July 29, 1973, Sunday noon

On Dharma Spoken Upon Belated Request

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua


During lunch, I asked you: Did you want me to speak Dharma today, or did you want to pick a representative from your midst to speak Buddhadharma? You all turned mute at that time. No one spoke up. You didn’t say you wanted me to speak, and you didn’t select someone from your group to speak. Therefore, I thought you had agreed by silent consent that a high American Sangha member would speak, and so I did not prepare to speak.

But after you finished reciting sutras and bowing to the Buddhas, some of you “dug a well at the last minute since you were thirsty,” and so a few of you came upstairs and invited me to speak. That was too late! I had not made any preparations to talk. But you almost forced me into speaking, and that was very unnatural. I don’t like to do things when they are forced upon me. Nor do I like to do things in too spontaneous a manner, since that is the theory of a heterodox sect. Neither forced nor spontaneous—skill should be applied between these two extremes.

The dozen or so of you saw that your teacher has come back, so you are determined to give him some work to do, not allowing him any leisure time. You must have gotten together and reasoned:  “How can we allow him to rest? That’s impossible.” Therefore, right after my return I have to slave like a horse or ox, and speak some meaningless words for you.

Although the words are meaningless, if you understand them, they will have some meaning. If you don’t understood, then they will have no meaning. But, if you are enlightened, “General discussions and detailed descriptions all express the ultimate truth.” As for those who are not yet enlightened, no matter what I say, you will react with, “Huh, what did he say? Did you hear what was said? I don’t think I fell asleep, how is it that I didn’t hear the Master speak?” Then my words will be meaningless for you.

And so, forced by circumstances, I am speaking a few words for you. My message is: Stand up on your own. Do not develop an attitude of dependence on your teacher. If you always like to rely on others, you are not a hero! You are not a true disciple of Sakyamuni Buddha. Sakyamuni Buddha was a great hero, the teacher of gods and humans. Why do we want to be Buddhist disciples who lack gumption? We should model ourselves after our original teacher, Sakyamuni Buddha, and his heroic spirit and magnanimous actions that made him the teacher of gods and humans. Therefore, all of you should work hard on your own. Do not be overly dependent on your teacher. Get rid of your greed, anger, and delusion. Diligently cultivate precepts, samÁdhi and wisdom; put to rest greed, anger, and delusion. The bottom line is: Cut off your desire! Do not allow even a hair’s worth to remain!


(Timely Teachings. page 11 - 12)