November 16, 1972) | Thursday evening

On Recognizing One’s Position

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua


A lay disciple who visited here few days ago made the following claim. He said he was in essence a monastic, since he had not drawn near his wife for over twenty years. I told him, “Although you yourself make such a claim, nobody else will recognize you as a monastic.”

“That’s true,” he said.

“Well, in that case, you can’t claim you are a monastic,” I responded. “Why do you want set yourself up to be something you are not and claim that you are just the same as a monastic? Basically, you enjoy pleasures and do not practice much. How can you make such a claim?”

He said, “But I’ve taken part in a few meditation sessions, so I think I pass.”

“What kind of meditation session did you attend?”

“Well, we sat in meditation for seven days,” he said.

“You probably have never heard of what our meditation sessions are like,” I told him. “We get up at 3 o’clock in the morning and sit and walk straight through until midnight . Did the sessions you attend maintain a similar schedule?”

“No,” he replied. “We started at eight in the morning and ended at five in the evening.”

“Well, that’s quite a different case.”

After he heard that, he realized he could not make the grade.


Timely Teachings, pages 175 - 176.