THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Q : There are many things in this world that you won’t get if you don’t fight for them. But the Master talks about “no fighting, no greed, and no seeking.” How should we give and take here?
A : When it is mealtime, we should eat; otherwise, we should not eat.
Q : What is the meaning of life?
A : Hurry up and die if you feel life is meaningless. If you feel that there is meaning to your life, then that means everything.
Q : The Master is so powerful. Could you help the people of China who are still suffering?
A : Once they’ve suffered enough, there will be no more suffering. Sweet rewards come after misery. To undergo suffering is to relieve one of suffering; to enjoy blessings is to end blessings. This is my philosophy: anything that reaches its extreme will reverse itself; anything that gets bad enough will turn into something good. It’s okay. Whatever it is that all of us need to face, we will face it; once we’ve experienced it, there will be no more suffering. Don’t worry. Don’t worry about anything, like the sky falling down. Just do a good job studying.
Q : Is it more appropriate to bury or cremate the deceased?
A : Cremation. Less space is required that way, only a tiny spot. If the dead use up too many places, the living will run out of places to live.
Venerable Master : Do you yell at your wife and children?
A : Yes. But sometimes when I am the one who has made a mistake, I feel good that other people yell at me too.
Venerable Master : That’s not the prin ciple here. Do you yell at people who are not related to you for no reason?
A : I do sometimes when I’m in a bad mood. Like when somebody I don’t know bumps into me on the road. He should have walked with his eyes open.
Venerable Master : You should be a bit more patient there. Don’t get so angry.
Q : Under such circumstances, what can we do now?
A : You should be virtuous. “No fighting, no greed, no seeking, not being selfish, no self benefiting, and no lying” are essential principles for human beings, the foundation for cultivators, and the keystone for politi cians, if the latter can act according to these principles. Governments must have integrity and not take advantage of people’s greed. To claim that China has no class that is rich or poor does not describe reality. In summary, remaining harmonious will benefit both sides. To act destructively will ruin both.
Q : There are many couples who don’t respect each other. Does that mean their children will be failures?
A : Yes! That’s why nowadays there are so many troubled children who kill and set off fires. Young children don’t follow rules because they are controlled by televisions and computers.
Q : There was a major earthquake in San Francisco. Will there be similar disasters in Taiwan in the future? How do we avoid them?
A : There will be no earthquakes if people don’t get upset.
Q : Taiwan used to be a simple place, but people have become obsessed with the lottery, stocks, etc. Everyone in Taiwan now worships money. How can this situation be improved?
A : People should learn to be dumber. They play the lottery because they’re too smart. They want to get paid without having worked. They want to reap a harvest without having sowed. That is not natural.
Q : What is life for?
A : Life is not for eating. It is to help oth ers. Helping others is the source of happiness.
Q : Why do my family members still dream about my father though he passed away a long time ago? A : It is because your family members have not forgotten him.
Q : Venerable Master, you had said that as long as you are in San Francisco, there will be no earthquakes. Now that you are away, an earthquake has taken place. What is the meaning behind it? A : There is no meaning.
Q : Can the law of cause and effect explain the reasons why some families have hereditary diseases?
A : Of course it can. Heredity is cause and effect. If the cause weren’t planted in the past, why would they receive the same effect generation after generation?
Q : There is a lot of turmoil in our country now. What will become of this country?
A : You don’t need to ask me this question as you all should know. You don’t need to ask when you obviously know the answers.
When a country is about to prosper,
there will be auspicious omens.
When a country is about to become extinct,
there will be demons.
Revelations through oracles and divinations
predict the truth about situations.
Therefore we must have the foresight to know
about upcoming fortunes and disasters,
the forethought to know
what would be good and what would not.
The man who said these words, Tang Lyu, dared to kill a black cow and “report to past emperors and empresses that... I, as the emperor, am solely responsible for my people. Any mistake that my people commit is my fault.” He said that his people shouldn’t be blamed because he, as the leader, will take the blame. If the populace had erred any, he says to please blame him as the emperor, for he did not teach them well. He alone will be responsible. This is how ancient sages and kings were. As role models and leaders, they were courageous enough to admit their mistakes and change. They accept other people’s criticisms, too.
Q : Is it a good idea for Buddhists to do nate their organs after they die?
A : It is better to donate their organs while they are alive and not while they’re dead. What is the use of donating the organs when you won’t need them anymore? There’s an idiom, “Do not give to others what we don’t want.” True generosity means that we give what we can’t bear to give away.
Q : How do we integrate the Buddhadhar ma into our lives?
A : By not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfishness, not pursuing personal advantage, and not lying.
Q : What kind of attitude should we have about gender preferences?
A : First of all, you need to understand how people develop gender preferences. Why do they have a certain tendency? Perhaps it’s because they had quarrels with their spouse. The Chinese are chauvinistic, while in America, women come first. Some Americans may say “ladies first,” but not really respect women. These slogans may flatter some women, making them believe that “ladies [are] first, ladies [are] first.” But the fact is that men continue to lie about this and women continue to accept the lies. This kind of “first” is a “first” without power or status. This trend makes women uncomfortable and so they do not want to marry. Men, on the other hand, became uncomfortable with overly domineering women. Hence, they wonder why they should marry.
Q : You said earlier that males are pure and women impure. Does that mean females are no good? A : Females are the best. All men love women. Otherwise, they would never look for girlfriends to marry.
Q : What should we do with a broken fam ily?
A : Start from scratch. Everything is a test to see what we’ll do. If we don’t recognize what is before our eyes, we must begin anew.
Q : Presently, there’s a growing movement trying to force seniors in this country to retire.
A : “The older the ginger, the spicier it is; the older the person, the more valuable one is.” Why do they all need to retire if they are in good health?
Q : How could earthquakes be avoided?
A : There will not be earthquakes if people don’t get upset.
Q : Conflicts in Israel and the Middle East tell us that it’s easy to make enemies but hard to unmake them. How exactly do we dissolve this kind of rivalry?
A : It has accumulated bit by bit. During this trip to Europe, I visited Poland. There, the Germans killed an incredible number of Jews [during WWII]. Each grave has tens of thousands of people in it. Tens of thousands people in one grave.
Q : Is there hope for the conflicts in the Middle East?
A : There would be no war if we were kind and genial. The cause and effect that brings about war is lack of kindness.
Q : What do test tube babies symbolize?
A : They are a symbol that the human race will soon become extinct!
Q : I heard that it’s wrong to have abor tions according to Buddhism. But I did so without any idea of this before, what can I do to make it up now?
A : The greatest good is but to change the mistakes that one has made. Offenses large enough to fill up the universe vanish through repentance.
Q : Citizens should be loyal to their coun try. Is there any offense for the pilots who were ordered to bomb the enemy in the Middle East? If so, what kind of attitude should they have [as they face their retribution]?
A : This question can’t be cleared up even if you were to go to the international court of justice! This is an issue too huge for an average citizen like me to solve. This has to do with power of countries, individuals, and world leaders. This is not an issue that I can resolve.
Q : If we cannot retaliate against someone who has humiliated us, then we should be patient according to Buddhism. But in the eyes of others, we’re little wimps. What should we do, really?
A : Don’t be moved by others. Who cares whether they think we’re wimps or not. We’re not being patient if we’re affected by what other people say. We must have our own guiding principles.
Q : What is the relationship between the United States and the Middle East conflicts at this time?
A : U.S. may claim that it is administer ing justice, but it’s actually afraid that it will lose its stakes. If it weren’t for selfishness, they would be victorious anywhere with their military. It would not lose.
Q : Why doesn’t the Master call on high- ranking officials in the government?
A : The Precepts makes it clear that mo nastics should not visit politicians.
Q : But their political ideologies are different.
A : Political ideologies are “owned by those who have virtue and lost by those who have no virtue.”
Q : Venerable Master, when you were in Northeast China, the Japanese invaded there. However, the Japanese, even today, refuse to admit that their behavior was invasive. Do you think they will repeat such moves?
A : They will eventually become extinct if they don’t set a limit on their greed. If they haven’t learned to change from past lessons such as their unconditional surrender after being hit by atom bombs, their future spells danger.
Q : Our environment is being destroyed. If all the animals were to die, where will their spirits go to become reborn?
A : They will have immigrated to other countries! You don’t believe it? Some Chinese like the United States, so they become American citizens. Some Americans like China, so they become reborn as Chinese. They don’t need to naturalize to become Chinese citizens. Souls are the same. You ask me what evidence I have? The things I say now are evidence.
Q : Planet earth currently faces major crises such as a polluted environment, corrupted officials, and other hopeless circumstances. Is there still hope and what methods can Buddhists employ to revert these situations?
A : Sever desire and love! Without them, everything will be okay. I don’t care who disagrees; I have to say this nonetheless. It’s up to you as to whether you believe it.
Q : How come Buddhism doesn’t encour age people to enjoy themselves?
A : “To suffer is to end suffering; to enjoy blessings is to end blessings.” The money in the bank is always yours if you don’t spend it. If you eat, drink, and be merry, then you will use up your saving very quickly.
Q : Is the Western civilization on its decline?
A : That depends on what people do. If everyone does good things, then the fate of these countries will turn for the better. But if everyone does bad things, then the destiny of these countries will certainly be stricken.
Q : How do we prevent malicious people from violating us and cheating us?
A : Would you let wolves swallow you if they came to do that?
Q : Taiwan has a tradition for people not to save someone who is drowning. They call that person a “replacement,” a “substitute for a ghost.” By saving the person who is drowning, you get yourself in trouble. When another friend and I were in high school, we saved someone who was about to drown. According to Taiwanese customs, we had to eat noodles stewed with pigs’ feet, food that is supposed to calm us. But we didn’t eat any. Will we become sick or hurt because of that incident?
A : No. Nothing bad will happen to some one who tries to save people. Those customs and traditions are thought up by demons and ghosts. They are solutions concocted by fox spirits. They get passed around long enough that they became traditions. We have to save someone who’s dying. How can we refuse to save someone who’s dying?
Q : How can we save China?
A : Everyone should not smoke and not kill.