November 11, 1973, Sunday noon
On Doing Things Well
Ven. Master Hsuan Hua
Good advisors! Today here in America , Buddhism is afforded an excellent opportunity. Right now marks the beginning of Buddhism being genuinely transmitted from Asia to America . At the beginning, it is essential to make sure that the foundation is established well. The foundation must be strong so that it will withstand whatever winds and rains might rock it.
What is the foundation of Buddhism? It is everyone’s understanding of rules and regulations. The rules and regulations of Buddhism are its precepts, its vinaya. The precepts of Buddhism are found in its propriety. Confucianism states that there are, “three hundred aspects to propriety and three thousand kinds of awe-inspiring deportment.” Buddhism explains three thousand kinds of awe-inspiring deportment and eighty thousand subtle aspects of comportment. The three thousand kinds of awe-inspiring deportment involve sternly guarding one’s behavior in walking, standing, sitting, and lying down. To sternly guard awe-inspiring deportment is to sternly observe the precepts. The eighty thousand subtle aspects of comportment involve extremely fine details of behavior, too numerous to mention here.
Starting at the beginning as we are, we must maintain certain kinds of propriety toward our good advisors. Today we are greeting four leaders and good advisors of contemporary Buddhism from Taiwan and Hong Kong .
These four Elder Dharma Masters are leaders and good advisors in contemporary Buddhism. The four of them have brought forth great compassion and come to the United States to create Dharma-affinities with the miserable sentient beings of Gold Mountain Monastery and the good men and faithful women of San Francisco.
This is a very good opportunity. When such a fine opportunity to draw near good advisors comes before us, we should definitely not miss it. On the occasion of this good opportunity, we want to practice the Proper Dharma. We should use our total and utmost sincerity to pay reverence and homage to these four good advisors. We should consider these four good advisors as being the rarest advisors in the world. We should draw near them, make offerings, and bow to them as much as possible, so we can plant a field of blessings. And so this time we will use the most elaborate of Buddhist rituals to welcome these four good advisors. We will be as reverent, solemn, and dignified in our manners as the Catholics are when they welcome the Pope. So every single one of us should bring forth our most true, sincere, and earnest mind to welcome these four good advisors! All of you should pay special attention to this.
We have reserved a reception room at the airport, and we’ll take the four good advisors there so they can rest for awhile. We will arrange in advance with the airline so that when the plane arrives, the four of them will be the first to come off the plane. We will send two representatives to the entrance of the airport to welcome the four good advisors. This kind of etiquette and ceremonial ritual is no doubt unprecedented in welcoming Buddhist monks to America . We will be writing a new page of history. All of you ought to be genuine, new Buddhists! In the future you can all become new good advisors who can lead American Buddhists. I say “new,” because there haven’t been any like you before. Not only can you become new good advisors, you can also practice the Bodhisattva Path and can one day become Buddhas. Those events lie in the future, but such is my hope for all you.
If we conduct today’s event very well, it will show that you Americans are very capable and insist on perfection in the things you do.
Already, Guo Ning traveled to Los Angeles to greet them, and Guo Zhan and Guo Hu have done their part, too. We could say that today’s event will cause countless sentient beings to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi. If done well, it will make a very good impression. By going ahead and doing what we said we were going to do, we will cause the Chinese Buddhists and non-Buddhists to be moved by what they saw.
At this time when Buddhism is just beginning, we need to arrange and carry through with events like this in the best way possible. Guo Zhan has been tremendously busy these last few days, and there seems to be some success to show for it.
Timely Teachings, page 79 - 81