THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
The Master (Shr Fu)
Q : Master, did you make every one of the ten thousand Buddhas in the Buddha Hall of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas!
A : It’s all in the past. Why mention it?
Q : I know that the Master doesn’t like to hear people say thank you, but I am grateful to the Master for saving my life on several occasions.
A : Expand your mind, don’t be so petty. Hurry up and reflect. Return to your original purity!
Q : Master, if you were to say that you were enlightened, would that mean that you are not enlightened?
A : If I were to say that I am not enlight ened, it wouldn’t mean that I’m enlightened either. Why do people have to say they are enlightened?
Q : Has the Master seen ghosts before?
A : I will not answer such a question. Why? Because even if I have, you haven’t. If I were to say that I haven’t, you would still think that I have. So this is a question that shouldn’t be answered.
Q : I would like to set up a long life plaque for the Venerable Master.
A : How can I help others if I need other people’s help?
Q : We earnestly request that the Venerable Master remain in the world. (People expressed this on three different occasions in 1990.)
A : I didn’t say I was leaving. This kind of thing is predetermined.
Q : Why does that bird sit in the Master’s palm without flying away?
A : Because I have no thought of killing.
Q : Have you ever smoked cigarettes before?
A : Since you have, it’s as if I have.
Q : Why is the Master’s memory so excellent? How should most people develop theirs?
A : Practice to perfection getting rid of outflows in life after life.
Q : Master, what have been your greatest delights and disappointments in the past?
A : I enjoyed helping people the most. I am most disappointed to have lied: not being able to do what I said I would.
Q : The Venerable Master always bows five times before and after speaking the Dharma. What’s the significance?
A : The first bow is to all Buddhas throughout the ten directions and three periods of time. The second bow is to the Dharma spoken by all Buddhas throughout the ten directions and three periods of time. The third bow is to holy as well as ordinary members of the Sangha throughout the ten directions and three periods of time. The fourth bow is to all beings throughout the Dharma Realm. The fifth bow is to all the pratimoksha spoken by all Buddhas throughout the ten directions and three periods of time. Each one of the five bows is a bow that reaches all places.
Q : How many disciples have taken refuge with you in the United States?
A : I have never counted. And I don’t care to either.
Q : Great Master, let me first ask you, why did you became a monk?
A : I was probably meant to be a monk.
Q : The Master hasn’t eaten for a week in order to pray for rain. Should we notify the newspapers now that it’s raining in both the United States and Taiwan?
A : I fast to transfer merit and virtue to all living beings; it’s not for fame. Don’t advertise.
Q : Why shouldn’t we notify the newspapers about our praying for rain?
A : It doesn’t work that way.
Q : May our kind teacher live forever to propagate the Buddhadharma and universally save all sentient beings.
A : I am already dead.
Q : Many Buddhists come here to dump their frustrations and problems.
A : I don’t know how to teach and transform people, so I am extremely ashamed every day. If I knew how to save people, then all of you would have become free of afflictions a long time ago.
Q : Why doesn’t the Master wear better clothes and eat better food?
A : If I eat well and dress well, then my disciples will also eat well and dress well. How can we cultivate that way?
Q : The car that the Venerable Master uses is small and hot!
A : The hells are even hotter!
Q : A certain person you are acquainted with asked another person to bring some donations for the Master.
A : That particular money is meant as a bribe. I will not accept it. Return it immediately.
Q : How did the Venerable Master propagate the Buddhadharma in the West?
A : On the power of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisatva, the Great Compassion Mantra, and the Shurangama Mantra.
Q : Master, there are many members of the eightfold division, such as dragons, gods, and Dharma protecting good spirits on the sides of the road bowing to the Master.
A : Where do I have the virtue?
Q Member of audience : This Dharma Master sure likes to insult people. He has to insult people even while lecturing on the Sutras.
A : I didn’t insult anyone else. When I insult you, I’m insulting myself. So I insult myself everyday.
Q : Master, if you don’t eat you will collapse.
A : It’s only my body that hurts if I don’t eat. However, if you do not cultivate well, my heart is in even more pain.
Q : Master, you have been a monk for so many years. Although you’ve been in the United States, you still think about your homeland. What are you most sad about?
A : I wrote a verse before:
As I reflect on several decades of chaos in China,
I am overcome with sadness. My tears form a pool.
Unfortunately I do not have the ability to turn back fate.
I cannot use a well-aimed arrow to shoot down time that has already passed.
The ways of the world are crooked and twisted
by the cunning of humans and ghosts.
The ups and downs of politics appall us all.
Having not forgotten my loyalty despite being a monk,
I keep my nationality to be faithful to my origins.
Do you know what I mean? My country has been chaotic for so many years; the Chinese are too sad! I can’t help but shed tears when I think about it. Although being Chinese we experience so much hardship, I still want to preserve my nationality. The Chinese must have moral fiber!
Q : Why is it that every time we go out, the Master never seems tired, yet the disciples end up being exhausted?
A : It’s not that I am not tired, but that I overcome it with my willpower.
Q : The Venerable Master’s cultivation can affect dragons and gods. We suggest that the Venerable Master save all our fellow citizens who have suffered in the last several hundred years.
A : Ghosts and spirits who died several thousand years ago have all arrived here at the Protecting the Nation and Quelling Disasters Guanyin Great Compassion Dharma Assembly. The deceased have been ferried over to the shore of liberation. You just don’t know about it. I know you find what I am saying now
Q : Why do Bodhisattvas when they make vows use the qualification of not becoming a Buddha to give power to these vows?
A : Those are not Bodhisattvas; they are ghosts. Ghosts fall into the three evil paths. Such beings will not become Buddhas soon. They are on the slow path. Just like me. That’s why I say I am a ghost. You don’t believe me at all because you see me as being a person. I saved some ghosts in the past, so they dragged me into the hells. No one would pull me out even if I wanted them to. So I chose to stay in the hells and do what I could. I saw that my ghost friends were suffering, so I thought I would wait until they became Buddhas before I became a Buddha. However, my vow cannot compare with that of Earth Store Bodhisattva’s vow of not becoming a Buddha until the hells are empty. For me, if there’s even a single ghost, I will not become a Buddha. The hells may not necessarily be empty because I’m talking about ghosts in the present time. I will not bother with those in the future. There will be another time for that.
Q : Why does the Venerable Master want to go into seclusion when you have not yet recovered physically?
A : I have to go into seclusion for a month for the war in Iraq. I want to help by dedicating merit and virtue to the locals there.
Q : Why is the Master wearing a green bracelet all of sudden?
A : A spirit from several millenniums ago is still possessive when it comes to this bracelet. It’ll be a while before she can let go of it and become liberated.
Q : Does the Master want to do some sight-seeing?
A : Sightseeing? I’ve seen everything.
Q : Natural disasters are occurring often recently, will the Master please not go to Taiwan.
A : If I deserve this retribution, then I’ll accept it.
A visitor was shooting pictures of the Venerable Master left and right, wanting lots of photos.
Master : Don’t take so many pictures. You shouldn’t be so greedy. Just take one picture, don’t take too many! You’re not the only one eating. Be content. The Dharma is impartial and not hierarchical. Don’t be eager for too much of anything; you’ll only bite off more than you can chew.
Q : Were you talking about causes and conditions from past lives when you mentioned earlier how people have seen you in the past?
A : Possibly, who knows?
Q : Is it the case that all disciples who have taken refuge with the Venerable Master, whether monastic or lay, will be able to avoid transmigration in the six destinies?
A : Those who have taken refuge with me, but who are unruly, doing all kinds of bad things, cannot avoid transmigration in the six destinies. Those who have not taken refuge with me but try their best to do good deeds can also avoid transmigration in the six destinies.
Q : Many people are unhappy with what the Master said; but there are lots of people who are happy too.
A : The purpose of my saying things is not to make people happy or unhappy. I just say what is true and what accords with the principles of truth. That’s what I have always known to do.
Q : Why do some people have dreams about the Master even before they meet you? Is it that they have affinities with you from the past? Or is it that the Venerable Master emits light that makes people dream about you?
A : I don’t have that much light, that much gasoline. Cause and effect is the reason. People have affinities with others. Those who have deeper affinities with others will recall impressions from their past. These past affinities unveil themselves of their own accord. Many people are delighted to see me, especially children, who will do everything that I tell them. In Northeast China, without being told, some teenagers used to prostrate, bow, and do all kinds of things when they first saw me. Some people cry when they see me; some are ecstatic. When asked why they cry, they say they feel like children who have been lost from their parents for a long time. They feel as if they have finally come home after years of suffering. They release their pent-up angst and have a good cry when they know they’ve come home. There are many, many different situations, but I don’t want to tell you about them. If I were to tell you, you all would cry too.
Q : Master, why don’t you have any attendants?
A : I really can’t help it! If my attendants were Chinese, then my American disciples would be unhappy. If my attendants were Americans, then my Chinese disciples would be unhappy. If my attendants were male, my female disciples would be unhappy. If my attendants were female, then my male disciples would be unhappy. If my attendants were young, then the older ones would be unhappy.
Q : Master, you said that you started to bow to all living beings since the age of twelve. Is this a vow from your lives past and you have returned to this world again for this lifetime?
A : I can’t prove this, so I can’t respond.
Q : Will the Venerable Master please be kind and compassionate and ease the suffering of the Chinese?
A : That is a vow of mine. I am willing to take on the suffering of every Chinese and I dedicate to them all the blessings that are meant for me.
Q : They say you’re really mean, you yell at people.
A : Not only do I yell at people, I hit them!
A sincere Catholic didn’t know what to do when he first stepped into the Buddha Hall as a guest.
Suddenly the Venerable Master appeared and said with much kindness: Just treat this like your home. Do what you think is right. Don’t worry. The guest became relaxed.
Q : To what religious school do you belong?
A : The one-meal-a-day school.
Q : From which part of China did you come? How did you begin learning about the Buddha-dharma?
A : I probably could not finish my answer to this question in several years. To put it simply, I enjoyed learning the Buddhadharma so I studied the Buddhadharma. I am originally from China, but I believe that I’m not Chinese, American, or Japanese. (No country wants me because I am a dummy.) I didn’t come down from Heaven. I’m no Jesus. I didn’t come from the Land of Ultimate Bliss, so I’m not Amitabha Buddha. I’m not from the Land of Lapis Lazuli, so I’m not Medicine Master Buddha who Quells Disasters and Lengthens Life.
Q : I want to donate a large Buddha statue for the Great Heroes Jeweled Hall, is this okay?
A : Okay, but hurry. Otherwise it will be gone.
That disciple didn’t understand why he should hurry. The Great Heroes Jeweled Hall hasn’t even been built yet. Could it be that someone will grab the opportunity to donate before him? That couldn’t be yet. He thought he might as well go and invest that money. Wouldn’t it be better to earn more money in the next couple of years and donate two large Buddha statues? In the end, the investment was completely awash because his partners swindled the entire amount. Only then did he realize that what the Venerable Master meant by “it will be gone.” He meant the money would be gone.
Q : Master, you get so many letters every day. Do you collect the stamps on the envelopes? They’ll become valuable later on.
A : I don’t want money.
Q : Master, why don’t you live in a warmer room or turn on the heater to keep warm?
A : I like being in an ice box.
A disciple’s older sister came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for the first time and met the Venerable Master. Venerable Master : Yu Bin is a good friend of mine.
That disciple didn’t understand why the Master would talk about Cardinal Yu Bin with his sister all of a sudden. After the Venerable Master left, the disciple’s sister said : Strange, I was able to come to the United States to attend college because I received the Yu Bin Scholarship after graduating from Taipei’s Number One Girls High School. You didn’t even know that, how did the Venerable Master know?
Q : Will the Master please bless everybody?
A : I did it a long time ago, you just didn’t know about it.
Venerable Master : There’s good and bad in everything.
Visitor : So there’s no difference between good and evil.
Venerable Master : That type of viewpoint is deviant.
Visitor : I believe the Master is out of time.
Venerable Master : My time stretches into the end of time throughout the future.
Q : Master has eyes in his palm!
A : Not just in my palm, they’re in every pore.
Q : Why does the Venerable Master know so many things?
A : When I want to know, I know everything. When I don’t want to know, I know nothing.
Q : What does the Venerable Master think of hierarchy?
A : All living beings are family members; the universe makes up my body; emptiness is my university. My name is nonexistent, and I practice kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.