The Rich God and the Poor Ghost

G-10-01

(Book 129 Entering the Most Hidden Yin- Yang Realm《走入最隱秘的陰陽界》)
‧Written by Master Sheng-yen Lu

When I was young, I lived in an illegal building on a small al- ley along Ching Wu Road in Taichung, Taiwan. Half of the building was constructed over a large ditch where mosquitoes and flies gathered, and it stank to high heaven.
The building was very small, about ten square meters, with hard soil foundation. The roof was made of tin metal sheets, the walls made of wood, and there was only one faucet connected to an underground water line.
This space of ten square meters was my life.
The toilet was a public toilet outside the house.
This was one of the most desperate times in my life. A tiny, dilapidated house and one bed. I had nothing else, and I was penniless.
Even this tiny dilapidated house (an illegal building) was rented.
When it was hot, the interior of the house became a food steamer. Hot air pressed down from the tin roof, and a stench rose from the ground.
If there was a heavy downpour outside, a drizzle of rain would trickle through the roof. By the middle of the night, the house would
***
During that time, I had already developed the ability to communicate with the spirit world. Although I lived in a crude house and had nothing to my name, a Buddha resided within my being, in my body and my heart, helping me with my accomplishments.
I was an enlightened sage. Living in an alleyway in a crude house actually sped up my spiritual progress with each passing day.
I had no doubts or regrets regarding my impoverishment.
My actions, in their entirety, were offered in homage to the Buddhas.
When I went to the toilet, it was a Buddha who went to the toilet, never mind that the ground was covered in excrement. When I closed the door to take a shower, it was a Buddha who was bathing. When I ate, although the meal consisted of only one bowl of rice and a side dish, it was a flavorful meal. When I went out riding my small bicycle, I also had no worries.
My life while living in this illegal building was akin to “One Taste.” I immersed myself fully in carrying out every deed. This was my cultivation. I did not care about criticism from others and did not seek praise. I treated everything with indifference.
At that time I was a nobody.
But my reputation was widespread.
There was a reason for my fame; word spread that Sheng-yen Lu had spiritual power and excelled in divination, so naturally many people sought me out.
Once, a guest asked, “Which religion is suitable for me?”
I replied, “There is a small booklet of the Lotus Sutra in your pocket; you believe in the Nichiren School.”
The visitor turned out his pocket; indeed there was a Lotus Sutra booklet inside.
Everybody was surprised.
Another visitor came and asked, “How is my mother’s sickness?”
I answered, “Your mother’s sickness is not life-threatening, she will recover, but instead your father will die.”
The visitor answered, “My father has no sickness and everything is fine, so why will he die?”
The visitor did not believe me; neither did the people standing around him.
Soon after, the family of the visitor arrived at my place in a rush, and hurriedly informed the visitor that his father had died in a car accident.
The visitor was stunned, and left in exasperation. For a good while, the people standing by exclaimed in wonder at the unsurpassed accuracy of the prediction, the seeming ability to divine a person’s fate.
These are just two simple examples; there are many others. As a result, my reputation spread throughout the whole of Taiwan.
Someone speculated that Sheng-yen Lu had divine vision (the spiritual third eye).
Another conjectured that Sheng-yen Lu had a ghost or celestial being above his head who constantly reported information to him.
Yet others proclaimed that Sheng-yen Lu was a validated sage. There was no longer any difference between him and a Bodhisattva. He had attained a level of profound meditative observation, hence he understood everything and was all-knowing.
Of course, there were also people who said, “Sheng-yen Lu is a devil.”
During those days, my simple room had no clock and I did not wear a watch. But, I could always tell the exact time accurately, with no mistakes.
Everyone was astounded.
***

One day, a famous rich man invited me for a feng shui reading of his house.
He drove a luxurious imported Cadillac, smoked cigars, and wore a felt hat and a smartly pressed suit. His appearance was that of a wealthy magnate.
“Do you smoke?” he asked, taking a cigar from a sumptuously de- signed box and handing it to me.
“I do not know how. I have never even seen a cigar,” I haltingly replied.
“Ha!” he laughed.
We arrived at the residence of this rich man, which was just one of multiple buildings he owned, built upon land in a metropolitan area. Entering through the enclosing walls, one discovered an extensive courtyard with luxuriant flowers and trees, an oasis of quiet in the bustling city. As for the architecture, adjoining pavilions and terraces sprawled across the grounds like tendrils of clouds in the distance, leaving no indication of the size of the place. I was dazed. The instant the car stopped, there were already numerous servants waiting by the door.
When I entered his house, the magnificent opulence of the furnishings was beyond anything I had seen in my life.
Crystal.
Jade.
Antiques.
Objects I could not identify by name. Each table and chair had been made entirely out of jade, gleaming so brightly that you could see your own reflection.
The rich man asked me, “I hear that you cultivate Vajrayana Buddhism?”
“Yes.”
“Great! I’ll show you something.”
The rich man led me to the front of a luxurious glass cabinet. He pointed at a pile of brocade that had been propped up, and asked, “What do you think this is?”
I was speechless.
“This is the treasured nine-layered brocaded cushion from the seat of honor upon which the King of Tibet, Trisong Detsen, invited Padmasambhava to sit.”
The rich man next pointed to a large cluster of red gemstones strung together, and asked, “And what is this?”
Of course I could not answer.
The rich man laughed and said, “These are the biggest red turquoise in Tibet; these are the most precious of treasures; such gemstones are extremely rare.”
My mouth hung open as I stared ahead, stupefied. My face was flushed.
The rich man showed me more than a hundred of his precious possessions in his home. I could only give praise, and had nothing else to say.
He arranged for a banquet at his home and invited me to dinner.
Not only were there an abundance of rich cuisines, each and every dish was a display of exquisite culinary skill.
The attendants who served us were also very well-dressed.
An attendant poured wine into a glass for me.
“This is the best Brandy!” the rich man said.
I did not hear clearly, and asked, “What emperor is Brandy? Which country’s emperor is he?”
The rich man and his attendants all laughed; they were beside themselves with mirth.
After the meal was over we had tea, and the attendants left us.
The rich man asked, “You are so famous, but, please forgive me for asking an ill-mannered question, how is it that you are so poor?”
“A shame! This is merely a matter of fortune!”
“I hear that people who cultivate Vajrayana Buddhism are rich and those who cultivate Zen Buddhism are poor. You cultivate Vajrayana Buddhism, so why are you so down on your luck?”
“I am only poor in appearance and am inwardly rich; I am a Great Blessing Vajra!”
The rich man was very interested, “Poor in appearance but inwardly rich, a Great Blessing Vajra; I don’t understand.”
“One day you will understand!”
“Which day?”
“I will arrange for a day to invite you for dinner,” I said.
“Invite me for dinner?” The rich man next asked, “At your home?”
“Yes, at my home.”
“Did I understand correctly?” The rich man scratched his ears.(When he came to pick me up, he had been inside the small illegal house.)
“No, sir, you did not misunderstand. I will invite you for dinner at my humble abode.”
“It’s alright, you don’t need to stand on ceremony, let me treat you.” The rich man was generous. (He gave me two big boxes of instant noodles.)
***
About one week later, the rich man was dreaming when suddenly he smelled wafts of subtle, wonderful fragrance coming from the Empty Space. Many splendidly brocaded carriages descended from the air, accompanied by celestial and earth deities, immortals, dakas and dakinis, and dharma protectors. These gods joyfully placed their palms together to welcome the rich man into one of the carriages.
Alarmed, the rich man asked, “Where are you taking me?”
The gods replied, “Our Secret Master has invited you to go to a banquet!”
“Who is this Secret Master?”
“In time you’ll know!”
The convoy of carriages soared into the sky like shadows of clouds. Inside the carriage, it was wide, soft, and comfortable. As the rich man looked down from the carriage, he saw that the Yu Shan (Jade Mountain) was one of the highest. Verdant mountain ranges over-lapped each other in complementary shades of dark and light. It was beautiful.
As for the celestial beings accompanying him alongside the carriages, some of them flew through the air, some trod upon the clouds and rode on mist, while others traveled on lotus flowers.
Some revealed half their form.
Some revealed their entire form.
Some were bright and translucent like iridescent rainbow light.
When the rich man saw this, he sighed that it was a sight never before beheld.
Before long, they arrived at a place which was scenic beyond words. It was infinitely majestic; the horizon was incredibly clear and vivid; palaces and pavilions rose up from adjoining clouds; such did not exist on earth. The precious trees in the gardens, the rare wonders of flowers and fruits; these were in such abundance that they were uncountable. The atmosphere there was pure and tranquil, wonderful and fragrant. It was beyond expression.
More than that, here were innumerable Bodhisattvas; everyone was joyfully irradiating resplendent light upon the rich man. The rich man placed his palms together in reverence, while the bodies of the Bodhisattvas emitted an inconceivably exquisite aura of fragrance and light.
“What is this place?” the rich man asked, amazed.
A celestial being immediately moved forward to explain, “This is no longer samsara. It is not a place mere mortals can travel to. This is a pure land of the Buddhas; it is the pure land of the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds where the Secret Master has obtained validation through cultivation.”
“So who exactly is the Secret Master here?” The celestial being praised:
Untarnished by the dust of samsara, he keeps his physical body pure,
He wears the five Buddha crown of perfection on his head,
Possessing both ample compassion and wisdom,
He is an embodiment of equality and the great perfection that we salute.

The celestial being said, “In a moment, you will know it yourself.”
The celestial being told the rich man, “Here in this most sacred of places, in this golden palace, the revered and great, accomplished Holder of Wisdom sits upon the dazzling jeweled lotus throne. Here, trillions of superb gems and treasures abound; fairies with ten thousand kinds of sublimely graceful gestures; limitless sweet sounding celestial music; flowers that never wither; magnificent wish-fulfilling trees that reach up into the sky; fine sands of gold dust; pure waters of merit and virtue; infinite precious adornments; the great ocean of wisdom; wondrous mirrors that illuminate all phenomena; the elixir of immortality…”
The rich man felt utterly small and insignificant; he felt that what he possessed in the human world was unbearably vulgar.
***
When the Secret Master appeared in the huge golden palace, it was as though his dignified and serene personage radiated ten thousand beams of brilliant light, incandescent like the shining sun, causing all the heavenly gods to be cast into shade, and even the Goddess of Light felt abashed. Sixty kinds of celestial music sounded from every direc- tion, while the sweet scent of compassionate esoteric meaning filled the entire dharma realm.
Wow!
The precious wish-fulfilling banner was raised up high,
Encircling crystal lights of auspiciousness shone brightly,
Ten million celestial beings gazed up at the high throne,
Where the Secret Master with a thousand wisdom eyes was seated,
This sumptuous banquet was a secret gathering of immortals,
Here was White Mahapadmakumara who blesses and protects samsara.
The rich man took one look and was horrified. To his shock, the Secret Master was none other than Sheng-yen Lu. In the great hall of the golden palace, this feast was filled with ten thousand golden beams of light, radiant with flowing and changing rainbow colors. Thousands of auspicious energies gathered to form a purple mist. Everything was made of lapis lazuli. Everything was dazzlingly bright. All the chairs and tables were made from precious jade, and in the great hall were several golden pillars entwined with green dragons whose golden scales outshone the sun. The banquet tables were decorated with flowers that would not wither for a thousand years, and furnished with tapestries that would remain vibrant and vivid for ten thousands years; each and every stitch was made from gold. All around were agate vases planted with valuable coral trees.
The rich man was inwardly frightened. This hall alone had displayed more wealth than all of the rich men in the world. And there were countless other palace houses along the way, such as the Palace House of Emerald Clouds, the Palace House of Vairocana, the Palace House of Brilliant Light, the Palace House of Great Bliss, the Palace House of Vibrant Blossoms. In addition, there were also the Palace Hall of Rising Towards Emptiness, the Palace Hall of Precious Jade, the Palace Hall of Jewels, the Palace Hall of Towards the Sun, the Pal- ace Hall of Ultimate, the Palace Hall of Red Flames… There were so many palaces that it was impossible to view them all.
The rich man was not only frightened; he was really at a loss to know what to do.
The attendants at the feast were various celestial maidens, wearing red garments, blue garments, white garments, black garments, purple garments, yellow garments, green garments and so on.
These celestial maidens were indeed:
Youthful beauties adorned with emeralds and jade,
Faces abloom with a rosy blush,
Their eyes sparkled with the light of stars,
Their graceful brows elegant and refined.

The attendants alone were already so wonderful, more so were the Bodhisattvas and golden immortals who attended the feast; everyone shined brightly and reflected brilliant light.
All the dishes served in the banquet could not be found anywhere in samsara. They were rare delicacies of a hundred flavors, gourmet cuisines of the most exceptional kind, such that even dragon’s liver, phoenix marrow, bear’s paw and orangutan’s lip could not compare.
Among these were divine peaches, each one young and tender, bright, luscious, and shining. They gathered in rosy clusters, like rouged flesh with frosted and smoky, delicate skin colored with a tinge of green, their exquisite beauty revealed by the reflections of light.
Just one incomparably delicious bite of this divine peach filled one with refreshing sweetness, and could lengthen one’s life span.
***
The rich man was invited to sit next to the seat of the Secret Master. He dared not raise his head.
“Did you enjoy this feast?” the Secret Master asked.
“Are you really Sheng-yen Lu?” the rich man evaded the question.
“Ah, me!” I said, “I am the chief of all Buddhas, the embodiment of perfection and venerated triumph, the dharma king of the three realms, the Great Blessing Vajra, the banner of Buddhadharma. My feet, possessing infinite blessings and merit, tread upon the brilliant golden wheel. I am the bright light of peace and happiness in the world, the source of teachings to realize peace and happiness.”
“Are you Sheng-yen Lu or not?”
“Living Buddha Lian-sheng, the Great Blessing Vajra,” I said.
“Why is it that you are so rich?”
“Contentment is wealth.”
“What is poverty?”
“The reverse is poverty.”
The rich man nodded, and it seemed that he understood a little.
He asked me, “Presently, why are you in samsara to receive such suffering?”
I replied:
“Amidst the crowd during an assembly of all Buddhas,
I have pledged up to a hundred times my vow,
To deliver suffering sentient beings with compassion,
Now how can I shift this responsibility onto others?”
The rich man nodded again.

***
When the rich man awoke from his dream, he hurriedly came to see me.
The moment he saw me, he said, “I…”
“There is no need to say it, I know.”
“Thank you for inviting me.“ He was deeply appreciative.
“You are welcome.”
“That was the home of the Great Blessing Vajra indeed!” He was very envious.
“No, this is my home.” I pointed at the wooden cabin of the small illegal house.
“Yes, I know, to be content,” the rich man said.
Ha, ha! I laughed.

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