In Buddhism, the laypeople should respect the left-home people. Laypeople should not be arrogant, look down on left-home people, or criticize them. Laypeople should make offerings to and praise left-home people, and thus avoid creating the karma of contempt. If laypeople have a haughty or contemptuous attitude, not only will they not have any merit and virtue, but they'll also be creating offense karma. Due to cause and effect, such people will definitely fall into the three evil paths. On the other hand, when receiving laypeople's offerings and thus acting as a field of blessings for them, we left-home people should reflect within and contemplate whether we have been cultivating earnestly every day. It is said,
A single grain of rice offered
Is as heavy as Mount Sumeru.
If one accepts the offering
and doesn't cultivate,
Then one has to repay the debt
by wearing fur and horns.
Since people respect us, we must reflect within: are we worthy of people's respect? Though dressed like left-home people, are we the same as laypeople? Do we have useless idle thoughts every day? Do we lose our temper all the time? Are we jealous and obstructive? Do we hinder other people's cultivation? If this is the case, then we don't deserve laypeople's offerings or their respect. If we still accept these, then we should feel indebted inside.
We cultivators should heed this at all times, so that we don't muddleheadedly dawdle in the Way-place. It would be a huge mistake to accept laypeople's offerings in such a way.
Why should the laypeople make offerings to and support left-home people? Because left-home people concentrate on cultivation. They don't have as much idle thinking, affliction, and jealousy as laypeople do. If you can be this way, then you'll be worthy of respect and offerings from laypeople. If you don't diligently cultivate, and aren't even as sincere as the laypeople, then you don't deserve their respect or offerings. You should understand this well. Don't “pass fish eyes off as pearls,” eating your meals but being idle within Buddhism.
When making offerings to left-home people, laypeople shouldn't pick and choose. “This Dharma Master cultivates, so I like to make offerings to him, that Dharma Master doesn't cultivate, so I won't make offerings to him.” We should not have this kind of improper attitude. No matter where we are, we should always make offerings to the Triple Jewel, and not carp and pick on the Triple Jewel. If we always look at the Triple Jewel's faults, we are being arrogant and failing to protect the Triple Jewel.
We shouldn't create offenses in the Way-place; rather, we should create more merit and virtue to offset the offenses that we committed before. First of all, we should repent. It is said, “Once repented of, great offenses will be eradicated.” How do we repent? We should make a clean breast of all our offenses in front of the fourfold assembly and vow not to repeat those offenses. Then the Buddhas and Bod-hisattvas will forgive us and help us eradicate our karma, since the offenses were not committed intentionally.
However, if we deliberately commit the same offense again, repentance won't help. Our act will become fixed karma and in the future we will definitely receive the retribution. We shouldn't think that if we create offenses during the day, we can simply pray at night to eradicate these offenses, and so keep on creating more offenses while continuously praying, turning it into a routine. In the future, the offenses accumulated will be as high as Mount Sumeru, so how could one avoid falling into hell this way?
In our Way-place, there are transformation bodies of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions, and transformation bodies of Pratyekabuddhas, Arhats, and other sages. There are also gods and dragons of the eightfold division. They are all here to protect the Dharma. If we constantly find fault with other people in the Way-place, that's equal to finding fault with all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and sages.
If we cultivate in the Way-place on the one hand, and create karma on the other, and our cultivation is less than the offenses we create, this is just like overdrawing a bank account. If we cannot make up the deficit, we'll go bankrupt. It's said,
Good and evil are two diverging roads.
You can either cultivate the good,
Or commit offenses.
Don't just create evil karma and neglect creating good karma in this Way-place. We should always examine our own faults and not denounce others. If we just harass others and obstruct them in their cultivation, then not only will there be no benefit for us, but in the future we will also receive the retribution. The consequences go without saying.