Since we benefit from the education we receive from the Buddha, what can we do to repay his kindness? Nowadays, most people enshrine and worship him, making daily offerings to his image on an alter. Is this the right way to repay him? No. These are only rituals to remind us not to forget the Buddha’s kindness. The Buddha’s wish is for all sentient beings to hear the truth, practice accordingly and receive the benefits to attain Buddhahood. The only way we can repay him is to take his heart as our own. Only in this way can we repay our respected teacher. Therefore, we can request the turning of the Dharma-wheel, in other words, we invite knowledgeable masters to teach us about the sutras. This is also the greatest good deed and virtue. Why? Because it brings the teachings to the world. But if no one invites Dharma masters to lecture, they will not have the opportunity to do so. So, people who invite them to give Dharma talks will obtain great merits.
Many people are willing to invite masters to chant or recite believing that they will receive inconceivable good fortune. But actually, they may not understand the meaning of what they are reciting. Therefore, if they invite the Dharma master to give a talk, then good fortune. merit and virtue are even greater. The listeners will acquire a better understanding of the text and will be more inclined to recite the sutra and follow its teachings.
Unfortunately, if we want to invite a master to give a talk on the sutra today, we will find it hard to find an eligible one since they are so few. Many times, Master Chin Kung has said that when he travels to give talks, he has been told that it is very difficult to find masters to speak. He smiled and said, “Having a master to teach is a result. We need to plant the cause before we can attain this result. We need to plant the cause before we can attain the result. You are wishing for it without having planted the cause! Where on earth can we find such a deal!” What does “planting the cause” mean in this instance? To help train Dharma masters.
People like to listen to talks by senior, famous masters. Younger, unknown masters are normally inexperienced so fewer people attend their talks. Thus they may become discouraged and thinking that giving talks is too difficult, they return to conducting ceremonial services. What should we do to help these less experienced masters? The younger and more inexperienced they are the more we need to attend their talks. This will encourage them to continue to practice and to improve.
However, even if we attend every one of the master’s talks, we should not praise them. Unfounded praise is more harmful than slander. People may become very angry when slandered but for a person with integrity and enthusiasm the slander will only serve as a stimulant. The more embarrassed they become, the more determined they become. This person will do their utmost to achieve. However, if people praise and eulogize the master, they will think they have are so good that further improvement is unnecessary. This thinking leads to arrogance. Therefore, we should neither praise inexperienced masters nor make offerings to them. With too much money and fame, they will soon become tainted.
A person gives rise to the Bodhisattva heart and becomes a monk or nun but later becomes corrupt due to receiving excessive praise and offerings from followers. So, these followers are to blame for ruining this monk or nun. When the monk or nun receives the retribution, the followers will share the responsibility. Then whom should we make offerings to? The person with a firm mind for they will neither feel excited when praised, nor troubled when slandered. Only they deserve to receive the praise and admiration for only they will not be harmed by it. We would do well to strongly recommend this master to others,, so that the master can help more beings.
To accept praise and offerings is very difficult. Buddhist say that, “A single grain from the donor is heavier than Mt. Sumeru. I will server the donor like a bull in my next life if I do not transcend the six realms of reincarnation at the end of this one.” So it is not easy to properly accept offerings. Even Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do not enjoy the offerings made to them, let alone we ordinary beings. However, when the donor wishes to foster good deeds and virtues, the master should accept the offerings and then pass them on to others.
Earlier in this century, Master Yin-Guang set a good example for us. His innumerable followers gave many offerings. He used all the money to print sutras. Following his example, Master Chin kung uses all the money donated to print sutras. He then freely distributes the books to everybody. Master had the though that if he did not attain achievement in this life and transcend the six realms, he would at least bot become a bull in his next life because everyone who had received his books would help to pay the debt for him! This is the transference of giving. In this way, everybody would share in the good fortune. This is the proper way of accepting offerings from followers.
Using the offerings for personal use is absolutely wrong and immoral. Even if the money is used to build a way place, the way place has to be used to promote Buddhism. Only in this way can the donor receive the merits and virtues. Otherwise, without propagation and cultivation, the way place will become a place of competition and conflict. Therefore, we must be very careful if we want to build a way place. Master Chin Kung’s late teacher. Mr. Lee, once said, “When building the way place, everybody is a Bodhisattva doing their best to compete the work. But after the way place is built, everybody become a demon.” Why? Because they are all trying to grab power and profit. They have forgotten their initial genuine intention in building the way place.
We have to be very careful when making offerings to a Dharma Master. The Buddha told us that there were four kinds of offerings that could be made to monks and nuns. The first is food and drink, without which they cannot survive. The second is clothing.If it become worn, provide new ones if there is not another one available. The third s medicine to be provided upon illness. The fourth is bedding.
Nowadays, followers offer monks and nuns houses and whatever good things they can afford. Then they live such a comfortable life that they no longer want to go to the Pure Land! The present life becomes so satisfactory that the goal to transcend the cycle of birth and death to attain Buddhahood fades. This is very harmful to their cultivation. They have left their secular home behind. To present them with a house is to urge them to return home. Isn’t this harmful to them? Having received ownership of a house, they have again acquired property. This is regression of their cultivation.
The follower is then actually a criminal who will ruin the master. These people do not understand that this is harming Buddhism and damaging the spirit of the Triple Jewels.They think they are doing a good deed and accumulating much merit. When they see the king of the hell realms after they die, they will feel bewilderment at their punishment. We must have true wisdom to cultivate good fortune, merits and virtue in Buddhism. Followers need to be told of this but many masters are reluctant to tell them so because they they may not receive offerings
What about Master Chin King? He is determined to go to the Pure Land. He will not remain in this world to continue to bear the suffering. Thus, to tell the truth, he does not care whether you make offerings to him or not. If would be even better fir him if you did not for it would save him a lot of trouble. Because of this, he started the corporate body of the Buddha’s Education Foundation, which devoted to the printing and distribution of Buddhist books. He told the manager “Print more if there are more offerings. Print fewer if they are fewer offerings. There is no need to print any of there are no offerings, which is best.”
When too many offerings are received, we have to take the trouble to select among all the Buddhist books to determine which ones are most suitable to print and then decide how best to print them. with no offerings, there would be no worries, no troubles. So we should not seek offerings, seek a way place or ask for anything. Then we will have pure mind and a quiet heart on our path to enlightenment. Cultivate a pure mind and a quiet heart, helping others to cultivate the same and staying away from fame and profit is true cultivation.
We need to foster novice monks and nuns by placing them in hardships. If we cannot bear to see them experiencing hardship, we are harming them. When Buddha Shakyamuni was in this world, all of his students had only one meal a day and spent the night sitting under trees. Is this not a life of hardship? If we had been there and felt sorry for them and helped them out of their hardships, how could they have attained enlightenment?
The Buddha taught us to regard hardship as our teacher. Only by living most simply and frugally can we acquire a true Dharma heart and be firmly determined to transcend this world. So, hardships are good for us. If we are not willing hardship ourselves then we can at least respect those who are and not try to extricate them from their difficulties. Only when we sincerely help inexperienced monks and nuns to improve will we have good masters promoting Buddhism.