Treasure Trove in the Mundane World

A talk given by Jin Shan Shr on August 13, 2010

This time, I am very happy to come back to CTTB as a resident. Seven years ago, before I became a left-home person, I lived here for three months. Since then, I have been living in other branch temples until recently.

To me, CTTB is a supreme place for cultivation. All kinds of beings, visible and invisible, are here. All of the flowers, grass, trees, birds and animals are speaking the Dharma. We often see peacocks strolling around with ease. Visitors enjoy taking pictures close with them. Squirrels run up and down to pick up fruits to eat. They chew foods in front of people fearlessly. People like us, come from different countries. We speak different kinds of languages, carry different customs, life styles, and habits. We live together peacefully through tolerance. We have learned to respect each other, to become more kind and considerate to others. These lead us to walk down the Bodhi path peacefully and harmoniously.

CTTB is a big place. Every place in CTTB requires a lot of manpower. The kitchen staff not only cooks delicious meals for us every day, but also keeps the kitchen tidy and clean. The administration office staff guards the front door to secure the Way-place.

Building and Ground crews make sure that all facilities are in working order. Problems such as bursting pipes, leaking faucets and problems with doors and windows can all be taken care of in a short period of time. We even have technicians to provide maintenance on cars. Gardeners maintain flower gardens and mow the lawns. Some people sweep the road to make the environment more pleasant. People working in the organic garden provide us with nutritious vegetables that otherwise would be expensive to buy at a market. We take turns to go to the recycling center to separate out recyclables. We make sure that our natural resources are used effectively and work to reduce trash and debris.

In addition, school faculty and staff, Buddha Hall activity coordinators, and the staff of the Circulation Department, Donation Department and Financial Department are working diligently to keep our daily life running smoothly. We also have a translation group that translates the Sutra and dharma into many languages, such as English, Vietnamese and Spanish. Our restaurant Chyun Kung is very famous. The staffs work diligently to bring healthy vegetarian foods to customers. Once when I was sweeping the road, a car stopped beside me, and asked where the restaurant is. They drove a long way to come to our restaurant to eat.

Although all of us are performing different tasks and doing various jobs, our goal is one. Our goal is to cultivate and propagate the Buddha Dharma. There are many talented people in CTTB. The Venerable Master mentioned that if you are a tiger, you have to lie down; if you are a dragon, you have to coil up.

This is a place for people to bring forth their Bodhi resolve to cultivate. No matter what kind of job we are doing, our minds always dwell in the Way. We should always contemplate within. Do I do this for fame? Do I do this for self-benefit? Am I greedy? Do I seek? Do I fight? Do I do it impartially? When I see others doing good deeds, am I jealous, or do I rejoice and following in the merit and virtue? Do I do this just to show off? Do I do this because the master is here? Or do I truly and honestly do it? We should ask ourselves, and honestly.

Venerable Master Hua said that in CTTB, we are not lacking of skillful people. What we need are true cultivators.

I remember when I was a lay-person; I helped paint the walls in the Way-place. I saw people sweeping the paintbrush up and down, not quite reaching to the corners and edges of the walls. I was afflicted, and went to ask Dharma Master. The Dharma Master told me that when you see that others have not finished a task, you should go ahead and complete it. Since then, I have learned a lot. We all have good points and short comings, if we can learn from other people's good points and help on the places of their short comings, then things can work more smoothly and perfectly. Here, we often see people work or help other people silently. Some people pick up the excrement from the peacock. Other people pick up the fallen branches. We do not often hear people complain, or scold other people. With one mind together, we can make this place better and better.

We should cherish the opportunity we have here to contribute what we can. Do not let the time pass in vain. In the meantime, we may also gather in our minds. We should strive to not be attached to what we are doing. When we are given a job, we should do it, and when it is done, it is passed. We should not let it linger in our mind. Therefore, no matter what kind of work we are doing, the training of our mind is the same. We must guard our minds closely, and not let thoughts linger around. Some Dharma Masters teased themselves as "working force dharma masters", that means what they do are labor works. But I see it is a kind of blessing. These works are tiresome, and we sweat a lot. But after work, take a shower and a good night sleep, the second day all the energy are coming back. Moreover, we can recite the Buddha's name while working. I know in some other Way-places, left-home people are just like lay people. They have to make crafts, or cook foods for selling in order to support their living. As of today, with Venerable Master's virtue, our living supplies are abundant.

There was a manager of a Vietnamese temple who came to our Way-place, and she mentioned that our Venerable Master was a brilliant sage. He provided us with guidelines, including the monastery system, our daily schedule, our cultivation and so on before he entered nirvana. It has eliminated a lot of confusion and disputes. She said that her Master didn't give her any instructions before he entered nirvana. So she has to spend a lot of energy to solve those problems.

Right now, there are many disasters occurring in the world. It is not as good as before. Some days ago, I mentioned to other people that when I was a child, we knew all the families and children who lived on the same block. We played together and had a lot of fun. The front door of each house on the block was always wide open. We ran from this house to the next house to play around. Right now, every family closes their doors, and children no longer run around and play as much as they used to because they are playing video games or on the internet. Adults and children seldom know who lives next door. It is probably impossible to find an environment like the one I had when I was a child. A Dharma Master instantly pointed out that is the way we live in CTTB. Yes! It is the way we live in CTTB. The pure and natural place that is probably very hard to find in the world.

I feel that I am very lucky to become a left-home person in CTTB, and to learn and practice under Ven. Master’s dharma lineage. We have abundant food to eat, proper clothes to wear, a comfortable place to live, and a convenient transportation if we need it. We don't have to worry about our daily needs. All we were asked is do not loss our temper; do not strike up false thoughts, and to cultivate vigorously.

How much effort do we each put into our own cultivation?

Only we each know the answer.


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