November 28, 1973, Wednesday evening
163. On How to Protect Cultivators
Ven. Master Hsuan Hua
To have chatted with the bowing monks like that is really terrible. They might even have been on the verge of enlightenment, but when you went there they got all distracted. That’s not the way to support them in their practice. Had you helped them to bow a few more times or bowed along with them, that would have been fine. You could bow with them for ten hours or twenty hours, and that would be fine. For example, Guo Hui went to bow with them. That is fine. Chatting with them is not. Originally they were very sincere and extremely concentrated, but as soon as you talked with them, their minds were no longer concentrated.
Do you understand the principle? You should help them to bow so they won’t be wasting the time. Every day, the time is extremely precious. When you went to talk with them, you should have said what you needed to say and no more. You shouldn’t have made it into such a big thing, as if you were holding a meeting. You delivered meals to them many times in the past. What was the longest time you were there? Didn’t you feel you were obstructing them from cultivating the Way then?
It’s not just causing trouble; it’s obstructing others from cultivating the Way, hindering them from bringing forth the bodhi resolve. You thought chatting with them was a good thing. Do you know how much merit and virtue you caused them to lose in that conversation? Yes, they can still bow tomorrow, but they’ll have to bow more than usual. It may take them one day, ten days, twenty days, or a year—it’s not for sure. If you hadn’t obstructed them, then it would be their own business and wouldn’t concern you. Do you understand now?
What happened before is over and done. Everyone should be more careful in the future. You shouldn’t go there to gossip or chat. Avoid that kind of talk. When you say such things to them, they immediately start having random thoughts and who knows how many days they’ll have to bow before they can regain their concentration. Basically they had forgotten about all worldly affairs, but when you go there and remind them, you were imperceptibly ruining their cultivation.
If you want to ask them for something, such as material for an article, that’s fine. But don’t ask them, “How’s your family doing? How’s your dad? And your mom?” They have no idea on these matters. I won’t worry about how much anyone talked with them in the past, but in the future I will care, because they are now going through a time of great anxiety.
This rule is being made today because when Guo Hu went today, he probably drank some Coca-cola with them, and that’s why he didn’t return. What happened in the past doesn’t count. For example, Guo Zhou, when you stayed with them for three or five hours, you weren’t breaking the rule because the rule hadn’t been made yet.
I want to ask Guo You about this, because I think he understands my intent For example, if an employee stops his work and starts chatting with visitors, the boss will certainly be displeased. In this case, the Buddha had just gained two sincere disciples who were working hard, but when you went there, they stopped and took a rest. When the Dharma protectors saw that they had no work to do there, they left. With the Dharma protectors gone, they would have had a very difficult time when they started bowing again. The Dharma protectors took their time and were very lazy, as if they hadn’t had enough sleep: “All right, we’ll come back and watch over you again.” See, even the Dhama protectors were being lazy. How can that be allowed?
Haven’t people said that the monks have had the response of Dharma protectors coming to protect them? You don’t have to ask whether the Dharma protectors have been moved or not. When one of the monks ripped his pants, he came across another good pair of pants. When people aimed soda bottles at their heads, the bottles missed hitting them by an inch. Those people were driving by very close to them and could easily have bashed their heads in; how can you be sure it wasn’t a Dharma protector who shielded them from the blow? From all these incidents, it is clear that they have had many responses. And so you should not ruin their chance to gain responses. Do you understand now?
I like it when people deliver food to them, but you should not stay too long. It takes a long time just to get there and come back, and so it doesn’t make much sense to stay there a long time.
Timely Teachings, page 92 - 94.