The next rule is very important. You cannot cook in your residence. That means, unless you already have a kitchen built in, you cannot use a hotplate, a rice cooker, or other such appliances. You cannot cook in your room or in your apartment. I'm not going to ask you to raise your hand, but let me ask you: How many people here tonight have broken this rule, are breaking this rule, or know someone who's breaking this rule? You don't have to answer. But remember that you signed this. You made a promise to follow these rules.
Residents eating with the assembly, and that should be just about everyone, are expected to eat during the hours when the dining rooms are open. Right now, so many people are eating breakfast and dinner in their rooms that the kitchen cannot function serving breakfast and dinner. Not only that, but when you're eating in your room, you attract mice and cockroaches and other unclean kinds of animals and insects. We can't use poison here because we don't kill, so once we have a pest problem, it's a problem of the CTTB. Do you want to leave that problem when you go?
Now if you're not doing this, please don't think that I'm scolding you, because I'm not. I'm just talking about the principle. It's very important. Since we're a community, we need to do things together. Living here is not the same as owning your own home. Everyone has a responsibility to the community. We're talking about rules for those residences that do not have built-in kitchens. If there is a built-in kitchen, then it's okay. For example, the cottages on Dharma Protector Lane have kitchens that can be used, but in the back of the CTTB, the Venerable Master never allowed people to have kitchens. I was in Taiwan at the time, but I was told that he had some kitchens torn out so that people wouldn't be able to use them.
Now, regarding planting flowers, trees, and vegetables near your residence, we have a landscaping committee to oversee that now. Planting without authorization is more of a problem in the back property, especially Dragon Tree House. We need to adorn the CTTB. If you don't really know how to plant things and you're just enjoying yourself, that's not really helping. We're planning to landscape that area to make it look neat and proper and adorned. Recently somebody pulled out all the ground cover and even some of the woods behind Dragon Tree House and planted something else, and it looks like a wound on the side of the terrace. If you would like to join the landscaping committee and help us and learn with us, you would be welcomed because we really need more energy.
If you're going to have breakfast and dinner in the kitchen, then sometimes you can help to cook because right now we're short of cooks for breakfast and dinner because most people are eating breakfast and dinner in their rooms.
People have been dumping unwanted objects—bicycles, refrigerators, washing machines, sofas, for example—outside their door or in another room, or putting their personal belongings in another room. All of these are not allowed. The left-home people end up having to clean up after such people. If those people not here, I hope they can still hear me. If you're not the one that I'm talking to, then please don't be insulted. These things, refrigerators and sofas, are very heavy. Do you know how many left-home people now have back problems because they have had to move these things?
The next thing is to cherish the Way-place's energy and the energy of the planet. If you see a light left on, don't just ignore it. Please either turn it off yourself or tell the guest prefect. The same is true of water. If you see a toilet is just flushing and flushing and won't stop, please let someone know because it's wasting water.
Here's another rule that I know is a problem and I really don't know what to do about it, but I'm going to read it because everybody here signed it and agreed to it. It says, "An atmosphere of study and contemplation must be maintained. No stereos, no radios, no VCR, no television, no private access to the Internet is allowed in any of the residences. All of these things are not permitted. Single residents, both men and women, may not have a private telephone. Now I know that the situation has changed a great deal since these rules were made. I know that the world has changed, but I think that we should still try our best to follow these rules the best that we can. This is not only for the Way-place to have an atmosphere of quiet contemplation, but also for our minds to have a place of quiet contemplation. Even if we're not really bothering anybody, we're obstructing our own cultivation.
I'll go to the last one. Except for special cases, all residents of the CTTB are required to attend at least morning and evening recitation, Avatamsaka Sutra recitation, lunch ceremony, and afternoon and evening lectures, as well as special holiday celebrations and special sessions. Children are also encouraged to attend.
I feel that I want to say something about this because I think some people use this as an excuse not to do other work. When I started speaking, I said that the left-home people's primary responsibility is to cultivate, and the lay people's primary responsibility is to support the Dharma and be Dharma Protectors. Recently, it's beginning to look to me like things are upside-down. When we have Dharma assemblies, what happens in the kitchen, for example, is that many of the lay residents say that they want to attend the Dharma assemblies, and so the left-home people have to cook for them. Now this doesn't include all the laypeople here. I'm sure you know how much work you do. I would say that most of the laypeople here work very, very hard to support the Way- place. But there are some who don't—enough so that it's a problem. If you really want to cultivate, why don't you also leave home. You're more than welcome. I think I'll end on that note.
Bhikshu Heng Lai Shi:
I really support what Heng Liang said. This is very good. This is like sweet dew to me: the principles of the CTTB. One thing that should be said to the laypeople: you do not have to stay here. There's no guard at the gate to hold you in here. It's not an easy thing to live here and we all understand that. This is a place of cultivation. If you're uncomfortable that you can't have your stereo, radio, TV and VCR, your stove and refrigerator and all that, if you can't do without those, then buy or rent a house in Ukiah and live there. You could still come to the ceremonies here. But if you live here, you have to follow a much more rigorous life style, and you must produce the mind to do that. If you don't want to, then don't stay here. It's as simple as that.
Bhikshu Heng Lyu Shi:
We come here to support the Way-place, so we should follow the instructions. We should not follow our own ideas. Even if you say, "I do this to support the Way-place"—that's your own idea. You don't know the priorities of what should be done. If you go against the instructions, you're not supporting the Way-place. You're not helping the Way-place or Buddhism. You are turning Buddhism upside-down. When you come here, you should let go of your ego first. Don't be on an ego-trip at the Way-place. If you do that, you just create karma.
When we come here, we should follow instructions. That's the way to purify our lives and attain true liberation. Otherwise, our ego always tells us to do what we want to do, and we end up taking the express bus down to the hells. When we come here, we want to ascend, not descend. Why don't we follow the instructions?