English | Vietnamese


November 2, 1973 Friday evening

On the Reasons for Asking Disciples to Explain “At that time”

Venerable Master Hsuan Hua


Why have we been investigating the phrase “at that time”? It’s because when I explained an earlier occurrence of “at that time” in a very simple way, the visiting Dharma Master said my explanation was wrong. Thus, I am now having everyone explain it now so he can listen and see which explanation is correct. He made that criticism because he is quite young and doesn’t understand much. He said, “I have an opinion about ‘at that time.’” His opinion was basically a disagreement with my explanation. If he had more experience, he would not say such things. He would not say, “Your explanation is wrong.” Is there any right or wrong? There is none. It’s only because of attachments that we talk about right and wrong. If we had no attachments, what would we call right or wrong? If we could see that ‘everything’s okay,’ how can there be any right or wrong? Do you understand?

Whenever you go somewhere, even if you clearly know someone is at error, unless they ask you to tell them whether they are right or wrong, you can’t “nominate yourself like Mao Sui.” You can’t say, “I’ll tell you how you are wrong.” That will not work anywhere. After this, wherever you go, be careful not to find fault with people. Even if you clearly know they are wrong, unless they ask you to instruct them, you cannot criticize them. This is very important.

[Ed. note: the translator asks the meaning of “nominating oneself like Mao Sui.”] There was something that weighed a ton, which no one could lift. Mao Sui said, “I can lift it--I’ll carry it.” Then he went over and lifted it. That’s called “nominating oneself like Mao Sui.” Mao Sui is the name of a man who lived in ancient China . At the time there was a high official with lots of money named Lord Ping Yuan, who regularly supported three thousand people. When something needed to be done, Mao Sui said, “I can do it; I’ll take care of it,” hence the saying: “Among three thousand there is Mao Sui.” Mao Sui said it was something he could do, and so there is the phrase: “nominating oneself like Mao Sui.” What is this like? It’s similar to Guo Qian voting for himself in the election for Chairperson of the Sino-American Buddhist Association. That’s an example of “nominating oneself like Mao Sui.” Do you understand?


Timely Teachings, page 347 - 348.