine. In the spring, the sun shines on all things and causes them to grow. The mind should be as bright as the sun and moon. It shouldn’t be filled with jealousy, obstructiveness, hatred, and all those foul things.
To be continue