“Before God entrusts a man with a significant task, He shall distress his mind and will, tire his physical body…” — Mencius
In those days that I missed Holy Master dearly, I headed towards a journey of pilgrimage to the Western Shrine on the Holy Mountain. For a lay person who conducts spiritual practice in the secular world, it is a great opportunity to bathe in the bliss of Dharma and join the cause at the Holy Mountain Buddha Land. It is a wonderful blessing from Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi.
There was a quote from a movie, The Shawshank Redemption which deeply impressed me: “I guess it comes down to a simple choice: Get busy living, or get busy dying.” Many people do not understand why they were born into this world, busy living their own lives, working for money, working for a house, and working for their children. However, all of these things will eventually leave each person. Holy Master’s Converted Students and Converted Disciples are very fortunate, encountering a guiding beacon during the life and death samsara. Holy Master provides a road sign for all the beings, guiding the direction of life. He bestows the opportunity to move away from the busy road towards death and instead, onto the busy road towards life.
The seven days on the Holy Mountain were filled with hardship, joy, heartfelt feelings, and a deep sense of gratitude. The construction work in the Holy Mountain Buddha Land is directed and led by Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi. We wake up daily at five o’clock in the morning to the sound of drills and saws coming from the Buddha Sanctuaries.
I participated in the construction work of the “Ten-Thousand-People Square”, breathing fresh air, watching the magical changes of clouds in the sky, and listening to the clatter of rocks hitting each other. I had not been to the Holy Mountain in some time, and hence felt weaker, clumsier than the others. When I needed a break, I watched the others continue to work. Everyone appeared to be well organized, volunteering their time happily, without any complaints or slacking off. The temperature difference during June can vary – one may need to wear a jacket in the early morning, but also needs to account for the increased temperatures in the afternoon. I could sense how hard the brothers and sisters had been working from observing their tanned skin.
Despite all of the labor, working in the Shrine was joyful and amazing. We worked extremely hard during the day time and consumed simple meals. I typically experienced soreness all over my body, however, through listening to the Dharma and practicing, my energy would be miraculously restored the next day without much sleep during the evening. As a result, I was able to work even harder than the previous day, and found my strength was gradually increasing during the second, third, and fourth day. I was repeating the same type of work each day but with different tools.
I learned how to keep my head low and bend down, which is a necessary path for a cultivator to let go of self-attachment. Holy Master once gave us the instruction: “Only after pouring out water in the glass, can one receive pure raindrops”. How much essence you can absorb depends on how much impure water you pour out. Ego is an obstruction on the path of cultivation, hindering us from contemplating the Buddhist Dharma. I’ve learned to be more focused in construction work, which serves as important training for a Buddhist cultivator. When a person can concentrate on doing one task properly and persistently, they can also train themselves to strengthen the will, as it will give rise to the heart of gratitude. “Standing with both feet firmly on the ground” needs concentration and stability, so that “the mountain behind your back will not fly away”.
What I felt through the construction work is that a diligent body can develop wisdom, which is an important subject in the cultivation of the Five Wisdoms. The proper and skillful usage of each tool can double the efficiency of construction work. I.e., because of the sticky mud on the road, one of the tasks each day was to clean the mud off the wheel of the excavator. When the mud was stripped off piece after piece, my heart was filled with delight. The mud is comparable to the bad karma being carried along with us from previous lives, as well as diseases and impurity. Stripping off each layer after working on construction was difficult and painful, but I learned this transformation brings us rebirth. I sincerely appreciated it. It was the best elixir granted by Holy Master for helping ourselves.
I also truly learned the significance of being proactive. Every practitioner on the Holy Mountain had the self-discipline that they could arrange and work on their jobs without being supervised or monitored. Even when working alone, they remained diligent and joyful. Personally, I also experienced this when I was pushing a wheelbarrow full of rocks down a muddy road by myself. I was walking under the scorching sun alone, but not lonely. I carried on doing the work without being urged to by others, supervising myself. When I saw the mountain of rocks sitting in front of me, I felt really content. The Guang Huan Mi Zong cultivation path can be compared to this. We observe precepts as our teacher, and supervise ourselves, manage ourselves, and contemplate ourselves. We do this in order to avoid the interference from outside and keep the message communication with Holy Master connected.
Holy Master Ziguang Shang Shi quoted Mencius: “Before God entrusts a man with significant task, He shall distress his mind and will, tire his physical body”. Holy Master allows us to understand that participating in the construction work of the Buddha Land is an opportunity bestowed by him for each one of his disciples to grow. It is the best practice for contemplating the Buddhist Dharma. The cultivation of Guang Huan Mi Zong Buddhism is the best way to open up and develop wisdom. The path towards being a Great Achiever is a way of experience and experimentation. Holy Master allows every student, disciple and pilgrim to work in different areas of construction labor. On the same token, when they listen to the Dharma, they can contemplate the Dharma with their own hard effort to unlock the gates of different levels of wisdom. This method of tiring one’s physical body is really worthwhile, because wisdom is an intangible asset which will belong to us forever.
What I have seen, what I have heard, what I have experienced, and what I have learned in the seven days in the Holy Mountain are analogies to a thorough ablution of Buddhist Dharma for me. I will carry the spirit of contemplation with me after I head back to the secular world and become more diligent in cultivation practice, promoting the Dharma, and enlightening others.
By Sundy Zhao