法界佛教总会.DRBA Logo

Venerable Master Hua’s Talks on Dharma Volume Ten 

化老和尚开示 Lectures by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua



Great Fortune in Unfortunate Times

As you study at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, you will understand how to be a truly worthy person.
This is an excellent opportunity to turn over a new leaf and turn your whole life around.



Fellow students! The most important time in your life is before you reach the age of twenty. This period is your “golden age.” During this period, your original Buddha nature has not totally been lost, and your pure inherent nature is still present. At that time, if you associate with good people, you will become a good person. If you hang around with bad people, you’ll turn into a bad person. It’s very easy to get influenced by your surroundings. There’s a saying, “Those who are near rouge turn red; those who are around ink turn black.” That’s what I mean.




If you meet good teachers and wholesome friends, you will be able to acquire genuine knowledge and build a good character. On the other hand, if you encounter teachers and friends who are rather slack about the rules, under their influence you will also turn into an unruly person. On a small scale, you might become the black sheep of your group; on a larger scale you could become a villain in the society. Remember, your own nature is just like a piece of pure white cloth. If you dye it blue, it becomes blue; dye it yellow, and it turns yellow. You are studying in such a superb environment. In the future, you should certainly do something to benefit the society, and change the trends of society for the better. You ought to sacrifice your petty, selfish interests to work for the common good.


Fellow students! Most of you come from abroad. [Note: There were students from Vietnam, Cambodia, and other countries.] You have suffered the pain of leaving your own country and making a rough journey to get here. In these turbulent times, to have the special opportunity to come to study at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and build a good foundation for your character, could be considered something very lucky in the midst of misfortune.


The educational aim of Instilling Goodness Elementary School at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is to mold children into excellent students by teaching them to be filial to their parents, respect their teachers, choose good friends, and serve their country. The educational aim of Developing Virtue Secondary School is to develop the students’ ethical values so that, understanding the four cardinal virtues of propriety, righteousness, integrity, and a sense of shame, they become upright and good citizens. This is the basic purpose for which the schools were established at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.


In such a fine educational environment, all of you should cherish your time, cherish your life, and cherish all living beings and all things. Don’t let your "golden years" go by in vain. You should study hard; don’t read novels or watch TV. "Recite (your lessons) orally, reflect on them mentally. Be mindful of them morning and evening." Recite the book with your mouth, and contemplate its principles in your mind. Be mindful of those principles in the morning as well as in the evening. Never forget the books you have studied; always review your lessons. As the Confucian Analects say, “Review the old and learn the new.” Go over your old lessons and learn new knowledge from them. That’s the principle here.


Now is the time of your life when you should concentrate on learning; aside from helping out with the family chores, you should cherish your time and study hard. Don’t waste your time. There’s an ancient saying, “An inch of time is worth an inch of gold, but an inch of gold can hardly buy an inch of time.” You see how precious time is! It is said, “If you don’t work hard when you’re young and strong, you’ll grieve in vain in your old age.” If you don’t study during these golden years, you’ll regret it when you get old, but by then it will be too late to do anything!


Fellow students! At your young age, you have been through a lot of trauma, for you left your home and country to flee to freedom. Homeless and wandering from place to place, you have experienced suffering that’s beyond words. Only after having undergone all kinds of distress and woe did you arrive at a safe place. This is because in your past lives, you didn’t cultivate blessings and wisdom, or perhaps you brought disasters down upon other people and caused them to suffer. And so now you are undergoing the painful retribution. This is the power of karma from previous causes bringing on subsequent effects. Though you are still young, you have already had a full taste of disasters. If you still fail to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi and fail to study hard, it’s pretty easy to see that your future will be dark rather than bright. Do you understand?


As you now study at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, you are learning the Six Guidelines of not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing personal advantage, and not lying; and you understand how to be a truly worthy person. This is an excellent opportunity for you to turn over a new leaf and create a bright future. Don’t let it pass you by. You must realize that this is extremely important. This is the point at which you can turn your whole life around.


In addition to studying hard while you are here, if you can take advantage of the opportunities to always cultivate by sincerely reciting the Buddha’s name, bowing to the Buddhas, investigating Chan and sitting in meditation, then you will be able to attain extraordinary abilities-namely, the penetration of the heavenly eye, the penetration of the heavenly ear, the penetration of knowing others’ minds, the penetration of knowing past lives, and even the penetration of the complete spirit or the penetration of ending outflows. I will explain only four of the six spiritual penetrations now, and leave the remaining two for another time.


What is the penetration of heavenly eye? It means that from here on earth you can observe all the movements, activities, and conversations of heavenly beings very clearly and without any obstruction. In mainland China now, there are many children who have the ability to see the things outside the walls of the room they are in. They can also know what someone is holding concealed in his hand. This is the penetration of the heavenly eye, which is just the ability to see through things.



What is the penetration of the heavenly ear? It means that you can hear what heavenly beings are saying. You can also hear what the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are saying. You can also hear very clearly what people are talking about several thousand miles away. At present in China there are some children who can use their sense of hearing to "read" what is written on a piece of paper. They take a piece of paper on which something has been written beforehand (without their seeing it), place it by their ear, and listen for a second, and then they know what’s written on the paper. It works every single time, so they’re clearly not guessing. These responses derive from good roots that they cultivated in previous lives. However, if not guided by a wise teacher, they will lose these special abilities after their childhood years.



What is the penetration of knowing others’ minds? It’s the ability to know clearly and without any obstruction what other people are thinking about.


What is the penetration of knowing past lives? It’s the power to know very clearly other people’s past causes and effects, such as the good and evil deeds they have done. If you cultivate diligently, you can obtain this special skill; you can bring forth great wisdom and achieve the spiritual power of unobstructed eloquence.


There are many children in mainland China who are gifted with these extraordinary abilities. Unfortunately, since no one understands these abilities, these spiritually gifted children are neglected. This is truly a pity for Buddhism. If we could actively train these child prodigies and help them develop their abilities, they would be living examples of the Dharma who would cause the world’s people to see Buddhism in a new light. People would awaken as if from a nightmare and see that Buddhism is really a religion that can save people and save the world.

你们在万佛圣城读书,如果再能专心一致来学佛法,相信都有机会得到这种专门的能力。 这并非迷信,而是真实的,好像电视、雷达、收音机、电话、电报等,也有天眼通、天耳通的功能,但这些是人为的神通,而非自然的神通。若是由参禅所证得的神通,乃是任运自在的神通;只要你愿意,也可以修到这种境界。

You are now attending school at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. If you concentrate on studying the Buddhadharma as well, I believe you have the chance to attain these special abilities. These aren’t just superstition; they are genuine powers.

Instruments such as the television, radar, the radio, the telephone, and the telegraph also have the functions of the penetrations of the heavenly eye and the heavenly ear, but those are manmade spiritual penetrations, not natural ones. The spiritual penetrations gained through Chan meditation are effortless and carefree in their functioning. All you have to do is want to, and you can obtain such states through cultivation.




A talk given on March 5, 1984


法界佛教总会 . DRBA / BTTS / DRBU