Then Heaven is a university of the universe. After understanding Heaven, you can be more helpful to the world. You’ll have greater wisdom, and be more capable of helping the world. You can also help beings in hell. If you have affinity with them, you can liberate them.
(So, You think that as a religious leader, one must be spiritually very…) Yes. (Very diligent.) Yes. We Chinese say, cultivate ourselves and manage our family before we can pacify the world.
(Because every leader, whether a spiritual leader or leader of any group, in order to lead people, one must practice. The practice I meant is in a broader sense, not just referring to religious practice.) Understand. (The leader must be advanced in practice.) Yes. (Even reaching a certain level, before one can become a leader.) You got it. (Yes.) That’s right.
(Then, as a religious leader, one has to lead this religious group. So, apart from spiritual cultivation, what is the other essential quality?) Patience. (Patience, why?) Patience, patience, patience, and patience. Why? You have only one family. For instance, a husband and several kids. She’s very busy taking care of them. Even then, sometimes you need to be very patient to take good care of the family in order to have peace. Is that right? If a spiritual leader has lots of disciples, with different backgrounds and personalities, of course, he (she) needs to have great patience and love. Needless to say. His (her) patience is more important, also stamina. (Stamina, physical stamina.) Yes, and eloquence. Eloquence. There are many other good qualities that a leader must have in order to convince people. Most important is to have affinity with people. You have to serve them well in many lifetimes, so they’d be convinced when you talk to them now.
(As a religious leader, what is the most extraordinary quality You have?) Maybe, they like me because I look beautiful. Good grief! Then we can just find a more beautiful star. You’ll love her more. Just joking. Please get used to my humor.
(Though I am a layperson, I know that nowadays, it seems religions still like to emphasize more on levels. Is that right? For instance, there are 18 levels in hell, this kind of differentiation.) I didn’t say that, Shakyamuni Buddha said it. I am sorry.
(Some religions teach people to pursue spiritual practice, and as I know, there are also levels in spiritual practice. Right? When you have reached a certain level, you can be an ordinary disciple or follower. And at a certain level, you’ll be regarded as having reached the level of a Master. One level after another, there seems to be no end to this kind of cultivation. There is no finishing point until the end of your life. So, may I know what the ultimate goal of spiritual practice is? Is the final goal to become a good person in a general sense, as we all think? Or are we striving to become a god? Or, in the end, just to earn an entry ticket to Heaven?) Spiritual practice is a very common thing, nothing extraordinary. Not pursuing spiritual practice is a weird thing. Because we humans don’t just have a body and a mind, but also the spiritual… Soul. Soul, or spiritual nature. Wouldn’t it be strange if we didn’t know our other half? Not to talk about going to Heaven or being a good person. We are not human if we only know our body and mind. Do you understand? It’s that simple.
You ought to know yourself, then it is easier for you to do anything. For instance, you have a car and a driver. Every day, you only take care of the car, such as caring for the engine and polishing the car, but you don’t take care of the driver. Isn’t it strange? Yes. So, I don’t think spiritual practice is extraordinary in any way. It’s just about knowing what quality we have, so that we can use it to make contributions to humankind. We haven’t talked about Heaven yet. But, of course, we’ll also go to Heaven, when we are still alive. Don’t have to wait until we die. We want to have fun there, exploring other places in the universe, not only this planet.
(So, for You, the more important goal in spiritual practice, I don’t say the most important; the more important goal is to discover the good qualities in our hearts to make contribution to the world.) Yes. We should discover who we are and what we have.
(So, the ultimate goal is to become what we call a good person. Is that right?) There are many kinds of good people. So, this conclusion is too general. I’d call that a transcendental person. Transcendental. A transcendental person. A real person.
(Suppose You say that the goal for one to practice spiritually is to take out the goodness in one’s heart and to contribute it to people of the world. This is the goal.) And to go to Heaven. (Right.) And to see other things when alive.
(If this is the goal, spiritual practice is not the only path to achieve this.) A transcendental person, a true person. I didn’t use the term “good person” as you suggested. Because everyone can say something is good. It’s “good” to give a few dollars to charity. It’s “good” to be nice to one’s parents. It’s good to be nice to one’s husband or wife, or to be loyal to one’s country. This is not the “good” that I’m talking about. It means to be more elevated than ordinary people. Not only does it mean to be a good person in this world, but it also means understanding heaven and hell.
(You are talking about a superior level of humans. Before we strive to reach this superior level, we should know what is so good about this level.) I kept advertising the water, but you didn’t drink. So, it is not that easy. For instance, there are many schools in the world. Let’s say, going to elementary school has its benefits. Going to high school has its benefits. Going to college is even more beneficial. Right? Then Heaven is a university of the universe. After understanding Heaven, you can be more helpful to the world. You’ll have greater wisdom, and be more capable of helping the world. You can also help beings in hell. If you have affinity with them, you can liberate them. This is the benefit of Heaven, but this brief explanation is not enough. We’ll never finish talking about it, for years. Yes. I just try my best.
(Because You are the Master. I believe You can definitely explain this esoteric truth to us in explicit words.) It’s not easy to explain. However, is this good enough? If my answer is not enough, please ask further. Understand? (OK, understand.) OK.
(Nowadays, almost every religion is talking about living a poor life. They’re against the booming city life. Some religions even advocate asceticism. Right?) There are many ways to liberate sentient beings. (Right.) Not just one method. It depends on your affinity with certain sentient beings. You have to act according to their liking. The main point is to help them to reach their goal, that’s to be a good person in this world and to know about Heaven, hell and Earth. Then, after they die, they are liberated from the cycle of birth and death. This is the main goal. You may use any method, as long as you don’t hurt people. Understand? We shouldn’t be attached to thinking which way is better. Look at Quan Yin Bodhisattva. She wore very beautiful clothes, yet we still worship Her. Shakyamuni Buddha walked everywhere with His alms bowl, we also worship Him. Do you understand? (Yes.) Good. OK.
(We often see ancient sages appear in simple clothes, like what You just talked about, right?) It was because they didn’t have money in ancient times. Also, it was not easy to get clothes at that time. And they didn’t have a lot of disciples. Mostly, they lived alone in the mountains. If I lived alone in the mountain, I wouldn’t even wear clothes. Let me tell you. For what reasons do I need to wear clothes? Only when I go out to see different people or important people, then I have to follow their ways to wear this and that. Otherwise, why bother to wear clothes. I don’t even need clothes.
(We often see that saints, sages, and enlightened Masters dressed very simply in the old times. They also ate very simply and were not attached to the world.) Yes. I don’t even eat, for your information. I don’t know how to explain your questions. I eat maybe only one or two… sometimes one or two spoonfuls of food a day and work day and night. Not to talk about eating simply or not simply. I didn’t even want to wear anything today. I’m very lazy. I was too lazy to get dressed at night. I just put this thing on and went to bed. I told my attendant in the morning, “Wow. I’m too lazy to dress up. I don’t know what I should wear”. Too lazy to wear clothes. Understand? It’s because I have to go out, so I just wear anything. I wear whatever clothes I have. It looks more representable. How to say? Representing. Not “representing.” How to say it in Chinese? Be considerably decent for people to see. Not too depressed, dull, shabby, or too tired. Understand? I already have red eyes due to lack of sleep for days. I’ve been too busy with work to talk about eating, sleeping, or dressing up. OK. Any other question?
(We often see that ancient saints wore very simple clothes and were not attached to the world.) Yes. (However, nowadays, we see that many religious groups have strong financial support. I’d like to know what’s it all about? They are like Shakyamuni Buddha, whom You’ve just mentioned. He went from being a prince to being a pauper. Then He became a highly enlightened monk. What’s the difference?) It depends on whether those leaders can achieve Buddha’s goal or not. For example, Buddha spread good teachings to people and led people to liberation and Buddhahood. If a group can do the same, then it doesn’t matter if they’re rich or not. Sometimes, they are rich because followers make offerings or because they make use of their own money. Then they use the money to spread teachings and to liberate people. Then it’s very good.
We shouldn’t comment whether it’s bad to be rich or whether it’s good to have no money. It’s different ways of helping people. When Shakyamuni Buddha was alive, He didn’t have to use a lot of money to liberate beings. Because Indian people are easy to liberate. For example, if I go to India now, even if I’m not well known, there will still be tens of thousands of people coming to my lectures. Understand? It’s like that. Shakyamuni Buddha was already very famous, because everybody knew that He was a prince. He already had a lot of disciples, who could go out to publicize His teachings. Then His father, the king and mother, the queen, also helped to promote Him. That’s why He didn’t have to use any money. For example, even if I look wealthy now, but I don’t have… I don't handle money, how you say?
I don’t handle money. I have to ask them when I need money. They have to stamp and sign for it, themselves. They know how much I want. I can’t just go out to buy things randomly, without letting the disciples know. Understand what I mean? Therefore, whether being rich is good or not depends on how we spend the money. We have a lot of money. It’s because God has given me plenty of talents, including painting, designing clothes and designing lamps, etc., by which I can earn money. Then we use the money in helping the poor and giving lectures. It’s very helpful. It all depends on how you use the money. It’s not that using money is bad. I don’t know the religious sect you’ve mentioned and how they benefit others. So, I dare not say if they’re good or not. You can look at their actions and the results, then you know how they are. We shouldn’t judge from the outer appearance.
What do you think? OK. But I don’t accept money from disciples. We earn money by ourselves, by making handcrafts, paintings or designing things, then people buy our works and then we earn money. Or else, we lose money in publishing books, audio and video tapes, because we don’t make profit from those. Understand? It’s all losing money. If counted clearly, we lost a lot of money. But we make it up from other works. So, we’re not making money that way.