上人：在什麼地方？在Redwood Valley（紅木谷）的，叫那個 Jim Jones（吉姆•瓊斯），人人都怕我這個人民教。在萬佛城，妳們知道這個情形嗎？
那植物都會說話的，你不能輕看它們。法國有一個報紙，說有一個人種兩株番茄。他這一株天天見了面就說 「Good morning，番茄先生！」等結番茄的時候，他說 Good morning Good afternoon，Good eveing；早安、午安、晚安，結的超出一倍。你看植物都有知的，能夠有智慧的，不要把植物看輕了。植物看見的，所以一草一木不能隨便摘，一螻一蟻不得傷生，這個戒律要持的。
Venerable Master: When I first came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, more than nine hundred people from the People's Temple committed suicide at that time. Do you remember, Guo Xiu?
Disciple: Yes, I remember.
Venerable Master: Where did the mass suicide take place? They were led by a man named Jim Jones from Redwood Valley. Because of this, people were afraid of my 'People's Religion.' Did you know about this?
Disciple: I've heard about it.
Venerable Master: Fifteen ministers and priests came, wanting to drive me out of the City. They said, "The United States is a Christian nation; Americans don't want to learn Buddhism. If you want to propagate Buddhism, go to Russia." Were you aware of this?
Plant Flowers to Beautify the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Venerable Master: We should try our best to beautify the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
Disciple: We can do a better job.
Venerable Master: We should have a peony garden and a chrysanthemum garden.
Disciple: We have a peony (shao yao) garden already.
Venerable Master: Each garden should be ten thousand square feet. When guests come, they will not want to leave. They will look at one flower after another. We should have different kinds of flowers every month so people can come to visit. Flowers can be planted anywhere. Chrysanthemums should be of the low-growing variety, not the tall variety, so there will be flowers all over the ground. When I was in Hong Kong, I had a patch of wild, yellow chrysanthemums. The blossoms were pretty big, round, and very nice to look at. Here at the City, I have planted a rose bush. It has grown quite tall and has had more than thirty blossoms at once.
Plants can talk, so we should not look down on them. According to a French newspaper, somebody planted two tomato plants. Everyday he would say, "Good morning, Mr. Tomato," to one of them. When the tomatoes formed, the plant he greeted with, "Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening" produced twice the ordinary number of tomatoes. Plants have awareness and intelligence, and we should not scorn them. They are able to see as well. Due to this, we must not casually break a blade of grass or a branch. Nor should we harm a cricket or an ant. We must uphold this precept.
Irrigate Withering Trees with the Water Used to Rinse Rice
Disciple: Some trees at the City are drying up. What can we do to save them?
Venerable Master: If they are about to wither or die, forget about them. When their time is up, they will die. After they live to a certain age, it will be hard to save them no matter what method you use. But there is a way to save them if they are meant to live. We can water them with some rice soup or rice-rinsing-water everyday. We can nourish them so they have a better chance to survive. If they do not live, at least we tried our best. In everything we do, we should just try our best.
Young Boys Studying at the Girls' School
Disciple: Is it okay for female teachers to teach young boys at the Girls' School?
Venerable Master:It is fine for little kids and those in kindergarten. However, it's better to still keep them a little bit separate.
Disciple: They study in the same classroom. But these children know they should use separate restrooms.
Venerable Master: Then it's fine. We need to organize our schools well. Education in the United States has gone bankrupt. Education has been ruined not only in the United States, but in the West in general. In the United States nowadays, it is possible for a three-year-old kid to actually take a gun and shoot a five-year-old.
It Is Time for Other Countries to Flourish Disciple: From now on, should we be more active in giving people more opportunities to know about the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the Buddhadharma?
Venerable Master: Of course, other countries are now on the rise. They are unfamiliar with us, and it would be good for them to get to know us better. As long as you do not violate the precepts, you can do whatever you want. In the future, our priorities should be studying the precepts and cultivating. Work comes second.
There Is No Precept Prohibiting People Over Sixty from Leaving the Home Life
Venerable Master: The precepts are alive. When you know that something accords with the Buddhadharma, then it is a precept. Things that go against the Dharma are not precepts. For example, nowadays in Taiwan, people over the age of sixty are not allowed to leave home. There is no such precept! If you know how to practice, you won't go around saying, "Hey, you're not holding the precepts!" You should reflect upon yourself, "How am I doing with regard to the precepts?" Don't always talk about others.
Venerable Master: The precepts are like a mirror for looking at yourself.
After I Am Gone, Recite the Flower Adornment Sutra and Scatter My Ashes in Space
Venerable Master: Now all of you have grown up and are not children any more. You should make the Buddhadharma flourish in the United States. Each and every one of you has this responsibility. I came to America by myself and spent over thirty years here with nothing to show for it. You ought to continue on.
Disciple: We will.
Venerable Master: Now I am sick and do not know whether I will recover. This part of my fate is unknown. If I get well, I will help you; but if my condition worsens, you all need to rely on yourselves. As for what to do after I depart, it is very easy if you are willing to listen. You can hold ceremonies for seven to forty-nine days. After the cremation, scatter my ashes throughout all of space and the Dharma Realm. All of space and the Dharma Realm are where my great vows exist and they serve as my memorial hall. You do not need to build another one.
As for my clothes, I will wear the yellow garment inside. If it is winter, I will wear a padded cotton garment outside. I will wear the single-layered one if it is summer. I will also have my robe and sash on as usual. That is enough; I need nothing else. I came into the world with nothing; when I depart, I don't want anything. I am telling you this so when the time comes, you will not panic and not know what to do, with everyone saying something different. I don't want things to be in disarray.
Disciple: Which sutra should we recite?
Venerable Master: Recite the Flower Adornment Sutra.
What Counts Is Propagating the Buddhadharma; Seeing Me Is Useless
Venerable Master: Do not always depend on me. Since I have been very solitary without anyone to help me, I have not accomplished anything. In the thirty years since I first came to the United States, I have not met anyone who has really understood me or helped me. I have only met people who get jealous first of all, and leave cultivation for last. In all of history, there has never been another teacher who has bowed or knelt to his disciples to request them to speak the Dharma. Never!
I am maintaining the proper Buddhadharma. The first year that we held the Water and Land Ceremony, I invited more than a hundred people from Mainland China, both left-home and lay people. I paid for their plane tickets myself. In order to create a good affinity, I gave each one of them a string of recitation beads. I knelt down to hand the beads to them. Someone got mad at me and said, "How are you helping the Buddhadharma by doing that?" I replied, "Do you have higher wisdom than me? Are you more knowledgeable than I am? Have you practiced more years than I have? What do you gain by talking to me like that?" He was speechless. The Song of Enlightenment says,
Although one's bones and bodies may be crushed to powder,
Still one can't repay the debt in full.
Yet by understanding one sentence,
One transcends a hundred million eons.
What counts is genuine understanding of the Buddhadharma. No matter how long you pursue fame and profit, it's useless if you don't understand the Buddhadharma.
In the future, don't come visit me so often. Seeing me doesn't do any good. What counts is to propagate the Buddhadharma.
Venerable Master: What do we want money for if we haven't spread the Buddhadharma? You should take a look: every crime is motivated by the desire for money. Once people have money, they will do anything.
Venerable Master: Wouldn't you say that's true?
Venerable Master: It is best to do without money. A monk who has no money can be called the "pure field of blessings." Left home people should wear their sashes at all times. They should never leave their three sashes, bowl and sitting cloth. Nowadays, monks and nuns are just like lay people.
An Tse, To Lun, and Hsuan Hua are False; My Real Name is "Space" I never met Upasaka Hsieh in Hong Kong. After I came to the United States, however, he came to Waverly Place to see me a few times. [Editor's Note: Waverly Place was where the Buddhist Lecture Hall was located.] The first time he came, I told him Dharma Master To Lun had passed away. The second time, I still told him that. That elder layman looked quite sad. "Oh, when did he pass away?" he asked. "He has been gone for a long time." "Are you his relative or disciple?" he inquired.
I said, "Casually speaking, I could call myself both his disciple and his teacher; disciple or teacher—it's all the same."
Later on, the younger Upasaka Hsieh [his son] came and said, "This is Dharma Master To Lun." I said, "No, I'm not." That was one incident. Later on, I invited elder Upasaka Hsieh to have a meal with me. Since he was acquainted with me by then, he also knew who Dharma Master To Lun was. I once told Dharma Master Bai Sheng, "There are three names on my business card: An Tse, To Lun, and Hsuan Hua. Yet none of them is my real name." What is my real name? My true name is "Space."
The Buddha is identical to space. There is a saying, "If people want to understand the state of a Buddha, they should make their minds as pure as space." People wishing to understand a Buddha's state need to make their minds as clean and pure as space. Space has no marks and is boundless. A Buddha's substance resembles space.
I had a pseudonym before I left the home life: What was it? Bai Zhong (China) Yi (number one). At that time, I felt, "I am the number one person in China! This is an excellent name." But then I thought, "What is the name for? Where is it? It doesn't exist!" Then I called myself a "Living Corpse"—I am already dead while still alive. That was still a false name.
Later, when I practiced filial piety beside my mother's grave, people called me Filial Son Bai—that was another false name. After I left the home life, I was first called An Tse, then To Lun. Now my name is Hsuan Hua. These names are all unreal.