How are you? (Fine.)
Let me tell you. I also need to practice being a Master, or I will forget. Really! I have not seen you for two or three weeks, and I forgot who I was. I felt so strange, and I wondered why you came to see me. And then I began to have a vague idea that “I am the Master, that's why you have come to see me.
However, this idea was so vague, like it's a dream. Did you come to see me in a dream? Or am I seeing you in my dream? We are both in a dream. It is odd! I forgot who I was long ago, but you still remember. Strange! Today I feel very touched. You are so sincere and loyal, but I am not loyal to myself. I forsook this position long ago, but you still come here crying, so I have no choice. Okay.
Now we have another story about a king. Do you want to hear the king's story? (Yes!) The king's story is better. We can hope that we come back as a king in our next life.
Recently in Mainland China, I heard that some girls who were born poor committed suicide in order to be quickly reborn as wealthy, noble people in the city. The story was published in the newspapers. I felt upset when I learned about it. If these girls were taught correctly, they would have known that one's birthplace cannot be changed just by a simple thought.
One cannot be liberated from the current suffering this way. If we want to be very rich, we should do a lot of charity work right now. “As you sow, so shall you reap.” If we want to open our wisdom, we should sign up for initiation, keep the precepts and a vegan diet, meditate every day, and seek to know our True Nature and seek wisdom within.
I could also give you wisdom, but after a short while you would forget it all because we have been ignorant life after life. In just a short while, our habits would come back and cause trouble for us, making us confused. For that short period of time, we have the wisdom, which is stored in our memory, blessing us. However, it is not enough. We need to practice every day.
Otherwise, why did Shakyamuni Buddha bother to teach people to follow the precepts? His monastic practitioners even had to observe 250 precepts. Understand? They already saw the Buddha in person, so why should they still bother to observe the precepts and keep the vegetarian diet? Why did they have to meditate every day?
Take Ananda for example: he was acclaimed as the most knowledgeable or the most eloquent disciple. He spent every day with Shakyamuni Buddha for 25 years, but he was still not very enlightened. After the Buddha passed away, no one pampered him anymore and he got scolded by his monastic brothers.
Only then did he feel ashamed. So he locked himself in a cave and meditated the whole night with sincerity and concentration and then he became enlightened the next day. You see, you cannot have wisdom instantly. We originally have this wisdom, but it is buried under a lot of garbage. We become attached to the garbage and we forget our original jewel.
Therefore, wisdom may not appear even if we seek it. We have to be very sincere and humble. It is very difficult to find a Buddha, which means our Buddha Nature. It is difficult, but not impossible. We have to figure out a way and then practice it every day. We meditate every day to find our Original Self within until we can completely remember what it is.
Then we will never forget it again and we will never once more fall into that ignorant state. Okay. Now let us see how other people seek their wisdom. How did a king in ancient times seek his wisdom?
We all know how to find our wisdom, so we don't have to ask this question anymore. Now let us see how other people found it. Let's see what the kings or people in high positions needed to do when they wanted to find their wisdom.
Long, long ago, there was a king. He is not around anymore, so there's no need to look for him. Most of the kings are not around anymore. However, most people still seek fame and fortune, even though we already know that all the legendary kings, heroes, and men of valor are gone. We can't even find their graves, let alone their bones or some trace of their DNA.
But most of us still chase after the illusion of fame and fortune and then forget our great Original Self, our most magnificent throne. Among such people was a king from ancient times. He was the king; he was very happy and he had everything he ever wanted. He had many attendants and he lacked nothing. However, one day, perhaps the royal cook served him lousy food or perhaps he had an argument with his concubines, so he was in a very bad mood.
When you are feeling low, you tend to seek your Original Self within. Isn't that right? Normally, when we are feeling great, we don't pray to God. Right? We even forget about Hiers name. Only when we are in great difficulty and when we feel really bad do we get on our knees and pray, “Oh, please! I really need Your help. If You really exist, please prove it to me!” Things like that.
Then Hes might help us, so we would feel, “Hey! God seems to exist after all! That Being or that Buddha seems to exist.” So on that day, the king was feeling upset. Perhaps things in his court got difficult; perhaps there were many disasters or there were many rebellions, or there was a lot of trouble in his palace because he had too many concubines… You have only one or two wives and already you can't bear it. Right?
No, one is still okay, but two is unbearable, let alone having two or three thousand wives. Some kings even had twenty or thirty thousand. Right? Of course there were bound to be problems.
When we read history, we wonder how the kings survived. They must have been really capable. With one or two wives, you already have headaches. How could the king handle so many wives? As I said last time, they just collected beauties and let them get moldy in the palace.
We can call those beauties “moldy beauties” because they were moldy. Perhaps on that day, all of his two or three thousand concubines went on strike, or they were disobedient or they refused to dance for him, he was very upset, so he sat there reflecting on his Self nature within.
After contemplating on his nose for some time, he concluded that there were three questions in his life, and if he could find the answers, he would definitely become a happy man and definitely would have the power to benefit his country more. Moreover, the vexations in his mind would be alleviated. He thought that if he could find the answers to these three questions, he would never fail in anything he might undertake and there would be no questions that he could not answer.
So, here are the three questions.
The first question was: What is the right time to begin everything? What is the best time to do things? The second question was: Who is the right person to work with? Which person is most important to us? That means a partner. The third question was: What is the most important thing to do? That means “what is the thing that we should do every day, every moment?” What is the most important matter in our life 24/7?
He thought these three questions were of paramount importance. The three answers were even more important. If he could get the answers, he would definitely pacify and control the whole world. However, he had no answers to his own questions; he could not answer them himself. Perhaps we ordinary people would often ask these questions, too. Right?
For instance, “what is the best time for us to do something?” Perhaps he could find the answer through divination. There was no need to think too much. Just look for divination in a local deity's temple, and toss two shoes on the floor. We Formosan (Taiwanese) are good at handling these things. So are the Chinese, the Aulacese (Vietnamese), and all Asian people. Divination is the simplest solution.
There was once a person who went to a local deity's temple to consult the gods about his future marriage. He was in love with a girl, but she had a mole on her face that signifies bad luck, so he was worried that bad luck would come after marrying her. So that man tried divination at the local deity's temple. The first result was negative, the second one was also negative, the third one was still negative. On the tenth try, he finally got a positive answer.
The local deity was exhausted, so he put both shoes in the positive direction. Both shoes were put in the positive direction, so the man went home to marry the girl and let the local deity take responsibility. We also often have these three questions. For instance, we want to do a certain thing, but we don't know when the auspicious time is.
When we need to cut the ribbon for an opening ceremony, we also check for an auspicious day. For instance, I would ask, “What month is it?” He would say, “It is May.” “What day?” “The ninth.” I would say, “Oh! Nine-five! Wonderful. Let's cut it immediately.” Also, “What is the best time?” He'd say, “Usually here in our place, noon is the best.” So I would say, “Okay! Let's cut it at noon.” It is very simple.
If we believe with all our heart that this is the best time, then it will be the best time. Otherwise, even if it is an auspicious day, but we are doubtful in our hearts, then there will not be good results. Sometimes, we want to start a business and we want to find a partner who has professional skills, but we don't know a suitable person, so we also have to ask ourselves which person is the best choice for us, the most beneficial and the best partner for our business.
The same also applies to when we want to do other things. Sometimes, there are too many things to do, because there is so much suffering in the world, so we also ask ourselves, "What is the most important thing to do?" Then we won't feel hesitant. We will do it wholeheartedly.
So, not only did that king ask these three questions, we ordinary people also often ask these questions. Isn't that right? (Yes.) Have you found the three most important answers to these questions?
That's too simple.
Our six-year-old kids can say that. You have meditated for so long, but still you cannot answer. That's right! One day I also said to my attendants, “I think perhaps you have been meditating too hard. Perhaps all of you are okay now, so you may not need to meditate or have group meditation anymore. Is that okay with you?” He said, “I don't think so.
I heard that group meditation yields lots of merit.” You have improved a little bit, haven't you? Have you? (Yes.) Really? (Yes.)
Is the meditation really useful? (Yes.) Okay, I believe you. Spiritual practitioners must not tell lies. Is it really useful? (Yes.)
Okay. That king was pondering over these three questions all the time. He thought for a very long time, but he was not enlightened and could not find the answers. Finally, he issued a notice and displayed it everywhere to let his people know that anyone who could find the answers to these three questions would be generously rewarded, and that he would give the person lots of wealth, lots of land and a high position, etc.
Having read the notice, many people went to the palace to try to help the king. Everyone gave him different answers, but the king didn't like them. He was neither satisfied by nor happy with the answers.
For instance, in reply to the first question, a person suggested that the king make a very detailed timetable. The king was asking when the most suitable time was to do things. So he taught the king to design a very meticulous timetable, listing what to do right down to the second.
And then the king should follow this timetable to do things every day. He thought that only then could the king get everything done at the proper time. But then another person told the king that it would be impossible to decide beforehand the right time for every action. All kinds of things could come up the next day.
How could the king know beforehand what he had to do? If he made a timetable and some unexpected things happened, or there were urgent situations, how could the king stick to his timetable and still manage such special situations?
How could he manage important state affairs? Therefore, the second man suggested that the king forsake all his pleasures and be on constant standby, attending to everything that was going on and then he would know the right thing to do.
Another person had different ideas. He said it was impossible for the king to foretell and solve what would happen in the future. Even when something happened, he might not be able to figure out what to do at that time.
Therefore, he suggested that the king call together a huge assembly with a lot of wise people so that they could advise the king what to do at anytime and in any place. The king could consult them, and this would be better.
By listening to these wise people, the king would be okay. Most kings do this. Right? But then someone else didn't agree. He said that there would be many things that needed to be decided immediately. It was impossible to wait for a large group of people to meet and then discuss or debate.
Sometimes there could be a lot of disputes, etc., and then time would be wasted and the king would not be able to make a truly good decision. Therefore, he thought if the king really wanted to know what would happen in the future, he should find a clairvoyant to be near him 24 hours a day.
If anything was going to happen, he could quickly alert the king so that the king would have enough time to make important decisions. For the first question, many people provided answers, but good answers were few. There were also various answers to the second question.
One person said that the king should completely trust his officials and let them make all the decisions. He would only need to give his seal of approval. It would be okay even if his officials made the decisions first and then he put his stamp on them later.
He would need to completely trust them. Another person said that the king should consult monks, priests, and nuns, etc., because they were spiritual practitioners who were more peaceful and who had better communication with God or Buddha.
Therefore, he should just entrust all affairs of the state to them. There were some people who suggested that doctors were more knowledgeable, and so he should just consult them when anything happened. So strange! These were affairs of the state, not bodily ailments.
They were really crazy. Another person was even worse. He suggested leaving all the important matters to the generals and let them fight it out. If they could not reach an agreement, then just fight it out. Many people came up with all kinds of strange ideas. Then it came to the third question.
Do you remember what the third question was? The second question was “who the best person is to work with?” There were different ideas: some suggested the monks, some suggested the doctors, some suggested the officials, some suggested the generals who were good at fighting battles.
The third question was: In our daily life, what is the most important matter for us 24 hours a day? That means something that needs to be done all the time. What is the most important thing to do 24 hours a day? Perhaps what he meant was, “What is the most important thing at any given moment of time?”
He wanted to single out that one thing. For example, there are many things to do. We have many matters and problems to handle around the clock. How can we single out the most important and the best thing to do? Isn't that right? That is what it means.
Sometimes, their translation is not very clear, so I have to explain it. So, this question is: How do we know in our daily life what is the most important thing to handle or to do? This question also attracted many different answers from people; they had different ideas.
For instance, some said that in our daily life, no matter what, science was the most important thing. “If we must choose, then science was the most important and indispensable thing.” Another person said religious belief was the most essential and indispensable thing for humans.
Others suggested that the most important thing was dancing, and some said war strategies. Although the king was rather dumb, he was not contented with these answers. He was still not happy, so he didn't give the reward to anyone. After several nights, he still could not find answers that pleased and satisfied him.
One day, he heard about a hermit practicing in seclusion on a certain mountain, perhaps on the hill. The king heard that he had great wisdom.
Finally, the king decided to visit this hermit; however, the king also knew that this hermit usually received no one but ordinary people. He would not receive officials or rich and powerful people, and he avoided dealing with such people as much as possible. Therefore, the king hesitated.
He knew this hermit always refused to see rich and powerful people; he preferred to see ordinary people, common people. Nonetheless, he wanted to give it a try, but he worried that he might be refused. Therefore, he took off his royal robe and crown, changed his attire, and disguised himself as an ordinary farmer.
He then went up the hill alone, telling his bodyguards to wait for him at the foot of the hill, not at the main access but by the main road downhill. He climbed up alone.