Let’s all discuss the topic of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, we do not want to compete to be number one; however, if you live here in the City, you need to know in what aspects the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) excels in the world. Today, we want to praise and enjoy ourselves. Let’s examine the areas in which CTTB is “number one” in the world. Let’s see how many of them you can name.... Being “number one” does not mean being the best. We want to be foremost in a way that is not found anywhere else in the world. If it is something that exists somewhere, then that does not count; if something exists somewhere in the world, then it could exist everywhere. Don’t get it all mixed up, you need to look at the topic of being “number one”, not number two! You can judge based on the entire world, see how many aspects of being “number one” you can find in CTTB! … Everyday we do the Meal Offering before lunch — this is one way we are number one. It is true! You won’t find this anywhere else! We make offerings in the Buddha Hall before going to lunch; this is not done elsewhere. Other monasteries merely do the Meal Offering on the first and fifteenth of the lunar month.... Let’s see who can point out the ways in which we do things right, and we can keep doing them. We will drop any incorrect practices. We should use our true heart to evaluate what people say. We are doing this as a historical investigation for CTTB. This is our experience in the past. We want to examine how we should proceed now, and what direction we will be taking in the future. We have to set the course. Once we know what we need to do, we shall proceed accordingly to achieve our future goals. This is the same as making vows. Do not make an empty vow, which you forget right after you have made it. You need to repeat your vows everyday in front of Buddha.
What you all have said is just like ants trying to eat watermelon, circling around on the surface without getting to the inside. You have not truly gotten to the core of CTTB. Nobody has yet named the real number one of CTTB. The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is the place with the greatest number of Buddhas in the world. Ten thousand Buddhas, see? Other places may have a Mountain of Ten Thousand Buddhas or a Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, whereas ours is a city; the name of the city itself is Ten Thousand Buddhas. Actually, these Buddhas are boundless and limitless in number. This City is different from a mountain, a hall, or a monastery.
Also CTTB is the most egalitarian place in the world. Regardless of whether you are rich or poor, you will be treated equally when you are here. We will greet you whether you are a Buddhist or you follow another religion; it makes no difference. Thus we are the most egalitarian. This place is also the most compassionate. Compassion and fairness are our number one qualities. As for fairness, we all eat the same food. The food is there and everyone is welcome to have what he or she likes. If you do not feel like eating, then you do not need to. But if you do not have enough, you can always get more. If you have enough, the leftovers will be kept. This is absolutely number one. There is no place in the world where people can eat in such an egalitarian way as at the City of Ten Thouand Buddhas.
In some Buddhist dining halls, there are Chinese style servers who put food in your plate or bowl. You may want this food, but they may not serve it to you. You may want that dish, but they may not give you that; they just don’t have that. All they have is one dish – a mixed vegetarian dish called Arhat Vegetarian Dish. Do not even think about getting yourself some fruit there. Here you can eat all the fruit you want. Guo Chi knows about this; you cannot find so many fruits to eat anywhere else. You can forget about eating a whole fruit. Although we do not serve seven or eight courses in the City, whatever dishes we prepare, everybody gets to eat the same food; there is no discrimination. This is not easy to do. For instance, when we have guests visiting, although we prepare a guest room for them, it will be clean and simple. They are served whatever food everyone else eats; perhaps we prepare a bit more for them, but most of time, they just eat with the assembly. This is the place where rich and poor are equal, nobles and commoners are also equal. We have no notion of noble, common, rich, or poor. Then again, I am not that smart. I do not know how to differentiate rich from poor, noble from common. You all should realize this.
Here in the City, we all wear the same kind of clothing. You see, I wore this color in the past, and now I ask all the Bhikshus to wear the same color. The Bhikshunis are the same way except that the color of their robes is lighter. This represents equality. I will treat you the same regardless of whether you treat me well or poorly; there is nothing special about it. For those who treat me with kindness, I kneel down to you. At CTTB, the Teacher kneels before his disciples; not only that, the Teacher also bows to his disciples. This is an aspect that is number one in the world. You cannot find this anywhere in the world. Try to find another place where this happens if you do not believe me. “Guo You, have you found anything like this anywhere?” No! There is no place you can find it.
Our restrooms are also number one. Some say, “Restrooms are everywhere.” We have the most restrooms here and they are all idle. They do not have any work to do. You see, there are so many restrooms here that are idle. Guo Wu said the restrooms here are the best. I said we have the most. Early this morning, I was talking to Professor Cheng. I said that if I point out one thing which is number one in the City, you all will laugh at me. What did I say? I said, “The people at CTTB are number one in defecation!” How is it that defecation has become number one? The feces do not smell. Because we do not eat nutritious food, even our feces smell good. Dogs do not have a chance to eat it because it gets flushed down the toilets. Once it reaches the septic tank and gets processed, the smell disappears. Of course I’m just joking that this is number one.
Actually the true number one is that people here take the precepts seriously. They are determined to uphold the precepts, vigorously practice
samadhi and wisdom, at the same time extinguish greed, hatred, and delusion. Some say, “It is the same everywhere.” I am afraid that other places are not as serious as we are here. Some may ask, “Do you have any proof of that?” I visited a lot of places in the past to learn the Dharma, and I have experienced a lot. Thus I have not seen any place where people practice as hard as we do here. I have been to Lingyan Mountain Monastery in Suzhou; it is the place where people gather and recite the Buddha’s name. That place is very busy. From dawn till dusk, people recite the Buddha’s name. Between the ceremonies in the Buddha Hall and the mealtimes, there is not even a 5 minute break. That is a very good place to be. It is considered the top monastery for reciting the Buddha’s name in China. Because it is the top monastery, everybody likes to go there for recitation. Why? They eat very well there. They always serve sesame rice and steamed buns. Since the monastics there do not have much to do, wherever provide good rice and tea, they will be there; and they will leave the places that do not offer delicious rice and tea. This is a common fault that monastics have. If you have already chosen to leave home, how can you still be attached to how delicious the rice and tea is? I find this habit ridiculous and annoying.
Just now someone mentioned that the air in CTTB should also be considered number one. This is quite meaningful. When you come to the City, the City has a boundary. Although demons also come to our City, their negative energy is not as strong and will slowly fade and disappear. In other words, the air here in the City is purified and not toxic. It is fresh and can also be considered number one in the world.
The environment here is pretty fine, too. Among all the monasteries in the world, there are no place like this; at least not that I have experienced. All the facilities here are ready-made and complete. You cannot find such facilities elsewhere. Therefore, we have more restrooms here in the City than in any other monastery in the world. However, we also have the most restrooms that are idle here; they are all asleep.