Title: Did I act as a human today?
Have you read the book Hear Me Out: Messages from a Humble Monk?
Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the founding master of Fo Guang Shan, passed away on Feb. 5, 2023, in Taiwan. On Feb. 12, I attended Venerable Master’s memorial at Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple, where I stood next to a kind elder wearing BLIA attire. We exchanged smiles and nods, and I casually asked, “Which BLIA subchapter do you belong to?” She replied that she was not a member of BLIA, which puzzled me so I inquired further, “Then how come you’re wearing the BLIA attire?” She blushed slightly and explained that a friend had invited her and provided her with the attire. I responded, “Welcome! You look great in it!”
The elder went on to say that a friend had given her a book from the shelves outside of the Main Shrine, she found it very captivating but couldn’t recall the title. I knew there were many books displayed outside of the Main Shrine, so I asked “Is it Hear Me Out:Messages from a Humble Monk?” She immediately confirmed it was.
We went our separate ways and lost contact soon afterward. I couldn’t help wondering if she had come to pay her respect to Venerable Master solely from the impact of a book. This made me ponder about the power of words.
I once told a friend who praised Venerable Master for everything except his political involvement, “Please read this book!”
Hear Me Out: Messages from a Humble Monk is a heartfelt confession from an elderly monk about his life. I found it deeply moving and felt compelled to address any misunderstandings. While I don’t believe it was Venerable Master’s original intention to write this book, he never boasted about his achievements or defended himself loudly. However, as a humble reader, I felt the need to clarify.
A couple of months later, I revisited the “Ten Dos and Don’ts—New Guidelines for Fo Guang Shan” listed by Venerable Master in the book. He mentioned that these guidelines are not only applicable to monastics but to everyone as well.
These new guidelines made me feel ashamed, but I couldn’t resist sharing my doubts. Perhaps due to my upbringing in a traditional and virtuous Chinese culture emphasizing self-reflection, I often find myself overwhelmed by self-blame and guilt for not being virtuous enough. This doesn’t seem conducive to good mental health, but I haven’t found a middle ground yet.
The “Ten Dos” listed by Venerable Master encourage positive spiritual practice:
Eat breakfast regularly.
Lift up your juniors.
Recommend good people.
Learn to be patient.
Foster morality and courage.
Maintain a sense of humility.
Be punctual and keep promises.
Alas, there are several I haven’t fulfilled.
The “Ten Don’ts” listed by Venerable Master emphasize ethical conduct:
Don’t pursue luxury brands.
Don’t belittle others.
Don’t envy others’ good fortune.
Don’t violate others’ boundaries.
Don’t be bureaucratic.
Don’t be inhuman.
Don’t make illegal promises.
Don’t disturb others.
Don’t be quick to cancel commitments.
Don’t have irrational emotions.