English | Vietnamese
Sunday evening, October 15, 1972.
On Searching for an “Excellent Site.”
Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Last Friday at midnight , some of us took a trip. It wasn’t a holiday or a trip for fun; we were out searching for an “excellent site” for Buddhism. [See Sixth Patriarch Sutra, BTTS, 2002, pg 47. A Tripitaka Master from India uses the term “excellent site” in describing the area where Nanhua Monastery was later founded.] Several years ago we found a place at Magic Mountain that was quite a bargain, but our two Bhikshunis went there and declared that it didn’t qualify as an “excellent site.” So we are still looking for an “excellent site”—a place that can produce sages. It’s too bad there hasn’t been a Venerable Tripitaka Master come to this country. No one has made any prophecy to the effect that after 170 years, a Bodhisattva in the flesh will proclaim the Dharma here. [Editor’s note: See Sixth Patriarch Sutra, BTTS, 2002, pp 42. This predication was made by the same Tripitaka Master from India when he arrived at Guangxiao Monastery in Canton City —the monastery where the Sixth Patriarch entered monastic life and received precepts.]
Buddhism has only just begun in this country. There are many “excellent sites” in this nation, it’s just that no one has looked for them yet. That’s why we were out at midnight , hunting for an “excellent site.” This entire country is excellent—very efficacious; but the people haven’t become outstanding yet. There’s a Chinese saying, “If the people are outstanding, the place is excellent.” When people are outstanding and heroic, the land will be efficacious. When people are sages, any place they go to will become an “excellent site.”
That place near Magic which we found several years ago was basically an “excellent site”, but since we ourselves are not sages, we didn’t recognize it as such. Our midnight trip this time was certainly not a vacation. Let me tell you frankly: There are no vacations for us in this life! Why not? It’s just because we take vacations before that we haven’t reached Buddhahood now. Realizing our mistake and knowing that “having fun” isn’t all that fun, the four of us—three male disciples and myself—went out at midnight.
As we went out the door, I told one of those three, “I’m giving you an order—it must not rain today. If it rains, I won’t show any mercy. When we get back, you’ll have to kneel for forty-nine days straight at Gold Mountain Monastery, during which you won’t be allowed to eat, use the restroom, stand up, or sleep.” The worst thing would have been not being allowed to sleep, because for one of these disciples, going without sleep is equivalent to a death sentence. He just can’t go on without sleep. I often see him in the sleeping samadhi.
That order I gave him scared him and he meekly accepted my mandate. As it turned out, it really didn’t rain. Rain would have made it impossible to visit the place. That’s why I had to threaten a foolish disciple, thereby indirectly scaring the rain spirits into thinking, “We had better not make it rain, or else that disciple will be in big trouble.” The rain spirits felt sorry for my disciple! They weren’t afraid of me; they only feared that my poor disciple would suffer, so they didn’t let it rain.
At noon, I told him, “It didn’t rain this morning, so your merit is complete. If it rains in the afternoon, you don’t have to kneel when we get back.” Then I announced to the other two disciples: “If it rains in the afternoon, it has nothing to do with this disciple.”
When we got back, my disciples spread the good news, informing everyone: “That place certainly is an “excellent site.” The feng shui, “wind and water”] is good, and so is the rainwater [a pun on feng shui].” Why did they think so? The lake there is called Long Ear Lake . When Patriarch Bodhidharma first went to China , he went to Bear’s Ear Mountain and sat in meditation for nine years. Well, this place may or may not be equal to Bear’s Ear Mountain. Let’s take a look and then decide. I haven’t seen what kind of lake it is yet—maybe it’s a human ear lake or a dog’s ear lake; it’s not for sure. And what is the mountain called? Gold Mountain ! Which seems to imply that this site meant just for us at Gold Mountain Monastery. The location is better than “ Old GoldMountain ” [Editor’s note: the Chinese name for San Francisco ]; its feng shui is superb. So tomorrow at noon , we’re going out again. This time, we’ll take a laywoman along. If we didn’t include her, she wouldn’t be able to sleep tomorrow night. She’d be worrying about us out on the road. She’d spend her time and energy speculating about what demons and ghosts her teacher might be subduing. However, let me repeat: these trips are not vacations.
Timely Teachings, trang 120 - 122.