Moses led his people out of Egypt to the desert and then came to settle down at the foot of Mount Sinai. One day, the Lord spoke to them through Moses. The Lord said, I've taken you out of Egypt to this place. I've been protecting you and given you plenty of good food, because you're my favorite people! I'd like you to become my special friends. Would you obey my words?
They answered together, "We would!" Then the Lord said, The day after tomorrow, I'll come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. So the people started to cleanse themselves and wash their clothes, because the Lord was going to see them.
Indeed, when that day came, the people all heard thunder and saw lightning and a thick cloud upon Mount Sinai. They all trembled, because they knew that the Lord was coming! Would you tremble when you saw God? No? Of course you wouldn't, because you haven't seen Hirm. (Laughter) However, they deemed, as what's recorded in the Bible, that the thunder that they heard and the lightning that they saw were in the sky. In fact, that wasn't true! They were from inside. We all have had these kinds of experiences. When Moses and Aaron, two friends of the Lord, climbed up Mount Sinai, the Lord bestowed on them the "Ten Commandments" and instructed them to tell the people that only when they kept these commandments could they become special friends of the Lord.
The Lord also said, I'm the Lord. You should worship me and respect me only. You must not make any graven images or bow down to them. Each time you mention the name of the Lord, you must do it with veneration. Also, you should rest on Sunday. (This means meditation). Originally, the sixth day was the Sabbath Day. Since Jesus Christ resurrected on Sunday, the Sabbath Day was shifted to Sunday. However, the Jews still observe Saturday as their special Sabbath Day. On this day, people aren't supposed to work, but only do things for God, such as chanting scriptures, reciting God's name, meditating, or getting together at church to remember God's name. It simply means to stop doing any worldly work!
An example of this is that you come here today and we study the scriptures of God and do God's work together; and we meditate and remember God's great name in order to serve Hirm. This is correct and is to Hiers liking. So you see, the wind stopped as soon as you came here today. (Master and audience laugh. Applause.) After you meditated for a while, even the rainstorm stopped. There was supposed to be a heavy rainstorm! This shows that God is pleased! (Master and audience laugh.)
The commandments include being filial and respectful to parents, not harming other sentient beings, being loyal to one's spouse, and refraining from having relationships with other men or women. They also include refraining from stealing, telling lies, and coveting things that belong to others.
This is just like what I've told you, that you shouldn't covet things from other people. We shouldn't take anything that doesn't belong to us or that people don't personally give to us, even if it's only a blade of grass, because it's not worth ruining our reputation and gentleman's manners, not to mention breaking the precepts. It's very bad already that our self-esteem has been damaged! Do we have to wait for people to put us in jail?
Being human beings, our self-esteem is very important. There's no need to wait for others to tell you whether you've broken the precepts or to judge whether you were right or wrong. No matter what other people say, we know what we've done. This means that God knows or that our inner Master or God inside knows that we've done bad deeds. This is bad already! Therefore, we actually keep the precepts only for ourselves.
What I've just read to you are the "Ten Commandments" set out by the Lord. The Lord explained to Moses about how to apply these commandments in various worldly situations and wanted Moses to explain them to the people. When the situation was different, the commandments were to be applied accordingly. The commandments were meant to protect people, not the other way round.
For instance, a person almost starves to death and is very weak. He and his wife and children are dying of hunger or his parents are dying of hunger. If he goes out and steals some bread or rice to feed his family, he doesn't break the commandments. I'm speaking frankly, if this person stole from me, I wouldn't accuse him; instead, I'd give him more. By doing that, he wouldn't break the commandments. In that kind of situation, we can't say that he stole.
On the other hand, if we have enough to live on or people have offered us enough to live on, yet we desire to be more comfortable, more beautiful and more glorious, in this case, even if we steal only a blade of grass, it's stealing, because it's unnecessary! Therefore, we should make a judgment only after we've clearly understood the commandments and considered the intention and situation.
In another instance, I've told you not to accept other people's offerings and not to casually accept gifts from others. However, if you're ill and have no money because other people have not repaid you, in that case, if I give you some money, but you still refuse to accept it, you're being really stupid! (Laughter) At that time, it's not that you're coveting it, but that you truly need it. If you don't need it, even if you accept only a dime, you'll incur heavy sin! However, if you really need it, it's no problem no matter how much you accept.
Therefore, we shouldn't cling to the commandments. We should see whether it's suitable to apply any of the commandments to a situation. Of course, we ought to strictly keep the commandments in the event that we may harm others by doing otherwise. Sometimes when others try to harm us, we should do our best to protect our lives. In case we're killed, we shouldn't harbor any hatred against them, nor should we kill them for our own lives. It might not be bad for them to kill us, because they might help us to get liberated from the life and death cycle sooner. (Master laughs) In that case, we ought to be grateful to them! Therefore, when Jesus Christ, Shakyamuni Buddha and all the other Masters of all the ages were harmed by others, They wouldn't resist like the worldly people usually do. Although the worldly people may be good in some respects, when they aren't treated well, they still have the notion of killing or taking revenge. As spiritual practitioners, we leave everything to God no matter whether it's good or bad. So we have nothing to fear.
Then, Moses began to explain the commandments to the people. Hence, those people promised to keep and respect the Lord's commandments. Then Moses went up to Mount Sinai, because the Lord told him that Hes would write the Ten Commandments on a big stone tablet. He climbed up to get it.
However, Moses might have stayed in samadhi for too long this time. He didn't go up there only to get the commandments. He might have studied the commandments while sleeping. He might have meditated, become tired, and after some rest, continued to meditate. He might have wanted to have a retreat. Before he received the commandments written by the Lord, he might have wanted to purify himself and strictly kept the commandments first in order to have more wisdom to understand them. So he might have meditated there for too long.
Knowing that he had been away for forty days, people who were waiting for him down the mountain became impatient. They began to get angry, sway, and their faith became weakened. They murmured to each other, "Well! I wonder what happened to Moses and why he hasn't come back!" They told Aaron, "We want another God and a different master. Moses led us from Egypt to this place. So he's our only master. However, now since he's gone now, we need another one. Let's have one quickly, okay?" (Master laughs and says, "They even placed a fast delivery order for a master!)
Aaron was rather dumb. He agreed with the people and asked all of them to give their gold and gems to him. Then he molded the gold into a calf. He proclaimed, "This is your new master." He then made an altar to put the calf on to let people bow down to it. Then the people were pleased. With the passage of time, they forgot what had happened before and said, "Oh! It was this golden calf, this master, who led us out of Egypt to here and liberated us from slavery." They kept worshipping it. Then they reveled in dancing and singing, while worshipping the god of the golden calf.
Seeing that in such a short time period, people broke what they had just promised to Hirm and worshipped another god, the golden calf, the Lord became angry. It's written here that the Lord was in wrath. I don't know whether God would be angry or not. However, if Hes was angry then, I wouldn't blame Hirm. When Moses came down from the mountain and saw the people dancing, singing, and worshipping the golden calf, he also became angry. At that time, Moses' anger was very intense. He cast the tablet carved with the commandments of the Lord down the mountain and it was broken into pieces. He then burnt the golden calf and ground it into powder.
Moses scolded the people, "How could you do such a terrible thing? You're senseless and stupid!" He kept scolding them, not simply like that. He might have scolded them a lot, but only a couple of sentences are written here. After the reprimand, since Moses always loved his people deeply inside, he prayed to the Lord to forgive those ignorant people, not be angry with them, and give them another chance to repent and become good again.
The Lord was also very patient. So Hes wrote down the commandments for them again. This time when Moses took the Ten Commandments back to the people, they behaved well, didn't sing or dance, hadn't mold another golden calf as their master, and didn't worship other gods. They became very humble, and listened attentively and patiently to Moses when he expounded on the decree of the Lord, the Ten Commandments. From then on, a covenant was made between the Lord and the Israelites, and everyone was pleased.
To comply with your request, I'll explain more about the commandments. The first commandment is, Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me. When people follow Buddhism, they need to keep a similar precept. The master will demand the disciples to vow, "From now on, I follow the Buddha, the noble teachings and the practicing assembly. I won't follow any immortals, celestial beings, gods, ghosts or any other beings." That means the same thing! Following the Buddha is the highest level, that is, the level of supreme enlightenment or the level of God. The noble teachings come from the Buddha, as only the noble teachings spoken by a Buddha are the true teachings. So they are also the supreme teachings. The practicing assembly is also developed by the master. People in the practicing assembly are the children of the Buddha or the children of God. Therefore, they're the supreme sentient beings.
Of course, it wouldn't be good for us if we go in the direction of an inferior level. For instance, if we want to make a friend, we should find the best person; or if we're going to elect a king or a president, we should go for the best, the most virtuous and the wisest person. If a bad president is elected -- we wanted the best president but we voted for an inferior person -- it's of course no good for us! Similarly, if we want to worship, we ought to worship the supreme and the highest God. It's not right if we worship demons and deities such as local gods, water deities, mountain deities, a sun god or any other gods, because their powers are all limited.
Only the Supreme God has the supreme and boundless power. No matter whether you venerate Hirm as the Supreme God, the True Lord or the Buddha power, Hes is the highest. You should understand inside that Hes is the supreme power of the universe. So you shouldn't bow down to local deities or local gods, or it would be no good for you. Therefore, the Lord said, Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me. Hes wasn't being autocratic, but only speaking the truth.
For instance, since we have a president in our country, we may just as well respect him. Why should we pay respect to a false president or a presidential candidate as our president? Even if such a person claims, "I'm the president. I would like to be the president," but he hasn't been elected. If we pay respect to him as our president just because he says that he would like to be one, is that appropriate? If we entrust our feelings and our political opinions to him and ask him to manage the national affairs, for sure it's not appropriate! We already have a president who was elected by the people. We know that he's the best and superior. So we may just as well support him. Therefore, when our president tells us, "I'm the president, the chief official of the country. Don't listen to any other president. Listen to me only." Is it appropriate for him to say so? (A: Yes) Similarly, God also told us to worship Hirm only.
In fact, God is the inner Master, the highest power. Hes had been taking care of those Israelites' ancestors for many lifetimes until the time of Moses. This was because their ancestors practiced the Quan Yin Method, which had incredible power! Even after many generations, God still continued to take care of their offspring. Since Hes had been taking care of them so meticulously, Hes had the right to say, Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me. When the Israelites as well as us happen to meet God, the inner Master, who takes good care of us, of course we should worship Hirm only and not seek elsewhere. When the Lord told Hiers people, Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me, it was not for Hiers own benefit! Hes knew that it was good for the people who worshipped Hirm. The more the people worshipped Hirm, the better they would be. It was not due to Hiers arrogance, but Hes told the truth for the benefit of the people.
Similarly, those who have children take care of their children in every possible way every day. The children get whatever they want, including an allowance for school. Their parents also take care of their physical health, cook nutritious food for them, and prepare sufficient clothing for them. If the children then take the people next door as their parents, there must be something wrong! Those people have nothing to do with the children and they didn't even give the children a dime or a set of clothes. They don't love and care for the children. So the children can't just take whomever they like as their parents simply because of a similar outward appearance. Only their real parents are their parents!
Therefore, if our parents tell us, "You should only take us as your parents, not anyone else," they aren't being arrogant. They are saying this for the good of their children. If we always go to our neighbors, today this neighbor and tomorrow that neighbor, to take them as our parents, what will happen to our physical health? What will happen to our identity? Then even our real parents can't take care of us, because we aren't around. So this won't be good for us.
God loves Hiers people just like parents love their children. So, Hes tells them to recognize Hirm, and believe in Hirm, and only then will everything be fine. This is Hiers intention.
Sometimes, a master tells us to believe in him, and pray to him in any situation, but not pray to any other gods. This is for our own good and he knows that he can give us everything. If we go to someone else, we won't get anything but will waste our time and miss the opportunity for the master to take care of us. That's why he tells us, "It's enough for you to believe in me only. Don't believe in anyone else." He isn't being jealous. Why should he be? The whole universe belongs to him. He can get anything that he wants. So why does he have to compete with other people and be jealous? Whether we believe in him or not, he won't lose anything, because we're his in the first place, just like we're our parents' children. Our parents don't need to compete with others for this, because it is the fact! However, if some children don't recognize their parents, they may have hard lives, which is no good for them. They may not get the legacy, and their parents may not be able to look after them. If they're never around, how can their parents take care of them? They don't know the children's whereabouts. So it's bad for the children, but not for the parents. (Applause)
When we follow a master, we know that he'll take care of all our major and minor things within and without. Therefore, when he tells us to believe in him, it's easily understandable. The more we believe in him, the more opportunities he'll have to take care of us. He tells us so only for our own benefit. If we're ignorant, we'll think that we belong to ourselves and have nothing to do with him. However, he knows clearly that he has affinity with us. We're just like insensible children.
Sometimes when parents are strict with their children, their children will get upset and run away, thinking that their parents don't care about them and don't love them. This isn't true! Parents are strict only for the good of their children. They know that their children are related to them. They know that they want to take care of their children out of love. They wish their children to be brought up well. However, children may not understand this. So they may run around, blame their parents, and do strange things that make their parents worry and make it hard for the parents to look after them.
The same thing applies to God (or a master) and Hiers disciples. God clearly knows that we're Hiers children and Hes ought to look after us. Hes will do anything that we want Hirm to do. But it's us who don't understand this. We think that we have sovereignty and we take care of ourselves. So we make a mess. The more we do, the more trouble we make. We're just like a child who tries to take care of himself when he hasn't grown up yet and has no wisdom, intelligence and ability. The more he messes around, the more upset he'll feel and the further away he is from his family. This will only make his life more dangerous and difficult, and make his parents worry more about him. Therefore, we should recognize God and believe in Hirm, because Hes is our supreme wisdom! Hes is no stranger; Hes is our most beloved kin. If we reject Hirm, go out to worship wooden Buddhas, mountains, deities or ghosts, we'll only become more upset. This is all because we have forsaken Hirm, rejected Hirm, and won't let Hirm take care of us.
I teach you meditation to find your own nature. I want you to recognize your own God and wisdom, and let Hirm appear to you so that Hes has opportunities to guide you and make your lives more bright and comfortable. That's why I tell you not to worship the outer deities, ghosts or Buddha statues. All statues are useless! The Buddha is in our hearts and God is within us. If we don't look for Hirm inside, where else can we find Hirm? All methods of seeking outside are wrong. (Applause) So I don't have to tell you a lot to get you to understand.
Here the Lord said, Thou shalt have no other gods besides Me. Hes was right! Worship "Me," the inner wisdom, not any idols. What Hes said was correct! Hes didn't try to intimidate people. Hes is indeed the supreme, the greatest and the highest. Hes doesn't need anyone to worship or admire Hirm. If we recognize Hirm and believe in Hirm, it's only our good fortune. Hes teaches us only because of our suffering and our sincere prayers. So Hes says, "All right! If you want to feel good, want comfort, and to be wise, intelligent and relaxed, believe in Me and worship Me only. Then you'll be fine."
God didn't force anyone. Hes only spoke the truth. Apart from the truth, what can you tell your child? You can't, only out of politeness, tell your child, "All right! It's fine whether you recognize us as your parents or not. You can go next door and take the people there as your parents." Can you tell your child that? If he does what you tell him, he'll go astray, live a difficult life, wander around, and have no money and no food, and no one will take him as their child. People usually don't take care of other people's children. Although he may get food and clothes in an orphanage, he won't have a comfortable life, family feelings and the pampering love of real parents. Humans not only need food and clothes, but also the love of the parents. If children are brought up by their neighbors and have no relationship with their parents, they'll look dull when they grow up.
Due to love for their child, parents should clearly tell him, "You're my child. If you leave home, you'll have a hard time. If you want to have a comfortable and nice life, just trust us and let us take care of you!" Do parents have to be polite or feel embarrassed to say that? When we tell the truth without being arrogant, we shouldn't feel embarrassed.
Sometimes when you hear what I say, you think that I ought to feel embarrassed, but I don't. I would feel afraid and embarrassed if I were deceiving you. Could I deceive so many of you? No way! Some of you are teachers, doctors and business people with high IQs. I couldn't deceive you for long. So I just tell you the truth. Since I tell you the truth, it's all right whether you believe me or not. I won't feel embarrassed. If we want to be good to a person, we should always tell the truth. Only when someone has a bad intention for others, then he will speak cautiously.
We've gone halfway through the second commandment, which is, Thou shalt not make any graven image; thou shalt not bow down to it. Why was God especially concerned about these things? Because human beings have intelligence, wisdom and the ability to do things. So if we worship a piece of wood or a stone which doesn't move and has no consciousness, aren't we being very dumb? Then why do some people still do it and think that they're fine?
The father of our nation, Dr. Sun Yet-Sen, was wise. No wonder people all revere him as a national father. He broke a wooden statue and asked people why they said that it was the Buddha, didn't he? (A: Yes!) I think that he was great. A person who has wisdom possesses strong charisma. No wonder he succeeded and is venerated by people until today. We can't envy him, because he deserved it!
I heard that he saw Quan Yin Bodhisattva when he went to Putuo Mountain. This indicates that he had faith and was pure. He was a Catholic. If he had been attached to the Catholic idols, he would have seen only Jesus Christ. Since he saw Quan Yin Bodhisattva, it meant that he had no discrimination and was really pure. Hence, the Bodhisattva didn't discriminate against him, "It's all right that you worship Jesus Christ. I'm just appearing to you to let you have a look." This indicates that he was very pure and was a very good person.
Of course, he had taken part in battles and possibly killed some people, but that was inevitable. I've told you that you should apply the precepts according to the situation! If you're a soldier and you have to kill the enemy to defend your country or due to your national law, then you don't commit a crime. Even if you kill a hundred people, you don't commit crimes or break the precepts. However, if you only injure a person due to personal animosity, you incur heavy karma. It's because of your intent to kill. But soldiers are different; they're compelled to do it, so they don't break the precepts.
Therefore, you can't judge yourself by how many times or how badly you've broken the precepts, how many people you've killed, or what your morality is like, but by the situation and your intention. We can't only look at actions. Sometimes, it's very difficult for ordinary people to judge others. We have to be very careful distinguishing between good and bad. Otherwise, we always misjudge. When we see that a person kills, we say, "Oh! He's bad!" When we see a person donating money to build a temple or a hospital, we say, "Oh! He's good!" It's not necessarily true! We don't know where his money came from and what the intention is of his donation. He may want to become famous or get other things by donating the money. In that case, he won't gain any merit by his action.
If we worship an image, it means that our level is too low to be repaired, that we have no wisdom and no ability to make a judgment, and that we don't know that the image is only made of a piece of wood. If we worship this piece of wood, it would be same as worshiping any piece of wood. Then it'd save the time and effort of carving and painting as well as the money. To worship an image means that we can't tell good from bad, don't know where our wisdom is, and don't understand what's recorded in the scriptures, that "The Buddha is in our hearts" or "God is within us." We just ignore the scriptures, ignore the teachings of all the masters, and ignore the words of God and the saint. We've gone too far and been too ill! Even if we have a little bit of wisdom left, when we bow down to an image, our wisdom is gone.
There is an Indian story. A woman acknowledged a master. Once she saw her master appear to her inside, and she was very happy. However, when she mixed with other people, she forgot about it. Hearing people making pilgrimages to mountains and rivers, she followed them. One day, she was ill and wasn't healed after she prayed to her master. Perhaps her master deliberately let her become ill in order to erase her bad karma. But she blamed her master for not helping her. So she worshipped images! There are many gods in India. If you go there, you can see all kinds of big gods, small gods, medium gods, fat gods and thin gods. So she just bowed down to them. Before that, she could see her master appear to her for a while. But after she bowed down to the images, her master disappeared.
When she came home, she thought, "How strange! How could this happen? The master was there a moment ago. But as soon as I bowed down, he disappeared." She felt sad and kept thinking about it for several days. She didn't want to eat, but meditated, demanding her master to appear to her and explain why he had suddenly left her. (She blamed her master again.) Since she was quite sincere, her master was moved, appeared to her, and told her, "When you worshipped the wooden statues, you degraded me to be even lower than they were! So I didn't have a place to stand. Since it was too low for me to stand, I had to run away."
Why are we called "human beings?" Because we're different than animals. We can distinguish between good and bad, high and low, moral and contemptible. We have the ability to make our own choices. Animals are different. They'll become whatever they are trained to become. Even tigers can be tamed to behave like cats by people in the circus. Lions and elephants can also be trained to do whatever they're told to do and dare not resist. In this respect, animals are rather stupid, and they can easily lose their independence.
Human beings aren't like that. Sometimes even when people are imprisoned, they'll try to escape. When they're oppressed, they'll try to resist. When they're wronged, they'll try to clear themselves. This is because human beings have wisdom. If our great wisdom has been deceived and becomes confused so that we worship the statues of ghosts and deities, of course we'll become the most miserable and drift too far away from God! It's stated very clearly in the Buddhist scriptures, The Buddha is in one's heart, and You can't perceive the Tathagata (Buddha) through tangible light and sound. Rather than worshipping tangible forms, it's more meritorious to go home and worship our parents. This is the truth.
If you like to worship, go home and worship your parents. They're living Gods and they have God's nature within them. If you break wooden statues to have a look, you won't find anything inside them. Even if your parents are ignorant and haven't recognized their God nature, at least they have God's nature within them. It's just that they don't know about it. However, there's nothing inside wooden statues! If you truly want to worship wooden things, just worship trees. At least there's a little bit of God's power inside living trees. Without God's power, nothing can go on living. So if we worship dead wood, a material form of a very low level, of course our wisdom and level will be degraded to an inconceivably low degree.
Therefore, God particularly reminds us to be especially cautious! Hes keeps telling us not to create images and worship them. This is because Hes is very compassionate and wants us to preserve the tiny bit of wisdom remaining in us. If we keep on worshipping images, we'll be finished! Our tiny bit of wisdom can be developed or be destroyed. When we're with spiritual people and wise friends, our wisdom will glow more brightly and develop more. But when we're with ignorant people and follow them to worship images, we'll be contaminated and pulled down by them and our level will be degraded further. The Lord wanted Hiers people to avoid this undesirable situation, so Hes told them not to do such things; because if they did, the tiny bit of wisdom that they had would disappear.
Suppose you have a little money left. If you save it, you can use it to buy bread. However, if you're cheated by people and use the money to buy stones, you'll lose the money and then starve to death. Besides, you'll have to carry the stones and become more exhausted. You're tired already, and yet you have to carry the stones. How can people be so stupid and be cheated to such an extent? How can stones be edible?
Therefore, your parents advise you not to buy stones and save your money, because they know that this is all you have. If you save it, you can sustain yourself for a while and think of a way later. Perhaps when you have regained your strength, you can find a job. But if you use it to buy stones, you'll be finished. You're weak and hungry already, but you'll have to carry the stones; then how can you survive? You'll die immediately! Similarly, when we worship images, we're incurable! Unless someone quickly pulls us up and imparts to us the superior wisdom, then we'll be cured; otherwise, we keep sinking down.
Yesterday, I let you watch a documentary film, which was about a group of people in India, how they make pilgrimages to mountains and rivers, how sincere they are when they bathe in the Ganges, and how sincere they are when they worship gods. However, you can see that the population in India hasn't decreased, but it's increasing, instead. And they're getting poorer. This is because they apply their sincerity in the wrong place!
Therefore, before, when I saw them doing such things, I got furious. I kept scolding as I came down the Himalayas. (Laughter) I wasn't satisfied to scold by myself. So I told some monks about it and let them scold with me. (Master laughs.) I was angry with those gods! I pointed at their noses and scolded them fiercely. Of course they didn't hear me; I was only venting my wrath. They were made of wood, so how could they hear me? I knew that very well, but it's just that I was really mad.
I saw that millions of people were being deceived, and had wasted a lot of effort, vitality and money, as well as risked their lives to climb up to the summit just to make a bow. They didn't know whether they would be able to make it home alive, because the road was very dangerous. Some people were very poor. They could only borrow or earn just enough money for the trip and they would have no money after they returned home. In order to gain merit and to worship the wooden statues, they had to come a long way. Sometimes, they had to walk on foot and their soles cracked and bled. Some of them were too poor to have shoes, so they had to walk barefoot on the icy road. I cried when I saw that! Innumerable people were deceived. Even though they were sincere, it was useless.
If we have no spiritual friends, our wisdom will become smaller and smaller and gradually disappear. Then, we will transform into animals, plants, stones or minerals. The less wisdom we have, the lower our status will be; while the more wisdom we have, the higher our status will be. It's similar in society. If you're more knowledgeable and more intelligent, your work is more effortless, your social status is higher, your job is better, and you can make more money. But if you have no knowledge, aren't intelligent, and have no ability, you have to do low level work. The lower level your work is, the more toilsome it is and the less the money you'll make.
A similar situation happens in the universe. If we have more wisdom, we'll become superior sentient beings; conversely, if we have less wisdom, we'll become inferior beings. Therefore, due to differences in wisdom, there are all kinds of sentient beings in the world, including insects, frogs, animals, cows, human beings, immortals, enlightened beings and God. We should aim to go upward instead of downward, because we'll suffer more on lower levels. It's not that we're afraid of anything, but that if we have a choice, why choose to suffer? If you choose to suffer for the benefit of others, like what I've told you earlier today, I agree with you. However, if you choose to suffer not only alone, but also involving your offspring of five or six generations, I'd beg you not to do it!
I've chosen this hard path and I'm willing to stay here, because of other people's needs, and because I want to make them happy and encourage them to pursue spiritual practice and rise to higher levels. Therefore, I willingly take on this hardship. If I had chosen the hardship because I liked it, it would be different, understand? (Applause.) Our world is very painful already. So if you can choose happiness, just do it. Don't say, "Since Master has chosen hardship, we should do the same." Then you're being too stupid! If we can make many people happy by our individual suffering, it's worthwhile. However, if we deliberately look for suffering, we're idiots just like committing suicide, which isn't good!
Now let's talk about the third commandment, which is, Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain. Who is God? How can we respect God if we don't even know Hiers name? If we don't know Hiers name, we can't revere Hirm as God, the Supreme Master, Anuttara Samyak Sambodya or Buddha power! We must not make use of Heirs name to swear, to vow or to curse others. Even when we use it to swear to God, it's no good. You shouldn't say, "I didn't do this. If I'm lying to you, I'll be struck by lightning..." or things like that. We must not force others to take oaths, nor must we swear in the name of God. Some people are even worse. They use God's name to wage wars. They use God's name to kill people, to invade another country, or to abuse other people's children or women. These are examples of making bad use of God's name.
When God sends a person to Earth to represent Hirm, such as Jesus Christ or Shakyamuni Buddha, when He's in the world or after He's gone, we must respect His name, too; that is, we must respect God's name or a Master's name. We must not slander or joke about Their names nor must we say Their names casually without respect.
Why does God want us to respect Hirm or Hiers representatives? It's because, the more we respect them, the greater blessings we'll gain. Otherwise, we may never see masters and the sun for many lifetimes; we may fall in a dark place where there's no sunlight, no parents' name and no masters. That's why God tells us to respect Hiers name or Hiers representatives' names, that is, the masters' names. Only then will we have light and our inner Master will have a chance to develop. When there's a cause, there's a consequence. Like attracts like. If we don't respect God, we'll have bad consequences. God reminds us about this only out of Hiers compassion.
It's not that God needs our respect. Many people have been worshipping Hirm or not worshipping Hirm throughout the ages, but Hes has never changed a bit. Hes is forever neither unborn nor destroyed and neither defiled nor cleansed. Hes only gives but never takes. Hes doesn't need anything, because everything in the universe is created by Hirm.
The next commandment is, On the seventh day, thou shalt not do any work. Respect the Sabbath Day! In the Bible, it's stated that God created the universe in six days and hence rested on the seventh day. I'm doubtful about why God needed a rest. Hes doesn't need it at all! You also think that I don't have to rest. So, every Sunday and holiday, you always come here for a vacation and tire me to death. In that case, God is more fortunate than I am, (Master laughs) because Hes can take a rest on the seventh day.
Hes even asked us to rest with Hirm. Why? Because Hes worried that we work so hard throughout the whole week that we don't have time to remember our Selves and God. God is our inner Kingdom and our inner Buddha nature. What Hes meant was that we should get together for group meditation on the seventh day! It's stated clearly in the Bible that people must not do labor or physical work and can only get together to worship God. It implies that we should practice spiritually to look for our highest status and the greatest wisdom within.
This tradition has been passed down to today. Every Sunday, people group together in church to recite the scriptures written in the past. However, they just come to a church, read the Bible, and then go home. Besides, they have some refreshments. They eat biscuits that aren't blessed. In the past, biscuits symbolized the blessed food from the masters, for biscuits were convenient to store, cheap and light. Since there were too many people, they made biscuits very thin. People ate them not for the taste but for the blessing power contained in them.
Our popcorn here is also not very tasty but looks rather cheap. You can buy popcorn easily with money, yet you like to get it here, because ours is different! You'd be even happier if I personally gave it to each one of you. This is what it meant. It's possible that when someone outside sees me handing popcorn to each one of you, he'd think that you came here only for popcorn. Then he may build an ashram and hand out popcorn every day, without knowing the real meaning. The person who gives popcorn must have power so that the popcorn will be blessed; otherwise, doing it is meaningless.
We spiritual practitioners naturally emit loving power that attracts people to us. After they leave us, they feel that they've lost a very important thing, as if their vitality had been taken away. When I left Costa Rica, people cried like babies. They said, "Oh! It seems like my flesh is being cut off, or a part of me is being cut off and taken away." That's why we like to stay together with spiritual practitioners, not because of their attire or that they're Buddhist monks with their hair shaved, but because the intangible vibration emitted from them makes us feel very comfortable. This is just like if we have water to drink when we're thirsty, have food to eat when we're hungry, or have effective medication when we're ill. We feel very comfortable, but we can't describe it.
Similarly, the blessed biscuits are good only when they're given by a powerful person; otherwise, they're nothing if they're bought from outside. However, the biscuits are useful. They can remind people of God. Then when they go home, they may ask, "Who is God?" They may long to see Hirm. Later, they may hear someone giving a lecture and saying, "I can help you to find God." Then they'll go to that person quickly out of curiosity. In that case, the biscuits are useful; otherwise, they're virtually useless. It's not that we should group together and recite all day long, "I long to see God. I love God." No! Although God is within us, Hes can't help us if we don't find Hirm.
The next commandment is, Honor thy father and thy mother. Perhaps, in Moses' time, children were not filial, so this commandment was necessary. If everyone was filial, no one would know what "being not filial" is. If people are all beautiful, we wouldn't know what "ugly" is. If all the people in a country are rich, no one would talk about poverty. For instance, this is a Buddhist country, so there are monks here. However, people in some other countries have never seen monks, so they don't know what monks are and won't talk about monks at all. Similarly, people then were not well disciplined. The Bible describes the chaotic situation at that time. After Moses was away for only forty days, the people gave up the Lord and worshipped a golden calf. They were low in spirit and lacked morality, so they changed their master in only forty days.
Of course, we're becoming more civilized and more advanced. We used to live in caves and eat raw food and live animals. We had no fire, no houses, no airplanes nor any civilized tools. Now we're more civilized, because throughout the ages, extraterrestrial beings have been coming to impart modern knowledge to us and make us become more intelligent and our children more clever.
For instance, you're now following me to practice spiritually and the children that you bear are also different! Those who were vegetarians since they were in their mother's womb look plump and rosy. Have you ever seen their arms? They have at least three to four folds of flesh. I wonder where they get the nutrition from. They only drink milk! These kids will definitely grow up to become more intelligent than we are. And those who've been initiated in their mother's belly may become even more extraordinary when they grow up! And their children, of course, may be even more outstanding, being morally stable, emotionally steady, mentally happy, and more developed in wisdom. So our offspring will become better and better.
Look at the time of Moses. It was really chaotic. People's wisdom was very low. God had given them a lot, manifested Hiers magical power many times, and protected them in every way. Yet, after the master was away for only forty days, they abandoned God and worshipped a golden calf, instead. Can you imagine that? In modern times, some people are also like those who worshipped the golden calf, but they're relatively few in number. Few people who follow me will regress. This means that you're more stable and you have more wisdom. It's possibly because I have more merit so that God sends me the best disciples. Don't take my word for it before you check your own hearts. (Master and audience laugh.)
Why must we respect our parents? Because God's love takes care of us through the law of cause and effect and through the love and physical forms of our parents. Respecting our parents is respecting God. In fact, it's not the physical forms of our parents who look after us; but it's God's love that does so. We should understand this point clearly! Life after life, the Supreme Mother through our physical mother and the Supreme Father through our physical father have been taking care of us, teaching us the basic virtues, compassion and love. Because our parents love us, we know what love is when we grow up. This is a fact!
If we're raised in a stable and loving family, we'll become more loving, and feel more secure when we grow up. Sometimes, we see that some children do evil deeds, become scoundrels, or are accused of being criminals and imprisoned. Don't blame them too quickly! It may be because they lacked loving care and education when they were young. It may be because their parents died very early or were too busy to look after them. Or it may be because their parents were not loved by their own parents before so that they couldn't treat their children with love.
As the sequence repeats itself, people will have less and less love and will make more and more trouble. When they go out into society, they may be treated unfairly or oppressed and lose their sense of security. Later, when they're bullied or misunderstood, due to their inferiority complexes, they'll resist, revolt, and resist society more and more. The more they resist society, the more they'll lose themselves and their love, and the more their hatred will grow. Eventually, they'll end up miserable in jail.
For the above reasons, we should be filial to our parents. If our parents don't treat us well, we ought to think that it's our retribution and unfavorable destiny. Perhaps we owed our parents something in our previous lives and didn't repay it. Perhaps we were bad parents in our previous lives so that we have to have bad parents in this lifetime to learn our lesson. So we have to endure it and be filial. This'll be good for us as well as for our parents.
In Costa Rica, there was a fellow initiate who was a little more than twenty years old. Two or three days after she was initiated, she came to me crying! I asked her why she was crying. She said that she couldn't get along well with her family, especially her father. Her mother had passed away and her father didn't treat her well. He was cold, stern and hard to communicate with. He always oppressed and dominated her. So she couldn't bear it.
I asked her, "Have you ever thought that you might be just as cold and stern to your father and that you've shelved your love for him? Have you ever thought that your father also needs your love. It's not only that you need his." She was stunned and then said, "What should I do? It's possible that I've never expressed my feelings to him." I told her, "When you go home today, buy a most beautiful red rose. Then kneel down in front of your father and offer the flower to him, hug him, and tell him, 'Although I've never shown my love to you because I forgot, I was young and not sensible, nevertheless, I love you very much.'" So she did what I told her. As a result, the two hugged and cried together. Since then, they have become very good to each other.
So one of them has to open his/her heart first. Parents work outside. They're often exhausted physically and mentally. They have many worries and many debts. In addition to heavy family responsibilities, they can hardly laugh when they're home. However, children may not understand the hardships of their parents. They may keep demanding and expecting a lot but don't realize that their parents also need some support and love. On one side, parents may be stern: "We're your parents!" They may be strict because they worry that their children won't respect them; and in addition to their heavy work pressure, they can't laugh out loud. On the other side, the children think, "Our parents are very strict. They don't love us and don't give us this and that." Then the children may get upset or harbor enmity. This will deepen the misunderstanding between both sides and broaden the generation gap. In fact, both sides are anxious and eager to hug each other. They love each other very much, but they can't express it.
You can just try to express your feelings; you don't have to feel embarrassed. They're your family members. If you really can't communicate with them, try this method, that is, hug each other first and talk later. When you tell them truly out of sincerity, your words will be touching. You'll gradually communicate with each other and understand that the other side also has feelings and love, and then you'll reconcile with them. Family members always love each other. But sometimes they're too proud to be the first to speak out. So both sides lock themselves up and wait for the other to knock. However, no one ever knocks first. (Master laughs.) And then both sides become anxious.
Sometimes this happens to husbands and wives, too. They want very much to reconcile, but both are waiting and no one takes the initiative. As days go by, the atmosphere remains tense and stern. Although they've forgiven each other inside, they can't put aside their pride but worry about losing face and what the other party may think of them. "Will he/she ridicule me for giving in?" In fact, that won't happen. It doesn't matter even if your husband laughs at you; he's your partner! It's also fine if your wife laughs at you! In fact, she won't. She's only waiting for you to apologize to her. Now you understand!
Why do we have to respect our parents? Because they work hard for us. The precious bodies that we are able to have were given by our parents; not by the physical entities of our parents, but by the grace of God's love acting through them. Therefore, we should respect them in order to respect God. Everything is created by God. Hes gives us birth through the bodies of our parents, but not that our parents do that themselves. However, since our parents have God's love within, that is, since they have God inside them, when they love us, they have God's loving power. They're very noble, gracious and superior beings. So how can we not respect them?
Now the next commandment is, Thou shalt not kill. It means to refrain from killing. I've expounded on this millions of times. However, don't always think that it's good enough if we don't kill; sometimes when we try to save a life, we're killing. Have you heard me tell the story about two nuns trying to save a centipede? I don't have many examples to cite on this; I only remember that story.
One day when I went to take a bath and brush my teeth, I saw a centipede in my cup. The cup was covered with a piece of cloth. When I lifted off the cloth, I saw a centipede in it. I was frightened, of course. The centipede was also frightened. (Laughter) So I screamed, "Ah!" (Master laughs.) That was a natural reaction. Since the centipede couldn't go "Ah," it jumped. So both of us were scared. Hearing this, two attendants outside quickly ran in and asked, "What's the matter, Master?" I said, "I'm all right. There's a centipede." (Master and audience laugh.) Then they said, "Okay. Master, you may go out and let us handle it." I said, "Okay. Be careful! Handle it if you wish!" There was a basin outside. So I brushed my teeth there.
A long time after I had brushed my teeth, I still didn't see them come out. (Laughter) So I asked, "Are you done with it?" They replied, "Not yet!" I said, "How can two of you not be able to handle only one centipede?" (Master and audience laugh.) I went inside to have a look. Well! I heard a noise, "Tze, Tze, Tze, Tze." I asked, "What are you doing?" They said that they were trying to drive it away to with the shower head, but the centipede wouldn't move! I said, "Of course, it won't. It's surrounded by water." (Laughter.) If I spray you like that with the shower head, wouldn't you drown? The centipede was very small and was surrounded by water. It could hardly breathe. How could it possibly run away? It didn't know where to run!
Well! The centipede almost drowned. I saw it going "Hu, Hu, Hu." It was calling for help. So I said, "Stop! Stop! Stop! Let me handle it myself." They were really great and compassionate for "not killing it," but trying to drive it away with water, flushing and surrounding it with water... Even if we were the centipede, we would have drown. The centipede was very small. When they kept doing that, the centipede couldn't withstand it! So I said, "Forget it! Leave the centipede alone!" So that was how they were trying to save a life.
Therefore, it's not good enough to just refrain from killing. We have to be cautious. When we walk, we have to be careful and watch out for insects. The sink where we wash our faces and brush our teeth should be covered up or be drained to prevent insects from drowning inside. The oil lamps in temples are also professional killers. They're supposed to be offerings to the Buddha, but they're filled with corpses of insects. Since the oil lamps are uncovered, insects are killed instantly as soon as they fall in.
When I lived in a temple before, each morning when I wiped the altar table, I always saw the lamps filled with dead sentient beings. I supposed that the Buddha wouldn't be pleased with it! In ancient times, since there were no other kinds of lights available, people had to use oil lamps. But now we have electric lights, yet people still stubbornly insist on using oil lamps. In ancient times, people used oil lamps and fragrant oil to make offerings to the Buddha.
Why did people light oil lamps to make offerings to the Buddha? Because oil lamps could illuminate the road for Him. In addition, they were to lit up the face of the Buddha to let people see. They were also used to light up the hallways in the temples, just like our road lamps here. However, in ancient times, people covered up oil lamps. Shakyamuni Buddha also instructed that when oil lamps were lit or put out, they should be covered up to prevent insects from being injured or burnt. Nowadays, people use big pots of oil as oil lamps. In the temples in Tibet, hundreds of oil lamps are lit all day and all night. First of all, they waste oil. Secondly, they kill lots of sentient beings. When we pursue spiritual practice, we're supposed to refrain from killing and deliver sentient beings' lives, but we actually harm them, instead.
Therefore, we must be careful. Refraining from killing includes a broader sense. Not only killing with a knife is killing. Of course, we should avoid killing if possible. We don't intent to kill by lighting oil lamps. However, we can avoid it, by not using oil lamps. The Buddha didn't say that we must make offerings to Him with oil lamps. In case some places have no oil, how can people make offerings? Whatever we offer, the most important thing is our intention. Besides, the lamp actually refers to the lamp within us! Of course the scriptures point out that all temples should light lamps or fires all the time so that people can see the paths and go to meditate. It's the same in our ashram! When you come at midnight, or during a seven-day retreat we get up at three or four o'clock. If there were no lamps in temples or ashrams, how could you see where you are going? You might step on other people's heads, or some male practitioners may go to sit in the females' place and some females may go to sit in the males' place, causing embarrassment. So this is the reason for having lights. It's not that the Buddha needs any lights!
For instance, when I sit here, you always shine bright lights on me to let people see me, but it's not that I need the lights. So all kinds of lights are fine as long as you can see me. However, as to the wooden Buddhas, no one comes to see them at night. Visitors only come in the daytime. So no lights are needed at all in the night. Besides, all the temples have electric lights now and it's easy to turn them on to allow people to practice their morning and evening services.
What I mean is that we should avoid killing if possible. There are many other things, but I can't go through all of them. As to any insects or bugs, we should avoid killing them if possible. Similarly, we should avoid cutting grass and trees if possible. If there is no other way, we can cut them, of course, to build houses or for hygiene. We can do it when necessary. However, it's different if we destroy them with a vicious heart for no reason.
Another commandment is, Thou shalt not commit adultery. That is, to refrain from having more than one husband or wife. I've explained the reason. If you have too many husbands, you won't have any next time. Suppose you have seven husbands. Then in the next seven lifetimes, no one will marry you, because you once had too many! For example, you make ten thousand NT a week. If you spend it all in one day, of course you have no money left for the rest of the week.
The next commandment is, Thou shalt not steal. This everyone understands, and I've talked about it many times. There are many kinds of stealing, and stealing money is only one kind. It's okay to steal if you're starving, but don't do it if you have money. Stealing also includes casually receiving offerings from people. As well, you must not hint at people to offer! Sometimes when we talk for too long, we're also stealing, that is, stealing people's time. When people are impatient with you, you still keep on babbling. That's also stealing.
If we sell something for ten dollars when it's actually worth only two dollars (if we say that it's very good when it's actually not and only worth two dollars, but we sell it for ten dollars) and cheat others to buy more, this is wrong and is stealing, too. Stealing doesn't only mean to go out and steal. When we go to work and see that the boss isn't there, so we slip away and go home early, it's also stealing. If we take home something from the factory that the boss didn't give us, it's stealing, too. When we live in a group, there are many things there for the public, not only for us. It's stealing if we take something that isn't given to us.
The next commandment is, Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. You understand this one already, and I've also talked about it many times. It's explained at the time of initiation, too. There are many kinds of lying. The worst kind is that, our spiritual level is low, but we cheat others that we've attained a higher level by saying some mysterious things. We coax people into believing that our level is higher than theirs by talking about mystical things. We hide our real level and make people think that we know many things that they don't know. To cheat people in this way is the biggest lie. For another instance, after a Master passes away, some people like to become masters and then cheat people that they're the successors. By doing that, they incur the worst karma.
Sometimes we make a mistake. And when people ask us about it, we don't admit it but let Master or our boss punish the whole group. This is also lying and is bad, too! If we admit our mistake, it'd be fine. Don't involve other people in it. Sometimes, I have to punish those people. It's okay if they make a small mistake. But they don't admit it and the issue becomes worse and involves the whole group. They wouldn't be punished because of the small mistake, but since it involved the whole group and made a lot of noise, I have to punish them. They didn't admit it, but forced me to bother the whole group and question people one by one, and still didn't confess, of course I'd have to punish them. I'd punish them for lying, but not for the trivial matter.
Another commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house, ... Of course we shouldn't covet other people's belongings. We wouldn't accept them even if people gave them to us, not to mention coveting other people's things. I've told you that if we accept other people's offerings that we don't deserve, we're only taking their karma. However, we don't know whether we deserve it or not, so we had better not accept any, unless people really force us to accept it. If we have no alternative, we should just accept it and then give it to someone else or give them something in return.
I think that the Chinese understand this rule very well. During the Chinese New Year, people give gifts to each other. After gifts are passed on too many times, the gift that you gave earlier may come back to you. Is that not so? This is also fine! At least we won't owe others anything. The Americans have a tradition, that is, when two people go out for coffee, each one will pay his own bill. This is also good! They don't have to display false courtesy, and then fuss about who drinks more and who drinks less, (Master and audience laugh), or they may feel embarrassed.
There is a very funny Au Lacese story. Two people went out to eat a kind of food called jackfruit. It's a kind of fruit that has spines outside and looks very ugly. It's this fat and this big with many seeds and sweet knobby flesh inside. These two people reached an agreement, "We don't know who will eat more and who will eat less, of course. So we'll count the seeds, and then we'll know how much each person should pay." After they both agreed, they went out to share a big jackfruit together.
One of them was very honest, but the other swallowed all the seeds. (Master and audience laugh.) Seeing that, the first person didn't say anything. After finishing eating, the first person suddenly screamed, "Oh! My stomach hurts very much! My stomach really hurts!" He rolled on the floor and kept on screaming. The second person wasn't done eating yet. While eating, he asked, "What's wrong with you?" The first person said, "I accidentally swallowed a seed. Now it's growing. Oh! It's getting bigger and bigger. Oh! It has grown up to here now! (Master points to Her chest.) Oh! It's up to here now! (Master points to Her throat.) Oh! Quickly think of a way to save me! Why is it growing so fast?" The other person was frightened to death. He asked, "You swallowed only one seed and it has grown this big. (Laughter.) What will happen to me since I've swallowed five seeds?" (Master and audience laugh. Applause) So don't swallow any fruit seeds! (Master and audience laugh.)