類似的情況還有一次。師父在大清早交待我代寫一篇序，給我兩天的時間，可是我下午就拿著去見師父了。我看師父很歡喜的樣子，就鼓起勇氣對師父陳述我的教育理念。師父凝重地注意聽著，不時頷首表示同意；我就更加大放厥詞起來，甚至批評起某教授錯誤的方針。師父只是輕輕嘆了一口氣說：「我是everything is O.K.（什麼都可以！）既然有人願意做 事，我也就讓他去做去。這鼓勵大家做事嘛！就算錯了，改了就是了，沒關係的！」我又深深懊悔起自己的執著和猛浪了，以為自己真是什麼教育專家嗎？其實一點兒智慧和涵養也沒有！這叫自作聰明，根本就沒能用心去體會師父愛護人才、培植人才的深心！師父的處處民主開放，和無所執著，是我該努力隨學的。雖然事後師父一點兒也沒責備我放肆，且對別人稱說我「思想很完全」；但三年多來，我一直在懺悔這件事，也一再提醒自己：要知道韜光養晦，要凡事給別人嘗試的機會；絕不要執著於自己的知見，而抹煞了事情任何的可能性。
Although the Venerable Master's physical body does not exist in this world anymore, his image is constantly more alive in my heart. Maybe this is because previously I used to attach to what I could see and so I was concerned with where the Master was. But now that he has renounced his obstructive body, I have started seeing things with my true mind and I have realized that he exists everywhere.
When I took refuge with the Venerable Master, he was already manifesting his illness and didn't come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas often. I didn't have as many opportunities as some early disciples to draw near him and be taught directly by him. But what I have obtained is enough to benefit me in life after life. Actually, the Master has left us a lot of Dharma jewels, and if we study them closely and wholeheartedly, we can still receive his Dharma. If, however, we remain attached to his physical body and ignore his Dharma and his teaching, then even if he was still here, it would be the same as his not being here. Following the Master means following him in learning and in correcting our own faults and bad habits. It doesn't just mean becoming a sticky follower. Isn't this right?
I still remember the first time I had a face-to-face talk with the Venerable Master. He looked at me and said seriously, "You ought to educate my children well for me." As he said "my children," his voice was filled with deep, deep kindness and sorrow. Even today, even with my eyes closed, I can still feel his concern about education and his mercy towards living beings. The responsibility of educating the younger generation is heavy, and the way ahead is long and rugged, but the Master's words always support me and help me not to become lazy or discouraged.
Another time he stopped me on the road one evening. When he heard that I was delivering dinner to the old people's home for those who need to eat dinner, he said seriously and thoughtfully, "The elders have contributed a lot to our society and our nation, and we should respect them. Since their health isn't good, they can eat as often as they need. Preparing food for the elders must be done carefully, and the food must be soft." His concern over the daily meals showed that his concern and care towards the elders wasn't the least bit less than his concern for the young. At that time my mother was sick and lived at the old people's home, and as I had to run over several times a day, in passing I did some services for the other residents who needed something. But I was still acting out of a concern for myself. The Master's great spirit of "caring for others' parents as we care for our own" is exactly what I should be learning vigorously.
I have a shortcoming of being too hasty, so sometimes I cannot avoid doing things in a perfunctory and slovenly manner. I will never forget the day I wrote some Chinese characters on the blackboard for the Master for the first time. At that time, he returned to the City more often and whenever he arrived, he always gave a class on matching Chinese couplets, without any concern for his own health. I was his teaching assistant. The Master asked me to write the opening lines of the couplets, which he always made up right on the spot, on the blackboard. He stood beside me and pronounced the words slowly. After I had written a few words, he said, “Write the characters slowly, with separate strokes, don't let them run together. People won't be able to recognize them easily.” Rashly I wiped the characters off and rewrote them slowly stroke by stroke.
But my mind was now even more anxious, because there were many people waiting for that first couplet. Since I had already lost my samadhi, the strength I used to hold the piece of chalk was uneven. The chalk broke into two pieces and fell onto the floor of the platform. I took a quick look and continued writing. It wasn't that I didn't want to pick it up, I just thought I could do it after I had finished writing; it was such a small matter. But ponderously the Master bent down (he was ill) and picked up the chalk. I was extremely embarrassed. With his silent teaching, the Master taught me that “although a matter is small, one should have concern to others; although a mistake is tiny, one should correct it right away.” This is so true. One can't always say,“Wait a moment!”, for all of our bad habits and faults are formed and accumulated under the cover of this one phrase, “Wait a moment!” Isn't this so?
Another time during the matching couplets class, the Master wrote the opening line himself and explained its meaning. Then everybody started thinking of their matching lines silently. I immediately went up to the platform to write mine. The Master came closer, narrowing his eyes to see what I had written. (His sight was deteriorating at that time). After having waited a short while, I thought he was not going to ask me anything, so I wrote the second one. He smiled and said to me, “Oh, are you going to finish all the couplets for everybody?” I almost dropped my chalk again. The Master was warning me not to show off, to let others have their chance.
There was one more similar case. Early one morning, the Master told me to write a preface for a publication. He gave me two days and I presented it to him the afternoon of the same day. Seeing the Master so happy, I mustered my courage to talk about my educational ideas. He listened attentively and seriously, and nodded his head in agreement once in a while. This encouraged me to continue without forethought, and I even criticized the incorrect principles of one professor. The Master just sighed slightly and said,“To me, everything is O.K. If someone wishes to do things, I just let him do it. This will inspire everyone else to do things, too. Even if mistakes are made, just correct them. That's O.K.!'
Again, I deeply regretted my attachment and imprudence. Did I consider myself a specialist in education? In actual fact, I was the one who lacked wisdom and the capacity to be patient and kind. I was too conceited and lacked any understanding of the Master's profound thoughts, his wanting to cherish and nourish talents. He was always democratic and open-minded to all things, without any attachment. That's what I should learn from him. Though he never scolded me and even praised me to other people as having complete thinking, for these past three years, I have always repented of this matter. I keep reminding myself that I should know the right time to conceal my talents and live in retirement waiting for another, better chance. I should also give other people a chance, and not attach to my own views, blocking other possibilities.
Now the Master's physical body does not exist in the world anymore. But his example and teachings are as brilliant as the sun and the moon and will always live on in the hearts of his disciples. I vow to follow the Master and the Buddhas, learning from them in life after life. Empty space might end one day, but my vow won't end.
We Accept Manuscripts
The aim of this journal is to propagate the Proper Dharma of the Buddha. Any articles relating to Buddhism, such as research papers, personal stories, views on education today,and so on, are welcome. The following applies to all manuscripts: (1) There is no financial reward for any manuscript. (2) The manuscript will be editted as necessary. (3) If you do not wish your manuscript to be altered in any way, please say so. (4) The journal generally does not return manuscripts, so please keep your own copy. If you need your manuscript back, please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope.
Send manuscripts to:Vajra Bodhi Sea Editorial Department, 1777 Murchison Drive, Burlingame, CA