Not Knowing How to Cultivate, People Run Everywhere
A Talk by Venerable Master Hua

on December 26, 1992 at Gold Mountain Monastery
Transcribed by Yu Chr

In studying Buddhism, don't pursue futile paths. You may spend your entire life going from one Buddhist temple to the next, only to find in the end that you haven't gotten anything out of it: you haven't been able to really lecture the Sutras; you haven't been able to be really mindful of the Buddha; you haven't learned how to bow repentances-or when bowing them you can't be singleminded. Why? While bowing, you think, "I want to go to another temple. That place is also bowing a repentance. I think I'll go there and take a look."

For another instance, in reciting the Buddha's name, you spend two-and-a-half days here reciting, but then you say, "Oh, That place is also holding a recitation session. I'll go there to recite for another two-and-a-half days." Two-and-a-half plus two-and-a-half makes five days, with two days left. "Ah, there's yet another place holding a recitation session so I'll go to participate for a couple more days. I don't want to plant good roots in just one place; I'll plant good roots all over the place. Then wherever they grow, I'll have good roots." Oh! Do you see? On the one hand you are being mindful of the Buddha, while on the other hand you have such massive greed and go around acting like a guerilla commander. Not only are you running around yourself, you convince others to do the same. The more people there are, the bigger the band, and the greater the aid. Everywhere you go, you have influence. As soon as people see that the guerilla commander has arrived, and has brought such a large gang, immediately they give you a special welcome and special treatment. Wherever you go, you are welcomed and treated well. You are served the best vegetarian food, and given the best of everything. At every temple you go to, you are regarded with distinction: "That's a great Dharma Protector! The Commander-in-Chief has arrived! Wow! He's got a big gang of followers, so we want to keep him here." So all those followers come. You see! Whether it's being mindful of the Buddha, bowing repentances, or lecturing Sutras-it's all the same: they go from this place to that place, and from that place to another place. And they end up with nothing at all. Whether it's reciting the Buddha's name, listening to lectures on the Sutras, bowing repentances, or whatever else you might be doing, you should do it in one place and do it singlemindedly. But you must use the Selecting-Dharma Eye. You must recognize what is true and what is false; what is proper and what is deviant. You must understand this. Once you understand, then wherever you go will be right. If you don't understand this, you may go running around at random for your entire life to no avail.

I am speaking true principle for you right now. Don't think, "I should go to more places and thereby plant more good roots," for in the end there is no growth anywhere, and the good roots planted in a pile of ashes will not produce anything. You should plant good roots in fertile ground. What kind of ground is fertile? Places where genuine cultivation takes place. I don't venture to say that ours is a place of true cultivation. You yourself go anywhere else and see if you can find a place that is better than the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas or Gold Mountain Monastery. I don't try to hold people. But you should take a good look. Don't let it become a case of the blind leading the blind, where you think people are good if they say a few nice words to you, flatter you, offer you some delicious vegetarian food, or lure you with a bit of sweetness.

Those who reside in a genuine Buddhist place do not try to get on the good side of anyone. They would never say, "If you come to my place, we have all kinds of good things." At our place, nothing is good and everything is imperfect, because we are all still learning. This is what I wanted to tell you today. If you think what I have said is true, that's fine. If you think it's false, that's fine too. Whether or not you listen, it's fine. I have done what I think I should do. Wherever I am, I am not afraid that no laypeople may come. I'm not afraid that people won't come here. What am I afraid of? I only fear that I might cheat people, that I might not be true. If I am not cheating people, people all have eyes, and without this place being praised, they will come here. Do you believe what I've said or not?