26 September (Day 62)
Today is our last full day in Hong Kong and in Asia. There has been quite a surprising change of mood and pace ever since we arrived ten days ago. At first everything seemed dark and turbid. Different members of the group felt that they were being pushed through a steamroller. Some were actually hoping to ‘split the scene’ as soon as possible. But the teaching likes to reveal itself through the dark side of adversity. Time after time we find that the more that situations seem to be impossible in the beginning, the smoother and more radiant they turn out in the end. It is quite simply the law of opposites.
In the evening, Heng Sure, Heng Ch'au, and I speak. Then the Abbot launches into another one of his cheerful, scintillating instructional talks.
“All of you Good Knowing Advisor, this is the last of the five days of our lecture session. I know that during the past few days some people have been entertaining false thoughts, violently opposing what I have said. But tonight the battle is over, and I honestly hope that I am the loser, that all of you with false thoughts in your heads turn out to be the ultimate winners. However, we Buddhists should be frank and out-in-the-open, so you shouldn’t hide under a false front. No matter how you feel about me, whatever it is that you do not like, you’re welcome to bring out in the open, so that we can all discuss and learn from it. Whatever is in accord with the Way, progress with it; if not, then retreat from it. Do not wrangle inside yourself.
Now why are there wars in the world? Just because there are wars inside everybody’s minds. Inside your mind you are always fighting – it has become a battle-field.
Contention creates an attitude of winning or losing.
It is in opposition to the Way.
Once the mind of the Four Marks appears,
How can one attain Samadhi?
Cultivating the Way means not contending. Ultimately, there is no principle worth arguing about. Once you start comparing or arguing, you fall from the Path. You’ve brought forth the mark of self, the mark of others, the mark of living beings, and the mark of a life span. How can you attain Proper Concentration and Proper Reception this way?
Take a look. Why does people’s hair turn white? Because they have too many false thoughts. There’s too much war going on inside themselves, and they exhaust their gasoline supply. If you remember me from my days in Hong Kong, I used to have fairly white hair the years right before I left. When I arrived in America I took one look at the mirror and said to myself, ‘My gosh, what have you done?’ I realized I had been doing too much false thinking, so I decided to give up the habit altogether. And my hair turned black again. Confucius said,
Before happiness, anger, sorrow, or joy arise, there is the Middle Way. If these emotions are brought forth in the opportune time, then one attains Harmony.
With regard to the emotions of life, you should watch over them and not left them control you. If you indulge in any of them you will not thrive in peace and prosperity; instead darkness and bad luck will take over.
Before, when I was living in Hong Kong, I had a penchant for reprimanding people. I thought, ‘The straight-forward mind is the Way Place,’ and left fully justified in voicing my complaints. Yet I found out that it didn’t work. All I succeeded in doing was to convince people that Dharma Master Tu Lun was a glaring-eyed Vajra, so ferocious! So, upon arriving in America I changed and reformed my ways. I started bowing to my disciples. Whenever my disciples make mistakes, I bow to them a few times … have you ever seen a teacher like this?
This is because I believe that ‘The disciples always excels the Master.’ I am wiling to walk underneath the feet of all my disciples, serving as a road for them, and will certainly not tread on top of their heads. And although some disciples are still a little afraid of me, most of them know that I am just a paper tiger. Now, on this Asian tour, I’ve brought with me three PH.D.s, and three people with Master degrees. I am an illiterate myself. I know nothing. In America I’ve been lecturing the Avatamsaka Sutra for the past seven years, and when one of my old buddies in Hong Kong heard of this he exclaimed, ‘What, him lecturing the Sutras? But he hardly knows how to read!’ You can see from this that I’m really one of no knowledge. Now, having gone to America the situation is even more intensified. In China I could at least pull off a few characters, but I’m completely at sea with the ABC’s (laughter). And if someone like me who can’t read is lecturing the Sutras, how much more should people who know how to read lecture Sutras? How can they be lazy?
So in America, I’m lecturing day and night, up and down, right and left, and they don’t really understand what I am saying. I can pull the wool over my students’ eyes because they do not understand Chinese. Now I’ve brought with me a group of American disciples who can pull the wool over your eyes, since a lot of you do not understand English. So you see, this Dharma Master is a big quack. If you want to be taken for a ride, you’re welcome to listen along. If you don’t, well then just plug up your ears. I’ll tell you some more unbelievable things to cheat you with:
Before we came over to Malaysia we knew the weather would be very hot, and I told the members of our delegation that the temperature would have to cool down by ten degrees or so, or else it would be too hard on all of us. Sure enough, it cooled down by just that much when we arrived, and it never once rained right before or after the lectures as people were going back and forth. You can say the gods and dragons of the eightfold division have been most cooperative.
You may consider this strange or incredible, but ‘if you do Nalanda Temple regard the strange as strange, the strange then is of itself defeated.’ The world is vast. Just as everybody’s visage is different, so is their wisdom and capacity for knowledge. I hope all of you will sit more in meditation. From meditation comes concentration and from concentration arises wisdom.
In every situation, use your own wisdom to discriminate and do not follow anyone or anything blindly. Don’t flow with the dust. Tonight my last words to you are: I vow that all of you– whoever hears my voice or sees my face, or indirectly hears my name – will become Buddhas soon. I will wait in the Saha world until all of you have accomplished Buddhahood, and then, if it is right for me, I’ll also become a Buddha. If it isn’t – well – that’s okay too, I’m still happy.”
A very warm goodbye. All the students and the Bhikshuni at Eastern Lotus Enlightenment Garden wave a hearty farewell.
He seeks not for his own pleasure,
And draws in all living beings.
In such a way he brings forth the Great Compassionate Mind,
And quickly enters the grounds of non-obstruction.
We’re living in a dream. The more you are aware of this, the more painful your ordinary life becomes, until you make a decision to leap out of the pain.
If you’ve planted good roots in the past, if you’ve made vows, you may meet up with a bright-eyed Knowing One who will show you the Way. But, from beginning to end, you’ve got to do the work yourself. The final choices is yours.
I’m never as happy as when my mind can sit still, whether bowing to the Buddhas or sitting in full lotus, if only for a split second as the internal jabbering stops, the mind becomes sparkling clean, like a pool of pure water, reflecting the Wisdom moon.
If one can sit in stillness, even for a split moment,
This is superior to building seven-jeweled stupas, as many as Ganges sands.
Jeweled stupas will ultimately fade away,
But with a single thought of stillness,
The mind accomplishes proper enlightenment.
Cultivators are power plants. Our function is to make electricity for the Universe. Bowing or sitting in full concentration you continue to build up energy that feeds the entire power grid. The more energy you churn up, the more you cannot afford to leak. You can not eat too much, talk too much, think too much, and most of all, you cannot get angry. You’re now skating Universe with raw energy to run on, putting out good and pure vibrations – this is part of creating merit and virtue; you are a productive member in the league of living beings. But if you just prop up your feet, drink beer and watch television, that is cashing in on the collective blessings of our large family. You cannot expect to do this for too long. You suffer and other living beings suffer, and one day we’ll all become poor.
Hong Kong / San Francisco
27 September (Day 63)
Morning, crystal clear,
The mind is a knife that cleaves itself open,
And inside, a jewel white lotus.
Over a hundred people come to see us off. There is much light at the airport, a dazzling radiance. The weather has been stormy for the past few days, pouring rain and dark clouds. Yesterday it cleared up and today the sky cracks open to reveal a pale porcelain blue.
Our 747 soars into the sky. Mountains and sea recede, dissolving into tiny opaque masses, and we are cushioned in an ocean of rushing clouds. It feels like we’re gliding through layers of azure crystal.
Closing my eyes, I return my heart to one, silently intoning Kuan Yin’s name. Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa, Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa.
Noises and smells recede, as my inner vision opens up. Solids are turning into fluid, my skin becomes porous, it seems to mix with the water molecules in the air. In my mind’s eye everything is starting to tremble and shake. All around me – my friends, our silver bird, the sky – are dissolving into a mass of cool watery light. And slowly, in a stately, awesome manner, within each dust mote of the ten directions, filling up all of empty space, there appears Kuan Yin’s Hands and Eyes, contemplating the sounds of the world with overwhelming compassion and stillness. On each pore are living beings, their number measureless, boundless, to the exhaustion of the future realms, we are just little bugs, roving on the infinite cosmos of Kuan Shih Yin’s Dharma-body. With fresh eyes gazing at the world, like an infant born and dead a million times, all appear as Thus, Thus, as it has always been. I’ve never come and never gone, and Eternity is now. And in my heart, I know it’s time. it is time to trade in the old machine, my scene organs and petty mind, that latch on to nothing but form and suffering, and exchange them for the real thing, the Thousand Hands and Eyes of the One Who Contemplates the Sounds of the World. And now the Abbot’s words are echoing silently in my ears.
Don’t be afraid.
Just wake up.
Open your eyes,
Take a good look at the world.
previous * introduction * preface * contents
return to top