When we leave the home-life to cultivate the Way, we should always keep the body and mind in a concentrated and alert state. We shouldn't carelessly let ourselves become lax. When we cultivate in a monastery, any day on which we fail to advance is considered a day of backsliding. It is said,
A day on which no faults were corrected
Is a day on which no merit was created.
Left-home people should carry themselves well whether they are walking, standing, sitting, or reclining. Walk like a breeze, sit like a bell, stand like a pine, and recline like a bow. When you walk, be like a gentle breeze that doesn't ripple the water. Don't be like a hurricane that stirs up huge tidal waves. When you sit, sit steadily like a great bell; don't sway back and forth like the bell's clapper. When you stand, stand straight and tall, like a pine tree, not leaning on anything. When you lie down, use the auspicious posture, lying on your right side with your body curved in the shape of a bow. Left-home people should pay close attention to these four modes of deportment.
Left-home people should not speak recklessly. When it is time to speak, they should speak seriously and clearly, always setting a good example for others to follow. Don't laugh, giggle, or tell jokes, for that shows disrespect for the rules of the Way-place. If visitors see you laughing and giggling, they will criticize the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, saying that the left-home people here don't follow the rules. How can you cultivate if you act like that? How can you achieve anything? We shouldn't let one or two people who don't follow the rules ruin the reputation of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The City is a bright lamp for Buddhism throughout the world. Therefore, its residents should be especially careful in everything they say and do.
After we leave the home-life, we should constantly be mindful of ourselves and not indulge in random thoughts. We should get rid of all random thoughts, whether they are good or bad. When you reach the state where not a single thought arises, you will mesh with the Way and good news will arrive! However, if you indulge in useless random thoughts, then even though you are in a quiet place, your mind is still in the noisy city. How can you succeed in your practice? You're only wasting time. True cultivators don't indulge in random thoughts, for such thoughts impede their practice and cause them to want to retreat.
Whether you are left-home people or laypeople, you should not go into each other's rooms unless it is absolutely necessary. If you go into people's rooms to chat and gossip, you are wasting precious time. Even if you yourself don't want to cultivate, you shouldn't hinder other people in their cultivation. If you do, you will fall into the relentless hells forever. Since you have resolved to cultivate, you should concentrate and cherish your time.
An inch of time
Is worth an ounce of gold,
But an ounce of gold
Can hardly buy an inch of time.
If you lose an ounce of gold,
You can easily replace it,
But once the time has passed,
It's difficult to get it back again.
Each of you should cherish your time well. Cultivators in particular should make good use of each moment and not let the time go to waste. You don't know in which second you will have the chance to become enlightened.
When we are eating, we shouldn't talk. The meal offering chant we recite every day says very clearly, “A scattered mind and confused talk make the offerings of the faithful hard to digest.” Since you recite it, why don't you follow this rule? It is said, “Without a compass and a T-square, you can't make circles and squares.” If you don't follow the rules, how can you obtain wisdom? How can you become enlightened? Confucius said,
When it's time to eat,
one shouldn't talk.
When it's time to sleep,
one shouldn't speak.
When we are having our meal in the dining hall, there is no clamor of voices, but only the sounds of eating. This not only accords with the rules, but it also aids our digestion. If we chew our food well and swallow it slowly, it will be easy to digest and will be beneficial to both body and mind.