The Venerable Master's Instructions During the Refuge Ceremony:
Those who took refuge today must bow 10,000 bows at home or at a temple to be considered a disciple who took refuge with me. If you are short of even one bow, I will not acknowledge you as my refuge-disciple. Do those who took refuge wish to become Buddhas? [Audience: Yes.]
Does anyone want to run away after hearing me tell you to become Buddhas? In America I had a disciple who ran when he heard me telling him to become a Buddha. He didn't want to become a Buddha. Since you do wish to become Buddhas, I will also tell you one of my vows. One of the vows that I made in the past is that all beings who take refuge with me, including people, ghosts, and spirits, will be courageous and vigorous and become Buddhas before I do. According to my vow, if there is a single being who takes refuge with me and has not yet become a Buddha, I will not become a Buddha. I will wait for him right here. Each of you has to be courageous and vigorous; don't drag your teacher down so that he can't become a Buddha. I'll tell you something else. Don't be scared. Many types of beings take refuge with me. There are ghosts, spirits, magical ghosts and immortals; there are many kinds. You must obey the rules after you hear this. If you don't follow the rules, all these Dharma brothers senior to you will punish you. Are you afraid? [Audience: Yes.]
If you're scared of being told what to do, of obeying rules, or of punishment, then you may leave. You don't have to take refuge. I am giving you an opportunity to choose between going forward and backing out.
The refuge ceremony has concluded. You should all be good Buddhists and not bad Buddhists. If anyone scolds you or beats you, you should bow to him and repent. Since I didn't know any better while I was young, I offended many demons and ghosts. These monsters and phantoms possessed people, slandered and destroyed the proper Dharma, and promoted evil dharma on a vast scale. This world is very strange. The demons are strong and the Dharma is weak. The Song of Enlightenment has these lines:
The mind is the root;
Dharmas are the dust.
The two are like streaks on a mirror.
When the defiled streaks are entirely removed,
Light begins to appear.
Alas! In the evil time
Of the Dharma-Ending Age,
Living beings' blessings are slight; it is difficult to train them.
Far indeed from the sages of the past!
Their deviant views are deep.
Demons are strong, the Dharma is weak;
Many are the wrongs and injuries.
Hearing of the door of the Thus Come One's Sudden Teaching,
They hate not destroying it as they would smash a tile.
The doing is in the mind;
The body suffers the calamities.
There's no need for unjust accusations that shift the blame to others.
If you don't wish to invite the karma of the Unintermittent,
Do not slander the Thus Come One's Proper Dharma Wheel.
This clearly explains how heavenly demons, heretics, and misguided teachers speak dharma.
If you were to hear any monk, nun, or layperson slanders your master—who is that little mosquito, you must bow to him and thank him for teaching me so that I increase my blessings and wisdom, and quickly realize the Way of the Buddha. You should all bow and pay respects to him. You should say, “You may slander my teacher, but my teacher thanks you. I thank you on behalf of my teacher.” How about it? If that's okay, then please do it. For instance, if someone were to insult your teacher, you shouldn't fight him. If you were to argue, you would not be my disciple. Instead of debating, you should bow. Then you would be a true disciple of mine.
We pray up all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas throughout the ten directions will descend onto the Republic of China to ensure that the country prospers and its citizens are safe. May there be timely rains yielding abundant harvests, and may everyone be happy and make the resolve for Bodhi.
Elders of various monasteries and Chairman of the Board, the Honorable Wu, I have very few talents and very little knowledge. I am poor in the Way and have very little virtue. No one will want to hear me. Nevertheless, I will speak bluntly since you Good Advisors have extended an invitation. Although my words are blunt, they accord with the Buddhadharma. The Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch said, “The Buddhadharma is here in the world; enlightenment is not apart from the world. To search for Bodhi apart from the world is like looking for a hare with horns.” Unfortunately, mostly people mistake “The Buddhadharma is here in the world” for “Buddhadharma is about polite sentimentalities.” This is incorrect. “The Buddhadharma is here in the world” means that the Buddhadharma has not left the world. It doesn't mean that the Buddhadharma is about polite sentimentalities. We must study this point seriously. If you consider Buddhadharma in terms of relationships with people, then [that line of thinking] would defy the essence of the Buddhadharma. “You should rather enter the hells than use the Buddhadharma to win favors with people.” Think about it! “The Buddhadharma is here in the world,” doesn't mean that there should be sentimentality in the world. We must understand this clearly. Don't take this at face value so that you only understand True Suchness vaguely and are uninformed with regard to the Buddha nature.
“Enlightenment is not apart from the world.” Don't leave the mundane in order to find enlightenment. Enlightenment is simply wisdom. If you were wise, neither ignorance nor affliction would bother you. You would be carefree and happy all the time and everywhere. You would not worry or be confused by this environment. This is enlightenment while not being apart from the worldly.
“To search for Bodhi apart from the world is like looking for a hare with horns.” Going elsewhere to find Bodhi is similar to looking for a rabbit with horns; you will never find it. Therefore,
Never leaving this very place, it is always clear.
If you search for it, know that you will not see it.
It cannot be grasped; it cannot be rejected.
Just what can be attained within the unattainable?
We should understand this passage. “Never leaving this very place, it is always clear.” The scenery of our native country, the inherent nature of Bodhi is right here as we turn things around. If you can't turn things around, there's affliction. “To learn from the incident is to transcend the world; to lose yourself in the situation is to sink into transmigration.” We must understand this point. This is what's meant by:
The Buddhadharma is here in the world;
Enlightenment is not apart from the world.
To search for Bodhi apart from the world
Is like looking for a hare with horns.
We have been born during the Dharm-ending Age. Being born before and after a Buddha is one of the eight hardships. We always go against enlightenment and unite with defilement. We forget the root and chase after the branches. We want what we should not want and throw away what we should want. What should we want? Wisdom. What should we not want? Ignorance. What is ignorance? You're asking me, but I don't know either. If you were enlightened then it would be great. Unfortunately, your ignorance is too acute and that is why you are not enlightened. Both “enlightenment” and “ignorance” are words, but they are 84,000 miles apart in practice. One is about comprehension while the other is confusion. Being confused you do everything in a confused manner.
Your actions are confused when you act out of ignorance. With behavior that's confused, a confused consciousness arises. Confused consciousness gives rise to confused name and form. Confused name and form give rise to the six confused sense organs, which make contact without having understood [wisdom]. This is also confusion. From confused contact come feelings of confusion. Given feelings of confusion, confused love occurs. You ask a man why he pursues a woman for his girlfriend, and he will say, “I don't know.” Isn't that confusion? Women pursue men for their boyfriends. You ask one of them, “Why do you pursue him? Do you love him?” She will say, “I don't know either, but that's what I want.” Isn't this confusion? You give rise to love that's confused. Love that's confused gives rise to tremendous attachment, which gives rise to confused grasping. Why does confused grasping arise? It is because there's the wish to own something. To be intensely attached means that one cannot let it go but wishes to possess it. Once you possess it, birth occurs. If there is birth, there is death. This entire confused set of twelve causal links is by then complete. Why? It is due to that one thought of confusion at the start.
Zheng Banqiao said, “Hardly confused” [which can also mean “Confusion is difficult to attain”]. Actually why do you need to attain confusion? You are confused without having to acquire confusion. You were confused to begin with. If you were not confused then you would not be a human being. Being human, you go through life confused, saying, “I don't believe what you say, Dharma Master.” Of course you don't believe it. How did you come into being? Where did you come from? You answer, “My mother gave birth to me.” How did your mother give birth to you? You say, “You need to ask?” It would be confusion if I were to not ask. That's why people live a confused life, and then die. Think about it, is that confusion? You don't know where you go after death. Your life is confused, you live in confusion, and you die even more confused.
The confused life you live is as if a dream. That's why the ancients said, “Wealth and status are early morning dreams in the spring.” Don't take them so seriously, saying, “I must be rich. I must be a politician.” You are rich if you can avoid death. You have it together if you can refuse King Yama when he comes to invite you. I believe you're not the one who makes the decision though. That's why, “Wealth and status are early dreams in the spring.” They're as if a part of a sweet dream at approximately 4 a.m. In that dream, someone asks you, “Are you dreaming, mister?” The dreamer hears the question and says, “How could I be dreaming? I am so wealthy and I have such a powerful post!” When he wakes up, no one needs to tell him and he knows, “Oh, I had a dream about striking it rich, about being a high ranking official.” Actually, it wasn't real. He knows then, without having to be told.
To be continued