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To Live a Balanced Life in This World and Heaven, Part 11 of 12: Interview with Supreme Master Ching Hai (vegan) by the Japanese Media

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I myself don’t accept any money because I think spirituality is given by God. Wisdom is inherent in everyone. I just help them to open and develop their own wisdom which is their own property. I have no right to take money from them. Besides, if a spiritual practitioner still takes money in return, then it’ll be like doing business.

(You’ve just answered the first part of my question. It means that whether a church or a group has financial capability or not is not really related to their doing. Is that right? If the money is put to good use, then it’s good.) Yes.

(It doesn’t matter how they get the money.) Oh, it does. They need to earn good money.

(Then it means to earn good money and put it to good use.) Yes. That’s right. (Then it’s good money and a good religion. Am I right?) Yes.

(Then, I still have the second half question. When a religious leader becomes a billionaire in the world, a very wealthy person, how do You explain it?) They done anything good to society and their followers? Have they guided them to see Heaven while they’re still alive, and to be a good person at the same time? (I’m just asking for Your viewpoints. What do You think about a religious leader becoming such a wealthy person in the world?)

As I’ve said, if that person is good for the world and uses money in doing good things, and if his believers are all good people, being good people and seeing Heaven, hell, and Buddha’s Land at the same time, then he is a good, enlightened master. Then, maybe it’s God who gives him money, or he has wealthy disciples to support him. I’m not sure about it. It all depends on what this person does regardless if he’s rich or not. I don’t judge people by their wealth. So, I don’t know this person. But from my viewpoints, having money or not is not important, but what matters is what good you do to society. Are you helping poor people? Are you taking your disciples to see Heaven and hell? Teach them to be good people by strictly keeping precepts and adopting a vegan diet. Then, I think this is a good teacher. It doesn’t matter whether he is rich or not.

(This religion has caused great controversy in the world, not just in Asia. It also caused a big controversy in America and Europe. That’s why I really want to know Your opinion.) As I’ve said, if that person can do things, such as teaching his disciples to be good people, to keep precepts and to be vegan, and explaining Heaven, meaning to show them Heaven, as well as taking them to the Buddha’s Land and to liberation, then I don’t care if that person is rich or not.

I myself don’t accept any money because I think spirituality is given by God. Wisdom is inherent in everyone. I just help them to open and develop their own wisdom which is their own property. I have no right to take money from them. Besides, if a spiritual practitioner still takes money in return, then it’ll be like doing business. I am kind of shy. I can give, but not take. I’ve been like that since childhood. Maybe it’s because of my personality. If he is good to his believers and accepts offerings from them to help people in need or to preach the benefits of his religious teachings, then I think it might not be wrong. Is it? It’s just that I myself don’t accept a penny from my disciples. I’m rather a giver than a taker. That’s all. But I don’t care or comment on other people’s business, because there are different ways to liberate beings. If their disciples can get the knowledge about Heaven and hell, how to say… “understand,” and be good people in the world, then I’d be happy with that teacher. He gets money from disciples, which they’re willing to offer, then it’s between them.

(However, in that case, it could give people the impression that a good place like Heaven can be bought with money, instead of having to practice spiritually.) No, it wouldn’t. They still have to practice spiritually even if they take money. It doesn’t work just by taking money. Every day they still have to practice spiritually.

The world is too much! Sometimes I feel that many strange things are happening. We can never explain it all! What is important is that our group is very honest, and I teach my disciples to do good. Whether they get married or not is their own business. They’ve never sought permission, having me tell them, “You can marry this person.” I tell you I would be scared to death. If you don’t want to get married, that’s also good. If their marriage turns out bad and they blame me, what can I do? Yes? Marriage is a private affair between two people. No one should interfere, understand?

(The real question I want to ask is whether a happy life, a happy Heaven…) Can be obtained using money, right? (Can I give money to an enlightened Master who is very wise, Who has great wisdom, and then I can go to a happy place through Him?) Understand. Understand. If this Master is really a great enlightened being, a living Buddha, whatever He asks you to do is OK. If He tests you, that’s OK. However, He should be a real living Buddha. Otherwise, even if you give him the whole world, you won’t have a happy life or eternal liberation. This Master may ask for many things. If He is a real Buddha, He may give many tests. That may be just His nature. He likes to test disciples. If He is a real living Buddha, even if you give your whole life to Him, you won’t feel that’s too much, understand? It depends on whether that Master is really enlightened or not. If He is truly enlightened, whatever you do is OK.

But usually, an enlightened Master doesn’t make demands. In ancient times, an enlightened Master gave many tests. Do you remember the story of Milarepa? His Master had Him work for many years, before teaching Him the method of liberation. He also asked many things of other disciples. Sometimes, they didn’t give Him enough. He would tell them, “You gave me too little. Give me more.” Understand? But He didn’t really need those things. He only wanted to reduce His disciples’ karma so they could progress faster. Some enlightened Masters carry Their disciples’ karma, and don’t need Their disciples to do anything. Enlightened Masters can do it either way. It depends on what They want to do. OK?

(OK. I want to ask another question.) OK. (Religion provides teachings for believers. A Master serves as an idol for disciples in this world. In this life, disciples treat the Buddha they believe in as an idol. When You arrived at the Narita Airport today, I saw so many of Your disciples welcome You in a very grand manner. This brought to mind how young men and women love movie stars, sports stars, and singers wholeheartedly and sincerely. They are also very sincere. This is also a worship of the idol they believe in. I want to ask, as the Master of a religious group, as the top figure, do You often feel like a celebrity?) I don’t like bustling places, but I can’t forbid them from having their own feelings. Because they only see me once in a while, of course, they are very welcoming and happy. Because there are a lot of people, it looks very festive. But it’s not that they treat me as an idol. Of course, they are very grateful to me because I teach them good things. After they followed my teachings, their lives have improved and they have become brighter and more enlightened. Of course, they are grateful to me. After you learn English, you are also grateful to your English teacher. It’s as simple as that. Whether they treat me as a celebrity is their business. Maybe after they become more enlightened, they will know. Understand? Maybe when they just start following me, they are attached to me, as a person. In time, I teach them that the Buddha is not this physical body. We are not just this physical body. We are souls. Therefore, they should follow my teachings, not follow me, this person. Then as they get more enlightened, they understand more. Then there is less and less of this idol phenomenon. There is nothing scary about it.

(Whether You feel You are…) a celebrity, right? (Yes.) No. Why would I? The job is exhausting. How would I have time to think about that? I am really very tired. Delivering sentient beings is exhausting, rushing from place to place. Every place has a lot of people. Understand? I have to smile every time. I have to answer questions and keep them satisfied. They give me flowers. Why would I like that? Later, I give the flowers back to them anyway. But I should accept them first, so they won’t feel hurt. I don’t need anything at all. I am not very strong physically. Even a celebrity cannot do what I do. When people love you, you enjoy it when you have time. However, after a while…. You don’t do this job because you want others to love you, because you will get fed up. No matter how good a food is, you will get fed up after eating it for a long time. I don’t feel I am a celebrity. I don’t feel that way at all. I feel I am working very hard, very hard. If I don’t have to do it, that would be wonderful. That’s how I feel. But since I have started this and it is beneficial to them, I just continue to do it.

(Are You tired of the work You are doing?) Yes. I have traveled to a few dozen countries. Of course, I am feeling very tired. I haven’t slept for several days. And you know, not everyone is so sweet. Sometimes they give you a lot of headaches. They have a lot of resistance inside. You can only feel it, but you can’t prove it. You have to be patient and wait for them to grow up. It’s exhausting. I can’t tell you that this is a wonderful job. If I said that, I’d be lying.

(If You could have an easier job, would You choose not to do this job?) I could have an easier job. I could teach English. I could paint. I could do other things that are easier. It’s not that I have no choice. I do have options. I am not saying I… If the world was peaceful and everyone was enlightened and happy, of course, I would not choose this job. Understand? It’s not that I choose to do this for myself. I choose to do this because other people need it. So, I can’t say it’s a choice or not a choice. I can’t explain this very clearly. But I am very tired. This job is very, very tiring. It’s not that this job does not have its good points. When you see others happy and live better, of course, you feel that the fatigue is worth it. If the world was at peace, I would retire immediately.

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