How to Get Rid of Fear and Karmic Obstacles
Question: How can we use skillful means to overcome lust, fear, and doubt?
Venerable Master: Don't eat meat, onions, or garlic. Avoid taking stimulants. Contemplate all men as your fathers and all women as your mothers. If you think that way, you will not give rise to lust. Fear arises from worry. If you have no worries, you won't be afraid of anything. If you aren't selfish, you won't be afraid either. If you don't fight, aren't greedy, don't seek, aren't selfish, don't pursue personal advantage, and don't lie, you have nothing to fear.
You have doubt because you don't have faith. You waver between faith and doubt. The "Worthy Leader" chapter of the Flower Adornment Sutra says, "Faith is the source of the Way and the mother of merit and virtue." Believe in the wisdom inherent in all living beings. Then you won't have doubt.
Every day I speak true words,
Not afraid of being beaten or scolded.
Even if they want to kill me, I'm not scared.
What hindrances are there after liberation?
Always speak truthfully, and don't lie. Be honest and frank. Don't be afraid that someone will scold you or hit you. Even if they do, you want to speak the truth. Even if someone wants to kill you, what is there to be afraid of? What worries are there after true liberation? What is there left to fear?
Question: Sometimes the lay people ask us what to do when, faced with their karmic hindrances, they cannot advance and want to retreat instead. If this is fixed karma, how should we answer them? Should we urge them to continue being vigorous?
Venerable Master: It depends on the circumstances. You have to prescribe the medicine according to the individual's illness. Afflictions and Bodhi are like ice and water. Afflictions can turn into Bodhi. At the point of death, there is new life. If at the point of not being able to bear something, one can bear it; if when one doesn't think one can leap the hurdle, one leaps it, that's what really counts. Don't get trapped into a corner. There are no dead ends. When you drive up to the mountain, there's bound to be a road.
I recall how seven or eight years ago, a layman in New York invited a monk to stay at his temple. But because he often quarreled with the monk, the monk finally left. The temple had been constructed by a layperson, but because he wanted to use a monk as a front to attract people, he would boss the monk around. When the monk had first gone to the temple, he had been reluctant to be bossed around by a layperson. That's why they constantly had arguments and the monk ended up leaving. The layman was very discouraged and called to tell me that he wanted to close down the Buddhist temple because he had lost heart. He poured out his complaints to me, intending to get me to side with him and criticize the monk. Then he would be the victor and could feel justified. But I told him to go ahead and close the temple. I said, "You should have closed it a long time ago!" He was speechless. There was silence on the line for about ten minutes. When I saw that he had nothing to say, I said, "When you were poor, you used the name of Buddhism and made a fortune. Now that you're so rich, you should obviously close down the temple and 'burn the bridges behind you,' as it were. You should forget about the kindness Buddhism has shown you. If you don't, then you'll have to repay that kindness. If you forget it, you won't have to repay it. So it's your own fault that you have to shut down the temple." I scolded him like that, and from then until now, he has not closed the temple.
Question: When we cultivate, we sometimes have thoughts of resistance, which leads to obstacles. How should we deal with this?
Venerable Master: If a tiger came to eat you, would you try to eat the tiger? That would be resistance. Would you act like that?
to be continued