Editor's Note: The Venerable Master vowed to bring the Buddhadharma to the West, and he underwent every kind of hardship, coming to America alone. As he was teaching Buddhism to Americans, he also personally taught them Chinese.
He wrote his own Chinese lessons, integrating Buddhism into them so that Westerners would learn the principles of Buddhism as they studied Chinese, and would learn Chinese usage as they studied Buddhism. The Master's Chinese lessons, in the form of questions and answers, are humorous, interesting, and full of wisdom. Upon reading them, one cannot help but smile and want to learn more.
Coming across the ocean all by himself,
He spared nothing in propagating the Buddhadharma.
Although it was hard to speak with foreigners in a strange land,
He taught Chinese in order to transmit the Sagely Teaching.
Applying the Buddhadharma to Chinese in a dynamic fashion,
He used various expedients as he wrote his own lessons.
His disciples are put to shame,
For they only wish to be lofty and disdain the simple.
Although we have only a partial set of lessons from 1971, they provide a glimpse of the Master's lessons in general. We hope those who have the full set of lessons will generously share their treasure with everyone.
This morning I got up at 4 o'clock, washed my face, rinsed my mouth, sat in meditation, bowed to the Buddha, recited Sutras and mantras, and then went to work. I got off work at 5 o'clock in the evening and came to the Buddhist Lecture Hall to study Chinese and listen to the Sutra lecture, skipping dinner.
Question: Are you hungry?
Answer: I don't feel hungry.
Question: Why don't you feel hungry?
Answer: Because I listen to the Buddhadharma and understand the true principles of life. It makes me extremely happy so that I forget about being hungry.
Question: You get up so early—4 o'clock. You must not get enough sleep.
Answer: Not at all. Everything is a matter of habit. As long as you strike up your spirits and make a firm resolve, you can overcome all difficulties.
Question: Do you use cool water or hot water to wash your face?
Answer: I use neither cool water nor hot water. I wash my face with warm water. I use water that's a little hotter to rinse my mouth after brushing my teeth.
Question: Why do you all bow to the Buddhas?
Answer: Because we believe in Buddhism, and we want to show our respect and gratitude for the Buddha's compassion. It also diminishes our habits of arrogance and conceit.
It's also a great form of exercise. It improves your blood and energy circulation, increases your stamina, and makes you strong and healthy, so that you don't get sick and seldom have insomnia. You save a lot of money because you don't have to buy sleeping pills
If you can concentrate single-mindedly and bow reverently as if the Buddha were right in front of you, you will naturally not have false-thinking, thoughts of exploiting conditions, or wild and scattered thoughts. Then I believe you will be forever young.
To be continued