上人一生以「不爭、不貪、不求、不自私、不自利、不妄語」六大宗旨來教化眾生（其實就是五戒）。很多人不以為然，認為這三歲小孩都知道的，何必再開示 ? 可是上人不知開示了多少次「我這一生的成就，都是由這六大宗旨走過來的。你們任何人想修行佛道，必須也要走這六大宗旨」。老子不也說過「吾道甚易知，甚易行，而天下莫能知莫能行！」，又「天下皆謂我道天似不肖，夫唯天，故似不肖，若肖久矣，其細也夫」，又說「大道若夷，而民好徑」。
Actually the Master’s explanation of the Portraits of Buddhist Patriarchs comes about from great causes and conditions. In l958, the Elder Master Hsu Yun mailed this book to the Venerable Master, enclosing a letter which said, “I am sending you this volume of Portraits of Buddhist Patriarchs that I have composed in recent years. Read and remember it well and I hope you will benefit yourself and benefit others and treasure the Way.” Actually on the 9th of April in l956 Elder Master Yun sent a certificate to the Master that named him the ninth Patriarch of the Weiyang School. The letter said, “You are a disciple who is concerned about the preservation of the Dharma and the continuation of the wisdom-life of the Buddhas and Patriarchs. Now, in accord with your vows, I am sending you the Source, the inheritance of the Patriarch’s pulse, the Patriarch’s Way. Entrusted to you, it will prosper. It is my hope that this transmission will be perpetuated.” It is evident that the Master followed his teacher’s instructions and explained the Portraits of Buddhist Patriarchs into modern language so that beings could gain the benefit this unprecedented Dharma. That is why I consider these three to be the Master’s three most important works. And beings who have the good fortune to be able to read these precious Dharma jewels are truly endowed with blessings!
I generally estimate that the Venerable Master composed over two thousand verses and poems during his life. Every verse is rhymed and evidence the Master’s profound prajna wisdom. This is especially true of the unprecedented verses on the lines of the Shurangama Mantra; only someone who had truly entered the Great Shurangama Samadhi would be capable of such explanations. Also the Master’s explanation of the Portraits of Buddhist Patriarchs sometimes transcends historical records, leaving the reader wondering if the Master really has the Penetration of Past Lives.
Part Four Chapter on Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi
The reason this chapter is called “Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi* has to do with the extent to which Lao Zi’s philosophy is evident in the Venerable Master’s instructions and practices. In Reflections in Water and Mirrors Reversing the Tide of Destiny, the Master’s critique of Venerable Mahakashyapa states: Transforming and appearing as Lao Zi, he roamed through China; Welcoming those who had affinities to ascend to the other shore. Obviously the Master recognized Lao Zi to be a transformation-body of Venerable Mahakashyapa. Although Lao Zi left behind only five thousand words, they have been profoundly cherished and enjoyed by generations of cultivators and ordinary people. Much of what the Venerable Master said and did accords with Lao Zi. For instance Lao Zi said: Proper words may appear to be the opposite. Truthful words are not pretty; pretty words are not truthful. Being proper has value; being pretty is cheap Counteracting is the movement of the Way; gentleness is the function of the Way. The Venerable Master often used reverse psychology to prod living beings. One example is when the Master was asked about exterminating house pests and insects. The Master replied:
I am an insect, I am an ant. It doesn’t matter if you kill me, but you shouldn’t kill them.
If you want to exterminate insects, first exterminate me.
That is how based in equality the Master’s compassion was!
All his life the Master used the Six Great Principles of not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing self-benefit, and not lying to teach and transform living beings. (Actually these are the Five Precepts). Many people didn’t take them seriously, thinking that even a child of three knew those things. What need to discuss them? Still, I don’t know how many times the Master said, “Any success that I have had in my life is due to abiding by these Six Great Principles. Anyone who wants to cultivate the Way should follow these Six Great Principles.” Didn’t Lao Zi also say, “My Way is easy to understand and easy to practice and yet there isn’t anyone who understands and practices it!” He also said, “People say that my Way seems unfathomable, but that’s because they seems unfathomable, but that’s because they have just discovered it. If they acquaint themselves with it for longer, they will fathom its subtitles.” He also said, “The Great Way is level, easy for everyone to traverse.”
Basically cultivation is quite simple: “The Way is right there with you; don’t seek afar for it.” But people are always looking for shortcuts; they scout around trying to find “secret dharmas” to cultivate. It’s really a case of people getting more and more muddled. Shouldn’t we realize that “the secret lies with us.” It’s in being able to pursuit of material desires and attachments of the discriminating mind; it’s in refraining from anger and refusing to lie. Those are instantaneous “secret dharmas”; that is the Way!
Those Six Great Principles, experienced by the Master through his lifelong asceticism, were fervently set forth by him with the hope of contributing to the good of the world and the benefit of humankind. But people did not take them seriously; even made fun of them. It is truly as Lao Zi put it in Chapter 41: “When the superior person hears of the Way, his is moved to practice it. When a mediocre person hears of the Way, he accepts and rejects at random. When an inferior person hears of the Way, he makes fun of it. The Way is found in not ridiculing and not being self-satisfied.”
Throughout his life, the Venerable Master advocated a philosophy of non-contention that was identical to Lao Zi’s non-contention. The Master often mentioned the verse:
Contention, thoughts of victory and defeat, is in opposition to the Way.
Once the four marks arise in the mind; how can samadhi be attained?
Those who are truly non-contending don’t get angry. They have reached the level of being able to forgive and are truly forgiving. The Master brings up another verse:
It’s easy to get rid of other things, but our temper is hard to change.
Those who can truly refrain from anger have attained a priceless gem.
Further, if we can not blame others, then everything will go our way.
Afflictions will never arise and so resentment will never find us.
By always picking at others’ faults, it’s impossible to end our own suffering.
Now isn’t that an extremely simple instruction? True non-contention amasses boundless and infinite merit and virtue. But the Venerable Master would no doubt omit Lao Zi’s conclusion: “Rare are those who know me; honored are those who can fathom me; such is a sage’s rare jade that he keeps wrapped in coarse cloth.”
In addition to the Master’s Six Great Principles, there are two verses worthy of believing and putting into practice. They are:
Let us truly recognize our own faults and not discuss the faults of others.
Others’ faults are just our own;
to be one with everyone is great compassion.
Everything is a test to see what we will do.
Not recognizing what’s before our eyes, we have do start anew.
In the Analects and Mencius the sages tell us that when things don’t go our way, we should look within ourselves. Also the superior person seeks within himself; the petty person looks at others. Also when the superior person makes a mistake, he takes responsibility for it. When a petty person makes a mistake, he blames heaven. (Xun Zi). The Venerable Master’s guidance was also to turn around and seek within yourself.
It’s true that people were sometimes stunned by the Master’s teachings, like the time on February 10, l993, when he wore masks during his visits to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. It turned out to be because his disciples had violated the practices of taking only one meal a day at noon and always wearing the precept sash. It was with a sense of grief that the Master wore the masks when he returned to the City. He commented:
Before I went to Taiwan I knew that all the principles I had established from the founding of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas onward would be wiped out; I knew people would not honor them. That has caused me a tremendous lose of hope and I cannot face you all. And so I’m wearing a mask to avoid having to look you all straight in the face.
The Master’s stance is unprecedented in Buddhist history. Never has a teacher donned a mask. Actually it is we disciples who violate the precepts who should be covering our faces, not our teacher. My own aside on this is that it verifies that the Venerable Master has reached the state of “no self.”
Another example of teachings that stunned the disciples took place in the spring of l992 at the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas when an unprecedented During that meeting the Master said:
I painfully beat myself. I have beaten myself several times to the point of knocking myself unconscious. Because I lack virtuous conduct, the disciples I teach end up like this.If the power if repentance and reform is real, then whatever mistakes have been made, I vow to take upon myself. But if you don't speak truthfully, and are only hoping to fall into the hells a little faster, then I have no way to save you. Tell the truth; use your true mind to repent and reform and then all the retributions for offenses that you should have to endure in the hells I will count as mine.
To be continued