我講一個很現成的事情。當然這件事情不一定會派到我們萬佛城，就是BillPorter（赤松）曾跟我講他到南華寺去，大概是十幾年前的事情。那時他去南華寺跟當時的惟因老和尚，他曾經做過虛雲老和尚的侍者。這位 Bill Porter跟老和尚談起來，惟因老和尚就跟他講，說虛老那時南華寺門口有人賣香；訪客來，廟上又不賣香，人家只好在外頭買。這好像也沒有什麼不對，也談不上什麼對不對。廟上不曉得該怎麼辦，也就讓他們一直賣下去。那些攤販在廟門口就越擺越多，到最後管不了了。老和尚說，有時候打禪七、打觀音七，當然訪客就沒有辦法上香啊什麼的，所以一打七，外面那些賣香、賣念珠的人生意就比較差，尤其是打禪七那更是生意差得厲害。
Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, Good Advisors:
My name is Wei Guoshi. To commemorate the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua during this Avatamsaka Dharma Assembly, I would talk about some incidents that involved the Venerable Master. Please point out any mistakes of mine.
1. How do we propagate the Buddhadharma in the U.S.?
I remember, one year, the Venerable Master sat here [on stage]. It was probably before the meal offering. I believe many of you were present then too. I don't remember the exact words, but the Venerable Master asked something to the effect of, "How do we propagate Buddhadharma in the U.S.?"
Of course, lots of people spoke up, expressing their opinions. Many people said that we should print more sutras, go out to propagate the Dharma, or renovate the monastery because it is too old. There were all kinds of different opinions. The Venerable Master continued to elicit more responses, until someone stood up and said, "We should extinguish our greed, anger, and delusion and diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom." The Venerable Master smiled and commented, "Elaborate on that. That's too vague." The speaker said, "We should not contend, not be greedy, not seek, not be selfish, not pursue personal advantage, and not lie." The Venerable Master was very happy and said, "Right, that's it."
Most of us instinctively thought of printing sutras and other things. When the Venerable Master talked about propagating the Buddhadharma in the U. S., he meant that we should start by cultivating ourselves well.
This reminds me of the Venerable Ananda. In the Shurangama Sutra, he asked the Buddha how to establish places of practice during the Dharma- ending Age, a time when evil masters preached their teachings. The Buddha was pleased and praised the Venerable Ananda for requesting that Dharma on behalf of living beings of the Dharma-ending Age. The question of establishing places of practice is similar to the Venerable Master's question. The Buddha answered as follows:
You constantly hear me explain in the Vinaya that there arethree unalterable aspects to cultivation. That is, collecting one's thoughts constitutes the precepts; from the precepts comes samadhi; samadhi arises from precepts, and wisdom is revealed out of samadhi. These are called the Three Non-Outflow Studies. Ananda, why do I call collecting one'sthoughts the precepts? If living beings in the six paths of anymundane world had no thoughts of lust, they would not haveto follow a continual succession of births and deaths. Your basic purpose in cultivating is to transcend the wearisome defilements. But you cannot leave defilement without renouncing your lust. Even though one may have some wisdom and the manifestation of chan samadhi, one is certain to enter demonic paths if one does not cut off lust. At best, one will be born a demon king; on the average, one will be in theretinue of demons; at the lowest level, one will be a female demon. These demons have their groups of disciples. Eachsays of himself that he has attained the unsurpassed Way.
This passage discusses the four clear and pure admonishments. The Venerable Master rephrased them in contemporary terms as: not to contend, not to be greedy, not to seek, not to be selfish, not to pursue personal advantage, and not to lie.
2. The Way-places of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association are not commercial enterprises.
Speaking of not being opportunistic, I am reminded of an incident. Once, during a major Dharma assembly that brought multitudes to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), someone stood up to speak during lunch.
Let me give a little background. This incident has to do with our Vajra Bodhi Sea magazine. Circulation for Vajra Bodhi Sea has never been great, although it's actually a fine magazine. I don't know why, but every month there would be a pile of extra issues. We couldn't stop printing them, because people might come to request them. Therefore, we printed them and each time there were leftovers. Many people claimed that there were better magazines out there. Just the cover of Vajra Bodhi Sea with the Shurangama Mantra verse plus the Sanskrit character, already make it a superior magazine worth its price. However, people don't understand and toss it aside after reading it.
Well, such an excellent magazine continued to accumulate in piles. During a Dharma session, someone stood up to say that he thought the Vajra Bodhi Sea was great. He hoped that everyone would subscribe to it and announced the subscription cost. I don't remember what else he said. There was nothing wrong with what he said, actually. Just then, the Venerable Master happened to pass by. When he heard that, he immediate hollered, "Is the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas starving? Do you have no food to eat so that you need to say such things to promote yourself?" He scolded the speaker severely. That individual obviously didn't dare to say anything more and quickly sat down. The Venerable Master still wouldn't let him off the hook though. He walked over to face the speaker and said, "What are your intentions? Why do you need to stand up and say such things?" You see, that's the Venerable Master's style!
On the topic of not being opportunistic, I will talk about another incident that happened at Gold Wheel Monastery. When Gold Wheel Monastery's Instilling Goodness Elementary was established in 1988, resources were few and far between. Some laypeople decided to auction off their recitation beads and Buddha images at a large, empty sports ground. That was when Gold Wheel Monastery was still at Sixth Street. They donated all the revenue from the auction to the school. That money came from auctioning off laypeople's goods, not from the temple. I don't remember how much money was collected at that time, but I know that the person in charge donated all the money to the temple.
When the Venerable Master learned of it, however, he called and seriously admonished people. He said, "Are you all starving at Gold Wheel Monastery? Are you all going without food that you need to come out and sell things?" Someone asked, "Well, we sell books in the bookstore, don't we?"
The Venerable Master said, "That's the one and only expedient. We have to have the store because we must circulate the sutras." Therefore, the bookstore is the only expedient for the temple. The Venerable Master did not want any others, because once sales transactions occur, they will not be easily stopped.
I will talk about an actual situation. Of course, this will not necessarily happen at the CTTB, but Bill Porter had personally told me that when he went to Nanhua Monastery more than ten years ago he had talked to the Elder Master Weiyin. Elder Master Weiyin had served as Elder Master Hsu Yun's personal attendant. The elder monk told Bill Porter that there had been vendors who sold incense in front of Nanhua Monastery. Since the temple didn't sell any incense to visitors, visitors had to purchase their incense outside. That seemed harmless enough. There was nothing right or wrong about it either. The temple didn't know what to do with the vendors, so it continued to let them do business. More and more merchants began to set up shop in front of the temple. In the end, they got out of control. The elder monk said that during seven day chan or Guanyin sessions, visitors were not allowed to offer incense in the temple. Thus, every time a seven day session, especially a chan session, took place, business for incense and bead vendors was poor.
To be continued