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
- To become a Buddha is not so easy! If you don't cut off your sexual desire yet still want to become a Buddha â€“ 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 â€“ 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!
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