THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over
Volume One:

Ax Hand and Eye  

   In the classic of the Way and Its Virtue, Lao Tze has spoken well, but the principles have still not penetrated to the ultimate:  

     When the great Way disappears
       there is humanity and propriety.
     When wisdom comes forth
       there is great deceit.
     When the six kinds of relatives are not
       in harmony, there is the filial son.
     When the country is in a turmoil
       there are the loyal ministers. 

This verse is very logical and has a lot of principle, but it’s looking at things from a superficial point of view. To look from an internal point of view, why would the Great Way disappear? Why would wisdom come forth? Why would the six kinds of relatives not be in harmony? Why would the country be in a turmoil? You have to go back to the foundation, the source. Why would the Great Way disappear? Because, people don’t cultivate the Way. It just means that people don’t investigate dhyana. What happens when people don’t investigate dhyana and don’t assume responsibility to cultivate? Then one speaks about humanitarianism and propriety. They say, “You should practice humanitarianism; you should be upright.” Hence, the first line; “When the Great Way disappears, there is humanity and propriety.” If the Great Way pervades, such concepts as humanity and propriety wouldn’t come forth. When you see humanity and propriety, you’ll have to investigate the source, and the source of it is that people aren’t cultivating the Way. They don’t know how to cultivate the Way, so they cast aside the root and grasp at the branches. They pick up the superficialities and they say, “Ahh, one should be humanitarian, and one should practice propriety.” So they say, “Humanity means to love others. You should love, love to the point of giving up your life.” They talk of love. They’ve come under the control of the defiling love. So, that’s why Lao Tze said, “When the Great Way disappears, there is humanitarianism and propriety.” Not bad, that’s the way it is.  

   When wisdom comes forth, there’s great deceit. When a wise person manifests, he can play tricks to deceive ignorant people. He can cheat those without any wisdom. What he says here is also right, and we can prove it. This proof occurred during the Three Kingdoms Period. You can pull out the tape recordings for the Three Kingdoms Period and play them. You say, “Well, when did they record the happenings in the Three Kingdoms Period?” Why, in the fourth Kingdom Period, of course! Whose tape was it? It was Hsiao Feng Huang’s, who was also called Feng Ch’u Tzu, Pung Po, and P’ang Feng Ch’u. And just who was Feng Ch’u Tzu? He was one of the wise ones of the time of Hsu Shu Tzo Ma Ge Ju, when Liu Pei was forced into retreat. He was truly a wise one, he was able to cheat Chang Fei. How did he cheat him? Oh, it was a really good joke. Hsu Shu Tzo Ma Shen Ju Ge said, “Fu Lung Feng Ch’u can quell the disharmony of the kingdom.” Fu Lung is Wo Lung. Feng Ch’u is P’ang Feng Ch’u. P’ang Feng Ch’u and Mr. Wo Lung at the time of Ju Ge were the same. After Ju Ge gained control, the small Feng (phoenix) couldn’t fly, but the Lung (dragon) flew. Feng Ch’u said that the Lung (dragon) had flown, so he thought that the Feng (phoenix) should also fly. So he went to see Liu Pei. Liu Pei had heard of him but didn’t know what he looked like. Feng Ch’u was really ugly. He was pretty disreputable-looking, with a beard and all. His appearance was not the least bit respectable. But, after meeting Feng Ch’u, Liu Pei made him mayor.  

   P’ang went to take up office and put a sign on his door, an announcement, which read, “If any of you people have any complaints, bring them to me, and I will hear them.” So every day he heard complaints. Once the announcement was up, people came—one person complained that his land had been taken by another; one person complained that a lot of his trees had been cut down by someone; another one came and complained that his brother was always giving him trouble; then another one came and said that his son wasn’t filial. Everybody had complaints that they wanted to air. While all these complaints were being aired, what do you suppose P’ang Feng Ch’u did? He drank. He drank until he was sopping drunk, and he couldn’t fly. The phoenix was drunk. So all day long he slept in that room. He’d drink till he fell asleep, and when he finished sleeping he’d drink again; it went on like this for six months. The recorder recorded more than a hundred books full of complaints of the people. Although there were a hundred books full of complaints, none were investigated.  

   Six months went by and Liu Pei sent Chang Fei to spy on Feng Ch’u. Of course, old Chang Fei disguised himself before going to spy on P’ang Feng Ch’u, so that no one would recognize him. When Chang Fei went to see what P’ang Feng was doing, what do you suppose he found out? One person reported, “Somebody put in a complaint, and it’s already been three months,” and another one said, “I complained about so and so to the mayor four months ago.” another said, “Oh, it’s been even longer for me; it’s been more than five months, and nobody’s looked into it. I haven’t heard a thing. All the mayor does is drink; that’s all he does from morning till night, he drinks. He doesn’t pay any attention to anything. He’s become a wino mayor.” So, Chang Fei listened until he got his ears full. Then he changed back into his official clothing, went into the city and said, “Okay bring in the Mayor; I want to see the Mayor.”  

   So, there was P’ang Feng Ch’u, his eyes hardly opened, trying to arrange his clothing and put on his shoes as he came stumbling out to see Chang Fei. Chang Fei said, “My superior sent you here to be a Mayor, and you’ve had your post. Why didn’t you do anything?”  

   Feng Ch’u said, “What did you want me to do?”  

   Chang Fei said, “What do you mean do? There are all these people with complaints, and you haven’t looked into them—you haven’t taken care of them.”  

   Feng Ch’u replied, “Oh, well that’s a small matter. Okay, sit down; I’ll take care of them right now.” So, he called all the people in, opened all hundred books together, and he said, “Okay now everybody—whoever has something to say—go ahead and speak your principles. Simultaneously speak them all to me; I’ll take care of you all.” What do you suppose it was like with hundreds of people, each one speaking his own mind, his own principles at the same time? There were all babbling about what village they’d come from, et cetera, et cetera; and he was listening with his ear, and with his hand he was writing out the judgments.  

   Chang Fei said, “Wow, this is really out-a-sight. He’s listening to a hundred people talk to him, and all he has to do is glance at the records, and he’s able to make the decision. He doesn’t have to look closely at them at all. He’s truly one who can read ten lines at a glance and can listen to a hundred people speaking. That’s really inconceivable.”  

   So, P’ang Feng Ch’u had been cheating people from the Three Kingdoms Period onward. And, now I’m going to tell you the secret: P’ang Feng Ch’u was there drinking, and while he was drinking he didn’t have anything to do, so he looked at the records. “Today Chang San said that somebody had taken over some of his land, and so my verdict is that people can’t steal other people’s land, you’ll have to give it back. And as to the man who cut down the hundred trees, he will have to replant a hundred. That will take care of that.” And he went along like this. He’d looked at every entry, and he’d already made his decisions; he didn’t have to go look at them in great detail again. So, when Chang Fei came and P’ang Feng Ch’u got everybody together and let them all speak simultaneously, he just sat there and announced the decisions. Chang Fei was so coarse and simple that he thought this an inconceivable thing. Now, wouldn’t you say that this is a case of “when wisdom comes forth there is great deceit”?  

   So, when Lao Tze said,  

     When wisdom comes forth
       there is great deceit.
     When the six kinds of relatives are not
       in harmony, there is the filial son.
     When the country is in a turmoil
       there are the loyal ministers.  

An example of there being the filial son when the six relatives are not in harmony can be found in the case of Ta Shun and his little brother Shang. Ta Shun was very filial, but Shang was arrogant, and the house was not in harmony. Thus, it appeared that Ta Shun was filial and Shang wasn’t. “When the six kinds of relatives are not in harmony, there is the filial son,” is also this principle.  

   “When the country is in turmoil, there are the loyal ministers.” In the Sung Dynasty, Hui Ch’in Erh Tsung was ousted by Chin Wu Chu. In the Northern Sung capital at Hang Chou, which was called Lin An, there were loyal ones among the officials. Among the disloyal ones was Ch’in Hui and among the loyal ones was Yao Fei. Thus, “When the country’s in turmoil there are the loyal ministers,” also has principle.  

   But, now we’re not going to explain “the six kinds of relatives not in harmony, there arises the filial son,” or “when the country’s in a turmoil, there are loyal ministers.” We’re going to talk more about how, “When great wisdom comes forth, there is great deceit. Why do we want to talk more about that? Because now we all wish to have our wisdom come forth; we all want to become enlightened. But, if you become enlightened, you should do genuine things—you shouldn’t do devious things. You shouldn’t get involved in phony matters. So now, whoever has great wisdom should help those who don’t have wisdom, and should not deceive those who don’t have wisdom. What’s really important is that if you have great wisdom, you should be very responsible in teaching and transforming living beings and should not deceive living beings.

Today the important point is that whoever gains wisdom should not follow in the footsteps of Feng Ch’u. But, why do I critize Feng Ch’u and say that he cheated people? Was it really the case that he was able to write out the verdicts in all those cases of hundreds of complaints at once? No, he had to write them one by one. It’s just because he had wisdom that all he had to do was look at a word or two and he was able to realize whether or not the complaint was justifiable. He was very clear about it. It was like having it all reflected in a mirror. It was all very clear to him. But, he had done them one by one. And, since he had done them one by one, he was really able to hear a hundred things with his ear at the same time, and at the time he was listening, he was just listening, that’s all. It’s not at all sure that he was able to pick out what each of the hundreds of people were saying individually.

But, when Chang Fei took a look at the scene, he couldn’t break that barrier. He didn’t recognize the false face, and he thought that what Feng Ch’u was doing was extraordinary, so he said, “His eyes can read ten lines at once.” Now, that may have been possible. Why? Because he read fast. What this means is that for the time it takes you to read one line, he could read ten. That might be possible, and he could have perhaps heard a hundred peoples’ voices at the same time. But, I don’t believe that he could have done it with a hundred. He might have done it with ten. If there were ten people talking, you could be able to clearly hear what each one was saying. And you say, “Well, if it’s possible with ten, then why isn’t it possible with a hundred?” Well if that’s the case, then you could say it’s okay for a thousand or ten thousand. You will have to have some proof. When I estimate ten, that’s the highest, the very most possible. It’s not the least possible. That’s my highest estimate.  

   So, now as our wisdom comes forth, we should have great truth and not great deceit. Have great truth and great functioning, propagate great teaching, and transform living beings.

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