THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS
Student : After encountering the Buddhadharma, I have studied it quite seriously; but my friends and family still don’t understand. They think that I have become too involved and tied down by demons. At this point, should I practice compassion and go with the flow, or should I grit my teeth and pull myself out of the sea of suffering that is birth and death? Please give me some instructions.
A : You have to be the unwavering candle in the windstorm, the enduring gold in the intense fire. You have to be undaunted to be a true disciple of the Buddha.
Student : How does a non-Bud dhist learn to bear pain from family and friends?
A : What kind of pain?
Student : Pain that comes when the man that you like doesn’t reciprocate in kind.
A : Everything is a test to see what you will do, what I will do, and what he will do. If we don’t recognize what is before us, we must start anew. We must truly recognize our faults in each difficult situation. Do not criticize others. If we really know our mistakes, we don’t need to worry about whether other people are right or wrong. Others’ faults are simply my own; knowing that we are all the same is great compassion. Be extremely kind to those with whom you have no affinities. Great compassion is to understand that we are all the same. By being kind and compassionate to people, we will have no more problems.
Q : Do you think it’s better to yell at people or to bow to the Buddhas?
A : Sometimes it’s good to yell at people too.
Q : Under what circumstance is it good to yell at people?
A : When mistakes are made.
Q : Mistakes made by whom?
A : By the one who gets yelled at.
Q : Why are there so many disasters in the world now? For instance, there are many more airplane crashes this year than last. What kind of retribution is this?
A : People get angry too often and kill too often!
Q : Will the Venerable Master explain from the Buddhist perspective why the Chinese
never unite wherever they are, including in Malaysia?
A : They do this to help other people and other countries. It’s negative in one respect and positive in another respect. For instance, we work during the day and rest at night, but if you think it’s wrong to rest at night, then you will wear yourself out! They may be discordant and fragmented now, but when they have helped enough people, they will become united. That is how it will be. When things reach an extreme, they will turn around. When things become extremely negative, it will turn positive. Opposition is Tao’s movement while weakness is Tao’s function. If you can reverse your perspective and find the positives, then everything is OK. No problem.
Q : How can we save Taiwan?
A : Don’t have abortions. Don’t kill.
By Venerable Master : I would like to ask everyone, do people live to eat, or eat to live?
Disciple : We eat to live.
Venerable Master : Why do we live?
Disciple : For knowledge.
Venerable Master : What is knowledge for?
Disciple : To achieve our spiritual goals.
Venerable Master : That’s right, we should all search for wisdom. With great wisdom, we will not be so confused. Why do we always act confused? It is because we don’t have any wisdom. This is the fundamental issue. The Buddha realized Buddhahood for the sake of wisdom. We should do some meritorious things for the world, virtuous things for the citizens, and beneficial things for the entire human race. This is the duty of human beings, eating isn’t it.
Q : Is the consequence just as severe for people who have abortions because they don’t have the financial means [for rearing a child] and other reasons?
A : Without the financial means, they shouldn’t have gotten pregnant in the first place. They should have avoided the problem that would follow that act. Without the financial capabilities, why do they attempt to resolve problems only when they occur? Why do they have to wait until it’s too late before they know that they’re hungry and have to cook? They should have anticipated this when planning their yearly budget.
Q : Some people mean well, but their ac tions actually result in harm. How should we deal with that?
A : If you try to help people in all respects, you will not cause people problems. If you try to help yourself in all respects, you will cause everyone problems.
Q : The passage on the Ten Command ments in the Bible talks about how one of the commandments is related to being filial to one’s parents. But Western culture for the most part has ignored this commandment. As for Buddhism, how can it claim that filial piety is the root of virtue since the Buddha left his parents?
A : Buddhism elevates filial piety so that it reaches its pinnacle. Most people think there’s no filiality in Buddhism from what they see. The Buddha said, “Every man has been my father and every woman, my mother.” He saw that all living beings are his parents from the past and are Buddhas of the future. Hence he is not toward any living being. He wants to save all living beings so that they become
Buddhas. He has vows as terrific as that. That’s why after he cultivated and realized Buddhahood, he then came back to save all living beings so that they become Buddhas. This is filiality perfected. Every Buddhist Sutra talks about filiality. It’s just that most people who don’t understand the Buddhadharma see only the surface of the Buddha leaving home to cultivate, which to them meant that he didn’t care about his parents. Actually, this is about wanting to be categorically filial to one’s parents.
Q : People are born, age, get sick, and die. Is it because of cause and effect that people become ill? Would people become free of illnesses if they were to do good deeds?
A : Not necessarily. For instance, some people want to have an abortion because they’re afraid that the doctor would not earn enough money. The doctor [who performs abortions] must be intimately related to you, perhaps a relative or a friend of yours; otherwise, why would they be afraid that he would not get enough to eat?
Q : How should we use our wisdom to do good deeds in our society now?
A : Wisdom means not being deluded.
Q : If my friends take drugs, drink alcohol, and do bad things, how do I be kind and compassionate to them when they get angry?
A : Be careful about the kind of friends that you chose. Those who are near rouge become red, those who are near black ink become dark. Tainted by the color brown, one becomes brown; tainted by the color yellow, one becomes yellow. The best way to interact with a friend who does not meet one’s own standards, that is, a bad friend, is to respectfully keep a distance.
Q : The society is divided into two differ ent echelons: one is the wealthy while the other is the poor. The divide has become more and more obvious. The rich keep getting richer, while the poor get poorer. Essentially, we are already seeing the fire pyre down the road. How should we face this reality?
A : Put out that fire.
Q : Should someone who works in an oc cupation that is related to national defense switch jobs because they’re actually indirectly killing people?
A : Wouldn’t it be even better if you weren’t born during this time in history? Wouldn’t you have avoided all these problems? It would be good for you to change your occupation, but if you can’t then you can recite the Buddha’s name while you work. That way, national defense will be less effective in killing so many people.
Q : We respectfully request that the Venerable Master, out of compassion, pity the population of Taiwan who are lost in delusion and falseness, and come back to propagate the Buddhadharma every year so that the proper Dharma will live forever and thrive.
A : It’s better that you come back than for me to come back. It’s better if you quit running toward the outside.
Q : What can we do to help someone who is lost and needs someone to help him set some goals?
A : Tell him so with utmost sincerity. Friends are people who are extremely sincere. Sincerity will move even stones so that they split open.
Q : How can we accomplish great things?
A : Someone who can do great things will do what others cannot do. To be able to withstand the worst form of misery, one becomes the best among the best. But this is not about being different or competitive.
Q : How can we bring peace to a country and its people?
A : The leaders of the country would have to be virtuous and at the same time be willing to employ worthy and capable individuals.
Q : What kind of attitude should we have when our family members do not get along?
A : The Vajra Sutra says, “All conditioned dharmas are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, and shadows, like dewdrops and flashes of lightning. We should thus contemplate.”
Q : My first marriage was bad, and the second was worse. Why?
A : Then don’t get married again. Recite Guan- shiyin Bodhisattva’s name more often. become unified with mainland China?
Q : Someone asked the Master to pray for blessings and quell disasters for the nations that are in chaos.
A : National leaders should be the ones to request the Dharma for quelling disasters for a nation. Dangerous situations will naturally be prevented and the country made secure if political officials don’t accept bribes.
Q : My husband wants to divorce me, but I don’t want to. Will the Master please provide instructions?
A : Then be his friend.
Q : What does “the world is in three divi sions” in Great Master Bu Xu’s predictions mean?
A : There will be three superpowers that lead the entire world. “That’s the world in three divisions.”
Q : My son and daughter-in-law are not very filial to me. Will the Master please provide some instructions for me?
A : You can quietly repent the karma that you had with them in the past. The causes from past lives become the effect of this lifetime. Recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva’s name often. Don’t be resentful; the enmity can be resolved gradually.
Q : Why do natural disasters occur?
A : The heads of states are not virtuous enough. Superiors and subordinates are all greedy.
Q : My son wants to be the best in every thing, what should I do?
A : Everyone wants to be first, so who will be second?
Q : Since I’ve started to learn about Buddhism, I no longer enjoy social engagements. Many people say that I have become increasingly abnormal.
A : Isn’t that to become normal?
Q : Why do people gossip?
A : Because they’re stupid.
Q : How come my children never listen to me?
A : Because you treated your parents this way when you were young, too.
Q : Will the Venerable Master please pick a lucky day and hour for the opening of my store?
A : Any hour is a good hour; any day is a good day.
Q : My daughter is stubborn, ill-tempered, and disobedient.
A : Your daughter is just like you!
Q : Master, I have fewer and fewer friends since I have begun studying Buddhism.
A : Why do you want friends?
Q : My husband is having an affair; what should I do?
A : You’ve got a substitute ghost; you are now free!
Q : Will the Venerable Master please bless my son so that he doesn’t become a bad person?
A : Parents should always discipline and teach their children.
Q : You say our body is like a toilet?
A : Every person’s body is like a toilet. Our stomach houses feces and urine, for instance. So why do we love our body and value it so much? Our body is extremely filthy, so why do people consider it a gem, decorating it with diamonds, gold, silver, and jewelry or rubbing it with perfume and makeup? Aren’t they decorating a toilet with flowers and jewelry?
Q : I am still young, but lots of girls call me. What should I do?
A : Tell them to study.
Q : What kind of causes and conditions bring people together?
A : The Avatamsaka Sutra says, “I have been a parent, a sibling, and a child to every living being since time immemorial...”
Q : Don’t the rich suffer?
A : Yes. Their wealth could shrink and disappear. They may have lots of money and lots of property, but a fire could easily burn down their house and turn cash into ash. This is a form of suffering called decay. The wealthy experience the suffering of decay.
Q : I have been feeling miserable, too, since my daughter’s divorce. What should I do?
A : You have to think of everyone in the world as your children so that you will not be so miserable.
Q : Why is the world in such mayhem that everything seems hopeless?
A : The world is in such a state of chaos and unrest because everyone is selfish and pursuing self-interests: “This is mine, that belongs to me.” Cultivators must achieve the state of “no-self.” What is there to fight for if there is no self? What is there to hanker after? What is there to be sought after? When we have settled our accounts, we figure out that we don’t want a thing. We only want to learn to have the attitude of Bodhisattvas: sacrificing ourselves for the sake of others.
Q : How can we become human beings [in the future]?
A : We will become human beings if we do good deeds. Check and see if we have done major or minor, many or few good deeds. Having done a lot of good deeds, we will become rich and belong to the upper class. Having done very few good deeds, we will become poor and belong to the lower class.
Q : My daughter has been in a lot of pain after her divorce.
A : The more she’s in pain, the better.
Venerable Master : Does your mother-in-law want something?
Disciple : She wants to go out and buy a pair of shoes that fits her. I haven’t had time to take her.
Venerable Master : Why don’t you do it immediately?
Disciple : There are too many things to take care of in the temple.
Venerable Master : Don’t be that way. Your mother-in-law’s welfare comes first. Take care of temple business later. Don’t leave her frustrated.
Q : Why is this world in such a mess?
A : Because the foundation upon which good human beings develop has not been built well.
Q : The retribution for the number of mar riages one has had shows up after death. Depending on the number of times one has been married, one will be sawed apart by a large chainsaw that many times. What’s so bad about being split apart from head to toe?
A : When you are split into several pieces, your spirit will have a hard time regrouping. You may not have the human body again in billions and billions of eons. Your nature becomes transformed and your spirit disintegrated so that you are practically like a grass or tree, an insentient plant. It’s difficult to become a sentient being once one has dismembered one’s inherent nature.
Q : What if my parents want me to do bad things?
A : See! Never having been filial and not having even taken the first step in filiality, you’re already trying to circumvent it!
Q : How do I make my husband believe in Buddhism?
A : Don’t be so insistent!
Q : We live in a polluted world, the water and land are polluted, the environment is polluted, and the air is polluted. Where did pollution come from?
A : It basically originated from our single t hought of ignorance. The nature of ignorance is like fire: the bigger the fire, the more dark smoke looms over the world and pollutes families and human nature.
A disciple’s father passed away unexpectedly. The entire family was heartbroken, teary-eyed all the time.
Q : I want to see my father one more time, where is he?
A : It doesn’t help to cry. You have to recite the Earth Store Sutra and dedicate merit that you generate by doing that to him. The more often you recite, the better.
Once I brought my eldest daughter to Gold Wheel Monastery because I wanted the Venerable Master Hua to bless her so that she would find a good marriage partner.
The Venerable Master took a look at the daughter and with great kindness said: This child has a lot of affinities with Buddhism; unfortunately she is very emotional when it comes to relationships with the opposite sex. If she were to channel this kind of emotion into studying Buddhism or cultivating, she would be quite accomplished.
Q : Many people are dissatisfied with the current state of social disorder. These people are all very educated and do not wish to comply with unscrupulous norms. As a result, they want to escape and come here to cultivate.
A : That kind of motive is faulty. They shouldn’t be escaping reality; they should use what they’ve learned to save the human race and improve society.
Q : How can we make sure that there will be no Armageddon?
A : If we translate the Buddhadharma into English and other different languages, then people will stop being so apathetic. By making progress in their spiritual development, the world would be far removed from its end. Armageddon could be delayed until numerous great eons later, or, maybe the end of the world will never arrive. It’s possible that the end of the world will not arrive because the great wheel of the Buddhadharma is being turned, for it magnetizes the sun in orbit so that it never disappears.
Q : How should parents admonish children who are not filial?
A : Parents should reflect, first of all. We should begin by being filial to our own parents. Action speaks louder than words. When children see that their parents are filial, they will naturally model after their parents and be filial. If you kick your parents out or speak to your parents harshly and with conceit, your children will naturally emulate you who are their role models. Behavioral lessons are vivid for children. Parents may talk all they want, but if they don’t walk their talk, children will always feel that their parents are not filial.
Q : Does reciting the Sutra really help him?
A : Yes! Just recite it sincerely and you will have your prayer answered.
Q : What does Buddhism think of euthanasia? Is it completely forbidden?
A : The things that people do are neither absolutely and necessarily right nor absolutely and necessarily wrong. Not every legal prohibition is correct, necessarily. People may want to help the dying by killing them because they see that they are in pain. That is right in a sense. Buddhism forbids killing though; after all, this is about karma. It is karma that a patient suffers and should therefore face the consequences. We have no way to prevent someone from facing his karma.
Q : Could patients who are vegetables try euthanasia?
A : I would be going against the universal principle of wanting to see things live if I were to approve of people trying euthanasia. At the same time, they probably would not be at peace or happy if their life continued. I can’t answer this question.
Q : What does Buddhism think of euthanasia (literally, “peaceful and happy death” in Chinese)?
A : What is euthanasia? How can death be peaceful and happy? We would only enjoy a peaceful and happy death if we were to have a certain level of cultivation from being mindful of the Buddha and can predict when we will be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. Buddhism has no opinion on euthanasia.
But if this kind of death is peaceful and happy, is it a peaceful and happy death for people who have committed suicide by hanging themselves, jumping into the river, and poisoning themselves? Is it so for those who have ended their lives voluntarily and willingly, despite others’ efforts to prevent them from such acts?
I’m someone who doesn’t know how to cultivate; I don’t have the ability to teach you to die peacefully and happily. I have no way to teach you to live peacefully and happily either. I’m at my wits end when it comes to making you peaceful and happy as well as unpeaceful and unhappy. People are not the way they are because you want them that way. People do not stop their actions because you want them to avoid certain actions. This incredible process is called life.
Q : How can we be filial?
A : By being compliant.