During small gatherings, Supreme Master Ching Hai occasionally speaks with our Association members from different nationalities in their respective languages. In 1992, Supreme Master Ching Hai spoke with our Chinese Association members in Surabaya, Indonesia.
Okay, let's talk about the vegetarian diet. I used to travel around and sometimes was on business trips for several days. 22
2 My former husband was a doctor; he had to work. Sometimes he stayed at the hospital and couldn't come home, or went to a meeting which might have taken a long time, but he still kept a vegetarian diet. If we truly wish for something, the Buddhas will arrange it for us.
Some of you don't know what vegetarian food you can eat, Chinese people can always think of a way. They can bring along some buns or bread, right? - or some dried food. Chinese people have plenty of such kinds of food. Sometimes when we go out for a few days, we can eat some canned food. That's fine, too. Or, we can bring some cooked food along and warm it up before we eat. Sometimes it's fine to eat cold food for a couple of days.
If you want to eat, well, you'll find abundant food. Sometimes when we go out, we can order Chinese food. For instance, we can ask the restaurant to cook vegetarian food for us. There are a variety of dishes. For example, we can ask them not to add meat but add tofu instead. They can add tofu to fried noodles. Or, when we order soup we can ask them not to add meat but add tofu or gluten, soy sauce, salt and sugar.
Then we'll have plenty of dishes that are tasty. That's it! All we need are rice and vegetables, plus tofu. Is tofu available here? You can buy tofu and bring some pieces along when you go out. If you can't find any vegetarian food, you can buy steamed rice and then mix it with tofu and soy sauce or Maggi sauce. You can eat some fruit afterward; then you'll have all the yin and yang, the hot and the cold.
Then, if you have some tonic or ginseng soup, you'll be very strong. It's very simple. We don't have to eat lavishly all the time. We can have a change in eating habits. To be on a vegetarian diet is very simple. Besides, Chinese people can buy tofu wherever they go. It's cheap.
We can buy tofu instead of meat, and then add some soy sauce to it. White tofu, fresh tofu jelly, or soft tofu with some soy sauce is tasty and nutritious, right? If vegetables are insufficient, you can buy some fruit, right? We can substitute various kinds of fruits for vegetables. When you go home, you can replenish yourself with better food, but when you're outside, you can make it simple.
You can also buy prepared vegetarian food. Eating canned food is also applicable for a couple of days. When I lived in Germany before, the situation was worse. There were not many Chinese people in Germany, and the restaurants were all non-vegetarian. There was a store that sold Chinese groceries, including tofu and gluten, however, tofu was often not available. They didn't have it every day. They occasionally had tofu in stock but did not replenish it when it was sold out. Sometimes, I had to wait for weeks and didn't know whether they had it or not.
Besides, I lived far away from the store and it took me three or four hours to buy a piece of tofu, so I couldn't go there every day. Gluten wasn't sold there so I made it myself. Do you know how to make gluten? No? You can use flour, bread flour. Did you know that? Add some salt to the flour. You should add salt… (Eggs?) No eggs. Add salt, and then mix it with water to make it into a soft dough. After setting it aside for a while, wash it with water. The starch will be washed off, leaving behind all the protein. Then the residue will be gluten. You can then make it into any shape, round or long. That's gluten. I had to make gluten myself, because it was high in protein.
You can mix gluten with tofu and then stir-fry them with vegetables such as carrots, daikon radishes, cabbage, or cauliflower. Add them all in and then stir-fry a bit. Use good oil to cook. Then add some salt, sugar, soy sauce and water. Close the cover and let them cook for about twenty minutes. Then you can eat with rice and you'll have all kinds of nutrition. If you still worry that you haven't gotten enough nutrition, you can drink a glass of soybean milk; that should be enough. Or you eat some fruit and eat some cookies with a cup of tea. What a comfortable life that is!
If we truly want to improve ourselves, follow Buddha and learn the spirit of compassion and universal love, and love animals like our tender children; we won't want to eat their corpses. For instance, if you see a person who's been dead for two or three days, would you dare to eat him? Even a tiger wouldn't eat him; it won't eat a dead animal.
Have you heard of that? It's true. You see, we're worse than tigers. We eat animals that have been dead for many days. Even when they're rotten, we still eat them and think that they're tasty. We fool ourselves by adding a lot of soy sauce and seasonings to make it edible. Otherwise, if someone gives you a rotten beefsteak and lets you eat it immediately, I think that you'd vomit to death, right?
My former husband was a doctor. When he went out for meetings, it wasn't convenient for him. He was on a vegetarian diet. Even as a German who was very tall and strong, he could be a vegetarian. I have many disciples who are businessmen like you. Sometimes they're very busy. I have a disciple who's an overseas Chinese in Malaysia. He lives in hotels all the time because he has to travel frequently from one place to the next. Both he and his wife have to travel around, but he's on a vegetarian diet every day. It's difficult to have vegetarian food in a hotel. Did you know that? Some hotels are big, but they don't serve vegetarian food.
He would order raw salad, lettuce, rice, and bread. He would eat whatever vegetarian food was available. He said that if he could stay on a vegetarian diet, anyone could, because he didn't have a home. During the past five years, he's gone from one hotel to another, and from one country to another; his business requires him to do so. Some people do live like that. He said that he has lived in hotels during the past five years, but he could stay on a vegetarian diet. He didn't become too skinny. He was handsome and tall. He was a Chinese, tall, big, and young, in his early forties. So, it's not that we can't become vegetarians. No.
* Can we eat eggs?
Eggs? No, don't eat eggs. They're not good for our health. Besides, eggs attract negative energy and make us impure. Those who don't do spiritual practice may not feel it, but spiritual practitioners can feel it. Some sorcerers like to use eggs to attract evil spirits, don't they? Did you know that? They use eggs to attract negative energy and demons. So if we eat eggs, we will attracts demons into our bodies. We spiritual Practitioners should be as pure as possible.
* Is it good to forsake the Tao for money?
No, it's not. The scriptures only teach us to do good deeds, right? However, if we don't earn money, how can we give to charity? If we don't have enough money, how can we keep the precepts? How can we not steal when we're hungry? How can we keep the precepts then? That's illogical. When the Buddha was in the world, many of his disciples were householders.
It's the same even now. You should chant the scriptures in order to know the good things that the Buddha said and the virtuous deeds that he taught us. You can chant the scriptures anywhere. The Buddha didn't say that you couldn't chant them in your home. If you can't chant them at home, where else can you do it? Do you have to do it in the park? How can householder practitioners find time to go to temples every day and chant the scriptures there? Right? Besides, some of you live far away and chanting scripture sometimes takes a long time. Unless you become a monk, you can't go to temples every day to chant scriptures. So just do it at home. It's just that you should chant them while sitting calmly. After you chant the Buddha's words, you should do what he told us to do. That's a good way to chant the scriptures. You can do it anywhere.
*He said that in that case, financial fortune won't come to our place.
You must be joking! I have more money now than before. I not only read the Diamond but also many different scriptures because I need to explain them to my disciples. And I have to study them, understand? I've studied scriptures more than before, I have more money than before, and it's more than enough. So I help others with it or give lectures and print books to teach people about morality. I spend my money for those who are in need, and I continue to earn more money. It's no problem.
If we understand the scriptures that we chant, our morality within will emerge, right? If we truly understand them, we'll want to pursue spiritual practice. We'll be close to the Buddha and our wisdom will develop. This is the only good way to chant the scriptures. Then we'll know how to make more money and how to use it properly. Maybe we weren't virtuous before. After we made money, we'd spend it lavishly on gambling or buying many unnecessary things. Now, if we are virtuous, and we have money, we can use it properly. We can use it to carry out relief work everywhere and help our countrymen and the people in need. Who says that money is useless? Who says that we can't earn money? Right? You see, people in temples also chant the scriptures, don't they?
We should chant in order to comprehend the Buddha's scriptures and teachings. That alone is the true meaning of chanting scriptures. Before we believe something, we should judge it and analyze it to see whether it's right or wrong. Right? Then we should try to prove it and find out in what respect it's right. We can't just believe whatever people tell us. If we always listen to others and don't have our own opinion, our wisdom will gradually decrease, because our minds will be controlled by others. We'll become more and more ignorant about the intelligence we have. Right? Then we'll become superstitious, pay respect to anyone as we're told, and do anything that's demanded of us. Then we'll have a lot of trouble.
I've told you this kind of story before. In Germany or in other places, there are traffic signs to show that you should drive at 40 kilometers per hour in urban areas. However, people all drive at 50 or 60 kilometers per hour. Understand? That's fine. If someone drives exactly at 40 kph, the police will check on him. They may think that that person has a problem or his car has a problem, understand? No one actually follows the regulations strictly. If someone respects the law and drives only at 40 kph, the police will check on him, and neighboring cars will beep their horns at him and the drivers will stare at him with curiosity as if he's gone bananas.
It means that he may have a mental problem. So, sometimes I'm telling you the true teachings of the Buddha, but you haven't heard them for a long time, or you heard it differently, you don't study the scriptures because you're too busy, so whatever people say to you, you just listen and don't have time to think about it - when I tell you the truth, you find it very hard to believe and it may sound unfamiliar to you.
*Can a woman chant scriptures during her menstruation period?
Yes, she can.
* Can she enter the temples?
Yes, she can.
*What about when a family member dies?
When your heart is pure, any place is pure. That is, when you're kindhearted and pure, everywhere is the Buddha's land; this is a Chinese saying. This means that when you're pure, everything around you is pure, understand? Your body is also pure. Human blood isn't filthy. Rice, vegetables and tonic substances that we eat turn into blood, so blood isn't unclean. If blood were unclean, the food that we eat would also be unclean, understand? Females' body anatomy is different. In order to bear children, a woman has eggs inside. If the eggs aren't used, they just break up inside the body and then she won't get pregnant. When the eggs break up, they result in menstruation.
When the eggs break up, blood flows out. The blood is originally inside the body. It's blood whether it comes out or stays inside. So, when have you become clean or unclean? There's no difference, understand?
*Yes. Thank You.
The Buddha wasn't narrow-minded. He understood because he was also born from a woman, right? Just think about it. Doesn't blood come from rice and vegetables? Right? These kinds of foods are nourishing. So how can blood be unclean? Even if blood doesn't flow out, it remains as blood inside of us. If blood is dirty, it's already dirty while inside our body. Male blood and female blood are the same, in that case, both men and women are always dirty, not only during menstruation, right? That isn't logical.
*A friend asks this question: If he isn't a vegetarian and doesn't practice spiritually, is there any method to uplift his wisdom?
Yes, there is.
Yes. I'll be vegetarian for him and I'll practice spiritually for him, and then my wisdom will be uplifted. It's very difficult. He can also practice spiritually, starting with an easy method, such as the Convenient Method. However, he must try to be on a vegetarian diet as much as he can. Why? Because if he eats too much meat, he'll have heavy karmic hindrances and it will be very difficult for his wisdom to develop. For instance, if a glass is dirty and you fill it, the taste will be different or it may become poisonous. So when people practice spiritually and meditate, many of them get possessed or become mentally unstable because their method is wrong. If you want to practice the Convenient Method, you can't meditate for too long; 20 minutes or 30 minutes is enough. If you meditate more than that, you may have problems and your wisdom won't develop much.
However, even if you're sincere, you have to purify your actions, speech and thoughts; otherwise, your sincerity is futile. If we meditate diligently every day but eat meat, our merit will be deducted by the bad karma (retribution). Just like the situation where we've made money doing business, but we've overspent or we have too much debt. Although we earn a lot each day, it's deducted. Then we have nothing left. In that case, why do we have to practice after all?
* I have another question. Say a person likes to preach, but he does it out of goodwill.
*However, he doesn't understand much about the scriptures, so he preaches incorrectly. Does he incur > bad karma (retribution)?
He doesn't understand much about the scriptures.
*Not in depth, but he has good intentions.
*He doesn't have bad intentions.
He just spreads the word of the scriptures.
* I know. But he explains it incorrectly. Does he incur bad karma (retribution) by doing that?
Yes, he does, because those who listen to them will think that he's correct. So if he's wrong, it means that not only he but all of his audience members will also have the wrong concepts. Therefore, he has to come back in another lifetime, and no matter what he does, he has to wait till all those people are enlightened and liberated before he can be liberated, no matter what he does, understand? That's his bad karma (retribution). If you're blind yet don't know the way, and you lead another person who's in the same situation, both of you just walk randomly. Do you know where you'll end up?
You can fall anywhere, because both of you are blind and don't see the way. If we know that we're blind and don't know the way, we'd better ask someone who knows the way and who can see. Otherwise, we'd better sit down. It may be fine to harm yourself, but if you harm several others, of course you incur bad karma (retribution). That's why the Buddha said, "One who believes in the Buddha but doesn't understand the Buddha defames the Buddha." We should first realize our wisdom within and personally experience it. Only then will our words benefit others without incurring bad karma (retribution).
He asked me why he saw me in his dream. I said that maybe I took him to another place to learn, or I was proving to him that I not only teach him in words, but that I am also powerful. That wasn't a dream. That was an inner experience, because he remembers it clearly. So, it wasn't an ordinary dream. Then he asked me, "Does that mean that I should follow you?" I told him, "No! You don't have to follow me, but follow my teachings." You don't have to acknowledge me as your Master, but that I teach you how to become your own master.
I teach you how to deal with your life, how to realize your own power and how to become your own master. It's more important to have self control and to overcome yourself. It's very difficult. It's not important to become someone's disciple or someone's master.” That's why I've never told anyone to follow me. What I mean is that you should follow my teachings. If you think that my teachings are good, follow them.
*Master, this child says that he has been on a vegetarian diet for a long time, and wonders why he had the desire to eat meat sometimes.
*He had strong desires to eat meat.
*But then suddenly a voice from within told him not to eat it. There was such a power inside him. He asked where this voice, this power, came from.
The voice told him not to eat meat, right?
It told him from inside not to eat meat?
*When he wanted to eat meat very much to the extent that he wanted to buy some meat.
His heart told him not to.
*He would almost start to eat meat, but then a voice would tell him not to eat it.
*There was a power telling him not to eat it.
* It told him not to eat it. He wonders why the voice could control him each time he wanted to eat meat.
That was a protective power. Sometimes when a person is destined to practice spiritually, his master will protect him from his birth. Do you understand? The Master power will protect him from childhood. Sometimes the power protects him without him being aware of it; to let him have fewer difficulties. When it's time for him to practice spiritually, it'll remind him in many ways. This happens to people who are sincere due to their merit from spiritual practice in previous lifetimes.
Why did he want to eat meat? It was because of his habit. He had been eating meat since childhood, so he was used to it. For instance, the Chinese have been eating Chinese food since childhood. If I have you eat bread and French fries, you may eat them for a day or two, but you couldn't bear to eat them for too long. It's similar to the Westerners; they're used to their food. If you have them eat Chinese food every day, they'll be fed up, too. Understand? However, they may get used to it after some time. So, that's only a habit. In the future, he'll get used to vegetarian food and won't think of meat anymore. It's only a habit. In the future, don't go out when you're hungry, because if you see food, you'll want to eat it.
Sometimes when we go outside, if our child is hungry, we can give him some bread or buns. We can bring food in a bag. Buns can be eaten cold. Let him have some when he's hungry. Or let him have an apple, pear or other fruit. This will fill his stomach and he won't want to eat other foods. When he's hungry, he wants to eat any food. If he's satisfied, he won't desire even the best food.
*Master, I'd like to ask whether each person has three lives - the past, the present...
You're talking about causation. Some people have three lives and some have two.
* How do we know that?
Ordinary people have three lives. They have the retribution from their past that has made them live the way that they're living now. And when they live in this way now, they incur new bad karma (retribution), which will determine their future life. Since they can't repay their debt, they have to come back again to pay it. Since their desire can't be satisfied, they have to come back again to have it fulfilled. However, some people only have two lives because they practice the Quan Yin Method. Their past bad karma (retribution) has been cleansed by their master. When their master presses the button, their bad karma (retribution) is thoroughly cleansed.
This is just like a computer. There's something similar to a computer inside us and the master knows where the button is. He does it in a formless way, not that he uses any physical method, understand? The master must be very powerful to wash off the causation and leave them only with the retribution of this lifetime. The retribution of this lifetime is derived from past causation, and in this lifetime, the master will teach them not to do any bad deeds so that they can pay off their debts. When they've paid off their past debts, those stored in the warehouse will also be burnt.
For instance, when a farmer's seeds have been burnt, he can't grow vegetables anymore. Understand? This applies to the karma (retribution) in storage, which I've burnt at the time of initiation. I only leave them with the karma (retribution) of this lifetime, which resulted from their previous lives. They're paying off this bad karma (retribution) and, at the same time, they don't incur new bad karma (retribution). In case they inevitably incur new bad karma (retribution), it can be cleansed off by meditation and won't grow in the future. Then they have no reason to come back again, because they have only two kinds of causation, past and present.
*What happens after they die?
They won't have future lives. That's why we say that this is liberation in one lifetime, which can only be attained through practicing the Quan Yin Method.
*After we're enlightened or liberated, do we still have any work to do?
Yes, we do. Just like after Shakyamuni Buddha attained Buddhahood, he still worked, which was the work of the Buddha. Since an adult should do adult's work, why can't a Buddha do a Buddha's work?
*Does a Buddha still need to practice? When a person attains Buddhahood, does he still need to practice?
No, he doesn't. But since he's involved with sentient beings every day, he may have to bear some bad karma (retribution) for them and for his disciples, so he has to cleanse off the bad karma (retribution). For instance, if I take your garbage with my car, I have to drive out to dump it. I can't leave it in my car every day. By helping you with your garbage, my car will be filled with garbage, understand? So I need to go out to dump it. That's why. Originally his car didn't have any garbage, nor did he have any bad karma (retribution). He may practice in order to set an example for sentient beings and for his disciples. However, we can't stop at certain levels or we'll become bored. The Truth is limitless.
When a person becomes a Buddha, it's just like when a doctor graduates. We can't say that he should continue with his studies, but he has to continue to study; however, what he now studies is different than what he did when he was a student. Although he has graduated and become a doctor, and everyone knows he is a doctor, but he still has to study, doesn't he?
Because medical science is limitless. However, medical science is only one science, not to mention when a person becomes a Buddha. The universe is vast. It's not that one shouldn't learn it or that one should learn it. Do you understand what I mean? Nothing is limited. Everything is boundless. One can learn if one wishes, but it's fine if one doesn't. It's just like a doctor who can either stop his studies or carry on with his studies. We can say that he's researching, not learning. But the manner in which he does research is different than that of a medical student.
* If one doesn't practice, will he fall down to the level of transmigration again?
It depends on the level of that person. If you're in the domain of transmigration, you will, but if you've surpassed transmigration, you won't. I know that you're very curious about the Buddha's level. But how can I tell you about it? We're only sitting here on the floor, yet we want to talk about Heaven. Well, I can tell you some things, but I don't want to give you too many preconceived ideas or you may keep thinking that Heaven must be like this or that when you meditate.
Then you'll hinder yourselves. So I'll let you have a little, not too much. When you experience it, you'll know that Heaven isn't the only thing that you perceive. Sometimes when our kindness and purity within develop, our greed, anger and lust suddenly disappear, our desires disappear, and our wisdom emerges. That's when we attain Heaven.
There was a person who went to seek the Truth. He went to a master and said, "You must now prove to me that Heaven exists and that hell exists, because I don't trust you." The master said, "I can't! I don't know how to explain that to you. I don't know how to prove that to you. You must go there to find out yourself." For instance, we're here now, yet you say, "Please show me Taipei quickly." Can that be done? You don't want to go there yourself and you don't want to practice spiritually, so I can't show it to you. Right?
After we practice spiritually, we'll have inner experiences and then we'll feel more confident about it. What's the use of listening to others talk about it? For instance, Shakyamuni Buddha told us in the Amitabha Sutra that there are crystal palaces, golden ground, and trees of jewels in Amitabha's world. We've heard about it and some of us chant the scripture every day. But have you ever seen it? No. Does what he saw have anything to do with you? No. For example, when you eat, I don't know the taste of your food, nor can I be full. So, that master told that person, "You must practice spiritually to know it. I can't prove it to you." Then that person took out his sword and said, "If you don't tell me, I'll kill you." He pointed his weapon at the master's throat, threatening him.
He said, "If you don't tell me, I'll stab you immediately." Then the master smiled and said, "Oh! Hell is appearing to you now. Here is hell." Upon hearing it, that person was immediately enlightened, understood, and then apologized to the master. He knelt down, broke his sword, and begged the master for forgiveness. He said, "I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I shouldn't have done that. Now I understand." Then the master smiled and said, "Oh! Heaven is open again. Heaven is here!" Do you understand? Everything is created by the mind. If we don't straighten out our actions, speech and thoughts, what's the use of asking about the Buddha's land? What is the use? When we're here, we should practice well, take good care of our environment, and fulfill our responsibilities.
Then we'll have wisdom, be able to handle things well and keep our actions, speech and thoughts clean. We won't kill, won't steal, and won't tell lies. We'll take good care of our actions, speech and thoughts. The more we practice spiritually, the more wisdom we'll have to serve the public. Then I think that we won't need to go to Heaven. What for? We won't need to know how great the level of the Buddha is. At that time, we'll just feel very comfortable that we don't care about becoming a Buddha or not. If this world is good and people support each other and get along with each other peacefully, we wouldn't want to go to Heaven, wouldn't we?
It would be the same living anywhere. If we're tranquil and happy and have wisdom and peace, we won't want to go to Heaven and we won't have to think of the level of the Buddha, because the Buddha's land is just as tranquil and happy. We don't care if the ground is gold or mud, do we? If we're happy, we'll also be happy living in a small house. Otherwise, we'll be very frustrated even if we have lots of money. Some people want to commit suicide or have conflicts and troubles over money.
Then what's the good of having money? Right? That's why I said that the most important thing is to cultivate oneself. Then we'll have wisdom and be able to look into every situation clearly. We'll be able to endure all kinds of circumstances; we'll be able to do all kinds of work very concisely with a clear understanding, intelligence and deftness; our love will also expand; we'll understand and sympathize with others. No matter how others insult us, we'll be able to endure it and be good to them and love them. More importantly, we'll pray to the Buddha to bless them. It's good to live like this. We don't yearn to become Buddhas or know about their business.