May 7, 1974, Tuesday evening

On Slander

Ven. Master Hua    


Do you prefer to listen to the Flower Adornment Sutra or hear about the situation in Hong Kong and Taiwan? [Editor’s note: Disciples were interested to hear about Asia.] Venerable Elder Guangqin, who now resides in Taiwan, is originally from Fujian Province in China. His monastery in Taiwan is called Chengtian. His practice is especially rigorous: He never lies down or eats cooked food. He eats only fruit, and so he is called the “Fruit Monk.” When I was lecturing on sutras in Taiwan, I mentioned him three times, which caused quite a flurry. People said, “Don’t talk about him so much. None of the monks in Taiwan like him. The Dharma Masters disapprove of him, saying that he is an illiterate, a mute sheep in the Sangha who is of no benefit to Buddhism.”

Imagine that. He abstains from cooked food and cultivates diligently all day long, yet he gets accused of being useless to Buddhism. However, he is actually very useful. He had a disciple who was planning to take a vacation. He told that disciple not to travel for forty-nine days. His disciple waited for forty-eight days and then figured that it wouldn’t matter if he went out on the last day. As soon as he went out, he was in a car accident that resulted in the amputation of one of his legs. Someone told the Fruit Monk, who responded, “The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were pretty kind to him. If he didn’t work for Buddhism and believe in the Buddha, he would have lost his life.”

That disciple later told others, “I didn’t listen to my teacher. My teacher told me not to go out for forty-nine days, but I thought it would be okay to go out after forty-eight days, and so I lost one leg.” Think it over. Before anything happened, the Fruit Monk was able to warn his disciple to stay home for forty-nine days. Since the disciple didn’t listen, he endangered his own life.

Despite the diligence and caliber of this monk’s cultivation, all the Dharma Masters slander him and try to ruin him. However, their attempts are futile. The lay people in Taiwan still want to take refuge with him and bow to him as their teacher. Taking refuge with him is fairly easy, and as a result he has many disciples, all of whom respect him greatly. Despite all those Dharma Masters’ efforts to ruin his reputation, the laypeople can judge for themselves and still want him to be their teacher.

Here’s how ridiculous it gets: having nothing better to accuse him of, the Dharma Masters allege that he eats on the sly. What do they say eat? Rice gruel! Someone came up to me and whispered, “Don’t tell anyone else, but people say that he drinks rice gruel on the sly. He says he doesn’t eat cooked food, but he’s lying.”    I say: even if he does drink rice gruel, that’s not an offense, is it? What’s wrong with that?  I said as much publicly while I was in Taiwan: he has every right to choose whether or not to eat cooked food. He has total freedom in that respect. There’s no rule in Buddhism that says one can’t eat cooked food, or that one commits an offense by doing so.

Why do those people accuse him of eating gruel on the sly? They have nothing better to do and they are afraid everyone will believe in him, so they spread rumors to slander him. People who lack wisdom might lose faith in him after hearing such rumors, but wise people will not care in the least. He eats gruel—so what? If he wants to eat gruel or rice, he can do so. Whether or not he eats gruel or rice or cooked food is his own business. No one can force him into it.

Timely Teachings - Page 224- 226