Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, laypeople, Amitabha!
I’m Heng Yun. The sutra text tonight talked about “Good Advisors”. I hope that all beings will constantly see all Buddhas and hear the Buddhadharma; therefore I will talk about some things related to being around the Venerable Master when he was in the world.
I remember very clearly that I arrived at the City of 10,000 Buddhas at nightfall. Since it was late, I couldn’t make it to the sutra lecture. The next day I began joining the sutra lectures. At that time, the Dharma Masters told the three of us who had arrived together, “You have to take notes as you listen to the sutra lecture tonight. After you’re done with your notes, you have to turn them in each week for us to see.” It was excellent to develop the habit of taking notes while listening to the sutras. I apologize that I didn’t take notes these two days. I am a poor example. But there is a lot to be gained in this process.
When we arrived, the Venerable Master was training his disciples to lecture the sutras, so we actually didn’t have too many opportunities to listen to the Venerable Master’s lecture tapes. The
Avatamsaka Sutra lectures, for example, had already concluded by the time I arrived in 1983. There were many sutras that I had never heard before. Later, at the request of some disciples, we had the opportunity to listen to the Venerable Master’s tapes. At that time, our Way-places also had gradually published many translated sutras. The
Avatamsaka Sutra that we see now was mostly translated at that time. Therefore, we would listen on the one hand and read the English text on the other. Since our English taught in Taiwan made us too embarrassed to open our mouths, we never spoke English when we came to the United States. I remember when we were still laypeople, the Dharma Masters were teaching us to read the “Pure Conduct Chapter” in English. We couldn’t help but giggle when we read because we sounded so strange. We didn’t know what we were reading, but it was still good to have read that way. I have noticed that just by reading, we learned quite a bit of English.
We never listened to the Venerable Master’s instructions at noon before. It wasn’t until 1988 or so that we started to do so. This is already ancient history. The Venerable Master had instructed us to establish the Proper Dharma Buddhist Academy in Taiwan that year. Heng Chih Shr and Heng Liang Shr were there then as well. Since we were going to leave our home, the City of 10,000 Buddhas, and go far away, we asked the Venerable Master if we could listen to his instructional talks during lunch. The Venerable Master agreed. I’m not quite sure how this practice later started at City of 10,000 Buddhas.
Not to mention participating in any special course, merely listening to the sutras and instructional talks already benefits us tremendously by planting the seeds of Bodhi. Don’t expect that after listening to the sutra you will immediately gain some benefit or experience some special state on the path to Buddhahood. Instead, as the principles in the sutras gradually take root and grow in your mind, they will serve as guidelines for living, for interacting with people and dealing with things in a balanced way. They’re guides. That’s why we should value the teachings and exhortations of the Venerable Master.
The Venerable Master often said, ”Don’t enter the mountain of treasures and return home empty-handed.” Even though the Venerable Master has already entered into stillness, the treasures of Dharma still exist. It all depends on whether we dig and search for them. Basically, the Venerable Master’s teaching is to cultivate blessings and wisdom hand-in-hand without neglecting either. Unlike some other places where people do their own practice after the evening ceremony, at the City of 10,000 Buddhas everyone stays [after the evening ceremony] to listen to the sutra lecture, which helps us develop wisdom.
Besides serving the monastery during the day, there are also other courses here. There are opportunities to cultivate wisdom everywhere. Take the daily meal offering, for instance. This is an opportunity to make offerings on a vast scale. You should know that not every monastery makes offerings daily. At some Way-places, the mealtime is from 11 to 12. When it’s time, people go and eat, and after they’re done, they leave, just like in a typical dining hall. As for us, we strike the bell and beat the drum according to the Vinaya. This is excellent. Some places strike the drum right at mealtime, so people don’t have time to attend the meal offering to the Buddha and visiting Sanghans from afar hardly have time to take their meals. Conversely, our ceremonies accord with the Dharma. Although we’re used to seeing them done at the Venerable Master’s Way-places and they seem very ordinary to us, like plain water, they’re necessary on a daily basis to help us nurture and develop our blessings and wisdom.
The time is up. Amitabha!.