bible story

The Sermon On The Mount

Spoken By The Supreme Master Ching Hai,
Penghu, Formosa

March 6, 1989 (Originally In Chinese)

One day many people came to see Jesus, including His disciples and followers. The followers were those who believed in Him but hadn't practiced with Him, and probably hadn't been initiated into the Quan Yin Method by Him. They only followed Him and came to see Him. Then Jesus went up onto a mountain and sat down. It might have been like that, because there were so many people; He had to speak on a mountain to let them see Him.

Jesus first said, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This means that those who are humble and know that they lack wisdom will be blessed and loved by God. Then Jesus said, Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. This is just like what I often tell you: Our sickness is also a reward, because we're blessed in that situation. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Here Jesus meant that those who comply with the will of God will be rewarded. He also said, Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled. I translated this into Chinese only briefly. Then Jesus said, Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. And, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.

We know this already. Among our fellow initiates, those who are the most clumsy, the most humble and the least troublesome have the best inner experiences; and those who make the least noise and never show off in front of me gain the best rewards. During the experience report sessions at meditation retreats, a few people, whom we have never noticed before, may suddenly come out and report their very high-level inner experiences. They are the most pure and humble.

Jesus said, Blessed are the peacemakers, that is, those who pacify the world and reunite enemies, for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. And, Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. "For my sake" meant for Jesus Christ's sake at that time. That is, if one is humiliated and slandered for his Master's sake and for believing in his Master, one is greatly blessed. When Jesus was in the world, His disciples were slandered, persecuted, and bothered. Jesus said that those disciples were greatly blessed. He told them to be at ease and not to worry about such tests.

Then Jesus continued, Rejoice, and be exceeding glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. That is, if you're persecuted and slandered that way, you'll become a Master and attain God-realization. Therefore, all the religions say similar things. Jesus Christ said, Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. That is, giving two pieces all together to that person would make him look better.

When we read the Bible or the Brahmajala Sutra, we know that we shouldn't treat those who slander us and act badly toward us in the same way that they treat us. We should treat them with double love and kindness. If you only let him slap you on your right cheek without reacting, he may think that you're afraid of him or you don't know how to react. But when you also turn your left cheek to him, he may wake up and wonder, "Well! Why did this person react this way? It's not that he couldn't react, but that he didn't care about being slapped and has forgiven me." Only then will he benefit. That's why Jesus told us to turn the other cheek to him also. Otherwise Jesus would have said, "When anyone slaps you in the face, don't slap him back." If we turn the other cheek also to him, he'll think, "This person is alert and not muddled. He's capable of reacting, only his reaction is the opposite of my action." Only then he may wake up. Therefore, I think that Jesus Christ was the greatest. What do you think? ("Yes!" Applause)

Shakyamuni Buddha reacted in the same way when a person who had killed ninety-nine people wanted to kill Him. The Buddha didn't fight with him but lifted him up to the level of Arhat. That was the correct reaction. Because we've pursued spiritual practice and sown virtuous seeds in many lifetimes, we'll react the same as what Jesus said, Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. We'll naturally react that way and won't know why. It's because we've become used to reacting that way and we react that way automatically.

For instance, when we're young, we can't ride a bicycle. Then we keep practicing riding and then know how to ride it. In the beginning, we feel happy about it. But after we get used to it, we feel that it's not difficult. We can talk while riding a bicycle and don't feel that it's a big deal. Some people can even get onto the top of a bicycle and stand up there while riding. Some can ride a bicycle backwards and feel that it's easy to do that. Similarly, if we do virtuous deeds and feel that it's natural, it means that we've sown spiritual seeds in many lifetimes and that we're blessed and virtuous.

On the other hand, if any one of us or other people do bad and vicious deeds to us or other people, we should pity him, knowing that he hasn't sown virtuous seeds in his previous lifetimes or his virtuous seeds have become rotten or haven't grown. Then we should pray to God to help him to open his heart and make him understand. We can't let him stay that way. To those who are bad to us, we should give them a chance to introspect on themselves. Having no reaction when they slap us in the face isn't good enough. We should do something that's better for them.

Now I understand the reason why I always treat people better when they treat me worse. That's why I was called a "living saint." I was lovingly called a "living saint" by some people even before I started to pursue spiritual practice. They didn't mean that I was actually a "living saint." What they meant was that no matter how badly they treated me, I treated them better and better; so they couldn't do anything about me except to say, "She's a living saint." It was those who treated me badly who later called me a "living saint," not other people. Other people didn't know who I was, because they didn't know me. Only those who knew me called me that.

This speech of Jesus Christ on the mountain is exactly the same as what is stated in the Brahmajala Sutra in Buddhism. This speech is very famous and everyone knows it. It is called "The Sermon on the Mount." Jesus said, Ye (i.e., the disciples) are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its savor, wherewith shall it be salted? This means that we spiritual practitioners represent virtue, but if we aren't diligent and virtuous, who else can help us? Who else can make us become virtuous? Who else can be our role model? We should be our own role models. Jesus was correct.

This is why I emphasize that we pursue spiritual practice not only for ourselves, but also to be role models for others and to let others feel our sincerity and hence follow us. If we say that we're spiritual practitioners, but we seek pleasures, eat meat, and drink alcohol like ordinary people do, if we harm sentient beings instead of protecting them; if we slander other people, quarrel with others, fight with others and gossip about others, who else can help us? Who else can save those who don't pursue spiritual practice?

I've been telling you this for a long time, so you can't say that you don't have to be serious about the precepts when you pursue spiritual practice. If one isn't virtuous, no matter how high a level he has attained, no one respects him or trusts him, because no matter how high his inner level is, if he looks low outside, people are afraid of him. People are ignorant, so how do they know that his level is high? If he doesn't look good outside, people will say that he's bad. We can't blame them. Therefore, even if some people say that one who eats meat and drinks alcohol can also attain God-realization, we shouldn't listen to them. We want people to know that we can give up certain foods in order to be diligent in our spiritual practice, in order to be role models, and for the sake of pitiful animals who are mortally afraid of death.

Jesus continued, Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. This means that everyone will notice it. If we practice diligently, we'll emit light and a kind, virtuous and peaceful atmosphere. Then people will feel it and sense it, so we can't hide and we don't have to hide. Even if we don't say anything, people will notice us. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Jesus said, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

This means that when they see how great we are, they'll know that our Father is even greater, and that if we want others to adore God, we should first purify ourselves and be good role models to let them know that we truly represent brilliant virtue and noble ideals, or in other words, the noble God. Was Jesus correct? Yes or no? ("Yes!" Applause) So you see why I praise Jesus Christ? Because what He said was very good! Since you don't know how good Christianity is, I'm introducing it to you today. Because whatever I say is also correct, I have reasons for praising Jesus Christ and I have reasons for praising the Biblical teachings or the Christian teachings.

Some Christians may go to extremes, do bad deeds, show disrespect for other religions, or be more violent; but this is the problem of individual people. It's Maya who uses them to sneak into the group and ruin it. It's not that Christianity isn't good. There are also many extreme, disturbed and violent individual sects or individual people in Buddhism, which isn't a problem of Buddhism as a whole. If there are such people in any religion, including in Christianity and Sikhism, we can't say that that religion isn't good. If I happen to purchase a Sikh scripture, I will read it to you. There are also good teachings in it.

Jesus also said, Whosoever therefore shall break one of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you (Jesus was referring to the monastics and followers) that except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. The reason Jesus said that, might be because at that time the so-called priests and monastics were not righteous. They sought pleasures, and took donations from others to build big churches but did not do anything good. They had a lot of money and became arrogant but were respected. They were not righteous but were praised. They didn't have merit but were worshipped. They didn't do any work but accepted offerings from other people every day. That was why Jesus said that their karma was heavy. He said that His disciples should be more righteous and pure to be able to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Just as I told you, the monastic disciples here should be better than the monastic disciples outside. You shouldn't look at the monastic disciples outside and wonder, "Why can they accept offerings? Why doesn't Master allow us to accept offerings?" You can accept offerings. It's no problem, but then you won't be my disciples anymore. If you stay with me, you shouldn't accept offerings. When you go out alone and have no money, you can accept one or two meals and some money; and I won't say anything about it. But most monastic disciples outside have accepted too many offerings and enjoyed too much without having done anything beneficial for the country and society. Maybe they don't fulfill their duty, have no manners, and aren't virtuous, so we can't blame other people if they think that the monastic people aren't good.

When you follow me as monks, you should take care of your manners. If I'm strict with you, you should know why -- otherwise you will have bad habits. Seeing that the monks outside are more relaxed and have many good clothes, but our clothes are simple, self-made and we only have a few of them, and we don't have personal money, you may wonder what kind of monastic life this is. However, our manners and ideals can't be purchased with material things. So you should remember this clearly and not forget that our manners and virtue can't be purchased with money and can't be represented by good clothes. We have inner light that can be projected to make others feel good and respect us. These are our natural impressive manners and dignified clothing. It's not that we'll be respected if we wear good clotheing; it's not necessarily that way!

Jesus Christ continued to explain to His disciples, Ye have heard that it was said by them of olden times, 'Thou shalt not kill, and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment.' But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother (e.g., our neighbors or people we know) without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment, and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council. It can be to such an extent! If we're angry with others for no reason, that is, if we abuse others mentally, we'll go to hell or incur karma. How horrible this is! Don't think that we'll go to hell only when we kill, but we should also keep our thoughts, speech and actions clean.

Therefore, Jesus said, If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Jesus meant that it would be useless when we made offerings to God if we weren't pure and kind. Jesus also told His disciples many other things, Agree with thine adversary quickly, whilest thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. This means that we shouldn't engage in lawsuits and shouldn't fight with others; we should reconcile with them quickly.

Jesus continued, Ye have heard that it was said by them of olden times, Thou shalt not commit adultery' But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Jesus was referring to our thoughts, speech, and actions, which is the same as the Buddhist teachings, isn't it? ("Yes.") What Jesus said previously about not engaging in lawsuits but being at peace with others was the same as what's stated in the Brahmajala Sutra in Buddhism or the Buddhist Monastic Precepts. Therefore, we can't say that Christianity isn't the same as Buddhism. They're the same.

Jesus said, And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out. It was to such an extent! But don't pluck it out. Please take it easy. (Laughter) That was not what Jesus Christ meant. He was merely emphasizing virtue and the commandments. He said, For it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. This means that we should be strict with the commandments. If we have bad thoughts, we should repent immediately and not wait until they become actions. You should quickly repent, recite the Holy Names, and think of me or God, but don't pluck your eye out, or you'll look ugly. (Laughter) I wouldn't.

Jesus said, Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of olden times, 'Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths'; But I say unto you, Swear not at all, neither by heaven, for it's God's throne; nor by the Earth, for it is Hiers footstool. This means that every place belongs to God. So we mundane people can't swear in the name of the noble and holy spirit. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head. For example, some people swear, "If I treat you badly or something, I'll be beheaded or be struck by lightning." Well! That's horrible! Jesus said that we can't swear like that; and that if we do, we're looking down upon heaven and Earth. We should respect them and shouldn't swear in their names. We shouldn't even swear in the name of our head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. We don't have the right to swear in the name of anything. This physical body is also created by God, so we can't use it in any way we want. Jesus said, But let your communication be, yea, yea; nay, nay, for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. Jesus explained this very clearly! Well! He was more strict than I am. Oh! Congratulations! (Applause) From today on, I'll learn from Him (Audience laughs) and become more strict with you.

Jesus continued, Ye have heard that it hath been said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil, but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee; turn not thou away. This means that we should help the needy. But if anyone wants to borrow money for gambling, of course we should turn him away; if he borrows money for alcohol, we should persuade him not to and not give the money to him.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, 'Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.' But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven, for Hes maketh Hiers sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. So we should learn the undiscriminating attitude of God. (Applause)

For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans do the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans do so? This means that we spiritual practitioners should be higher, less discriminatory and better than they are. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Jesus Christ said that His Father is perfect. The Buddhists say that their Buddha is perfect. They all say the same thing.

Jesus said, Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth. This is the same as what Shakyamuni Buddha said: When one does alms without thinking that one is doing alms, one is truly doing alms. It's truly like that. What I have taught you is exactly the same as what Jesus and Shakyamuni Buddha taught Their disciples. (Applause) We do good deeds out of benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom, faith, duty and love, not to be praised. So we shouldn't sound a trumpet and advertise it in the market.

Jesus said that those who sound a trumpet while doing alms have their reward, but those who do alms quietly will have the reward of their Father which in is heaven. The "noisy Bodhisattvas" who sound a trumpet while doing alms will only have earthly and ephemeral rewards, but we'll have the eternal reward.

Jesus said, And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocites are, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. And But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. Jesus explained this very clearly. Only we who practice the Quan Yin Method understand where the secret closet is! (Master laughs. Applause) This is very beautiful! Jesus also said, But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathens do, for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. But be ye not therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. So don't pray to God repeatedly outside. You don't need to do that loudly. Don't pray with loudspeakers or you'll wake up the whole village. (Laughter)


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