Time is like an arrow; the days and months fly by like a shuttlecock.
The waves in the river follow one after another. Glory fades quickly. In
the world, youth is followed by old age. In this way, we gradually
return to the decay and extinction of old age and death, leaving no
trace or shadow. Clearly, everything is impermanent.
Since everything is impermanent,
we should quickly find a refuge. All of you can count yourselves lucky,
for you have searched around and finally come to believe in the Buddha.
Faith in the Buddha enables us to attain the ultimate happiness of
permanence, joy, true self, and purity. Therefore we should believe in
the Buddha. But it's not enough to say that we believe. We also have to
cultivate according to the Dharma. If you believe but don't cultivate, it's like talking about food without eating it, or counting the wealth of others─it doesn't benefit you in the least. So the ancients said:
The Way must be practiced. If it is not practiced, what use is the Way? Virtue must be cultivated. If it is not cultivated, from where does virtue come?
We should personally practice, always hanging the words “birth” and
“death” on our brows, and putting the words “Way” and “virtue” beneath
our feet. Maybe that's hard to understand─why
should we put the words “Way” and “virtue” under our feet? Because the
Way and virtue are a person's foundation. They are to us what roots are
to a tree. Once we have the Way and virtue, we can stand on our own
feet. But with no base under our feet, we have no place to stand. We are
in a fix, unable to advance or retreat, and we cannot accomplish
anything. If we can actually practice these two things, then we can
establish a good character and naturally be successful in whatever we
do. So it's said, “The Way and virtue are the foundation of being a
person.” The Analects of Confucius also say, “The superior
person attends to the root. When the root is established, the Way comes
forth.” Only when the fundamentals are tended to can the Way come forth.
This is wise advice from the ancients.
As mentioned earlier, the days
pass as swiftly as an arrow, but we don't notice it. As for the days
gone by, just let them go. Only the future is worth pursuing. We should
set guidelines for the future, so we won't let the time pass in a
Western Bliss Garden Monastery has always promoted the Pure Land
Dharma-door and exhorts everyone to vigorously recite the Buddha's name.
Every year, on the nineteenth of the sixth lunar month and the
seventeenth of the eleventh lunar month, we will continue as usual to
hold Dharma Sessions for reciting the names of Guanyin Bodhisattva and
Amitabha Buddha. However, everyone should certainly not just casually
“attend as usual,” not taking it seriously and letting it pass lightly.
Rather, each year we should be more vigorous than the year before; we
should work intensively. During these seven days, no matter when and
where we are, we should diligently be reciting the Bodhisattva's name
and never become lax .
We should be mindful of the Bodhisattva; it's not that the Bodhisattva
should be mindful of us. Why don't we want the Bodhisattva to be mindful
of us? If you are nominally participating in this session, but in fact a
lot of idle thoughts are keeping you from being diligent in reciting
the Bodhisattva's vast name, the Bodhisattva of Great Kindness and
Compassion will certainly take pity on you, this poor living being, and
be worried because you are not sincerely participating in the session.
Therefore, everyone should earnestly and sincerely recite, and go a step
further by nurturing kindness, compassion, joy, and renunciation in
your mind. If you can do that, then I guarantee that the Bodhisattva
will aid and support you.
Moreover, everyone has come to the session of his own free will; Western
Bliss Garden Monastery has never sent invitations to anyone. This shows
that everyone is certainly not lacking in sincerity. This spirit of
initiative is very commendable. Therefore, we shouldn't let this
sincerity go to waste. We should all vow to recite until “stones peep
out from the receding water”
(the truth is brought to light), until the Bodhisattvas appear
before us to speak the Dharma; then, we will not have come to the
session in vain.
This is the first day of the
session. On this day, I bless you all and wish you success this year. If
you don't have any success, I will have to settle accounts with
everyone. And if your account isn't cleared up, you will be sorry. I
won't chatter too much; we had better recite the Bodhisattva's vast name
A talk given on the morning of June 13,1958, during a
Guanyin Session at Western Bliss Garden Monastery in Hong Kong.