Do you believe, then, that we are capable of determining and
controlling the course of our individual destinies?
Master: It is not fixed. What happens to us depends on what
we do, and what we want to do. You can become president and so can
he. I, too, can
become president. It only requires that we expend the necessary
effort and do what is required to reach our desired goal.
Individual destiny is not a matter of
dictatorship as it is with "God", who makes it very clear that he is the only One, the
The Buddhadharma includes everything and everyone. In the
Buddhadharma, anyone who cultivates can accomplish Buddhahood, and
everyone is capable of cultivating his conduct and thought. In the
Buddhadharma, equality is found even in the realm of the Buddhas.
All Buddhas are equal. It is not that some Buddhas are bigger than
others, some taller and some shorter, some better and some worse,
some lighter and some darker. All Buddhas are in accord and they
have no mutual obstruction.
This principle differs somewhat from that of
"God" who says, "I am the greatest.
I created the world and I am the most pure. I am the ultimate
reality!" In reply to this "God",
one might ask, "Well, if you are the only real one, why do you hang
around with all these phonies?" Or one could ask, "If that is really
how it is, why do you have to tell everybody? That's certainly not,
very modest." Only the naive and stupid say, "Ahh, yes! He is real."
Many people in the West do not yet believe in
the Buddhadharma. They think that it is just superstitious
mysticism. Yet, at the same time, they establish and practice a
religion with just one God who says "I am God." Well, anybody can say that: "I'm
God. No! I'm God's dad. Jesus said that he was God's son;
well I'm God's father." This is all just
talking. Ultimately, to recognize what is real, we must examine the
principles, which are taught.
Mr. Fox: Yes, there is a great deal of
ignorance and misunderstanding among Westerners with regard to
Buddhism. This is strange considering the great advancements made in
communications. Of course, it seems that truth and falseness are
communicated with equal speed.
Good and bad as well as true and false exist only because people
recognize them as such. Originally there
is no true and false; people establish them. So, what you think of
as true is true, and what you think of as false is false.
In China, the leader of the T'ai P'ing
Rebellion gained his power by calling himself God. He would say,
"The spirit is coming, closer, closer, here it comes... Ah! Here it is,
here’s what has to be done!" He spoke as if he possessed the power
of God and led a revolution which lasted for ten years. But when
the revolution was over and the sword fell, "God's" head went with it.
In The Avatamsaka Sutra,
it says, "Everything is made from the mind alone." Science,
technology, and philosophy, all progress...where do they come from?
They come from the mind. All things are produced from the mind of
man. So, in studying the Buddhadharma, it is essential to realize
that everything is made from the mind alone, and that there is
nothing outside of the mind.
Mr. Fox: It has been said, "Astronomically speaking,
man is insignificant." But astronomically speaking, man is the astronomer.
Who, then, is insignificant?
People are not small and the universe is not big. If there were
no men, then there would be no universe. If it were not for men,
there would be no ghosts and no Buddhas either; because, it is only
men who recognize them. If there were no men, what possible function
could the Buddha perform? It is all made by us, and we are part of it,
This does not accord with the position of
God who says, "I alone am true: you are all false." God does not
say that ordinary men are God and God is just ordinary people.
But in the Buddhadharma, it says, "Living beings are just the Buddha;
the Buddha is just living beings." There is no inequality. It is not
said that the Buddha is real and living beings are false; because,
without living beings, there would be no Buddhas. Buddhas come
from living beings. To talk of one being true and the other false
has no principle.
Mr. Fox: I
have read that there are many sects in Buddhism. What about that?
Master: All religions, as well as everything else, are manifested
in response to the karmic conditions of living beings. The
Buddhadharma is no different from any other religion. The more
principle you understand, the less it is necessary to discuss little
points. The more expansive the principle you speak, the closer you
approach truth. Originally all religions were established to
regulate conduct, so that men would not do any bad, but instead
offer up all good. But as soon as men discriminate, sectarianism
appears, and men are soon offering up all bad. Where sectarianism
develops, there is often a great deal of quarreling. The Catholics
say that they have the true doctrine and that the Protestants are
heretics, and so forth. Then the Buddhists say that only the Buddha
teaching is really full and complete, Well, this talk of Buddhists
is not too bad, because what is truly full and complete accomplishes
its substance from those parts which are not in themselves complete.
What is truly complete must include everything, which is incomplete.
Without the incomplete, it would be impossible to speak of the
complete. But, this is still just talk.
One day, a visitor to this temple asked me,
"Isn't it true that Buddhism is higher than all other religions?" I
told him that there is no high or low with respect to religions,.
Religions are simply medicines to cure the ills of men. After having
taken enough medicine to completely cure the illness, why continue
to take medicine?
Here in the West, it is taught that this world is made by god. All right, but if god made this world, then why did he
do such a poor job? Why is everything not just and equal? Why is
there so much trouble in this world?
The Buddhadharma explains that everything is
the result of the karmic causes and conditions of living beings. It
is not the case that I or anyone else tells you to do what you do.
Nothing you do is imposed from without. All manifestations are retribution for the
karmic actions of men.
It is said by many that God made the myriad things,
if so, why did he do it? Did he do it so that there would be someone
to respect and worship him? If this is really the case, then this "God"
is certainly selfish. The standard of proper conduct is not a matter
of this being right and that being wrong. Proper conduct accords
with true principle. Everything, which happens in the world is in
perfect accord with the interacting conditions of cause and effect.
Your son, for example, could not have come here if he did not have
co-operating causes, the karmic conditions.
How much the less could he become a Bhiksu?
I know that before he came here, he was really very lazy, but
now as the conditions ripen, he has become constant and vigorous.
I see that my son has really found the right path to follow.
This pleases me. I only regret that we live so far apart. If it were
more convenient, we would all be able to see each other more often.
There is nothing, which is apart from your own self-nature. Think about
the principles we have discussed today. If you fully understand, then
even at a distance of ten thousand miles, we are face-to-face.
If there is no understanding, then even at the time when we are
face-to-face, we are ten thousand miles apart. This is really true
if you practice the principles which you understand.
For example, in the book which I have written,
The Record of Water and Mirror Turning Back Heaven,
there are accounts of events in the life of the Venerable High
Master Ch'ang Jen, who was the abbot of a temple where I lived in
China. No matter how far apart we were, he knew exactly where I was
and what I was doing, and I knew where he was and what he was doing.
We were like this every moment of every day, and yet we needed no
telegraph or radar. Is this miraculous or not?
Mr.Fox: That is truly inconceivable.