January 25, 1974 | Friday evening

On Being Scolded

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua  


What we have been discussing reminds me of when I was living on Sutter Street in San Francisco . I was alone at the time and had no one to help me. And so I decided to sponsor a Dharma Master from Taiwan to come to the U.S. Initially, I got all the paperwork in order for him to come, but then he decided not to come. The fact was that he had solicited a lot of money in Taiwan by saying that he need travel money in order to go to America . After laypeople donated a substantial sum, he canceled the trip.

A year later, after he had used up most of those donations, he again said he wanted to come.  I again hired a lawyer to prepare the visa application for him. In all, I must have spent $800 U.S. This time he came.

Once he arrived, he promised to work with me and help me out with monastic duties. But instead of keeping his word, he began to go to another Buddhist Association every evening. There, he secretly signed an agreement to move to that Buddhist Association, which meant he would not be staying at my monastery any more. 

When I found out what he had done, I formally bid him farewell one morning after morning recitation. Five or six laypeople, including “the Boss” were witness to this. Well, the monk became furious. He had brought a knife for cutting fruit with him from Taiwan . The knife was about a foot long, including the handle, and was extremely sharp. He grabbed that knife and pointed it at my throat, saying, “I’m going to kill you!” I closed my eyes and paid no attention. I thought, “If you want to kill me, go right ahead. If I killed you in some past life, then you can kill me now. If I didn’t kill you in the past, you won’t kill me now.”

“Why must you close your eyes?” he ranted. It was a crime to close my eyes, I guess. “Why won’t you talk?” he raged. Not talking was a crime as well. He scolded me and wanted to kill me. This went on for three days. As soon as he saw me, he would scold me and want to kill me. After three days, he still had not killed me.

During that time, when he scolded me, I didn’t say anything. Eventually, since he could do anything to me, he left and went to the other Buddhist Association. After less than a month there, he couldn’t take it and wanted to come back. I said, “Fine. I will give this Sutter Street building to you—no strings attached. I, however, will go somewhere else.” He was afraid to accept the building, so he ended up returning to Taiwan. Since then, I have heard that he went deaf and is often ill. I learned from that experience. When people scold you, it is a test to see if you have enough samadhi.


Timely Teachings, page 217 - 218.