And we have also invisible friends, like the angels who protect you. If you’re good, more angels protect you. If you’re not, even if angels are around, they cannot do anything, or they just disappear. They’re not allowed to help you when you’re not worthy. If you keep the Five Precepts alone clearly, then OK, at least you have five angels.
So, you see, our world is like that. They don’t believe in happiness. They don’t believe in good luck, redemption. They believe in hell and evil and bad luck and all this kind of stuff. So, when the Master comes with all positive energy, and says, “You will be saved! Don’t worry! I’ll take all your karma. And your other five, six, and nine generations, I will also take care. Don’t worry!” And they look at the Master like, “What? Are you joking? You must be kidding, right?” But if other people say, “Oh, you’re a sinner. You’d better be repentant, be more ascetic. Avoid more pleasure, then you might be able to be liberated.” Then they believe that. They go home and kneel on end, or maybe prostrate in the snow, in the dirt, in the rough stony road for hundreds of miles on end, to redeem themselves. Even though their whole life they did nothing wrong, just reciting Buddha’s names, for example. Then they believe that will be the redeeming kind of path.
The Master is too easy, “Come to me only. Yeah! And I will help you.” Like Jesus said, “Come to me, those weary and laden, I will quicken you. I will lift you up.” How many people followed Him? Not too many. And they even killed Him in such a cruel, gruesome way, inhumane way. He did nothing wrong. He never said anything wrong, even against governments or anybody. So, you can see, this world is not fit for us to live in. We don’t like all this kind of sadistic kind of mentality and the trend of society would believe only in suffering and sorrow and pain. So, any poor Master who wears tattered clothes or eats once a day or barely eats once a week or maybe not eat at all, then OK, “Maybe I will follow you or maybe not even.” It’s not like, OK, the whole world follows, then it’s not too bad, not too bad.
There were many Saints who ate nothing, in our history. In Taiwan (Formosa), there’s also one; She was a nun. Her name was Abbess Fu Hui, and She lived also in Miaoli, near our old Ashram, and She ate nothing for a long, long time. She drank only a little water; and She didn’t even preach. She used hands to teach you, like tell you to recite the name of the Buddha. Her teaching was very simple, but it was good enough. If you followed Her, She would have the blessing for your Buddha’s name. Not just like anybody telling you to recite the Amitabha Buddha’s name, but it’s Her who told you because She was powerful, She was pure, She was devoted to the Buddha and the Buddhas’ teachings and She lived up to it. She was powerful. She was a liberated soul. She was a Saint in a human form. So, if She told you, even with Her hands only, to recite Amitabha Buddha, then that Amitabha Buddha’s name would have no end of blessing. Then, if you recited it, you would really be blessed and be liberated. That’s the difference.
But how many people in Taiwan (Formosa) followed Her? Every Sunday, maybe one bus full or two buses full went there and just bowed to Her and saw Her hands and then ate some of Her food and then went home. She already had nothing anymore, so people could not suspect that She would benefit something if you followed Her. Nothing, I mean, ascetic to the maximum already. She wore old clothes, tattered clothes, always patching here and there. She didn’t have any new clothes ever since She became a nun, I guess, because Her clothes had always been patched again and again and again. And She didn’t have that many. I saw that. I went to see Her also. So, you see what I’m saying?
There’s no end to demands of human’s requirements. “You have to do this in order for me to follow you. You have to do that in order for me to follow you. But maybe I don’t even follow you because I don’t want to, because I still like to eat meat, I still like to drink alcohol, and I still like to do this and that. The thing that you did not allow, or you encourage me to quit, I don’t want to.” That is the problem. You see? Humans, they ruin themselves, they spoil themselves. They do what they want, even though they know that it’s bad. Some don’t know, that’s OK, excusable. Nobody taught them. OK, we understand. But some know for sure, still don’t do it. So, Heaven is limitless, immense, but almost empty. Hell is so tight, small, but a lot of squeezing in there. And Bodhisattvas, Saints, Buddhas are all over, in the ten directions, life after life. They are helping to rescue humans and to lift them up. But still, life after life, we still have full of humans on this planet. I just hope this time, sooner, we will be only Saints. Or at least harmless beings.
Oh my God! I talked about four beings, right? We’re only at one yet. (Yes.) Only first one, right? (Yes.) You better stay until next week because… OK, never mind.
So, we talked about friends. Of course, friends include Bodhisattvas and Buddhas and saintly beings. Good friends. Admirable friends. Good, intelligent, wise friends. If you have friends by your side, it’s good for you. But mind you, friends, it doesn’t always mean they always agree with you, even though it’s right. If it’s something they did not know before, maybe they don’t take, but that doesn’t mean they are enemies. OK? Now, that’s called friend. Oh sorry, I think I have no time for You today. We’ll just let You take a rest.
Now, the second type, maybe friend has more than just that. Friends sometimes, they are not around you. Sometimes, they just happen to be with you for a short while, but then they introduce you to some good teachings or a name of a Master, and it awakens something in you, and then you will go and find more of that teaching or that Master. These are also friends.
And we have also invisible friends, like the angels who protect you. If you’re good, more angels protect you. If you’re not, even if angels are around, they cannot do anything, or they just disappear. They’re not allowed to help you when you’re not worthy. If you keep the Five Precepts alone clearly, then OK, at least you have five angels. And you have also not just angels but protectors. If you are more worthy, you have protectors. When you’re in retreat, you have more protectors. When I am in retreat, I have more protectors. But now they use only OU (Original Universe) protectors, not the ordinary ones. Ordinary ones also hang around, but the OU (Original Universe) Ihôs Kư Godses, They come, every time, just two days; every group, two days only. It depends on my retreat. If it’s less troublesome, then they give me maybe 26. Normally, 26 are around, but 28 or 30 plus. It depends on how rough the subject of my retreat is at that time. Then I have more or less protectors. The protectors, They know everything. They can tell me many things; just sometimes, I don’t have enough time to listen; too busy with outside things. And sometimes, I know too late, but it doesn’t matter. I am OK. It should be OK.
Now, there is another group of people; they are “Neutral.” They are no harm to you, no good to you. Sometimes, they could help you a little bit with small things, but they don’t harm you in any case. So, sometimes, you work with them, you feel like less effective. But these people, at least they don’t harm you. So, we don’t have much to talk about these people. They can hang around you or not hang around you, but they’re just maybe decoration or just harmless, just to have company or something, but nothing much going on, but nothing bad. Of course, if they are around and sometimes, you need something, they can also lend a hand. And slowly, life after life, they do that, they become your friends in the end, sometime in your journey, if you are still here. If you’re liberated, then of course not. And these people who help you, we will also help to be uplifted to some degree. So, not much to talk about these neutral people. We call them “Neutral.”
And now we talk about “Enemies.” Enemy has two types: outside your circle enemy and inside your circle enemy; we call “secret enemies.” Because these enemies you can’t suspect. The enemy outside, of course, they do things very obviously against you, or bad for you, or you don’t get on well with them. You often have trouble understanding each other or working with each other. They could destroy some of your projects, or your enthusiasm, your ideas and all that. That’s very obvious. And they’re not friendly to you; this is easier to deal with. You can escape, if you know, if you can. Or when the time comes, they leave you.
Secret enemy is more difficult. They are with you all the time, either family members or workers together in your company, or your workmates, or your friends, so-called friends. They seem to be with you in a lot of things, harmless things, small things, which don’t destroy you, which don’t ruin you. But when it comes to some big thing, boom! Then they turn against you very quickly, and you have no time, to even counteract. They may join your group, or your company, or your volunteer group even, and just looking like they’re very, very diligent and very supportive. But no! They do things to harm you. They split the togetherness in your group by some words, some actions, leading people to go against you, but no one notices. Slowly, slowly, or big, or quickly, it depends on the situation. And they also ruin your reputation, your name, your company, your business, your ideals, your faith. They make you even not want to practice anymore. These are the worst enemies. They could be your girlfriend, your wife, your husband, your boyfriend. Understand? Maybe they follow you in the same faith, looks like. But in some ways, visibly or invisibly, they slowly wear you out of your faith as well, by their own example, their own actions, or their own arguments. They make you lose your way. These are the worst enemies. They make you lose your faith. These are the worst enemies.
Mostly, they are secret enemies because they are with you, you trust them. That is the problem. If they are outsiders or they just come and go, then OK, you’re here, there, and you forget tomorrow. But if they are with you every day or often, then their influence is not to be overlooked.
You must use your wisdom, your intelligence to discriminate between friends and enemies. Otherwise, your life will be in trouble. We have only one life here, now, that we know. Next life, we don’t know. We don’t know if we’ll still be human, if we’ll see a Master or not, if we can practice or not; or if we’ll have more family members obstructing us, more bad enemies obstructing us, or we will become animals, or some gods or some fairies in heaven, enjoying too much and not wanting to practice anything. Some heavens are just too low and just give you enjoyment; you have no motivation, no push to go higher.
In every group, there’s prone to be one enemy like that. Mostly, in most groups, there will be one, and you have to be really vigilant. In our group, we also have, so I have to keep trimming it, for your sake as well. I will not abandon them, if they don’t do anything bad for others, outside in the society. If they still are vegetarian (vegan), meditating off and on, OK, fine. But they should not be near you, because they will give bad influence, by their action, by their talk, by their invisible influence, by energy. Therefore, I’m trimming, trimming, trimming. Please don’t criticize me. It’s getting smoother now. I often talk now without any bad interruptions, recently, and I’m very grateful for that, and I’m also glad for you.
The enemy, the outspoken one, the one that lives as your neighbor next door, or the one in your company, they talk sour about you or sarcastic about you – all that stuff is not much. You go home, you forget them. Maybe you’re still angry or upset a little bit, but they don’t harm you as much as the secret enemy, because the secret enemy, they can destroy you without you even knowing, and then they make you ill also. And the worst thing is that they make you lose your belief in the right path to follow, right Master to believe in. That’s the worst thing you could encounter.
Or just like Devadatta, he always tried to obstruct the Buddha from teaching others. He didn’t want anybody to follow the Buddha for liberation. Not only was he jealous with the Buddha’s fame… Not that the Buddha even cared about any fame. Just His job, His mission, He’s destined to be an open Buddha like that, to teach others according to His vows and His power. Not that He cared to be famous. If He’d cared to be famous, He would have gone back to be a king having so many servants, many concubines, beautiful, most beautiful women around Him. They select, you know? If you’re a king, they select all the best-looking women in the country, young maidens to be at your side for your pleasure, to lessen your stress, to bear many children, to enlarge the royal household, so that you can use these children to solidify your power, or to solidify friendships, support from neighboring countries. It is like a job also. Having many women is also like a job. The king might not even like it.
Not every man likes many women. Most men are very faithful. One woman is good enough for him. And then they build up their relationship together and they have not just like desire for each other, but they have obligation for each other. They have respect for each other. They have things in common and go together on the life journey as best friends. So, most men, if they found a good woman, trustworthy and nice to him, faithful to him, then he’s happy all his life. He doesn’t even look at anybody else. In America, they made a survey that 90-plus percent of American – USA – American men are very respectful and loving to their wives, really love their wives and respect their wives. I think everywhere else is almost the same. They just didn’t do the survey in Taiwan (Formosa). The myth about men loving many women, it’s not really true. Some, maybe. Some, maybe. But not all men are like that. I saw it around me all the time. I don’t know, maybe I told you this story already, but I could tell you again and you pretend you didn’t listen before.
I was in Spain, and I went to a restaurant to eat because they have a vegan taco. Taco is a special Mexican food. They wrap it in a crispy corn chapati-like (flatbread), and it’s very delicious. They make it vegan. I love Mexican food. Whenever I’m in Mexico, I really have to go out and find some real Mexican food, vegan, to eat. And sometimes, I made it at home. Now I don’t have time to even eat, not to talk about making it myself. I prefer to cook. I like to cook. It’s like an artistic expression also. You put a lot of colorful things, you’re arranging stuff, and then you put enough spice and condiment, and it suits your palate. And after you’re done, you enjoy it. It’s like a gift from Heaven and Earth. From your talent and your love and the love of all the food that offer it to you. You feel grateful and it’s also your own creation, so you feel very satisfied even if you don’t eat a lot of that. And sometimes you go out, eat a lot, but you don’t feel satisfied. That’s the problem. Because it’s not love that’s put in there. I keep telling the kitchen to put love, like in Hsihu, to put love in the food, so it will taste good.