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The Teaching Of Venerable Master Hua
Upholding the Precepts, Being  Patient under Insult

  • A cultivator cultivates the hallmark of no-self. If you are free of the  hallmark of self, you can endure everything. When states manifest, your mind  will not be influenced. You will see yourself as the same as empty space.
  • To become a Buddha is not so easy! If you don't cut off your sexual desire  yet still want to become a Buddha – that is absolutely impossible. There's no  such principle in the world. Nowadays, most people are greedy for lucky breaks  and shortcuts. We get attracted easily to the mysterious and miraculous. Then we  become confused and fall into the demon's trap.
  • Why do people lie? Because to do so will put them at a disadvantage; they  don't want to come up with the short end of the stick.
  • If one breaks the precept against sexual misconduct, then it's easy for him  to break the precept against killing, stealing and lying. Therefore, breaking  the precept that prohibits sexual misconduct also includes the breaking of the  precepts against killing, stealing, and lying.
  • By upholding the Five Precepts and practicing the Ten Good Deeds, you will  be born into the human and the deva (heaven) realms. If you have an attitude of  greed, hatred and stupidity, then you may fall into the three evil paths.
  • If you understand the precepts, then you can penetrate the entire  Buddhadharma. If you don't understand the precepts, then you're like a cloud  floating in the sky; you lack any foundation.
  • There's only one basis for the precepts and that lies in not being  selfish.
  • You should vigorously uphold precepts in places where people can't see. You  should not only make progress in front of people, or uphold precepts in front of  people instead. You should forge ahead vigorously and uphold precepts when you  are all by yourself as well.
  • Studying the Buddhadharma is learning not to irritate others or to bring  others harm. Therefore, Buddhists must eat vegetarian food because eating meat  harms other lives.
  • Eating a vegetarian diet requires that you suffer a loss when you are still  alive, because you cannot satisfy your palate. But if you are not a vegetarian  and eat a lot of meat, after your death you will have to settle your accounts  before the Kings of Hell.
  • If someone who studies Buddhadharma does not uphold precepts, that person is  like a bottle with a hole in the bottom. The water leaks out as soon as it is  filled. If one can uphold precepts, one will gradually obtain a state free of  outflows (Anasrava).
  • No matter what Dharma-door you practice, as long as you have patience, you  will get some achievement. If you don't have patience then you can't cultivate  any Dharma doors to success.
  • What Way do the left-home people cultivate? They cultivate the Way of  patience.
  • "Patience is a priceless gem,
  • Which few know how to mine,
  • But once you've truly mastered it,
  • Then everything works out fine."
  • A cultivator has to endure the things that others cannot bear, renounce the  matters that others cannot give up, eat the foods that others cannot swallow,  and wear the garments that others cannot put on. In brief, a cultivator ought to  bear what others cannot bear.
  • In cultivating the Way, the most important thing is not to fight. We should  not fight with anyone, not quarrel over people's good points and short-comings,  nor gossip about people's rights and wrongs.
  • Do not be greedy for anything at all. Know contentment and be patient. This  is the unsurpassed wonderful Dharma, that is, alas, neglected by all. By not  fighting and not being greedy one will have boundless blessings and a long life.  If you contend, are greedy, and are always inviting trouble, then you will incur  many karmic offenses. Even if you wanted to leave the Triple Realm, there would  be no way for you to do so.

      Investigating Chan, Reciting the  Buddha's Name
  • Why is it that we cannot recognize our original face? It's because we  haven't demolished our mark of self and selfishness.
  • The word "investigate" in "investigating Chan" means to contemplate.  Contemplate what? Prajna, that you're constantly aware of the presence or  absence of self, and pay no heed to the presence or absence of others. Are you  really there or not?
  • People who investigate Chan must first recognize the basic problem clearly.  What problem? Our bad habits and faults. Participating in a Chan session is to  rid ourselves of bad habits and faults.
  • In the Chan hall, everybody investigates Chan and meditates. This is a test  to see who can pass and attain Buddhahood. How do you pass? Inside, be free of  body and mind; outside, cast off the world.
  • Many people who investigate Chan commit two mistakes: one is having an  unsettled state of mind, the other is drowsiness. They are either having idle  thoughts or falling asleep during their meditation.
  • To investigate Chan, one must have patience and perseverance. The secret to  investigating Chan is patience. Even if you can't bear it anymore, you must  persevere. Once you have endured to the extreme, then everything will be  interpenetrating and you will become enlightened.
  • When your investigation of Chan reaches maturity, not only will you have no  false thinking, you'll also have less anger, your afflictions will decrease,  your character will improve, and your limits will expand.
  • Why don't we have any response in the Way? It's because our wild minds do  not rest.
  • To investigate Chan, one must have patience, for that is your means to  enlightenment.
  • We have the opportunity to become enlightened when we investigate Chan. When  our true nature appears, it's like when Spring returns to the earth and the  myriad things start to grow.
  • A person who truly investigates Chan is a person who truly recites the  Buddha's name; a person who truly recites the Buddha's name is also a person who  truly investigates Chan. A person who truly upholds the precepts is also a  person who truly investigates Chan; a person who truly investigate Chan is also  a person who truly upholds the precepts.
  • What is the "real me?" It is the inherent nature and the attainment of  Buddhahood. Only when one attains Buddhahood, can one find the "real me." Before  that, everything is false.
  • Whoever does not have any defiled attachments is a Buddha. Whoever has  defiled attachments is a living being. What is a defiled attachment? To put in  simple words, it is whatever one can not see beyond and leave behind, what  causes one to constantly have polluted thoughts.
  • When you have applied exacting effort to your cultivation, food and clothing  become secondary. How much the more should you let go of other external objects.
  • Cultivation is not limited to practicing Chan meditation and reciting  Sutras. Cultivation is to always be without too much discrimination.  Furthermore, do not fight for power; do not vie for leadership to supervise  other people and show off before the Master.
  • The essential quality of the Way is concentration; that of a general is his  strategic skill, not his courage; that of an army is its quality, not its  size.
  • Sincerely reciting the Buddha's name is to constantly concentrate one's mind  on the recitation without any polluted thought or desire to eat and drink.  Reciting to the point where everything is forgotten is true mindfulness of the  Buddha.
  • When you are mindful of the Buddha, the Buddha will also be mindful of you.  It is a bit like sending a telegram to Amitabha Buddha. This is known as the  "intertwining of the response and the Way." If you are not mindful of the  Buddha, he will not receive your message. Therefore, it is imperative that you  uphold the Buddha's name.
  • In reciting mantras, one should so recite so the mantra flows out of one's  mind and returns to one's mind. The mantra mind and the mind mantra – the mantra  and the mind are united in sound after sound and are never apart from each  other. One is reciting, yet not reciting; one is not reciting, yet constantly  reciting.
  • When you venerate the Buddha, and the Buddha accepts your veneration, you  will increase your blessing and wisdom. That is to say that bowing to the Buddha  is an influence, and his receiving the veneration is a response. That is the  "intertwining of the Way."

     -----From the Biographical Sketch of the Elder Master  Venerable Hsuan, Noble Hua

To Repent and Reform Means to Change Our Faults and Turn Over a New  Leaf

By Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

                 If one is truly repentant,

                it can certainly be worked out.


The Dharma-power of the Buddhas is tremendous, and yet the karma of living  beings is equal to it. Thus living beings are said to be "weighed down by karma  and confusing emotions," whereas the Buddhas "have ended their karma and emptied  their emotions." So the difference between a sage and a commoner lies in whether  one can end karma and empty out emotions. Another saying goes,

                Enlightened, one is a Buddha.

                Confused, one is a living being.

Since living beings turn their backs  on enlightenment and unite with defilement, being turned by the wearisome  defilement of the five desires, their karmic obstacles become deeper and deeper.  On the other hand, the Buddhas can transcend the sordid defilements of the five  desires and avoid creating additional karma. Because living beings have such  heavy karma, one who wishes to become a Buddha and realize the Way must first  repent of his karmic offenses. If one hopes to become a Buddha without being  repentant, it's like cooking sand and hoping to get rice. You can cook for as  many eons as there are sands in the Ganges River, but you'll never succeed.
"Repentance" means repenting of past errors, feeling a great sense of shame  and remorse for the transgressions we made in the past. "Reform" means turning  away from future errors, resolving to turn over a new leaf, and never making  those mistakes again. This is just what the layman Yuan Liaofan said,

                Regard everything in the past as

                                          if you died yesterday.

                                          Regard everything in the future as

                                          if you were born today.

If we don't repent with diligence,  then the karma from the offenses we committed will make us fall, and who knows  when and where we will stop. All Buddhists should remember that when they first  took refuge, they stated their full name and then repeated by saying the  following:

                From time without beginning until the present life,

                I have slandered the Triple Jewel, been an icchantika,

                Slandered the Great Vehicle Sutras,

                Cut off the study of Prajna,

                 Killed my father and mother,

                 shed the Buddha's blood,

                 Defiled the Sangharama,

                 Ruined the pure conduct of others.

                 Burned and wrecked stupas and temples,

                 Stolen the property of the Sangha,

                 Held deviant views, denied cause and effect,

                 Been intimate with evil friends,

                 Turned away from good teachers . . .

Now to refresh everyone's memory. I will very briefly explain this passage of  repentance for everyone.

From eons without beginning, up to today, the karma from the offenses we have  committed cannot be reckoned. First of all, we have slandered the Triple Jewel:  the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Among these, the offense of slandering  the Sangha is the gravest, because the members of the Sangha represent the  Buddha in propagating and transmitting the Buddhadharma. Therefore, one is not  allowed to eradicate the offense of slandering the Sangha through repentance.  What is an "icchantika"? It's a Sanskrit word which means "incomplete faith" and  "lacking good roots." If you try to speak the Dharma to these people, they don't  want to listen. They may even tell you straight out, "I don't believe it."  Wouldn't you say they've cut off all their good roots?

"Slandered the Great Vehicle Sutras" means, for instance, saying that the  principles in the Buddhist Sutras are false, that the Great Vehicle Sutras were  spoken by demon kings, and so forth. This sort of offense cannot be pardoned  through repentance. "Prajna" is also Sanskrit and means "wisdom." There are  three kinds of Prajna: Real Mark Prajna, Contemplative Prajna, and Literary  Prajna. If you don't study any kind of Prajna, you will be stupid. The  retribution of stupidity is that you will fall into the destiny of animals.

"Killed my father and mother" also includes the offenses of killing an Arhat  and killing a sage. One example is Devadatta killing a Fourth Stage Arhat.

Next, "shedding the Buddha's blood" is also an offense for which repentance  is not accepted. Many people wrongly think this offense only means actually  cutting the Buddha's body with a knife when the Buddha was in the world. In  fact, after the Buddha entered Nirvana, damaging Buddha images in any way also  counts as this kind of offense. This includes peeling the gold paint off the  Buddha images, ruining Buddha images, and so forth. Although this does not harm  the Buddha physically, it is equivalent to cutting the Buddha's body with a  knife. "Defiling the Sangharama" means profaning the pure temple. An example  would be if married couples living on temple grounds engage in indecent  activities, eat meat, kill living creatures, and so on. "Ruining the pure  conduct of others" means inducing left-home people who were pure and undefiled  to break the precepts. Repentance is not allowed for this either.

"Burning and wrecking stupas and temples" means setting fire to and damaging  Buddhist temples, just as Feng Yuxiang set fire to White Horse Monastery and  Shaolin Monastery in the past. "Stealing the property of the Sangha" means using  improper methods to seize the wealth and property of the permanent dwelling. The  people who do that all hold deviant knowledge and views. They think they are  right, and they insist that there is no cause and effect. Acting rebelliously,  they stop at no evil. There's nothing they won't do. How can they not fall?

Finally, we'll talk about "being intimate with evil friends, and turning away  from good teachers." In Confucianism, evil friends are called "harmful friends."  For example, we should not associate with tramps, gangsters, and so forth,  because they are considered evil friends. Some people associate with such  harmful friends and gradually stray onto the wrong road themselves. Refusing to  listen to their teachers' exhortations, they will do all kinds of evil. They  can't tell the difference between right and wrong, and they act in upside-down  ways. Wouldn't you say they are pitiful?

The various offenses mentioned above are all extremely serious, yet very easy  to commit. If one has unfortunately committed them already, what should be done?  Don't be dishearted, because "Offenses may fill the skies. Repent, and they  disappear." Offenses have no shape or form, and if one is truly Repentant, it  can certainly be worked out. No one should give up on himself and be resigned to  falling!

Maitreya  Bodhisattva

If you  ask me why I'm laughing,
Let me first ask you why you're crying.
Crying  and laughing are not the Middle Way.
Why should we attached to the two  sides?
In one gulp, he swallows the tears of sorrow and resentment.
His  two eyes see through those who are involved in fame and gain.
No one  recognizes this Bodhisattva. They all miss him at arm's length.
They are  still wandering about wasting time.
by the Venerable Master  Hau





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