I am happy that I am blessed to be able to remind some people to live a virtuous life, and to save lives apart from their own. To save them from suffering from hell, and retribution in this lifetime, and save some animals’ lives, and save maybe the planet. I am happy, of course, it’s a different happiness, it’s a bigger happiness.
The Buddha: “I am in no one’s employ.” He has no boss. “I wander the whole world,” like the monks, “on the reward [of my Awakening]. No need for earnings is to be found. So, if you want, rain god, go ahead and…? (Rain.) Rain.” You know everything. What for do I keep saying anything?
You see, one is relying on every material thing that he can earn and keep, to make him feel safe and proud and secure. One relies on nothing, absolutely nothing. He didn’t even earn any money. He has no boss, He has complete freedom, so He wandered around anywhere He wanted to. And He earned the reward, His upkeep, by His Awakening, and “no need for earnings is to be found.” No need to ask Him how much He earns a month; no need for paying taxes or anything.
Truly, it’s really a beautiful life. When I wasn’t a Master yet, I had very little money from my working before. Not many years, but in Germany, in Europe, you can take out your pension in advance. And I even took that and offered it to some masters, or any ashram where I stayed.
And at one time, I had almost nothing. But you don’t feel this heavy burden; you don’t worry about the tax payment; you don’t worry about if you’re building here, or your Ashram is legal or not. You don’t need to worry about paying for employees or buying this and that. Nothing. At that time, I was happier than now. Oh, of course, I am happy now, in different ways. I am happy that I am blessed to be able to remind some people to live a virtuous life, and to save lives apart from their own. To save them from suffering from hell, and retribution in this lifetime, and save some animals’ lives, and save maybe the planet. I am happy, of course, it’s a different happiness, it’s a bigger happiness. It’s more satisfactory.
But at that time, for the worldly situation, I was my best. That’s all I wanted to do. Not to worry about anything; not to have a house to even to pay a mortgage on, or to pay tax for my motorcycle, whether or not I pay tax on time or not. When you have something, you always worry about the things that run after you: the tax time, the business, all kinds of things. If you have a house, you have to worry about it. If it leaks, then you have to keep cleaning it. So truly, if I could have stayed in India, continued the life of a so-called disciple, or gone from one ashram to another, or just wandered around with very little possession… I had little. I had only two pairs of pajamas, punjabi, and a stick, wooden stick that I found in the forest.
I truly understand what the Buddha was saying. The life of no burden, no regrets, no connection with anything, but connected to everyone. Feels so light, so beautiful, so beautiful, so free. I had less than what I have now, very, very much less. As I have told you already, I could eat some chapatis, which I baked myself, with the wood I found in the forest, dry wood. And just some water, and then boiled the water and drank. And sometimes I could afford a samosa, because I couldn’t say “no” to myself, but otherwise, I could not really afford it. I didn’t have a lot of money, but I felt so good. Compared to now, physically speaking, I feel like a prisoner nowadays. I can’t go anywhere without being recognized. Even my own kitchen [staff] want my attention, instead of giving me what I need. They want what they need and make trouble. Just to go near the Master, and want to chat, or want Master to look at you, maybe touch your head, etc. So much for selflessness, selfless lectures all these years. Humans are humans, they don’t change. So, now we continue with the two opponents. You can see the opposite. You can see the opposite kind of life.
Which life do you prefer? Tell me honestly. The life of a Buddha, wandering monk, or the life of the cowherd? (Buddha.) Life of the Buddha? (Yes.) Really? Wow! Tough! Really? (Yes.) How many of you want to be like a monk, the Buddha’s life? Raise your hand. OK, stay here. I will feed you and clothe you as monks. Stay. I have enough money to feed you all your life and give you two pairs, three pairs of clothes, if you stay. If you have no problems at home, if you really think you are worth it, you can stay, I don’t mind.
The life of monks also has tests. A lot of tests and temptations make you fall. Not because you are bad beings or humans, but your karma is calling everywhere, every step of your monkhood. Very difficult to go steadily, go, no. The more you want to be free, the more shackles you will find. And everybody else looks at your monk’s robe, expects things from you: blessing, praying for them, whatever. Or looking after their cows, remember, the oxen? Or building hospital for them, etc., like the Reverend Nun Cheng Yen in Taiwan (Formosa). Tzu Chi Foundation. Compassionate Association, something like that. They will expect a lot from you, and give you nothing. Maybe very little offering, an apple, an orange, and expect you to pray for their whole family and five, six generations as well. They will not just be with you, respect you, but they expect things from you. That’s what makes many monks’ and nuns’ lives difficult, because they cannot fulfill the expectations of other people, who do nothing, just want things from you.
When I was invited to be an abbess in a small temple newly built in Germany – Ah! My God! I wished I had never accepted that invitation. They kept calling me all the time to the temple and especially one woman. She was telling me hours on end about how her husband was unfaithful to her, blah blah, in detail and everything. And I said, “Oh, OK, OK, that’s enough. I heard about that already. Could you please let me go? I have to go do some…” “You are not a monk! You have no compassion! You have to listen to me. You must make me feel comforted. How can You not listen to me? I am suffering! And You don’t want to listen to my pain. You are no monk! You have no mercy in Your heart!” Blah blah blah… She scolded me a lot. But after two hours already, same stuff. She keeps telling me how bad her husband is and how faithful she is, how much she is in love with him and he is not. So, I said, “You’re Buddhist. You should know, sometimes karma breaks you up or brings you together. And when the karma is finished, then there is nothing much you can do. You should accept it, move on, maybe find another husband who is more suitable for you.” No! Continued her old story all the time. Every day she talked no end. And if I wanted to stop, she scolded me, that I was no nun, that I had no love in my heart. She doesn’t care that I have to take care of all the people who come to the temple. She doesn’t care that I have to do liturgy, morning, evening service in front of the Buddha. She didn’t care. I had to listen to her no matter what time; midnight or two, three in the morning, Sunday, rainy day. Oh man!
If any nun met this kind of lay disciple, I think she’d run away from the temple. Even if she continued to be a nun, she would hide herself somewhere. Nobody would find her, only monkeys or rabbits. They have no problem with you. Truly, when I lived in the Himalayas, some part of the Himalayas, many monkeys were around. And if I had some peanuts, I gave it to them. But they never quarreled with me. They never criticized me that I had no love, that I gave them only peanuts and nothing else. No. Very grateful and friendly. But if you’re with another human, just one even, you will have trouble. She will make trouble for you; she will give you trouble. She’ll give you many pieces of her mind, no matter if these pieces are good or not. She will make trouble.
I was in that temple in New York. I told you. And there was one of the other nuns who came, that I told you about already, she disrobed herself, just wearing normal (clothes), didn’t want to be a nun anymore, and came to my temple and stayed there. And she always wanted to talk, about anything. She was very talkative compared to me. And I’d say, “No! Please go and bow to the Buddha or meditate. You know how to meditate. I have to go now (to) meditate.” Even if I went on retreat, she slid a lot of “love letters” under my door, complaining about anything, the whole story, always, every day. So, as long as the master abbot was not in the temple, I shut myself in my room, did retreat. She still could talk through the letter. She wrote letters and slid them under the door for me. Every day! I can’t remember what she was talking about. This is the problem. Just one more extra ex-nun and your life is different already. I don’t know why she had to talk a lot like that. Contrary to me, before I took over this job, I didn’t talk a lot. I wrote things, I read books, but I didn’t talk. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. And talking to them a little bit only, made me feel very tired, contrary to now.
We continue. Do you have a bus to catch? (No.) If you have to go, you go. Don’t make trouble. Your visa, your family, your debt, your work. That’s what makes you go, nothing else. Not me.
This is the cattleman talking again. They had a long conversation. Maybe they met each other and then talked. And somebody recorded it. So, the cattleman: “There are cows, young bulls, cows in-calf, and breeding cows, and a great bull, the leader of the herd: So, if you want to rain, rain god, go ahead and rain.” Meaning he has so many possessions.
Animals were people’s security in the old times. If they had a lot of animals, it meant they were well-off and they were secure. Because the animals bred more siblings, ‘younglings,’ and then they would get more and more rich. And they could sell them, milk them, or do whatever, showing off. And before, in the old times, when you wanted to marry a girl, instead of SM Celestial Jewelry, you gave them cows, pigs, as a dowry. (Yes.) Yes or no? (Yes.) In Âu Lạc (Vietnam) it was like that. Also, some jewelry, if you could afford it. If not, how many cows, they would demand. And a mattress to sleep on, and some new clothes maybe. But cows, pigs, goats, that was the foremost demand for ‘my’ daughter. Imagine that. You exchange your precious, living human, beautiful being, for some cows and feel very happy!
Luckily nowadays, we exchange daughters for cars, maybe. For some gold. Similar, it’s like business. So, don’t do business in your life, and the lives of your children. Of course, nowadays, money talks, you have to have it in order to feel safe. So, if you want the daughter of somebody, the father immediately asks, “How much do you earn? How much can you give? How much do you have every month, so that you can take care of yourself and my daughter?” And maybe one boy says, “Oh, about US$5,000 per month.” So, the father is happy, “OK. For that, I’ll give you another $5,000, together, so you’ll be OK then. So, how do you expect to get that $5,000? Are you working in some good job?” “No, that is from your daughter’s pocket.” From her monthly allowance. $5000. Because the daughter of the rich family, she has her monthly allowance and that is OK for him already. The father of the bride thought that he was working to earn that.