Think about it. For every three men who work in the field that Confucius met, he could learn from two of them! Or, of every three women who are on their way to the supermarket, Confucius could also learn from two of them. Of course, it is also the case that of three kids on their way to the mall, Confucius could still learn from two of them.
Honestly, this baffled me for a decade: how can one person have so much wisdom? So I meditated and meditated until one day, my master told me to start teaching.
I immediately resisted the idea. First of all, I was in seclusion and was enjoying the Chan bliss: the idea of going back to the real world where chaos and noise reign did not appeal to me. Furthermore, I was not sure that I had anything as profound as my teacher’s teachings to add to the Mahayana knowledge of this country.
But I knew better than to disobey my master’s instructions.
So I started teaching while hoping that perhaps through my work I too will be able to encounter good teachers like Confucius did.
I first started to teach Chan. Then I began to lecture on sutras. Then came Pure Land. Then came Tantric.
There are quite a few students who make you feel good about your work. They are respectful because you represent the Triple Jewel. They enjoy learning the teaching because it helps improve their lives. They are grateful for the training because it helps improve their health and well-being.
Then there are quite a few who make you wonder. They only talk the talk but are not willing to walk the walk. They want shortcuts and expect you to do all the work for them.
Some come to the temple more to find fault in others, especially from their teachers. They say that they are grateful to you for “saving their lives” and then they slander you and stab you in the back because you ruffle their ego.
Honestly, I often wondered why I bothered with these people. You can spot them a mile away: they have a frown on their face, an air of contempt as if they are doing you a favor for coming to the temple and they love to gossip and comment on the sanghans’ faults.
But one day it dawned on me why my late teacher told me to start teaching. It was because I had to work on my compassion. The fact that I disliked ungrateful students is because I lacked compassion for them. They are suffering enough without my having to condemn them.
You probably have people in your life who also cause you problems. Believe it or not, they are actually helping us. They are teaching us about our lack of compassion for certain types of people. Because of them, we have the opportunity to work on making our compassionate heart grow. Without learning this lesson we could never become Buddhas.
With this realization, I became immensely grateful to my late teacher. I have been such a selfish and ungrateful student and yet he patiently continued to teach me.
That is why I resolved to teach the Five Schools of Buddhism that he brought to America.
Yes, I still often wonder why I have to continue to put up with some ungrateful students. But at the same time, I am grateful to them for helping me work on my compassion.
I often wake up every day feeling good about my life as a monk because it is a great blessing to be able to live a pure and simple life. And now, I am learning to be more humble and I look at every three men (and women and children as well) as my teachers.