English | Vietnamese


October 31, 1973, Wednesday evening

On Disciples’ Explanations of “At that time”

Venerable Master Hsuan Hua


Master: We have had the phrase “at that time” over and over already, and I’ve forgotten how I explained it the first time. In the recent occurrences of the phrase, we’ve given perfunctory explanations. Today we’ll do our best to bring out what each of you understands concerning “at that time,” and see if it’s the same. There’s not much time left today—just ten minutes more. During those ten minutes, everyone has to talk. Anyone who comes regularly to the sutra lectures, or who lives at Gold Mountain Monastery, must speak. What method shall we follow? I think we can start with Guo Hu. After you talk, you can have each one who comes after you speak in order.

Bhikshu Heng Shoou [Guo Hu]: The phrase “at that time” refers to the time when ŚÁkyamuni Buddha was sitting under the bodhi tree and had first realized Buddhahood. The phrase occurs many times in the text.


        When I learn of someone else’s death,                                   

        My heart burns as if with fire.

        It does not burn for the other person,

        But because death is heading my way.

Bhikshu Heng Jing: When it says “at that time,” it means “at this time.” How? It’s this time we’re coming to, that point in the text (etc.); or at no time.

Master: It has died.

Bhikshu Heng Jing: Yes.

Master: What has died?

Bhikshu Heng Jing: All aspects of the self have perished. It is when the Buddha first realizes enlightenment, which doesn’t happen in a single time; for the time of enlightenment pervades all times, and the Buddha sees all beings become enlightened at the same time.


Timely Teachings, page 345 - 346