August 24, 1973, Friday evening

On How the Specifics May Change, but Principle Remains

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua


The other day a visiting Dharma Master came and talked about “pickling vegetables,” which is a colloquial term for sitting in meditation. Basically, we’ve been discussing principles of meditation here for a long time. But after his talk, he asked one of my disciples whether she had ever heard what he discussed before, she said, “No.”

Well, if you hadn’t heard about meditation, what have you been doing all along? All he did was use a different term for meditation, that’s all. He called it “pickling vegetables” and you said that you had never heard anything about it before? We look into questions about meditation every day. But since you said you hadn’t heard of it before, the Dharma Master thought you were not at all well-informed.

Basically, what we investigate every day is connected to the practice of meditation. How could you fail to see that, just because he used the expression “pickling vegetables”? He was merely using a different phrase. Take your own names, for instance. Originally you were known by your lay name and now you are known by your religious name. Now, if someone, who knew you by your lay name, heard your religious name, they would probably say, “Who’s that?” The same idea works here. Because you’ve seen very little, you are easily swayed by something new. So when someone brings up a term like “pickling vegetables,” you say, “I’ve never heard of it.” That reply of yours made us all lose face. You didn’t reflect before you answered. Basically, “pickling vegetables” is a specific term for a principle that you know very well.


(Timely Teachings. page 52)