We Hold Firmly to Our Three Great Principles
Ven. Master Hsuan Hua
Good and wise advisors: Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, Independence Day. The Abbot-in-training will be assuming the Abbotship. The new Abbot is quite vicious. Before he assumes the position, he wants to kill a few people as a sacrificial offering to the Dharma. Whom is he going to kill? Thieves! Former thieves and future thieves will be beheaded in public. The new Abbot wants to set rules.
Why didn't I set rules before? Because I am a Dharma slave, and my attitude is, "Everything is OK, no problem." However, this new Abbot is more autocratic. He wants to slay thieves, the more the better. There's a saying, "Wipe out all the thieves in Buddhism, sparing only lofty monks of great virtue." One translation of the word "Arhat" is "killer of thieves." Another saying goes, "Weed out the wicked ones so that the law-abiding ones can live in peace."
attention please, all lay people! Don't think that you can be a good Dharma
protector by flattering the new Abbot. In fact, you'd just be a stumbling
block, obstructing the development of Dharma affairs. The Abbot should not
carelessly praise or slander people either, nor should he be influenced by
praise or slander. If you're looking for praise, there will certainly be
people who will slander you. This is a natural principle.
was rather easygoing before: I didn't mind if people scolded me, and if people
praised me I just forgot about it. Since you are the Abbot-in-training you
should maintain the principle of neither praising nor slandering. If you don't
want people to praise you, then you should start by not praising others. If
you don't want people to slander you, then you should first not slander
others. As it's said, "Do not do to others what you don't want done to
yourself." Take care not to plant impure causes.
laypeople see the new Abbot and immediately want to offer him some extra
delicious food to eat, they are in effect destroying Buddhism. If they weren't
trying to ruin Budihism, they wouldn't do such a superfluous thing. The Abbot
is not going to starve. And if he did, it would be right because it'd mean
that he didn't have any cultivation. Besides, dying for Buddhism is a real
honor and is truly meritorious Therefore, our creed has always been:
we do not scheme.
we do not beg.
of poverty, we ask for nothing
adapt to conditions, but never waver;
remain steadfast, yet accord with every situation.
are our three great principles.
dedicate our lives to do the Buddhas's work.
forge our lives as our basic duty.
rectify our lives to fulfill the Sangha's role.
express our ideals within our daily affairs,
that within our daily affairs, our ideals shine forth.
this way, we continue unbroken the legacy of the Patriarch's mind.
the new Abbot:] Anyone who makes offerings to you alone is trying to get in
your good graces and exploit their relationship with you. Do you understand?
Since you are a young man, you should be especially clear about this. I'm old,
"o1d and useless," as they say. But you young people should not let
yourselves be surrounded by filthy things. You should have the attitude that
"even if we're freezing, we stand upright against the wind; even if we're
starving, we walk without hunching over." Be like a strong candle in the
fierce gale, like pure gold in the blazing fire - fear nothing!
we do not scheme." This is an apt description of my life. When I was in
we do not beg." Once, when I was living in Guanyin cave at
of poverty, we ask for nothing." When I first went to Nanhua Monastery to
draw near to the Venerable Master Hsu Yun, I was penniless. I didn't even have
stamps to mail letters with. Even so, I never asked for anything from
lay-people. And so there are reasons for these Three Great Principles of mine.
They are not just empty words. Now that the new Abbot has come, no one should
try to develop a special friendship with him, hoping that he will think
especially well of them. If you want to make offerings, make them to the
entire assembly. Don't make offerings to just one particular individual. If
you do that, you are just harming people and destroying the harmony of
people should adhere to these Three Great Principles. Don't get discouraged.
You should be teachers of gods and people and go to battle with demons of the
ten directions. Someone may ask, "Don't you teach your disciples to use
the Four Measureless Minds of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving? Why are
you telling them to fight? Isn't that just holding on to hatred? How could
they be teachers of gods and people?" Well, it's just for the sake of
being teachers of gods and people that we should teach and transform the demon
talk given on July 3, 1986