Bhikshtrni Heng Yi:
I'll tell a story first. A famous scholar in the Tang Dynasty in China became interested in Buddhism when he retired, so he went everywhere to pay his respects to all the Dharma Masters. One time, he asked a Dharma Master, "What's the great meaning behind Buddhism and the Buddhadharma?"
That Dharma Master said, "Refrain from doing all bad deeds and practice all good deeds." The scholar replied, "Even a three-year-old child knows that. Why are you saying this?"
The Dharma Master said, "Maybe a three-year old knows this, but even an eighty-year-old isn't able to do it." The story illustrates that a principle may be easy to know, but that the practice requires work. Thus, in addition to emphasizing the principles of the Buddhadharma, we also want to know how to practice. At the City of 10,000 Buddhas, we want people to equally know the principle and the practice of the Buddhadharma.
How do we do that? We get people to work together, attend the ceremonies as much as possible, and do everything together. Why? Because this is how we practice Buddhadharma. We actually have to reflect upon ourselves in order to discover what we have to learn. For example, we learn that we should not be attached to anything or ourselves, and that we should not be egocentric. It is easy to make these discoveries by working or practicing together, because when our habits come out, people who don't have such habits will correct us. Then we find out where we are wrong. Similarly, we correct others. People may wonder why we work so hard and do so many things besides learning the Buddhadharma. While learning the Buddhadharma from books or from the Sutras is very important, practice is also very important. Without practice, it's almost as if we had not learned anything.
There is a story about a monk at Elder Master Hsu Yun's monastery in Yunnan Province. He was not a disciple and he did not lecture, but just quietly helped people. If people needed their clothes mended, he would mend them. One day he announced, "I have finished. I am going to leave you tomorrow." People asked him, "Since you are leaving, will you tell us what will help our cultivation?" He said, "I only have one thing to say: Knowing how to talk without knowing how to practice is not true wisdom." Practice in Buddhism is very important. When we practice, wisdom really comes forth. Book learning is just knowledge, not wisdom. However, we still need to learn. We have to study the Buddhadharma to know how to practice. The Buddhadharma gives us direction, teaches us what is right and wrong. Practice and study should be equally important to us.
To be continued