From Kindness A Treasury of Buddhist wisdom for Children and Parents By Sarah Conover
Long ago, during the time of the Buddha, lived a boy named Chundaka. Chunda-as he was fondly called–was a happy and good youngster, but unable to learn to read or write. In comparison, Chunda’s older brother became quite knowledgeable, with a keen interest in Buddhism. When the older brother decided to lead a monk’s life, Chunda followed along. He sought to live near his brother; but secretly, he also hoped to work alongside the monks and learn about Buddhism.
“Why don’t you ask the Buddha if you can become a monk, too?” his brother encouraged. But Chunda had no confidence. “Brother, how can I?” Chunda sadly replied. “I can’t memorize, and I can’t read or write. I have no knowledge of scriptures, and I won’t be able to learn them. A monk must be able to teach others many things.” But his brother assured him that both riches and knowledge were meaningless to the Buddha.” He values only the compassion we have for one another and the ways to help all creatures suffer less. No one is as gentle and kind as he is. I know he will not disappoint you, Chunda. Go and hear for yourself,” prodded his brother hopefully.
So Chunda mustered all his courage. He bathed and purified himself. When he was certain he was quite ready, he approached the Buddha. The Buddha observed that this humble young man had an earnest and pure heart. He could see that Chunda would try his very best. The Buddha welcomed him as the newest monk in the community. The next morning, Ananda, head of all the monks, gave Chunda a small scripture to memorize, just 6 lines long. It was the first of hundreds that each monk was expected to learn by heart. But a week later, having tried his hardest, poor Chunda could still not recite it from beginning to end. Completely disheartened, he went back to the Buddha and admitted his failure.
But the Buddha was not greatly disappointed; he had total faith in Chunda’s good intentions. The Buddha and Chunda sat thoughtfully together in silence. An idea suddenly occurred to the Buddha. “Chunda, are you a hard worker?” asked the Buddha.”Do you think you can sweep the temple and keep it spotlessly clean?” “Oh yes, Buddha I’m a good worker, and I’m very good at sweeping. I just cannot seem to learn scripture.”
So the Buddha gave Chunda the task of keeping the temple perfectly clean. He was to hold no other job but temple sweeper. The Buddha then requested that Chunda speak two lines while sweeping: remove all dust, remove all dirt. But as soon as poor Chunda attempted his task, the words completely vanished from his mind. Luckily, Ananda overheard the Buddha’s instructions and could help Chunda remember them over and over again.
At last, a month later, Chunda had it learned by heart.”Remove all dust,” the monks heard Chunda whisper with the sweep of the broom. “Remove all dirt, he murmured with the return sweep. Behind Chunda’s back, the other monks snickered at his memory problem. More than a few took some pride in the extent of their learning. Day and night Chunda poured his heart into his work, repeating those six words again and again. Eventually, however, over time every monk couldn’t help but admire Chunda’s perseverance. They had never witnessed such single-minded determination. In time, the few words that the Buddha had given him to memorize became more and more meaningful to Chunda. His chores became a meditation upon the words.
Chunda’s curiosity deepened, and he suspected that the Buddha knew all along that these words were not as simple as they first appeared. “Did my teacher want me to sweep outer dust and dirt or inner dust and dirt?” he wondered. “What is inner dirt? How would one go about cleaning inner dirt?” he asked himself many times. Some months later, Chunda found the answers to these questions himself. While he worked, insight nudged its way into his heart. Once in awhile now, the monks saw Chunda thoughtfully pausing from his endless task, leaning against his broom and looking at the far off horizon. At last a day came when Chunda felt ready to discuss his thoughts with the Buddha. “Venerable sir” said Chundaka enthusiastically, “I think I finally understand the real meaning of the words you gave me.” “Please tell me what you understand,” encouraged the Buddha. “I believe that inner dust and dirt is a grasping, said Chunda. “If we don’t like something in our lives, we grasp for a different situation. But if we really like something that we have, then we also grasp because we don’t want it to change.” Chunda continued, “To look at life clearly, we must always see through this. We must sweep the dust and dirt away and keep our inner temple clean.” The Buddha smiled warmly at Chunda’s thoughtful words.
And so, as the years passed, Chunda swept and meditated and thought deeply. He found he did not have to memorize scriptures as the other monks did, for teachings seemed to arise from within. After a time, he became known as one of the wise and gentle teachers of Buddhism, affectionately called “Chundaka, the Broom Master.” He lived a long and happy life. And for many years people journeyed to the monastery from distant places, not just to hear from the learned monks, but to listen especially to Chundaka, the Broom Master. He was their favorite, loved for his very simple, yet very wise sayings.
In traditional China, painting was revered as “silent poetry,” while poetry was seen as “painting with sound.” Both art forms found expression through the medium of calligraphy, which was considered the “art of handwriting.” Scholars and artist-scholars incorporated calligraphic brushstrokes into their paintings, viewing their artworks as vehicles for self-expression. Consequently, painting was not only regarded as an art form of equal purity and lyricism to poetry and contemplative thought but also as a means to evoke sensory experiences, emotions, and a holistic engagement with the world.
For Western observers, it may be intriguing why Chinese artists incorporate writing in their paintings and what significance the characters hold. By examining some of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III’s paintings, we can gain insight into these questions and witness the embodiment of the concept known as the “Three Perfections.” This concept represents the harmonious fusion of fine painting, poetry, and calligraphy within a single artwork.
This painting, titled “Song of the Waves in the Three Gorges,” beautifully captures the grandeur of splash-ink technique alongside the charm of water and ink colors. Its overall tone carries a weighty presence. The brushwork employed in this artwork evokes a powerful sense of momentum, lively charm, and a vividness akin to the scene of a long, flowing river just passing by. The inclusion of a few small sailboats adds elegance to the water scene as they gracefully navigate through it. The combination of the mighty river and awe-inspiring mountains, enveloped in mist and holding sacred spaces, has a purifying effect on one’s emotions. This painting possesses a quality that is reminiscent of both poetry and calligraphy.
Notably, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has inscribed an elegant Chinese poem onto this painting, which can be translated as follows: “The song of waves echoes in the gorge. Hanging colors of rocky cliffs burst with charm. A few cloudy, misty mountains reveal shades of blue. The vast water’s melody sets the sails in motion.” This poem aptly captures the beautiful and misty landscape of the Three Gorges, where the water and sky harmoniously blend, and human emotions become intertwined with the scenery. This painting serves as an artistic paragon, showcasing the mastery of poetic, calligraphic, and painting skills.
This remarkable painting showcases a rare combination of splash-ink and splash-color techniques, displaying the artist’s bold and skillful brushwork. The resulting natural effect achieved through these techniques is truly indescribable. Within the bold and dynamic brushstrokes, one can discern countless intricate details and traces of charm emerging from the flowing watery ink.
The painting depicts a scene of mountains and water during the approaching dusk, conveying a profound message. The poem imparts the wisdom that we should strive to engage in virtuous deeds rather than harmful actions, treating all living beings with kindness and respect. By embodying such a way of life, one can transcend to another realm and grasp the truth of existence beyond the concepts of birth and death. This painting offers a profound contemplation on the purpose and significance of human existence.
The calligraphy in the two art works are executed in a cursive style, known for its swift and dynamic strokes. Cursive writing is often characterized by its rapidity and vitality, effectively conveying the artist’s profound emotions.
I believe many individuals have pondered the following questions deep within their hearts: Why do people exist? Do we live solely for money, status, fame, family, loved ones, or children?
People find meaning in life through various purposes and aspirations. However, what if none of these conventional motivations were present? Would life still hold significance?
To shed light on this existential inquiry, we turn to the profound insights of Mr. Inamori. This article serves as a synthesis of Mr. Inamori’s books, namely “The Art of Living,” “Embracing the Heart: A Path to Fulfillment,” “Mastering Thought: A Guide to Clarity,” and “The Entrepreneurial Spirit.” These collective works offer invaluable wisdom and would like to share with you here.
What constitutes life
The Essence of Life
Life can be defined as the amalgamation of destiny and cause. Personally, I began my journey as a technician, delving into research and development of new ceramics. At the age of 27, I founded Kyocera Corporation, which has flourished for over half a century.
Throughout this period, I contemplated the meaning of life and gradually formulated my own perspective. In fact, I embraced this outlook on life and followed my own unique path.
What, then, is the essence of life? Irrespective of whether we are aware or ignorant of this concept, our attitude and life’s trajectory will diverge significantly.
Therefore, it becomes crucial for us to grasp the true essence of life.
After much contemplation, I arrived at the following conclusion:
Each person’s life is akin to a tapestry interwoven by the warp of destiny and the weft of the law of karma.
Essentially, life is influenced by invisible forces, represented by two significant hands. The first is known as destiny.
Every individual enters this world with their own destiny. While the intricacies of fate remain enigmatic, our lives are guided or influenced by its presence.
Although some may object, I firmly believe that the existence of destiny is an undeniable reality.
We are, indeed, subject to a destiny that surpasses our personal will and desires. It disregards our joys, sorrows, and tribulations, akin to a ceaseless river that wraps around us and flows relentlessly towards the sea.
But are we entirely powerless in the face of fate? This is not the case either. An invisible force also exists within our lives, known as the “law of karma.”
The law of karma posits that good causes and deeds lead to favorable outcomes, while evil causes and deeds result in negative repercussions. In essence, our thoughts generate “causes,” not to mention the resentment, grievances, and fleeting thoughts that manifest. These causes bear fruit.
As Buddha Shakyamuni said, “Cause and effect”—causes never remain stagnant; every cause gives rise to an effect. Reflecting on our careers, karma represents the causal link. If a cause exists, there will be consequences.
In summary, cultivating virtuous thoughts, performing good deeds, and reaping positive outcomes while harboring negative thoughts, engaging in malevolent actions, and facing adverse retribution—this is the essence of the law of karma.
Hence, our lives primarily consist of two fundamental elements: “destiny and the law of karma,” while other factors hold comparatively less significance.
Understanding the Law of Cause and Effect: Shaping our Lives
Understanding the law of cause and effect empowers us to alter the course of our lives. Destiny serves as the warp, the law of karma as the weft, and together, they weave the fabric of our existence.
Life extends beyond the boundaries set by destiny, owing to the influence of the force of causality. Conversely, good deeds may not always yield immediate positive outcomes due to the interference of destiny.
Here lies a crucial point—the law of karma possesses greater potency than the law of destiny.
Furthermore, a mechanical relationship exists between these two forces that govern our lives. The force of cause and effect somewhat surpasses the force of destiny.
Consequently, we can harness the law of karma and potentially transform our predetermined destiny.
Therefore, nurturing virtuous thoughts has the power to alter our destiny’s trajectory and bring about positive change. Despite being subject to the control of destiny, we possess the ability to shape our fate through virtuous thinking and conduct.
3. Life motto: Don’t worry about the result, because the cause and effect must be reported.
In the law of karma, the correlation between cause and effect does not always manifest immediately, which often makes it difficult for us to fully comprehend this principle.
We may wonder why someone continues to suffer despite having done numerous good deeds. On the other hand, there are individuals with exceptional character who consistently engage in acts of kindness, yet they unfortunately endure illnesses. Similarly, there are people who engage in malicious actions and seem to lead contented lives with harmonious families, which can be puzzling to outsiders. These situations are not uncommon and contribute to our tendency to overlook the law of karma.
The reason behind delayed outcomes in accordance with the law of karma remains unknown, but there is undeniably a time lag. In my personal experience, the fruition of karma can be arduous to discern. However, if we extend our perspective to encompass a span of 20 or 30 years, there are no exceptions.
Thus, while immediate results may be elusive within a three to five-year timeframe, considering an individual’s life and observing the course of 20 or 30 years, the correlation between good thoughts, good deeds, and positive outcomes becomes evident. Likewise, evil thoughts and actions inevitably yield negative consequences. This understanding is apparent to all.
When we extend our viewpoint to a 30-year span, we recognize that the wicked do not perpetually prosper, and the virtuous are not eternally plagued. Ultimately, the virtuous find happiness. In the context of 30 years, everything seems to align favorably.
The connection between cause and effect can be likened to an equal sign—they are so intricately matched that it could be described as “remarkable.” Although this may not be immediately evident in the short term, over the long run, good causes lead to positive outcomes, while evil causes result in negative consequences. Karma proves to be accurate.
Therefore, the principle of cause and effect must be acknowledged, but it requires time for the outcomes to manifest. It is important to remember not to become anxious or impatient due to the lack of immediate visible effects.
Second, what is the meaning of life? Why do people live?
What is the meaning and purpose of life? This fundamental question demands a direct response.
In my perspective, the purpose of life is to enrich the mind and nurture the soul.
As inhabitants of this world, we are often consumed by desires and ensnared by them. It can be seen as an inherent aspect of human nature.
If we allow this nature to take control, we will be endlessly pursuing wealth, status, and fame, while indulging in fleeting pleasures.
Of course, life necessitates the fulfillment of basic needs such as food, clothing, and financial resources for leisure activities. I acknowledge that these requirements cannot be denied.
However, all of these worldly pursuits are confined to the present life, and they hold no significance in the next life. Matters of this world must be settled and completed within its confines. If anything within life is immortal, it is the “soul.”
When death approaches, all the status, reputation, and material possessions that we have accumulated will be relinquished, and we will embark on a new journey solely with our “soul.”
Hence, if someone were to ask me, “Why were you born into this world?”
I would unequivocally respond, “To ensure that my soul is purer in death than in life, or to carry a more beautiful and noble soul to meet death.”
We arrive in this world, experiencing the tumultuous impact of various circumstances, tasting the pains and joys of existence, and enduring moments of happiness and sadness until our final breath. Throughout this journey, we tirelessly and perseveringly strive.
The very process of life itself resembles sandpaper, refining and tempering the soul. Through this tempering, individuals elevate their character, cultivate their spirit, and depart from this world with a soul of higher stature than when they entered it.
I believe this is the purpose of life, and no other objective surpasses it.
Today should surpass yesterday, and tomorrow should surpass today. Each day, we exert sincere efforts, engage in unwavering work, take resolute action, and earnestly cultivate ourselves. It is within this process that the purpose and value of our lives are reflected.
More often than not, life brings us unhappiness. At times, we even resent the deities and divine beings, questioning why we must endure so much suffering. However, it is precisely these tribulations that temper our souls and elevate our character.
We should regard suffering as both a test and an opportunity, and we need to embrace this perspective.
Only individuals who perceive tests as opportunities can illuminate their limited lives.
The so-called “present world” is a period bestowed upon us by a higher power to refine our character, and it serves as a crucible for honing our souls.
The meaning and value of life lie in expanding the mind and fortifying the soul. To put it simply, that is the essence.
3. How should we face the turbulent life?
The life we lead is intricately woven with fate and the law of karma, which Shakyamuni Buddha referred to as “all things impermanent.”
Sakyamuni saw through the interplay of various factors, both positive and negative, in life and taught us that “life is characterized by suffering, and all actions are impermanent.”
Consider the aspect of health, for instance. While one may enjoy good health today, tomorrow could bring illness and confinement. The same holds true for business endeavors. Today may be smooth, but unforeseen challenges may arise tomorrow.
The phenomena we witness in the world around us are not constant or stable, as Sakyamuni described them to be “the impermanence of all things.”
“Lines” refer to all phenomena, which cannot be preserved indefinitely. Life is characterized by turbulence and fickleness.
Everything is impermanent, constantly changing, and new trials will continue to emerge. Hence, Shakyamuni also stated that “life is suffering.”
The concept of “pain due to impermanence” implies that life is a succession of suffering caused by impermanence.
In light of this, how should we approach life? What attitude should we adopt? It is these choices that ultimately determine the course of our lives.
Regardless of the fate we encounter, we must respond with a heart filled with gratitude. Good and bad experiences are intertwined, alternating throughout our lives.
Therefore, whether circumstances are favorable or unfavorable, bright or gloomy, we should express gratitude. Not only during moments of good fortune but even in the face of disaster, we should say thank you and demonstrate gratitude.
After all, I am still alive, and I have been granted the opportunity to live well. Hence, I should be grateful for this blessing.
I often remind myself internally that by practicing gratitude, I can improve my mindset and take the initial steps towards happiness.
However, putting this into action is easier said than done. It is challenging for individuals to reach a level where they can express gratitude regardless of whether the sun is shining or the rain is pouring.
When faced with adversity, expecting oneself to practice gratitude and express appreciation can feel unrealistic. Instead, the natural response might be, “Why am I so unlucky?” This inclination towards resentment is perhaps inherent to human nature.
So, when things go well and luck is on our side, does gratitude arise spontaneously? Not necessarily.
“Good fortune! I deserve this; it is rightfully mine.” People often tend to think in this manner. “How can this benefit be enough?” The desire for more lingers.
As people collectively succumb to greed and forget gratitude, they inadvertently distance themselves from fortune.
“We should be thankful for whatever happens.” This principle should be firmly ingrained in our minds through rational thinking.
Even if we don’t genuinely feel grateful, we should continuously remind ourselves to say “Thank you!” It is crucial to cultivate such a mindset.
Difficulties that arise serve as opportunities for growth, and for that, I should be grateful. When good fortune arrives, it becomes even more precious, and expressing gratitude becomes imperative. Always be prepared to say “Thank you!” and consciously reserve space in your heart for gratitude.
Approaching life with this mentality is of utmost importance.
Fourth, to live a happy life lies in these six practices
So, how can we train our minds to achieve these goals?
In Buddhism, there is a practice method called the “six paramitas,” also known as the “six ways.” These paramitas include “diligence,” which refers to hard work.
I sincerely hope that everyone can transform their destiny and lead a better life by practicing this concept of diligence in six aspects. The first rule is to “put in as much effort as anyone else.”
This means working diligently towards our goals and objectives. It is the fundamental aspect of diligence.
The second rule is to “remain humble and guard against arrogance.”
Take the example of Kazuo Inamori, who achieved great success as a business operator. However, his success was not an inevitable outcome. It could have been achieved by anyone—A, B, or C. Inamori Kazuo was simply given this talent by chance.
It is important to adopt a mindset of humility and recognize that the world needs individuals with specific talents. God has bestowed upon us certain talents by chance.
Therefore, we should never become arrogant or let success make us indomitable. Thinking that “I have talent and a sharp mind, which is why I established this company,” is absolutely wrong.
Ancient Chinese classics also emphasize similar teachings. Those who will achieve great things in the future shine with the virtue of modesty.
In other words, those who succeed are humble and possess high moral character. Those who continue to grow are individuals who have been humble from a young age, rather than those who seek attention.
I would like to share a famous saying: “Only the humble are blessed.” Those who lack humility are not qualified for happiness because they are unable to grasp it.
To achieve happiness, one must always maintain humility. Those who will excel in their careers in the future are those who remain humble.
The third rule is to “introspect every day.” It means reflecting on our self-centeredness and selfishness, and making a conscious effort to eliminate these qualities. This introspection is crucial, and we must engage in it daily.
Cultivating gratitude every day is of utmost importance. It is essential to have a mindset that allows us to experience happiness at any moment. And what is a mind that can experience happiness at any time? It is a contented heart.
People who can experience happiness are those who are contented. I have already discussed the importance of gratitude, so I won’t elaborate further.
The fifth aspect of diligence is to “accumulate good deeds and embrace altruism.” It means contributing to society and the world. This concept is of utmost importance and has been emphasized throughout.
Lastly, the sixth rule is to “let go of emotional troubles.”
This means not worrying excessively or being troubled by emotions. Although we should consider the impermanence of the world, it is unnecessary to worry or be anxious.
Unpleasant things happen every day, and they happen frequently. There is no need to worry or be troubled by them.
When faced with failure, we must let go of it completely and focus on the future. This point is crucial.
Some people constantly worry about not receiving orders or fear going out of business, thinking, “If this continues, we won’t be able to pay our employees.” I want to tell you that this is not the right mindset.
By harboring such concerns, the company will only deteriorate further. Instead, we should think, “Since we have reached this point, let’s work hard rather than worry about going out of business.”
So, I say, “Don’t worry, don’t be troubled.” When we think in this way, we can remain calm and keep our minds free.
To be precise, practicing these six principles is a rational approach to exploring our true selves, which is also a path towards enlightenment. It is not merely an ascetic practice, a routine, or a daily meditation practice, but rather a practice that can be comprehended through reasoning.
However, it is important to note that casual attempts once or twice will not yield significant results. Consistency is key. By staying committed and practicing these principles every day, your destiny will undergo a dramatic transformation.
By persistently adhering to these six points, everything will gradually align in a harmonious direction, leading to an undeniable improvement in your destiny. Even in the face of various challenges you may be encountering now, they will eventually dissipate.
Nonetheless, the utmost importance lies in practicing the first rule: “Effort as much as anyone else.” Merely considering the latter points without wholehearted dedication and diligence will render your efforts fruitless.
In the vast universe, there exists a law or will that propels everything towards happiness. As long as we consistently practice the six principles with diligence and liberate our true selves within our hearts, everything will progress smoothly.
With unwavering commitment, your true self will be revealed. This true self can be seen as an embodiment of the universal law itself. Once you break free from the confines of your old self, you can embark on a path toward a joyous existence.
Every individual has the potential for a positive destiny and the ability to lead a happy life. However, happiness cannot be achieved without putting in sufficient effort.
Therefore, I urge you to recognize the significance of the “six diligence” and put them into action. By doing so, you will pave the way for a fulfilling and contented life.
The Title “A Lotus Pond Has Carp” suggests profound Philosophical implications that transcend everyday life. In addition to its masterful artistry, the painting contains subtle messages of the Dao and its fruits. The lyrics on the left and right sides of this work correspond perfectly with the image of the fish, forming a whole that awakens and enlightens, richly rewarding its viewers.
Why is this painting so artistically enchanting that it stirs the hearts of those who see it? One reason is that the fish are depicted with uncanny realism. The swimming carp are infused with vitality. The painting’s details clearly reveal the damage done to the carp’s skin, accumulated over a lifetime in the water, through lines that fade in and out. Appearing as delicate as a fine gauze, the translucent fins, for example, possess a natural realism. Texture and spirit are captured with utter precision, providing the viewer with stirring aesthetic pleasure. The surface and bottom of the pond are depicted with a wonderfully hazy charm, while the lotus flowers, leaves, and pods are portrayed in bold freehand brushwork with distinct and unusual brushstrokes rapidly applied.
The painting is mainly composed of back ink and rich colors. Only a few brushstrokes were used to create each vibrantly red flower, which seem to emit a pure fragrance. The hanging lotus pods embellish the painting, conveying an elegant contrast of hues and instilling a sense of vitality. As the fish swim about, free of any inhibition, the sunlight faintly reflecting off the water ripples provides the illusion of movement that occurs in the natural world.
When examined more closely, the painting has an intricate style to ascertain, for it seems to transcend realistic fine brushwork and convey the feeling of freehand brushwork. It is not in the style of conventional paintings. Instead, freehand brushwork was applied to produce the effect of fine brushwork with close attention to detail.
Fine brushwork was applied that transcends realism. The real and the surreal blend, resulting in a work that excels the beauty of a natural lotus pond. It represents a combination of techniques from the “Menglong” style of painting and bold, large-scale freehand brushwork.
For the painting, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III composed these lyrics of a Dao song: “No Dao exists on the high mountain, yet hearts yearn to go there. A lotus pond has carp; men have inquired about them. Which path leads to the truth is worth pondering. It would be better to look tranquil to our original nature, like a lotus flower sitting over its leaves in tranquility.” These lyrics speak of mysteries unknown to the ordinary person – seeing fish, not as fish; seeing water, not as water; no Dao exists on the high mountain, so no value exists in searching for it; and the fish have neither life nor death.
To understand the origin of the painting, we must ask: where did the fish come from? What state of realization was relied upon and gave birth to this exquisite painting? What form of realization manifested this mysterious, hazy, and illusory painting? The magical illusion of the fish and water is nothing more than a superficial image. Spirit is within; A life force underlies spirit. Spirit is empty or nothingness. The original essence of all things is neither empty nor substantive. Everything illusory and impermanent quickly changes in time and space, but their original nature remains constant. Thus, the lyrics of the Dao song continue: “To find our original nature, do not seek the source, as the source is our original nature, tranquil and unmoving, like a lotus flower sitting over its leaves in tranquility. There is no such thing as arising, passing away, and change. From this surpassing wisdom, usages that arise from Buddha-nature will naturally manifest. These usages include calligraphy and painting. Only in such a way is a consummate work created.” Thus, one should understand the tremendous meaning of this song of Dao written in this painting. Profound mysteries are deeply hidden within it.
In case the viewer remains oblivious to right stanza, on the left side of the painting, the second stanza of the song continues with: “The carp rely on the Dao, and the Dao awakens the fish.” The Dao refers to the state of holy ones, a realm that transcends the realm of ordinary people. It does not refer to regular abilities. The artist created this carp painting based on such a holy state. “The Dao awakens the fish” means that this painting of carp in a lotus pond was accomplished based on the wisdom of the transcendent Dao. Only with such wisdom could this lifelike, graceful scene of carp swimming in water be painted, a setting that combines the real and the surreal, emptiness and substance in such a wondrously appealing way. This scene of carp complimented by the boldly and powerfully depicted lotus leaves results from the artist’s awakening to the holy Dao.
This painting of carp, then, is merely an expression of one who has attained the Dao and reached enlightenment. Thus, this work is not just an ordinary combination of brush strokes, color, ink, and water. Instead, it results from techniques derived from the beautiful application of holy wisdom. The profound mysteries contained in “A Lotus Pond Has Carp” cannot possibly be conveyed by the superficial meaning of the words in its title! Actually, this explanation is entirely unnecessary. All those with discerning eyes will understand once they see the lyrics of the Dao song and the calligraphic skills with which they were written on the painting.
Karma literally means action. It refers to the universal law of cause and effect whereby positive actions produce happiness and negative actions produce suffering. You must be willing to rid yourself of evil according to the principles of karmic retribution for doing evil and likewise be willing to do good for the same reasons. Only in this manner will you bring about true happiness and good fortune for yourself and others. All Buddhist disciples must understand cause and effect, but, as Dorje Pa Mu explains, merely understanding this principle is not enough. You must clearly believe in the principle and live accordingly. You must use this principle in your actual practice to solve your worldly problems. You end causes and effects through cultivation whereby you train your mind and correct your erroneous ways so that your actions of body, speech, and mind (also known as your three karmas) correspond with the teaching of your vajra master and the Buddhas. Remember that greed, anger (hatred), and ignorance are the three great obstacles of cultivation.
You must remember that the so-called good effects or bad effects of karma are not a judgment nor given as a reward or punishment by a supra mundane authority such as God. The good or bad effect produced by good or bad karma is purely and simply a natural phenomenon governed by natural laws that act automatically, with complete justice. It is just like the law of gravity and other similar rules. This Law of Karma, or cause and effect, is so powerful that it governs everything in the universe except enlightened beings or those who recognize their basic original nature. Upon enlightenment, the round of cause and effect loses its significance, just as samsara, or the round of birth and death, ceases with enlightenment. Since basic or original nature transcends all duality and is ultimate, there is no one to receive the effect, whether it is good or bad, and no one to whom any effect can apply. This unique explanation by the Buddha of the nullification of the Law of Karma is very important.
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has said, “Thus, only through learning from the Buddha, cultivating the conduct of the Buddha, and ultimately becoming a Buddha can we thoroughly liberate ourselves from the karma (cause and effect) that binds us to the cycle of reincarnation. Cause and effect still exists when one becomes a Buddha. However, cause and effect can not affect a Buddha. For example, the Buddha saw mountains of swords and seas of fire in the hell realm. The mountains of swords and seas of fire continued to exist as extremely painful means by which living beings undergo karmic retribution. When the Buddha suddenly jumped into the mountains of swords and seas of fire in order to undergo suffering on behalf of other living beings, the mountains and seas immediately transformed into a lotus pond of nectar. They transformed into a wonderful state. With respect to a Buddha, all bad or evil karmic conditions turn into the manifestation of good karma. Not only is there no suffering, there is instead a manifestation of great happiness.”
However, until we become enlightened, we must remember that it is as Dharma King Tsongkhapa said, “the things I’ve done, the white or black and what these deeds will bring to me, follow always close behind, as certain as my shadow.”
Once, I had the privilege of listening to a pre-recorded dharma discourse by the esteemed H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. During this enlightening session, His Holiness shared a captivating story that left a profound impact on my mind. It was the tale of Kumarajiva, a legendary figure who demonstrated his profound inner realization by consuming needles. Intrigued by this extraordinary account, I felt compelled to delve further into the remarkable life of Kumarajiva.
Kumārajīva was a Buddhist monk, scholar, missionary and translator from the Kingdom of Kucha (present-day Aksu Prefecture, Xinjiang, China). Kumārajīva is seen as one of the greatest translators of Chinese Buddhism. According to Lu Cheng, Kumarajiva’s translations are “unparalleled either in terms of translation technique or degree of fidelity”.
Kumārajīva settled in Chang’an during the Sixteen Kingdoms era. He is mostly remembered for the prolific translation of Buddhist texts written in Sanskrit to Chinese he carried out during his later life.
At Chang’an, Kumārajīva was immediately introduced to the emperor Yao Xing, the court, and the Buddhist leaders. He was hailed as a great master from the Western regions, and immediately took up a very high position in Chinese Buddhist circles of the time, being given the title of National Teacher. Yao Xing looked upon him as his own teacher, and many young and old Chinese Buddhists flocked to him, learning both from his direct teachings and through his translation bureau activities.
Kumārajīva appeared to have a major influence on Emperor Yao Xing’s actions later on, as he avoided actions that may lead to many deaths, while trying to act gently toward his enemies. At his request, Kumārajīva translated many sutras into Chinese. Yao Xing also built many towers and temples.
Yao Hsing was so impressed with Kumarajiva’s political acumen, intellectual talent and spiritual depth that he was impelled to try a eugenic experiment. He insisted that Kumarajiva move out of the monastic community into a private house staffed by female attendants. Yao Hsing believed that the offspring of Kumarajiva and carefully selected maidens would be as brilliant and talented as their father. Although Kumarajiva was repelled by the experiment, he refused to jeopardize the welfare of the translation centre by refusing to obey his emperor. He complied with Yao Hsing’s orders but was concerned about the effect his actions might have on the monastic community. He likened himself to a lotus growing out of the mud and enjoined the monks to attend to the lotus and ignore the mud.
However, it is widely understood that monks are expected to adhere strictly to the rules and precepts, diligently purifying their bodies and minds while maintaining purity in their six senses. Deviating from these principles, particularly by engaging closely with women and disregarding the precepts, can hinder the attainment of positive outcomes. Consequently, doubts began to arise among the Sangha regarding Kumarajiva’s integrity, leading to a decline in the commitment of some disciples to uphold the essential Buddhist rules.
When Kumarajiva became aware of the troubling trend spreading among the monks, he could not afford to be complacent. In response, he summoned all his disciples to gather before him, determined to address the issue head-on.
Before the perplexed audience, Kumarajiva unveiled a bowl filled with silver needles, their sharpness and gleaming appearance catching everyone’s attention. The monks were left wondering about the purpose behind Kumarajiva’s display.
In a solemn tone, Kumarajiva addressed his disciples, saying, “Not every monk is qualified to enter into worldly attachments and establish households. If you can swallow these silver needles as I do, then I will consider granting you permission to marry and have children. However, if you are unable to do so, you must never attempt to follow in my footsteps.”
Having spoken these words, Kumarajiva proceeded to place each silver needle into his mouth, consuming the entire bowl with a composed ease. The supernatural power exhibited by Kumarajiva left the assembled monks awe-struck, their eyes widened in astonishment. In the end, they were all convinced by Kumarajiva’s demonstration, believing him to be the true successor endorsed by the Buddha.
With this act, Kumarajiva showcased the potency of the correct Buddha Dharma. Consequently, no one dared to criticize him from that point forward. Instead, they committed themselves to diligent practice, upholding the precepts, engaging in self-cultivation, and abandoning any fantasies of pursuing worldly desires.
The community perceived Kumarajiva’s actions as an exemplification of self-sacrifice in the pursuit of the Bodhisattva Ideal, despite the disappointment he experienced due to the children of Yao Hsing’s experiment falling short of his grand expectations.
Although I am an ordinary RINPOCHE without any deep realization, nevertheless, I am very fortunate to have visited many Rinpoches. I have sought instruction from Great Dharma King Yangwo Yisinubu and from famous Rinpoches, such as Panchen Lama, Dalai Lama, Karmapa, Bo Mi Qiang Ba Luo Zhu, Dorje Losang, Dilgo Khyentse, Jiang Gong Kang Qin, Jiang Gong Kang Ce, Ga Wang, Zong Nan Jia Chu, Chuang Gu, Xia Ma, Hsi Jao, Bei Lu Qin Zhe, Tai Xi Du, Heng Sheng, Jia Cha, and Kalu. Especially with respect to nectar, I have a detailed understanding.
In general, nectar can be divided into five types: Most Precious Nectar, Great Precious Nectar, Long Life Nectar, Vajra Nectar, and Bodhi Nectar. These different types of nectar can also be divided into two different types: nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice and nectar that comes from exoteric Dharma practice. There are several different types of nectar within the category of nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice, depending upon the different manifestations of Dharma by each Buddha. Nectar resulting from exoteric practices is most prevalent in contemporary Vajrayana Buddhism. Basically, any Rinpoche can practice the Dharma to produce such nectar. Medicine or food is mostly used. Added to and mixed together with the medicine or food is sharira or a Dharma object that has been empowered. This is then made into powder to make pills. This powder is then empowered through practice of the Dharma and the recitation of mantras to become various types of nectar. Nectar that comes from exoteric Dharma practice is mostly used for empowerment, curing illnesses, and other reasons.
Nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice is totally different from nectar that comes from exoteric, ordinary Dharma practice. The degree of empowerment from nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice as compared with nectar that comes from exoteric Dharma practice is as different as ten thousand miles and one footstep. No words could adequately praise the nectar that comes from sacred Dharma practice. Ordinary Rinpoches and ordinary Dharma Kings who have been conferred such titles by the world cannot successfully practice the sacred Dharma to invoke nectar. Only those who are true Buddhas, or incarnations or transformations of Great Bodhisattvas, can successfully practice such Dharma. In the sacred Dharma practice to invoke nectar, the Dharma King conducting the practice will assemble over 100 Rinpoches to form a mandala. Gold, silver, and other precious items will be burnt as offerings. The Great Dharma King will then practice the holy Inner-Tantric Dharma to invoke the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to bestow nectar from the realm of the Buddhas. The Buddhas will assemble in the sky or will enter the mandala area. This holy scene will be seen by all of the more than 100 Rinpoches in attendance.
At this time, the Buddha who corresponds to the particular nectar that is being invoked will descend. The appearance of that particular Buddha and its bestowing of nectar can be seen. There will be the emission of light and the manifestation of supernormal states when the nectar descends into the bowl. This Dharma bowl must first be thoroughly washed and must be empty. There is absolutely nothing in this world which has the mysterious and changeable shape of the nectar that descends into the bowl. It is exactly as what is described in the book Know the True Doctrines. According to people of great virtue, only this type of sacred nectar is true nectar. According to Tibetan tantra, nectar is the holy material used for initiations. No matter what type of initiation is performed, nectar must be used. Especially for the supreme yoga initiations, true nectar is an absolutely indispensable material for the initiation Dharma water. True nectar represents the causative factor that raises one from the ordinary world to the realm of the Buddhas. If true nectar is not used as the basis for an initiation, such as when man-made nectar created from medicine is used to empower, then such initiation is not an Inner-Tantric Sacred Dharma Initiation. Therefore, according to tantra, nectar is fundamental for liberation. Determining whether a Dharma King is the incarnation of a Buddha or Great Bodhisattva mostly depends upon whether he or she has the depth of realization to successfully practice the nectar Dharma. Can he or she commune with the Buddhas and successfully invoke them to bestow nectar? Any explanation other than this, no matter how many times said, is merely empty talk. This includes explanations such as, “I am the heir to a certain spiritual legacy… Since childhood, I have been officially recognized as a Holy One and have been so for many lives…. I am a Dharma King recognized by a certain Great Rinpoche…I am the head of a certain great temple.” This only proves that they are Rinpoches according to worldly regulations and teachings. Of course, they can save living beings. However, such explanations definitely do not prove that they are able to represent the sacred essence of the supreme tantra. Nevertheless, one cannot dismiss such people. They are persons of great virtue. It is simply a matter of different levels of attainment.
When visiting Rinpoches, I would speak of this matter of the Buddhas bestowing true nectar. Some Rinpoches who do not have the ability to successfully invoke true nectar become quite unhappy when this subject is raised. I think that this is not a big problem. If you think that you are a Great and Holy Dharma King or a Great Rinpoche, then conduct a Nectar Dharma Assembly in order to prove that you are someone whom living beings can fall back upon. Let everybody see that you have the Buddha Dharma within you and that the Buddha Dharma is true. This is saving living beings! Otherwise, use empowered medicine as nectar and save living beings while cultivating yourself with a heart of humility!
I would like to raise the following question for everybody’s consideration. Are the Dharma Kings who successfully invoke the Buddhas to bestow nectar in front of everybody able to represent the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or are the Dharma Kings who only speak empty words able to represent the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? This question is worthy of deep consideration! I and many people of great virtue believe that those who can commune with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are definitely Great Dharma Kings. Those who can only reach ordinary states are ordinary Rinpoches!
If monastics do not abide by the Buddha Dharma precepts and tenets, there will be mistakes in their practice, and their practice will become superficial. Such practice will not produce any true accomplishment. Sakyamuni Buddha spoke of those monks who do not abide by the precepts of Buddhism. He said that even if they do not covet the affection and love of others, they still covet personal gain and the offerings of disciples. This means that those monastics who do not abide by the precepts will covet worldly gain and will thus not have minds set upon cultivation. Naturally, it will not be possible for them to become accomplished. Most contemporary practitioners who have gone forth from the household life do not abide by the precepts. These range from certain Dharma Teachers and Rinpoches all the way down to the myriad monastics. Before monastics went forth from the household life, they were attached to worldly feelings of affection and love. They therefore had thoughts of worldly affection and desire. They were no different from the ordinary person. After they cut off their hair and went forth from the household life, if they did not renounce worldly desires, the defilements that obstruct enlightenment naturally would not vanish. They would not be able to cut off the defilements. At this time, even though they are not allowed to give rise to feelings of desire, it is difficult for them to stop coveting their own gain and the offerings of disciples. Thus, the longing they have at this time is longing for their own gain and the offerings of disciples. Therefore, their attachment to the five aggregates is still strong. As monastics, they are not able to abide by the Dharma and precepts. Their practice becomes false, and in the end they are not able to accomplish anything. Many monks do not abide by Buddhism. They covet their own personal gain and the offerings of disciples. They pretend to be pure. They quietly sit in meditation, yet their thoughts run wild. They long for the objects of the five desires and are deluded by sounds, smells, and tastes. They have hearts covered with ignorance and are bound by craving. Such phenomena are described in writings on the Dharma and are manifested in the practice of a portion of those practitioners who have gone forth.
Many monastics have the appearance of being pure. While practicing, they show refined and exquisite expressions. They lower their heads and are serious in speech. They often say “Amitabha!” They are frequently seen meditating in a remote, quiet place. They very much appear to be true cultivators, but in fact they are not.
Although these monastics give the impression of being very pure and scrupulous in their practice, they still have not understood the principle that all Dharmas and all things are empty. Why have they not understood this? Because their six bases are not yet pure. Their attachment to things of the world is not yet broken. Thus, they still crave forms, sounds, smells, tastes, touches, and thoughts. They still think that the five aggregates of form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness are not empty. They cannot cut off their infatuation with things of the world and thus engage in distorted, dreamlike thinking. They still allow themselves to be tossed about by the illusory things of the world. They cannot see clearly that such things, in essence, are empty. Thus, they are constantly obstructed from attaining enlightenment due to the defilements. Both day and night, they cannot avoid such confusion. Hence, this type of monastic, although appearing to be at peace, in truth has not yet become aware. Although they meditate, their thoughts run wild and are manipulated by the outside environment. Their thoughts are confused due to both inner and outer devils. They are unable to give rise to right mindfulness. Their thoughts are affected by the external environment. Their negative karma, born of ignorance, covers their original bright nature. They are obstructed and disturbed by the defilements. Although their bodies are in one place, who knows where their minds have roamed! Other people meditate and enter into a state of concentration. Their thoughts, however, are scattered, and they think of other things. They sit in the meditative posture, but they allow their good and bad thoughts – the two types of obstructions in attaining concentration – to pour into their minds in waves. They cannot attain peace.
There are a number of those who have gone forth from the household life, including some Dharma Teachers, who covet personal gain and the offerings of disciples and who devise ways to obtain money. In the end, they ruin their reputation and destroy their moral integrity. Those who ruin the reputation of Buddhist disciples are numerous. One often hears about such things.
Since monastics of this type have not yet cut off their defilements and are not permitted to fulfill their desire for love and affection, they then turn to seeking improper gain. It is just as Sakyamuni Buddha said. They will definitely turn to coveting personal gain and the offerings of disciples. Many monastics, under the pretense of furthering Buddhist affairs, cheat good Buddhist followers out of their money and property. Every now and then, some of them secretly embezzle such money or property. Some of them openly incite others to do bad. Some even brazenly steal money and property that would have been used in the furtherance of Buddhism.
There are also those who use the Buddha Dharma in other ways in order to cheat people. For example, there are many people who stand in front of certain Buddhist temples in Tibet. Holding an alms bowl, they force others to contribute money to them. Additionally, some people prostrate themselves a few times on the ground before another person, get up, and then thrust their alms bowl before this person, forcing him to contribute something.
There are many who covertly accumulate wealth. It can be said that they are experts in making money. In the end, they ruin the reputation of true monastics, who are the majority of monastics. They cause people of the world to think that all Dharma Teachers and monks cheat people out of their money, that all of those who have gone forth, whether true or false monastics, are birds of the same feather who hoodwink devout men and women out of their money. These monastics do not abide by the precepts of the Buddha Dharma. They not only destroy themselves since they ultimately cannot become accomplished and will descend into the hell realm, they also destroy the Buddha Dharma. When their lowly, foul conduct is revealed to the world, it not only causes a great uproar in Buddhist circles, it also causes some practitioners to be unable to practice in peace. These practitioners fall into a state of improper desires. It further causes people of the world to be unable to distinguish between who is true and who is false, who is sincere and who is fake. It causes people to think of leaving the Buddha Dharma. It stirs up prejudice towards even those who are upright monastics. It causes those who have roots of kindness to stay away from the Buddha Dharma. It thus cuts off people’s interest to learn Buddhism and realize liberation. If this continues, it will be a huge disaster for the Buddha Dharma and a great misfortune for living beings. If these practitioners who have gone forth do not immediately cease such behavior and repent, they will harm themselves by descending into the hell realm. This might not matter to them. However, causing countless sentient beings to stay painfully trapped in the burning house of the six realms of samsara for eons and cons without attaining liberation is an offense that is extremely worrisome. The consequences of such an offense are too dreadful to contemplate! I have thus vowed not to accept any offerings. This demonstrates that one can cultivate oneself, propagate the Dharma, and benefit living beings without accepting offerings. It is easy for living beings to give rise to prejudicial thoughts that will cut off their interest to learn Buddhism and realize liberation. This is caused by some monastics who neglect the Dharma and violate the precepts. It can be said that these people cannot possibly become accomplished. Even if they meditate and recite sutras every day just like others, their cultivation will always be superficial. It will not produce any results.
There is the following old story. A monk went to a certain village on his alms round. He constantly reminded himself that he must carefully abide by the precepts and must not violate the Buddha Dharma or proper etiquette. When he arrived before the door of a certain house, the woman of the house invited him inside in order to test whether he strictly abides by the precepts. She said that she greatly respects those who cultivate themselves and that she wanted to offer him the best roasted barley flour and cheese. Who would have known that as soon as he stepped into the house, this woman immediately jumped up and locked the door shut! She then said, “There are three things – if you do any one of them, I will give you the key and let you go. Otherwise, do not even think of leaving here.” This monk, having no other choice, could only ask, “Tell me, what three things?” The woman cunningly smiled and replied, “First, I have here a jar of wine. Drink it all. Second, on the table there is high quality mutton. Eat it. Third, if you and I engage in sexual relations, I will let you go. Of these three, you must do one. You choose!” After the monk heard this, he was greatly surprised, since all three things involved violating the precepts. He was at his wits’ end and did not know what to do. He thought of grabbing the key away from her, opening the door, and escaping. However, she was a woman, and such conduct was not befitting of practitioners who have gone forth from the household life. On the other hand, he feared that if he did not leave, people would certainly become suspicious. He reasoned that of those three things, sexual misconduct and eating meat were both serious violations of the precepts, whereas drinking wine was the lightest violation of the precepts. After thinking it over again and again, he decided to drink the wine. After he drank the entire jar of wine, he was completely drunk. He could not tell the difference between north, south, east, and west. Thus, he ate all of the mutton and engaged in sexual misconduct with that woman. He committed all three violations of the precepts. One can imagine the consequences of such conduct! This story has been passed down and disseminated widely within Buddhist circles. Its meaning is self-evident. It tells all practitioners, especially monastics, of the seriousness of violating the precepts. Not one of the precepts may be violated. Even if it appears to be an insignificant precept, one must be very scrupulous and absolutely must not violate it. If one violates one precept, then there will inevitably be a second violation. After one violates a relatively minor precept, there is the possibility of violating a major precept. If monastics cannot scrupulously abide by the precepts, then they may violate all of the precepts. In the end, they can only blame themselves and will reap what they have sown. Thus, the practice of monastics who do not abide by the precepts will certainly be superficial. For them, becoming accomplished will be like the reflection of flowers on water or the appearance of the moon on a mirror – something that, in the end, they will not obtain.
There is the following saying in Buddhism: “At the door of hell are many monastics.” Its meaning is what I just described. Those practitioners who have gone forth must be vigilant. They must be careful in upholding the precepts! Violating the precepts is committing an offense. Committing offenses will not lead one to the land of the Buddhas. Rather, it will lead one to the three evil realms to spend time in endless suffering!
At the International Art Museum of America in downtown San Francisco, there is a special exhibition room, dedicated to Professor Yuhua Shouzhi Wang. This installation was established in 2018, containing a variety of water and ink paintings as wells as sketches. Professor Wang’s acclaimed works have been displayed all over the world, including an exhibition at Congress in 2008, where they called her work a ‘treasure of the world’. In 2019, Professor Wang’s art was exhibited at Shanghai Exhibition Center in China and the Louvre Museum in Paris. An art critic Aude de Kerros praised this event in Paris, saying ‘I have curated and critiqued so many art exhibitions, yet I have never seen an exhibition like this where all the guests are so touched and amazed by the art.’ Following the Paris exhibition, Professor Peter Drake, the Provost of the New York Academy of Art, presented a certificate to Professor Wang, recognizing her extraordinary contributions to representational and abstract art. In December 2020, the Chairman of Centre for Peace in United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Guy Djoken awarded an “International First-Class Artist” title to Professor Wang for her accomplishment. Professor Wang is the only Asian artist who has ever received such a title. On December 29th 2020, Chairman Guy Djoken came to the museum to personally present the title certificate to Professor Wang.
Many people are aware that Professor Yuhua Shouzhi Wang is a world-renowned artist. However, the true identity of Professor Yuhua Shouzhi Wang is revealed as Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva. She embodies great wisdom and compassion, noble morality, kindness, altruism, and selflessness in a perfect manner. She always considers other people’s well-being and is humble and very approachable. The compassion and kindness of Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, are pure and flawless. For example, in 2015, someone sneaked into the International Art Museum of America in San Francisco and tried to steal an artwork that had been acclaimed by the World Federation of UNESCO (WFUCA). This person was arrested by the police on site and subsequently detained. Since the artwork that he tried to steal was one of Fomu’s masterpieces, the court repeatedly requested Fomu to provide a valuation of the artwork, so that they could use her valuation to determinethe term for sentencing. When Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, knew about this person’s distress, She provided a statement saying that the artwork was rather ordinary and had no value. The court had no way of sentencing the person to any term and had to release him.
Another time, Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, saved a butterfly that had fallen into the water. Worried about the butterfly’s safety, Fomu brought it home and kept it for a few days to make sure the butterfly is well-recovered before letting it fly away. Fomu relentlessly led disciples to conduct life-releases. She went every week to woodlands to feed ducks and birds and never missed a week. She paid for it with Her own money and never accepted offerings from Buddhist disciples. Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, is well known for Her diligence and thriftiness. For many decades, the noble Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, always cooked Her own meals and washed Her own clothes. She never entrusted others to do Her chores. She would save the food that She could not finish eating and finish it the next day or two. She was never wasteful. Usually, Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, would even save the water that She did not finish drinking, the water used for washing vegetables or hands, or wastewater from the filter and use it for irrigating flowers or flushing toilet. Through Her deeds, the Great Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, was teaching us how to start with the small things, cherish our good fortune, and actualize our cultivation practices.It is impossible to recount all the numerous exemplary deeds of Fomu.
Wherever Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, went, dragon Dharma protectors were present, and holy miracles manifested. When Fomu performed initiation and transmitted Dharma, holy states were manifested. For example, at the Antelope Valley, Fomu’s hat turned into a black garuda. In New Jersey, the hair of Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva, suddenly went up and wrapped around a tall building in Manhattan on the opposite shore. In San Francisco, a twin Buddha light suddenly appeared, centered around where Fomu stood. All cultivators are touched by the compassion and morality of Fomu, Holy Mother the Great Mahasattva.
In the “Buddha Imparts The Parables Sutra,” Sakyamuni Buddha explained a story to King Shengguang that conveyed the true meaning of life. The story goes like this: A thousand eons ago, there was a man wandering in the wilderness who was suddenly chased by a ferocious elephant. With no place to rely on, he ran in fear and came across an empty well with a large tree beside it. Desperate to escape, he followed the roots of the tree and hid in the well. However, the well was not a safe place either. There were two mice, one black and one white, constantly gnawing at the tree roots. And there were four poisonous snakes surrounding the well, ready to strike, and a poisonous dragon at the bottom of the well. The man was afraid of the snakes and the dragon, and also worried that the mice would eat away the tree roots. Just then, five drops of honey from a honeycomb on the tree fell into the man’s mouth, and he immediately forgot his fear and worries. But soon, bees from the honeycomb stung him due to the shaking of the tree, and a wildfire suddenly broke out and burned the tree.
The Buddha told King Shengguang that the wilderness represents the long night of ignorance, the man represents all sentient beings, the elephant represents impermanence, the well represents life and death, the tree root represents life, and the black and white mice represent night and day. The four poisonous snakes symbolize the four elements of earth, water, fire, and wind; the honey represents the five desires of wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep; the bees represent evil thoughts; the wildfire represents aging and disease; and the poisonous dragon represents death. The Buddha emphasized that birth, old age, sickness, and death are inevitable and frightening. One should always be vigilant and not be consumed by the desires for wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep. Upon hearing the Buddha’s teachings on the parables of life and death, King Shengguang was deeply moved.
This story serves as a reminder for us as well. Have we become absorbed in the sweetness of “honey” in our lives, forgetting that the “black and white mice” are constantly nibbling away at our time? Life is like a fleeting dream, and it is empty. It is crucial for us to awaken from this dream of fleeting existence.