To Repay the Kindness of the Triple Jewel, We Should Stop Killing
All of you have just taken refuge with the infinite Triple Jewel—the Buddhas, Dharma, and Sangha—that pervades the space throughout the Dharma Realm. People who believe in the Buddha should constantly be mindful of the kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and giving of the Triple Jewel. We should feel grateful and fortunate to have encountered the Triple Jewel. It is not easy to encounter the Buddhadharma even in a hundred million eons. Now that we have encountered it, if we don’t apply ourselves diligently, we are just like a student who, instead of studying, always cuts class and goes out to play, letting the time pass in vain.
At all times we should act as if we were facing the Buddha or our teacher. We cannot be the least bit sloppy, lax, or lazy. Then we are practicing the paramita of vigor. We should be vigorous in body and mind. Being vigorous in body means diligently cultivating precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. Mental vigor means putting to rest greed, hatred, and stupidity.
No matter which Dharma-door of Buddhism we choose to practice, we should stick to it and cultivate accordingly. Whoever can do that can attain Buddhahood. Every Dharma-door is second to none and a way to realize the ultimate truth. It shouldn’t be that you study the Manifest Teaching for a while, then decide that you’re not getting anywhere and so you switch over to the Secret Teaching; then after studying that for a while, you don’t obtain any response and so you decide to study the Doctrines. After studying Doctrines, you’re still dissatisfied so you switch to Chan. Chan, Doctrines, Moral Precepts, Secret, and Pure Land--you’ve studied each of them for only two-and-a-half, not even three, days. You don’t stick to any one practice for long. You quickly grow weary of old things and always want something new. As a result, you spend all your time running back and forth, and you waste your whole life. When it comes time to die, you still haven’t cultivated a single Dharma to success, just because you spent all our time running around. What a pity!
Take listening to the Dharma, for example. Although you've heard a lot of Dharma, you understand very little of it. Or maybe you understand a lot, but you’ve practiced very little of it. That’s why I always say, “Being able to speak is not as good as being able to listen; being able to listen is not as good as being able to practice. Being able to practice is not as good as being able to attain realization.” A person may be able to speak so well that flowers fall from the heavens and golden lotuses well forth from the earth, but if he doesn’t actually practice what he talks about, it’s like talking about food or counting others’ treasures. It’s also like a stone man. He may be able to talk, but he can’t walk, because he is made of stone. So there’s a saying,
You may speak well, you may speak wonderfully,
But if you don't practice, it’s not the Way.
If you know how to listen to the Dharma, then for you,
General principles and fine details
All convey the ultimate truth.
No matter how the person speaks Dharma, whether he speaks vertically or horizontally, whether he speaks of dust motes or of entire world-systems, when you listen to it you feel it is wonderful beyond words. And so knowing how to speak is not as good as knowing how to listen.
You may be able to understand what you hear, but if you can really put it into practice, then it’s even more useful. Take the analogy of food. No matter how nutritious and tasty the food may be, if you only read the recipe but don’t actually make it and eat it, you won’t get what you need.
If you can listen and also practice, you are like a student in school. You may have studied all the lessons, but until you graduate and receive your diploma, you haven’t completed your schooling. And so I said that being able to practice is not as good as achieving realization. Once you have realized the fruition of sagehood, you are much better off than someone who merely talks about food and counts others’ treasures. And so there’s a verse,
All day long you count others’ treasures,
Without half a cent to call your own.
Not cultivating the Dharma
Is making the same kind of mistake.
Yesterday I talked about the Chinese character for “meat” being an ideograph of one person eating another, hoping that you wouldn’t eat too many people. But there are still a lot of people who cannot accept this idea. When they heard me saying it last night, some people looked up to the heavens, as if to ask God if such a principle really existed. Some people looked downwards, as if to ask the earth deity if it was really that way. Some people looked to the north, south, east, and west, looking at their neighbors to see what they thought. “What proof does the Dharma Master have for this strange principle?” they wondered. They really wanted to get up and leave, but they were embarrassed to do so. Yet even if they stayed, they felt that what they were hearing made no sense.
What makes sense, then? They think, “If I eat more meat, then I’ll get more nutrition and my body will be healthier. That’s the truth.” Actually it’s not true that meat is nutritious and good for health. In the modern world many meat-eaters are developing cancer. This is because the flesh of living beings contains certain toxins, which may or may not be perceptible. These toxins come from accumulated enmity of living beings mutually killing and devouring one another. Because living beings have no place to release their hatred, it is transmitted back and forth.
When the toxins pass from the animals’ bodies into human bodies, people have no resistance against them, so they develop strange ailments. That’s why so many meat-eaters have all sorts of bizarre diseases now. Such diseases were not so common before, because science was not as advanced. Modern chemical toxins, scientifically produced toxins, and the poisonous enmity in people's minds, have combined to create a poisonous energy that has polluted the air and contaminated animal flesh. The combination of chemical toxins and by-products, along with pollution of the air, land, and water, have resulted in all kinds of strange diseases.
“Dharma Master,” someone is thinking, “what you’re saying is more and more outrageous. I simply don't believe it.”
If you don't believe it, that's okay. After all, I’m not asking for your money and you haven’t paid me, right? If you don't believe and you feel uncomfortable sitting there, please bear with me a little longer. I’ll soon be finished.
To be continued