For example, the abbot of Gaomin Monastery, Elder Master Laiguo, was an excellent cultivator who had achieved a high level of samadhi and was enlightened. However, his wish was to become a wheel- turning sage king in his next life, so that he could rule the world and make everyone be vegetarian, observe the five precepts, and practice the ten good deeds. He told all the monks at Gaomin Monastery to make vows to be his sons when he became a wheel-turning king. This one would be his first son. Another one vowed to be his second son, another his third son, another his fourth son, and so on. A wheel- turning sage king has a thousand sons, and over a thousand monks went to apply to be his thousand sons. And so when he made his vow to be a wheel-turning sage king, many monks also made vows with him. Someone even made a vow to become his wife! And another made a vow... Ah! In general, people made all kinds of vows to accompany him and help him in this matter.
But that was wrong. It was a total mistake. Why? A left-home person should not make vows to become a wheel-turning sage king. Becoming a wheel-turning sage king should happen naturally as a result of the blessings you have cultivated. It does not happen because you wish for it. You should not make a vow like this. Such a vow is improper. Many monks were influenced by Elder Master Laiguo and made vows to become this or that member of his retinue. You see? That's how it was. He didn't encourage people to make vows to practice the Bodhisattva Way and accomplish Buddhahood; instead, he told people to make vows to be his relatives. Unfortunately, many people believed in him.
Of all the monks in China, with the exception of Elder Master Hsu Yun, no one dared to look light of him or criticize him. I alone, not knowing where I stand, have criticized him, saying that his vows were wrong. This is an example of making vows to seek the future reward of becoming a wheel-turning sage king.
Wheel-turning sage kings have a lot of power. They rule over one set of the four continents and have seven treasures. I won't go into these now. Basically he sought a future reward of being very powerful. Every country in the world would be under his rule and have to take orders from him. He would be the world's leader and no one would dare to oppose him.
When a cultivator seeks neither gain nor fame and covets neither pleasure nor rewards, but wishes only to settle the matters of birth and death and to attain Bodhi, then his resolve is proper.
What is meant by a proper resolve? It is when a cultivator seeks neither gain nor fame, when he does not wish to have a big reputation or to receive offerings from people,
and covets neither pleasure nor rewards. He does not crave entertainment or comfort. I cannot say that I am proper, but I can tell you that I have never been to Disneyland in the twenty-some years that I've been in the United States. Think it over. Which of you did not visit Disneyland when you came to the United States? Even Buddhist monks and nuns who come to the United States make a point of visiting Disneyland. Being a country bumpkin, I never got to go. Actually I don't want to know about it either. Such a person craves neither amusements nor comforts nor rewards,
but wishes only to settle the matters of birth and death and to attain Bodhi, to achieve genuine wisdom.
Then his resolve is proper. This is an example of a proper resolve. If you have not made the Bodhi resolve to end birth and death, then your resolve is deviant. Everyone should be clear on this; otherwise, no matter how much you cultivate, it is only demonic karma and you end up in the retinue of the demon king.
If, in moment after moment, he seeks the path of the Buddhas above, and, in thought after thought, transforms living beings below; if he hears that the road to Buddhahood is long and far, yet does not retreat in fear; if he observes that beings are hard to transform, yet does not become weary; if he proceeds as though climbing a ten-thousand-foot mountain, determined to reach the summit, or as though ascending a nine-story stupa, fixed upon advancing to the top, then his resolve is true.
Prior to this, Great Master Xing'an discussed deviant and proper resolves. Now he discusses resolves that are true and false.
If, in moment after moment, he thinks of nothing else, but only
seeks the path of the Buddhas above, wanting only to attain Buddhahood,
and, in thought after thought, transforms living beings below. In order to achieve Buddhahood, one must do meritorious deeds. You cannot realize Buddhahood without having done any meritorious deeds. How can one establish merit and virtue? By teaching and transforming living beings. You teach them to give up the deviant and return to the proper, to renounce the false and recover the true. When you bring living beings to enlightenment, you are creating merit in Buddhism.
If he hears that the road to Buddhahood is long and far, yet does not retreat in fear. Realizing Buddhahood is no easy task. The path to Buddhahood is long and far. Shakyamuni Buddha achieved Buddhahood only after three great
asamkhyeyas of eons. One asamkhyeya is already an uncountable number.
Asamkhyeya is a Sanskrit term meaning "uncountable number." Three great asamkhyeyas of eons means three uncountable numbers, and not only that, but three great uncountable numbers of eons! Thinking about such an interminable length of time, one might sigh in despair and become afraid and think, "This is too long a time. How can I make it in my cultivation?" It's like when we read a Sutra for awhile and think, "This Sutra is so long. When will I ever finish reading it? When will I be able to memorize it all?" These are examples of retreating in fear.
Despite the great length of the road to Buddhahood, this cultivator does not retreat. Instead, he advances with courageous vigor, seeking Buddhahood above and transforming beings below. He never forgets his main purpose, which is to cultivate the Way.
If he observes that beings are hard to transform, yet does not become weary. Living beings are hard to teach. You may tell them to get rid of their bad habits; instead they acquire more bad habits. Living beings are just that peculiar. You want to teach and convert them, but they are intent on not being converted by you. It's really hard to cross them over. However, if in view of the difficulty, you grow weary of trying, then your resolve is not a true one.
If, instead of growing weary,
he proceeds as though climbing a ten-thousand-foot mountain, determined to reach the summit. You could say the mountain is ten thousand feet or ten thousand miles high; in general, it is a very high mountain, and one is set on reaching the summit.
Or if one proceeds as though ascending a nine-story jeweled
stupa, fixed upon advancing to the top, then his resolve is true. When one makes such a resolve and does not quit halfway, but finishes what one starts, then one has made a true, genuine resolve for bodhi.
To be continued