THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over
Transformation Palace Hand and Eye
This Ch’an session is very convenient. Everyone gets to develop his own skill and he can also have false thinking. The more false thinking you have, the better. The bigger it is, the better. It’s just to be feared that you won’t have any false thinking. If you don’t have false thinking, then you become stagnant and don’t have any accomplishment. It is said, “Dragons cannot live in stagnant water.” Even, “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” is false thinking. And that is a particularly fierce false thought—a particularly big one. It’s the very worst false thought.
But the worst can turn into the best. The biggest can turn into the smallest. When you reach the ultimate point, when you’ve had false thinking to the ultimate extent and looked at the false thinking to see where the root is, that’s called using the Vajra King’s Sword. “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” That one word “who?” penetrates the heavens and pierces the earth. It pervades the Dharma Realm to the ends of empty space. It’s all the word “who.” So the bigger the false thought of the word “who” is, the better. It’s just to be feared you won’t pull it up, bring it forth. Your Vajra King’s Sword is just your Wisdom Sword. Wielding your Wisdom Sword you can cut off all affliction. And the severing of afflictions is just Bodhi. So, in most Ch’an halls you are told that it’s not good to have false thinking. But with us here, false thinking is good.
Well, is it good not to have false thinking? That’s also good. If you don’t have any false thinking, then you don’t have to work so much: you can rest. I remember a Ch’an Session in Hong Kong at Ta Yű Mountain. An illiterate layman attended. Someone told him to investigate “Who is mindful of the Buddha?” What do you suppose he did? He was extremely intelligent. When he heard “Who is mindful of the Buddha?”, what do you suppose he did? He recited “Pa Shih Tzu Sui—84 years old.” He misunderstood the words and so instead of saying, “Who’s mindful of the Buddha?” he kept saying, “Eighty-four years old, eighty-four years old.” He wanted to live to be that old, but as to how old he lived to be, I don’t know. So it is with us here: some have skill and they can plant a Vajra seed, plant a Bodhi seed. Those without skill, are they useless? They also can plant a Vajra seed.
Long ago an old cultivator became enlightened. And after he was enlightened he took a look ahead and he took a look behind. What kind of a person was he before? You’ll never guess. He had been a tou fou seller; he sold bean cake. Long ago in the past he had been a bean cake vender. After he had finished selling his tou fou, he’d go to the Ch’an Hall and sit in meditation. While he was sitting in meditation he would figure out his tou fu accounts. Eventually, he spoke a verse. What did the verse say? Well now though it wasn’t extremely subtle, it also wasn’t particularly coarse. Now for a tou fu vender to be able to write verses, if that isn’t enlightenment, then what is?
It’s not strange that in the Ch’an Hall,
everyone’s looking for ‘Who.’
Ten thousand Kalpas of unpaid accounts,
everybody’s trying to find out ‘who.’
All I’ve done is sit here for half an hour.
And I’ve figured out several years of tou fu accounts.
He said, “I’m a tou fu vender and I’ve gone to the Ch’an Hall to sell tou fu and the monk who went off to the kitchen to get the money took an awfully long time. So I was there in the Ch’an Hall waiting, and what did I see everybody doing? All those monks are saying, “Who, who, who?” And when he saw that everything was “Who?”, he then sat down in meditation and started to figure out “who?”, who owed him money for their tou fu? “Say, five or six years ago there was that man named Ma, and he bought ten cakes of tou fu and didn’t give me anything for them. Four or five years ago Li Ch’ui Tzu bought five cakes of tou fu from me and he didn’t give me any money either. How is it that I haven’t thought of that for so many years now? Wow, it’s really good to sit here in the Ch’an Hall. If I hadn’t been sitting here investigating dhyana and trying to find out ‘who,’ how could I ever have caught up on my tou fu books? This is unspeakably wonderful.”
He was very happy and so he wrote this verse. He said that it’s not strange that everyone’s looking for “who, who, who?” Now I realize that wonderful secret. Probably for limitless kalpas past, till now, people are indebted to them and they are figuring out “who.” “Ten thousand kalpas of unpaid accounts—everybody’s trying to find out ‘who.’” Year by year, year by year, as the years accumulated into ten thousand kalpas, they still hadn’t figured out “who” owed them money. Now if they sat in the Ch’an Hall they were NaMwoing themselves, praying to themselves, saying “who.” “Who” owes me money? “Who” hasn’t returned things that they borrowed? Probably that’s what they are all looking for. They’re reconciling their accounts. So he speaks again, he’s manifesting a body to speak the Dharma here and he says, “All I’ve done is sit here for half an hour and I’ve figured out several years of bean curd accounts.” Now I can go collect all these past debts on my bean curd. I can seek them out.
See how fine that verse is. Now this is no joke, it’s true. Now it isn’t that he wrote this verse and that was the end of it. It wasn’t as simple as that. After that, every day he went and investigated dhyana. He investigated until the books were all finished. He didn’t have any more outstanding accounts for his tou fu. Then he thought, “Say, last life, who still owes me money for my tou fu? And the life before that, who never paid up on their tou fu?” He investigated like that. He investigated and planted a vajra seed. So then this life he went back to the Ch’an Hall, but it wasn’t to reckon his tou fu accounts. It’s because before, he planted the seed there. So he went back there to sit in meditation. And this time when he investigated dhyana his opportunities were ripe and he suddenly had a great enlightenment. “Oh, originally this is what I was all about.”
Now you take a look. Ultimately, what are you all about? You should open your five eyes and then you can take a look and you can find out. Who was my mama, who was my daddy, who are my flesh and blood, my closest relatives, and how does it come about that I have gotten here to Gold Mountain together with these people, sitting and then walking, walking and then sitting? “Oh, before he was my father. Oh, before she was my mother, and that one was my brother, and that was my younger brother and all those “accounts” from past lives’ cause and effect, you will understand. You should all find out the relationships in the cycle of cause and effect that you have been involved in from limitless kalpas until the present, life after life. And then work very hard developing your skill. If you work very hard in developing your skill you will open enlightenment and know, “Oh, originally I had made a vow to help the Master come to America to propagate the Buddhadharma! Oh, originally that’s the way it was. Oh!”
So in cultivation it is important to be vigorous, courageous, and not lax or lazy, but just go forward and cultivate, just as when you plant things. When you’ve planted the ground then you have to fertilize it, water it, care for it, and then you will get a harvest. If you plant the seed and you don’t give it any water, or any earth, don’t put it where it will get sunlight and all the other conditions necessary, it will not grow. Our cultivation of the Way is also like that. Our sitting in the Ch’an Hall is planting a vajra seed. Once the vajra seed is planted you should practice giving, and you should hold the precepts, you should be patient, you should be vigorous, you should have ch’an samadhi, and prajna wisdom. With the water of prajna you should constantly nourish it, use the strength of vigor to constantly tend it. In this way, sooner or later, the vajra seed will sprout. If you sit in ch’an one day and plant the seed and then don’t pay any attention to it after that, although you can say in the future that it will come up, one doesn’t know how long it will take.
People who cultivate the Way shouldn’t be too hasty. If you’re too hasty, it’s as if you planted the fields and couldn’t wait and said, “Oh why haven’t the seeds, the grain that I planted ripened? I planted the seeds.” Then you’ll be like the man from Sung, the Chinese person who helped his plants grow. He went off to his field and he took every sprout and pulled it up an inch, helping them grow an inch taller. He worked all day at helping them each grow an inch and that night he went home and he said to his wife and son, “Today I’m really tired.” He said, “Today I’ve just been through too much because I’ve been helping these sprouts grow. All those seeds we planted, I’ve helped them grow.” His son heard that and he said, “When did my father learn about such a scientific method? How can he help the sprouts grow? That’s strange, that’s very unusual. If there’s this scientific method to help the sprouts grow, then every year we can plant several crops. This father’s really a fine father. My fathers scholarship is out-of-sight. He could be a scientist!” Because he thought that way he decided to go see what his father had done, to check out his talent and see how he made the sprouts grow. So he didn’t even wait until the next day. That very night he went out to investigate the field and have a look for himself. And when he looked, what do you suppose he saw? Not only had the sprouts not grown, they had withered. They were dead.
So he went back and he said to his father, “I thought you had some scientific method to cause the sprouts to grow but the dumb method you have is impossible. How could you be so dumb as to try to help the sprouts grow like that?” The father didn’t believe him, “How could it turn out that way? I helped everyone of them grow an inch higher. I’ll go back and check it out tomorrow. You’re lying you lazy bum.” The next day the scientific father went out to his field to look, “Oh, how have you all ended up like that? I helped you all grow and you’re not growing.” If you cultivate the Way and you want to be quick about it, it’s just like trying to help the sprouts grow. So it says, “It won’t work to try to help the sprouts grow.” It is also said, “Don’t try to be too quick. If you’re too quick you’ll never get there.” If you’re too quick about it, you won’t have any accomplishment.
So in cultivation of the Way, you cultivate today, you cultivate tomorrow, and the next day you still cultivate, year in and year out, it’s all cultivation. So it’s said, “In the morning it’s this way, in the evening it’s this way.” In the morning you must cultivate the Way, at night you must cultivate the Way and then after a while you will accomplish the Way. Somebody says, “But the Ch’an Sect is the sudden teaching, the sudden dharma, instantaneous realization of Buddhahood, immediate enlightenment. The Sixth Patriarch transmitted the Sudden Teaching.” Sudden what? What’s meant by sudden? Speak up and tell me. You say, “Well it’s becoming enlightened very fast.” You know that now, at present, his enlightenment is sudden. How do you know he’s not like the man who sold tou fu, who in the past went into the Ch’an Hall and reckoned his tou fu accounts? Perhaps he had already cleared up his tou fu accounts and so now he is also clear about the causes and effects of the accounts of past lives and so he has become enlightened.
In the past, the first time I read TheSixth Patriarch Sutra, I discussed this question with others. At the time I was seventeen. I saw that the Sixth Patriarch Sutra talked about sudden and gradual, the Southern Sudden School, and the Northern Gradual School, “Southern Neng, Northern Hsiu.” Since, at the time, I was still attached to the mark of literature, I wrote a matched couplet. What did the couplet say?
Although Sudden and Gradual are different,
Upon completion they are one.
Why make divisions of north and south?
Sagely and common are temporarily different,
The basic nature is absolutely the same.
Do not discuss east and west.
“Although Sudden and Gradual are different,” Although the Sudden Teaching and the Gradual Teaching are not the same, Sudden is immediate enlightenment. Gradual is slow enlightenment. When you look at their manifestations they seem to be two, not the same. “Upon completion they are one.” When you come to accomplishment they are the same. With the Sudden there is enlightenment and with the Gradual there is enlightenment. With the Sudden the time’s a little shorter. With the Gradual the time is a little longer. But the Sudden doesn’t stand sudden all by itself. It exists because of the Gradual. This means that in the past one cultivated and one nourished and tended one’s seeds until they reached maturity, so in this life the opportunities have arrived and one opens enlightenment. If one had not cultivated in the past and had no collateral for oneself, how could one go into business? How could one become enlightened?
The eyes of ordinary people who are unaware of former causes and latter effects don’t see how he nourished and tended his good roots in past lives—all they see is that he became enlightened at this time. And so they say it is sudden. This is called “for the sake of the sudden dispensing the gradual, opening the gradual to manifest the sudden.” In the Tien Tai Sect they say, “for the sake of the actual dispensing the provisional,” “opening the provisional to manifest the actual.”
I still remember when the Elder Dharma master Chin Ch’ien lectured Sutras, he would close his eyes and chant, “For the sake of the actual, dispensing the provisional, then the provisional is included within the actual. Opening the provisional to manifest the actual, then the actual is functioning within the provisional.” He recited the commentaries from memory and he could recite them quite correctly. Sudden and Gradual are also like this—they are the same doctrine as, “For the sake of the actual manifesting the provisional.” So I said, “Upon completion they are one.” When you reach accomplishment they are both one and the same. “Why make divisions of north and south?” Don’t say which one is the Northern Gradual School and which one is Southern Sudden School. It’s just a temporary appearance and that’s all. How do you know that in the future the Sudden won’t go north? How do you know that in the future the Gradual won’t go south? When I heard the Elder Dharma Master Tse Kuo lecture The Vajra Sutra, he moved the Sixth Patriarch to the north. He said, “The Sixth Patriarch was a Northerner and how can you Northerners become enlightened?” The Elder Dharma Master was indulging in a little bit of banter but at the time I didn’t understand so after that I asked the Elder Dharma Master, “When did you move the Sixth Patriarch up to the north, Elder Master?”
So the verse says, “Although Sudden and Gradual are different/Upon completion they are one./ Why make divisions of north and south?” Don’t have so many discriminations and discuss north and south. The second line of the rhymed couplet says, “Sagely and common are temporarily different.” “The sagely and common are temporarily different,/ The basic nature is absolutely the same.” The basic nature is the Buddha Nature. No matter whether you’re a common person or a sage, you have the Buddha Nature. Their basic nature is absolutely the same. The Buddha said it very clearly, “All living beings have the Buddha Nature, all can become Buddhas.” It’s just a matter of time, that’s all. Confusion and awakening may be slow or quick. And the last part of the rhymed couplet says, “Do not discuss east or west.” Don’t say that in the west is the Land of Ultimate Bliss and in the east is the Crystal Azure World and the Saha World. Don’t make so many discriminations. So it says, “Do not discuss east and west.” That’s the kind of madness that I indulged in when I was seventeen. I spoke like this. I hope you Americans won’t follow me in going mad like this, raving like a maniac. If you want to speak mad talk you must first be a madman which means that first you have to run around the Ch’an Hall for a while. And if you don’t want to, you can just sit there for eighty thousand great kalpas and try it out.
White Whisk Hand and Eye
Striking up a Ch’an Session in the Ch’an Hall is just like being beaten. When you are beaten by someone, it hurts. Now all of you are having a war with your legs. Your legs are out to get you; they don’t want you to participate in the session, and your back is forming an alliance with your legs, saying, “Fine, let’s not participate in the session.” The legs hurt and the back goes along and hurts too. It feels just as though you were being beaten. But, if you have patience and are not afraid of the pain, the pain will be defeated. And, once defeated, it won’t hurt.
Why does it hurt when we sit here? Why should one sit in meditation? Sitting in meditation subdues the mind. When we sit we cause all the energy and blood in the body to return to its original source. And, we cause all the apertures which have not been passed to be penetrated through. Of all the places in your veins where the blood ordinarily does not flow, it is forced to flow there now. So, just as you’re sitting here your blood and energy are traveling around. Usually, when we are walking, lying down, or just sitting for not such extended periods of time, the blood and energy just travel along their ordinary routes of circulation. But, sitting as we are now will cause all the obstructed places to be penetrated through. It is like in water pipes—in some places the water flows through; in some other places the water’s stopped up, it can’t flow through. Now, in the way we are sitting, the blood and energy will all penetrate through, especially if you sit in full lotus position. When you sit that way, it’s not easy for the blood and energy to flow through your legs, so you feel pain. If you apply your skill to this pain, when the time comes, quite naturally there won’t be any more pain. At that time the final victor is you.
Speaking on this point, I remember in Manchuria there was a man name Kuan Chung Hsi, and he lived near me in Pei Yin Ho near to the mountains. Because he was a mountain person, his knee caps were really big. He was a master of an outside way sect. It was the Way of Shou Yuan, and he had more than three thousand disciples. But, he himself knew that the outside sect didn’t pass the test, it was not ultimate. So he resolved to go everywhere seeking the Way. Now, in Manchuria when I was there, there were many different, strange sects and outside-way sects. There was the Shou Yuan Tao, and the Yu Shu Men and the Ru I Men, there were a lot of them. It would be impossible to name all the outside-Way sects. Now I’ll tell you something, I have looked into all those outside-Way sects. I have attended them all. So, this person went everywhere looking for the Way, trying to find a Good Knowing Advisor. This persisted for several years, and he still hadn’t found anyone.
One day I went to his home. Prior to my visit, a strange thing happened. He had a nephew called Kuan Chan Hai who at the time was 21 or 22 years old, and when I arrived at his house the nephew asked his uncle. “Do you recognize that person?” The uncle said, “I know of him. I knew of him before he practiced filial piety, but have never met him; I still know who he is.” His nephew said, “Last night I had a dream and in my dream that man came and together you and I knelt before him and sought the Way. There I was seeking the Way, and that man placed his hand on my head and ripped a piece of skin off from my head clear to my feet, all the way off my body. Then, he put that piece of skin on the ground, and when I looked at it do you know what kind of skin it was? It was the skin of a pig.” The uncle said, “Really? Why, the Way has been brought to our very household! Let’s hurry up and seek the Way.”
So, the two of them knelt before me seeking the Way. I say, “What are you doing, what Way are you seeking from me? You’re really muddled. What Way do I have? The only Way I know is eating and sleeping, nothing else, but I can introduce you to a few Good Knowing Advisors. You can see which Good Knowing Advisor possesses the Way, and you can seek it from him.” I said, “Now before we go to see any Good Knowing Advisors, I will first teach you a method for developing your skill. What is it? You should first practice sitting in full lotus.”And I showed him how to do it, and he could do it. I said, “If you practice sitting in full lotus until it doesn’t hurt, then I will take you around to seek the Way, visiting Good Knowing Advisors.” I taught him how to pull his legs up into full lotus and how he should hold his body erect, not leaning backward or forward, not putting his head down or holding it up, not acting like he was spineless, that he should keep his back erect to show that he had determination. I taught him that method, and he took it up and began to practice. After 70 days I returned to his house, and I saw his knee caps—originally they were big, but by now they were huge! They were swollen to two or three times their original size. He couldn’t even walk, in fact. I said. “What have you done?” He said, “I’ve been practicing sitting in full lotus, and I’ve practiced to the point that I can’t even walk. I can’t even step over a cart-rut on the road. I can’t even step over the door sill.”
I said, “Oh, if that’s the way it is, you’d better not practice this method. That’s too much suffering for you.”
He said, “Not practice sitting that way? I could die, and that would be all right. But it wouldn’t be all right to stop practicing sitting this way. I’ve made a vow; I’m determined to perfect sitting in full lotus.”
I said, “It’s too unbearable, the way you are now.”
He said, “Well, I have to bear what can’t be borne.”
I heard that, and I knew that there was a bit of potential here. I said, “Okay, if you’re not afraid to die, then go ahead and practice.” Then I left. After 100 days, I returned again and saw him. This time his legs were back to normal. The swelling had gone down, and he was walking. They weren’t swollen any more. I said, “Well, what about it. Did you stop your practice, huh?”
He said, “No, I perfected it. It doesn’t hurt any more. After you’d left, gradually as I sat the swelling began to go down, and it didn’t hurt any more. So, now I sit very well.”
So, then I taught him how to develop his skill in cultivation. He cultivated for about three years, and after that he predicted his own passing. He knew three months ahead of his own death. He told those in his family that at such and such a time he was going to “pass into extinction.” And he said, “The thing I regret most is that I haven’t seen so-and-so.” He was referring to me. He would have been most happy if he could have seen me. On that day, as predicted, he just sat there and completed the stillness. In his village many, many people had a dream in which they saw him, accompanied by two youths in dark colored robes, going toward the west. Now, that person basically was from an outside-Way sect, but he realized that he should seek the Proper Dharma. Afterwards, he was able to not fear suffering. He did not fear the pain. Although his legs swelled up, he would rather have died than to discontinue his cultivation, practicing how to sit in meditation. As a result, he had some accomplishment. If at the point when his legs were so swollen he had not continued to practice, I believe he would not have had such a level of accomplishment. So, people who cultivate the Way must bear a certain period of suffering and pain in order to certify to inexhaustible bliss. If you don’t bear the pain and suffering, if you don’t bear a temporary period of pain, you won’t attain eternal bliss. I know there are an awful lot of people who when they sit, relax their legs, or stretch them out. A lot of people can’t keep their legs up when they’re sitting, so I’ve told you about Kuan Chung Hsi, so that he can act as a model. His kind of practice can be a model for us. If we truly wish to attain samadhi and wisdom, we’ll certainly have to endure a period of pain in order to accomplish eternal bliss.
Moreover, people who cultivate the Way should not be arrogant, should not be self-satisfied, should not feel, “I am better than anybody. My scholarship is better than anyone else’s; my cultivation is better than anyone else’s; my Way virtue is higher than anyone else’s.” If you are full of self, it is truly a great obstruction to cultivation of the Way. So, it’s said, “ The arrogant come to harm; the modest receive benefit.” This is not just speaking for those who have cultivated for 2½ days and sat for five minutes and haven’t any particular accomplishment, this is also for those with accomplishment. They should act in such a way that, “what exists is as if non-existent, and what is real is as if false.” If you have it, it should be as if you didn’t have it. If you have it as if you didn’t, then you won’t be full of self, “real as if false.” Basically you have genuine talent, but you act as if you didn’t have any talent at all.
In Hu Nan, at Mt. Wei, the Old Man of Mount Wei was living in a hut there. One day the official P’ei Hsiu came to see him: When he saw the kind of hut the old man was living in, which was all broken down, Minister P’ei was moved and said, “I’m going to give you three hundred pounds of silver, you can repair your hut.” There wasn’t really any place in the hut, so he set the three hundred pounds of silver down in some deep grass in front of the hut. Three years later, Minister P’ei came back to pay another call on the Old Man. He saw that the hut was just the same, causing him to wonder about the Old Man of Mt. Wei. What were his doubts about? He thought,
“Oh, he just intentionally lives in this old hut so that people will make offerings to him. He didn’t fix up his hut after all! I gave him three hundred pounds of silver. He could have built a whole big monastery with that amount. I wonder what he’s done with the three hundred pounds of silver? I wonder why he didn’t make the temple?” So, he asked the Old Man. He said, “Old Cultivator, three years ago I gave you three hundred pounds of silver and told you to build a temple. You didn’t build the temple; what did you do with the silver?”
The Old Man of Mount Wei said, “Ohhh, silver? Where did you put it?”
He said, “I put it in the grass outside the door.”
The Old Man said, “Well, go look for it out in the grass.”
Minister Pei went and looked in the grass, and right there were the three hundred pounds of silver. The Old Man hadn’t even moved them. The grass had protected it very well, better than in a strong box or a safe.
Minister Pei said, “That’s great cultivation. He didn’t even acknowledge the three hundred pounds of silver, and it’s been sitting in the grass for three years. Okay, now I’ll build him a monastery.”
He used a lot of money and built a monastery on Mount Wei, which could house a thousand people. It could hold a thousand Bhiksus. It was really strange. While the Old Man was living in the old hut, nobody came to see him, but as soon as there was this big monastery—a Ten Direction-Bodhimanda—people came and went; two or three thousand bhikshus came. At that time you had to carry the water and chop the wood. Even the wood choppers alone numbered several dozen, and those who carried water were quite a few.
Now at the time, Minister Pei had a son, and the son saw all those monks there, and he too wanted to leave home. Minister Pei thought it over. He knew that as an official, the obstacles he had created were not few; if his son left home, it would take care of a few of his offenses—it would lighten his load of karmic offences.
So he said, “Good, good, good.” He was very much in favor of his son leaving home. Now his son was a high-ranking scholar, and the Minister went to the Old Man of Mount Wei and said that his son wanted to bow to the Old Man of Mount Wei as his Master and leave home.
And the Old Man of Mount Wei said, “Fine, your son wants to leave home. Originally he’s a high-ranking scholar; when he comes here he should practice bitter practices, ascetic practices. One rule we have here is that before leaving the home-life people must first practice ascetic practices.”
To the son he said, “Be an ascetic. Let’s see, what shall you do? You can carry water. The work of carrying water is very important, and you can’t be lazy, because if you’re lazy, there won’t be enough water for people to drink.”
So, the son got up at two-thirty in the morning and carried water and worked until ten o’clock at night. People were in the Ch’an Hall having Ch’an Sessions, and he was having “water-carrying sessions.” From morning until night he carried water. He never rested. He ate in a hurry, never having quite enough time. He carried water that way for three years. All he ever did was to carry water; he had never even seen the inside of the Ch’an Hall.
One day he said to himself, “Gee, I see all those people going in and out of the Ch’an Hall; what are they doing in there? I think I’ll go take a look.” So he went to look around and said, “Ahhh, so what they’ve been doing all this time is sitting here sleeping. I’ve been carrying all that water for all you non-cultivators. You’re supposed to be cultivators, and all you do is sit there sleeping. It’s been so bitter for me, and you’ve got it so comfortable. You’ve been sitting in here sleeping.” He was very upset.
Now, the Old Man of Mount Wei was a Bright-Eyed Good Knowing Advisor, and he knew that the son had had that false thought. And so, he summoned him to the Abbot’s room and said to him, “You haven’t carried your water well. You say that all these people are just sitting here sleeping. Today you have violated the rules of this monastery. I’m kicking you out. You can’t stay here any longer.”
Minister Pei’s son, whose name was Fa Hai, said, “What rule have I broken?”
The Old Man of Mount Wei said, “You went into the Ch’an Hall, and you said that everybody was sleeping, and you, a scholar, could not quite bear the job of carrying water to nourish them. Because you had that false thought you have to leave. You should know that for every period of sitting, an old member of the Sangha can digest ten thousand pounds of gold. Compared to that what does a stinking scholar like you who’s carried a few buckets of water have to offer? And yet you dare to go ahead and have such false thoughts. Okay, now I’m kicking you out. Get out!”
Fa Hai thought to beseech him, but when he took a look, he saw that the Old Man of Mount Wei was particularly severe and stern, and he knew that there weren’t any two ways about it.
“So, where should I go? I haven’t got any money.”
The Old Man of Mount Wei said, “Okay, I’ve got eight and a half dollars here. Just keep going till you reach the place where you’ve used up those eight and a half dollars, then just live there.” Fa Hai took those eight and a half dollars but didn’t dare use them because what would he do when he used them up? So everywhere he went hebegged. He begged his way from Hunan to Hupei, from Nanking to Chenkiang. When he arrived at Chenkiang, he wanted to go look at a mountain, but he had to first cross a river. The boat-man didn’t want any more or any less money, he wanted just eight and a half dollars. So Fa Hai used the eight and a half dollars to take the ferry, and when he arrived at Gold Mountain—well at that time it wasn’t called Gold Mountain, it was just a mountain in Chenkiang—he climbed the mountain and lived there. And, while he was there, he came upon two barrels of gold. He found them in a cave, now called Fa Hai cave. Once he found those two barrels of gold, he used them to build Chiang T’ien Monastery on Gold Mountain, which became one of the most famous monasteries in China.
And here we have some of you who have Ph. D.’s and some of you have Masters, some of you are Graduates—a lot of you are more or less like that scholar, and yet you haven’t been carrying water here. Don’t go looking outside for Gold Mountain. This is Gold Mountain. So while you’re here in this Gold Mountain, you should obtain some of the precious things it has to offer. What’s that? You should become enlightened here in Gold Mountain Monastery. You should develop your skill very well. Become one of the first to be enlightened at Gold Mountain Monastery.