法界佛教总会.DRBA Logo

Venerable Master Hua's Talks on Dharma Volume Six 

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



To End Birth and Death, One
Must Have the Skill of Being a Sage Inside and a King Outside

Inner sagehood consists of investigating things, rectifying the mind, and making the will sincere.
Outer kingliness means cultivating the body by performing meritorious deeds.



In cultivating the Way, we must lay a solid foundation. If we want to put an end to birth and death, we must exert effort. This effort consists of investigating things, making the will sincere, rectifying the mind, and cultivating the body [The Great Learning]. What does investigating things mean? It means getting rid of our lust, random thoughts, and materialistic desires. Materialistic desires include the desires for wealth, sex, fame, food, and sleep. We should get rid of all those desires.



Making the will sincere means being always the same. Your faith in Buddhism should be everlasting, true-hearted, and firm. Don't be so cynical, as if you're afraid you might be swindled and have to take a loss. You doubt the existence of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, wondering, Why haven't I seen them? You are just like a fox treading across the ice, running back onto solid ground as soon as it hears the ice crack. We should not be so fearful in our belief, as if we were walking along a cliff or over thin ice. Our faith has to be firm.

Next, we should rectify the mind, which means being unselfish. If we are selfish, we cannot rectify our minds.

In cultivating our bodies, we should avoid using things that harm the body. We have to be cautious and alert at all times.

身体发肤, 受之父母,
不敢毁伤, 孝之始也。


My body, hair, and skin were given to me
by my parents,
And I dare not harm them.
This is the beginning of filiality.




We should cultivate the skill of being a sage inside, and a king outside. Inner sagehood consists of investigating things, rectifying the mind, and making the will sincere. Outer kingliness means cultivating the body by performing meritorious deeds. We should diligently toil and labor, and not be afraid of too much work. We should be able to do every kind of work, not just meditate all day long and call that cultivation. If a person truly understands how to cultivate, he can cultivate in everything he does.



Cultivation means being calm and peaceful at all times, without affliction, ignorance, arrogance, jealousy, or obstructiveness. If you still have those problems and are still hot-tempered, jealous, and obstructive, you wouldn't succeed in your cultivation even if you sat in meditation for eighty thousand great eons!



In cultivation, we must get rid of our faults and bad habits, and examine ourselves. That's the attitude of a diligent cultivator. It is said, A superior person is not a utensil that has just one use. A superior person is not like a teacup, which is only used for drinking tea, or a bowl, which is only good for eating and cannot be used for anything else. Rather, a superior person has both literary and military skill. He can operate at a high level as well as at a low level. Not only is he able to govern the country and bring peace to the world, he can also take up the sword and charge onto the battlefield, slaying his enemies until they retreat. We should rouse our spirits and work diligently at our practice.



Vigor is essential to cultivation. The greatest thing to be feared in cultivation is affliction. If we have no affliction, we will obtain mastery and liberation and be great cultivators. The most important thing is that we must be very concentrated and calm in all situations, and not give rise to afflictions. This will give us strength in cultivation.



If we are free of affliction, true wisdom will come forth. A superior person is able to be great as well as small; he can be as small as a speck of dust, or as great as Mount Sumeru or the Dharma Realm. With great heroic spirit he can adapt to any conditions. People may accuse him unjustly, but he does not become afflicted. He is always flexible and can meet every need. That's why he is not like a utensil that has only a single use.



If a superior person is not serious, he will not inspire awe, and his learning will not be solid. If you don't examine yourself critically, your deportment won't inspire awe, and the knowledge you gain from your studies will also be false. A superior person does not thoughtlessly laugh or make careless gestures. A cultivator should transcend the level of a superior person and learn from the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and sages. People who study the Buddhadharma should be this way every day and not be the least bit lazy.

法界佛教总会 . DRBA / BTTS / DRBU