We are here on Chinese land! There have been many sages in ancient China, and it would be a great pity if you did not learn from their examples! Whenever there is time we can remind each other, for instance, how Bao Su Ya recommended Guan Zhong. He did it beautifully.
Two Talented Persons In A Turbulent Era
Previously, Guan Zhong had shot Prince Huan of Qi with an arrow. The wound was not fatal and Prince Huan of Qi faked his death. Later, Prince Huan of Qi became the King of Qi State, so Guan Zhong fled to another country. Bao Su Ya knew that Guan Zhong was a person of high calibre, so he quickly got him to come back to serve under King Huan of Qi in an important position. Bao Su Ya knew that Guan Zhong would make a good premier who was capable of pacifying the world, and China could not possibly be united and have peace without Guan Zhong. Therefore, Bao Su Ya used every means to save his friend and bring him back. He sent his subordinates to get Guan Zhong who was then taking refuge in Lu State.
A chancellor of Lu State detected Guan Zhong's great talent, so he advised the King of the Lu State: "Your majesty, you must not let this man go. If you do not use him, then kill him."
The King of Lu asked him why Guan Zhong should be used or killed?
That wise chancellor said, "Guan Zhong is a great talent in the world. If you let him return to the side of King Huan of Qi he will surely get a high position, and then you will be finished! If you don't want to use him, then kill him. Don't let him fall into the hands of other people; this would be very dangerous!"
Politics is really terrible. It is so rare to find a talented person. If you don't use him, why not let others use him? What does it matter? Perhaps they did not practice the Quan Yin Method, so they didn't know the spirit of sharing. They didn't have a noble ideal, that was why they behaved in such a way.
Having listened to the suggestion of this wise chancellor, the King of Lu decided to kill Guan Zhong; but the man sent by Bao Su Ya was even wiser.
He said, "If your majesty kills this man and returns his corpse to us, it is the same as you not returning him at all. This shows that you despise our king. Guan Zhong previously had shot an arrow at our King. Our King is determined to avenge this, lest he can't rest in peace." (This was merely a trick to deceive the enemy!)
"If your majesty refuses to hand over this fugitive to the King of Qi State, I am afraid there will be conflict between our two countries."
Hearing this, the King of Lu knew that he had no alternative, because his state was the weaker one. Besides, he had no excuse to kill a citizen of the other country. He could do nothing, even though he knew it was disadvantageous to him. The king and his chancellor could only tolerate it and send Guan Zhong back. Guan Zhong was really brilliant; he knew that the chancellor would surely chase after him to try to kill him, so he wrote many songs for the soldiers escorting him (as a prisoner) to sing. Singing songs while walking, they went very fast and that murderous chancellor of Lu State chasing behind, failed to catch up with them!
That was brilliant, everyone was astute. It would be great if we were as brilliant as they! Is there anyone here as good as them? Most probably none, I am the most astute. (Master and everyone laugh.)
Bao Su Ya successfully saved his friend, and Guan Zhong also saved himself in his prisoner's cart. The prisoner's cart stopped as soon as they entered Qi territory, and was immediately greeted by Bao Su Ya who heard that Guan Zhong had returned. He opened the prisoner's cart, and freed Guan Zhong.
Guan Zhong said, "You'd better not open the door before you have received the order."
Bao Su Ya said, "Don't be afraid, I will promptly recommend you to the King of Qi State."
Guan Zhong acted very humbly and said, "My master is dead. Having failed to protect my master, how can I have the face to see him in the other world?"
He felt ashamed to accept at once, so he needed some persuasion. He could not immediately say: "Okay! I am ready to be the premier!"
Bao Su Ya also acted as though he was fooled, and said, "Never mind, this is only a trivial matter. A talented person should take on an important position in serving the country and maintaining world peace, instead of clinging to a corner, to a deceased person. We should serve the whole world, and not only one or two persons."
He made Guan Zhong feel that he was of value, so he wouldn't want to die any more! Perhaps he really wanted to die, I don't know. However, if he really wanted to die, then why did he tell the soldiers to sing the songs and walk fast? (Laughter) Let's just believe in him!
Even A Wise King Needs The Help Of Able Premiers
Having come to a mutual agreement, Bao Su Ya then reported to King Huan of Qi: "I have to report two matters to your Majesty. First, for the benefit of the state, you should forsake personal and family feelings. In this regard, I feel sorry and deeply empathize with your Majesty. Regarding the other matter, I wish to congratulate your Majesty, because the greatly talented Guan Zhong has been rescued. From today, your Majesty will have the help of an able person."
King Huan of Qi said, "That man shot me with an arrow. I have not taken revenge yet - I still keep the arrow with me. How could I use him? When he comes back, I shall kill him and tear him into pieces."
Even though he was the king of a nation, he still could not forget a trivial animosity. Whoever had praised him, he would always remember. Whoever had spoken ill of him, their three generations would all be liberated (killed). (Laughter)
Most kings were narrow-minded, that was why they needed many virtuous and greatly talented people, high monks or spiritual persons, to advise them; the more the better.
However, most virtuous or spiritual persons disliked serving in the court, because they knew everything was an act in a play. They didn't want to act in there. They would occasionally when they were bored, but most of the virtuous and spiritual persons would not go into that inferno.
Fortunately, there was still Guan Zhong and Bao Su Ya there. Maybe they were destined to help the king as premiers; otherwise, the king could do nothing. He became the king because of his blessed reward, but he had not the virtues and wisdom to rule the country and the world. The premiers had the virtues, but they didn't have the blessed reward of the king. They only had the blessing to become premiers, which they used to help the king. In fact, they just came here to play a game — one chose to be the king, the others chose to be the premiers.
It is similar to a movie — one acts the main role, while the other one, though very famous, plays the supporting part. It doesn't matter, only that the pay is lower. (Laughter) There is not much difference. Without the supporting actor, the main actor cannot play his part. Without the main actor, the supporting actor is useless. The director is even more useless. Therefore, God is useless without us! Don't fear Hierm. (Applause)
Bao Su Ya said, "Loyal subordinates are always devoted to their masters."
At that time, Guan Zhong served only Prince Jeou (King Huan of Qi's brother who fought with him for the throne), because Prince Jeou was his lord!
"Of course, he shot your Majesty on behalf of Prince Jeou. If you can cherish and use him now, he will conquer the world for you, with the same arrow."
King Huan of Qi was absolutely delighted in acquiring such a person. Good for him that he later finally understood. As I have said, it is easy to be a king or a president, if they listen to advice! Through listening to the suggestions of the wise, intelligent and talented persons, one can stay on the throne for a long time, and rule the country in peace.
Similarly, being spiritual practitioners, if we do not listen to the words of the sages, or the teachings of ancient persons, how can we accomplish our trivial tasks properly? Since we don't know, we should listen to the teachings of wiser persons who know more. Since ancient times, any king who has good consultants and wise advisers is always intelligent.
The king does not have to be talented or wise. All he needs is humility, cleverness and willingness to accept the good advice from others, to be fit to be a king. Since it is so easy to be a king, would you like to try? (Master and everyone laugh.) Group together several wise persons, and you can become a king — at home!
Heeding the advice of Bao Su Ya, King Huan of Qi spared Guan Zhong, but he didn't want to use him yet. Although Bao Su Ya told him that Guan Zhong had great talents, he didn't know how able Guan Zhong really was. He would only entrust the administration of the whole country to Bao Su Ya.
Bao Su Ya said, "No way! Your majesty has already bestowed enormous grace upon my whole family, and we have received enough for our living. We are extremely content and grateful. I am really not competent enough to manage the whole country. I cannot take on this burden."
King Huan of Qi kept pressing Bao Su Ya to accept, so Bao Su Ya said, "I really can't. Truly, I am well-versed in etiquette and regulations, and I also respect your Majesty very much; however, I cannot handle politics as well as Guan Zhong can. Should your Majesty put up with and use me, more harm than benefit will definitely be incurred. To have a virtuous and competent political administration, one must provide meritorious service to the king, bestow grace on the feudal lords, make the country stable, glorify the king and engrave his name in history. This is the task for an exceptionally able person, not an ordinary one."
He thought himself an ordinary person who was not competent enough.
"If your Majesty really seeks someone who can manage the country, Guan Zhong is the only choice. I can see no other better than he."
Bao Su Ya was really keen in his observation. It would be wonderful if we could have a person here like him. Should you see anyone like him, bring him to me. (Laughter)
Put Official Business Before Personal Feelings
King Huan of Qi had great faith in Bao Su Ya, because they had gone through thick and thin together, just like pals or brothers. Now that he had something good to offer to Bao Su Ya, he was rejected. Of course he felt very uncomfortable. He didn't trust anyone else.
Such is the way of we humans. We always like to maintain personal feelings with people who live with us, and with whom we have got used to. Therefore, we are always in emotional debt with each other, and cannot do things properly. We should be impartial in handling official business. Observing anyone with talents, we should recommend and use them for the good of everyone. It is wrong to use someone, just because they are our good friends, brothers or sisters! We often make a mess of our work because of personal feelings.
Many kings, because they loved and indulged in their concubines or beauties, had fun at the expense of their country, it led to the downfall of their empires. This has happened frequently since ancient times. It is good for spiritual practitioners to learn from these lessons. Before we become Buddhas, these strategies are quite useful to us.
Despite the repeated advice by Bao Su Ya, King Huan of Qi still hesitated. Finally, he said, "All right, let it be. Ask him to come, and let me test the calibre of his talents."
King Huan of Qi acted as though he didn't care, so Bao Su Ya told him that was not proper. "If a person is low in position, he cannot control a wealthy person. Without financial status, one cannot interfere with the problems of another wealthy family clan. A lowly person cannot even talk to the nobler persons, not to mention demand them to listen to you. If your Majesty needs Guan Zhong, considering the latent ability of Guan Zhong, you should give him the position of premier. You must treat him as your elder brother, or even your parents."
What do you think? You must treat him as your elder brother or parents before he would help you. No wonder you revere me as Shih-Fu (meaning teacher or father in Chinese).
Now I understand! (Laughter) For your own benefit, you give me all kinds of names, deluding profit and fame, and make me work like mad. I, this old fool, have been tricked! Only when I read this ancient story, do I realize that I have been tricked for a long time. From now on, let me call you Shih-Fu. (Laughter) Let's exchange jobs. (Audience said: No.)
Be Humbler As Your Position Gets Higher
Bao Su Ya continued to say, "Since you want him to be the premier, how can you summon him like calling a child, like any nobody or common person. This is not respectful but too careless. Guan Zhong is a person with exceptional talents. Your Majesty should pick an auspicious date to personally go and invite him."
He had to do that to invite a premier, no wonder King Huan of Qi later became the overlord of all the feudal lords. He deserved it.
It is not bad for a king to act so humbly. How many kings, politicians or national leaders in the world today can behave so humbly? Perhaps there are some, we don't know. It is great if there are any, and we congratulate the world. We are also happy for countries who have humble kings or presidents. If we have more of these kings or national leaders, our world will be more peaceful and comfortable. It is proper for a king to be so humble. The higher one's position, the humbler one should be. Since we are nobodies in this world, only like tiny sweet potatoes, we ought to be even humbler.
It is all right for me to be proud, (Master laughs and everyone applauds) because I am the Master! Most masters behave like this; otherwise, we do not look like a master. It is fun to act this way. I am very humble within, which you must believe though you cannot see it. (Master and everyone laugh.)
The Loyal, Upright, Virtuous And Wise Bao Su Ya
Bao Su Ya further advised King Huan of Qi, "Knowing that your Majesty treats virtuous and able persons so courteously, people the whole world over will admire and respect you greatly. Since your Majesty can forsake personal animosity for the country and treat able persons so kindly, eventually the whole world will be yours."
He spoke like a magical fortune-teller, and his words really came true. King Huan of Qi nodded and agreed with him. This King of Qi State was really very good, and it was only natural that he became the overlord of China afterwards.
From here, we can see that Bao Su Ya was truly of great character. He didn't fight for fame and wealth despite his great contribution to the country. Nor did he stifle talents, hide Guan Zhong, and speak ill of him. On the contrary, he spent a great deal of effort to rescue him, and offered him to his lord. Able to do this as an officer, one is the most honest and upright officer in the world. Able to do this as a human, one is the most virtuous and wise person in the world. Able to do this as a friend, one is a top-notch friend in the world. How wonderful if we could have more of these persons in the world. In your spiritual cultivation, remind yourself that this is the least we should do as a human being. Handle things with absolute justice, do not suppress or stifle talented people because of personal enmity. Let the country and the world grow richer and become more peaceful.
In this era, whoever has a little talent is in a relatively dangerous situation. This happened in many eras. Fortunately, there are still some people who know how to use able persons. Although Bao Su Ya claimed that he had not the least political talent, I feel that he was a very good person. Wise is the one who knows oneself — one is ever victorious by knowing oneself and the opponents well. Since he knew his shortcomings, that showed that he was very good. He was perfect.
We think that perfection simply means sitting there, with eyes opened or closed, not moving no matter what happens; not reacting to any praise or reproach; having no feelings, no human relations, no friends, absolutely no human emotions, and so on. This concept towards perfection is wrong; otherwise, we can have perfection simply by putting a piece of timber or a rock here! (Laughter)
Perfect Persons Know How To Develop Their Good Points
A perfect person knows his good points and shortcomings. He subdues the shortcomings, puts them aside or controls them properly, to be used only when necessary. The good points he will continue to develop, to benefit others and himself. Such is a perfect person. When one is perfect, anything is good. There are no emotional feelings, and life becomes monotonous — it is very boring.
Therefore, I scold you occasionally — add some seasoning, and you also like it. (Applause) If you don't like it, I can leave it. I can act like a wooden Buddha. Each time you come, I can touch your head, and say, "Nice!" In fact, this is also good for me, and I will grow fatter. (Laughter)
However, as there are many of this type of irresponsible master in the world, and many wooden Buddhas in the temples, there is no need for me to act like one more. Our world needs a Buddha who is more capable of handling things, and more flexible. (Applause)
If the spiritual practitioners cannot do things as humbly and wisely as Bao Su Ya, they should be ashamed of themselves. There were such personages in China. Therefore, I remind you: It is better to learn from our predecessors than other people.
A sage once said: "When there are three persons walking with us, one of them must be our teacher." Perhaps all three are our teachers, as each of them can teach us something different.
Since Bao Su Ya praised Guan Zhong so highly, you must have thought that he truly admired and respected Guan Zhong. It was not necessarily so! He was a most magnanimous person who could put aside anything for the country. Later, Guan Zhong enjoyed worldly pleasure with the king all day long. The king's palace was extravagant and luxurious and so was Guan Zhong's residence. Bao Su Ya did not appreciate this quality so he often talked to Guan Zhong: "The king is so extravagant, yet as a premier you do not counsel him to be more frugal; on the contrary, only enjoy luxury with him. Why?"
Guan Zhong's idea was that, the king had toiled laboriously for many years. Now that he had got the throne, naturally he would like to take a rest and enjoy a little. That was perfectly all right. Although Bao Su Ya didn't argue with him, definitely he was not convinced within. He was a more conservative man, and he lived a simple life without so many luxurious items. He was not as cunning as Guan Zhong. His inability in this aspect obstructed him from sitting in Guan Zhong's position as premier. Although he knew it, human minds always cling to a certain thing; otherwise, it is not human! Therefore, he still often blamed his friend Guan Zhong for living too extravagantly and luxuriously, and inducing many other officials also to live extravagantly.
It didn't matter, so long as they could manage the country well! Many poor people live a tough life, but they also cannot manage the country or unify China, to let everyone live together in peace. King Huan of Qi might be a little extravagant, but what did it matter if he could handle things? He was the only one living lavishly in China. It did not make much difference. Even if he offered his entire wealth to the country, the country would not become more prosperous.
King Huan Of Qi - A Great Leader Of His Time
Though Guan Zhong and Bao Su Ya were very good friends, a gap still existed between their ideas. Being in this world, we should understand that, surely there will be times that we have some friction with our friends, but this is all right. We should permit everyone to have their own ideas and thoughts. Friends do not have to be identical, it would be too boring. Otherwise, it is better to stay alone, why bother to have friends? (Laughter) There is not much use. It is good enough that friends can agree on most ideas. Guan Zhong could tell what was important and what was not; he saw it very clearly, so he didn't reproach and stop the king even though he was a little extravagant.
King Huan of Qi was very frank. On their first meeting, he discussed with Guan Zhong how to manage the country, how to deploy military forces, and other things. Guan Zhong answered his queries fluently. King Huan of Qi did not rely only on Bao Su Ya's recommendation; only after he checked Guan Zhong's real calibre for himself did he give the post of premier to Guan Zhong, and even esteemed him as Zhong Fu, (Fu means father in Chinese, Zhong means very noble, very great), just like the king's father.
He admired Guan Zhong very much, and was also very frank with him. He told Guan Zhong, "I have a vice: I am fond of beautiful women. Is this harmful to the country?" Guan Zhong answered, "No, being fond of women will not hurt the country. Only the reluctance of listening to advice of the sages is harmful to the country and the world."
His statement was also correct. If the king was flawless, he would not need able persons. Everyone would have nothing to do since the king knew everything!
If a person is too perfect, his thinking will be very tense, and so cannot see things clearly. Bao Su Ya was not as astute as Guan Zhong, because he was too virtuous, too straight, too clean, too good and too perfect.
The Exceptional And Selfless Guan Zhong
Guan Zhong was different. He knew how to become perfect but he didn't care. He did whatever should be done for the benefit of the multitude. He didn't mind whether he was perfect, and was not restricted by perfection. He forsook the formula of adhering to narrow guidelines. He forsook all of them to serve the country. That was the difference.
So it was with the king. If he only managed the country continuously all day long, did not look at girls, did not touch any exotic food or liquor, nothing, how long do you think he could last? Three days at the most. He would die, or his mind would collapse, and would become an abnormal, unbalanced person. Then he would not understand anything, because he was too focused on one thing, and failed to take a wider view.
For instance, when we are sitting for the examination tomorrow, we cannot learn anything today. It is better to relax. Only when the mind is relaxed, then we can think freely. Can we figure out anything when our mind is too tense? (Answer: No.)
Therefore, the method of meditation is very logical. We are busy everyday, and our eyes, wisdom and mind are confined to a very narrow range, unable to find any answer. Can we see things clearly by getting too close? (Master places something next to eyelids.) (Answer: We can't!) There must be proper distance, space and time, so that we can handle many things.
This also applies to us, the spiritual practitioners. Previously, I didn't have so many disciples, so we pitched tents together. I lived on this side, while you lived over on. When some people saw me drinking tea, they had doubts and even criticized me: "It is strange! How can an enlightened master drink tea and chat?"
An enlightened master should exactly drink tea and chat. (Laughter) It is the unenlightened ones who dare not to drink tea or chat. Why can't I do it since I am enlightened? (Applause)
The teacher can go out to play ball, football or golf, or drive around for fun. He has graduated, and he knows everything. Even if there is something that he doesn't know, it is all right for him to practice slowly. The students must sit for the examination, and work hard on the homework. The teacher can arrange his time, and doesn't have to study hard like the students do. The teacher also has to work hard sometimes. He may have to read books at night to prepare tomorrow's lessons for the students. However, he doesn't have to work as hard as the students because he knows how to arrange his time. The students cannot make their own arrangements; they are bound by examinations and time.
Only By Relaxing Can One Think Well
However, it is also not proper to study too hard. Therefore, when we are meditating or having a seven-day retreat, there will be barbecues, performances, dances and so on. On festival days, we will put on beautiful clothes just for fun. We can still practice very well. Has anyone been affected? Please raise your hand to show me. Aren't you getting better? Have you had any progress? (Answer: Yes!) Occasionally, we may relax. Just remember to come back!
Even cattle and horses cannot endure excessively hard work, much less humans. Can you force them to work, plough the fields for twenty-four hours? Can they stand it? They will die. The same with machines, cars and airplanes. They also need time for maintenance and rest.
There was a United States president, who would take a day or two off when he was too burdened by national affairs. He'd just quit! Actually, he handled things better when he was on vacation.
Normally, when we have a problem, we keep thinking and pressing ourselves. Too anxious to have the job done, the result turns out to be bad. We might as well put aside the work and go to sleep or watch television. However, at those times, our subconscious is not watching the television; our soul, our wisdom is still working. When it is given time, it will slowly and invisibly tell us how to handle the problem. Therefore, we know what to do after watching the television!
I often do it this way. (Applause) I handle most of the things in bed. When in such beautiful and formal dress like now, I seldom handle anything. The real moment of doing things is when I am not working. Then, I have more time, and I am more tranquil. I am referring to the worldly affairs; for the invisible matters, at all times, I am always handling them. (Master laughs and everyone applaud.)