Shr Fu’s perfect dose of Dharma medicine is always given at the most appropriate moment. At one time, I was undergoing tremendously difficult tests that tested my patience to its limits. I was undergoing the suffering of repeated verbal abuse. All I did was keep quiet and remained passive. By sheer chance, I happened to flip to a page towards the end of the Sutra that I should not have read until much later. When I read it, it affected me tremendously. Later on, when I reached that particular page in the course of reading the Sutra, the impact was not as great as when I read it the first time with my feelings still raw with hurt. And what was the wonderful Dharma that Shr Fu shared with me?
“Shakyamuni Buddha wanted the Youth Good Wealth to realize Buddhahood, so he made him endure situations that other people find hard to endure, and to accept things that people find difficult to accept…Even if people mock or insult you, you should still maintain an attitude of equanimity towards them and harbor no thought of love or hate, closeness or distance. At this time you can bring forth the power of the kindness of the patience with non-production…as a cultivator of the Way, no matter how badly people treat you, you have to bear with it. If you can endure it when people scold you or hit you, then you’re a true cultivator. If you say you want to become a Buddha, but you can’t take it when people scold or hit you just once, then what are you cultivating?” [FAS Chap 39 V, pg 270]
During that time, Shr Fu gave me plenty of advice on being scolded, beaten, or slandered as follows:
“In encountering physical abuse such as pounding and thrashing, to the point that one’s limbs are cut off, one should remain unmoved. In the face of verbal insult, the Bodhisattva who practices patience would not feel the slightest anger or resentment, nor should he seek revenge…” [FAS Chap 39 V, pg 74]
“Someone scolds you, and you can’t take it. Someone hits you, and that’s even harder to put down…You shouldn’t retain a sense of self…Why get angry? If people slander or scold you, they are your great good knowing advisors. Why do they say you are not good? Because they feel that you should be good, that there are grounds for improvement, so they make a point of telling you. You should look at this from the other way around and learn from their good points…” [FAS Chap 39 V, pgs 212-3]
“Patience is not easy to cultivate. But if it were easy to cultivate, it wouldn’t serve as a real test to see how much sincerity you have…On being ridiculed or slandered, do not give rise to thoughts of friend or foe.” [FAS Chap 39 V, pg 216]
Uncanny as it may seem, I happen to retrieve a copy of the
Vajra Bodhi Sea magazine. The article by Shr Fu that caught my eye was precisely a description of my present state of affairs. Shr Fu surely knows everything that happens.
Recently, I reviewed my old notes which were written in CTTB many years ago. I came across these words by Shr Fu:
Whoever wants to cultivate must endure suffering.
Whoever wants to be a Buddha must be tested by demons.
I suddenly see the light and realize the wisdom behind Shr Fu’s words. I have never experienced so much suffering until I started to investigate the Buddhadharma and decided to cultivate in accordance with Shr Fu’s teachings. I also read these words by him: “Don’t look for trouble and don’t be afraid of trouble.”
I do not blame others for all my suffering anymore. I realize that bitter suffering is a prerequisite for successful cultivation.
When I have a fault that needs to be corrected, Shr Fu will immediately highlight the undesirable trait. Once, I could not help but look at somebody’s fault. Shr Fu responded to teach me,
“If you always see the faults of others, then you haven’t put an end to your own suffering.” [Dharma Talks by the Venerable Master - Vol 9, pgs 155-7]
Whenever I feel fearful or face personal problems, I will bring my troubles to my spiritual father who kindly responds immediately to soothe away all my woes and suffering. He has said before, “If you do not feel peaceful and happy inside, you can bring your heart to me and I can make it feel peaceful and happy.”
One time, I was deeply distressed about the faults of someone. I prayed to Shr Fu who successfully helped me get rid of my resentment and distaste for the person I was annoyed with. He said,
“If one can look upon this world with a mind that is unmoving, and see Buddhas and living beings as the same, then such a one will accomplish supreme wisdom… the Buddha and living beings are the same. It’s just that the Buddha has become enlightened and living beings are still confused. The enlightenment and confusion are different; living beings and the Buddha are the same… You should know that common living beings and the Buddha are basically the same.” [FAS Chap 9, pg 18]
Later on, I resolved never to talk about people’s faults again. Few hours later upon opening the Sutra, I turned to page 6 of the same chapter. Shr Fu reaffirms my vow indirectly i.e. a Bodhisattva would not talk about people’s faults.
For many days, I kept to my vow. One night, one elder out of concern, asked me to enlighten him on the problem faced by a couple. In explaining to him, I indirectly touched on the shortcoming of one party that caused the other to suffer. Few hours later, on impulse, I took out a notebook compiled many years ago on Shr Fu’s sayings. Can you guess what he said?
“A confused person talks about rights and wrongs of others. Do you want to be a confused person or a wise one? If you want to be a confused one, you can recklessly talk of the rights and wrongs of others. If you want to be a wise person, then don’t talk of rights and wrongs of others. If you talk of rights and wrongs, it’s not the Way.”
He also said, “Cultivators like us whether walking, sitting, or reclining should be applying our effort and not be gossiping about others. Be careful in our words and deeds all the time. Don’t talk about others’ long points. See your own faults; be always aware of your own transgressions. Never speak of other people’s good or bad traits. Quit talking about other people. Criticism is yin and praise is yang. You should find the Middle Way.”
Shr Fu is like a doctor who speaks the Dharma that is specifically appropriate to each of us when the conditions are right, in order to cure us of our myriad sicknesses such as greed, hatred and delusion.
Contemplate the conditions, bestow the teaching and speak the Dharma to suit the person,
Just as one dispenses medicine that is appropriate for a given sickness.
[FAS Chap 9, pg140]
To be continued