He practiced for 12 years before He became completely enlightened and confident enough to teach other people. Right now, He’s still free and being tested, and chiseled, and trimmed, and cut, and fired, and drowned, and starved, ridiculed, and tortured, and everything – still continues. Yet, He’s in the process of getting ready to do a great job.
A monk’s life, for example, in India, is very nice. Also here is very nice. Here you are not allowed to go out begging for food, or anything. Maybe not. I am not sure if the law allows that or not. But when you first shave your head and become official nuns and monks, you are allowed to go out altogether in one big group. And people are allowed to come and give you a monetary gift, one time only. And now, I am not sure if a monk comes out with a bowl and goes to a supermarket, I’m not sure if the police will let him or not. Because here in Taiwan (Formosa), we have a lot of food. And the monks always have a temple, and mostly they are supported by family. Taiwan (Formosa) is so small anyway. Even if you leave home, it’s only a few hours maximum, just a couple of hours away. So your home is anywhere nearby and you always have family support. When I became a monk, I didn’t know that. I had no money, truly nothing. I worked in a temple and I was given NT$ 500 per month. Of course, I could eat there, that’s all. And everything else, I had. Just monk’s clothes of two, three pairs, nothing much. And anything else, I had to buy for myself. I didn’t buy much anyway, just some pens to write with, and bus fare to go somewhere to see some other masters, for example like that. Nothing much that I needed.
And then I was having my 250 precepts. That’s the real monk then. After some time, you can be a higher monk. First you become a novice. And then after you serve a master or a temple for a while, then you can be a higher nun or monk, priestess. And then you have to go to a big assembly together, take the precepts together. And then according to the precepts, you eat only one time a day. I really did that. For I don’t know how many years, I forgot. I don’t know how many years. And sometimes I cheated, of course. Like when I went to Germany, it was too cold and they put bread in front of me which I hadn’t seen for years. Oh! I really, “Please! Don’t tempt me.” And then I just ate like that. Before the prayers finished, I’d already feel something in my mouth, and then something went down already. So I said, “Never mind. If you’ve eaten already one piece and you eat another, you’ve sinned already. What the hair!” Sometimes, sometimes. Sometimes. Rarely. And then now, sometimes I eat, sometimes I don’t; sometimes two meals, sometimes one meal, sometimes nothing. Whatever.
But the doctor recently prescribed some medicine. Some medicine I have to eat with meals, so that I have to. For example, like that. I’m not free anymore. Every time I want to be free, something happens. So I give up. I give up fighting for my freedom – freedom not to eat, freedom not to wear clothes, freedom not to live in a house, freedom not to worry about anything, but I have to. All kinds of “un-freedom.” OK. Forget the calendar and come back to you now.
I just wanted to tell you that the real practitioners, they are truly free, if they want to be. But this was because He (Lord Mahavira) was still free. He had only one disciple who was His attendant. He had no disciples yet. He practiced for 12 years before He became completely enlightened and confident enough to teach other people. Right now, He’s still free and being tested, and chiseled, and trimmed, and cut, and fired, and drowned, and starved, ridiculed, and tortured, and everything – still continues. Yet, He’s in the process of getting ready to do a great job.
Imagine. But even then, even though without knowing, at that time Lord Mahavira was already blessing the world and those who had affinity with Him. It’s not like wait until He became a truly official enlightened Master, then the karma would come. No. Karma already came. That’s why He suffered so much. He suffered also because of some karma of His, but it cannot be that much. It’s added on by the world’s karma. Even though without Him knowing at that time yet. But He began to know more already, so He knew that He had to wait for the princess [Chandana] – this captured and harassed and tortured princess – to give Him food. Otherwise, five and a half months He went around eating nothing.
So now, the princess was still in shackles due to the wicked, jealous wife of her so-called adopted father. She was still in shackles, and then she was dangling there and dreaming, maybe too tired, so having a vision, off and on. And then “she heard the footsteps and a murmur of a crowd. Then she looked up and found that the Great Savior, Shraman Mahavira was standing at her door. Chandana became enthralled. She thought, ‘Oh, thank Lord You have Yourself come to my rescue from this pitiable condition.’ A glow of happiness dawned on her face.” She even knew about the Lord Shraman Mahavira. Maybe He was very famous then. Of course, you would be, if you wore no clothes, and you ate nothing already for five-and-a-half months.
I was famous in that temple at that time, more famous than the abbot already. And I could not bear the energy; the conflicting, the envious, and the curiosity, and the uncomfortable feeling of everybody in that temple, when I was not eating and still working. Cleaning and cooking as usual, but I didn’t take even one grain of rice into my mouth. And I felt nothing. I didn’t feel a desire to eat while I was cooking. I didn’t feel tired when I was working. Nothing! It was the best time in my life! I quit just like that. Not preparing for 21 days or 102 days. Nothing! Just because the abbot criticized me about eating one meal, it’s almost like… he said like three meals anyway, like I ate a lot. So that’s it! I just quit! Without preparing and without getting angry, or anything, I just quit. Without feeling even embarrassed or anything, I just quit. Like that! So of course, everybody told everybody and then, then and then and then. “Don’t tell anybody else. I tell you, you don’t tell anybody else.” And then everybody else told everybody else.
Lucky it was America. It was New York in America. People are more preoccupied with any other thing except a non-eating nun. You know, American people. And the master did not have a large following in America at that time; that master, that abbot. Otherwise, I don’t know. I don’t know what else would’ve happened. I’d probably have been on TV, or whatnot, what more nuisance could have happened? So before that happened, I just stopped. I couldn’t bear any more of that energy surrounding me every day. That was uncomfortable. So I ate. I didn’t really like it. Nowadays, I sometimes think about it, I still regret. I still regret that I should have continued. But then I wouldn’t have had a chance to have many more affinities like I do now, with other people. Eating, sometimes it’s work.
So, “A glow of happiness dawned on her face. She forgot all her misery, and the pain turned into joy as if every cell in her body was dancing. She tried to stand. ‘Welcome, O Lord! Please accept something from these wretched hands.’ From her. Prabhu took a step forward and stopped. Twelve out of the thirteen conditions were visible. You know, that she has to be a princess and etc., and He can see that… He normally took one step away, but then He saw that some of the twelve conditions that allowed Him to eat, or that He had to meet to eat, were visible to Him already. Some of the twelve, He hadn’t investigated everything yet. So He stepped back and He looked. Twelve out of the thirteen. Almost – There was only one more condition, then He’d know it was the correct moment and person. So, visible, were twelve of them. Only Chandana had no tears in her eyes.”
Oh, she has to cry as well. That’s the only last condition that’s not visible yet. So, “Mahavira turned and started moving away.” He thought it’s not right. Only twelve conditions, not thirteen. “As soon as (Lord) Mahavira turned away, Chandana’s joy vanished as if struck by lightning. She lamented by herself, ‘How unlucky I am that even in this wretched condition, Prabhu has turned empty-handed from my door.’ Filled with self-pity, she started crying.” Thirteenth condition already here. “(Lord) Mahavira turned back and looked. All conditions of His resolution were visible now. He stepped ahead and extended His cupped hands before Chandana. Joyous Chandana took the pulse-bran from the basket and put it in the extended palms of Lord Mahavira Swami. (Lord) Mahavira broke His fast.” Right there and then. “The next moment, Chandana’s shackles shattered to pieces.” By themselves. “Divine drums sounded in the sky. Divine applause echoed from all directions, ‘Hail the alms-giving.’” That’s what they heard. That’s the speaking from the Divine beings. They said, “‘Hail the alms-giving.’ Flowers, fragrant water, and perfumes showered from the sky and the courtyard of Dhanavah.”
Oh, you are here. I was looking to see if you guys are here already. You can come sit here if you want, or if you don’t want, you are OK there. They don’t always see me, even though we’re working together. We have to work; we cannot just see each other every day. I have to work also. So I don’t know why the people are always thanking the Supreme Master Ching Hai and the Supreme Master TV staff (team). I am also one of the staff! No need to thank both, making trouble. I am one of the staff. I know I’m one humble staff; a very difficult one, but it’s staff. The most difficult to please, but one of the staff for sure. Very critical: “You write this, it’s not correct; that’s not correct. You change it, change the host, change this, change that, rewrite that. Now!” It’s not all that easy. But what am I to do? You make a small mistake, but he/she makes also a small mistake, she makes a small mistake, he makes a small mistake; everybody makes small mistakes, all day long! It’s just one drop into the cup, but another drop comes in, two drops, three drops, and then it’s full, and then it overflows! And time is not waiting for us. Deadline! And I have other deadlines as well, not just Supreme Master TV deadline. I have other jobs to do. And my dogs also have deadlines; they want the veggie bones now! “We’re just coming, we need it,” etc. Never mind.
So, for all that work I do, all the work they heap on me, you are really lucky to see me now and then. Truly! I’m really lucky to see me! I don’t see me. I don’t see me every day, truthfully. Because I don’t have time to look in the mirror. I don’t comb my hair for a long time. I don’t wash my hair until I have to go to do something, to see you or something. I really don’t see me also. Now talking about it, I don’t see myself that much. I either meditate, work inside, or work outside in front of a computer, or feed the dogs, pet them a little bit. Sometimes they want more, more, more. I say, “No, that’s enough already. You know how many thousands of people want just a little bit of what you have right now?” I said to them, “I don’t even have time to pet myself. So just be happy with that.” Two strokes!