The inconceivable kindness and compassion of the Venerable Master touches the depths of my being and conscience, moving me to tears of shame, remorse, and profound gratitude. The Venerable Master said, “those of you who have taken refuge with me are the blood and flesh of my own body. No matter which part of my body is cut off, it will be very painful. No matter which part of my body bleeds, my constitution will be injured. Therefore, you should all unite together. In order to cause Buddhism to flourish, you have to take the losses that others are unwilling to take and endure the insults that others are unable to endure. You must expand the measure of your mind and behave honestly. If your actions are not genuine, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will know. You can’t deceive them. Everyone must examine his or her own faults and earnestly correct the mistakes of the past. Truly recognize your past confused behavior and unprincipled practices. Be honest. Forget yourself and work for Buddhism and the entire society.”
The above very moving exhortation given by our compassionate Teacher makes me feel very ashamed each time I read it. In a family, if the siblings were to fight, the parents will feel very hurt and sad. Similarly, if the Venerable Master’s disciples do not get along, then the Master will also feel very pained at heart.
After staying about five years in the Sagely City, I returned to Malaysia for four months. While I was there, I saw the Venerable Master in a strange dream. I think there was a gathering of people but my mind was focused on Shr Fu. I bowed to him. I was told that the Venerable Master fasted for sixty-two days for (I think) his disciples. That was in 1996. I do not know if this dream has any significance for other disciples, but as I reflect on my own gross stupidity and lack of patience, I am filled with deep regrets.
During my first appointment with the Venerable Master at his office in CTTB, in the spring of 1990, Shr Fu advised me, “If people scold you, you should laugh.” It has been over a decade since I received the Master’s compassionate instruction and, I feel ashamed that I still have not been able to put it into practice. What did the Master mean when he said that I should laugh? I think he was saying that not only should I not display any temper, but that there should not even be any trace of anger in my heart. But if I really want to cultivate, then I cannot give rise to even a single thought of anger. That is truly a most lofty and difficult teaching to follow.
Therefore, in Chapter 36 of the Avatamsaka [Flower Adornment]
Sutra, Universal Worthy Bodhisattva says:
Disciples of the Buddha, I have not seen any such Dharma as the great offense and mistake of Bodhisattvas giving rise to thoughts of anger towards other Bodhisattvas. Why is that? Disciples of the Buddha, if Bodhisattvas were to give rise to thoughts of anger and hatred towards other Bodhisattvas, that would open doors to millions of obstructions...
We know that if we use a very concentrated, sympathetic, protective, and sincere mind to make transferences to living beings, then the miraculous effect can be quite inconceivable. But if we use a resentful and vengeful mind to transfer thoughts of hatred towards living beings, then the damaging and disastrous effects will also be inconceivable. We alone decide whether or not we want to employ our mind to save or to kill. If we genuinely wish to practice all good, then not only should we not lose our tempers, we also cannot harbor any grudges toward anyone. We have to completely lay down all our invisible daggers and dismantle all our inner bombs.
The Venerable Master said, “You can repay the kindness of your teacher by not having any fire, and by not getting angry. I only wish for one thing: that my disciples will not have any temper.” I sincerely hope that I will someday be able to practice this Dharma of “If people scold you, you should laugh” to perfection for only then can I begin to repay the Venerable Master’s great kindness.
A Sutra says, “In the heavens and human realm, there is no strength greater than patience; giving and holding precepts cannot compare with it. Patient people have great strength and can shoulder the work of the Tathagata.”
The Venerable Master established a sanctuary where the followers of all religions can take refuge. And in 1987, the World Religions Conference was held in CTTB: Protestants, Catholics and followers of other religions were invited. It is said, “The best religion in the world is TOLERANCE.” If followers of all religions can unite and work for world peace, then there will not be any wars or walls between people and nations. We are now living in the age of decline, an age that is strong in fighting. So, when I first came to the Sagely City in 1990, I was delighted to have arrived at a place where the residents neither deliberately step on ants nor kill little creatures that are regarded as pests by most people. Albert Schweitzer said: “Any religion which is not based on a respect for life is not a true religion. Until he extends his circle of compassion to all living things, man himself will not find peace.”
It is said that kindness can bring happiness and compassion can alleviate suffering. When lecturing on the
Avatamsaka Sutra, the Venerable Master explained, “Kindness is the mother-substance of good roots...Kindness and compassion are the most important virtues that cultivators must have...If you hold precepts with a kind heart, your precepts carry boundless merit and virtue. If you can cultivate patience with a kind heart, that patience has boundless merit and virtue... Kindness is just the Buddha; the Buddha is simply kindness. Kindness is the Great Vehicle Dharma door...”
At this point, I recall a little verse:
So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
When just the art of being kind,
Is all this sad world needs.
Everyone has the power to improve the fate of mankind. If we can help preserve and perpetuate the Wisdom Light of the Great Sages, we can revive and restore the pure sacredness of our Mother Earth. When all living beings and plants bathe in the radiance of such a pure and efficacious energy, then the Golden Age will again manifest. “United we stand, divided we fall.” If all religious people can be united, then there is hope. Instead of cursing the darkness, let us light a candle and advance together. We will have a better future!