Short Talks From Venerable Master Chin Kung
In the Middle Ages, there was a well-known French prophet by the name of Nostradamus. His ability was like that of Mr. Kong in Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons. Mr. Kong, who was very precise in predicting an individual’s destiny, was positive that all sentient beings are subject to destiny, which cannot be changed. Nostradamus also had the gift of prediction, indeed he had the ability to see our current social condition. Where did his ability originate? From mathematical science and meditative insight which enabled him to make predictions with a ninetypercent accuracy rate. The ten percent deviation was due to knowing the “how” but not the “why”. Nostradamus, however, was not as brilliant as the Zen Master Yun Gu in Liao Fan’s Four Lessons. After Mr. Liao-Fan met Master Yun Gu, he complied with his instructions, ceased doing bad deeds and in stead cultivated kind deeds to change his destiny.
Each one of us has our own destiny, but we do not know the principles or the ways of practice to change it. Instead, we are bound by it, “One drink or one bite, everything is predestined.” Families have their own destiny, as do countries and the world. In China there is an ancient book of prophecy called the Book of Imperial Standard for Governing the World, compiled within The Complete Library in Four Divisions. It not only made predictions for our current times, but also predicted events for thousands of years, encompassing a much longer time than Nostradamus’ predictions. This book is extraordinary, able to make deductions and observations completely based on the mathematical calculations in the I China, the Book of Change.
Only the Buddha can explain everything clearly and completely. If everyone can glance through the books in the world, to think and observe carefully, we can see why Buddha Shakyamuni manifested in this world. Our world is not without intelligent and wise people. However, no matter how intelligent or how capable they are, they too only know “how” things happen but not “why”.
In ancient India, the Brahmans and other great religious practitioners had great meditative abilities. In their meditation, they were able to break through the dimensions of time and space. They also were able to unfold before their eyes very clearly the conditions of reincarnation in the six realms. But they did not know how the six realms were formed, how they evolved, their result, their destination. They wanted very much to know, however, they were unable to further enhance their deep concentration, ability and wisdom. Thus, all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were moved by their pleas and manifested in this worid to help them fulfill their wishes and needs and to clearly explain the how and the why, the true reality.
By practicing according to Buddhist principles and ways of practice, everyone’s individual destiny can be changed, as well as those of families, countries and the world. Buddhist sutras acknowledge the existence of destiny, but not the idea that it is fixed. Destiny is not fixed, but can be changed. How do we change it? It is completely up to our thoughts, speech and conduct. With our thoughts, speech and conduct are kind, our destiny will be favorable. When they are unkind, our destiny will become even bleaker.
By understanding this principle through careful reading of Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons, we would not be terrified after watching television programs on ancient prophecies of the west. We would understand what was happening. There is individual karma within our shared karma. We can eradicate our karmic obstacles, eradicate our own disasters and misfortunes. If a family cultivates together, that family can avoid disasters. If the citizens of a country cultivate, then that country will prosper and both natural and human-made disasters will be reduced. Thus, everything depends on one word, “education”.
Buddhism is an education of proper enlightenment, an education of true wisdom. It is the caring bestowal of the true beneficial education to all sentient beings. In the early 1900’s Mr. O-Yang Jing-Wu stated very well that, “Buddhism is neither a religion, nor a philosophy, but the essential for the modern world.” It is the essential education that everyone would do well to learn.
Great prophets knew of the problems we would be experiencing at the end of this century, but they did not know how to solve them. They thought that these unfortunate results were the bidding of God, that since people had sinned, God was angry and wanted to punish them, and that this punishment was unavoidable. Actually this is a wrong idea of destiny.
The deities in heaven are fair and just. These kings have not yet completely severed their afflictions. Still they have lesser degrees of afflictions and have attained higher levels of wisdom than we. If I were a heavenly being, I would be very happy if sentient beings were able to end their wrongdoings and cultivate kind deeds, to turn back from their improper ways. This is also the Buddha’s wish for us. Therefore, we would do well to believe the Buddha’s words, to accept his teachings to change and thus to create our own and our family’s destiny. In this way, we will not have learned and practiced the Buddha’s teaching in vain.
In the past, many fortune-tellers have predicted my destiny. They all said I would have a short life, would not live past the age of forty-five. After I began practicing Buddhism, it became obvious that I had changed my destiny. Therefore, we need to know that we all can change our destiny.
The first book I read after beginning my practice of Buddhism was Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons, introduced to me by Mr. Jing-Jou Ju, an old layperson. I was deeply moved after I read it. When Iwas young, my weaknesses were similar to those of Mr. Liao-Fan. Whatever bad habits he had, I had them also.
“There is nothing more virtuous than to know one’s faults and be able to reform.” Therefore, we cannot simply trust our luck to evade bad fate, for this would not correspond with the great aspirations of Mahayana Buddhism. Now, the most important thing for us to do is to abide by the teachings and wisdom of sages, diligently cease our wrongdoings and cultivate kind deeds. We need to break through our delusion and attain awakening, and also help all suffering beings to understand the true reality, to encourage them to jointly reform and practice kindness, to accumulate merits. With sincerity and compassion we should care for all sentient beings, to mutually respect each other, to cooperate with each other, to coexist in prosperity, to make a concerted effort in eradicating all natural and humanmade disasters. We need to work together to save the world from a disastrous fate, to save the world from disaster. This is the sincere hope of all sentient beings.