This time, a Buddhist disciple brought us to a place in Santa Ana. She has been printing Buddhist books on her own for 17 years, ever since she came to the United States. She owns a nail shop and when she earns enough money she spends it on printing these books.
We went to the print shop and asked for a quote for 2,000 copies: half in Vietnamese and half in English. The owner quoted us a price that was even 20% lower than what he quoted her the night before.
I announced to the six women who accompanied me that his quote is even lower than the price in Vietnam. I then turned to my Chinese disciple and told her: “Go ahead, haggle!” She went: “Uh…Uh…” I then turned to the nail shop owner. “She is speechless! Now it is your turn, haggle! Then it will be my turn.” (This is not true: my monk precepts forbid haggling.) She went: “Uh…Uh…” Everyone laughed out aloud because no one would dare haggle with this generous and humble man.
To tell you the truth, I was even prepared to pay higher because I like the print shop owner. He is at Third Dhyana. He is very gentle and kind to women, and he is not a predator like many small business owners I have met. Clearly, he wants to help others do good works, such as printing Buddhist books. That was why he helped the nail shop owner. Isn’t that foolish? Not at all. He has the mind of a Bodhisattva like Guan Yin: he wishes to help others do good whether they are grateful or not. If I spend a little bit more money, it will alleviate pressure on him and then hopefully he will be able to take on more small projects.
In the end, I insisted that the women to put one thousand dollars down for a deposit because they were prepared to walk away and the print shop owner would not have asked for it either. This time, we spent thousands of dollars but everyone was happy: the women were glad that we could print books at an affordable price, and the husband and wife owners were happy to be of service to a group of Buddhists who were reasonable and who did not take advantage of their kindness.
Buddhist disciples should really live our ideals: we should do the right thing and be willing to take a loss. If we always insist on gaining fame and benefit in everything we do, are we not then creating suffering for others?