Wednesday evening, February 14, 1973
60.1 On Unmitigated Arrogance
Ven. Master Hua
On Thursday, we were supposed to fly from Montreal to New York . The airplane took off without us, however; we missed our flight. The reason was that Guo Hu was afraid he would not get enough to eat, and so he wanted to eat before we boarded our flight. I, too, thought we would not get much to eat on the plane, and knowing how concerned he was about food, I agreed that we take our midday meal while still in Canada.
But by the time the meal was over, our time was tight. Our host—the person who had invited me to Canada in the first place—was with us and asked me if he could drive us to the airport, assuring me that he was a fast driver and could get us there in time to catch our flight. I accepted his offer, but once on the freeway, he moved to the slow lane and literally crawled along on the snowy road. Other cars were speeding by in the faster lines, but he deliberately stayed in the slow lane, where the traffic was congested. I took one look and realized that he had no intention of helping us get to the airport on time. When he deliberately took a wrong turn as we neared the airport exit, my suspicions were further confirmed.
As a result of arriving late, we missed our flight and were forced to wait in the airport two hours for the next flight. Our host—the one who had kept us from departing on time—sat with us. I conversed on a superficial level, only to the extent that the situation required. Actually he had made us miss our flight because he wanted the extra time with me there in the airport waiting room.
So when our flight was finally called, I scolded him before departing. I scolded him because he put on airs. He had said during our visit that he was “a great father,” but from what I could see, he wanted to be “a great patriarch.” [ed note: This man had a bit of charisma and took disciples in the name of Buddhism. He perceived himself as a father figure. Later, after this initial encounter with the Master, this man, along with some of his disciples, came to Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco , seeking to have the Master certify that he was the Panchen Lama incarnate. The Master didn’t, of course, but that’s another story.] So I said to him, “You are only aware of yourself. You think you are bigger than everyone else. If you keep at it, how will you ever be able to level your mountain of arrogance? I’m different from you. I only think about other living beings, not myself. And that’s why I feel I must say this to you before I leave.”
His response was something like, “Ah, then I have made a mistake!” He had. He hoped to have two extra hours with me—all to himself. But it turned out to be meaningless for me and meaningless for him. We both spend that time in vain. I told him so before we left. Then we boarded the flight and returned to New York .
Timely Teachings - Ch. 1 Part II, page 210, following paragraph 2