Another problem I faced was the constant sounds from my neighbor’s wife. Throughout the day, she gives piano lessons to different students. This recurrent loud music irks me as it obstructs me from concentrating on my daily recitation. It got to a point when I refused to be annoyed any longer and would stop cultivating and seek solace in my room whenever her music started. Then I read the
Shurangama Sutra [Vol 8, pg 195] whereby Shr Fu warned us not to be greedy for anything. He spoke about how a cultivator caused the demons to come due to his greed for peace and quiet. Stunned, I try to change my resentment towards her extremely loud and repetitive music. I begin to take her singing and the piano sounds as accompanying music in my daily recitation, just as the music made by the Dharma instruments complements the daily Buddhist ceremonies. Funnily enough her music did not appear that irritating anymore.
Shr Fu is aware of every false thought that I strike up. To illustrate this point, once I resolved to leave the home-life. I realize that life is certainly suffering, marital bliss a misconception, etc. However, my desire to renounce the home-life stemmed from my disenchantment, vexation, and unpleasant tests. Afflictions are certainly not the right reason to leave home. My deeply rooted attachments obstructed me from fulfilling my wish. I kept on false thinking on this matter and planning my next step in life. Shr Fu certainly knew my thoughts and his timely, prompt advice was as cool and refreshing as sweet dew, melting away all afflictions. I read in amusement his response,
“...Buddhas and Bodhisattvas know all your thoughts. They have the penetration of others’ thoughts and you can’t fool them. So don’t have false thoughts. If your causes and conditions are such that something should happen, it certainly will. But if you don’t have what it takes, false thinking won’t make it happen.” [Flower Adornment Sutra (FAS) Prologue 1st Door, pg 95]
While others may view the aforesaid remark as an insult, I find it so humorous – the perfect remedy to cure me of this particular false thought.
Later, I had the strong urge again to leave home-life. Now that I was in a better frame of mind, Shr Fu gave a different advice. He kept on encouraging me to take the brave step of a great hero. Whenever I randomly read the Sutras, I can feel his concern through his words:“If you want to leave home, leave home, don’t just express the wish to.” [FAS Chap 7, pg 48]
He reassures me that, “Some people argue, ‘After you leave the home life, you aren’t of much help to your parents or your brothers and sisters.” That is a mistaken notion. To leave home and cultivate is to be truly filial to your parents and be truly helpful to your siblings.” [FAS Chap 8, pg 68]
He added,“Don’t think that leaving home is an easy thing to do. It can happen only from having planted seeds of Bodhi in distant times past.” [FAS Chap 7, pg 18]
He also advised, “After leaving the home life, we must change our bad habits that afflict most people of the world, and be determined to become upright and fine persons…” [FAS Chap 39 I, pg 35]
And,“I arrange circumstances so that they can leave the home-life with ease, without any impediment.”[FAS Chap 39 V, pg 57]
Eventually, when I stopped entertaining thoughts of leaving home, coincidentally Shr Fu stopped advising me regarding this issue for a very long time.
There was a time when Shr Fu defended me. As I had resigned from my job to concentrate on investigating the Buddhadharma, someone tried to encourage me to resume my working life. In front of Shr Fu’s image on the altar, she said, “If you ask Shr Fu, he will want you to go out to work!” I kept quiet and returned to my room. Opening my Sutra, I came across Shr Fu’s remarkable comments regarding that person’s claim: “What’s so great about working? It only insures that you continue to be upside down!”
I relayed Shr Fu’s opinion to that person and she was at a loss for words.
Shr Fu encourages my Sutra study on a few occasions:
“Listening to the Dharma is most precious. It is much better than what money could buy. It is truly fine if you could have the time to investigate the Dharma.”
“Tell me what does have meaning – what you consider meaningful. Apart from the studying the Buddhadharma to end birth and death, all the other activities that one does are not ending birth and death.” [FAS Prologue 1st Door, pg 61]
Staying at home to investigate Buddhism is not an easy matter. In the eyes of mundane people, working to earn money is the most fruitful thing to do whereas household chores and investigating Buddhadharma can be done during our idle hours. I was doing the exact opposite to the norm and thus, faced all sorts of opposition. Patiently, I took all sorts of verbal attacks – insults, sarcasm, mockery, scorn, rebuke, etc. When I do not oppose or counterattack, Shr Fu is my defense lawyer through his words in the Sutra. However, there was a time when I decided to graciously speak out on the reasons as to why one should not measure the success of an individual based on material standards. Not long afterwards, when I reopened my Sutra, I discovered that I should not have answered back. Shr Fu said:
Contention involves thoughts of victory and defeat.
It opposes the Way And gives rise to thoughts of the four marks:
How can one obtain samadhi?
Why bother to argue over right and wrong?
True or false will eventually become clear themselves.
Wise people see the truth; Fools practice what’s false.
Wholesome ones emulate the Bodhisattvas;
Evil ones dare to slight the Buddha.
With an impartial, greatly compassionate mind,
Universally gather in all sentient creatures.
[FAS Chap 39 V, pgs 213-4]
To be continued