What is mindfulness of our teachers' and elders' kindness?
What is mindfulness of our teachers' and elders' kindness? Why do we say we should repay the kindness of our teachers and elders? Earlier we discussed repaying the kindness of our parents because we are deeply indebted to them for giving us our physical bodies. Our teachers and elders didn't give birth to us, so why must we repay their kindness? What is repaying the kindness of our teachers and elders'? This is the question we should ask everyone. What is the meaning of the word shi "teacher"? It has the meaning of regulation, so we should study the rules and regulations under the teacher. The term "Shifu" implies one of the elder generation. When we take refuge with our teacher, we are considered to be the younger generation.
That's why I don't ask people to take refuge with me. If I did, they would ask me whether or not I'm qualified to be their teacher. They think that I want to take advantage of them in order to be their teacher and elder. What can I say to that? Therefore, I do not ask anyone to take refuge with me. I am ashamed and remorseful because if I do not teach the Proper Dharma to those disciples who take refuge with me, then I have wronged them. If I teach them the Proper Dharma but they do not listen and don't have a proper and sincere mind, what can I do'? Therefore I do not ask people to take refuge with me.
Now so many of you have taken refuge with me. Which one of you have I personally asked to take refuge with me? By right I should personally question those who want to take refuge. Sometimes there are so many of you I cannot manage to do that, so I simply let it pass and say: "Okay! All approved." Actually when I was in Manchuria and Hong Kong, I personally interviewed those who wanted to take refuge. I asked them why they wanted to take refuge with me.
I not only treat people this way, I even treat the ghosts the same way. It's true! When I was in Hong Kong, I had a ghost disciple who had taken refuge with me. This ghost was really inconceivable. There was a sick person who invited seven monks to recite a Sutra for him. The seven monks put on their robes and sashes. When they reached his place, they set the Vajra Sutra and the Great Compassion Mantra on the table. They started to recite: "NANO HE LA DA NUO DUO LA YE YE. NAMO E LI YE..." Every day they recited NAMO, NAMO, NAMO, NAMO, NAMO, NAMO without stopping. Then they recited the Vajra Sutra: "Thus I have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the Jeta Grove of the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary together with a gathering of Great Bhikshus, twelve hundred fifty in all. At that time, at mealtime, the World Honored One put on his robe, took up his bowl, and entered the great city of Shravasti to beg for food. After he had finished his sequential begging within the city, he returned, ate the food, put away his robe and bowl, washed his feet, arranged his seat, and sat down." The ghost paid no attention to them. When they sat in full lotus position, he also sat in full lotus. The seven monks recited the Sutra for seven days, yet they still were unsuccessful.
One of the seven monks recommended me, saying, "If you want the sick person to get well, you should go and invite so-and-so." The family believed him and so one of them came to Guanyin Cave to invite me. The first time he invited me, I didn't agree. He invited me a second time, but I still didn't agree. The third time he knelt before me and refused to get up; he was sincerely asking me to help him. Finally I agreed, saying, "Since you are so sincere, I will go."
When I reached the place, the sick person on the bed was playing tricks with the seven monks! When they recited the Sutra, he would also recite the Sutra; when they recited the mantra, he would also recite the mantra; he was just hanging out and relaxing, acting as if he knew it all! I went to the bedside and sat down quietly. After about fifteen minutes, the sick person and the ghost came to where I was sitting and knelt in front of me. At that time I had a string of recitation beads, which I placed on the sick person. At that, the sick person started hollering, "Ouch! Dharma Master, please forgive me! I won't do it again."
"What's the matter?" I asked
"Aaah!" he said. "I'm being burnt to death by your recitation beads."
"How come they burn you, but don't burn me when I wear them?" I asked.
He said, "I really can't stand it anymore."
"Now what do you intend to do?"
He said, "I want to take refuge with you."
I said, "With me? Why don't you take refuge with the seven monks who recited the Sutra for you for seven or eight days? What do you want to take refuge with me for?"
He said, "Them? Even if they wanted to take refuge with me, I wouldn't accept them." After he finished speaking, he said he knew Venerable Dharma Master Mao Feng.
I said, "Since you know Venerable Dharma Master Mao Feng, you can take refuge with him."
"Humph! Him? He is not qualified to be my Master, either!"
"What makes me qualified then?" I asked.
He said, "Oh, I have been looking for you for so many years!"
I said, "Why have you been looking for me?"
"I want to take refuge with you."
"What is the benefit of taking refuge with me?"
He said, "You have made a great vow that whoever takes refuge with you will eventually become a Buddha. I am determined to take refuge with you because of your vow."
You see! Even this ghost understood "four and six." What does "four and six" mean? In Chinese, four represents the character for "father," which has four strokes, and six represents the character for "mother," which has six strokes. When we say that a person doesn't understand "four and six," that means he doesn't even acknowledge his own parents. This ghost understood "four and six," so he wanted to take refuge.
I am not trying to brag about my strengths, but I want to prove the point to you. After this the ghost took refuge with me and the sick person recovered. The sick person also took refuge with me, and so did all his relatives. After that, a bunch of people took refuge—all the families of the clan took refuge with me. That ghost could recommend people to take refuge with me. When people saw the ghost taking refuge, they got jealous and said, "I want to take refuge, too."
This is repaying the kindness of our teachers and elders.
To be continued