Bound by Infatuation, They Turned into Trees

A talk given by Venerable Master Hua on the evening of November 12, 1982, at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas

The thing that harms people most in the world is obsessed love and heavy emotion, and the most exalted thing is 'Cultivating the Way of Purity'.

Look at this piece of wood - two tree trunks grown together, with the upper and lower branches stuck together. What is the reason for this? Countless eons ago, there was a man and a woman who were very much in love. Together they made these vows, "In heaven, may we be two birds conjoined to a wing; on earth, may our roots be intertwined." For this couple, it was love at first sight, so they got married. They shared the same habitude: money. The man did his best to earn money; the woman did her best to spend it.They preoccupied themselves with earning and spending.

Alas, they loved each other so deeply, together they created offenses so heavily. Consequentially, in life after life, they sank lower and lower, falling into the realms of animals, hungry ghosts, and hell-beings. Now they have turned into plants. Originally, they should have been two separate tree trunks, but they have grown together and become hopelessly intertwined. Look! The left trunk stretched out a branch to embrace the right trunk, and the right trunk extended a branch to grasp the left trunk. It's just like a man and woman holding out their arms and hugging each other. From this, one can see that even in the form of trees, they cannot renounce the dismal habit of infatuation carried over from their former lives! What more? Lodged between the two trunks is a piece of stone that they cherished like a precious gem. What is it actually? It's their bank account book from past lives.

One day several years ago, when we went to speak the Dharma by the river in the City, we retrieved this piece of wood. Look. With the treetops chopped off and the roots severed, what's left are the dried up branches, and yet they are still stuck together like glue. Isn't this pathetic?

From this, we can see how dangerous it is to love too deeply. It is not a joking matter. Someone might be thinking, "Dharma Master, I simply cannot believe the Dharma you speak. You have no proof to back it up, and there's no logic behind it. Probably you're just putting us on as if we are children. It's just dream talk." It is up to you to believe this or not. I have no way to make you absolutely believe it. It is very difficult to verbalize this Dharma. When people are blindly in love, no matter how you try to wake them up from their stupor, they will not hear it nor accept it. 'obsessed love and heavy emotion' is most harmful in the world. 'Cultivating the Way of Purity' is most noble. It is not that people do not know this principle. They know it, yet deliberately go against it, unable to extricate themselves from habits accumulated throughout countless eons.

There is a Chinese adage: He holds on to a piece of dung, not willing to exchange it for a sesame twist. It is like a person who hangs on tightly to his love. You tell him, "Let go of that dirty thing. Cultivation is more precious!" But he obstinately holds on and refuses to turn around. So it's said,

Even though the rain from the heavens is vast,
It's difficult to nourish grass that has no roots.

Even though the gate of Buddhism is wide,
It's difficult to save people who have no faith.

I have kept this piece of wood for a long time. I don't show it to most people because if I spoke this dharma, they wouldn't believe it. I have to wait until the time and conditions have ripened. On October 24th, when all of you came from afar to visit, I brought this piece of wood to the Buddha-hall, but didn't talk about it for about three weeks. Now, if I did not speak about this today, there may not be another time. So regardless of whether you believe or not, I want to explain to you the causes and conditions behind this piece of wood.

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