Bhikshuni Heng Liang Shi :
All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Venerable Master, all Dharma Masters, and all Good Knowing Advisors, Amitabha!
I just dropped a copy of the regulations in the space in front of my feet, and this is what I was going to talk about, so I had to pick it up. Actually, the fact that I dropped the rules is significant because I think right now maybe some of the rules are not being followed perfectly, so in effect we're dropping them and we need to pick them back up.
I'm going to approach this a little bit slowly because I think the problem is in our attitude. Once the attitude is correct, then the rules will become natural. There's maybe one or two lay-members who have been here even longer than I have. They know that the kind of teaching that the Venerable Master gave us over the years concerning protecting, maintaining, and upholding a Way-place.
I'm going to start with one view that seems to be among us—that's a wrong view that I think we need to discuss. This view came to me by way of a rumor. The rumor that I heard was that some of the laypeople here have said that the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA) and the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) are rich and have lots of money.
Now, first of all, it's inappropriate to be thinking about how much money the DRBA has or has not. But, for those of us who have been here for a long time and have served the Way-place when the Venerable Master was here, we had countless lessons regarding not wasting the property of the Triple Jewel.
He would sometimes get very verbal and loud, and say, "If we waste even a single penny of the money of the Triple Jewel, we will fall into the hells!" Now, especially for Westerners, this is really hard to hear because we don't like to hear about falling into the hells over a penny. We might think that this is a very extreme attitude. But, it's very, very important teaching. It's something that the Venerable Master taught us over and over, over and over again.
One time the Venerable Master was speaking the Dharma. He was sitting in the Dharma seat. When it came time for the translation, he stopped speaking and he picked up a letter. He took the letter out of the envelope and gave it to his attendant to read to him while the translation News from the Dharma Realm was being done. As he was listening to the attendant's translation of the letter, he took the envelope and very carefully turned it inside out. Then he very carefully smoothed out all the wrinkles. By that time, the transla- tion was over, and he said, "I just got a letter from my friend. I've turned the envelope inside out, and I'm going to use the same envelope to send a letter back to my friend, because I don't want to waste even a single piece of paper that belongs to the Triple Jewel." I think you've probably all heard before that he would carry a single napkin in his pocket for a long time and reuse it so that he wouldn't waste the paper.
Although he was already aging, maybe in his late 60 's, he would return to his room at night in the K building and without using even a night light or a flash light. He would find his way up the stairs in the dark because he didn't want to waste electricity. Now, on the one hand, you could say that he was protecting the property of the Triple Jewel, but actually, the Ven- erable Master's mind is as big as the Dharma Realm. He was also cher- ishing these things for the planet, for this earth that we live on.
Now we have a little bit of resources that we can use to propagate the Triple Jewel, to maintain the Way-place and keep it from spoiling or going bad, and a little bit more comfort because we get to eat a good meal every day and we get to wear clothes that don't have too many patches. In the winter, we don't get too cold because we have enough clothes to wear. So you could say that, right now, we're enjoying many blessings. Blessings don't just come from nowhere; they come from accumulated merit and virtue. The accumulation of merit and virtue that has created the blessings that we are enjoying is the merit and virtue of our venerable teacher. The virtue of not wasting things, and being thrifty—that's one virtue that creates many blessings. On the other hand, the Venerable Master is not stingy. Whenever it was time to use whatever he had to help living beings, to protect the Triple Jewel, or to propagate the Dharma, he was most generous.
In the past, people knew that we only ate food that was being thrown away, food that was being thrown away by the market, for example. Everything that came to us was not solicited; we just used whatever came. Sometimes if people wanted to donate a case of candy bars, that's what we would eat for lunch. If we got from the market lettuce that they were discarding, we would have to find the good parts and throw away the bad parts so that we could have our meal that day. Because people knew this about us, they would think, "Oh, at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, they really like to not waste old things that people throw out," so people got the idea that they would send us all their garbage.
Don't misunderstand me, it's not that the Sangha here is greedy for good things and new things; that's not the point. As the Avatamsaka Sutra teaches, whenever you make an offering to the pure field of blessings, that is the Sangha, the result of your offering will be exactly in proportion to your mind. Your mind at the time of giving, the level of purity News from the Dharma Realm of your mind, determines your blessings. It doesn't matter what you give, it could be a piece of garbage; but if to you, that piece of garbage is very valuable and hard for you to give away, and you give it to the Sangha, then your blessings will be limitless and boundless. However, if you have this jewel, but you have the mind of arrogance, then the blessings will not be very great; in fact, you'll be creating an offense.
The garbage accumulated and accumulated and we just had to keep moving it around and put it somewhere. It took the left-home people many precious hours which they took away from cultivating the Way. I mean, moving garbage is a way to cultivate the Way, that's true; however, they could have been doing something that was more obvious cultivation. I can't believe that all of those donations were given with a true heart. Some of those donations were just a convenient way to get rid of some- thing people no longer wanted. We ended up having all kinds of stuff filling up and cluttering the CTTB. It took some money to actually get rid of it. Maybe there was actually some sincerity to the offerings at the beginning, but it ended up that the Triple Jewel had to use some of its resources just to get rid of it.
Now again, I'm not saying this because the Sangha is greedy for good things, I'm just trying to point to the attitude that I see as a bit upside- down and incorrect. I'm trying to illustrate the principles so that we can come back to the Middle Way. Because we are a community, we are an organization, it's very easy for individuals within our community to have the attitude that the organization is going to take care of me. The organi- zation is going to support me because the organization is so much bigger than I am. I am just one little tiny speck of it, so of course the organization can support me. But this is not the proper attitude to have when we come to the CTTB, because there is only one requirement for everyone who comes here, and that is a sincere heart. That sincere heart is the Bodhi mind. Whether you're a left-home person or a lay-person, that Bodhi mind means that you want to protect and support the Triple Jewel, you want to cause Buddhism to flourish. It's not that we come here to physi- cally rely on the Triple Jewel to protect us, to cause us to flourish. A wonderful principle of the Dharma is that when we have a pure heart of giving, then we receive what we give; that's a natural result.
There is not a small number of people here, both lay people and left- home people, who have been here for ten or twenty years, and they have exhausted their energy to support the Way-place. We have exhausted our body, mouth, and mind to the point that sometimes we may feel like we've taken a loss. But as long as we can keep our minds in the middle and keep our minds proper, we will have no loss in fact. We will have gained something incredible, in fact. After you've been at a place for a long time and become accustomed to it, it's very easy to forget how wonderful it was to find it in the first place.
I remember one time the Venerable Master came from San Francisco for the weekend to teach us the Dharma. He used to come every weekend. He would go back and forth every week—very tiring for even a young person. But as soon as he got here, he wouldn't get a glass of water, he wouldn't go to the toilet, he would go directly to the lecture hall and cheer us up and raise our spirits.
This time he could see that we were all very weary. We were all very tired, over-worked, and starting to feel kind of down. So he said, "Tonight, we're going to have a special lecture. And I want all of you to get up and tell me, tell the assembly, what is the most special thing about the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas?" As each person got up to tell what they felt was special about the CTTB, the whole assembly's energy and joy came up. At the very end, as usual, the Venerable Master was the last to speak. He said, "I thought of something that no one else has thought about it." He said, "What is the most unique thing about the CTTB? In the entire world, there's no place that has as many toilets as the City of Ten Thou- sand Buddhas." And of course, 80% of them don't work.
We need to constantly remind ourselves that we have a great debt of gratitude for being here. If we can do that, then even if we get really tired and weary, experience doubts or depression, we can always pick up our own spirits. And in this way too, we can also maintain a proper mind. In cultivation, the most important thing is to maintain a proper mind. If we become arrogant or depressed, those are not correct attitudes.
When the Venerable Master established the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, he often said that here, we would keep the proper Dharma in the world. In the beginning, there were mostly Americans here, so he explained to us how the Dharma in Asia has gone bad. A lot of it has to do with the strength of the Sangha. He taught us that in order for the proper Dharma to be in the world, there must be a Sangha. And by Sangha, I mean a Sangha of left-home people.
To be continued