The Diamond Sutra states: Merits gained from donating the seven treasures1 of the cosmos of the three thousand great chiliocosms will not equal the merits gained from upholding a short verse of wisdom.
What exactly does this mean? The day will come, the Buddha is telling us, when the riches we donate will be exhausted. Our donation of knowledge, skill, truth, and the Dharma treasure, however, has no limit and cannot be overdrawn.
Sometimes a few words, like a four-line verse, is enough to change a person’s life. The Universal Gate magazine asked readers to contribute one- line proverbs. And I have seen memorable quotes by famous people in newspapers and magazines. Without doubt, even a few brief words can touch countless lives. I have often wanted to share passages that greatly influenced me. Later, I realized that I really wanted to collect in a series of books the many words of encouragement by my benevolent teachers and gracious acquaintances. That would show my appreciation. That was the motivation behind Hsing Yun’s Hundred Sayings Series.
I feel many different emotions when I think about the past. When I heard Venerable Chih Feng say, “Don’t become the withered bud or rotten seed of Buddhism!” I hastened to take the Bodhisattva vow. Venerable Master Chih K’ai’s Words, “Spread the Dharma to benefit all living beings!” moved me to never forget my formidable responsibility towards humankind or the mission to which my master assigned me.
In my youth, I was once called an underachiever. Worse, I was deemed useless. But it spurred me to live up to my potential. I never doubted that I could always make up for my weaknesses with added diligence in becoming a person of worth!
In the past, many encouraged and praised me, or slandered and criticized me. Whether from kindness or cruelty, their words invariably became positive causes and conditions on my path towards cultivation. They also formed the favorable and unfavorable, but always facilitating, conditions enabling me to learn how to conduct myself.
As paddies produce crops of rice and the lotus thrives in mud, the state of the environment is not nearly as important as our being a healthy seed. For only a good seed produces good fruit. One must allow the nature of spring, summer, autumn, and winter, the wind, frost, rain, and snow to become the causes and conditions of one’s growth. Through all vicissitudes, we must never lose sight of growth and progress as our purpose in life. Today I rejoice in my personal worthiness and virtue, correct perception and knowledge, as well as good affinities with many people. For this I thank the Buddha’s benevolence and the kindly conditions from all ten directions.
IN Hsing Yun’s Hundred Sayings Series, I do not want to indulge in lofty eloquence or see any words and phrases wasted. I only want to convey snippets from my past and my thoughts on the one-line verses from which I have benefited greatly. Sometimes I do not feel as if I entirely understand the circumstances in which I find myself. At other times, because of my advanced years, memories of past events are beginning to fade. Those fervent devotees who ask about my past keep prodding me on. I wish to leave them some personal reminiscences while I can still speak and write of them. May those disciples who followed me into monasticism find among the Hundred sayings guidance and inspiration.
Starting in July 1992, I began contributing monthly to the Hundred Saying column in the Universal Gate magazine. The entire collection of Hundred Sayings will probably take ten year to complete. Such an undertaking – a marathon in life – must depend on how long I am able to run, how far I am able to walk!
To date, sixteen pieces of the Hundred Sayings have been written. To comply with everyone’s wishes, these will go to press,2 while the rest wait for another day.
Lastly, I would like to thank the Global Views Monthly and the Universal Gate magazines for featuring these articles from Hundred Sayings. I would also like to thank Venerable Man Kuo, a graduate in accounting from Fu Jen University and a graduate from Fo Guang Shan’s Buddhist college, for her help in recording my words. But most of all, I would like to convey my sincerest gratitude to the Triple Gem of all directions and the devotees preserving the Dharma, without whose contributions Hsing Yun’s Hundred Sayings would simply never be.
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