Saturday, September 1, 2012

Master Chin Kung talked about Chen Xiaoxu

Master Chin-kung Talked on the Death of Chen Xiaoxu as he answered questions from Dharma cultivators in Singapore. Altogther there are seven questions which hopefully can help to solve the doubts of many regarding the Buddha Dharma.

Question 1:Chen had been a Buddhist for ten years before she passed away and donated a lot to Buddhist organizations. Why such an end?

Master Chin-kung:
You did not witness it yourself. If you had seen it, you would know it is quite normal. Actually, she ended her life not in a bad way. Quite ineffable.

Faith is the most important in our practice of the Buddha Dharma. Before anything, I would like to tell you that when Xiaoxu was the most sick, both I myself and Master Chang Hui were by her side to take care of her. We did our best to relieve her pain. We all witnessed it. If the suffering she had endured were to be divided into ten portions, which ordinary people had to take, she only received one portion. The other nine portions were melted away by the strength of Buddhas and Bodisattvas. It is rare and not easy. Why did not she make it to turn it around? First, her faith was not firm enough. People have karmic obstacles. She was clearly aware of it that she had heavy karmic obstacles, accumulated in not only her present life, but the previous ones. Even one does not commit karmic offenses in the present life, one did in the previous.

Therefore, it is necessary that you get to know clearly the karmic cause and effect of three life cycles. “Why this kind-hearted person ended his life so miserably while that evil-hearted guy enjoyed such blessings?”, ask many who therefore do not believe cause and effect. Some people, though having committed big offenses in the present life, don’t receive the retribution in the present life. It is so because the surplus blessings from their previous lives are abundant. The blessings they accumulated in their previous life could last 200 years, but, due to the karmic offenses committed in their present life, they shall go for just sixty to seventy years. The blessings have been reduced. However, the blessings are still in surplus.

Others are kind-hearted throughout their life but do not end their life so well. It is so because the karmic offenses they have committed in their previous lives are too heavy. There are leftovers of previous karmic offenses. While they may have done a lot of good deeds, but those are yet enough to cover all the offenses previously committed. Therefore, they are still subject to retributions. As is said, karmic cause and retribution last for three life cycles. Once you understand it, you shall no longer harbour any doubt.

While it had been ten years that Xiaoxu became a Buddhist disciple, yet her faith was not firm enough. Why was it? She had too little access to sutras. She was too busy and always occupied by this or that business. Her focus was on her day-to-day business. She had too many social activities. Therefore, it was really not easy to really listen to the sutra lectures, and understand them. Some people may not understand them even if they have listened for their whole life. Why is it? I think you know the reason. I have been lecturing on Buddhist sutras for so many years. Do you understand them? If so, you would not have raised these questions. That you raised the questions shows that you, too, like Xiaoxu, failed to understand them.

I often say that for a Dharma cultivator one’s mind should be free from selfishness, from the pursuit of profit and fame, from the five sensual pleasures (of form, sound, aroma, taste, and touch) and six dust motes (of form, sound, aroma, taste, touch, and consciousness), from greed, hatred, and ignorance. I have been stressing this for decades. You won’t be able to get in unless you understand it. Many Dharma cultivators listen to sutra lectures, but few are able to make it. Once you understand it, you are able to let it go. After all, we need to apply the Buddha Dharma to our day-to-day life. The biggest obstacle is that some of us are not able to free themselves from them. It is like they have yet to take the first step. That is why they are still outside the door of the Buddha Dharma even though they may have been cultivating it for decades. This is the truth. Every cultivator either lay or left-home-life, should realize it. Otherwise, all the efforts in cultivation shall be in vain.

Question 2: Chen had personally joined in the shooting of Shanxi Xiaoyuan Why, however, she herself was not able to gain release from the torture of cancer?

Master Chin-kung: I am not aware of it. I don’t know whether she joined to shoot it. The cancer patients with Shanxixiaoyuan showed firm faith. Xiaoxu, however, did not have faith in it. I took care of her for so many days. She did not know to repent of past wrongs, nor to show gratitude. She said it herself that she just did not feel remorseful or grateful. The vow power was not strong enough. Yes, she did make vows, but were too weak. Most important of all, she lacked in faith. The Dharma is born out of our mind. We always stress this in the Great Vehicle teachings. I reminded her all the time of it right before her. When making vows, we should be mindful of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, sutras, propagation of the Dharma, the welfare of the living beings, and how to make the Proper Dharma abide. These are the proper vows. Making vows like these are good for her. However, she did not give any thought to them. She was simply worried about herself and whether she could recover. It is hopeless if one thinks like that. All her thinking was so negative. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas could not help her even though they wanted to. You have to have the proper thought to be helped by Buddhas and Buddhisattvas. There should not be negative thoughts. Therefore, it is not easy to believe in Buddhism.

Master Ou-yi talked of the concepts of faith, vows, and practice, in his Commentary on the Amitabha-Buddha Sutra. Regarding the first concept of faith, Master Ou-yi stressed that one first to believe in oneself, and then believe in Shakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha-Buddha. Unfortunately, Xiaoxu did not have such faith. She did not have faith in herself. It would have been fine had she still placed faith in Shakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha-Buddha. One should keep being mindful of the Buddhas, the Buddha Dharma, and Dharma Masters. She lacked such faith. Without it, neither the Buddha, nor the Dharma, or any Sangha members could help her. We felt it a great pity.

Meanwhile, she had many negative affinities that rattled her mind a lot. Half of the trouble-makers were those that had great enmity with her and stayed attached to her body. There were quite a few of them. As we stood by her, we saw at least dozens of them. We of course worked to mediate their enmity. It was effective. After several rounds of mediation, they left one group after the other. Once they left, she felt relaxed and comforted. When they stayed attached her body, it was stiff. Once they left, it got better. Nevertheless, a few of them refused to leave no matter how hard we tried to persuade them. Perhaps the enmity was too strong. You did not know the whole picture. Once you know it, you can draw a big lesson from her story.

Set free your mind and body. Let it go. If you can really make it, those having enmity with you will leave you. If they remained attached to your body, that means, in other words, you have yet to set free your mind and body. If you make it, they shall admire you and praise you. Let me share with you the story about the rebirth to the Pure Land of Chen Guangbie, former head of the Singapore Buddhist Lodge. The students of a Buddha Dharma training course chanted Buddha names for him after he passed away. After that, over 100 beings, who had enmity with Chen, followed them to the Lodge. They all witnessed the rebirth of Chen. They were pleased to see the rebirth of him even though there had been enmity between them before. They said that they would never stir troubles again. They followed to the Lodge in the hope that they could take refuge with the Lodge. After the refuge-taking ceremony, they said they would like to stay at the Lodge so that they could listen to Buddhist sutras. There are lectures at the Lodge everyday. They then asked whether they could stay at the Lodge Canteen as it was too bright at the lecture hall and they could not bear it. Their proposal was accepted. At the Canteen, a TV was set up that broadcast The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's Fundamental Vows day and night, non-stop, for a whole month. One month later, they all left. Or maybe more than one month, one and a half or two months. Doing so helps them to give rise to a sense of kindness and compassion. They, therefore, do not look for troubles anymore.

Therefore, it is not easy to learn the Buddha Dharma. The good roots have to be ripe. You must be truly close to good friends, be able to let it go, see it breath, and apply it to your life. Xiaoxu gained a good rebirth. Her story serves as a good reminder to many people.

Question 3: It is said that she only took Chinese medicine and said no to all western methods of treatment. Was she being too attached to it, or that she was kind of too slow to let go of the mundane phenomena?

Master Chin-kung: You have to truly understand it before you know why. You are ignorant of it. It takes years of pains and hard work to really know about medical sciences, the Chinese medicine and western medicines. We took her to meet very good doctors who gave her good care. We did our best to provide the best treatment to her. Hundreds of people saw it.

Q4: Chen Xiaoxu left the home-life in last December. She made the vow to serve in multicultural education on a voluntary basis for the rest of her life. Though it was not long after she had left the home-life, she had been cultivating the Dharma at home for like seven or eight years. Besides, she made big contributions to the development of Buddhism, and she was close to master. Why wasn’t she able to realize her wish to propagate the Dharma?

Master Chin Kung: Master Chin Kung: I hope you could visit me here so that I can provide detailed explanations to you. Two hours are not enough to make it clear to you. It shall take three to four days.A left-home Buddhist has to accept and uphold the complete precepts. Why some people, though having been left-home for decades, still fail to gain rebirth to the Pure Land, but remain subject to the influence of the karma?

My master Lee Ping-nan warned me of it when I was learning the Dharma from him. I had talked of the story when I was lecturing. At that time I already had accepted the complete precepts. Once I visited him in Tai-chung. It is a must that one pays a visit to his or her master after one has accepted the precepts. Before I walked indoors, when I was still quite a distance away from the door, I heard him say to me, “You should believe in the Buddha! Believe in the Buddha!” He repeated for over ten times. I was quite confused. I left home-life seven years after I started to practice the Buddha Dharma. Two years after I left home-life, I accepted the precepts. I had been a teacher with a Buddhist Institute for two years. I was totally confused why my master still warned me that I need to believe in the Buddha when he saw me.

To be a Buddha Dharma cultivator, one has to follow the instructions of the Buddha. For many, it is easier to speak than to do it, as they lack in faith. It is just that difficult to cultivate firm faith. One has to have faith to make it efficacious. If it is not efficacious, one has to reflect within. Is it because I lack in faith? As is written in the Great Treatise on the Perfection of Wisdom, “Faith is the source of Enlightenment, and the mother of virtues; it fosters and strengthens all good qualities.” If one can really make it to have pure faith, without the least trace of doubt or idle thoughts in it, one can be bodhisattva who has attained the realization of dharmakāya. This is the standard to measure one’s faith. Regarding faith, there are both delusive faith (superstition) and proper faith. Having proper faith means one understands it but has yet to act upon it. You have to place true faith in it, not only believing in it, but also acting upon it.Making a donation is to cultivate blessings. However, blessings along won’t save one from death. The Six Patriarch talked of it in the Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. This is about turning on the wheels of the six paths. No blessings, no matter how big they are, can release one from them. But what are blessings for? No matter which Path you are born in, one still enjoys them. Even in the Path of Hungry Ghost, one shall be a wealth ghost thanks to the blessings. One shall suffer of course if without them. Heavenly beings, for example, have to endure great sufferings, as they don’t have any blessings. Their life is not as good as the blessed human beings. This can be found in Buddhist sutras.

You ask me why Xiaoxu failed to fulfill her vow to propagate the Dharma and benefit all beings. It was because her vow was not strong enough. Quite a pity. Why was it not firm enough? She got too little access to Buddhist sutras and spent inadequate efforts in practicing the Buddha Dharma. You have to make this very principle clear. Do not mislead Buddhist cultivators so that they retreat from it. Our faith should grow firmer when we read about Xiaoxu’s story. Stay alert.

As I said many times before, my lifespan was predestined to be at 45 years. Nonetheless, I managed to extend it. I was confident that she could make it too, except she was not cooperative. I raised four requirements to her. 1- have firm faith in the Buddha Dharma; 2- repent; 3- express gratitude; and 4-make strong vows. Unfortunately, she did well enough in none of the four. In such a case, none could save her. Nobody else could help. It is her business. If you make the vow for her, no matter how strong, it is yours. She does not get the merits. So, you have do act upon it yourself. Otherwise, your end would be worse then Xiaoxu’s. I am telling you the truth.

Question 5: In the Leaving the Home-life Statement, she vowed to accept, practice, and propagate the Buddha Dharma, and that she would retreat from worldly life for ten years and focus on the study of the Chinese traditions from Confucian, Buddhist, and Taoist perspectives, and would dedicate the rest of her life to the Buddha Dharma, to carry on the Buddha’s wisdom. It was so great a vow! Why was she unable to melt away the karma with such a vow?

Master Chin Kung:
She was more paying lip services than applying real efforts to do it. This is why. One has to deliver one’s promise to make it efficacious. She failed to do so. It is not that the Buddha Dharma is deceptive.

I fulfilled my vows in my thirties. In the year I was 45, I was sick. I knew my lifespan was about to end. At that time, Curator Han was taking care of me. I told her that my life was coming to an end. No need for me to see the doctors. A doctor can cure diseases, but not extend one’s lifespan. I took no medicine, nor saw any doctors. I simply chanted the Buddha names, praying to be reborn in the Pure Land. I did so for one month. Gradually I got recovered. No health problems up till now since then.

I was 79-year-old two years ago. I was sick for four days once when I was in Beijing. I stayed at a hotel at that time. I have already told this story to you. I saw Shakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha-Buddha, Vairocana Buddha, and Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. They were as big-sized as the empty space. Though so large, I could see them clearly. Unusually clearly. I thought to myself, perhaps I was about to end my life. After all, I lived 34 years more than predestined. I said I should leave now. Then I heard someone around saying to me, “is there anything left in your mind that you are worried or care about? Anyone you would like to see?” I did not turn back to see who was saying it to me. I answered, “No, nothing. I have let it all go. Master Chang Jia has told me before that my life is all set by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I wish very much to follow Amitabha-Buddha to His Pure Land. However, if you want me to help more the suffering beings in the world, fine with me. No problem”. I got recovered the second day. I returned to Hong Kong the third day, had a rest for another two weeks before I started lecturing on sutras again.

Xiaoxu failed to make a vow as strong as mine. When making a vow, one has to show single-minded sincerity, not on impulse. Acting out of an impulsive haste won’t help to solve problems. The mind with which one does a good deed is of great importance. One gets less merits if one does it involuntarily or only upon the suggestions by others. It is not cultivation of great blessings. Therefore, you would have known everything if you had stayed close to her for sometime so that you know her well, and if you know the Buddha Dharma well. Hopefully, her story shall serve as a reminder to you that you should remain vigorous. You really need to make it. Do not just pay lip service. Otherwise, the blessings you receive shall be much less than hers.

Q6: Some cultivators of the Dharma feel that their resolve is weaker than Chen’s. If even Xiaoxu failed to gain rebirth in the Pure Land, wouldn’t it be more hopeless for them?

Master Chin Kung: It is wrong for one to think so. Let me tell you, should you think in this one, for sure you shall not gain the rebirth. Faith is the key. Besides, when one is in bad luck, all those having enmity with you in your previous lives come to you. Are you able to make it through? If not, big trouble.

Q7: The last question. I have never wavered in my faith in the Buddha Dharma. Nevertheless, I felt upset and lost as never before as Xiaoxu passed away. May Master, please, show compassion on me and provide us with some enlightening teachings, to help consolidate the faith of me and my fellow-cultivators, so that we do not retreat.

Master Chin-Kung: Good comment! You have the concerns because you fail to realize the truth. You are standing at a wrong angle when judging it. I was talking about the three ways of knowing this morning, and yours is a mistaken perception. You are misleading yourself and others. Despite it, as is said by the ancients, “even all the Dharma is empty, the law of Cause and Effect is true.”We all have our own karma to face and should be held accountable for it.

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