By The Supreme Master Ching Hai At The Seven-day Retreat, Taipei, Formosa May 22, 1994 (Originally in Chinese)
This is a story of the saddle. Originally, there were no saddles for horses. It was later, perhaps derived from the benefit of some spiritual practice, that saddles were used.
There was a man named Liao Hu. Unlike us being kind, he was a very, very mean and very, very vicious government official. He died when he was sixty two years old and went to see the King of Hell. This King of Hell was from Formosa and was somewhat peculiar; he was black on the left side and white on the right. I wonder why? (All laugh.)
The King of Hell flipped through the book of sins and merits to see what good and bad deeds this man had done before his death. He found out that this man had created so much bad karma, and had never given to any charity. He had never protested for the sake of the refugees and had never been to Hong Kong. (All laugh.) He had never given any offerings to the temples and had never been in a church. He had never given money to the beggars and never donated a penny to Tse-Chi Charity or any other charitable organizations.
He was not a vegetarian, but he didn't eat meat either because he was very stingy. It wasn't because he wanted to become a Buddha that he didn't eat meat. Therefore, I have told you that being a vegetarian won't make you a Buddha; it depends on your purpose. This man didn't eat meat because he didn't want to spend money to buy meat for the rest of the family. Sometimes when he craved it, he would hide in the bathroom to eat a piece of meat all by himself, and come out after he had finished eating so his family wouldn't know. This is how bad he was.
He had never attended the Supreme Master Ching Hai's lectures, and besides, he thought all the clothes She had designed were too expensive. (Laughed) So the King of Hell looked around and couldn't find anything to save him; there was only bad karma, no merit at all.
Once, it was said that a disciple of the Supreme Master Ching Hai tried to give him a sample booklet; it was free you know. But he refused because he said the booklet would take up the space in his plastic bag for groceries. (Laughter) How could anyone possibly save him?!
So the King of Hell said, "No Good! Forget it! Forget it! I have tried my best to search every corner of the book, but it was full of bad karma. So now you have to be born as a horse to pay for your past bad deeds." After he said so, he made a hand mudra and a foot mudra and gave him a kick. Thus he fell and was born as a horse. This horse had its name on an ID card, that was how it was known that it was the reincarnation of Liao Hu.
This horse named Liao Hu grew bigger and bigger. It ate a lot of grass and was very comfortable. Because in its past life, it didn't want to buy meat, not even tofu, so eating grass was much easier for it, and it was quite content. It never complained about eating grass; besides, it was all free! Even being a horse, it was still very stingy. It would eat the cheap, rotting grass, and save the fresh grass to sell to the other horses. (Laughter)
When it grew up, its master put it to work. It had to carry firewood, cooking oil, rice and other groceries home. Sometimes, it had to pull a wagon with forty or fifty fat people on it, etc. Oh! It couldn't bear it, but if it didn't keep walking, the horseman would whip it. So it hated the whole thing and couldn't take it anymore. The horseman was mean to it also. He would kick it, whip it, and treat it cruelly. When he rode the horse, there was no saddle, so it was quite uncomfortable and even painful for the horse. This horse had just been reincarnated from a human being, it still carried the temperament of a human instead of a horse, so it was very annoyed, very sad and finally went on a hunger strike. It quit eating for three or four days and then died.
Some of the disciples of the Supreme Master Ching Hai took pity on it, and recited sutras, sang Hallelujah, and prayed for it. But even then, its karma was still too much, so it went down to see the King of Hell. The King of Hell was angry and kept yelling at it. "Are you trying to escape your bad karma? Can you? No, you cannot! I tell you, if I want you to be a horse, then you'll be a horse; if I want you to be a dog, then you'll be a dog. You cannot escape in such a way. Don't you know that before you have fully paid for your bad deeds you cannot run away?"
The King of Hell scolded him until his own face was red-hot. "You cheated me! You cheated me! Your time was not up yet, your karma had not been paid in full, and now you've starved yourself to death on purpose. This is cheating!" So now the King of Hell made him into a dog. He waved at him from head to toe and gave him a kick. Thus it fell into the womb of a mother dog and was born as a puppy.
Even though he was a dog now, Liao Hu still had some human qualities and intelligence. So he was feeling very sad, very annoyed, very miserable, very worried, very depressed, very helpless, very powerless and very bored (which in Chinese sounds similar to its name Hu, Liao). (Master and all laugh.) But he dared not commit suicide again, knowing that the King of Hell would punish him more. He sat there and thought, "I cannot starve myself now! This dog food is really unappetizing, but I have to eat it; otherwise, I don't know how the King of Hell is going to punish me!" So he thought and thought using his own dog thinking, you know. Then, oh, suddenly he was enlightened! He said, "Now if I bite my master hard, he will kill me. Ha! (Master and all laugh.) Then I would die without committing suicide!"
He got started right away. He recited some sutras, "Da, da, da, da...." in order to liberate itself while he waited for his master to return. After smoking and drinking his master came back. The dog wagged his tail then bit the master's behind and front. It was so painful and he was drunk and angry, so he picked up a big bat to hit him. And the dog went kaput!
So he went to see the King down of Hell again. The King of Hell was mad and of course, scolded him severely again. "You bad dog! How dare you cheat me again! Now, hmm, you'll get fifty beatings first." After the beatings, he was to be born as a snake. Gosh! Being a dog wasn't that bad, but to be a snake is really troublesome. The more he tried to escape, the worse it got, right? After he became a snake, the King of Hell threw him in a dungeon and locked him up, so he had nowhere to go. Nevertheless, he was able to dig a hole and slip away. Now he dared not commit suicide or bite others, knowing that'll only make him more guilty. So, mm, he thought and thought with his snake brain, and finally decided to crawl into the middle of the road and lie down to sleep. (Master and all laugh.) That person was full of ideas. Sleeping in the middle of the road at night! In ancient times, there were no street lights, so when a car went by, he was chopped into a few pieces and liberated!
Looking at the pitiful sight, the King of Hell felt sorry for him and decided he had had enough punishment. Finally, he was victorious! The King of Hell felt sorry for his sufferings and miseries and couldn't bear to punish him anymore. Ah! The King of Hell was quite compassionate after all! He must have practiced the Quan Yin Method, half way only, that's why he was half white (Master and all laugh) and the other half black! So he was forgiven and was allowed to be born as a human being. Once again, he was to be a government official. But he was reminded to be virtuous and to govern his people wisely and kindly. He must not be greedy or corrupt; he must not be vicious or mistreat people. "Otherwise," the King of Hell warned him, "I will not forgive you! Understand? You must keep the five precepts." He even told him to go find the Supreme Master Ching Hai and get initiation! (Applause.) Just kidding! These kind of people are very hard to save; it's better he doesn't come to us! (Master laughs.)
But he really looked Her up! And She taught him to keep the five precepts, be a vegetarian, meditate two and half hours everyday, attend group meditation, speak up or protest for others in suffering...etc. From that day on, he became a very good person, and later became a very virtuous government official. He would instruct his subordinates to use saddles when they rode the horses, not to kick the horses with their knees, and not to whip them too hard, because he remembered how much he had suffered when he was a horse. He was also very gentle and generous in treating his people. Therefore, later all his bad karma was erased. The end!
However, our world never learns. Up till now, we still haven't learnt to stop the wars; we still haven't learnt that we should protect one another, love one another, and help one another. Sometimes, I am reminded that it's now the brink of the twenty-first century, yet those people still refuse to make progress, still are so vicious, still creating wars, and injuring so many others. For example, one place in Africa, over two hundred thousand people have been killed up to now! If you just read the newspaper everyday, you won't want to eat anything anymore! Do you read newspapers?
Over there in Africa, even the children and the babies were being brutally sacred. They beat and kill whoever they run into, using machetes. There were some pictures. One of them showed a big gash left on the back of a girl's head after being struck by a machete. We don't have any holes here on our head, right? Her head had a big gap so deep after being chopped. I'll show you those pictures sometime later. Actually, it is not so good to look at those things, but we have to see some to remind us never to go to war; whether we are right or wrong, it is best not to kill! Therefore, our five precepts are to protect everyone in the world. If everyone takes revenge on each other, then when will it ever end?
That area became like that because they took revenge on each other. Originally there was no war. But some people killed the president, and then the tribes that supported the president took revenge for him and killed the men, women, old and young... whoever they saw from the opposing party. Some of the children were very small and their heads were already injured. They were chopped at the nape till almost chopped off. They would die even if chopped only halfway! I don't know how people could do such things!
In the newspaper, a woman cried when she was interviewed. She said that she was trained and was sent to kill people, but she couldn't bear it sometimes. Then better don't kill! But you see, even a humane person like this, a twenty-three year old girl, was trained and brain washed. She was instructed, “Whenever you see the people from the other tribe, regardless of whether they are children or infants, you have to kill them all!” When she was caught, she cried and said she couldn't bear to do it at all, and when she did it she felt terrible.
Even if we still have some sympathy for others like this girl did, but if we stay with bad friends or so called bad leaders, we will become like them. We will continue to kill, and eventually get used to doing it. Later, we have no more tears or sympathy left. So, you see how horrible it is!
It is very important to have enlightened beings with us. If we have some good, benevolent friends who talk to us about virtuous things, give us good advice, and lead us toward the right direction, then we will become better each day. Our virtuous qualities will expand and manifest, and we will know better each day which is the right direction for us. But if we stay with those without moral ethics, without any manners, those who prefer violence, then gradually, we will follow them and become just like them. Eventually, our loving compassion will be diminished and eradicated, and we become vicious people.
I saw in the newspapers there is a phenomenon in America. Because the number of American troops in action have been reduced, many of the so-called special force soldiers feel very insecure. Originally they were trained as assassins to kill the enemy. Later as the cold war with the Russians came to an end, there were no more enemies, no more targets for assassination. But their training procedure, those techniques, and the consciousness are still deep rooted in their heads. Now that they do not have an enemy to fight, they sometimes feel insecure as if they have lost their job. Thus they now see their relatives, friends, wives and children as enemies, so they begin to beat them and sometimes kill them.
Since the end of the cold war, every week, there have been people killed at the hands of these soldiers. Because many of them have very little to do or have lost their jobs etc..., the atmosphere in their families has become like a war zone. Having been in the war zone or in the habit of being trained daily as assassins, now anybody not to their liking would look like the enemy. Though they sometimes do not have the intention to kill, but on the spur of the moment, they just pick up a gun and “bang!” the other person is dead without even thinking.
If we are not trained in this manner, we would not at any time, take a gun out to shoot people. If we do not have the habit of carrying a gun, of having been trained to shoot people, then perhaps other people would not die so easily. Without that kind of training, the habit of quickly reacting to kill someone, we would not be able to kill people so easily. If we do not have a gun in our hand or do not carry any weapon, then we would not be able to kill people so easily. Therefore this kind of situation, this kind of training of assassins is really not good. You see, originally the intention was to kill others, later we kill our friends and relatives and kill even ourselves.
Being together with whomever, we learn whatever. Thus, the direction we decide to take is very important indeed. Before there wasn't any, this kind of phenomenon, of the special force killing their own children, wives, friends and relatives. Later on because the fighting with the Russians had been reduced, and there were defense cut, then friends and relatives became the enemy. Very horrible indeed!
Of course, those retired veterans or those still in the force who killed others would be penalized. But I feel that this is not fair. Although they personally killed their friends and relatives, but they are not the only murderers. At least they are not the main offenders, there are many accomplices. Who are the accomplices? The accomplices are the society that make up this training system, turing a kind, innocent, very young, easy-to-be influenced person into an assassin. Then because he has no target to kill he would come back to kill people close to him. It has become a habit. Understand what I mean? After becoming a habit, he has become numb! Truly horrible!
Our world could turn into anything we want, right? Intending to turn it into a paradise then we have to turn to truth, virtues and beauty, learn from enlightened beings, and look for noble ideals and inner wisdom. Then it turns into paradise. Intending to turn into hell is also quite easy. Train all those growing, very innocent, very soft, very easily trained young people into soldiers, then later they will kill anyone! If not kill, they will abuse, beat, and turn their own family into a war zone. If the family unit is not stable then the country will also be unstable! Right? Country unstable, then the world will have many wars.
Water Can Carry
Where did most of the wars in the world come from? All came from the armies, right? A lot of innocent presidents were toppled by the might of the armies. Then a lot of people, using the power of the armies, killed people indiscriminately. I remember one American president, I think Eisenhower, said, before he died, that our enemies are not the foreigners, not the Russians... etc. but are those murderers in the armies, those with special power in the armies, those more evil armies or organizations. He said that before he died.
Because he had seen the statistics, he seemed to know a lot about the armies' secrets. Those armies controlled all the secret defenses. They could do anything they wanted. Whether or not those things were harmful to the people, to the American people, they would continue to do them. Sometimes it was because of greed for power, sometimes it was because of the habit of command that they continued to do them.
In this world, it would not be very difficult if we wanted to have power, fame and fortune, as long as we strived a little, were smart a little, were slick or schemed a little, or were a little ambitious! But to control this power and put it into good use would be difficult, understand? If we do not control this fame, fortune and power well, that power will in return hurt us, hurt our friends and relatives, hurt our countries and the whole world.
Thus fame and fortune is a very terrible thing. Why terrible? People with fame and fortune are not terrible. Fame and fortune itself is not terrible. People are terrible because they do not know how to handle the fame and fortune and do not have the technique to put it to good use. Most people are very ambitious. They are not satisfied with whatever they possess. Then because of fame and fortune, because of trying to retain their own power, they would dare to do anything. Thus fame and fortune is said to be terrible, because most people do not know how to use it and have been used by it in return.
If we know how to use it, then there would not be any problem! Like in world history, many so-called masters became emperors or held high positions in the governments and had done a lot of very important things in societies, yet there were no problems. It is just that fame and fortune in the hands of lay people, in the hands of those with very delicate morality, with very high ambition, would be very dangerous indeed. Understand what I mean? (Crowd: Understand.)
Thus the Chinese say: “If we practice ourselves then we can manage the family, can manage the country, and make the world peaceful.” At that time, we do not need to make the world peaceful, yet the world would be peaceful already! Right! We do not have to manage the country, yet the country would be stable. We do not have to worry about the family, yet the family would be fine. For example, before we practiced, sometimes everything would turn out wrong. After we has started to practice, we feel we are getting better and better. Right? Like wherever our organization goes, it would be very orderly, and make people feel comfortable. Would not be too noisy. With so many people and being so peaceful, it is not too bad at all! Even going for an outing with a few thousand people and being so peaceful would be very difficult, let alone doing a seven-day retreat.
No one could do a seven-day retreat with over fifty people. Go ahead and ask. Has there ever been a seven-day retreat with four, five thousand people? No! No where in the world. Seven hours still impossible, let alone seven days. Also all from different countries. Arrangements and everything are quite an effort. Thus people kept on praising me thinking I am so great. He said to me: "Wow! You are wonderful. Oh! You are great. You are so... etc. Oh! You really know how to organize! With so many thousands of people, it is still so quiet. Everything is so good." I said: "I have done nothing, really! They did it all by themselves." Yes! I only taught you how to do things. I should not control you, understand? I only taught you how to control yourselves; how to organize your own lives; how to organize your own qualities.
I do not have to be here saying from morning till night: "You should do this ..." I taught once, then everyone understood. Then everyone manages his own things. That is the real managing of a country. Really, no need to manage. Everyone has wisdom. Who manages whom! No one should say: "I am better than others." No one could manage others. In fact, everyone has inner wisdom, has Buddha nature, has one Buddha inside, has God inside. Who could manage whom! If we said so, it would have been too much -- saying we managed a God or a group of Gods, or a group of Buddhas. It would have been too proud, right?
Lao-tze said that the past enlightened emperors did not have to manage the people, did not need to manage the country, but the country was naturally taken care of. It was because they did not manage the country that the country took care of itself. The more you are there managing the people, the more rules you give to the people, the more chaotic it will be, because each person has a different personality, right? Without teaching him how to manage, how to handle his own life, but just there using whatever regulations, whatever laws, whatever violence to control people is not workable.
In the refugee camps, they used force to control the refugees. On April 7, they used army force; they used lots of tear gas, let them vomit blood and froth at the mouth, and let them shed tears. Yet they are still not afraid. Even though they were half alive and half dead, they have become tougher and tougher. Now they will not listen to anyone. They will not do as told they are; will not obey or trust anyone.
Later we went to Hong Kong to demonstrate and show love towards them.
Then they felt better. But the government was still very tough saying:
“No! No matter what you do, it still will not work. We are still forcing
you out.” Later they committed suicide. Up to now over eighty people
attempted to commit suicide. Some were successful, and some were revived;
some remain badly hurt and burnt over the whole body, and some their legs
are incapacitated. Very bad condition. Later the government there saw
that their method was not working, so they started to use our method, they
became softer and softer! Then the conditions became better; fewer people
committed suicide! I hope that they will continue to be softer and softer,
then fewer and fewer people will commit suicide. It is best not to force
them, then they will not commit suicide. It is just that simple, right?
It is best to use love! (Crowd claps)