is profound and wonderful, but to expound the unfathomable doctrine
in all its depth is far from easy. Some people devote most of their
energy and thought to Dharma, teaching or explaining sutras; deducing,
searching for terms and supportive quotations, they have not yet
reached the level of the Buddha's mind. The one who has not climbed
Mount Tai (Tai Shan) can only say "How majestic!" Someone
who has not seen the Yellow River, yet describes how great, how
vast it is, is not speaking from experience. If one's view regarding
Dharma is based on speculation, one's understanding will not be
clear and one is not going to be in a position to explain the Dharma
successfully to others. When the teacher lacks understanding of
the Dharma, it is hard on the students. They must study too hard
to make up for the incomplete guidance; they might even become discouraged
and give up, fearing failure, and that would be such a pity! When
the great master expounded the Heart Sutra in the Buddhist Library
of China, I translated his lectures from Mandarin into Cantonese.
I had taken refuge in the Three Precious Ones from my master many
years ago, and Le Kuo, another master, had taught me Buddhadharma.
Obliging and kind, he did not abandon me although I was foolish.
He guided me patiently to the right path. Bound by my fixed karma
I am constantly in a hurry and do not devote enough time to the
Tathagata's teachings. It is difficult to reduce my ignorance and
change my habits and my mind is as dull as it was before I started
aspiring to Buddhadharma. The great master T'an Hsu's practice of
the Tao, of Bodhi is most serious. He thoroughly comprehends the
unsurpassed Dharma in its implications and his Tao is of the highest
integrity. His great reputation has been long established. My goal
while learning Buddhadharma was to work with an all-out effort,
to follow faithfully and to be authorized to translate. I feel,
nevertheless, uneasy about my own limited knowledge. Prior to his
systematic explanation of the sutra, the master presented in everyday
language and with perfect freedom of expression the results of thorough
and exhaustive study, bringing into play all the subtlety of the
wondrous and profound Dharma. It seemed as easy as if he peeled
a plantain or stripped a cocoon, using many carefully chosen examples
along the way to make his discourse more relevant in terms of daily
life. The audience was very impressed and deeply moved. If the great
master did not climb Mount Tai, had not seen the Yellow River with
his own eyes, how could he express himself so lucidly, so consistently?
nine days of his lectures the entire Dharma assembly experienced
a deep sense of wellbeing, and at the conclusion of the series they
all agreed to make a collection toward the publication of the master's
discourses, to be used as an offering to all mankind and to provide
a Dharma condition in the future. I have accepted the responsibility
for arranging and organizing my notes of the master's discourses.
Other commentaries I have read so far were brief and to the point,
but that approach did not suit all readers. Consequently, I chose
not to edit my record of those lectures and handed them over complete,
integral with the great master's teaching; I did not avoid or dodge
any of the problems. I presented the minutes in a straight-forward
manner, because people have been having difficulty at times with
literary language. I did not take the liberty to emphasize, exaggerate
or add anything for fear of losing the meaning and the expressions
characteristic of the great master's discourse. May I be forgiven
for my awkward presentation.
The year of
Wu Hsu, April, Hong Kong.
Disciple of the Three Precious Ones