I am Heng Yi. After our return from Malaysia and Taiwan, many people have asked me why I do not go up to the podium to speak about this trip to Malaysia and Taiwan. So tonight I will briefly express my thoughts.
Actually, the time over there was very brief. There is not too much to speak about, but there are quite a few impressions and observations. When we were in Malaysia and Singapore, the Upasakas and Upasikas there practically all raised the same issues. They said, "Many Dharma Masters told us that we only need to recite the name of the Buddha, we don't need to follow any other practices. For example, there is no need to chant the 'Shurangama Mantra.'" Some people said, "Other Dharma Masters told us that there is no need to uphold the Five Precepts if we recite the name of the Buddha; it is sufficient to take refuge with Buddhism." Some even said, "It's not necessary to be vegetarian, as long as one recites the name of the Buddha." Many people brought up these similar points. Since we are always promoting vegetarianism and urging people to be compassionate and not take life, they are very perplexed and at a loss.
When we first arrived at the airport in Taiwan, there was a customs agent who saw me and said, "Here is a newspaper for you. Have you ever heard about the 'sweet dew'? It is a major fad in Taiwan." "What sweet dew?" I asked. "You'll know after you read about it. It is a very good thing." He then gave me a book, "You must read this book; it is very, very good."
So what is this "sweet dew"? That newspaper reported about some "Dharma King" who had a major Dharma assembly in Taiwan to pray for sweet dew. The reporter wrote that this is the true sweet dew, and it is overwhelmingly popular in Taiwan. Even television stations had done segments about it.
I quickly glanced through the book, which was about a certain Dharma Master of the Esoteric School who emphasizes the existence of sweet dew. Most people refer to water over which the Great Compassion Mantra is chanted as sweet dew, but this Dharma Master states that true sweet dew comes from heaven. He went on to explain in detail how sweet dew came about: how a beam of heavenly light had shined upon his bowl, causing lots of sweet dew to appear in the bowl. Many Dharma Masters from the Esoteric School, as well as renowned monks and respected Buddhists, also attended his Dharma assembly and tasted this sweet dew.
This reminds me of a report, or more like an advertisement, that I saw when I was in Canada (at Gold Buddha Monastery). It was a poster that said Maitreya Bodhisattva, or perhaps it was Maitreya Buddha—I cannot remember now—had already been born into this world. It even showed a photograph; he looked like a Westerner. The report said that he emitted an unusual light wherever he went, and the picture showed halos all around him. He also helped others. Unusual light would appear wherever he pointed his finger. He was shown in the photo surrounded by a large following.
Also in Canada, there was an Upasika who once brought her children to the Sagely City to study. She said that the reason she went to Canada was that the Venerable Master told her in a dream to immigrate to Canada. Therefore, she traveled to Canada with her daughter to take a look first, and that's how she arrived at our Way-place. At that time, there happened to be a Dharma assembly going on. It was the Avatamsaka Dharma Assembly, in which she participated. Every day, after the Dharma Assembly concluded, she would say, "Today, I saw the Buddhas and Bodhisattavas on the stage emitting radiance." The next day she would say that she saw Elder Master Hsu Yun at the Hall of Rebirth, and the day after that she would say that she saw the Three Sages of the West. Everyday she would see lots of visions and lots of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
At that time, the Upasikas there were elderly cultivators, and they were all excited and overjoyed. Each day, their response would be "Wow! Did you see something today? What did you see?" All day long, they wanted to see something themselves. Even after the Dharma Assembly ended, they still followed her around. Since she lived in northern Vancouver, she had to take the ferry to get to Vancouver proper. Everyday on the ferry, she would say that the Venerable Master was sitting right next to her and speaking to her. Thus, many people went along with her to take the ferry, for they wanted to see where the Venerable Master made his emergence. Not long after, she returned to Taiwan, and now there is no more news from her.
Why do I talk about this? We humans are curious and drawn towards things that we find incomprehensible or inconceivable, and we wish that we can comprehend and take part. Therefore, during this era of the end of Dharma, when false prophets speak the Dharma, they often use these mystifying phenomena that lead people astray without their knowing. I am not here to criticize whether the phenomena are good or bad, nor am I here to make judgment on truth versus falsehood. It is simply that these phenomena are totally irrevelant to cultivation and totally unrelated to the ways of karma. If we simply focus upon cultivation, then these phenomena are unimportant. Many people are led astray because of their initial curiosity: "Ah! Even though this is an externalist teaching, it sounds quite reasonable!" When one thinks in this manner, one is likely to go astray without knowing it.
I bring this up because recently some people among us have been reading a book that all of us know to be from an externalist teaching. The book talks about some death row inmates who took refuge with a certain Dharma Master and within the span of a year or some short period of time they diligently cultivated. In the end, after they were executed and then cremated, there remained lots of sharira. Some felt that this was a very good book and even made photocopies of it. To discuss this matter may seem to be making a big deal out of something trivial. However, when you make photocopies for someone else to read, if that person does not clearly understand but believes the contents to be proper and true, then this is the same as promoting improper Dharma. Therefore, we must never drop our guard and be careless.
Let me speak about another matter in closing. In Los Angeles, there is an Upasaka, and those who have lived in Los Angeles must all know him. His last name is Soong. He and his wife both are very supportive of the Way-places. Not long after they took refuge with the Venerable Master, they heard that there was some Great Treasure Dharma King who was in Los Angeles performing abhishekam (anointing the crown), so they drove over to see the Dharma King for this ritual. However, halfway there they got a flat tire and did not make it. Later, when the Venerable Master paid them a visit, the Upasaka mentioned it to the Venerable Master. The Venerable Master told him, "You! You have a diamond in your hand and you refuse to take it. Instead, you go out to pick up garbage. What for?"
Originally, I had other things to speak about, but time is up. Perhaps next time. Amitabha!