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September 17, 1973, Monday evening

On Learning Ceremonies

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua


Starting tomorrow, Dharma Master Huiseng will come to teach the ceremony for sutra lectures. Whoever wants to study this should do so seriously and not be haphazard about it. It’s permissible to master the ceremony but not use it; but don’t let it happen that when the time comes to use it, you don’t know how to do it.

Also, when you are learning it, don’t act like it’s something utterly new and startling which you’ve never seen or heard of before. For example, when a certain Dharma Master came here to lecture, he talked about a “stinking pickled vegetable”. One of my disciples told him she’d never heard of it before. When you say something like that, you lose face for us. What he talked about was not beyond the principles that we investigate here all the time. All he did was change the name and refer to it as a “stinking pickled vegetable.” What’s so great about that? But she said, “We’ve never heard of that before.” By saying that, it was obviously that she’d totally missed the point. Studying ceremonies is the same. You can study them, but don’t act really surprised by them, or people will think you don’t understand anything.


Timely Teachings, page 360.