Saturday, August 23,1975 (afternoon)
Yesterday, I taught you the mantra, "Om Mani Padme Hum," and some people had these idle thoughts, "Perhaps I was one of the bugs on that Dharma Master's body three or four hundred years ago. Since he recited the mantra, I've now become a human being and taken refuge with the Triple Jewel. Could that be the case?" That's their false thought. Well, I'm not going to answer that question. Maybe Little Guo Fang was such a bug. She likes to eat candy and when I recited the mantra it probably kept turning things into candy.
Today I will continue speaking about Amitabha Buddha. It's not the case that there's just one Buddha or two Buddhas. In fact, there are as many Buddhas as there are grains of sand in the River Ganges, and they dwell in the ten directions. What are the ten directions? They are: north, east, south, west, northeast, northwest, southeast, southwest—that's eight directions. Then add the zenith and the nadir and you have ten directions. In each of the ten directions there are Buddhas in number like the sands in the Ganges. The Buddha is a living being who has become enlightened. As many living beings as there are, there are that many Buddhas. Can you count the number of living beings that currently exist? There's no way to count them. You can't even reckon the exact number of human beings. You might figure out the number of people in one country, but you don't necessarily know the population of all the countries in the world. There's no way to come up with an accurate figure, no matter what scientific methods you use, including computers! Even if you could count the human population, could you count the mosquitoes? How many are there in one country? How many are there in the whole world? You can't count the mosquitoes; you can't count the ants; you can't count the bees. All the insects, the birds, and all other living creatures are also uncountable. And the Buddhas are also like that. There are so many you could never count them. For every living being, there is a Buddha, and that Buddha will take that living being across. Thus, we talk about the Buddhas of the three periods of time throughout the ten directions. The three periods of time are: the past, the present, and the future. A few days ago I mentioned that some people do not believe in past, present, and future lives, especially rich people. They don't believe at all in future lives. They just enjoy themselves, thinking that if they can make a fortune in their business, they are "getting the most out of life." But they are wrong.
Why is one wealthy in one's present life?
It's because in the past one made offerings to the Sangha and aided the poor.
Why are you wealthy and honored in this life? It's because you practiced charity in past lives. It's said, "Renounce one, and gain ten thousand in return." If you gave away a penny in a past life, in this life you get it back ten thousand times as interest.
Why is one poor in one's present life?
It's because in the past one refused to aid the poor.
In past lives, when you had money, you didn't give, and so now you are poor. You were afraid if you gave away your money that you wouldn't have any for yourself. "I'll be stone broke. Why should I give my money away? That's too stupid." You held on to every single cent, squeezing it so tightly that it melted in your hand. You would rather have it melt than let go of it. That's how stingy you were. Those so terribly afraid of being poor, in their next life are, in fact, poor.
Why is one handsome in one's present life?
It's because in the past one offered incense, flowers, and lamps to the Buddha.
Suppose a person is extremely attractive. Everyone who meets him respects him and is fond of him. In general, no one dislikes him. Why is this? It's because that person made offerings of incense and flowers, and lit lamps before the Buddhas in past lives.
Everything is a matter of cause and effect. So it doesn't matter whether in your past lives you were an American Indian, American, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Burmese, or Sri Lankan—at some time or another you changed your residence. You may live in one "house" for a while, but eventually you will have to pack up and move. The principle of cause and effect works in human life in the same way. There's nothing strange about it at all. In the world:
The good flock together, and the evil run in packs;
People seek out their own kind.
Buddhists associate with Buddhists. Those who believe in ghosts gather with those who believe in ghosts. Those who have faith in demons stay with those who have faith in demons. Students associate with students. Politicians associate with politicians, businessmen with businessmen, laborers with laborers, ginseng growers with ginseng growers, (this was added during translation) So that's what is meant by, "The good flock together, and the evil run in packs; people seek out their own kind."
To be continued