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Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over

Volume 1

Recitation Beads Hand and Eye 



We have already come to the final day of the Kuan Yin Session, and, on this last day, have we who are attending this Kuan Yin Session put to rest the mad heart? If you can put the mad heart to rest, then the Bodhi heart grows big. If you have not put to rest the mad heart, you must continue to apply effort. Now, all of you are in the Buddhist Lecture Hall learn how to recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. And after this you should always, always recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. By reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, on the one hand you obtain the protection of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. On the other hand, you cure yourself of your false thinking. The mad heart, the greed heart, the hate heart, the stupid heart can all be counteracted.  

   You shouldn’t consider this very simple and of no use, because if you use effort for a long time you will naturally be able to attain good points. For example, you recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. You recite continually until you feel that a light is coming forth from within your heart. The heart’s light illumines the entire Dharma Realm, and after that your stupidity vanishes.

   Sometimes you recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name until the inside of your mouth becomes even sweeter than if you were eating sugar. It can also happen that Kuan Yin Bodhisattva pours sweet dew-water upon the top of your head. When your head has been anointed in this way with dew-water, your karmic obstacles which have accumulated for limitless kalpas are eradicated. At other times you may recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name and come to know in advance something that’s going to happen tomorrow. You’ll know, for example, “Tomorrow somebody is going to come and visit me. This person may be someone I knew before or perhaps it is someone I don’t know.” You will know something that is going to happen the next day.

    However, when you know something like that, you shouldn’t consider it stupendous. It’s just a small-scale experience. Then what’s a large-scale experience? A large-scale experience is knowledge of ten thousand ages past; and ten thousand ages hence. You have knowledge of the eighty-four thousand great eaons that lie before you and knowledge of the eighty-four thousand great aeons past. You could say there is nothing you don’t know. There is nothing you are not aware of. Yet even that is not counted as a large-scale experience when compared to the state you experience after attaining that which is the very greatest.  

   And so now that you have learned the Dharma-door of reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, you should always recite it. After this, wherever a Kuan Yin Session Dharma Assembly is being held, you should go and take part, lending support to the Dharma Assembly, because to support the Dharma Assembly is just to revere Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. Wherever there is a Buddha recitation or a Kuan Yin Recitation Session, you should go there to follow and rejoice in merit and virtue, and recite along with everyone.

   You may say, “I already know how to recite, so why do I still have to go and recite?” You should go to be part of the influential assembly. You should influence those who don’t know how to recite by going there and reciting Kuan Yin Bodhistattva’s and Amitabha Buddha’s names. Because you already know how to recite, you can cultivate, and you also can help other people to cultivate. That is called being part of the influential assembly. In that way, bit by bit, Buddhism will flourish and everyone will come to understand the genuine Buddhadharma.

   This does not just mean “intellectual zen” like those who understand whatever you say to them, but if you tell them to apply it, they can’t do anything at all. They understand with their heads and mouths, but if you tell them to apply it, they can’t. That is called head-mouth samadhi, and it’s useless. We should reliably, actually, truly understand the Dharma and really learn to apply effort, and then there will be a way.  

   Now, what aspect of this world causes the most suffering? What aspect brings the most bliss? Can any of you answer this question for me? No one answers? You’ve recited Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name for six days so you should have some wisdom. You should understand what causes the most suffering and what brings the most bliss. Now I’m giving you a test, and whoever can answer the test question will pass. Whoever can’t answer has to continue with the session.

   If you can’t answer, you will have to keep up this Kuan Yin Session forever. When this Kuan Yin Session is over, another one will come along, and when that Kuan Yin Session is over another one will follow it. We’ll just continue having them without any interruption and nobody will be allowed to leave. If you want to leave, you are going to have to answer my question first. What about it? Don’t be afraid, I’m not going to force you. If you want to go you can go, if you don’t want to go you don’t have to go, since the Buddhadharma is not bound, fettered, or blocked up.

   I say I’m not going to let you go, but if you want to go, you can go ahead and go. Besides, no one is answering the question, so I will tell you: What causes the most suffering is not to understand the Buddhadharma, and what brings the most bliss is just to understand the Buddhadharma. You say, “No, Dharma Master, previously I heard you say the happiest thing was not that but something else.” Well, now I’m saying it this way. Before was before and now is now. You can’t take the past and drag it into the future for the same explanation. Why not? Because there are no fixed dharmas. If you think about it, what I said before was probably not exactly perfect. So I’ll tell you once more.  

   What I was talking about before was Confucius and how when Confucius was stopped by Kuei Lien, he had nothing to eat. Therefore he told Tzu Lu to go to Fan Dan to borrow rice. Now Tzu Lu was very coarse. All he knew how to do was kung fu, at which he was very good. So Tzu Lu was told to go borrow rice from Fan Dan who asked him, “Where do you come from?”

   He said, “I’m Old Confucius’ disciple and my teacher now has no food to eat. He’s in between Ch’en and Ts’ai countries, right in the middle, and he has no food to eat, no rice. There’s also an assembly of over three thousand with nothing to eat. This is a very dangerous situation, so I’ve come to borrow a bit of rice from you.”  

   Fan Dan said, “Okay, you can borrow rice, but I have a question I want to test you on. You’re Confucius’ disciple and Old Confucius is very learned so naturally since you have been studying with him, you must be learned too. So I will ask you a question, and if you can answer it I will lend you the rice, and if you can’t then I’m afraid I won’t lend it to you.”  

   Tzu Lu said, “Okay, what is it?”  

   Fan Dan asked, “In the world, what is the most and what is the least? What is pleasant and what is a bother?” That’s the way he put it.  

   Tze Lu thought about it and he just brashly stepped right up and said, “There is absolutely nothing difficult about a question like that. It’s very easy to answer.”  

   Fan Dan said, “Well, then, answer it.”  

   Tzu Lu said, “Yes, I’ll answer it. It’s that stars are the most and the moon is the least. Marriage is pleasant and death is a bother.”  

   Fan Dan said, “You’re wrong. You answered wrong.”  

   Tze Lu said, “But no, I’m absolutely right. Can you say that there are few stars and more moons? Can you say that people like death and find marriage a bother? My doctrines are the most correct!”  

   “You ask your teacher whether they are correct or not.”  

   So Tzu Lu—was he ever displeased!—said, “You’re too unreasonable. I’m talking very much in accord with principle, but you say I’m wrong.”  

   Tze Lu then went back to Confucius who asked, “How did you do borrowing the rice?”  

   To which the disciple replied, “That Fan Dan is totally unreasonable. I went there to borrow rice and first he had to give me a question to test me out, and I answered it very well. I wrote my essay just very much in accord with principle, and he said I was wrong. He said I answered the question wrong. Ha! He just didn’t want to give me the rice.” That’s what Tzu Lu said to Confucius.  

   The Old Master replied, “Well, what was the question and how did you answer it?”  

   Tzu Lu reiterated the question and his answer to which Confucius replied, “Oh! You were really wrong. You did do it all wrong.”  

   Now when Fan Dan said he was wrong, that was one thing, but for his teacher to tell him he was wrong…So Tzu Lu asked, “Well, if that’s wrong, how should I have answered it?”  

   Confucius said, “You go right back and ask him for the rice again and if he asks the question again tell him this: In this world there are a lot of petty people and few superior ones. If I borrow the rice I’m pleased. If I have to beg it’s a bother.”  

   Tzu Lu thought, “How can an answer like that be correct?” He still didn’t believe it would work. He didn’t believe his own teacher, but he said, “Well I’ll go try it out and see what happens.”  

   Tzu Lu went back to Fan Dan to borrow rice again and Fan Dan said, “If you answer my question right, then I’ll give it to you.”  

   Tzu Lu said, “My teacher told me how to answer your question. He said to say this: ‘In this world there are lots of petty people and few superior ones. If I borrow the rice I’m pleased, if I have to beg it’s a bother.’”  

   Fan Dan said, “Fine. I will lend the rice to your teacher. No wonder he’s a teacher, he’s very learned. I’ll lend it to you now, and no doubt in the future when you pay me back it’s not going to be a bother.”  

   “No, it’s not.” Tzu Lu said.  

   Now, in this world, I’ll ask you again, “Who are the most stupid people and who are the most intelligent?” No one is going to answer my question. I don’t have any rice to lend you anyway. I’ll tell you, the stupidest people are those who do not study the Buddhadharma, who do not believe in the Buddhadharma. The most intelligent people are their opposites. They are the ones who like to study the Buddhadharma, who like to believe in the Buddhadharma. These are the most intelligent people.  

   That is the reason why a few days ago I called you all Good Knowing Advisors, and afterwards, when I certify you, you will be genuine Good Knowing Advisors. This is not merely casually giving you a good name, calling you Good Knowing Advisors. It’s because you want to study the Buddhadharma, because you have faith, that I can call you all Good Knowing Advisors.

   In the Sixth Patriarch Sutra, the Sixth Patriarch called everyone who sat beneath his Dharma seat to hear the Dharma, a Good Knowing Advisor. He considered everyone a Good Knowing Advisor. And it’s just because of that, that everyone considered the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch, a Good Knowing Advisor. You say, “Now I understand. You’re calling us all Good Knowing Advisors so we’ll call you one, right?” If you think it’s that way, that’s the way it is. If you don’t think it’s that way, then it’s not that way. That’s because I don’t actually think that way. It’s just what you, on your part, are thinking. Rather, it’s like the Buddha. The Buddha said, “All living beings have the Buddha Nature; all are able to become Buddhas.” Consequently he became a Buddha himself.

   So if you call me a Good Knowing Advisor, then I can call you a Good Knowing Advisor too. If you are all Good Knowing Advisors, then how can I fail to be one, because we’re all the same, aren’t we, anyway? This Dharma is level and equal with nothing above or below it, and so you Good Knowing Advisors are born from me, this Good Knowing Advisor. Therefore, I’m an Old Good Knowing Advisor, and you are young Good Knowing Advisors, we’re all the same. This Dharma is level and equal with nothing above or below. Didn’t I tell you not only you can be Good Knowing Advisors, but in the future you can all become Buddhas. Thus I’m just like you, and you are not different from me; so we are all equal.  

   However, don’t go out and say, “Our Good Knowing Advisor is an enlightened Good Knowing Advisor, and I am just the way he is.” That’s because so doing is showing yourself off as enlightened. But I apologize, I’m very ashamed, that I myself am not really enlightened. Because I’m not enlightened, I’m the same as all of you who are not enlightened. And if you say that I’m enlightened and you’re the same as I am, then you’re lying. Why? Because it’s not fixed: you don’t know for sure that I’m enlightened. And anyway, if you truly were enlightened, you wouldn’t say you were enlightened. So I know, really, truly, actually, for certain it’s a lie. If you said it to a genuine Good Knowing Advisor, he’d laugh his teeth out.

   Think about it. People who are enlightened who tell other people that they’re enlightened, saying, “Do you know me, I am enlightened?” What meaning is there to that? If you’re enlightened, you’re enlightened yourself. What are you doing telling other people about it? Do you do it so that when you tell people you’re enlightened then those people will immediately become enlightened too? Do you think that if you go up to someone and say, “Do you know what, I’m enlightened!” that they will immediately become enlightened? If that’s the case, then it’s okay. But if you’re enlightened and tell someone else you’re enlightened and they don’t become enlightened, how are they going to know whether or not you’re enlightened? For how can people who are not enlightened know whether or not you are truly enlightened or falsely enlightened?

   An example of this is a person who sells medicinal plasters, who tells people, “My plasters cost me so much money, and they can cure such and such illnesses. Take them with you and, if people are dead they will come back to life.” If that’s really the case then okay, you can sell them for ten thousand dollars each. If your plasters applied to dead people do not bring them back to life, you take the money. But does the person who buys the plaster know whether or not the plaster has the power to do what you say or not? He has no way of knowing. That is the same as your saying you’re enlightened, telling someone that. That’s like selling plasters: whether it’s true or false, nobody knows.

   However, the person who sells the plasters of course knows that they are phony. But no one else knows. This is like your saying you’re enlightened. You tell people you’re enlightened, and they don’t know whether you’re enlightened or not. But do you know yourself? If you get enlightened, then you don’t need to tell people that you’re enlightened. If you aren’t enlightened, and you tell people that you’re enlightened, then you are just a phony. Do you understand? Therefore, talking around and around, talk is useless. What is useful is doing, not just talking. To speak a foot is not as good as to practice an inch, and so we should all do the Great Transference of Merit.

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