May 9, 1974.Thursday evening.

On When and How to Use Expedients

Ven. Master Hsuan Hua


In Taiwan there are some Americans who are studying a more sophisticated Buddhism; in Australia there are some Australians doing the same. What is the extent of their sophistication? They claimed that my biography was completely false, saying it should never have been printed. They didn’t like our Buddhist journal VajraBodhi Sea either. “You cannot say that what you teach is the Proper Dharma. If you represent the Proper Dharma, then it implies that what we study are heterodox teachings. You simply cannot say that!” Guo Qian tried to argue with them. You see? They didn’t want us to use the term Proper Dharma, for then their teaching would be seen as deviant.

Bandits will allow themselves to be called soldiers, but they don’t want to be referred to as bandits. Likewise, adherents of deviant teachings will not accept criticism. If you tell them that their viewpoints are unorthodox, they will say, “You are the ones who have unorthodox viewpoints! What makes your viewpoints orthodox?” Therefore, in speaking the Dharma, sometimes we have to be expedient.

If we insist on speaking only straight, undiluted Proper Dharma when we lecture outside of our own monasteries, no one will want to listen. We have to intersperse our lectures with a few jokes and anecdotes to make people happy.


Timely Teachings, page 295