November 26, 1973, Monday evening
On How Achieving World Peace Starts with One’s Own Peace of Mind
Ven. Master Hua
Homage to the everlasting Buddhas of the ten directions.
Homage to the everlasting Dharma of the ten directions.
Homage to the everlasting Sangha of the ten directions.
Homage to the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra.
Homage to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the Sea-Vast Flower Adornment Assembly.
I remember that, not long after I came to America , the Soviet Union and the United States almost went to war over Cuba . At that time I thought, “I have just arrived in this country, and have not been of any help to its citizens. If war were to start in Cuba between this country and the Soviet Union , it would result in a great loss of human life and property.” Since at the time I didn’t understand English and was also not able to go out, all I could do was to make a vow in the Buddha Hall to fast for five weeks, praying that there would be no war. Regardless of whether or not it was a response to my sincerity, war in fact did not break out in Cuba . At the time, President Kennedy was very adamant with Khrushchev, and scared Khrushchev into backing down. Khrushchev was sufficiently frightened to withdraw the missiles, and there was no war.
Right now [November, 1973] war has started in the Middle East . Israel is at war with the Arab nations. Right now two monks have committed themselves to the Bodhisattva Path and are currently bowing once every three steps, praying for world peace. The fighting in the Middle East seems to be abating now, but there is still a great war coming along in its wake. For that reason, they must continue to work hard in their quest for world peace.
Today both of them, Guo Yu and Guo Dao are here at Gold Mountain Monastery with us. They have stopped bowing once every three steps; they have come to protect our Precept Platform, because we have several novices who wish to receive the ten precepts. That’s why we sent Guo Hu to protect their return today, bringing them back. After the precept transmission, they will continue to pray for peace in the world. If a great war were to break out, it would be far worse than the Second World War, and so we hope there will not be such a war.
There is an energy crisis right now in America , and fuel is lacking. The fuel shortage is a reflection of all the incidents that have happened in the Middle East . However, that’s just the beginning. If the world is not at peace, humankind will have to undergo tremendous suffering.
It pleases me that these two monks are maintaining their resolve. Every day I wish their vows will be accomplished, and that the world will be peaceful. For that reason, I hope the gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division of ghosts and spirits will guard and protect them. In that light, when they return to their bowing, it would be best if there is no rain in the area where they are bowing, perhaps for ten miles or twenty miles around them, and no snow either. After they have bowed through an area, rain and snow could fall. That would be a response to their sincerity, a response bestowed by the gods, dragons, and others of the eightfold division ghosts and spirits who are protecting them. Therefore, when they go back this time, if rain and snow fall, they should increase the sincerity of their resolve and bow sincerely, not fearing the difficulty. If they can overcome that difficulty, the gods, dragons and others are certain to protect them. This is a test of their vows. If they can keep going in the face of great trials, it indicates their vows are being accomplished.
Now I have told people to bring out two benches. Would all of you like to hear about their experiences during this period of more than a month that that they have being bowing? If you would like to listen to this, we can first welcome the two of them. How should we make that welcome? In America , you usually do it by applauding. If you want to welcome them, then you can applaud. Otherwise, you may just sit there in silence.
[Editor’s note. Everybody applauds, and the two monks take their seats on the Dharma Platform, Bhikshu Heng Ju on the Master’s left, and Heng Yo on the Master’s right. After they report on their pilgrimage, the Master asks for opinions, which people volunteer.]
Master: Now I will give my opinion. The kind of cultivation you two are engaged in is very difficult to do. It’s easy to bow for one day or two, three or four days, six or seven days; but to bow every day, day after day, not fearing rain or snow, is really hard. However, if you can do what is hard to do, then it becomes easy.
Buddhism is just beginning in this country, and needs such people to bring forth this kind of Bodhisattva resolve as an inspiration for people. Nonetheless, this also brings out people’s jealousy. Even when the Buddha realized Buddhahood, the demon king was angered and objected, “Why do you want to become a Buddha?” All the sentient beings who were part of the Buddha’s retinue were delighted, but the members of the demon king’s retinue all wept.
Situations that you encounter on the road, whether good or bad, are your tests. That’s why I say: “Everything’s a test to see what you will do.” That was spoken for you. “If you fail to recognize what’s before your eyes, you’ll have to start anew.”
How do you start anew? Just continue to bow. That doesn’t mean returning to San Francisco and starting the bowing journey all over again. Rather, when you fail to recognize a situation, continue to bow. If you didn’t recognize a state before, once you’ve been through that experience, just keep bowing. Bow so that you become peaceful inside. If you want the world to be peaceful, you must start by having internal peace. What’s meant by internal peace? It means not having any idle thoughts whatsoever. You merge with space. You bow to the point that there is no self, no others, no sentient beings. At that time, you become one with the natural order of things. When that happens, you could not prevent your enlightenment even if you wanted to. This kind of work requires concentration. As it is said, “If you are concentrated, there will be a response. If you are scattered, nothing will happen.”
Therefore, to seek world peace, start by developing your own peace of mind. Have no war in your mind. What sort of mental battle could there be? There is the battle between reason and desire. Reason is the essence of True Thusness. If you quell the war inside, there will be no war outside. If you really achieve a great spirit of selflessness, you will have no demonic obstacles, and you won’t fear anything. This is the second time I’m addressing the two of you. The first time was when I went there to see you on the road. As I said then, I say again now: I hope you will “try your best.”
Timely Teachings, page 87