Those merchants became more and more upset. During a chan session, the front gate of the Nanhua Monastery would usually be closed; everyone would go in and out through the side door. As the story was told, once during a chan session, those business people got so upset that they broke through the front gate. Therefore, Elder Master Hsu Yun forbade people to sell things at the entrance.
Another incident took place in either 1989 or 1990 when the Venerable Master went to Texas. I believe the Venerable Master went there only once, obviously for some special reasons. At that time, there were not that many temples so we had to eat out and not in the temples. Everyone knows that there are these disposable chopsticks that go with your lunch. That time, when the Venerable Master finished his meal, he wiped his chopsticks with his napkin and put them in his pocket.
When people saw the Venerable Master do this, they were quite embarrassed. That didn't look too good. Why did the Venerable Master do that? They told him, "Venerable Master, those chopsticks can be tossed after each use. We don't need to keep them." The Venerable Master said, "I am not as wasteful as you!" Of course that person didn't dare to say anything more. From then on, no one mentioned anything. From that time on, after each meal, the Venerable Master would wipe his chopsticks and keep them. No one kept track of whether he kept them after every meal, but it seemed that each time they did see him, the Venerable Master preserved those chopsticks each time.
After the trip had concluded and we were about to return to California, we had to change flights and wait in the airport for about an hour and a half. It was lunch time. There wasn't enough time to eat outside and there wasn't much to eat in the airport. What were we to do? A layperson volunteered to go and buy food outside the airport while we waited in the airport. That solved the problem for everyone. He was enthusiastic and purchased them quickly. Everyone was quite happy that he returned. We sat there in the airport, opened up our lunch boxes, and discovered that in his rush, the layperson forgot to bring chopsticks. Just then, the Venerable Master took the chopsticks from his pocket, "There, a pair for you." "There another pair for you." "Guo Pu, a pair for you." A pair for this one person and a pair for that person. When the Venerable Master had distributed all of his chopsticks, everyone had a pair. There were neither too many nor too few!
This reminds me of Great Master Vimalakirti. When Manjushri Bodhisattva brought 500 Arhats to visit Great Master Vimalakirti, Vimalakirti had just brought food back from the Nation of Accumulated Fragrance (Xiangji). Everybody thought that if one had enough skill to bring back excellent dishes from other lands, of course the more food he brought back the better. However, the meal that Vimalakirti fetched was just enough, down to the last grain of rice. Not one grain more, and not grain less. Everything was finished and everyone had his fill. This is the derivation of the chan saying, "No deficiency and no surplus." No more and no less.
You may find things that sages do strange at the time, but when you think about it afterwards, you will realize that those decisions were probably the most appropriate for that set of circumstances and conditions. The Venerable Master was not greedy for more. He didn't think to save up a few more pairs of chopsticks. Nope, they were just enough.
I don't mean anything when I say these things. Don't think that I am talking about the kitchen staff incurring offenses because there are leftovers. We can't compare with Vimalakirti. I don't mean that the poorer the school the better, as far as mentioning the event regarding the school's solicitation of funds. I don't mean that it's best if schools have no money. I don't mean that at all.
Anyway, the Venerable Master taught in those particular ways. Everyone knows that Manjushri Bodhisattva and Universal Worthy Bodhisattva play very important roles in the Avatamsaka Sutra. Many patriarchs often quote this phrase in their Dharma talks: "If yet a single dharma is not emptied, then Manjushri loses his wisdom; if the myriad dharmas are gone, then Universal Worthy loses his state." How is this explained? It means that Manjushri Bodhisattva will lose his wisdom if one cannot even perceive the emptiness of a single dharma. Therefore, it's obvious that the myriad dharmas are void; there is not a single dharma. That's what Manjushri Bodhisattva endorsed. As for Universal Worthy, his state is that often thousand dharmas. So is there dharma or is there no dharma?
Sorry, but it's just about time. I didn't organize my talk well. Maybe next time. Amitabha!