Today I told someone in the office about the first time I was admonished by the Venerable Master. I do not mind if you laugh. That was a very long time ago in Gold Mountain Monastery. I remember it happened in the dining room on ground floor. Because it was the first time the Venerable Master admonished me, I remember it quite clearly. The Venerable Master was friendly and said compassionately, “In the temple, we should not do things that people do not like.” When I heard this, I knew what the Venerable Master was referring to.
I have heavy karmic obstructions and I am obstinate. I face lots of obstructions in my cultivation. Normally, when I feel that I am right, I do not care who it is, I will argue to the end. From then on, no matter what happened, I did not dare to say a word or express any opinion. I did not want to listen to anything and just took orders. After a while, I knew nothing of the great matters occurring in the temple. No one told me, and I did not want to enquire. When people discussed such matters, I did not want to listen to them. Therefore, I was blissfully ignorant for a while.
Once, the Venerable Master came to the temple. As soon as he saw me, he said—this time he was furious, he shouted—“You cannot be a Dharma protector this way.” When I heard this, I did not know what mistake I had made. “A Dharma protector should not be this way. You have to hold the Vajra Sword.” The Venerable Master showed me how to hold it. “You have to hold it this way.” The Venerable Master said again, “When you see something wrong, you have to go up to the person. With your right hand holding the sword and your left hand pointing at him, say, ‘Why are you acting like this?’ You have to ask him out loud. You cannot remain silent. A Dharma protector cannot protect the Dharma that way.”
I am not the Venerable Master. So I dare not show you how to hold it. The Venerable Master gave me a scolding. I thought, “The other time he told me not to be like that. Why is he now telling me to be like that? What should I do? This way is wrong. That way is also wrong.” The Venerable Master said no more. He had admonished me twice and I did not know what to say. Later, I happened to drive the Venerable Master out—in the past, I drove the Venerable Master out many times. The Venerable Master usually did not talk while he was in the car, so I did not take the opportunity to talk to him. Usually, the Venerable Master would get in the car, close his eyes, and begin reciting a mantra. I did not know which mantra he recited. I just drove along.
But this time the Venerable Master opened his eyes and said to me, “Opening your mouth is wrong. Keeping your mouth closed is also wrong. What do you think you should do?” Again I did not know how to answer. I knew the Venerable Master was talking about what happened the other time.
I think you may have read The Compilation of Master Hsu Yun’s Life and Lectures. In that book, the Elder Hsu once instructed the monks during a meal, “Those who are attached to forms, sounds, smells, flavors, objects of touch and dharmas are ordinary beings.” When we eat, we think that this tastes good and that doesn’t taste good even though we do not say it out loud. Our eyes stare at the dishes. We get a bigger helping of the food we like and skip what we do not like. The Elder Hsu said, “Those who are attached to forms, sounds, smells, flavors, objects of touch, and dharmas are ordinary beings. Those who are not attached to forms, sounds, smells, flavors, objects of touch and dharmas are like plants. Can you say anything with regard to this?” Of course, he was talking to cultivators.
I would like to repeat, “Do not do what others do not like.” See how magnanimous the Venerable Master is. I believe some of you remember how in the early days, as soon as you entered the Administration Office, you would see a picture of Cardinal Yu-bin on the left wall. It was placed there by the Venerable Master.
Once an old man who had come to the office for the first time saw the picture and said untactfully, “Why do we display the picture of a Catholic father in our Buddhist organization? It is so huge that it catches the eye of all who enter this door.” The Venerable Master happened to be there. That old man righteously said, “Teacher, why does our Buddhist organization display the picture of a Catholic cardinal?” When the Venerable Master heard that, he said, “Oh! Little old brother…!” Then he said no more. His intention was that we should not be so petty-minded. I guessed that must have been his meaning.
That old man still did not give up. He ceaselessly chatted with the Venerable Master, “This will ruin the image of Buddhism.”
Eventually would it ruin the image of Buddhism? No one knows. But the man thought it certainly would. He insisted on saying so. Finally the Venerable Master said, “Alright, since you don’t like it, let’s take the picture down.” The picture was removed and disappeared.
I mention these things not because I want the picture of Cardinal Yu-bin to be hung up again, but just to let people know what happened back then. Just think how magnanimous the Venerable Master was. That incident occurred more than ten years ago. Up to now only a handful of Catholics have come. Am I right? Since someone did not like something, the Venerable Master had to accord with him.