Instructional Talk at Eastern Purity Monastery, Hualien
I’ve been to Taiwan many times, but this is my first visit to Hualian (Flower Lotus). Hualian is the land of lotus flowers (lian hua), of Buddhas, of Bodhisattvas, of Hearers and Those Enlightened to Conditions. Anyone living here should have affinities with the Buddha. Whether or not you believe in the Buddha, you are pervasively illuminated by the Buddha’s light and nourished by his dewdrops. You can turn this area into the Land of Ultimate Bliss, a cool and peaceful place.
Three years ago, Chairman of the Board Lu Jiankeng and Representative Wang Dareng asked me to come to Taiwan to hold a Guanyin Bodhisattva’s Dharma Assembly to Protect the Nation and Quell Disasters. They sent more than a dozen letters, but I never had the time in my schedule. This year, I took two weeks of my time though I have no time. I have come to Taiwan again to see you good advisors, leaders of various monasteries, greatly virtuous ones and eminent Sanghans, elders, and laypeople. I hope to study the Buddhadharma with you and dispel the world’s calamities.
Why are there so many disasters in the world? Why are there earthquakes, typhoons, and diseases that distress people so that they live in constant fear and anxiety? This is all because of people’s greed, anger, and delusion. People are only greedy for their own gain and forget to benefit others. Unable to have their wishes fulfilled, they complain about gods and blame people. They become angry. They are fraught with internal battles. When their good thoughts can’t defeat their evil thoughts, they give in to those ideas and act upon them. Since their thoughts are foolish, their actions are foolish. Acting on those thoughts, they harm their country and hurt their inherent nature and existence. This is all because of one thought. People in turn become fearful because of these disasters. Actually, all these problems originate because we are not careful at the start. Untrue on the ground of causes, we attract distorted results. We only know to be scared when we face the consequences.
The Chairman of the Board wrote to me three years ago, telling me that a typhoon had killed several dozens of people, knocked down several thousand houses, and caused an unknown amount of damage. He therefore asked me to come and hold a Great Compassion Dharma Assembly to protect the nation and save its people. I apologize for not being able to make it then. Later, he continued to write and urged me to come to Taiwan soon for this Dharma Assembly. This year, I have dropped everything that I needed to take care of in the United States so that I could come and see all of you.
What I want to say is that all of you should focus your mind on goodness and do all kinds of merit and virtue, turn violence into auspiciousness, eliminate hatred, afflictions, and temper. In general, turn all your evil thoughts into good thoughts, into the resolve for Bodhi. That way, you will naturally prevent all disasters from occurring. This is an extremely important principle and a solution that resolves problems at their root. We need to complement this with non-contention. If we do not contend as individuals, there will be no contention in our families. Our families will be in harmony. Following that, the society will be at peace and as a result, there will be no problems. By then, our nation will become more and more prosperous by the day.
For the nation to become rich, its people must be strong. “Strong” here doesn’t mean “obstinate”, but healthy—where no one has AIDS, cancer, or other incurable, bizarre, and nameless diseases. Without these diseases, problems will naturally disappear.
I have lots of affinities with all of you here today. The things that I say seem basic, but if you know how to put them to use, they contain the most subtle, wonderful, and inconceivable powers. I hope that all of you will use your wisdom to choose the correct path to brightness. The world will then be at peace, the nation will be stable, and people will be free from disasters.
To be continued