After my departure, any one of you who is willing to write me anything about Hong Kong’s Buddhist Lecture Hall is welcome to do so. I will read every letter you write me. Not only will I read it, I will not miss a single word, even if you have one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, or ten words. I will not miss any of them at all. I will read it very carefully. However, I may not reply because I am too busy. Another reason is that I am not willing to write, either. Why? The characters I write are like crawling cockroaches. Westerners’ handwriting is curvy and loopy,like chicken intestines. They don’t care if their handwriting is fine or not. As a result (of being influenced by them), my penmanship isn’t all that great. I am not willing to leave any of my handwriting in the world, either. Some think that although my handwriting is poor, they still want to preserve it so that it can be sold as an antique later. Well, I don’t like my handwriting to become an antique; therefore, I am not willing to write. I have to inform you about this very explicitly. First of all, it’s because I am too busy. Second of all, it’s due to my poor penmanship.
When I arrived in Taiwan, some people spread a rumor that I was illiterate; how can an illiterate person lecture on sutras? But it turned out that many people showed up for the lectures in Taiwan out of curiosity. The more people are told not to come, the more they came. They were wondering how an illiterate person could lecture on sutras. I ended up lecturing on the sutra a couple of times this spring. Even though there were not that many people, on the last day, the room was packed with three to four hundred people. Some had to stand on the stairs. It was so crowded that there was not even space for people to stand. So, these are the reasons I don’t write letters; however, I welcome you to write to me.
I will have a chance to take a break when I read your letters. If you want me to rest more, write me a really long letter. When I read letters or newspapers, I usually take a break. However, when reading sutras, I sit there like Guan Di Gong [Lord Guan Yu, the famous military general of the Three Kingdom period] not being the least bit casual. You can write me once a month. Even if you can’t tell me all the trivial matters as minute as dust particles about the Buddhist Lecture Hall; you can write about matters that are as big as pillars. In short, you can tell me everything. I will read it but may not necessarily reply to you. I have to tell you about this. It’s because I don’t know how to write and can’t pick up a pen that weighs as much as a jack hammer. Nonetheless, I often write things that I don’t share with others so that no one sees them. Sometimes, I write articles that aren’t so great or often make up verses that are simply unworthy.
In our monastery, regardless of whether
one is a layperson or a monastic, one should not act too
worldly. For example, someone brought their children here
and you acted very intimately with the children. You should
not behave like this because these are areas where you may
be violating the precepts. Whenever you have no samadhi
power, you need to be cautious and serious when dealing with
anyone else. Don’t be so casual. Regardless of who you are
talking to, do not try to take advantage of circumstances.
Don’t ask others to pity us. You must know that your teacher
is a person who will remain standing even if freezing to
death, and will continue to walk even if he is dying from
hunger. We do not ask for others’ sympathy or help. If you
do this, there is no merit and virtue at all. There were a
lot of things I wanted to talk about, but I can’t remember
them right at this instant. The main thing is that whoever
comes to the monastery should not smoke and should follow
the rules. Either you adhere to the rules or else you do not
come to this temple. What are the rules? The rules are such
that when we sleep, we sleep at the same time. When we eat,
we eat at the same thing. Do not try to stand out and be
special or sneak out to buy meat to eat on the sly. This
kind of behavior is not allowed.
I tell you that if you have any
questions, you can bring them up so we can discuss them. But
you don’t want to or dare not to do so. When I ask you to
speak up, you just don’t have the courage to say anything.
However, when the time is not appropriate for talking, you
talk too much. You eat and talk at the same time. Talking
fills up your stomach rather than the food so that you can’t
Homage to the eternally abiding Buddhas
of the ten directions.
Homage to the eternally abiding Dharma of the ten
Homage to the eternally abiding Sangha of the ten
Homage to Shakyamuni Buddha.
Homage to Supreme Shurangama of the Buddha’s Summit.
Homage to Guan Shr Yin Bodhisattva.
Homage to Vajra Treasury Bodhisattva!
All good advisors! I first want to make a
deal with all of you. What is it? You should know that when
I speak Dharma—those who are not willing to listen to it are
not allowed to listen; those who are willing to listen are
not allowed not to listen. This is what should first be made
clear. Whoever doesn’t wish to listen, like I said in
Singapore, please plug up your ears with cotton balls. Why?
You might be upset after you listen; once are are upset, you
won’t know anything that I say. If you don’t listen, then
you won’t have this problem. I’d like to make this clear
with you first!
Someone says, “We’d all like to listen;
there’s no need to plug our ears!” However, another person
says, “I don’t want to listen, but I forgot to bring cotton
balls!” Well, there’s not much I can do! You might sit and
take a nap, for you won’t hear anything when you’re asleep.
That’s a good way. For the Dharma, we need to be expedient
and flexible. Speaking Dharma in the United States, I base
myself on the principles of democracy and freedom at all
times. This is called, “Everything is okay.” Since you have
no cotton balls and are unwilling to sleep, I’ll speak more
loudly so that you can hear clearly. When you hear my words
clearly, you have to cultivate them according to the Dharma.
Cultivation requires you to honestly practice the principles
and not merely paying lip service. As the saying goes,
“Speaking a yard is not as good as practicing a foot.” As
long as you can honestly cultivate, you’ll benefit. Knowing
the principles but not practicing them is useless. There is
a saying, “The Path must be walked; of what use is the Path
if it is not practiced? Virtue needs to be practiced; how
can you be virtuous without practicing?” From this we know
that we must cultivate the Path and do virtuous deeds. We
must cultivate honestly. How do we cultivate? Simply accord
with the Dharma spoken by the Buddha. Today I’d like to talk
to you about patience.
It’s not easy to practice patience.
Because it’s not easy, when you cultivate it, you have
suffer first. If you can’t take suffering, then you don’t
have what it takes to be patient. Bhikshus who left the
householder’s life must first know about patience. What are
you patient with? By being patient with or enduring hunger,
you are not afraid of being hungry; by enduring cold, you
are not afraid of being cold; by enduring heat, you are not
afraid of being hot; by enduring thirst, you are not afraid
of being thirsty. You should also endure the wind, rain,
etc. A Bhikshu should endure everything! That’s why it’s
said, “Patience is a priceless treasure, which no one knows
how to use well.” Patience is a precious jewel, yet no one
practices it well. “If you knows how to use it,” to practice
patience, “everything will go your way.” Everything, no
matter what it is, will be perfect for you.
To be continued