Today is the New Year day of the year of the Dragon. I am here, at
the Patriarch Hall, to participate in the ceremony. On this occasion, some of you
have requested me to give some words as a reminder so that from there, you can practice
exertively to attain the Way. I accepted the request and will have some words to help
you to understand and realize the Way so that you can apply it in your practice.
This year, my age is high. I'm happy at each moment I'm still alive. There is no guarantee.
Therefore, I will tell you today all the thoughts I have kept inside of me that I
would like to fulfill for a long time. If in the future you are able to discern the
truth and your practicing is effective, then you should try hard to fulfill what I
have kept inside and have told you today. Thus, I call today's discussion "My Cherished
My cherished goal is to fulfill my hidden thoughts, hope, and expectation. I have
kept them inside for a long time, and have not had a chance to explain clearly to
the monks and nuns so that you could understand them clearly.
Talking about my cherished goal, you probably feel it's strange because it's something
that you have never heard or known about. But I have revealed my cherished goal to
you, however, you still don't understand my intention. Thus, when talking about my
cherished goal, I immediately raise a question so that you can remember. Why did I
name this monastery "Thuong Chieu?" If you can understand its meaning, then you can
understand my cherished goal.
I often explain "Thuong Chieu" with two definitions. The first definition is historical.
It is the name of a Zen master who lived at the end of Ly dynasty. He resided at Luc
To (Sixth Patriarch) temple and was a successor of Wu Yen Tong sect. But Luc To temple
was a lineage of Vinitaruci sect. Until his time, these two Zen sects had become one.
The place that he lived and taught was the place of unity. To me, he deserved to be
the successor to union all sects in Vietnam into one and propagate it later. This
is just a historical meaning, a small part. It's not yet my cherished goal.
My cherished goal relies on two words "Thuong Chieu." "Thuong" means "always" or "forever."
"Chieu" means "illuminate." Thus, it means "illuminate forever" or "always illuminate."
At the same time that Thuong Chieu monastery was established, Vien Chieu was established.
They were the first built monasteries at this place. I gave nunnery the name "Vien
Chieu" with two meanings. First, it's a name of a Zen master who lived in Ly dynasty
and second, "Vien" means "complete" or "full," and "Chieu" means "illuminate." In
the sense of time, Thuong Chieu means it always illuminates. It never stops. However,
if it always illuminates, it could be confined in a particular area or it can be at
any temple, as long as it's forever. Therefore, I have asked for an additional condition,
which is the completeness. In sense of space, completeness means it's everywhere.
Thus, "Vien Chieu" means it's everywhere. In the aspect of time, it always illuminates,
while in the aspect of space, it is at everywhere.
Maybe I am greedy with my goals and thoughts. I would like Buddhist dharmas or Zen
teachings and the torch of Zen masters always shine and forever shine at everywhere.
This is what I have kept inside of me and been waiting for. Now, Thuong Chieu monastery
is already formed as well as Vien Chieu and other three monasteries. For those places,
I have used "Chieu" as the second word of the name to illustrate the "illumination."
You have seen my thoughts and hope for that particular day. In the present, what I
have done so far is like I am lighting up a torch. There are two parts: In long term,
when this torch is almost gone out, another one is lightened up to continue. And it
continues to the next one, the next one and forever. This is "Thuong" (always and
forever). But this whole cycle can only shine at one small location. This is not what
I want. Instead, I would like one torch to light up ten to twenty other ones. And
from those ten or twenty torches, they become thirty or forty other ones. Gradually,
from one location, it spreads wider to everywhere so that those places are bright.
This is my cherished goal. Do you think I am greedy? It's greedy only when I do it
for myself. But in this case, I want to do it for the people, therefore, it might
not consider to be greedy. Why did I use "Chieu" as part of the name? Let me explain
this to you thoroughly. In the suttras, the Buddha had said, "You have to light up
the torch to walk, and light it up with the dharmas." He had taught us to light up
our own torch, but where should we light it from? Light it from the Buddhist dharmas
because the Buddhist dharmas are the burning torch. The patriarchs and Zen masters
often used this special phrase "Transmission of the lamp and torch." They taught us
to transmit the lamp and torch so that the light is up all time. Thus, the Buddha
had taught us to light up our torch first. Then, the patriarchs often taught us to
continue to transmit the lamp and torch as the way to instruct our successors.
Why does Buddhism emphasize on the lamps and torches? It's because when we talk about
Buddhism and the Buddha, we should understand that Buddha was enlightened and Buddhism
is a path that leads us to enlightenment. Enlightenment means "bright." So, talking
about enlightenment, we are talking about the brightness. Therefore, the enlightenment
is represented by the brightness of the lamps, the torches, even of the sun and moon.
Talking about enlightenment, we also talk about wisdom, or the brightness. Thus, when
we propagate Buddhism, we actually propagate enlightenment and wisdom. We would never
propagate the dullness. Because Buddhism is a religion of enlightenment and wisdom,
its representation is the lamps and torches. Without enlightenment and wisdom, Buddhism
can't exist. Thus, what is important to Buddhist practitioners? The attainment of
enlightenment in our practice. We must open our eyes of wisdom. Once we have the wisdom,
we will be able to instruct others to open their eyes of wisdom. How can we instruct
people when we are uncertain? Can we take others out of darkness when we don't have
the burning torch in hand? Only having it in hand, we would be able to take others
out of darkness.
If we don't emphasize on the enlightenment and the opening of our eyes of wisdom,
we are not true Buddhist practitioners. The meaning is so clear. But recently, we
have seen that practitioners are a bit less serious in their practice as they don't
emphasize on the wisdom. The more we practice, the further we are from the religion.
It's because we are not aiming at the target that the Buddha had aimed. He had ordained,
practiced, and become Buddha because of the enlightenment. From enlightenment, he
did the teachings. Thus, without enlightenment, Buddhism could not exist. Talking
about Buddhism without mentioning enlightenment, it's a big miss. Therefore, we need
to identify our responsibility of how to have a torch in hand so that we can take
people from the place of ignorance to the place of enlightenment and from the place
of darkness to the place of brightness. This is our responsibility. Any other task
is just secondary.
You can see that Buddhist studiers and practitioners are expected to be bright or
enlightened. Thus, the lamps and torches are imperative. When I use the word "Chieu"
(illuminate), what do I mean to use to illuminate? Obviously, we need to light up
the lamps or torches. This is the focus. We have vowed to practice our entire life
to become Buddha. Becoming Buddha means the attainment of perfect enlightenment. If
after one year, two years, three years, even ten years, we are not yet enlightened,
then are we practicing Buddhism or practicing a different way? This should be the
question that you should ask yourself.
If the more we practice, the less we know about the root of enlightenment, then we
are not practicing Buddhism. Even when we adore Buddha, prostrate or offer him, we
are not yet practicing Buddhism because we still live in ignorance. It's because we
are not bright, therefore, how can we shed the light to the people. Thus, the opponent
of brightness is ignorance. It is like the opponent of the lamps or torches is the
darkness. We light up the lamps and torches because it's dark and it's the way to
destroy the darkness. It's the same that in order to destroy prolonged ignorance of
mankind, we have to practice Buddhism to attain enlightenment. Only enlightenment
and wisdom can destroy ignorance. This is the root of practicing. There are many Buddhist
practitioners out there who have done many good deeds, love people, and save animals.
However, because they are still not enlightened, they're no different from a blind
person leading another blind person to nowhere. Therefore, we have to be determined
to attain the brightness and enlightenment in our practice. Wherever is dark, we should
light up the lamp or torch to clear it. The darkness of the world can be destroyed
by the lamps and torches. What should we use to clear up the ignorance of mankind?
We use wisdom and enlightenment. Only wisdom and enlightenment can destroy the ignorance
of human being. What is human being is ignorant about? And where at? Are you ignorant?
These are the questions that we are used for self-assessment. Are we ignorant or dull
people? For sure, not so many people admit that they are ignorant or dull. But the
fact is we are all ignorant.
Let me explain in order. First, let's discuss about the ignorance in Buddhism. As
I have said, practicing means to attain enlightenment. And to do so, we need to light
up the torch of wisdom. Once wisdom appears, enlightenment can appear. Thus, when
talking about Buddhist practitioners, we talk about enlightened people, not ignorant
people. Enlightenment requires wisdom. However, nowadays, it's so pitiful as we have
seen at many places and temples, people just have a belief, not the wisdom. They believe
that offering to the Buddha will gain his blessings and prostrating to him will return
merits. Whatever they do, they rely on the Buddha for his blessings and protection.
When they suffer with the disturbance of greed, hatred, and ignorance, they visit
the temples and pray to the Buddha so that he could clear their afflictions. They
reply on the Buddha for everything. They do not practice, but ask or pray to the Buddha
for free giving. Do they practice with wisdom or belief? If it's a belief, then there's
no wisdom. And if it's not the wisdom then there's no enlightenment. So, what should
they do when there's no enlightenment? Sometimes, I feel sad to think about the Buddhists
who keep relying on the monks and nuns. When they are ill, they ask the monks to pray
for their health. When someone dies, they ask the monks to pray for his/her liberation.
They continue to donate money to the monks to pray for peace and liberation. They
feel satisfied with that and think that they have practiced carefully.
Let me ask you this question: If the Buddhists are sick, the monks can pray for their
health. But when the monks are sick, who can pray for them? Maybe, the doctors. Thus,
why don't people ask the doctors to treat them instead? If the monks or nuns can pray
for their health, then the people can do the same thing. But in this situation, the
monks or nuns rely on the doctors to treat them, while the Buddhists rely on the monks
or nuns to pray for their health. Can you believe it? Did they do that with or without
wisdom? So far, I have talked about live people. How about dead people? If we can
pray for their liberation, then the Buddha should have prayed for their liberation
all the time. Isn't true because his principle is to deliver sentient beings? However,
reading the history, have you ever heard the Buddha praying for the liberation of
the deceased at any funeral? Never. The Buddha was so compassionate to save all sentient
beings, but he would never pray. Now, we are more compassionate than he is as we pray
for their liberation. Thus, we have instructed the Buddhists to know only praying,
In the suttras, the Buddha had stated clearly that the people who make good deeds
would be born in good realm. The people who make bad deeds will have to descend in
evil sphere. No one can pray for us. They can only help us before we die. At the last
moment, the monks or nuns can remind or instruct us as to keep us stay awakened. This
is a useful method to do. I remember clearly that in Agama suttra, the Buddha had
praised Anathapindika as the layman who made offer of reverence the most to the monks.
Before his extinction, he asked someone to notify the Buddha. He told the messenger
to request the Buddha for venerable Sariputta's visit. The Buddha granted his request.
Venerable Sariputta visited him without performing any type of praying for peace like
we do. He only asked Anathapindika:
- Householder, on typical days, what have you practiced? Have you abided the Five
- I could abide the Five Precepts.
- Could you practice the Six dharmas (Generosity, ect...)?
- Yes. I already attained it.
Then, venerable Sariputta kept reminding him all of his promises and practices so
he could remember. Once he remembered, the Venerable concluded, "So, don't worry.
You will enter a good path. There's nothing to be afraid." Then, he left without chanting
any verse. This is the principle of truth.
Nowadays, we chant without knowing if it's effective. In the past, only when we are
near death, the monks would remind us of our daily practicing methods. They wanted
to ensure that we remembered it. That's enough. So, did they use belief or wisdom?
They just remind us the disciplines of the Buddha that we abide and our study of his
doctrines. This is a way to reveal their wisdom. Doing so, they could make progress
in their practicing. How about us? We don't say anything, but chant. After chanting,
we make prayers. That's all to do. The emphasis is on praying. And the emphasis is
also on the belief. But the belief is not relevant to wisdom. Therefore, having a
belief means having no wisdom and vice versa.
We practice Buddhism and teach people the practicing methods, but we don't teach them
how to be bright and how to attain wisdom. We just develop a belief in them. This
is not the principle of Buddhism. It's ignorance.
The next type of ignorance is from each of us. Are we ignorant or enlightened? 100%
for sure you will admit that you are ignorant. No one has courage to say that you
are enlightened. But what are you ignorant about?
Let me explain so you could understand. In the first discourse at Deer Park, the Buddha
talked about the Four Noble Truths. Even though he was talking about the Four Noble
Truths, the first question he asked the Bhikkhus or Kondanna and his brothers was
"Are we suffering?" Many people say that they are living in happiness. But in fact,
we are living in suffering. How so? The Buddha explained, "The suffering of birth,
aging, decay, and death." Is there anyone who can get away from these four stages?
If we have forgotten our suffering at birth, then will we feel the suffering when
we are old? Before getting old, we suffer the lost of our teeth, the weaknesses and
aching... Everything is unstable. Thus, we suffer at the old age. Are we suffered
when we are ill? No doubt we are. How about death? Thus, birth, aging, decay, and
death are the existing sufferings of human being. Even the kings still have to go
through these stages. No one can get away from these sufferings. In addition, the
sufferings of separation, dissatisfaction, hatred, and the raging of Five Aggregates.
All together, they are eight types of sufferings. Can anyone extricate from those
sufferings? Do humans live in happiness or suffering? Suffering. Do you accept the
sufferings or try to ignore them?
Nowadays, we have many types of provisions. At lenient places, after the chanting,
we can watch TV for a while, and then we go to sleep. Morning comes, we do particular
tasks. Or we wake up in the middle of the night to do chanting, then do several tasks.
At night, we watch TV again. Is that a suffering? How could it be a suffering when
we are watching so many interesting scenes? Why do people create all types of entertainment
such as soccer games, operas, etc? Because they want us to enjoy and forget that life
is a suffering and humans are suffering. People produce different smells of perfume
and soap. Why? Because they know that we smell bad, therefore, we can use those smells
to take away our personal odor. There is nothing strange about it. Because they don't
want to reveal their bad sides, they have to produce those things. It's the same that
life is a suffering. If we keep pondering about it, we might suicide. Therefore, they
often find all types of entertainment to cover the sufferings. This is the common
behavior of the people in this world.
So, everyone has realized that life is a suffering. If we don't think that life is
a suffering, then there's no need to create so many types of recreation. We are happy
by ourselves. For instance, reading Chinese books, have you seen saints suffered?
They are so delighted to ride cranes, go out, play chess, and drink wine. Do they
need recreations such as soccer game, operas like we do now? They don't need those
things. We need those things because life is a suffering. Understand this, we will
be able to discern the truth that humans are suffering. It's an inargumentative fact.
This is the truth of Suffering (Dukka).
Buddhism has a different view. The Buddha had discerned the root of suffering. Therefore,
when people accept the sufferings, he immediately explains that it comes from a cause,
not from a coincidence. What is the cause? It's the Accumulation (Tanha), which is
union of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, doubt, false view, etc... They union
to create the effect of suffering. Thus, suffering is the effect and accumulation
is the cause. What did the Buddha teach us to do? He taught us how to use the wisdom
to observe carefully if human life is a suffering or happiness. When we discern the
truth from our observation, we attain the wisdom. On the other hand, if we refuse
to observe, seek for the truth, but instead, we just believe, then how can we attain
the wisdom? Wisdom is the observation and assessment of the truth. Perceiving the
truth with no doubt is wisdom. However, if we only know the effect of sufferings without
looking for its cause, then that wisdom is unusable and unhelpful. That's why the
Buddha had taught us to observe carefully its cause. The greed, hatred, ignorance,
arrogance, doubt, and false view are the root or cause of sufferings.
Let me make an example We are greedy. There are many types of greed. In Buddhism,
special term for greed is "affection in self." "Affection" is a greed in affection
and "affection in self" is the number one thing. Is there anyone who doesn't love
himself/herself? For sure, all of us love the body. The love for this body is the
"affection in self." Because we love it, we feel sad when it's aging, sick, and we
are afraid of death. The sadness and fear are the suffering. We suffer because we
are afraid to loose the body. If we don't love it and look at it as a toy, straw,
or trash, then are we afraid when it's gone? Seeing wither or dry grass, are we afraid?
They are trash, therefore, we should not be.
We suffer because we have "affection in self," or love this body too much. Therefore,
when it ages, decays, and dies, we suffer. If we can terminate the "affection in self,"
can the suffering retain? Because of "affection in self," we elevate its value. When
someone insults us, we get angry. Thus, from the "affection in self," greed exists,
then the hatred and all types of ignorance follow.
Observe it and discern it as so, we attain the wisdom. By lighting up the torch of
wisdom, we know the causes of suffering. Once we terminate those causes, suffering
will end. That is the reason for the third truth, the Extinction (Bhavetaba). From
the extinction, we attain peace. In order to terminate suffering, it requires defined
methods. Therefore, the Buddha had taught us the Way, which is the fourth factor of
Four Noble Truths.
Thus, in the first discourse, did the Buddha talk about the belief? Absolutely not.
He taught us how to observe the occurrences to this body to conclude that it's a suffering.
Then, he showed us the cause of suffering so that we could observe it carefully. Next,
he taught us the methods to terminate the causes of suffering. And when all causes
are terminated, we are free from suffering, or live in state of Nirvana. The whole
process got nothing to do with belief, but based on the wisdom.
Let's say we have malaria. We visit the doctor for a checkup. He identifies it's malaria.
The shivering of our body is a form of suffering. But there is a cause to this shivering.
What is it? The doctor has to find what type virus that could cause this type of illness
and shivering. Knowing the virus is the knowing the cause and effect. Is that all
he need by knowing the virus? No. He needs to find the medication that could kill
it. Then, he shows us how to treat it, either through injection or by mouth taking.
After taking the medicine, the virus dies. This is called termination. No more viruses
in our body mean we are healthy. The healthy state is Nirvana or pleasantness.
How realistic they are the practicing methods that the Buddha had taught us. It's
not mystical or superstitious. However, we don't want to practice that way by making
observation, or trying to understand it. We only have a belief. We believe in Buddha's
blessings, protection, and relief, instead of making a careful observation to apply
his teachings in our practice to terminate all types of ignorance. If we are able
to terminate ignorance, we no longer suffer. How can we be free of sufferings when
we don't want to do it? That's why the number of practitioners is large, but no one
is free of sufferings. Some people have asked the monks if they have terminated their
sufferings. Who, even the monks and nuns, has courage to say that he/she is free of
sufferings? Because we don't know the cause of sufferings and are not able to terminate
it, sufferings still exist.
That's the reason I say we need to fully understand what causes our sufferings. When
we can terminate those causes, the sufferings will vanish. Reading the doctrines sometimes
would make us feel pessimistic. The Buddha said (Diamond suttra, Paramita suttra)
that this body is filthy or impure in order to destroy the "affection in self." We
only need to use the wisdom in contemplation to discern the truth of the body as it's
filthy and impermanent. This thorough discernment will terminate the "affection in
self." The suffering is terminated from there. Isn't it the contemplation? Contemplation
is the brightness. Brighten ourselves to understand thoroughly about ourselves and
to realize the cause of our sufferings. From the contemplation we reach ultimate discernment.
Then, our wisdom illuminates. Perceiving the truth is wisdom - the truth about the
body and mind. If we keep praying to the Buddha without contemplating, how can we
attain the wisdom?
Because I want to always remind you the practicing method of Buddhism, I had named
this place "Chieu" (illuminate). You should be bright and stop being ignorant. Have
everyone agreed to that? You still prefer to pray than to brighten up your mind. This
means that you still don't want to open the eyes of wisdom. We are ignorant about
the body, then the mind.
From the day I discerned the truth about the mind, I realized that we have real ignorance
about the mind. What is our mind? Most of you will say is the thinking of better or
worse, right or wrong, good or bad, etc...If the thinking of those are our mind, then
isn't it right that when they disappear, our mind no longer exists? Like when we meditate,
we don't have any thought of better or worse, right or wrong. Isn't true that we don't
have the mind? If we don't have the mind, how can we realize the existence of false
thoughts and their flow? When we realize the arising of false thoughts and the agitation
of the mind, there should be something else that is hidden inside. And it is not the
arising of better or worse, right or wrong, and good or bad, etc...For long we only
misperceive the arisings, which is the differentiation between good and bad, right
and wrong, better and worse, to be our mind. From there, we make bad karmas. Whatever
claims to be good, we fight with each other to possess. Everybody wants to get it.
This is greed. When someone else gets it and we don't, we are mad. This is hatred.
From the mind of differentiations, the karmas of greed, hatred, and ignorance develop.
Not only so much karmas have created, the suffering that is caused by them is immense.
Thus, the Buddha had taught us to look into our mind and not to let the mind of differentiations
control us. We should let it go to attain the true mind. When we can discern the true
mind and live with it, it means we have done practicing. As long as we still run after
the gain and lost, right and wrong, we could never practice. I would like to ask if
all of you could sit down and do a self-assessment to see if you have those two misperceptions.
The first misperception is about the body as we think it's real, precious, and beautiful...This
kind of misperception is from our affection in self. From the affection in self, greed,
hatred, ignorance, and other things arise. Because we love it, we feel upset if people
don't share with us nutritious foods because they bring longevity and health. But
if we realize that this body is impermanent, the life expectancy will not be important.
The importance is either we are ignorant or awakened. If we are short-lived, but awakened,
it's still a good thing. But if we are ignorant, it doesn't matter how long we can
live. You have to remember this point. Sometimes we think this body is so important
so we desire to live even though we live without realizing and understanding the truth.
What do we live for? We have to live with wisdom. Without it, it's better if we die.
It's because it's not worth to live with ignorance. On the other hand, although we
can't live for long, being awakened is still a precious thing.
Do you remember Zen master Huyen Giac? How long did he live? Over forty, but we still
study his teachings such as the book of "Attainment Hymns." We remember every word
he said. How about a typical person, who lives for hundred years with no accomplishment?
Is there anything for us to study? This proves that the value of mankind is based
on the value of enlightenment, awakening, not the value of ignorance. No matter how
long we live in this world, it's not important when we are still ignorant. The importance
is our brightness or the attainment of wisdom. Therefore, the focus of Buddhism is
to open our eyes of wisdom.
Do you perceive yourself ignorant? As long as the affection in self exists, we are
still ignorant. Even we, the practitioners who have learned and understand the Way,
are still ignorant. Thus, typical people are no different. How can they not be ignorant
when they have not yet practiced or learned Buddhist dharmas? Now, we should try harder
to practice, ponder, and self-assess in order to be awakened. Once we are awakened,
it's the same as we're having a burning torch in hand. Using that torch, we bring
the light to others so that everyone could be awakened as well. If everyone is awakened,
then this place is place of ecstasy. No more affection in self means no more greed,
hatred, and ignorance. It also means that we live in happiness and will never cause
pain to each other.
In our time, the civilization is progressing. All civilized nations in the world could
do many unbelievable things. However, are their people free of sufferings? The more
advance they are, the more they are afraid. In ancient time, people fight their enemies
with swords and spears. In our time, a press on a button will destroy everything.
Thus, the advancement of technologies would not necessary relieve the people's sufferings.
As you have known, there are many damages people have created. Thus, the Buddha had
taught us the practice of terminating greed, hatred, and ignorance. There are many
other things but those three are the root. When people has no more greed, hatred,
ignorance, they are free of sufferings. Rich or poor is not important. The importance
is the termination of those three poisons. People in this world only care of how to
become rich and the end of sufferings. However, are those nations, which are wealthy
like the U.S., free of sufferings?
We have seen that the root of suffering is the ignorance, greed, hatred, etc... Thus,
if we love sentient beings, we have to turn the light on to awake people so that they
can terminate their greed, hatred, and ignorance. When those are terminated, we have
alleviated the sufferings of sentient beings. On the other hand, if we still pray,
implore, we can't alleviate their sufferings. Sometimes, it becomes a deception.
Let me be straight to say that we should never protect whatever holds no truth. We
need to discern and know the truth. That makes us be closer to the truth (Way). If
we keep protecting the unreal for personal gain, then we are far away from the truth
(Way). Thus, I hope that who has been practicing should utilize his/her wisdom to
awaken others. This means to attain enlightenment and enlighten others. In your opinion,
how can we become Bodhisattva or Buddha? Is there any ignorant Bodhisattva? He/she
is an enlightened one, who enlightens others - A compassionate being who is enlightened
is called Bodhisattva. He/she then enlightens others. Thus, Bodhisattva means enlightenment.
How about the Buddha? Buddha means perfect enlightenment After he attained enlightenment,
he enlightened others. At last, he attained the perfect enlightenment.
Can we become Buddha or Bodhisattvas without being enlightened? These days, people
are mistaken those who do much of charity works and givings are Bodhisattvas. Which
one is practicing the Boddhisattva virtue? The person who makes good deeds or attains
enlightenment? In the suttras, it defines clearly that Bodhisattva is an enlightened
one and the one who enlightens others. After being enlightened, he/she is compassionate
to help others to be enlightened. This is the mind of Bodhisattva.
So, what is the meaning of "Thuong Chieu" and "Vien Chieu" that I have used? What
kind of virtues is it? Is it a negative virtue? We should be enlightened; in other
words, we should turn on the light. Then, we can shed or transmit the light to other
people. This means that we could destroy the ignorance of sentient beings. We and
other people are all enlightened mean we have attained self-enlightenment and awakened
As we are enlightened, we feel compassionate to find ways to help people to attain
enlightenment. Understand thoroughly the Way, we don't make mistakes. Sometimes we
misperceive because we don't understand. All true practitioners do teach people how
to be enlightened.
The virtue of generosity is consisted of generosity of goods, generosity of dharmas,
and generosity of fearlessness. Generosity of goods must be the first one because
people can't listen with a hungry stomach. Next, we use the generosity of dharmas
to awaken them. After, they are awakened, we show them how to extricate from sufferings.
This is the generosity of fearlessness. Thus, even though the Buddha had placed the
generosity of goods first, it's not as important as the generosity of dharmas. Among
the three, it is the primary virtue.
With no enlightenment, how can practitioners do giving? How can you teach others when
you are still ignorant and refuse to discover the truth? Therefore, as practitioners,
you should try harder to open the eyes of wisdom and see the truth so that you can
teach others. That is the truth.
What do you think about my cherished goal through the name of "Thuong Chieu?" My cherished
goal is to have you light up your own torch, then transmit it to many people as you
can. Bring the light to every where to clear up people's ignorance. The end of their
ignorance means a relief of their sufferings. That light doesn't last for 10, 20,
or 40 years only, but more. To be more realistic, it's not coming from my torch, because
mine will extinguish. I want to transmit it to others before it's burned out. We keep
transmitting light so that this world is no longer in dark. This is my goal and expectation.
Not only the light will shine at one place, but at every where. This life will be
brighter and sentient beings will no longer suffer. This is my goal and expectation
that I would like to pass on to you. Will you take that responsibility? If I assign
it to you and you refuse to take it, then it's your fault. Everyone has a responsibility.
If your ability is not strong as much as the brightness of the sun or moon, then at
least as much as the brightness of the lamp or torch. Even if it's small as a candle
or oil lamp, it's still good. As long as it's a light. No need to have an electrical
bulb in order to get the light. We should be the lights. If we are not burned clay
balls or punks, how can we start the light for anyone?
I have told you the thought that I have since the day I put my feet on this place.
Building this monastery, I have wished and expected this cherished goal. From that
day until now, I don't know when my torch is going to extinguish. Therefore, I hope
that you will attempt to light up your torch or your lamp from mine. When mine is
extinguished, your lamp or torch will continue to shine.
I have only one torch, but yours are hundreds or thousands. This is the true meaning
of "Thuong Chieu" or "Vien Chieu." That is my words of reminder in the beginning of
the year. And I also would like to pass on this responsibility to you to make sure
that you follow the correct path, fulfill your duty, and should never carry away.
This is my expectation from all monks and nuns.
At this time, I would like to pray to the Three Jewels to protect all of you to become
the people whom forever "transmit the lamp and torch."