[The assembly respectfully requests the Venerable Master to lecture.]
Namo sa dan tuo su qie duo ye, e la he di san miao san pu tuo xie (three times)
All elders of various monasteries, good advisors in Taiwan, honorable guests, and good men and women: The affinities from our past allow us to gather here today to investigate the Buddhadharma. The Buddhadharma is so vast that nothing is outside of it; it is so tiny that nothing is inside it. The Buddhadharma pervades all of space and the Dharma Realm. Let’s discuss this Dharma Realm first.
We take the Dharma Realm as our substance. As it is said,
Taking the Dharma Realm as our substance, how could anything be outside?
Taking emptiness as our function, everything is contained.
The myriad things are level and equal, without discrimination.
Not giving rise to a single thought is the teaching apart from words.
I say these four lines because I have nothing to do after eating my fill. This is just to annoy people. Although these words are annoying, they contain a kernel of truth as well. The capacity of our minds should embody the entirety of space and the Dharma Realm, excluding and rejecting nothing. That’s why the Buddha is not the only one who possesses “the mind that embodies the universe, with a capacity pervading realms as many as grains of sand.” Each of us has this ability and wisdom. However, since we have set it aside for a long time, our wisdom is covered by dust.
Taking the Dharma Realm as our substance, how could anything be outside? What could there be outside the Dharma Realm? Nothing. We take the Dharma Realm as our substance and space as our function. The usefulness of space is fantastic. Although it is space, it contains and embraces everything. That’s why:
Taking emptiness as our function, everything is contained.
The myriad things are level and equal, without discrimination. We are all inherently endowed with wisdom and a wonderfully enlightened and understanding mind. The Buddhas throughout the ten directions and three periods of time do not have any more of this than we, nor do the beings of the nine Dharma Realms have any less of this. We are basically inseparable from and identical to all Buddhas. It is only because we have departed from enlightenment and united with defilement that we cannot make use of our great wisdom.
What do we always use? We always use ignorance. Ignorance makes us understand nothing. We seem to understand but actually we don’t. Nonetheless, we become self-satisfied and smug about having such pseudo-understanding. This self-satisfaction reveals our inadequacy. “Being full of yourself makes you vulnerable to harm; being modest brings benefits.” Since we haven’t unveiled our original wisdom, we mistake our ignorance and afflictions to be talents. We often get angry for no reason. “The fire of ignorance and a tiger-like attitude stem from offenses done in past lives.” If you didn’t have any offenses, you would not have such a terrific temper, getting upset constantly.
Once you burn with anger, you forget about the Buddhadharma. You only remember greed, anger, and ignorance. Isn’t that strange? If you don’t believe me, you may reflect and see if you are this way. You are not alone in this; nearly everyone has this fault. That’s why you can’t apply the Buddhadharma that you learn. You make mistakes because of ignorance. You use your mind in the wrong way. You don’t use what you should and instead use what you shouldn’t. That’s why you fight and worry all day long, to the point that you can’t even sleep at night. Suffering from insomnia, you look for a shortcut rather than a real solution. You try to get some sleep by taking sleeping pills. When you take too many, you can’t wake up. Isn’t that sad?
Afflictions come from ignorance. Ignorance makes us confused; in our confusion, we do confused things. Ignorance is simply desire. This includes the desires for wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep. Those who desire riches dream day and night about hitting the jackpot. They want to rake in a profit without contributing any capital. They want riches to match that of a nation, but they die before they can possibly earn enough to compete with any nation’s treasury. Even then, they still don’t wake up from their dreams of striking it rich.
Then there’s the desire for sex. Sex is like a sharp knife that shaves away your marrow. That’s why you’re not healthy. That’s how devastating sex can be. Desiring sex is equivalent to wanting to exhaust your life. Let me tell you bluntly, “Insects born in vegetables will die in those vegetables.” Similarly, since we are born as a result of sexual desire, we will die in sexual desire. Parents worry day and night about how their son should marry and how their daughter should wed. If this important event does not occur, parents cannot die in peace.
How should parents be? Parents should teach their children some knowledge and skills, and that’s enough. They need not worry so much about whether their children marry or not. If you worry so much and insist that they marry and produce offspring to extend your family lineage, you are forcing your children on to death row! You don’t want your children to cultivate and become Buddhas. Some parents are upset when their child wants to be a monk or nun. But if their child wants to go and take drugs, it’s fine with them. Maybe if the kid were to take drugs he would be apathetic about everything; therefore he would live an average life and die exactly as he had been born.
This is one thing that we are confused about. Becoming a monk or a nun is the best thing, but parents are afraid that their children will do that. Isn’t that strange? They are so afraid when their children ascend, but pleased when they descend. That is how confused parents can be. Their confusion comes from being controlled by desire. Someone asked today about attaining wisdom. Don’t be confused, and you will be wise! If you’re always muddled and plagued by desire, how can you have any wisdom?
This is the first time that we have come home from the West to propagate the Dharma. I brought the Proper Dharma to the West and have now brought the Proper Dharma back to our country. We Chinese should realize that Buddhadharma is not an exclusively Chinese religion; the West also accepts Buddhism. You might ask, “Can Westerners also become monks and nuns? Aren’t their desires even greater than those of the Chinese?” Westerners have a good quality, though. What is that? When Western monastics cannot restrain their desires any longer, they return to lay life. They will not put on a pretense of being Buddhist monastics. I feel that Westerners are very straightforward.
To be continued