My second question is, when the Buddha is in the world, we Bhikshus take the Buddha as our teacher. Whom should we take as our teacher after the Buddha enters Nirvana?"
The Buddha said, "After I enter Nirvana, you Bhikshus should take the precepts as your teacher. The Pratimoksha is your great teacher. If you uphold the precepts, it will be the same as when I am in the world. You should avoid all evil and practice all good deeds."
"Now I'll ask the third question," continued Ananda. "When the Buddha is in the world, we dwell with the Buddha. We always live and study with the Buddha. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, with whom should the Bhikshus dwell?"
The Buddha answered, "After I enter Nirvana, all the Bhikshus should dwell in the Four Applications of Mindfulness."
The Four Applications of Mindfulness
1. Contemplate the body as impure.
2. Contemplate feelings as suffering.
3. Contemplate thoughts as impermanent.
4. Contemplate dharmas as being without self.
First, contemplate the body as impure. Consider how your body is impure, from its seed to its physical form, which is a combination of the four elements. It is formed of the four elements (earth, water, fire, and air) and is not real.
Second, contemplate feelings as suffering. Feelings refers to sensations that are taken in. No matter how enjoyable the sensation is, it is basically suffering! Happiness is the cause of suffering. Third, contemplate thoughts as impermanent. Thoughts arise in continuous succession, one after another; they do not last. Fourth, contemplate dharmas as being without self. These are the Four Applications of Mindfulness.
"Here is my fourth question," said Ananda. "When the Buddha is in the world, the Buddha can subdue the evil-natured Bhikshus. After the Buddha enters Nirvana, how should we deal with them?"
The Buddha said, "When you encounter an evil-natured Bhikshu, just ignore him--don't talk to him." To ignore him is a passive way of expelling him. If no one pays attention to him or argues with him, he will soon became bored with making trouble. If you pay attention to him or try to fight with him, he will think that he is getting somewhere. But if you ignore him, he won't be able to do anything! An "evil-natured Bhikshu" is a monk who doesn't practice. Not every left-home person wants to practice.
In the past, there were all kinds of left-home people in the great monasteries of China, including former murderers, arsonists, and robbers. Some of them reformed after they left the home-life. Others assumed the guise of monks in order to escape the authorities. There were both good and bad people in the Sangha in China, and I believe that this will be the case in other places as well.
Speaking of criminals, in China, vagrants are nicknamed "naughty monkeys" and also "Thousand-handed Guanyins," because they have so many hands. They'll steal whatever catches their fancy, and then sell it and use the money to buy alcohol or drugs. Don't be naive and think that all left-home people are good. Left-home people--and that includes myself--are not necessarily good people. However, I'm trying to be good. I don't know what bad deeds I did in the past, but now I want to become a better person.
Evil-natured Bhikshus are perverse and unreasonable. The more you argue with them, the more they enjoy it. That's why the Buddha instructed us to ignore them.
"But," you say, "I take a bath and keep my body clean every day, and I put on make-up and jewelry to make it beautiful." You may adorn your body with gold watches, use gold pens, top it off with an expensive hat and designer clothes, but it's just like decorating a toilet; no matter how beautiful the toilet looks, it will still stink!
to be continued