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Between Master and Disciples

Sutta Nipāta: Dhaniya the Cattleman, Part 2 of 9, Dec 30, 2019

Lecture Language:English
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And they picked a cattleman, a man who has a herd of cows or oxen, to take care of them, to use them to till the land, and to use them to make a living for himself, of course. So, here are the verses to compare the two of them: The World Enlightened One, World Honored One and the cattleman.

In the old times, the Buddha sometimes went out, didn’t have good water to drink, not filtered water. They had to use a kāṣāya, their clothes; a corner of their big robe, big blanket, to filter the water and drink. I am very lucky already. I’m really grateful in my heart. Every little thing I have, I’m grateful.

I earn money by my own means. I could have a palace. I could have at least a decent house, but I have never asked [anyone] to build anything for me, except some already existing house, and I sometimes bought it for the disciples. And then later, it’s too small. I will buy a bigger one. It’s for everybody to use. I could have asked [people] to build me some castle, smaller castle or something long ago. I did not.

I’m not happy even if I live in any luxurious house. I was very happy to live in the cave. Until they told me, “Master, it’s the 21st century. You don’t live in a cave, anymore.” I said, “What’s wrong with a cave? Very nice.” But then they asked people to come and check and the cave is corroded. It could collapse anytime. So, because of safety, I moved out, truly reluctantly. I made the cave cozy with a beautiful double tent and I have everything I need. I didn’t even need a table because they made, like, a stone table in there. That’s perfect. When I first saw the cave, I was in love with it immediately. I couldn’t wait until next morning to move. I moved right at midnight, after group meditation. I love that cave, honestly. And I love the Spanish cave and I love the cave in Hsihu. I love all the simple things, simple life that I have. But to do what I do, I have to forsake the luxury of a simple life. That’s ironic, but that’s what it is. For me to have a simple life is a luxury.

You know why I respect the monks so much? Because of their ideal to live a simple life, un-wanting many things in life. And also, because I look upon them as the life I wanted to have. I like to see them. At least to think that, “Oh, that’s a wonderful life.” Truly, I like it like that. I want it simple, but I can’t. It’s OK. It’s not the worst thing to do, of course. But truly, I would have loved to be free. More free, live a simple life like them: A couple of pairs of clothes, go anywhere anytime. Depend only on Heavens, with not a care in the world. When you’re tired, you sleep; when you’re hungry, you eat.

Everything is illusion anyway. What for you want this, want that? What’s the use anyway? And I’m old now, I know even better. To know that you take nothing with you. It’s just that I have to do what I have to do. And like it or not, I still have to do it. All of us. I don’t mean I’m the only one who has trouble. You also have your troubles. Sometimes you wish to be here, to just meditate with Master, eat some simple food the Ashram provides, so that you can advance more in your spiritual practice or whatever your dream is. But then you have to go back to your job, your family, your children, and the expected community. And that is also your pain. But we can’t have everything in this life. I accept my lot, but I like the monk’s life. Not necessarily do I have to wear the monk’s dress. It’s just a symbol of freedom.

This is all I can afford. If we build more, of course we can, but then we will cut many, many, hundreds, thousands of trees and plants, and disturb a lot of animals. Nowadays everywhere is already emptied of trees and plants and greenery and nature. If we continue, I’d rather change the retreat to a warmer season. And then we just sit in the open air. You bring your tent. In case if it rains, you just quickly run there and zip up, and then you’re safe. Nowadays it’s so convenient. Think of the Buddha. He sat under the Bodhi tree, at least for 40-some days, then He got enlightenment. You sit under the roof for 40,000 years, maybe not. Think of Lord Mahavira.

I wanted to read you some from the Tripitaka Buddhist Sutra. Some of them. Tripitaka is big, big, big. I cannot read it all, to all, and it’s not always necessary. But there’s always something going on, and I have to pull out my calendar like that.

By the way, I want to help advertising for that company, for the printer company, the publisher. It’s in India. Actually, it’s good merit for them if I read them free for you. But, in the legal sense, I might incur some debt of karma. So, I will make it up to them. I advertise their publication name, “Sahni Publications.” They have many other books. It’s called Sahni. “S” like sunny, “A” like apple, “H” like hôtel, hotel, “N” like November, “I” like International. (Sahni.) Huh? (Sahni.) Sahni, Sahni Publications, yes.

They have many other books; very interesting. So, if you want to buy something from them, you can order. And that’s very good for them. Oh, email even! The book has many misspellings and misarrangements, but they have email! I thought it was old, long time ago. Remember, I have to correct, and I have to read for a long time in order to guess what they meant. I did guess right. Email:

*Note: “” is no longer their email. Their new email is “”

So, actually, for television – depends on what television – you just advertise for a few seconds, you have to pay a lot. So, I guess I paid that debt already. But I will donate something. In India, they don’t earn a lot of money. I don’t know if many people would buy this book. So, I will donate some money. Help me, FG, to send them about US$12,000. Is that enough? Brother? Sister? Enough? (More than enough.) More than enough? (Yes.) Or you say more or more than enough? (It’s more than enough, Master.) OK. (Yes. It’s great money for India.) Thank you, thank you. (Thank You.) Thank you. Very good.

Say “hallo” to your husband. (Sure, Master.) He is a good boy. (Sure, Master.) You both have no problem anymore, right? (No, Master.) Say hallo to your master, your previous master or your still present master. Once a master, always a master. (No, Master. You are our present Master. Forever, forever.) Don’t mind. Don’t mind. Just say “hallo” to him (Yes.) when you have a chance to talk to him. (Actually, he wants to come and see You, Master. He asked us last time when we visited him in India.) He wants to see me? (Yes, Master.) Whoa! (He wants to come.) Please, welcome! (He wants to come and meet...) Anytime, we will treat him like a king if he comes. (Oh, thank You.) And he can talk here in my assembly, (OK.) and teach them something. Because he has been teaching you and made you good disciples. I’m indebted to him. Tell him I am thankful to him, to the master. (Thank You, Master.)

It’s not him who made trouble. It’s the gods, (Yes.) the lower gods who think you should not go any higher. So, after you reconcile with them, they let you free. (Yes. Thank You, Master.) We have a problem, because if we leave kindergarten, the kindergarten teachers, we should not look down upon them. We should always thank and remember them. Remember I had a teacher when I was in primary school? I always treated him like he was still my teacher. (Yes.) Not spiritually even. (Yes.) He passed away already. Bless his soul. He is in New Land. Bravo! Because he was so good. So humble. He treated me like a Master then, after initiation. But I still treated him like a teacher. Oh, we were both very polite. So, now you know. Because there are more things behind those stories I told you, there are more things.

But because I read that – the last story I read that is forbidden to transmit or to copy, so I stopped it. So, if you want to read more of that, please buy this book, called “The God of Peace; Lord Mahaveer.”

Very, very good. It’s OK? (It’s OK.) It’s OK. It’s OK? It’s OK. I know some Indian Hindu, but I didn’t live there long enough, didn’t have enough time. I was busy helping the masters. And everybody speaks English there. International ashram, just like here. Had no time to learn. I knew some, I forgot. I knew some Sanskrit, I also forgot. All we need is English, English is all we need. It’s easy to learn, easy to speak, easy to understand.

Next time, we will reserve the VIP house for the monks and the nuns, so you’ll be more warm and comfortable. It’s just I’m too busy to think about all the conveniences that you don’t have. In the temple, it’s more comfortable, of course. Whatever temple in Taiwan (Formosa) or Korea nowadays is kind of modern, very comfortable. You don’t think that monks and nuns have money because they come here. No. Maybe that’s all they have. Just because I knew (from) before. They expected that if I travelled from Germany to Taiwan (Formosa), I must have had money. But that was all I had. They put me in a hotel and I paid with my last money. Afterwards, the Aulacese (Vietnamese) temple, Master Thích Tịnh Hạnh, he took me in. They sent me there, so he had no choice anyway. Here I was, already at the doorstep. He was very kind. Bless his soul. I helped him, don’t worry. I repaid him more than you can imagine. And then later, I stayed at a Chinese temple. They all wanted me. Many Chinese temples, Taiwanese (Formosan) temples wanted me to stay with them. But I already stayed at the Aulacese (Vietnamese) temple, so I came back. And later, I went to America, stayed with a Chinese master, teacher, monk.

You want to hear something from the Tripitaka? (Yes, Master.) This is from the “Sutta Nipata.” There are many, and in order to read to you, I sometimes have to scan the whole book to see which one is suitable for your wisdom before I dare to show it. This is a very interesting… So many. Many things here are interesting. But, there are some interesting things, easy to listen to, easy to digest. It’s not something very profound or hard to understand. Since you always love only bedtime stories anyway. And I’m finished with Lord Mahavira stories and other Buddhist stories, so I found something interesting in the “Nipata.” The monks and nuns maybe know already. So, I ask your permission to show off my very little knowledge about Buddhism in front of these ignoramuses. Joking. You’re wise. Wise, compassionate, good, beautiful.

There are the comparisons between the Buddha and a layperson. This layperson is a cattleman, a rancher. We call it nowadays a rancher. I don’t know how this conversation or this comparison came about. It’s just recorded in here and translated into English. This one allows you to read or copy or do whatever. It’s a typical Buddhist sutra. Thanks to Bhikkhu Thanissaro, the real name is Geoffrey DeGraff. I will try to find out if he’s still with us, and we’ll make an offering. You guys help me, OK? If I forget, I already read the name of the publication and the bhikkhu. Help me to make an offering to them. Help him with US$10,000 for the bhikkhu. Oh, he’s probably still alive because here is a copyright, Ṭhanissaro Bhikkhu, 2016. So, it’s new. We thank him for his benevolent deed; taking his time to translate into English and print it for us to enjoy and to benefit the multitude. May the Buddhas bless you and keep you in Nirvana forever. Unless you want to come back and play with us, the ignoramuses, ignorant beings.

I read it and I have picked some here for you; I marked it. I cannot read all of this now, but maybe another time, whenever we can. Now, this is a comparison between the Buddha and the cattleman, the rancher. It’s not explained here how this comparison came about. Maybe it’s just random, some monks just thinking that, “Why do you have to be a monk?” or “What’s the difference between the Buddha and any ordinary person?” And they picked a cattleman, a man who has a herd of cows or oxen, to take care of them, to use them to till the land, and to use them to make a living for himself, of course. So, here are the verses to compare the two of them: The World Enlightened One, World Honored One and the cattleman.

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