Speaking Dharma is like a school. This school is for training people to speak Dharma. In ordinary schools, teachers teach and students learn. In this school of ours, we train people to lecture after they have been studying Buddhism for some time. In the beginning we used to have two monks and two nuns give talks. We were just practicing and not necessarily speaking for the general public. We were just speaking to our own people. We could speak whether or not we were good at speaking. I began this kind of project when I was in Hong Kong. Every Saturday and Sunday, young people would take turns coming up to speak. I'm still doing this now that I'm in the United States. If only monks and nuns got to speak, the laypeople would never get a chance. That's why we changed our way of doing things.
Now at every lecture, we have two Sangha members, a monk and a nun, and two laypeople, a layman and a laywoman, so that everyone has an equal opportunity to practice speaking Dharma. The laypeople should sit up here together with the Sangha members, but they should sit on the outside. There's no need for two monks or two nuns to come up. One of each is enough, and we all take turns. The translator is counted separately. Everyone should take turns speaking Dharma: these two people this time; another pair next time. It should not be the same people speaking every time. The translator should also sit up here. We should do everything in a democratic and orderly way. After a bit of practice, everyone will have the courage to speak.
Ours is a school for training people to speak the Dharma. For that reason, you can say whatever you wish, as long as you don't scold people. You may even berate people, but you must first berate me. Those who rebuke me are my good teachers. If you hear people disparaging me, don't argue with them. Instead, please bow three times to them for me and thank them by saying, "My teacher's karmic obstructions are severe. Your castigation will lessen his obstructions and cause his offenses to vanish. That's why I want to bow to you in gratitude."
Do you hear? You absolutely must not get mad at them. Once you lose your temper, it will be fire meeting fire, and there will be no hiding from the blaze. [Note: Two fire 火 radicals makes the word "blaze" 炎 in Chinese]. This blaze will burn both sides up. Everyone ought to be very careful in this regard.
We shouldn't be opposed to any person or matter. If the other person is wrong, we should persuade him with reason instead of overpowering him by force. That is our objective. Not only should we treat others that way, we should also be that way in our own place. We shouldn't seek outside. Our most important guidelines are not to contend, not to be greedy, not to seek, not to be selfish, not to pursue personal advantage, and not to lie. These are the fundamental principles we must learn to follow. Today the others took up the time and I don't have much time left. I'll make up for it when I return on the ninth.