Six—The Right Faith is Extremely Rare
Subhuti asked the Buddha: “World-honored One, if sentient beings hear words and phrases of this teaching, will they generate real faith in them?”
The Buddha told Subhuti: “Do not speak this way. During the five hundred years after Tathagata’s parinirvana, there will be precept-holding people who are blessed, they will have faith in this truth and regard it as reality. Know that these people have planted good seeds not only with one buddha, two buddhas, or three, four, five buddhas, but countless buddhas. When they hear these statements, immediately they give rise to pure faith.
“Subhuti, even if only for a moment, they will be seen and known by the Tathagata and they will obtain immeasurable blessings and merits. Why? Because they do not have views of self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.
“No view of dharma, and no view of non-dharma. Why? Because if sentient beings hold onto phenomena, then they are grasping at self, others, sentient beings and lifespan.
“If they hold the view of dharma, then they are attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. If they hold the view of non-dharma, then all the same they are also attached to self, others, sentient beings and lifespan. Why? Because one should not uphold dharma and one should also not uphold non-dharma.
“This profundity is often spoken by the Tathagata: ‘Bhikkus and all of you, know that my dharma teaching is like a raft. Even the dharma should be abandoned, let alone the non-dharma.’”
Today we will expound the Vajra Sutra. We are now talking about Chapter Six––The Right Faith is Extremely Rare. The title is very good. It is extremely rare for a person to have the right faith or the correct beliefs. That’s the meaning of the title of Chapter Six––The Right Faith is Extremely Rare.
Let me ask a simple question. There is no gift here [on the dharma table to give out], just this celestial dust-whisk. Is there no gift to give away? Everybody is talking about buddhism with the right faith. When I’ve just started [to spread buddhadharma] in the past, someone told me, “Grandmaster Lu, you are a christian and you believe…” [Someone interrupts and gives a prayer necklace to Grandmaster.] Whom does this belong to? [Someone answered, "temple gift shop.”] Oh, are you the boss? [He answered, “Grandmaster is the boss.”] It’s me? I never knew that I am the boss of our temple gift shop. If I were the boss, then I would just take all home. [Grandmaster is laughing.]
Let me ask you. What is the right faith? As spoken in the Vajra Sutra, The Right Faith is Extremely Rare. Nowadays, many buddhist sects state that they are buddhism with the right faith. But Grandmaster Lu was a christian with Jesus as his guru. He [referring to Sheng-yen Lu] is also a taoist with Golden Mother as his yidam. And Amitabha Buddha too. Does he believe in Amitabha Buddha, Golden Mother or his guru, Jesus? Sheng-yen Lu’s is not buddhism with the right faith.
Let me ask you. Many people are saying that theirs are the buddhism with the right faith. What is the right faith?
[The following are people’s answers and Grandmaster is repeating and responding to their answers.] Virtuous dharma companions? Right equality and right realization? That’s too broad. The three dharma seals? That’s the ultimate truth. The faith that would allow you to attain the purity of body, speech and mind? The Middle Way? The Eightfold Noble Paths? All paths in the Eightfold Noble Path start with “right.” You are only right about the word “right.” [chuckle]
What is the right faith? What is the true meaning of the right faith? The right faith as mentioned in the Vajra Sutra? [People answering and Grandmaster repeating and replying to the answers.] Not deviant? If it’s not deviant, that would certainly be right and correct. [chuckle] But which parts are wrong? [Someone else answered] The middle way? Reliance on the Buddha’s teaching is called the right faith? That’s too general, too broad. Sakyamuni Buddha taught so many things.
What I meant is, what is the right faith with regards to the Vajra Sutra? [an answer] Precepts as your guru? Those are the last words of Sakyamuni Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha’s last instruction. If I asked what Sakyamuni Buddha’s last instruction is and you answered taking precepts as your guru, that would have been right. But I’m talking about the right faith. [another answer] Prajna as the goal?
All your answers are not bad, but they haven’t hit the target, just around it. Let me tell you what the right faith is. This prayer necklace is not available anymore. [Grandmaster chuckles. Then someone answered again] Destroying all afflictions? But attachment still exists. Suffering, cause of suffering, end of suffering and the path to end the suffering? That’s the Four Noble Truths. In union with the Tao? You mean being one with the Way? Tao is just too big. Ambassador [Daniel Liao]? Seeing everything as empty, as illusory? That’s very close!
Let me tell you what the right faith is; that is, the right faith within the Vajra Sutra. It’s written in the previous chapter, it is perceiving all appearances as non-appearances, as in “Only when one perceives all appearances as non-appearances does one see the tathagata.” Perceive appearances as non-appearances to see the tathagata. All appearances that you see are not real, and because [you understand that] they’re not real, you see the tathagata.
What is buddhism with the right faith? The so-called Right Faith as in The Right Faith is Extremely Rare is very difficult to understand. Therefore I will extrapolate it for you today. People who say, “Jesus is his guru, Golden Mother is his main deity and Amitabha Buddha is also his yidam. His is not buddhism with the right faith,” do not understand what the right faith is.
This right faith means perceiving appearances as non-appearances. All appearances are illusory and false; they are not [real] appearances. By perceiving appearances as non-appearances, one can see the tathagata. You can see the tathagata; you can see the Way [Tao]. Therefore, the right faith is perceiving all appearances as non-appearances. It’s very, very rare for anyone to understand this concept, to understand this right faith.
People in this world are attached to appearances, forms or phenomena. People in the world don’t have the right faith. Why? Because they are attached to appearances, forms or phenomena. Look at the young unmarried men these days. All of them want to marry beautiful wives. Is there anyone who wants to marry an ugly one? Ugly women cannot find marriage partners. They all want beautiful wives but not ugly ones because they are still attached to appearances. Whether they are ugly or beautiful, they are all non-appearances. They are all aggregates of the earth, water, fire and wind elements. The globe in its entirety is comprised of the earth, water, fire and wind elements. Cars, houses and everything are all aggregates. Once you realize that all appearances are comprised of the four elements, and that all of them will be gone once they disintegrate, you would not be attached to appearances anymore. If you are not attached to appearances or phenomena, you have the right faith. If you are still attached to appearances, you are just an ordinary, mundane person. It’s that simple. Seeing the appearances as non-appearances. The ambassador’s answer [which is seeing everything as empty, as illusory] was the closest.
It was spoken in the previous chapter, right? “Only when one perceives all appearances as non-appearances does one see the tathagata.” This is the right faith, and it is extremely rare. It is extremely rare to understand this.
Is there anybody in this world who isn’t attached? They are attached to money. What do they believe in? Money! They’re attached to money and wealth. Everybody is attached to those things. You’re also attached to looks, to beauties and beautiful things, brand names. You must wear branded things, including your masks. Even walking sticks and wheelchairs must be branded. That’s attachment to appearance. Other than that, they are also attached to position and status. What status? Look at all the fights! What are the US and China fighting for? They’re fighting to be the superpower, the leader of the world. It’s like the fights in martial art contests in kungfu novels. Who is at the top? “I am!” They’re fighting for a mere name.
Countries are also fighting, for the sake of a name. An unprosperous tiny country will be undermined by people. People only respect big powerful countries. China is currently rising and immediately they are all fighting to determine who is number one; that’s [attachment to] name. True Buddha School now has ayushmats [elders]. True Buddha School is growing and getting older. [joking] “How come I am not an ayushmat but you are the ayushmat?! What are you anyway?!” Ayushmat is just a title. The masters are fighting with each other, the monks and nuns are fighting to become masters, the masters are fighting to be ayushmats, and the ayushmats are fighting to succeed the school. Everybody is contending, yet it’s just a name!
See appearances as non-appearances to see the tathagata! Everything is unreal, empty and illusory. Nothing is real. If you practice yourself, buddhanature will appear, you’d see tathagata, and you are not attached to any phenomena. At that time, it is called perceiving all appearances as non-appearances to see the tathagata.
Today, I tell you, the right faith is extremely rare. Only very few people can comprehend all appearances are non-appearances. Today I explained only the title, and it is more than enough for you to ponder and savor on your own [jokingly]. What is the “right faith?” Go ponder and savor [my explanation]. Don’t be like those buddhists who say they have the right faith, yet they are still attached to appearances! What kind of right faith is that?! Even having a viewpoint about having the right faith is an attachment. Stupid! [chuckling] Those needing to claim that they are buddhists with the right faith are indeed still attached to this “buddhists with the right faith.” Very silly indeed!
Om mani padme hum. [laughing]