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the Supreme Master
Ching Hai

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The Secrets How Master Attained The Tao

Spoken by Supreme Master Ching Hai
to the resident disciples
Hsihu Center, Formosa • December 3, 1995
(originally in Chinese)

Do you know how I attained the Tao? It is because I have always been doing everything for others. Your spiritual practice is still blocked at the stage of keeping all the beautiful things to yourself and grabbing all the delicious food for yourself to eat. You are reluctant to give things to others, and that is why you don’t have plenty.

The truth is, the more we give the more we will have. You see I have given so much, so I have plenty of food — more than I can eat. Therefore, I have stopped rendering aid recently, fearing that the blessed rewards will keep coming until I cannot take any more! (Master and everyone laugh.)

There are several secrets of how I attained the Tao. First, I am very considerate towards others. Second, I greatly respected my teachers.

From primary school to high school, many teachers liked me. Perhaps it is because I respected them very much, and they felt it within. Maybe I have something, I don’t know. Perhaps I have affinities with them.

After growing up, I followed many masters. Although they were not very enlightened, I still followed their instructions completely. There was not the least bit of disrespect in me — no resistance.

Do you think my masters treated me very well? No! They would sometimes scold me. Compared to our level now, they were just like primary school teachers, but then I was a primary school student! They were not particularly nice to me. I helped and offered a lot to them, yet sometimes they would scold me, or hurt me greatly with their words, saying that I was nothing.

For instance, after I was married, the first words that my female master said were: “You do not deserve to marry him.” (Master laughs.) She said I didn’t deserve to marry my husband. She said, “Only your girlfriend deserves to marry him.” We had already married, but she still said these things.

I told my master, “My girlfriend is a married woman. She got married before me. Otherwise, I would listen to you and let them get together, as they deserve each other more.” From then on she ceased to comment further.

However, I was not angry at all. I didn’t say, “Master, how can you speak like this?”

I feel you are different in this respect. I am not blaming you, I just want you to know the secret.

The Difference Between Master And Disciples

Sometimes, we think our spiritual practice is very good already, because occasionally I send you out to give lectures. After coming back, you feel: “I have graduated. Master graduated in six months, I can make it in six years at the most!” You become different after coming back! Consequently, you hurt yourself. You think you are very good, but you are not that good!

I also think that you are very good, and this is the strange thing! I am the greatest fool in the world, therefore I am often hurt, frustrated, and disappointed. It is because I also think you are very good, so I cannot figure out the difference between you and me.

Sometimes I know. When I stay or work together with you, then I realize there is really a big difference. Otherwise, I am not aware. If there is no work, I totally forget that you are disciples. We look alike and are of a similar age; some people are even older than I am. I cannot imagine the differences between you and me. I think you are just like me, and we can understand each other; so I keep on talking. In the end, no one understands, so I really cannot stand it. I sit there feeling very frustrated. It seems that I am the only one in the whole world who can understand myself, and I really feel sorry.

Since ancient times, it seems that the enlightened masters can hardly communicate with people. I feel I am also one of them. It can only be done with great effort. You don’t understand even very simple things; not until I have talked for a long time. You obstruct yourselves too much! You’re too complicated — still thinking that it should be like this or that. Very complicated, very complicated.

You don’t understand, yet you don’t want to learn from others. You don’t want to learn from the teacher for fear of losing face: “I can do it alone! Let me do it myself!”, just like that, and then you make many mistakes.

With introspection, you will find many shortcomings in yourself. I also check myself everyday, but I do not find any faults. (Master and everyone laugh.)

Completely Become A Tool Of God

Since I am totally devoted to doing God’s work, I virtually have no choice. I cannot control my actions, or the situation. Even if I dislike it very much, I still have to do it. Since I have offered all of myself, why should I keep anything? I cannot say, “I don’t like this one because it doesn’t suit my character, and that thing will ruin my reputation and make me look awful.” This is not the way to do God’s work.

Just like a mechanical shovel, it goes wherever you direct it. It will dig wherever you direct it to dig. The mechanical shovel cannot say, “I am not in the mood today, I don’t want to dig there.” It must work in whatever way it is operated to. It is only a tool, and so is Master. I have completely become a tool of God, with no individual existence at all.

The moments that I treat you badly are actually when I am treating you well. When I treat you nicely, it is still human emotions, fearing that you cannot stand it! I think that is the proper way to treat people, and you will feel more comfortable that way. Actually, that is really “human” behavior. When I am really frank with you, very straightforward and without restraint, then I am really treating you well — you’re being handled directly by God.

However, you would have died long ago if you were handled directly like this everyday. Not a single soul would remain here. So it is necessary to do things with a little ego. If I let God handle you everyday, even I could not stand it! My body and mind would not be able to take it, because they would be used with too much intensity, too much!

If you kept stepping on the accelerator — did not let the car rest or stop, and maintain a speed of 170 mph even when turning a corner, that would be very exhausting, and you would be very tense.

Now and then, we have to remember we’re humans and relax a little. Have a barbecue, or chat about some lighthearted topics, this is also very important. Just like a house, we can only use it when it is empty inside; we cannot if filled with cupboards or valuable furniture.

Your Heart Must Be Simple And Pure To Attain The Tao

A character too rigid or too strong is not desirable. It is not necessary to win every time. You should know how to be reasonable and flexible, instead of always trying to prevail over others, or become better than the teacher. It is good to be better than the teacher, but it is still too early. At the moment, none of you are better than the teacher! I tell you frankly, not that I am arrogant, but I want you to know that you have to introspect yourself, endeavor to adjust and train your inner wisdom and character, and find out where your shortcomings are.

However, it is also bad to always hide behind your shortcomings. It is too negative, too self-despising and too pessimistic. It is not enough just to know about our faults! We have to rectify them, stop doing them, and behave in the opposite way to compensate for them.

Knowing your faults doesn’t mean blaming yourself, shutting yourself in a cave, holding a “closed-in retreat” everyday in there; becoming a turtle after nine years and boring people to death when you come out. (Laughter) It doesn’t mean keep blaming yourself, suffocating yourself; but you should try to climb up and change, and act in the opposite way. This is real penitence, instead of only punishing yourself with kneeling; this is only part of it. The best repentance is to stop the negative quality altogether, act in the reverse way, and make positive contributions. This is the secret to sainthood — the heart will become more simple and purer.

Even though now I say that it is useless worshipping the wooden Buddha statues, I was very sincere in worshipping the Buddha ten years ago. Because I have worshipped enough, I know it is useless. My masters told me to worship the Buddha and buy a Buddha statue — any statue that I liked. I thought the Maitreya Buddha was more magnanimous. I was right, I really need it now. (Master and everyone laugh.) He was also very cheerful. I had greater need for these qualities, so I bought a statue of Maitreya Buddha.

That day, my masters held a ritual to welcome the Buddha statue into my home. They burned incense, worshipped, and then told me to make a wish. I made only one wish: “In the future, if I could help anyone, I would be willing to do so, but please do not let me know conciously that I have helped.” It has really come true now; I never know whom I have helped. My master said if the incense burns then curls, that means the wish will come true. It really curled, so I believed it worked!

My master said I also had to recite some sutras at home. I wanted to chant the Medicine Buddha Sutra, but he wouldn’t let me. He said, “You have not yet reached this level, just chant the Great Mercy Mantra.” It was a long time after that that he gave me the Lotus Sutra to chant. They chanted very loudly, and asked me to do the same at home. I was also told to buy a wooden fish (a round wooden instrument to accompany the chanting) and tap it everyday. I was very serious, and got up very early to do the chanting.

In the early morning, my throat was hoarse, so I had to drink plenty of water. The chanting was to be repeated in the evening too. Usually, lay people are not that serious, and it was enough to chant once. However, I was very sincere then, and would do anything my master told me to do, even to such an extent. Unlike now, I have difficulties getting you to do anything. It is hard getting you to move a stone, never mind worshipping one.

So, I went home everyday I bowed to the sutras, chanted the sutras, and worshipped the Buddha; and I did have experiences. You will have experiences when you are very sincere. I had so many experiences that I cannot talk about them all.

I asked my master why it was necessary to chant the sutras so loudly. I said, “Do I have to chant so loudly even at home?” He said, “It is better to chant loud, so the invisible beings are also benefitted.”

I believed him, and I chanted very loudly until I lost my voice. I even left the windows open, fearing the invisible beings could not come in. (Master and everyone laugh.)

Can you imagine? I was thirty then, not three years old, yet I was so naive! Whatever my master said, I would do. Perhaps, exactly because I was so dumb, I realized some Truth. Very smart people like you can hardly attain the Tao. You are full of ideas, your minds are too smart, too cunning, and know too much!

Once, in winter, the snow outside was higher than a person, and it was very cold. Yet, fearing the invisible beings could not come in, I opened all the windows and dared not even lower the curtains, to show my welcome. Invisible beings do not need to come in from the windows but I thought, “what if some of them cannot come in?” Besides, it seemed as if they were unwelcome if I closed the windows and curtains, then they might not dare to enter. I even apologized to them, “I cannot open the door for fear of disturbing the neighbors.” (Master and everyone laugh.)

Listen To Your Master, God Will Be Touched

Listen to your master — whoever he may be, you cannot go wrong. God will be touched. Observing this person is so dumb, God will protect him, let him understand something. Otherwise, what will happen if he remains a dumb person all his whole life?

Therefore, God always takes better care of dumb persons. We should be dumb when we ought to be dumb. Do your best when you have work to do; use your wisdom when you have to use it, and do not use your wisdom when you are supposed to be listening. We have two ears but only one mouth. However, you seem to have grown two mouths and one ear, (Master and everyone laugh); or they have grown them in the wrong place. As soon as I tell you something, it’s exhaled very quickly and seems to vanish, leaving little effect.

When many people come here, they still embrace their own preconceived notions, concepts and ideas. They feel that they are great, and love to pull Master down. It is better to pull yourself up than to pull me down to your level. Of course, it is more comfortable to pull Master down, so you feel closer to me: “She is exactly like me!”

However, this is bad for you. I can always climb up or come down, but I must tell you the truth to fulfil my obligation as a teacher. I know, deep inside you understand very clearly, but it is only your mind struggling. You should identify the purpose of your coming here and don’t listen to your mind. Otherwise, both of us will be very tired, having to battle with the mind.

I am always fighting your minds, which is extremely tiring. Each time I think about a certain person, I feel his mind fully packed with this or that, blocking my way to his soul. The mind is guarding the entrance tightly. It is very exhausting! Okay! Everyone understand now? (Answer: Yes!)


The Secrets How Master Attained The Tao

True Story of Supreme Master Ching Hai’s Childhood

Window on Master’s Life



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