The ancients said it well, “Drink less and you won’t have a wild temperament; avoid sex and you lengthen your life.” If you can be celibate, or at the least, reduce your sexual activities, then you will lengthen your life. Severing sexual desire is a requirement for longevity. You say, “I’m a layperson, I can’t cut it off.” If you can’t cut it off, at least reduce the amount over time.
“Heaven protects someone who obtains his wealth through proper means.” You should only take money if it is rightfully yours. Do not be greedy for external wealth; do not drink to excess. If your wealth is legitimately acquired, then heaven will protect you.
“Being patient you’ll be without faults or misfortune.” Don’t go around all day thinking, “I’m so mad I could die!” So what if you die? It would be foolish of you to die from being upset by others. Who is foolish? I am, probably. I don’t recognize myself. So if that’s not foolishness, what could it be? If you listen to me, you take a loss. What kind of a loss? I always talk about how people should give and not take advantage of others. The wealthy don’t take advantage of others; only the poor want to take advantage of others. Look at me: I don’t even know how to take advantage of others. I don’t know how to get rich or become an official. I don’t know how to enjoy wealth or honor. I don’t know any of that. What else could this be if not a loss? The more you learn from me, the less you will want to be wealthy.
Unlike those of heterodox paths, I don’t say, “I belong to the Secret School and you can get rich by learning from me.” Actually, if people were clear-headed, they would have become rich long ago if they could have. Why would they wait to tell you about it? Are they that foolish? How do they tell you to get rich? They tell you to take out $500 or $1,000 and contemplate those $500 or $1,000 growing. Do some research and find out who’s had any success with this method. The teacher, on the other hand, would say, “Leave $1,000 here as the capital for your future wealth, and then you imagine it turning into $2,000, $3,000, $4,000, $5,000, etc.” That type of calculation is confused just as your false thinking is confused. You think and think until you imagine that one bill has turned into 100 bills, then 1,000, then 10,000, 100,000, one million, ten million, a billion, and then infinitely many. Cash has filled up an entire warehouse. It doesn’t even fit in your bedroom; you have no room to sleep. Why? Cash is everywhere. If you haven’t become a money-grubber, then what are you? You take your imagination even more seriously than your dreams. You will know when you have had a dream. But as you do this contemplation [on money] day and night, at some point you become insane. Who becomes rich then? This teacher received $1,000 from you without having to contemplate. Somebody else wants to become rich, so the teacher gets another $1,000. He becomes $1,000 richer for every money-grubber. Just think, this happened in New York, Canada, and even more frequently in Seattle. Wasn’t it said, “Alas! In the evil of the Dharma-Ending Age, living beings’ blessings are slight; it is difficult to train them. . . Demons are strong, the Dharma is weak, many are the wrongs and injuries.” Living beings don’t believe in the Proper Dharma, only evil dharmas. There is no free lunch in the world. It’s impossible for cookies to roll off the rooftop and fall right into your lap while you sit there, doing nothing. There’s nothing right about that.
Given everything that has been said, the most important [guidelines] are still these: do not contend, do not seek, do not be selfish, and do not pursue personal profit. Remember these, they are the first steps to studying Buddhism. Whoever can apply these principles is not far from Buddhahood. Don’t think this is easy to do. If you were not contentious and not greedy, you will enjoy boundless blessings and prosperity. If you mix contention and greed with anything that you do, you will be committing more than offenses. Don’t dream about being rich. Haven’t you heard that, “As two weapons duel for gold, an atmosphere conducive to bloodshed heightens.” The Chinese character, money, has the radical “weapon” twice as well as the radical “gold”. Using artillery, people fight over gold. You want gold, and so do I. You stab me with your bayonet and I spear you with my javelin.
The winner of the gold has stabbed the loser to death while the loser gets nothing.
People mutter to themselves about money. People end relationships over money. One’s father no longer performs as a father should, because of money; one’s son no longer behaves like a son because of money; and one’s sibling no longer acts like a sibling because of money. Money has tremendous charm. It can command people so that they to bow to it—people worship money. People become fraught with problems and afflictions as a result of this stuff.
If you knew how to use money, you would transcend the three realms. Money is just like your six sense faculties. If you know how to use your six senses: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind, they will help you cultivate. If you do not know how to use them, they will steal your treasures. That means that you see certain forms and are turned by them; you hear certain sounds and are turned by them; you smell certain odors and are turned by them; you taste certain flavors and are turned by them, your mind encounters certain dharmas and is turned by them, and so on. If you know how to use your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind, they will be your six Dharma protectors. If you do not know how to use them, they will be six thieves who steal your gems and deplete and dissipate your spirit, energy, and blood. Don’t think because you have eyes that they’re meant to look at everything. If you look too much, those objects become objects of defilement. If your ears listen excessively, sounds become defilement. If you smell too much, the same problem occurs. If all you do is use your sense of taste, then you will transmigrate into a lower realm in a future life. This also applies to the body being aware of tactile sensations and the mind encountering dharmas.
Generally speaking, anything that you know how to use properly in this world is beneficial. Anything that you don’t know how to use is harmful. There are positive and negative sides to both benefits and harm. The negative side is the dark side and the positive side is the bright side. If we were to always do things openly, altruistically, and fairly, remaining true to our resolve despite the influence of money, then our characters will be sublime. Although one hasn’t become famous because of one’s knowledge, one at least has a lofty and cultivated character. For the sake of goodness, one doesn’t ask for any reward. Not being greedy for rewards, our sleep is naturally peaceful and our mind is clear. “Goodness that one wishes others to know about is not true goodness; evil that one is afraid others will know about must be great evil.” I believe everyone understands this point, and yet everyone has ignored it. You do a bit of good and you bang the gong and beat the drums, advertising it everywhere. If you do evil deeds, on the other hand, you are afraid that others will find about about them. At least that fear shows that you still have a sense of shame. Some people don’t even have this sense of shame.
When I came to Taiwan about three years ago, a legislator, the elder layperson Dong Zhengzhi, Congressional Representative Wang Dareng, and elder layperson Lu Jiangang asked me to come back. They wanted me to conduct this Dharma Assembly to Protect the Country and Quell Disasters because of the frequent earthquakes in Taiwan. In addition, a typhoon had knocked down more than one thousand houses, killing lots of people and incurred who-knows-how-much monetary damage. I had felt ashamed because my Tao isn’t enough to move people and my virtue isn’t enough to transform people. Not to mention moving and transforming others, I can’t even move and transform myself. Since I can’t even transform myself, I couldn’t accept the invitation and didn’t dare to come. I also know that Taiwan has many senior monastic leaders and preeminent members of the Sangha. Why should I come back? I’m such an insignificant and secondary member of Buddhism. I couldn’t be more insignificant and secondary. I didn’t dare to come.
This year, however, I received letters from several different people. Elder Dong told me to comply. The timing was probably right this year because I had turned the duties of the Chancellor of the Dharma Realm Buddhist University over to three people: Ho Pai-cho, Ron Epstein, and Doug Powers. I turned it over to three chancellors. “How could a university have three chancellors?” I am not just handing it over to three, but to five. I need to find two more. Of these five chancellors, one will be the Chancellor for the Americas, one will be the Chancellor for Asia, one for Africa, one for Australia, and the other for Europe. Each Chancellor will be responsible for one continent; at the same time, they will substitute for each another and cooperate to make up for what is lacking in the others. Therefore, I have turned those duties over to three chancellors. Now I need to find two more. Since the time I used to spend on these duties is free, I can come to Taiwan while other people are teaching those students in class. I couldn’t have just left those students alone, they need people to teach them over time.
To be continued