I wrote the four-line verse which you've been using the last few times to request Dharma, in preparation for when Dharma Master Ren Jun came here. It wasn't intended for when I lecture, but for you to use to request Dharma when Dharma Master Ren Jun lectured the Heart Sutra. Although he didn't lecture, you can use it; but the last line is not being chanted well. You do the first three lines well enough, but the sound of the last line should be held longer when you chant: "Transforming the multitudes." The sound should be protracted at the end.
People who are truly cultivating the Way don't talk. This doesn't mean just not talking with women; it means basically not engaging in conversation, even to the point of looking dumb. When I was travelling and cultivating, all day long I kept my eyes closed and didn't look at people. I didn't chat with people. That's the way it should be done. The dharma-door of conversation is useless. The more you respect a cultivator, the less you want to talk with him. You have a competition to see who will talk the least. As soon as someone who understands this principle sees someone who chatters, he will look down on that person. In the past at Gold Mountain Monastery and Gaomin Monastery (in China), you would live next to someone for several years and still not know his name. You stayed side by side, slept next to each other, but years would go by and you wouldn't know each other names, and would never have spoken with each other.
Whenever you go somewhere, even if you clearly know someone is at error, unless they ask you to tell them whether they are right or wrong, you can't "nominate yourself like Mao Sui." You can't say, "I'll tell you how you are wrong." That will not work anywhere. After this, wherever you go, be careful not to find fault with people. Even if you clearly know they are wrong, unless they ask you to instruct them, you cannot criticize them. This is very important.
[The translator asks the meaning of "nominating oneself like Mao Sui."] There was something which weighed a ton, which no one could lift. Mao Sui said, "I can lift it--I'll carry it." Then he went over and lifted it. That's called "nominating oneself like Mao Sui." Mao Sui is the name of a man who lived in ancient China. At the time there was a high official with lots of money, like Kennedy, named Lord Ping Yuan, who regularly supported three thousand people. When something needed to be done, Mao Sui said, "I can do it; I'll take care of it," hence the saying: "Among three thousand there is Mao Sui." Mao Sui said it was something he could do, and so there is the phrase: "nominating oneself like Mao Sui." What is this like? It's similar to Kuo Ch'ien voting for himself in the election for Chairperson of the Sino-American Buddhist Association. That's an example of "nominating oneself like Mao Sui." Do you understand?
Who else would like to speak about "at that time"? Would any of the people who spoke before like to say something more? Kuo I, you should explain "at that time." I think you were attentive whenever you spoke previously.
Kuo I: I was thinking of the time when all the Buddha's disciples were sitting around the Buddha, and he was lecturing Sutras for them. He was speaking the Dharma for them. That's what "at that time" is.
Venerable Master: Kuo Kuei, do you have an opinion?
Kuo Kuei: I have nothing to add to what I heard last night.
Venerable Master: Kuo Hang?
Kuo Hang: I don't know.
Venerable Master: [laughs] Who taught you not to know?
Kuo Hang: I don't know.
Venerable Master: Kuo Yo, you speak.
Kuo Yo: What I wanted to say has already been said several times.
Venerable Master: Your food has already been eaten?
Kuo Yo: Sort of.
Venerable Master: Kuo Jung? What is your opinion?
Kuo Jung: It may be that I don't really understand what the Venerable Master means.
Venerable Master: Can you give a summary?
Kuo Jung: It could be said that "at that time" is the time when the Emptiness-Ruling Spirit named Pure Light Shining Everywhere received the Buddha's awesome might. Because the Sutra text says he received the Buddha's awesome might, therefore he absolutely would not have fallen into the position of giving rise to a second thought, and so he was able to receive the Buddha's awesome strength. Hence if he had fallen into the position of giving rise to second thought, probably it would not be "at that time."
Venerable Master: Kuo Sui, you speak.
Kuo Sui: I missed the previous discussion, and I really don't think I can say anything.
Venerable Master: [to the translator] What about the new person? Last night didn't you say he wanted to talk? Ask him if he has something to say.
Bert (the new person): Considering my very slight knowledge of Bodhi, I could consider that it might be referring to the moment of illumination for any Bodhi.
Venerable Master: Now I'll give you your evaluations: all of you spoke correctly. No one spoke wrong. What I said was also right. Each person who spoke had his or her principles. Therefore, if you don't understand, you'll divide things into right and wrong. But once you understand, fundamentally there's no such thing as "correct" or "incorrect." All of it is bestowing teachings according to each individual's needs, the way medicine is prescribed depending on the illness. Dharma is spoken to suit individual people, just the way particular medications are employed to cure each type of illness. That's the principle of this Sutra, and there's nothing right or wrong about it.
In "at that time," what time is meant. Kuo Ning said it: there is no time. If you try to pinpoint it as this time, this time has already gone by. If you say it is that time, that time is also already gone. Past mind cannot be got at, present mind cannot be got at, and future mind cannot be got at. Since they all cannot be got at, how can you be attached to any particualr time? Then why does the Sutra mention a time? It's because at that time there were billions upon billions of Bodhisattvas, Spirits, who had arrived and were surrounding the Buddha, praising the Buddha. As Dharma Master Miao Jing told us last night, there was no sequential time. But even though their praises were simultaneous, there has to be a linear sequence when you write them down. A single stroke of the pen won't serve to describe the whole array of Bodhisattvas, Kings of Gods, Yakshas--Gods, Dragons and others of the Eightfold Pantheon. It's the same as eating--it has to be done morsel by morsel. You can't eat your fill in a single gulp. Hence there is a sequence. But basically the time, as just discussed, has already gone by--what's the use of becoming attached to it?
And so, at the very beginning when I lectured on "at that time," I had already discussed the principles at great length. But since the visitor had not heard the explanation at the beginning, and had not heard the explanation at the beginning, and had come in the middle of the discussion, he thought I couldn't lecture and didn't understand, and so he "had an issue" with it. For that reason I didn't lecture either, and asked him to speak instead. However, he didn't speak. If he had been straightforward in his attitude, he should have talked. For him to have spoken would have been correct. He could have told us the way he saw things. But he didn't. His not speaking indicated he was not straightforward in his attitude, but already evasive. Do you understand? Then I had all of you speak, and had him listen. You all gave various interpretations, but all he heard was so many things he felt were incorrect. He heard so many things wrong, but I heard so many things right. All of you think it over: that's where the difference lies.
Dharma Masters in China for the most part had the following attachment: wherever they went they wanted to put others down to raise themselves up. Their aim in going places was to squash others underneath their feet, and position themselves on top of people's heads. That is a serious and total error, and accounts for the current disappearance of the Buddhadharma from China. But they still can't shed that fault, and continue to cling to that bad habit, unable to let it go. Here in the West we should not adopt that unwholesome custom. We should learn to consider everyone as being right.
When you hear people say something, don't get angry. That's the best way. Not one of you has reached that level yet, but you can gradually learn. Each of you should practice being very pleasant and harmonious--which means not having a temper. In your dealings with anyone, no matter who, be like water, not like ice. Water doesn't harm people. Of course, sometimes there's a lot of it, and people may drown. But that's rare. However, from people's point of view, ice is very hard, and you feel it's very cold when you come in contact with it. But you feel quite comfortable when you see water, and water can quench your thirst. You should be happy all the time, like the Bodhisattvas. Don't be like the hungry ghosts who are always pouting. As soon as you pout, you turn into a hungry ghost. If you are cheerful and happy, then you are a Bodhisattva.
To be continue