(Continued from issue #263)
Whoever is willing to cultivate the Way diligently, I am willing to be your Dharma protector to aid you in applying effort. That's because when I first wanted to work hard on cultivation, I couldn't find a good place where I could do it. Every place I went required an initial round of training in performing a lot of detailed, superficial work. For example, in the Chan Hall, you need to learn to use the hand bell, hit the boards, serve as a proctor who makes rounds, pour tea for people to drink, collect the teacups, and a whole bunch of ancillary duties. In as much as you want to apply effort in cultivation, your effort went to trifling matters of serving tea, collecting teacups, making rounds as a proctor, and hitting the bell, boards, wooden fish, and drum. These ancillary tasks took at least three weeks to learn, and usually the Chan Session only lasted a week or two. These miscellaneous tasks were more than enough to consume your time and effort.
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, you may investigate Chan, recite the Buddha's name, translate the sutras, study the sutras, or engage in other practices. In general, if you practice with a concentrated mind, then everything is easy. There are no intricate regulations requiring you to perform many different tasks, or making you spin dizzily with so many superficial matters. It's very simple here. The proctor (wei no) only has to start and end the periods of silent sitting. If you are here and you still fail to apply effort, then I don't know if there's any other place you can apply effort. This is the most convenient place for you to apply effort best. While applying effort you should not be having idle thoughts at the same time, such as: "Today's lunch was awful. It's really cold. How am I going to sleep tonight?" Don't waste your time on these useless idle thoughts! You should concentrate your mind and focus your attention, and apply your utmost effort.
You should be applying effort not only when you are in the Recitation Hall and the Chan Hall, but at all times wherever you are. Applying effort means your eyes are not turned by sights, your ears not turned by sounds, your nose not turned by smell, your tongue not turned by flavors, your body not turned by sensations of contact, and your mind is not turned by the dust of dharmas. If you remain unmoved by all those states, and can instead turn those states around, proving that you are applying effort.
You should always be mindful of this whether you are walking, standing, sitting or reclining. Separating from this is a mistake. Every moment is critical so you must pay attention to whatever you are doing, and control your thoughts. Raise up high the Jeweled Sword of the Vajra Wisdom King, and slash through all the demonic troops of afflictions!
Q: What should I do if people slander me when I am working for the public?
A: If you are working for the public and are being slandered, you should want to do it even more! If you quit because people slander you, that's not true cultivation.
Q:Why do Buddhists of the present fail to understand the Proper Dharma, and instead do everything they can to obtain spiritual powers? Why do most of today's Buddhists cherish money so much more?
A: This question is very important, because people nowadays have all been poisoned by money. Money can be cancerous, which is extremely toxic. Invisibly, the demons sprinkle this poison on the money, so as soon as people come in contact with it, they forget everything. They even forget their parents, and the only thing they know of is money. They regard money as their closest friend and create a lot of offenses for the sake of money. Even Buddhists will think of all kinds of schemes and will do anything to get it, including consulting geomancers and seeking secret dharmas. They are even greedier than ordinary people who do not understand the Buddhadharma; their greed is greater than the sky. This is known as the decline of the Dharma. The decline of the Dharma means that no one understands true principles anymore. If we want to correct this problem, we have to uphold the Six Great Principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is abiding by, i.e. do not contend, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing personal benefit, not lying. These six conditions can reverse the deviant and evil trend of the Dharma-ending Age. You shouldn't think that following and abiding the Six Great Principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhasis a simple task. Ordinary people are not only unprepared to study them, they are not even ready to hear them. When I spoke these Six Great Principles, it was intended for the cultivators of Three Steps One Bow (Heng Sure and Heng Chau). I saw how hard they were working and thought it'd be a pity if I didn't speak some true Dharma for them. These Six Great Principles are a demon-spotting mirror and a demon-subduing pestle for destroying deviant knowledge and views. As for spiritual powers, they are gained not through seeking, but through cultivation. If you are fortunate enough to obtain them through cultivation, you should not make it a big deal.
Spiritual powers are not a big deal in Buddhism. They are just petty skills, a kind of child's play, and not to be considered important. Students of Buddhism who are out to get spiritual powers have gone down the wrong road and are basically not Buddhists of proper faith.
Q:Why do people pay homage to Sun Wukong (the monkey in Journey to the West) and not to Great Master Xuanzhuang, the Tang (Dynasty) Monk? And, is there really a Sun Wukong?
A:Just because Sun Wukung had a golden rod, was able to do somersaults, could ascend to the heavens and enter the earth, and was multi-skilled, everyone adored him. Sun Wukong, JuBajie, Sha Seng, and so forth, actually existed, but they were invisible spirits. They aided and protected the Tang Monk on his trip to India to obtain the sutras. They were not visible to the eyes of ordinary people. They didn't possess physical bodies like ordinary people; they were spirits. Great Master Xuanzhuang was an honest, down-to-earth cultivator. He wasn't able to do flying somersaults, or cause a big uproar in the celestial palaces. He only knew how to conceal his talent and truly cultivate the Way. By virtue of the three qualities of determination, sincerity, and constancy, he single-mindedly went to obtain the sutras, and dedicated himself to benefiting living beings. As a result, Sun Wukung and the others stepped out to protect and support him.
(The End of the Article)