You say, “But if I don’t contend, others will invade. What do I do then?” Look at King Wen. Wherever King Wen went, a large following of common citizens was right behind him. He had the support of two-thirds of the kingdom. During the reign of King Zhou during the Yin Dynasty, the future King Wen had already had the support of two-thirds of the country. Similarly, in serving the dynasty of Zhou, Wen’s virtue was comprehensive. His political mandates were humane and he cared for his populace as if they were his own children. Only when we don’t fight with other countries can we face our country and our citizens. “Battles over territory cover the battleground with corpses. Battles for cities fill the city up with the dead. Those who end up leading the land are carnivores of men.” Those who have murdered before are least likely to die a peaceful death. I hope that our country will eliminate all battles forever.
Although I am a monk, I don’t advocate that people oppose war or the government. Why? Once you oppose war, you are creating the second war. The intent behind your protest against the government is a desire for power and not love for your country. We must be clear about this. Assets and lives surrendered because of a protest will make some panic so that they can’t live their days in peace. Imperceptibly, they harm their parents and siblings. We must understand the true principle that people should cherish and respect each other. If you respect me, I will respect you. If there is a dispute, we should talk it over. Do not use violent means to satisfy your wishes.
When Mencius went to see King Hui of Liang, he asked, “Elder, you have come from such a long way, you must have something that will benefit my country.” The old man Mencius said, “Why does the King speak of benefits?” Benefits and harm are connected. “The king asks how his country could benefit. The gentleman asks how his family could benefit. Ordinary citizens ask how they could personally benefit. When benefits are exchanged and pursued at the lower and higher ranks, the nation is in danger.” The aftereffect to this country cannot be imagined. Why? “Only through humaneness.” We should issue mandates through humaneness and love for our citizens as if they were our children. We should not sacrifice lives to fulfill our desire for leadership. The things I say really shouldn’t be said, but I want every citizen of our country to be blessed. I don’t want any calamities to befall them.
People create these disasters; they didn’t fall from the sky or well out of the earth. Earthquakes, for example, represent the quivering of people’s minds. If people’s minds didn’t move, then the earth would not shake. Why are there typhoons? It is because people have huge tempers. Hurricanes represent anger. I am telling you: remember to avoid anger. We harm people when we get angry. If we don’t get angry, we are benefiting people. This principle seems very shallow, but its meaning is quite profound. If you understand this principle, then people will not be harmed at any time or any place. Buddhism talks about kindness, compassion, joy, and giving. We ought to bestow happiness by means of kindness and alleviate all beings’ suffering by means of compassion. Why does Guanshiyin Bodhisattva have great kindness and great compassion? She has great kindness because she gives every happiness to beings. She has great compassion because she eliminates every suffering for all beings. Great joy and giving are just in not getting upset. What is great giving? It’s to avoid being angry. You say, “Dharma Master, what you say is so shallow.” It may be shallow, but can you put it into practice? “The Way is close at hand and yet you seek afar; the matter is easy and yet you search for every difficulty!” We people give others problems because we’re unintelligent or unwise. If we were wise, then we would not annoy other living beings. You should learn to be intelligent and wise, not foolish. All the benefits manifested from prajna wisdom are meant for others; don’t hold on to them for yourself. Great kindness, great compassion, great joy, and great giving are the four immeasurable aspects of the Buddha’s mind. Do we have any “measure”? Do we have this kind of mind? If we do the slightest good for others, then we tell them, “You see how well I’ve treated you. In the future you must reward me well.”
When the golden-winged bird’s life ends,
Its bones and flesh disintegrate,
Leaving only its heart behind.
The dazzling light perfectly bright
Is sought by the king of dragons as a pearl
It can destroy the darkness of the past thousand years.
The Wheel Turning King who attains this wish-fulfilling gem
Is able to rescue one from every difficulty.
Why is it that among people
This pearl is used daily yet they are unaware of it?
This is a verse from one of the six songs of Great Master Hanshan. This verse talks about how when a great
peng bird dies, its bones and flesh disintegrate. The elements of earth, water, fire, and wind [that make up its bones and flesh] return to where they came from. The heart of the
peng bird is like a giant pearl and it is the only thing that doesn’t perish. The dragon king takes the heart of the great
peng bird and uses it to deflect darkness in his dragon palace. If the Wheel Turning King were to acquire the heart of the bird with the golden wings, he would be able to eliminate any difficulty at will. How come every one of us has a heart and has to use it daily, but we don’t notice it and don’t understand it? That’s why there is a sad tone to the line, “Why is it that among people this pearl is used daily yet they are unaware of it?” All beings “have the Buddha nature and could become Buddhas. It is only because of false thoughts and attachments that we cannot certify to Buddhahood.” “If the mad mind ceases, the ceasing itself is Bodhi.” For someone who is studying Buddhism but cannot put one’s mad mind to rest, one will not tally with Bodhi. If you can put the mind to rest, then the inherent nature of Bodhi will manifest. We have tremendous attachments. Why are we attached? It’s because we have an “I”. Without an “I”, the universe is wide open. Having no self means that one is without the mark of a self, the mark of others, the mark of living beings, and the mark of a life span. Furthermore, we must not acquire thoughts of past, present, and future. Sweep away these three types of thoughts and be free of the four marks. By doing so, we see through everything. “When you can see through it, you can put it down.” Once you see through things and can let them go, you have self-mastery. Self-mastery is obtained on one’s own and not by the help of others. You must work hard and be diligent. How? Diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, to quell greed, anger, and delusion. As Buddhists, we ought to be aware of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, and greed, anger, and delusion.
For some of us, we don’t put these things into practice even though we know them. We know we should study the three non-outflows of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, but we deceive ourselves. The more advanced cultivators will say, “I’m in no hurry. Let me wait awhile before cultivating precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. Let me wait a bit before I eliminate my greed, anger, and delusion.” They wait for a day, for two days, for three days... and then they forget. They forget to cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom. They pick up greed, anger, and delusion instead. You’ve been told that to take up greed, anger, and delusion isn’t right, but you insist on doing so. You’ve been told that to drop precepts, samadhi, and wisdom isn’t right, but you insist on dropping them. You walk down the road that runs away from the Buddhadharma. When will you ever succeed? For instance, if you were to drive in reverse, would you ever reach your destination? “Fame and repute are small matters, but everyone wants them. No one wishes to protect themselves from the great matter of birth and death.” No one thinks of preparing for how they will die. Will I be in samadhi when I die? “It is as if I have entered samadhi when my body is free from illness, my mind is without any greed, and my intentions are without any confusion.” Are you certain that that’s how you’ll die? If not, what are you so proud of? Just because you know how to recite the Great Compassion Mantra, you dare to fight the king of the underworld. To fight King Yama is the behavior of an
asura. If you weren’t acting like an asura, why would you think about fighting King Yama?
The great mantra of great compassion penetrates heaven and earth.
A hundred times for a thousand days makes the Ten Kings glad.
Great compassion and great kindness cure sicknesses;
A plaque is hung up high, reflecting offenses as a mirror would.
This verse tells us that the Great Compassion Mantra is a mantra that pierces heaven and earth. The universe knows that you’re reciting the Great Compassion Mantra here.
The great mantra of great compassion penetrates heaven and earth. / A hundred times for a thousand days makes the Ten Kings glad. If you are able to recite this mantra 108 times a day for 1,000 days, then the ten kings of the underworld will bow to you and welcome you. They will not be welcoming you into the hells, but to the Western Pure Land.
Great compassion and great kindness cure sicknesses. If you were to maintain a sense of great compassion and great kindness, then that kindness would be able to provide living beings with happiness and stability while compassion would be able to alleviate living beings’ misery, such as disasters and illnesses. All sicknesses stay far, far away.
A plaque is hung up high, reflecting all offenses as a mirror would. If you were to recite the Great Compassion Mantra and go to the hells while alive, you would have a plaque hung up for you that says, “This person is someone who recites the Great Compassion Mantra.” Due to the Great Compassion Mantra’s awesome spiritual power, the ten kings of the underworld, those with human bodies and heads of oxen or horses, and other kings of ghosts will venerate you and get on their knees and bow. “No one should be impolite to this person.” That’s how powerful the mantra is.
It is best to be vegetarian if we uphold the Great Compassion Mantra. Didn’t I talk about the Chinese character “meat” a few days ago? Since I have explained it already, I will not explain it again. Let me share an historical account with you. I believe all of you good advisors have heard this before. For those of you who have heard it before, you might as well listen to it one more time. As for those of you who have not heard it before, please pay attention. First, clean out your ears. If you ears are dirty, the precious Dharma can’t go in. How does the story go?
To be continued