Facing defamation – no argument, no retreat
Twenty over years ago, a lot of people were not familiar with Tibetan Buddhism. Often, Tibetan Buddhism was thought to be the same as Esoteric Buddhism. Master Jih-Chang was widely misunderstood when he first began teaching the Lamrim and was criticized for propagating esoteric teachings. Once, I followed Master Jih-Chang to a meeting with the Buddhism elders. One of the elders who had known Master Jih-Chang for a very long time asked him, “How is your practice of esoteric teachings coming along?” Master Jih-Chang later told me that this encounter made him deeply feel that it was not easy to propagate the Lamrim to the Chinese people.
Master Jih-Chang started Lamrim classes in Taiwan, and the culture of discussion-based learning was eventually developed. Some years later, Master Jih-Chang recognized the many commonalities between the Chinese culture and Buddhism’s Ten Virtuous Deeds, and that the Ten Virtuous Deeds formed the most important fertile soil to cultivate the perfect Dharma teachings. Therefore, Master Jih-Chang started teaching various Confucian classics such as The Analects, etc. At this time, some students commented that Master Jih-Chang started teaching The Analects because he had run out of ideas to teach the Dharma.
One relies on the human life of leisure and opportunity to learn and practice Dharma. Our physical bodies have been ruined by food contaminated by chemical fertilizers and insecticides. Countless sentient beings have been harmed as well. Therefore, Master Jih-Chang advocated and promoted organic farming. While there were many students who actively participated in this endeavor because they were grateful and touched by Master Jih-Chang’s heart of compassion, there were others who maligned Master Jih-Chang had lost the ability to lead the students in Dharma practice, and therefore had resorted to teaching about vegetable farming.
There was one year when Master Jih-Chang wanted to help the poverty-stricken Tibetan Sangha members to learn and practice Dharma, hence he set up a sponsorship fund. Some students thought that Master Jih-Chang misappropriated the money and reported to Master Jih-Chang’s Master. When Master Jih-Chang learned of this, he asked the Sangha members, “How would you react to this?” One of the venerables said, “When defamed, do not argue.” Master Jih-Chang nodded in recognition. A few days later, Master Jih-Chang said, “I do not mind being intentionally criticized. When defamed, do not argue. However, I must clarify with my Master.” When Master Jih-Chang’s Master came to Hong Kong, Master Jih-Chang brought the account ledgers to see him. Master Jih-Chang requested his Master to examine the records of the sincere offerings and support from the students, but his Master said, “I trust you, I do not need to see the ledgers.”
Just when Master Jih-Chang’s Wisdom, Education, and Bliss undertakings were flourishing, there were rumors from Taipei saying, “Master Jih-Chang has resumed secular life, he is now running a cafe in Taipei.”
I asked Master Jih-Chang, “You are frequently misunderstood and defamed, how do you deal with them?” Master Jih-Chang said calmly, “Well, there is always someone passing such comments whenever I do anything!”
Master Jih-Chang’s words were said with ease, but it created an eternal impact in my heart.
Venerable Jing Yuan (4 April 2015)