A speech given by the Supreme Master Ching Hai at the Hsihu Center,
(Originally in Au Lac language) October 10, 1990.
This is very difficult. It's even harder than breaking off a love relationship. Why? It is because the ego is the self-pride of humans. Therefore, to eliminate the ego is very difficult, as we have been used to being the father, the mother, the Buddha, the God for such a long time. However, there are ways to eliminate your ego. Just look at your practice diary each day and see if the things you've done are good. If the good deeds are few, and the bad ones are many, and if we are full of greed, anger and hatred, then we know that we should be ashamed of ourselves. Then, gradually, we will become more humble, and we'll not dare to criticize others, because we can see that we are charcoal-black. Is that not so? If our own feet were soaked in mud, how would we dare to use a torch to shine on others' feet. So our ego is lessened.
Otherwise, you can stay here. I'll give you a few scoldings each day, and your ego will be fine, because you have nowhere to hide in here. I will pick out your shortcomings everyday and elaborate on them over and over again. Then, you'll not dare to be egotistical anymore. Do you understand? But humility and self-inferiority are two different things. The so-called inferiority complex is different. It means that one feels that he is very lowly and useless. I yell and scold at you, but within that there is love, support and blessing.
But, in the outside world, people oppress you because of fame or wealth. For their own interests, they make our lives very miserable, break our hearts into pieces and crush our self-confidence totally.
So the two kinds of reprimands are different. One is in competition with us. The other is to help us eliminate our egos. In scoldings of the latter type, there is hidden love. So sometimes we feel that there is a kind of soothing fragrance, a soothing, compassionate atmosphere. Therefore, even though you have been scolded, you always seem to miss that person. You cannot forget him, nor can you hate him. But in the outside world, even though they might use sweet talk, we may still fear them. We fear that they might conjure up a plan to cheat us. We feel that they are frightening as if they have in hiding a knife ready to use on us.
When you practice the Quan Yin Method, gradually, the ego will be lessened. This Method allows you to use the Buddha's light, God's Love, the source of infinite power or our own true selves, to erode the mundane ego. It is not that we use our limited human power to control it. Many people practice by strictly disciplining themselves. They dare not do this or that; dare not open their mouths too wide when they laugh; dare not walk with big strides; dare not run; dare not do anything. Even then, the ego still cannot be eliminated. Why? It is because they are using the mind and their mundane experiences to eliminate their mundane egos. Both of them are at a mundane level, therefore, it's difficult.
Here we use the Infinite Wisdom of Buddha which is beyond the ordinary level. Therefore, it purifies the mediocrity. Understand? Our egos will naturally dissolve, so we don't need to restrain them that much. But otherwise, even if we spend our whole life trying to control the ego, it is of no use. Even though we can control it, we only do it superficially. For instance, we used to have a bad temper; we yelled and screamed at people, hit and struck them over trivial causes. But after we find some way to practice, we train our personalities. What are our personalities? Up until now, we were cruel and short-tempered, but now we try to train ourselves for the better. Each day, when we get mad, we will tighten our lips, swallow the lump in our throats, or we will go into the bathroom, slam something with all our might, and then come out laughing, "Ha ha ha ha......" That is the training to have a good demeanor. But it is only for training you to change your characteristics, meanwhile the real problems are still hidden inside. When the situation occurs that is so sudden and urgent, they will reappear unexpectedly.
Sometimes the resident disciples here are in the same situation. Each day they behave very docilely, acting as if they truly believe in me. One day I used a special method, one that they would never have expected. For example, I slammed on the tables and chairs, yelling and screaming loudly, as if I was really mad. Then their egos popped up. They tried to teach me and said, "Oh, Master, what is it that matter?" At that moment, I laughed to myself, and I knew how strong their faith was. I know how and what they think of me. Therefore, often in normal circumstances, when I treat them well, they will not reveal their latent character. Understand? Many times, I have to corner them into a dead end for it to be exposed. So, the ways in which a Master treats others cannot be judged.
The dust and garbage under the bed have to be poked and dug out. If we don't use a long broomstick, we won't get it all out. If these things are not dug out, we cannot see them. Everyday we just sweep on the outside, and we think it's very clean. But the dirt hidden deep in the corner, nobody sees. We only realize it when we dig it out. If we don't get it out, we are not aware of it. Nevertheless, it is there if we get it out. Tempering the character is not as good as practicing the way of the Buddha Nature inside. Therefore, only the Quan Yin Method will gradually lessen your ego.
As you practice for a while, you will notice that you have changed greatly, or you will see that the fellow practitioners around you have changed a great deal. When we've practiced for a long time, our friends will be greatly surprised, "How did you change so much?" It's not that you have changed all by yourself, but it is your own Buddha Nature that has naturally cleansed all the stains of the mundane life. Do you understand? Only practicing spiritually will bring good results; no other kinds of training will do. But if you are close to a living Master, it will benefit you greatly. The Master can do it faster, digging out all of your garbage. Wherever you try to hide it, the Master will use a big, long broomstick to poke it out, whether you like it or not. Usually we hide it very carefully, covering it up with a cloth. Although we feel uncomfortable when all the dirt is being dug out, but somehow we also seem to like it. So, never mind, shovel it all out in one go, so it's finished. Then we know that our house is clean; that's all.