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SUTRA ON THE BUDDHA'S BEQUEATHED TEACHING

Note: Talks given by Reverend Heng Sure. Typos, grammatical errors, and/or misinterpretation (because of shallow wisdom) by Loc Huynh. 

 

TEXT

When Shakyamuni Buddha first turned the wheel of Dharma, he crossed over the Venerable Ajnatakaundinya. The very last time he spoke the Dharma, he crossed over the Venerable Subhadhra. All of those whom he should have crossed over had already been crossed over. He lay between the Twin Sala Trees and was about to enter Nirvana. At this time, in the middle of the night, all was quiet, without any sound. Then for the sake of all his disciples, he spoke on the essentials of the Dharma. All you bikshus! After my nirvana, you should revere and honor the Pratimoksha. It is like finding a light in darkness, or like a poor person obtaining a treasure. You should know that it is your great teacher and is no different from my actual presence in the world.

COMMENTARY:

The Buddha crossed over Ajnatakaundinya, one of the five ascetics in the Deer Park, after his enlightenment. In prior incarnations, Ajnatakaundiny was a king who cut off the limbs of the Patient Immortal (the then future Shakymununi Buddha). When the Buddha was nearing his nirvana, he crossed over the magician Subhadhra. The Buddha was soon leaving the world and no one was asking any questions. Out of his compassion, the Buddha spoke the essentials of the Dharma.

Pratimoksha is basically a book of precepts that monks and nun must recite every 1st and 15th of the lunar calendar. Literally, it means special (prati) liberation (moksha). Here in America, when we hear about rules and precepts, we say "See ya!" or "Don't fence me in." We are rebels. "One man one vote". Suspend these notions when it comes to the pratimoksha. It is a different set of rules. It is light in the dark. Pratimoksha is Buddha. The Buddha spoke a lot of parables, but when he said that the pratimoksha is no different from his presence, he wasn't speaking in parables. The rules were spoken from the wisdom of the Buddha, not by a legislative body. These rules agree when the commandments and the Koran. From his insight, the Buddha sees what happens when we kill, steal, lust or lie. When we kill, inside our mind, there is a corresponding injury; our nature is injured. We can't be liberated. We need to repair the cracks in the mirror. It is very difficult to meditate too. The killer cannot forget his evil deeds hence he is obstructed and cannot get off the turning wheel (samsara).

Throughout his career, the Venerable Master Hua liked to move people towards the precepts. What we do with our body, speech, and mind is paramount. The precepts are our teacher. Without precepts, it just head-mouth Zen or intellectual fluff Ờtotally useless. Follow the precepts and our wisdom will grow day by day.

Master Heng Sure told a story about how Ven. Ajahn Passano taught meditation to a death row inmate, Jay Sarapong, days before he received his lethal injection at San Quentin. Jay died peacefully. Jay, albeit a criminal, was blessed to have used meditation in the most crucial moment.

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 8/7/99

TEXT 

All you bhikshus! After my nirvana, you should revere and honor the Pratimoksha. It is like finding a light in darkness, or like a poor person obtaining a treasure. You should know that it is your great teacher and is no different from my actual presence in the world.

COMMENTARY Again, the Buddha was about to go. In the middle of the night, he was probably reclining like the Buddha statue on our altar. In Chinese, the word "nirvana" is pronounced "mie" (4th tone). The Chinese character for mie has fire and a spear inside a house. Outside the house, there is water. In general, it can mean "to extinguish." European scholars have translated this word to "extinct." Kinda like the dinosaurs. This translation is unappealing and inaccurate. Who wants to be extinct? Nirvana means the end of the flame of affliction, not a meteor hitting the earth. It means the Buddha was 100% connected to nature. The last trace of self had been wiped away. And since that was his mahaparinirvana, the Buddha's four elements went away as well. Earth returned to earth, water to water, fire to fire, and air to air. But that doesn't mean he went for good. He can come back anytime. Now, is going to heaven better than nirvana? No. When the heaven blessings become exhausted, one has to go down. As for nirvana, nature doesn't die. It is an inconceivable state. It means the end of troubleỞpermanently. It ain't extinction. It can't really be talked about, but anyone can realize it.

Rules or precepts are not oppressive or hindering. They are guidelines to help us along our Path. Lust, steal, kill, and lies can cut off our root to wisdom. The monks and nuns have to recite the book of precepts (Pratimoksha) every two weeks. In 1986, at CTTB, the Pratimoksha was recited in English, Chinese, and Thai. A historic first. Never been done before in the 2,500-year tradition. One of the four questions Ananda asked the Buddha before his nirvana was, "Who should we take as our Master?" The Buddha said, "Take the precepts as your master." If we hold onto the precepts, or guidelines, then it's as if the Buddha or the Venerable Master is around. If we don't then, even if they're around, it's useless. Why are the precepts like the Buddha? Because what we do, speak, and think that create karma. Our actions, speech, and thought can keep us from being free. We've heard of the sangha's Pratimoksha. What about the layperson's Pratimoksha? It's the five precepts. If we are looking for liberation, we should hold the precepts. If we don't care about wisdom or liberation, then go do stupid things. If we hold the five precepts and perform the ten good deeds, one will be reborn as a god. It's not recommended that we go to heaven as a CEO can be demoted to a mail boy.

The five precepts are no killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and taking intoxicants.

We perform the ten good deeds when we refrain from doing the ten evil deeds:

Relating to the mind: greed, anger, and stupidity

Relating to speech: lies, harsh or foul language, gossip or schism making, and frivolous speech (dirty jokes)

Relating to body: kill, steal, and sexual misconduct

 

TEXT:

Those of you who uphold the pure precepts should not buy, sell, or trade. You should not covet fields or buildings or keep servants or raise animals. You should stay far away from all kinds of agriculture and wealth, as you would avoid a pit of fire.

COMMENTARY

Now don't call the temple and bemoan about your vegetable garden. These guidelines are for monks and nuns. Left-home people should not have profit motives. There are a lot of wealthy religious institutions. In ancient China, emperors destroyed temples and melted Buddha statues to take the gold. Many temples were just so rich. Even today, there are some left-home people who ride in limousines and use cell phones to buy, sell, or trade stock. It seems that some Buddhists forgot this precept. In Thailand, there is a move to allow the police to send a left-home person to lay life, on the spot, if s/he is caught drunk in the street. The Venerable Master is very careful about money. He said that left-home people should refrain from touching money, ATM or credit cards.

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 11/6

 

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSUS! YOU SHOULD RUB YOUR HEADS, FOR YOU HAVE RELINQUISHED FINE ADORNMENTS, YOU WEAR THE GARMENTS OF A BUDDHIST MONK, AND YOU CARRY THE ALMS BOWL TO USE IN BEGGING FOR YOUR LIVELIHOOD; LOOK AT YOURSELF IN THIS WAY.

Buddhist monks and nuns are not up to date in fashion. Fashion has been the same for 2,500 years. They have very simple lifestyle and minimal needs-three sets of robes, a sitting cloth, and an alm bowl. They receive food from others; not the same as begging. They present opportunities for people to plant blessings. When they receive food, it should be a pure transaction. Giving is equal and fair without any personal bias. The offering is to help monks and nuns cultivate the Way. Not the same as giving to panhandlers. There may be cultural differences, but overall, the lifestyle of monks and nuns has not changed. Reverend Heng Sure told a story about a country called Magadha. It was a very Buddhist country in which it was customary for a king to go to a monastery and offer food to the Sangha. On the 1st and 15th, the king would invite all monks to the biggest monastery to give dharma talks. This country had no harsh punishment, no money, no alcohol, no killing, no butchers, no borders, and no army. The country flourished. They all held the precepts. Master Fa Tsin of Tang dynasty found the record of this country on his pilgrimage to India.

 

TEXT:

IF THOUGHTS OF ARROGANCE ARISE YOU SHOULD QUICKLY DESTROY THEM, BECAUSE ARROGANCE AND PRIDE ARE NOT APPROPRIATE EVEN AMONG THE CUSTOMS OF LAY PEOPLE, HOW MUCH THE LESS FOR A PERSON WHO HAS LEFT THE HOME-LIFE AND ENTERED THE WAY. FOR THE SAKE LIBERATION, YOU SHOULD HUMBLE YOURSELF AND RECEIVE ALMS FOR YOUR FOOD.

Chase away thoughts of arrogance and pride as they are afflictions. An affliction is a dis-ease of the mind; a mental irritation or agitation. Like a car running out of tune. There are five fundamental afflictions-greed, anger, delusion, pride, and doubt. Some of us have more of one than the other. When we are free, the afflictions have been transformed to bodhi or awakening. The mind becomes well tuned and devoid of any affliction. Thus, bodhi shines forth. In other religions, pride is considered a sin. Pride comes about because of not understanding that the self is illusory. We then judge other people and think ourselves great. We take the body to be our true and permanent self. The body is a temporary accretion of atoms. At the same time, don't maintain a thought of being inferior; that's the wrong use of the mind.

Here's a story about one former monk. The Venerable Master said he was an emperor in his past life. His left home name meant Constant Palace. Since young, he was athletic, won prestigious scholarships, national sit-up champion. Never in his life did he have a thought of humility. His three sisters and parents patted him constantly. However, the Venerable Master never gave him any slack. The first time he went to the master's dharma talk, the Venerable Master said to the assembly, "People who always wear a tall hat and praises to them are like sweet candies. These are the stupidest of people!" He felt that the Abbot was talking to him. He realized that he might just be a trifle arrogant. He bowed to the Master. During the bowing pilgrimage, after reaching past the Golden Gate bridge, he felt he had a change of heart. One rainy day in February, when the Master arrived to visit them, the monk bowed very sincerely and told the Master about his change. At that time, the monk's hat was on the ground and the Master purposely stepped on it and said, "Really?" The monk said to the Master, "That's my hat there!" The Master picked up the hat and gave it back to the monk and said, "Keep practicing."

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 11/13/99.

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSHUS! THOUGHTS OF FLATTERY ARE CONTRADICTORY TO THE WAY. THEREFORE, YOU SHOULD HAVE A STRAIGHT-FORWARD DISPOSITION OF MIND. YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT FLATTERY IS ONLY DECEIT, SO PEOPLE WHO HAVE ENTERED THE WAY SHOULD NOT FLATTER.

COMMENTARY:

The goal is to end birth and death. If the mind is clogged with afflictions-the ripples in the water-it is very difficult to meditate. Thoughts of flattery, how much the more the act of flattering, takes us away from the Way. It is a major affliction. The mind should be straight, not crooked. A crooked thought is usually the first thought to surface; it is an honest voice. It has its basis in greed. The Abbot's classic example of flattery is when a person toadies up to rich people. If we would like to see through the mind, don't make waves on the surface of the mind, e.g., flattering thoughts. Speak true words and we don't have to deal with the consequences later on. However, don't use words as a club. Use words wisely and in a kindly manner. When we flatter, we make an assumption that the person we praise is going to be happy. We assume that the people we flatter have shallow wisdom and can be duped by our words.

Reverend Heng Sure told a La Fontane fable. There was a crow with a delectable piece of cheese in her mouth. On the stump below her stood a fox. The fox spoke to the crow in a flattering voice, "Ohhhh, good morning Ms. Crow. How beautiful you are today. You look so ravishing. Why, if your voice were as beautiful as your feathers, you would be a phoenix of the forest. The crow was ecstatic and opened her mouth to sing. The piece of cheese fell and the fox snatched it. The fox said, "Sucker, you should know that flattery relies on the ears of the person being praised. I'm sure this lesson is worth a piece of cheese. The crow vowed never to be duped. The crow wanted more than anything a beautiful voice. A crow's voice is terrible. The fox knew this and took advantage of it. Flattery is a tool of deceitful people. The crow was blindsided by her desire.

 

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSUS! YOU SHOULD KNOW THAT PEOPLE WITH MANY DESIRES SUFFER MUCH, BECAUSE THEY CONSTANTLY SEEK FOR THEIR OWN BENEFITS. PEOPLE WHO REDUCE THEIR DESIRES, WHO ARE FREE OF SEEKING OR LONGING, DON'T HAVE SO MUCH TROUBLE. STRAIGHT-AWAY REDUCE YOUR DESIRES AND CULTIVATE APPROPRIATELY. ONE WHO REDUCES DESIRES CAN INCREASE MERIT. PEOPLE WHO REDUCE DESIRES CAN INCREASE MERIT. PEOPLE WWO REDUCE THEIR DESIRES, DO NOT FLATTER IN ORDER TO GET WHAT THEY WANT FROM OTHERS, MOREVOER THEY ARE NOT DRAGGED ALONG BY THEIR SENSE ORGANS. PEOPLE WHO REDUCE THEIR DESIRES HAVE, AS A CONSEQUENCE, A MIND WHICH IS PEACEFUL, WITHOUT WORRY OR FEAR. WHEN SITUATIONS ARISE, THEY ARE EVER SATISIFED AND NEVER DISCONTENT. ONE WHO REDUCES HIS DESIRES CAN REALIZE NIRVANA. THIS IS MY TEACHING ON REDUCING DESIRES.

COMMENTARY:

Having no desire, we are full. There's no longing. If this were a constant state, there would be no divorce, no suicide. The advertising industry is determined to make us feel incomplete, discontent, and insufficient without a certain product. Is it successful? It sure is. It's what keeping the Dow Jones going up and up. The nature of desire is to consume and consume, like fire. The more the contact, the more stronger the fire. It is never satiated. Now, should we be in suspended animation, locked up in a tank? No, but we should understand the nature of desire and learn sufficiency. Adults should set examples to kids to show them that more does not always equate to happiness. Kids want parents around them. We should recognize that there are choices and know that manipulations exist in the marketplace. We are free to step away from them. We don't need to be flattered. In the Mahayana traditions, we don't worry about not getting enough; we worry about not being able to give enough.

When Reverend Heng Sure was bowing to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the Venerable Master would pass by them and said, "When you reach a state of not wanting anything, there is nothing more to worry." What was reverend Heng Sure worried about? Not becoming enlightened upon arriving at CTTB. Not seeing Universal Worthy Bodhisattva coming down to pat his head.  Not having the SF Chronicle and Examiner coming for press interviews.

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 11/20/99.

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSHUS! IF YOU WISH TO BE FREE FROM ALL SUFFERING AND DIFFICULTY, YOU SHOULD KNOW CONTENTMENT. THE DHARMA OF CONTENTMENT IS THE DWELLING OF BLESSINGS, HAPPINESS, AND PEACE. PEOPLE WHO ARE CONTENT, ALTHOUGH THEY MIGHT SLEEP ON THE GROUND ARE PEACEFUL AND HAPPY. THOSE WHO ARE NOT CONTENT, ALTHOUGH THEY MIGHT ABIDE IN THE HEAVENS, ARE STILL DISSATISFIED. THOSE WHO ARE NOT CONTENT, EVEN IF THEY ARE WEALTHY, STILL THEY ARE POOR. THOSE WHO ARE CONTENT, ALTHOUGH THEY MIGHT BE POOR, THEY ARE TRULY RICH. THOSE WHO ARE DISCONTENT ARE ALWAYS DRAGGED ALONG BY THEIR FIVE SENSE ORGANS, AND ARE PITIED BY THOSE WHO ARE CONTENT. THIS MY TEACHING ON CONTENTMENT.

COMMENTARY:

Contentment is knowing when you are full, when you have enough. Lao Tse said there is no greater calamity than discontentment. Someone who is poor externally, but is content, surpasses the gods who are dissatisfied. Rich people who are not content are still poor. When we are not content, we use the five organs to seek happiness, e.g., the next boyfriend, next song, next million bucks, next vacations, etc. Listen to the love and country songs on the radio. Most express dissatisfaction. When we learn contentment, that's true happiness. Everyday will seem full and flavorful. Reverend Heng Sure went through ten years eating unflavored food. He noticed how we are extremely dependent on seasonings. Have we ever tried just plain broccoli? Very flavorful. In the beginning of eating plain food, the tongue craves flavor. We want to reach for the soy sauce or A-1 BBQ sauce. But after a while, the flavor of the food comes alive. Honest food is full of flavors. The same applies for water. Water is really what the body wants.

Reverend Heng Sure spent two months in Aspen Colorado. For a month, he ate at a restaurant called Garden of Four Seasons. For lunch, there were many different selections of salad dressings. There were lobsters, crabs, and three selections of fishes. Dinner offered roast beef, lamb, and veal. There were 12 different kinds of desserts. Very rich food indeed. Reverend Heng Sure, who was used to a macrobiotic diet, felt the good food was numbing his palate. After a while, people were stuffing food to try to taste it. One month of good food, Reverend Heng Sure went back to eating brown rice and got his taste buds back in two weeks. One day, he went to the kitchen and asked the cook, "What's with this food?" He cook said, "Tell you a secret to our success." He showed Reverend Heng Sure the MSG seasonings on the shelf. The Buddhist viewpoint is similar to the practice Americans people did in the 1930s, during the Great Depression, "use it up, wear it out; make it do, or do without."

Yen Hui was Confucius's favorite student. Externally he seemed dumb. However, after hearing the teachings and thinking them through, he understood them completely. He lived in poverty; each day, he drank one gourd of rice and ate a measure of rice. Yet, he was content and full. In Japan, people order from Kentucky Fried Chicken one month ahead of time. They order in November for December. Many people believe that happiness is somewhere out there. If we go out to the wilderness for couple days, we would probably see the over abundance in our current lifestyle. We can definitely get by with much less. It takes wisdom for a person to resist the pressure to purchase. We don't have to go through extremes, just cut back a little bit at a time, e.g., eat a little less, make better use of our existing material. We don't have to upgrade upon a new release. Go for the need, less of the want. Our senses become quieter and our heart fills the world. As soon as we reach for something outside, we create a need, we become less full. Then we grab for the ginseng or the tonic. We succumb to the cycle of purchases.

The Venerable Master wanted Americans to learn about wastes. To set an example, he would use the same paper towel for a week. The monks and nuns in the 70s and early 80s used to go dumpster diving. That is, they picked up vegetables that were thrown away by supermarkets and local stores. The vegetables were very edible. The stores dumped veggies that became slightly old. Nowadays, it's not recommended to dig in garbage cans because of diseases such as AIDS. We should cherish our blessings. India, during the Buddha's time, was extremely wealthy and abundant. And because people became wasteful and not taking care of the environment, today India is poor and heavily polluted. It could easily happen to us here in the United States. If we are patient with what we have, we are paying back debts. The Master always said, "To endure suffering is to end suffering; to indulge in our blessings is to use up our blessings."

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 11/27/99.

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSHUS! SEEK QUIETUDE, UNCONDITIONED PEACE, AND HAPPINESS. YOU SHOULD BE APART FROM CONFUSION AND DISTURBANCES, AND DWELL ALONE IN SECLUSION. PEOPLE WHO DWELL IN QUIETUDE ARE REVERED BY THE HEAVENLY RULER SHAKRA AND ALL THE GODS. FOR THIS REASON YOU SHOULD LEAVE YOUR OWN GROUP AND OTHER GROUPS; DWELL ALONE IN SECLUSION. CONTEMPLATE THE ROOT OF SUFFERING'S END.

COMMENTARY:

We are social animals. The Buddha says this to keep the monks and nun from getting too much involved with society. There may arise opportunities to get a lot of offerings and privileges. Many years ago, Thai Airline would give free tickets to monks and nuns. However, they donỖt do it anymore. Recently a law in Thailand was passed (or proposed) that would allow the police to take a monkỖs robe away if he is caught drunk in public. Note however that the forest monks in Thailand are highly respected. When Ajahn Chad passed away, one million people attended his funeral. Now, the Buddha said this to the monks and nuns. What does this mean to lay people? How do lay people find solitude? We should be apart from confusion and disturbance. ThatỖs where a monastery comes in. Many people who come to Berkley monastery say that itỖs so quiet here. ThatỖs because this place has been a religious place for over a hundred years. WeỖre blessed with quiet neighbors, too. What makes a place quiet is its effect on the six sense organs. Is it causing the senses to shift constantly? How about our homes? Is the place colorful? What is the attitude of the home? Shakra is a god is the Heaven of Thirty Three. He is also known as the Jade Emperor. Also he is the God Almighty in the Christian religion. Hindu religion also worships him. He always comes down to test true cultivators. He really wants to see people succeed. He will protect those who work hard in cultivation. The Buddha went to the Himalayas for six years to live in seclusion. Scholars believe that the Buddha didnỖt go very far from his palace. After all, he was close enough to have met the five ascetics and to receive the milk from the maid. Could we survive in the wilderness? We need shelter, clothing, medicine, bedding, and food. Could we survive in Tilden Park? There are many edible plants that we donỖt know about. One test of seclusion is to try to be silent for a day. In China, hermits live close to monasteries because food is more accessible. Once a month they would go down to take a bath or buy some food. In China, the Communists try to keep track of its monks by controlling access to salt, oil, and rice. No matter where we are, we need those things. Being a hermit is very hard. On the other hand, if we are regularly connecting with our network of people and relationship, it is hard to find unconditioned Dharma, of course unless we have strong samadhi. Because of the hardships endured by cultivators in seclusion, Lord Shakra reveres them. What does it mean to be in seclusion? How do we pull up the root of suffering? Ever been up and out at 3:00 in the morning? We really do live in the market place world. We are moved by television shows. WeỖre there when the X-Files are on. We go to football games, keep track of Tiger Woods. TV determines where we will be. The market place tells us when to go to work. Students go to school. There is nothing wrong with this. However, it ties us to the sea of existence and makes it difficult to get to ultimate liberation. To find some seclusion in our lives, get up a little early. ItỖs very quiet early in the morning. There are fewer affliction. Instead of getting a little seclusion, how many of us just hit the snooze button? ThereỖs a newsletter published for hermits. One story describes how a teacher who manages to work three days and then spends four days in seclusion in her house. She said the first day back into seclusion, itỖs like hellỞshe wanted to call her friends, send emails, etc. Second day, she became fatigued, restless and had strong sexual desire. By the third day, she could sit quietly. By the fourth day things became blissful. Just then, it was time to go back to work again. The Chan (Zen) session is just like this. The first day the mind is very noisy. The second day we are tired and frustrated and full of sexual desire. By the third day, we can sit still, and the fourth day, we donỖt want to get up. Then we go back to regular life again.

 

TEXT:

IF YOU DELIGHT IN CROWDS, YOU WILL UNDERGO MUCH AFFLICTION. IT IS LIKE WHEN A FLOCK OF BIRDS GATHERS IN A GREAT TREE, THE TREE IS IN DANGER OF COLLAPSING. ONE WHO IS BOUND TO THE WORLD DROWNS IN A MULTITUDE OF SUFFERING, LIKE AN OLD ELEPHANT SUNK IN MUD, WHO IS UNABLE TO GET HIMSELF OUT. THIS IS MY TEACHING ON SECLUSION.

COMMENTARY:

Without a spiritual practice, we are immersed in the sea of suffering. We try to find a refuge. Some take refuge in alcohol. Or sport. Or TV? Credit card?  Entertainment? We are bound to this world. During the bowing pilgrimage, the people who gave the two monks the hardest time, the ones who cursed the loudest, were in the most pain. Are we like an old elephant stuck in the mud?

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 12/11/99.

 

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSHUS! SEEKING FOR A GOOD AND WISE ADVISOR, OR FOR A WHOLESOME BENEFACTOR, DOES NOT COMPARE WITH MINDFULNESS. IF YOU DO NOT NEGLECT MINDFULNESS, IF YOU DO NOT NEGLECT MINDFULNESS, NONE OF THE ỘTHIEVES OF AFFLICTIONSỢ CAN ENTER YOUR MIND. FOR THIS REASON ALL OF YOU SHOULD CONSTANTLY COLLECT THE THOUGHTS IN YOUR MIND. IF YOU LOSE MINDFULNESS YOU WILL LOSE ALL MERIT. IF YOUR POWER OF MINDFULNESS YOU WILL LOSE ALL MERIT. IF YOUR POWER OF MINDFULNESS IS FIRM AND STRONG, THOUGH YOU MINGLE WITH THE THIEVES OF THE FIVE DESIRES, THEY CANNOT HARM YOU. IT IS LIKE JOINING A BATTLE WEARING ARMOUR, THUS YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR. THIS IS MY TEACHING ON MINDFULNESS.

COMMENTARY:

Afflictions are things that steal mindỖs treasure. One affliction is greed Ờ a state of mind in which we always want more and more. Another one is anger, which burns the forest of our merit and virtue. Another is delusion Ờ not believing in cause and effect. Pride is another one, thinking weỖre number one and more important than everyone. The last one is doubt, which keeps us from cultivating. In reality, we are neither better nor worse than anyone else. If we let these afflictions enter our mind, we lose the capacity for kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. However, if we are mindful, we can catch these thieves as they begin to surface. ChỖan (Zen) has two qualities. One is stilling the mind. The other one is thought selection, in which we watch the rise and fall of the thoughts in our mind. This constant vigilance is the road to mindfulness. Watch to the point of arriving at the root. In actuality, WHO is in there? Watch the watcher, listen to the listener. Who is it that is telling us that we are..? The Venerable Master taught people about the mind ground by scolding. To people standing nearby, he may have seemed harsh to his disciples. He was the harshest to Reverend Heng Sure. Everytime he yelled at him, people would quickly run out of the room. He got scolded for just about anything, even for things he didnỖt do. During each scolding, he would feel his temperature change several times. Yet, while the Master was scolding, we would turn around and be most kind to another person. The following day, the Master would phone Reverend Heng Sure and asked him how things were going. Reverend Heng Sure would reply "IỖm the worse disciple." The Master would retort, "Why do you want to specially bad? Inferiority complex is not it either! DonỖt you understand?" We should try to recognize that state when our button is being pushed. When the button is pushed, afflictions come. When we feel our button is pushed, recite Kuan Yin Ỗs name and come back to proper mindfulness.

What happen when we let the thieves in? We become moody, depressed, and sick. The mind can change the physical state. We come to believe that we are losers. In Africa, belief in magic is so strong that all it takes is for a sign of being hexed to cause a person to die. They had learned this. It may be true. The mind is that strong. In US, it is being overweight. We will do amazing things to conform to societyỖs definition of beauty. We starve ourselves to death to fit the "accepted" weight. Commercials have a lot to do with this. Must have strong mind to be immune to the barrage of advertisement. With samadhi and mindfulness, we can mingle with the thieves and not be controlled by them. The five desires are wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep. They can harm us severely. The problem is that we can never be satisfied. The new James Bond movie tells us that "The World is not Enough". It is truly hard to find a content person. One who knows sufficiency. Look at sex. It gives us offspring, keeps marriages together, bolsters our inferiority; yet, 90% of patients in South Africa are HIV positive. When you breakup with your boyfriend or girlfriend, look at your thoughts. The Buddha is saying donỖt let desire rob the mind of its stillness. If you can be still in the midst of desire, you are a hero. Fame is on par with sex and wealth. We want to be liked and popular. Be in the out crowd is lonely. Not being invited to the prom--thatỖs the end of the world. Some guys want to join gangs to be appreciated or cared for. The Dalai Lama in South Africa said care for children is the recipe for the world. The care begins in the womb. Make them welcome and children will grow to be good people. In the 2nd night in South Africa, the young Zulu dancers showed up. The Zulus are great warriors. The dancers were about 10 to 15 years old. They wore skins and feathers. They had big drums and the sound was thundering. They made stabbing motion and stomped their feet. It was very powerful and their sounds make you shake from top to bottom. They wore fierce masks and the rage and killing energy were very strong. Sister Agnus of Marion Hill organization taught other Zulu kids prayers and work. Reverend Heng Sure saw the vast contrast. The same kids who can be taught to kill can be taught to pray. ItỖs how we are taught. Mindfulness also means to recite. When weỖre ashamed or afraid, we can recite. Things in our mind donỖt last if we donỖt hang on to them. At Morel bay, a woman gave the two bowing monks this advice: Fear knocks on the door; mindfulness answers "no one there". Get our mindfulness muscle up. Reverend Heng Sure shared his meditation technique. He recites the Great Compassion Mantra during meditation. ItỖs like water washing over rock.

Summarized message from the Dalai Lama given in South Africa

If everyone becomes good people, Buddhism will prosper by itself. We donỖt need any "ism".

Affection for our children is imperative for human survival. Being compassionate to others benefits OURSELVES. Helping others is helping ourselves.

Look at the lions--they have huge teeth to pierce through the skin of the wildebeest and zebras. They have huge claws to rip the flesh of their prey. Look at us humans. Do we have huge teeth? Do we have huge claws? Please consider a vegetarian diet.

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 12/18/99.

 

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSHUS! IF YOU COLLECT YOUR THOUGHTS, YOUR MIND WILL BE CONCENTRATED/ IF YOUR MIND IS CONCENTRATED, YOU CAN KNOW THE ARISING AND CESING OF ALL DHARMAỖS APPEARANCES/ FOR THIS REQSON, ALL OF YOU SHOULD CONSTANTLY AND VIGORUOSLY CULITVATE CONCENTRATE. IF YOU ATTAIN CONCENTRATION YOUR MIND WILL NOT BE SCATTERED. IT IS LIKE A HOUSEHOLD THAT USES ITS WATER SPARINGLY AND IS ABLE TO REGULATE ITS IRRIGATION DITCHES. ONE WHO CULTIVATES CONCENTRATION IS ALSO THE SAME WAY; FOR THE SAKE OF THE WATER OF WISDOM HE CULTIVATES DHYANA CONCENTRATION, SO IT DOESNỖT LEAK AWAY. THIS IS MY TEACHING ON CONCENTRATION.

COMMENTARY:

ItỖs very simple, collect your thoughts and you have concentration. When we see the arising and ceasing of all dharmaỖs appearance, thatỖs wisdom. Is collecting our thoughts easy? Fear, pride, and doubts can scatter our mind. If we can recite the BuddhaỖs name with an unscattered mind-"one thought unconfused"Ởwhen the end comes, our mind will not be inverted and we be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.

It is hard to be single minded when we are full of emotions. When we collect our thoughts, we see clearly the arising of thought, the dwelling of thoughts, the decaying of thoughts, and the extinction of thoughts. In fact, all phenomena undergo these four stages. If we can see this, we will not be confused by these things. We could be anywhere and still maintain our concentration. We donỖt necessary cut thoughts off, just avoid reactions. DonỖt attach to the echoes. Attachment and false thinking are preventing us from Buddhahood. Real concentration is to be unmoving in all situations. There are good, funny, and deviant samadhis. Deviant samadhi is like a cat watching over a mouse hole and waiting for the mouse to come out. As soon as there is movement, the cat tenses it and springs at the mouse. ItỖs deviant because the cat is using his samadhi to kill the mouse. Another example of samadhi is like a hen sitting on an egg. The mother hen is thinking, "Hatch, hatch, hatch." She runs out to eat and drink and runs right back to her egg. Third example is like a dragon watching over his pearl. In this Buddha hall, we have more dragons than any monasteries in Berkeley. At least ten images of dragons are visible here. If we have the five eyes, we might see them everywhere. Dragons just love their pearls.

Here is a story about strong samadhi. Sariputra, the BuddhaỖs foremost disciple, had powerful samadhi. When he entered samadhi no one could get him out it. One day he was walking down the road and entered samadhi on the roadside. A ghost king named Da Li Gue "Great Strength Ghost" slapped Sariputra across the head with all his strength. Sariputra did not move. When he came out of his meditation, he felt a headache. He reported this to the Buddha and the Buddha told him not to meditate outside the monastery. The ghost who slapped him was very powerful and could knock down a mountain with his bare hand. Sariputra was alive because of his strong samadhi. SariputraỖs samadhi was considered improper because he was proud of his skill and when he meditated, he became like a block of wood. Proper samadhi is a state of hyper alertness, very sensitive. It is not an eradication of feelings and awareness. A biofeedback experiment took place in San Francisco in which an EKG machine was hooked up to three different people: a non-meditator, a Hindu swami, and a Zen meditator. The testers measure the brain waves of each person right after a loud sound. The non-meditator would register the sound but eventually tune it out. The swami would tune it out right away and the Zen meditator would hear each sound without tuning it out. The Zen meditator heard the sound as well as the silence. SariputraỖs practice was like that of the swami.

Samadhi is innate in the mind, as much as hearing or seeing. We must train it to use it. There are many different kinds of samadhis. The foremost is the Surangama Samadhi, as described in the Surangama Sutra. The Avatamsaka Sutra also describes many different kinds of samadhis. In samadhi, without moving a thought, one knows everything. Just hold the precepts and practice for a while and we get it. When we are in the reciting the BuddhaỖs samadhi, everything--sights and sounds--are uttering the BuddhaỖs name. Precepts are used to preserve samadhi. Samadhi is not the goal; wisdom is the goal and then compassion.

The gods and heavenly dwellers enjoy the bliss of samadhi. No earthly pleasure can compare with the bliss of samadhi. In samadhi, our senses are like a perfectly tuned sports car. Proper samadhi is a state where we are in total control. That is, we are not controlled by any external entities.

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 1/8/2000.

 

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSHUS! IF YOU INDULGE IN ALL SORTS OF IDLE DISCUSSIONS, YOUR MIND WILL BE SCATTERED, AND EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE LEFT THE HOME-LIFE, YOU WILL NOT ATTAIN LIBERATION. FOR THIS REASON, BHIKSHUS, YOU SHOULD QUICKLY RENOUNCE SCATTERED THOUGHTS AND IDLE DISCUSSIONS.

COMMENTARY:

We want to stay concentrated to recognize our bad habits and the unwholesome thoughts that may occur in our minds. We can catch these thoughts when our mind is still. Idle discussion refers to frivolous or meaningless or insincere discussion, debate, or discourse. It's like an act or a play. It's also referring to idle chatter, rapping, or bull session. The Buddha has seen the mind clearly and is telling us this to help us in our path towards liberation. He's not out to convert people. Many times our words are like popcorn or confetti. Like words on certain AM stations. Reverend Heng Sure recalled his first experience with the power of skillful words. It was during the Six-Day War between Israel and another Arab nation. Abba Iban, a United Nation representative for Israel spoke on TV on the importance of having a home for the Jews. He was very eloquent. Reverend Heng Sure was fascinated by Iban's power of words. Iban was very sincere and whether the message was true or not, one had to hear him. Reverend Heng Sure, a 6th grader then, felt his mind expanded just by hearing one man spoke. Frivolous debate is like during a slow time in a baseball game where the announcer is saying filler words-"this show is brought to you by blah blah blah." If we indulge in idle discussion, we will experience scattering-the opposite of concentration. Take responsibility for our own speech. Idle speech can fall into the category of evil deed. It is one of the ten evil deeds. Evil refers to something that keeps us from attaining liberation. Other evil deeds with the mouth are gossip, harsh speech or profanity, and lying. Reverend Heng Sure stopped watching films after leaving the home-life. He recalled that Paul Newman's movie, Slapshot, in 1975, was first in using four-letter words. By the following year, almost every movie had four letter words. Same for nudity and violent. English is a dynamic language. Matt Groening (writer of the Simpsons) annually publishes "words to retire." Examples of such phrases are "I'm like" and "on the ground". In Chinese, there are not too many new words. In English we adopt and throw away words very quickly.

 

TEXT:

IF YOU WANT TO ATTAIN THE HAPPINESS OF STILL TRANQUILITY, YOU ONLY NEED TO ELIMINATE THE ERROR OF FRIVOLOUS DEBATE. THIS MY TEACHING ON NOT HAVING IDLE DISCUSSIONS.

COMMENTARY:

One Newsweek article claimed that kids under three around parents who speak with limited vocabulary or are exposed to snaps such as "Don't do that!" or "Put it down!" or "Stop that!" would develop smaller cortex area in the brain. Kids who are exposed to parents with advanced vocabulary or to thoughtful and instructive words would develop larger cortex area in the brain. Basically don't use frivolous speech around kids under three. Make our words count. The Buddha doesn't say to shut up all the time. He is just advising us to make our words more thoughtful. We should recognize the difference between language used to impart meaning and value versus useless banter. The Avatamsaka Sutra says by nature the bodhisattva's speech is not frivolous but is deliberate, timely, real, appropriate, accord with principle, cleverly subdued, well-timed, and decisive. Even while the bodhisattva is laughing she is thoughtful, how much the less speaking recklessly. Master Hua was also one who never wasted words. He never spoke frivolously. When speaking, his red is scarlet red, his green is forest green, and his yellow is canary yellow. The sutra says when we speak frivolously, we may lose our human body; and if we become human, our words are not accepted or no one understands us. How many times do we say, "Do you want me to draw you a picture?" Reverend Heng Sure took a vow of silence during the bowing pilgrimage. During the early stage, he kept on writing endless notes and had a lot of frivolous noise in his mind. A passing pickup driver stopped by the monks and asked whether Reverend Heng Sure spoke. Marty said Reverend Heng Sure had taken a vow of silence. The man said, "For a guy who doesn't talk, he sure is loud!" His words struck Reverend Heng Sure in the right spot and from then, he was much more quiet internally and externally.

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 1/22/2000.

TEXT:

WHETHER YOU ARE IN THE MOUNTAINS, IN A DESOLATE MARSH, BENEATH A TREE, OR IN A QUIET DWELLING, BE MINDFUL OF THE DHARMA YOU HAVE RECEIVED AND DO NOT FORGET IT. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS EXERT YOURSELVES AND PRACTICE IT VIGOROUSLY.

COMMENTARY:

Nowadays it's hard to place a tranquil place. Maybe we can find it on Mount Tam or the streets of Berkeley at 4AM. Dr. Conze opined that it is impossible to accomplish the Way in this age because everything is too noisy. In reality, it doesn't matter where you are as long as you are vigorous in the midst of disturbance. Of all the places the Venerable Master could have chosen for a monastery, he picked a former mattress factory on 15th and Mission in San Francisco. That place was across the street from the project, next to Dave's Body Shop. It was noisy. Gunshots were heard frequently. Once a nun lectured on the "evil of noise." She quoted Conze. The Abbot listened and rebutted, "Have you ever been in a TRULY quiet place? When I was meditating in the mountains of Manchuria, I heard noises from the blood flowing in my body, from the intestines, from the waterfall, from the birds and wolves. Don't worry about the noise." The disciple said, "But it's really noisy here." The Master said, "You can improve the situation by shutting up." When we cultivate, don't be vigorous about watching other people's faults. Don't pay attention to the fact that the guy is saying NAMO A MI TOFU instead of NAMO A MI TO FO. In cultivation having a good knowing and wise teacher is 100% of the way.

TEXT:

YOU DON'T WANT TO REACH THE TIME OF DEATH AND BE FILLED WITH REMORSE BECAUSE YOU HAVE SPENT YOUR LIFE IN VAIN.

COMMENTARY:

Recently there are a lot of reports about near-death experience. Investigators call it parapsychology or paranormal phenomenon. But death is really part of life. There has been a consistent report of (during a near-death experience) going through a dark tunnel to the light at the end. There, a compassionate figure shows the person every deed that has been done-good and bad ones. People who come back usually have a strong sense of shame for the bad things they have done. The Buddha is saying don't waste our lives pleasing the senses. The good stuff and good tastes are all ultimately unsatisfying. They are never enough. If we spend our lives pursuing to please the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind, when the moment comes to review all our past deeds, we will realize that our lives had been wasted. True, we cannot avoid sense contact. But we can avoid ego-gratifying deeds. We can do good deeds and share our blessings with others. The good deeds are recorded too. Bowing can help us see what we've done in our lives. For example, Marty saw his arrogance. We can't fool ourselves.

TEXT:

I AM LIKE A GOOD DOCTOR WHO UNDERSTANDS ILLNESSES AND PRESCRIBES MEDICINE. WHETHER YOU TAKE IT OR NOT IS NOT THE DOCTOR'S RESPONSIBILITY. MOREOVER, I AM LIKE A VIRTUOUS GUIDE WHO POINTS OUT A GOOD ROAD. IF YOU WHO HEAR OF IT DO NOT WALK DOWN THAT ROAD, IT IS NOT THE GUIDE'S FAULT.

COMMENTARY:

The Buddha spoke Dharma because people asked him. He gave us many methods to purify our minds and remove the covering that conceal our Buddha nature. He prescribed the right medicine for the right person. Like a master physician, he filled in the gap and balanced the excess. He was in accord with the Middle Way. There's a saying that goes, "Too fast and you will stumble, too slow and you will fall behind. Just right and you will be there on time." Cultivation is long-term. Pace yourself to be wiser everyday. We cannot have a competitive attitude when cultivating. True vigor means not getting angry, not ceasing in the recollection of the Buddha. It's internal, not external for display. During the bowing pilgrimage, near Monterrey, Rev. Heng Sure and Marty parked their car behind a billboard, waiting for the laity to bring food. It was getting late and the two were false thinking about lunch. Reverend Heng Sure got a little uptight. The lay people finally arrived and were so happy to offer food to the bowing monks. Reverend Heng Sure was "meditating" while the lay people were setting things up. In their excitement, the lay people made a lot of noise and Rev. Heng Sure opened the curtain of his car and issued a loud SHHHHHHHHHH! Everyone was shattered. All was quiet. They were crushed because they had disturbed the "holy" monk. Immediately Rev. Heng Sure felt ashamed. Inside his mind he thought, "You idiot! You should be grateful for all their hard work." It was a silent lunch. The following week, the lay people tiptoed to the monks and gave Rev. Heng Sure an envelope with a poem from the Venerable Master. It read: Sages don't blame people Evil people blame others Worthies never get angry One who gets angry is low (stupid) Lofty people don't seek bargains Those who seek bargains are cheap Noble people never have a temper One who shows his temper is poor. Vigor is sagely, lofty is noble. Our mind determines it. Don't put up a show. Watch the mind. When the vow of silence was over, Rev. Heng Sure apologized to the layperson he shhhhhed. She said, "You were supposed to be cultivating, why are you still attached to that experience?" Cultivation is done with the body, mouth, and mind. Karma is created from them. We must practice what we learned. Watch our thoughts from moment to moment. Exhibiting false vigor is useless. In kungfu, it's said, "One day of practice is one day of kungfu; one day of no practice is ten days of kungfu lost." We must go against the current. It's always easy to just slump into comfortable chair. The Abbot said cultivation is like trying to start a fire. If we stop as soon as it starts to get warm, we have to start anew.

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 2/19/2000.

 

TEXT:

ALL OF THOSE WHO COULD BE CROSSED OVER, WHETHER IN THE HEAVENS OR AMONG HUMANS, HAVE ALREADY CROSSED OVER, AND ALL OF THOSE WHO HAVE NOT YET CROSSED OVER HAVE ALREADY CREATED THE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS FOR CROSSING OVER.

COMMENTARY:

Cross over is a metaphor for going from the shore of birth and death to ending of birth and death. The river is affliction. On one bank, we have suffering; on the other side, there is no suffering. On this side we plant seeds or causes to reach the other shore. Buddhas and bodhisattvas are the ferry pilots. Nirvana is the cessation of afflictions. The body may be the same, but the mind is completely transformed. The gods are also crossed over. In Buddhism, the gods are also mortal. They too come to the Buddha to seek wisdom. The Buddha spent the last 49 years giving us analogies, metaphors, parables, and allegories to try to get us to wake us. People who have not been crossed over have already been set up to cross over. These people need to walk the path. The ferry is available, they just have to board. Who is one of those not crossed over? Ananda. He woke up after the Buddha’s nirvana. The Buddha is not saying wait for me to save you. He said to practice progressively. He packed our backpacks, we just need to walk.

TEXT:

FROM NOW ON ALL OF MY DISCIPLES MUST CONTINUOUSLY PRACTICE. THEN THE THUS COME ONE'S DHARMA BODY WILL ALWAYS BE ENDURING AND INDESTRUCTIBLE.

COMMENTARY:

My dharma body will always remain here and not disappear. Dharma has three phases: proper dharma, dharma image, and dharma ending age. The first phase, the Dharma is flourishing (500 years after the BuddhaỖs nirvana). In dharma image age, people remember the Buddha by carving images. There is a sensory impression of the Buddha. People are strong in study and recitation of the Dharma. This lasts for 1500 years after the BuddhaỖs nirvana. In the Dharma ending age, people are strong in fighting. There is breaking up in many structuresỞmarriage, companies, countries, etc. How about in Buddhism? Well, Buddhism is not the first thing on peopleỖs mind. We have many things to worry aboutỞschool and work. Monks and nuns leave home because they want to never be apart from the Dharma. In this age, the proper is weak and the improper is strong. IsnỖt there a rock band now that kills animals on stage? How will Dharma disappear? The words in the sutras will disappear, starting with the Shurangama. People wonỖt print them, wonỖt recite or memorize them. The last to go will be the Amitabha Sutra. Then Namo Amitabha will remain. Then only Amitabha remains. When that one goes, the Dharma will end. After long while, another Buddha will appear. Today, many scholars claim that the Shurangama is false. Someone proposed that in the future, all texts will be digitized and that a major virus will wipe out all the computer data. But fear not, as long as even one person cultivates, itỖs not the Dharma ending age.

TEXT:

YOU SHOULD KNOW THEREFORE, THAT EVERYTHING IN THE WORLD IS IMPERMANENT. MEETINGS NECESSARILY HAVE SEPARATIONS, SO DO NOT HARBOR GRIEF.

COMMENTARY:

ItỖs easy to say than do. In the Sixth Patriarch Sutra, when the Sixth Patriarch was about to pass away, everyone except the youngest disciple, Shen Hui, cried. If we analyze everything in our body, there is nothing that does not undergo change. Look at our pictures when we were young. HavenỖt we all changed? We know itỖs changing but we donỖt like it. This is not pessimism, but reality. Real cultivators donỖt become attach to anything. First-rate cultivators can fit all their possessions in a shoebox. Second-rate cultivator can fit it all in a wheelbarrow. The third rate cultivator can fit it in a Winnebago. Materials are not bad; attachment to them can be obstruction to our cultivation. A truly wise and compassion teacher can use the worldly things to cross people over. In China, politics is a threat to the proper dharma. ThatỖs because Communism is atheistic. In China, sutras are hard to come by. Whenever our magazines, The Vajra Bodhi Sea, are sent to China, they are immediately confiscated. Nevertheless, some of the Venerable MasterỖs dharma books have been printed in China in small quantities. This year, the government has approved the printing of ỘThe Ten Dharma Realms are not Beyond a Single ThoughtỢ. In China, Dharma texts are highly prized.

EVERY APPEARANCE IN THE WORLD IS LIKE THIS; BE VIGOROUS, SEEK LIBERATION RIGHT AWAY!

 

The Buddha's Bequeathed Teaching Lecture. Given by Dharma Master Heng Sure at the Berkeley Monastery on 2/25/2000.

 

TEXT:

YOU SHOULD KNOW THEREFORE, THAT EVERYTING IN THE WORLD IS IMPERMANENT. MEETINGS NECESSARILY HAVE SEPARATIONS, SO DO NOT HARBOR GRIEF.

COMMENTARY:

This is the closing section; in way like his epitaph. Everything is impermanent, cyclical, and exists in duals. Yet, there is a pattern to all of this. With wisdom we see this very clearly. We see the seasons and duality in all things. When we get to the end of something, it transforms to the beginning of another thing. Extreme joy has motion towards sorrow. Seek liberation right away! Liberation from the body-a thing that gets old, gets sick, and die. Buddhas and bodhisattvas can liberate from the fluctuations of the thoughts. Arhats have ended birth and death, but have not achieved liberation of fluctuation of thoughts. Liberation is ending of attachment to duality, to the extreme, to liking something, to hating something.

TEXT:

EVERY APPEARANCE IN THE WORLD IS LIKE THIS; BE VIGOROUS, SEEK LIBERATION RIGHT AWAY! DESTROY THE DARKNESS OF DELUSION WITH THE BRIGHTNESS OF WISDOM. TE WORLD IS TRULY DANGEROUS ANDAND UNSTABLE, IS IT NOT RELIABLE. BIRTH AND DEATH HAVE CESASED FOR ME, AS IF A CHRONIC ILLNESS HAS BEEN CURED AT LAST.

COMMENTARY:

A person of wisdom is known through his/her actions. This person is like a mirror. Around this person, you see yourself reflected back--your schemes, strategies, masks, layers of deceptions--right in front of you. Reverend Heng Sure saw this phenomenon when people came to the Abbot. He saw it when former mayors of San Francisco came. Frank Jordan flew up to CTTB in a helicopter. Quentin Kopp was a regular at Gold Mountain. In front of the Abbot, you see the true person reflected back. Savvy men turned into tongue-tied children in front of the Abbot. Because of the sincere and unthreatening environment of Gold Mountain, these people would drop their deceptions and speak from their heart. Buddha dharma is a series of solutions. They are there in response to trouble. The Buddha is a problem solver. He uses wisdom to reflect on the problem. The problem is that people don't take his advice. They ignore the medicine The world is unstable. It is a snapshot of all the forces and vector from all the things that we did. Some are now dying, some are being born. The world is extremely complex. It's a stew of causes and conditions happening all at once. How are we sure that we will not change after we wake up tomorrow? What can we rely on? Precepts, blessings, merit, virtue, vows, and practices. Every thought plants a seed which will eventually ripen. The Buddha tells us all these methods (presented in this sutra)--know shame, avoid arrogance, know contentment, be vigorous, etc.--to help us get cope and be free of this unstable world. He is like a good father.

TEXT:

THIS EVIL, MALIGN FALSELY-NAME OBJECT DROWNS IN THE OCEAN OF BIRTH, OLD AGE, SICKNESS, AND DEATH. LET THIS BODY GO! HOW CAN ONE WHO IS WISE NOT BE HAPPY WHEN HE GETS RID OF IT, LIKE KILLING A HATEFUL THIEF?

COMMENTARY:

NPR radio during the weekend is really good. One show talked about what to do about body after death. In Sicily, they wash ancestor's bones and rebury them. They believe that the Essence of body and soul is the same. The Buddha was cremated. Why? No room to bury. Ganges is full of ashes. Body gets sick a lot and requires high maintenance. We need to bath it often and feed it. Because of this attachment, we look at ourselves in the mirror and say things like, "You're ugly" or "What a handsome guy you are; you're a gift to the world." These are all attachment to the body. We pay a lot of attention to skin, clothes, finger and toe nails. This keeps many industries alive. In Theravada style, they list 36 parts of the body that are impure. From solid to liquid parts. Take a little skin off and we become disgusted. Wisdom sees the body as it truly is--earth, air, water, and fire. Jealous people turn green. Beauty and ugly are not outside. A compassionate person is truly beautiful. You don't notice how tall that person is. Every cell vibrates. Some left-home people place a brown paper over their mirror. After a day or two they forget their visual appearance. Out of sight out of mind. Take propagating of the Dharma as your personal responsibility.

TEXT:

ALL OF YOU BHIKSHUS! YOU SHOULD ALWAYS SINGLE-MINDEDLY AND DILIGENTLY SEEK THE WAY OUT OF ALL THE MOVING AND UNMOVING DHARMAS OF THE WORLD, FOR THEY ARE ALLL DECAYING, UNFIXED APPEARANCES. ALL OF YOU! HERE I STOP; THERE IS NOTHING MORE TO SAY. TIME IS PASSING SAWAY, AND I WANT TO CROSS OVER TO NIRVANA. THESE ARE MY VERY LAST INSTRUCTIONS.

This is the last lecture of the Buddha Bequeathed Teaching Sutra. The next sutra will be called the Eight Matters that Sages Awaken to. On Saturday, 3/4, Reverend Heng Sure will allocate time for people to reflect and ask questions about the Buddha bequeathed teaching Sutra. On 3/11, will begin the Eight Matters sutra. After the Eight Matters sutra, the Earth Store Sutra will be lectured.