廟上一位沙彌的生日很快就到了。雖說他現在已經不在這裏了，但那時他確實是想要修行的。本來他不想提他的生日：如果要提的話，他也只會說：「算了，過什麼生日？我還在乎我幾歲嗎？我皈依三寶那一天便是我新的生日了。」我卻說：「噢！你的生日快到了。太好了，我們正該給你過一過呢！再好不過的事了！」「我看算了吧。」「算了？哪這麼好就算了？再說廟裏還眞需要一些活潑氣氛。我們或許可以來個派對。怎麼樣？」「好吧！你這主意或許不錯。」我把他給轉了。他說：「我出家只有一年，還剩一點錢……。你說我們怎麼過呢？」「哎！我們可以去買IT'S ITs嘛！如果翻一翻黃頁，準保能查到三藩市哪兒有得賣。」「IT'S ITs是什麼？」「我們那天中午吃的東西，你沒注意啊？」「沒注意，我吃了一點，不知道是啥。」我想說動他：「可好吃呢！你都忘啦？」「好吧！大概就是那東西吧？」我又把他的境界轉了。他並沒有注意吃的是什麼，只知道吃了東西；對我來說呢？是貪欲。
Not long after leaving home, I had a craving for cookies for six months, but at a certain point it turned into "IT'S ITs." I grew up in Toledo; I never knew about IT'S ITs. IT'S ITs are ice cream sandwiches from San Francisco. "Playland by the Beach" used to serve them. It's just a funky ice cream sandwich—nothing very special—but it's the San Francisco treat. At one point, somebody bought a whole box of them and brought them into Gold Mountain Monastery. At that point I had left home for about nine months, struggling with my cookie desire; yet there were these ice cream sandwiches.
These ice cream sandwiches had wrappers; they were colorful. Each monk or nun had one. The timing was just wrong—I took mine and it just hit that desire spot! I thought, "This is the best-tasting thing I've ever put in my mouth! It's so good! It's cold and chocolaty at the same time. Oh, sweet too!"
A Shramanera had a birthday coming up. He's not around anymore, but he was trying to cultivate. He was not going to mention that it was his birthday. He was going to say, "OK, let it be. I don't care how old I am. My new birthday was when I took refuge." So I said, "Oh, your birthday is coming up. Well, that's great. Let's celebrate! That's terrific!"
"Well, I don't think so."
"Yeah! C'mon! After all, in the monastery we need some cheerfulness. We could probably have a really good party."
"All right, that's probably a good idea," he said. I turned him.
So he said, "I've got a little bit of money left over. I was only a layman a year ago... What do you think we should get?"
"Well, we could get some IT'S ITs. I bet if you turn to the Yellow Pages, you could find the place where they come from here in San Francisco."
"What's an IT'S IT?"
"Well, we ate them for lunch the other day, you didn't notice?"
"No, I ate something. I don't know."
I tried to tempt him, "Oh, it was really good. You don't remember?"
"Well, I guess it was." I turned him again. He didn't care; it was just food for him. For me, however, it was desire. We worked it out and he called delivery and got a whole box of IT'S ITs delivered to the monastery. Why? Because of my greed. Lunchtime arrived, we did the ceremony while the Venerable Master was upstairs.
We were going in chanting, "Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha..." All I could think about was IT'S ITs: "Maybe there's enough to have two." It was his birthday, but I didn't care about his birthday. I wanted an ice cream sandwich. "Brrrring!" Telephone.
The other monks and nuns were singing, "To the Pure Dharma Body Vairochana Buddha..." "Hey, Heng Sure, the Venerable Master wants to talk to you." "OK."
"Guo Zhen, read me the mail, come upstairs." I went upstairs and "Oh, no!" There was a whole stack of mail. I would open one letter, start reading one, open another letter and read the second letter, the third letter, and, "Guo Zhen, read that letter again, I didn't understand it." Now it was about 11:15 a.m. I was starting to sweat. So Shr Fu said, "What do you think of that letter?" I could only mutter, "It's OK." Brrrring... the telephone rang. The Venerable Master went to answer the phone and I was relieved. Maybe he would let me leave. But no such luck.
By this time I heard below, "Sa-duo-nan San-miao-san-pu-tuo..." [mantra to end the meal] The meal was over. I was counting how many monks there were and how many IT'S ITs we'd ordered in my mind. When Shr Fu finally sent me down there, I saw only an empty box. The ice cream sandwiches had all been eaten.
I thought to myself, "You're rotten! You're really greedy! Here you had a chance to read the Venerable Master's mail, and all you were thinking about was ice cream." I started to get on my case, "Look at you, this is terrible! You manipulated this fellow. You didn't want to celebrate his birthday." I saw the whole play; everything I had done went through my mind and I felt really bad. I thought, "The best thing for you today is not to eat anything at all—fast. You should not eat anything. Yeah, that's right! You ought to do that." I was really unhappy and started to beat myself up in my mind.
So I was sitting there on my stool in the kitchen and thinking, "I'm just going to sit here. Nobody knows I'm suffering." Shr Fu came down and walked over. I didn't even hear him. He pulled up his sleeve and there was an IT'S IT in his hand. He put it in my bowl, said, "Eat," then smiled and walked away. I thought,
"Oh my goodness."
Okay, whatever it takes to cross over living beings. Sometimes it takes real patience. Also, you can't beat yourself up.