A Dialogue on Buddhism and Law Between an Accomplished Buddhist Master and a Professor of Law
By Maha Acarya Yang Fo Xing
Master Yang Foxing was born in August 1928 in Liangjing Town, Huiyang County of Guangdong Province. He acquired a university education, and is now the instructor of Beijing Research Institute of Buddhist Culture. For dozens of years, Master Yang has devoted himself to hard practice of Buddhism, which enables him to understand Buddhist doctrines thoroughly. He is an enlightened master accomplished in the highest internal realizations of Buddhist practice and versed in the study of Buddhist teachings, and has penetrated the essence and attained the highest states of the Chan School, the Esoteric School and the Pureland School. He has given enlightening speeches on Buddhism at important conferences. He was invited to attend and deliver a speech at the second “International Academic Conference on the Thoughts of the Sixth Patriarch Master Hui Neng”. Besides giving speeches at the first and the second “International Conferences on Jungian Psychology and Chinese Culture”, he was also a special expert to teach the participants Chan meditation. In recent years, under the invitation of many key universities in Beijing (like Peking University, Tsinghua University, China University of Political Science and Law, Central University of Finance and Economics, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, Beijing International Studies University, and etc.), Shanghai (like Fudan University, Shanghai Jiaotong University, and etc.), Hangzhou and Shenyang as well as famous monasteries around China, Master Yang gave lectures on Buddhism or on the relationship between Buddhism and modern science and technology, law, traditional Chinese medicine, psychology and traditional Chinese culture. Wherever he was, he delivered wonderful speeches in simple language. As they suited the audience and accorded with the truth, they were very popular, arousing echoes from the audience. Master Yang’s important articles on the Chan School include “Penetrating the Essence of Chan Through Gong’ans”, “Several Important Issues Regarding the Sixth Patriarch’s Teachings”, “On the Similarities of and Differences Between the Chan School and the Esoteric School”, “Comprehension of Chan Doctrines and Actual Practice”, “The Essence and Practice of Chan”, “Gate Mantra and the Three Stages of the Chan School”, “Three Nons and Two Kinds of Samadhi”, “A Commentary on the article ‘Ordinary Mind Is the Way’”, and etc.
Mr. Cheng Chunming was born in 1965. In 1987, he went to study in France, where he got MA in Economics and Ph.D in Law. In 2000, he returned to China, and is now an associate professor and vice director of the Scientific Research Department of China University of Political Science and Law.
In the spring of 2001, under the invitation of the Research Society of Traditional Chinese Culture of China University of Political Science and Law, Master Yang Foxing and Dr. Cheng Chunming held an entirely new type of dialogue in the big lecture theatre of the new complex of the university in Changping District of Beijing. Their dialogue was recorded and is found hereafter.
Mr. Cheng: Good evening, Master Yang Foxing, the honored wise man. You have dedicated the whole life to Mahayana Buddhism. You have great power of penetration, virtue, and wisdom that can bring yourself to peace and influence others. All these hold me in deep respect and admiration for you. As I am just a law scholar in the mundane world filled with confusion and conflicts, I sincerely hope, in the manner of conducting an equal dialogue—the method of seeking knowledge used in the early history of the West, to ask you for advice. Let’s call our dialogue “Religion and Society—A Dialogue Between Buddhism and Law”. Although Max Weber, by adopting the logical thinking typical of the Germans, expounded the relationship between religion and society in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, his research could only give people inspiration but cannot provide any solutions to the existing situation and problems in China now.
Weber discovered that, in the development of Western capitalism, Christian ethic, which reflected the demand of social development, grew into Protestantism in the areas that advocated religious reforms and Protestantism contained the concepts of value beneficial to the development of capitalist economic organizations. Through examining the “spirit” of modern capitalism, Weber found the harmony or uniformity between “the Protestant ethic” and “the spirit of capitalism”, which falls into the concepts of value of different categories. The religious beliefs on the level of spirit and morality form self-discipline of freedom, whereas “capitalist spirit” in economic activities makes up freedom under self-discipline. The French people even claim that, when they hold the Bible on the one hand and the French Civil Code (Napoleon Civil Code) on the other hand, their freedom can be protected, for the former can safeguard their spiritual freedom, while the latter can protect their material possessions and guarantee their personal freedom. Our country is now in a special period. People are obsessed with the endlessly swelling pursuit of material things; yet, spiritually, they are very poor. This phenomenon may have something to do with the economic development, and it is more likely to be related to the declining of the traditional culture. Since the May Fourth Movement, the traditional Chinese Culture has suffered a lot, and it was heavily devastated in the Cultural Revolution. Since the “reform and open-door” policy was carried out, Western culture has been infiltrating into our country. All these make it difficult for our traditional culture to exert its positive influence over the people. As there exists a sort of collective culture-nihilism, ethics and morality are lost, prostitution, gambling, and drug-taking become rampant, and some government officials are involved in embezzlement and bribery-taking. Under such situation, besides the government’s perfecting the legal system, to what extent can Buddhism solve the problem of morality and human mind? What is the relationship between law and religion? If religious beliefs are indispensable to the soundness of one’s mind, what kind of religious belief should people have so that it can both suit the development of the Chinese economy and bring spiritual wealth and the revival and flourishing of innovative spirit for the nation? I would like to hear your opinion.
Master Yang: I am very happy to hold such a dialogue with you. The declining of ethics and morality is indeed worrying. It has a lot to do with lack of effective education on people’s outlook on life for a long time. If we still don’t pay attention to this problem now, we will pay a high price for it! In “My Outlook on the World”, the world-famous physicist Einstein wrote, “All of us living now will die one day; we can only stay in this world for a short time. What is the aim of our life?” This is a question about people’s ultimate aim. How thought-provoking it is! When I was young, I always pondered over the following questions: As we could live in this world for no more than dozens of years, do we live only one life or will we reincarnate? How could I spend my life in a valuable and meaningful way? With the enlightenment of my Guru, I set foot on the path of Buddhist practice, and I was convinced that death cannot square all accounts and man will pay them off in other lives. When we look around, we can find people who selflessly dedicated their entire lives to the construction of Socialism and the realization of Communism. They are really admirable. However, some people still hold the following ideas: Buddhism is superstitious; as one can enjoy his life for only dozens of years, when he is still alive, why doesn’t he make the most of it to satiate sensual desires? As a consequence, social rites, morality and ethics decline, and two serious problems arise. The first problem: people indulge themselves in sensual pleasures. Since they think that death will square all accounts, they live only for pleasure. Thus, for the sake of money, they do everything. If they have the chance to embezzle or take briberies, they won’t hesitate for a minute. Otherwise, they would risk their lives and engage in criminal activities like stealing, raping, prostitution, and drug-trafficking. They have the idea of leaving things to chance, thinking that even if they are arrested, they would rather suffer for a short time than remain poor for a long time; and what’s more, dying in this way is better than dying in poverty or of starvation. Such idea is really horrible! As a result, despite repeated prohibition, criminal activities, corruption, the underworld society, drug-taking and pornographic activities do not die out. This is the reason why law cannot provide ultimate solutions to the problems. The second problem: evil thoughts are very popular. For instance, Islamic extremists hold such an idea: the world is filled with suffering, and human life is painful. If they fight and die in the holy war, at once they can go to meet Allah in the paradise, where everything is in abundance and they can enjoy all to their heart’s content. Thus, by tying explosives to their bodies, they cause other people to die. Such people do not believe in the law of cause and effect and the law of reincarnation according to the Karma. Terrorists kill innocent people, and they even dream of being reborn in the heaven. How ridiculous! They can never go to the paradise; instead, they will suffer endless tortures in the hell!
Science is flourishing now. However, world religions grow more and more complex and diversified. Their doctrines differ, and with each religion attached to its own doctrines, conflicts among them arise. As a consequence, extremists provoke religious and even international wars, jeopardizing the peaceful co-existence of countries in the world…History proves that, some religions are not only unable to help stabilize the security and peace of a country and society, but they also become the origin of social turmoil. Buddhism is the only religion that preaches “All living beings are equal”. It advocates that one should cherish a pure heart and help living beings with loving-kindness and great compassion. In spreading the doctrines, Buddhists assess the situation and speak appropriate Buddhadharma. The Sixth Patriarch once said, “If people share our views, we can have a discussion on Buddhism. If their views differ from ours, let’s join our hands to treat them politely and thus make them happy.” Buddhism also emphasizes that only when the Attachment to Self and the Attachment to Things as Real are severed can one reach enlightenment and attain fruition. The Diamond Sutra also says, “All Worthy Ones and Sages differ because of Asamskrta dharmas.” As the degrees of breaking off attachment differ, the stages they have attained in practice vary. The above analysis indicates that, orthodox Buddhists can live in peace with believers of other religions, and they will never create troubles for the country and society. However, it is now the Dharma-ending Age, sentient beings lack blessings. Heretics and evil-minded people take this opportunity to disguise themselves as Buddhists. They distort the Buddha’s doctrines, preach heretical views and disrupt the orthodox Buddhadharma. Therefore, even in the Buddhist circle now, there also exists such a phenomenon as described by the proverb “when something is rotten, a worm is sure to grow out of it…”
Mr. Cheng: It seems that the Buddhist doctrines of the law of cause and effect and the law of reincarnation according to Karma are fatalistic. What benefits can the promulgation of Buddhism bring to the country and society?
Master Yang: The doctrines of the law of cause and effect and the law of reincarnation according to Karma are very important concepts of Buddhism, identical with Einstein’s conclusion that “there is a strict law of cause and effect in the universe”. It is up to you whether you believe these doctrines or not. But denial of their existence doesn’t mean you are exempt from its punishment. Where there is the acting force, there is bound to be the counter acting force; therefore, sentient beings must reap what they sow. Propagation of this concept will help maintain the security and unity of a country and society, and obviously, its benefits outweigh the disadvantages. People of our generation (I am over 70 years old), when growing up, were deeply influenced by Buddhism. Whenever after I quarreled with other people, my mother would always give the following instruction, “Good and evil deeds will be rewarded. Being betrayed is better than betraying others. Though we can’t expect much of this life, we can place hopes on our next life.” Such traditional moral concept was known to every household, and it played a great role in maintaining the security and peace of society. If a person believes in the law of cause and effect, he would restrain himself from doing evil deeds, because he fears bad retribution. Nowadays, many people learn from Lei Feng and do good deeds, but I find that, the most enthusiastic and sincerest in helping others are the Buddhists. Whenever disasters strike, it is always the Buddhists who take the earliest actions to give victims all kinds of aids. Since they believe in fate, why would they do such good things? The answer is: they totally believe in the law of cause and effect and the law of reincarnation according to Karma. It is just because of such fear of bad retribution that Buddhists will never dare to commit murder or arson. Therefore, promulgating the law of cause and effect and the law of reincarnation according to Karma will promote morality and maintain social order.
In fact, Buddhism encourages people to accumulate merits and do kind deeds. Furthermore, Buddhists are not people fettered by fate and have no accomplishment in life. Instead, they fit in with the demand for the healthy development of the modern society.
Mr. Cheng: Buddhism and law differ in the forms of order. Buddhists adjust their inner world through keeping the precepts that can cultivate their nature so as to realize self-discipline, whereas law modifies a person’s actions through rules and regulations, thus making them disciplined through external means. Then, do Buddhism and law contradict? If not, how can they be integrated?
Master Yang: Buddhism and law are not contradictory. On the contrary, they need to complement each other, for both aim at maintaining a stable country and a just society. Many statutory rules originate from religious precepts. Both the Ten Commandments of Christianity established by Moses and the Buddhist precepts prohibit killing and sexual misconduct, which are in accordance with the requirement of the law. Buddhism lays special emphasis on the following concepts expressed through idioms: “Good and bad deeds will be rewarded” and “One reaps what he sows”. It requires the followers to keep the Five Precepts, practice the Ten Kinds of Goodness and the Six Paramitas (Six Ways Leading to the Other Shore). Their purpose is to restrain one from doing evil deeds, to encourage him to practice goodness, and to improve the stability and unity of a country and society. If there is no political-legal department to crack down criminal activities, people will have no sense of security and their property cannot be protected. Without Buddhism to purify people’s heart, it would be difficult for them to refrain from doing evil things and to do good deeds voluntarily, and thus, the aim of providing fundamental solutions to the social problems can hardly be attained. People who deeply believe in the law of cause and effect can voluntarily restrain their thoughts and actions. Among criminals in the country every year, how many of them are true Buddhists? You may count and find it out.
Furthermore, if the Buddhist concept of retribution is deeply rooted in the professional ethics of judicial departments, the realization of fairness and justice in the whole society will be promoted greatly. Aristotle once said, “Justice is always with those who are kind…. Those people who intend to learn from upright and just people, i.e., those who want to be statesmen and politicians, had better start it from cultivating their characteristics or virtues.” This is especially true with law enforcement officials. Even if the legal system is perfected, the police, public procurators, judges and lawyers must be righteous. If they can interpret the law with a fair and impartial mind, it will be the foundation to bring happiness to the people and justice to society. As a form solidified by rationality, law can only be given actual content when it is applied in specific cases. Under the control of evil, greed and desire, it can turn into a dreadful machine. If you recall how Hitler made use of the mundane law to legally become a phonomania condemned by the world, you will realize that, like the religious scriptures, law can also be interpreted into different ways by different people. The history of rule by law in our country is very short, and the legal system is not perfect. If law-enforcement officials are profit-oriented and thus deliberately take advantage of loopholes in law or wrest the law, it is impossible to realize social justice.
However, if the Buddhist doctrines of the law of cause and effect and the law of reincarnation according to Karma become the moral precepts observed by all people, it can effectively make the law-enforcement officials discipline themselves, and thus the phenomena of corruption will be greatly reduced. Nowadays, although some public procurators and judges are not Buddhists, the kind roots they planted in previous lives can enable them to resist the temptation of material desires, to cherish the ideal of fairness and justice and to apply it into action. This is not different from the Buddhist moral ideal.
A person’s congenital capacity is predestined, however, through acquired training and cultivation, his virtues can grow; and in the respect of transforming a person, Buddhism is the most effective. The practice of learning from Lei Feng and setting up the lofty goal to serve the people are commendable, but it still comes from external demands. In order to cultivate virtues, the internal motivation is required. When Shakyamuni Buddha manifested himself in the world, he preached the law of cause and effect, admonished people to refrain from killing, stealing, having sexual misconduct, telling lies, speaking filthy language and double-tongue, and rid people of their greed and hatred so as to enlighten people on the purpose of life, to extensively liberate sentient beings with the greatest compassion, and to eradicate the bad thoughts stored in one’s consciousness (Alaya Vijnana). All these are on the foundation of his internal realizations. The Ekayana (Supreme Vehicle) Sudden School says,
May the mundane, wherever they dwell,
Be soon delivered from the body afflicted with all kinds of sufferings
May they attain to the state free of filth,
And retain the pure Dharmakaya.
What boundless, selfless and fearless vows of love and compassion! The above analysis indicates that, politics and law set external demands for people’s actions, whereas Buddhism purifies people’s soul and cultivates it from within, so they are complementary to each other.
Mr. Cheng: Buddhism is opposed to killing. However, in the legal system of our country, there are many regulations for the measurement of death penalty. What is your opinion on it?
Master Yang: I am not against death penalty. There is a true story in the history of Buddhism. Once an emperor asked Master Buddhacinga, “People nowadays have heavy Karma. If I don’t kill them, the world will be in great turmoil; if I kill them, I will break the precept against killing. How can I solve this problem?” The master replied, “Your highness is the king, and not killing innocent people unjustly should be your precept against killing.” This is a clear and definite reply.
Mr. Cheng: By using the Buddhist outlook on the world, you gave clear replies to my questions. I would like to raise some further questions. Jean Francois Revel, a great French thinker and Academician of the Academy of France, and his son Matthieu Richard, a Buddhist monk who was once a biologist, discussed the meaning of life, and their dialogues were published as a book entitled The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life (The Chinese version was published by Jiangsu People’s Publishing House, 2000). The book mentions that, in 1994, a Lama successful expounded the “Gospels” of the Bible to both the monastic and the laity in the West. Although he is not God’s missionary, as the book quotes, “when he was reading aloud and explaining the Gospels, all the Christian priests, monks and sisters were touched to tears of excitement. They felt that, for the first time ever, they heard the Gospels that they had been listening to all their life. Why? Because when this Lama was talking about love or sympathy, everyone had the feeling that the words flew from his own experience and he lived to what he said. Westerners are sensitive to such vivid traditional presentation.” Franciskeu Valerie, director of the French National Scientific Research Center and neurobiologist even said, “The re-discovery of Asian philosophies, especially of Buddhist tradition, is the second ‘Renaissance’ in Western culture. Its impact will be as important as the re-discovery of the Greek thoughts during the Renaissance in Europe.” His words indicate that, Buddhism is profound and all-embracing; it enables people with different religious beliefs to share the experiences of its wisdom; and the promulgation of Buddhism will not cause any conflicts between Buddhism and other religions. Historically viewed, the way in which Buddhism was spread to China is also salvational. Jiang Menglin, an educator, once said, “The Buddha came to China on a white elephant, whereas Jesus Christ flew to China on cannonballs.” What a vivid metaphor! Generally speaking, Buddhism recognizes the freedom of secular social system, legal system and culture, and it does not interfere in the operation of the secular world according to its own law. As it is totally different from the unification of the state and the church, Buddhism is in accordance with the basic norm of modern society. Yet, will the flourishing of Buddhism weaken the authority of the secular government?
Master Yang: The promulgation of Buddhism will not weaken the power of the government. On the contrary, it will encourage more people to make greater contributions to the country and its people.
First of all, whether one believes in Buddhism or not is of one’s free will. Buddhism teaches, transforms, and guides the world according to conditions and people’s spiritual capacity. The Sixth Patriarch said, “If people share our views, we can have a discussion on Buddhism. If their views differ from ours, let’s join our hands to treat them politely and thus make them happy.” With the boundless compassion and greatest love, Mahayana Buddhism embraces and liberates all living beings. At the same time, Buddhism will never force anyone to accept its doctrines.
Second, in Buddhist history, there has never been an eminent Buddhist master who reigned over a country. On the contrary, most of the times, it was the government that would spare no effort promulgating Buddhism, which promoted the unity of the country and the development of economy. It is well-known that, Buddhism was most prosperous in the T’ang Dynasty, the most thriving period in the history of China. Many emperors in the T’ang Dynasty took eminent Buddhist monks as the National Master. In history, although many high Buddhist monks enjoyed great reverence and honor, real Mahayanists would never crave for power or other material things. Instead, they would devote themselves whole-heartedly to the country and the nation when conditions were ripe. For example, Chan Master Yi Xing dedicated himself to astronomy and made remarkable contribution. Finally, he broke down from constant overwork and died of spitting blood. Master Xuan Zang, braving the hardships and perils, journeyed to India to obtain Buddhist sutras, which promoted the cultural exchange between China and India. Famous monks like Subhakarasimha and Amoghavajra played important roles in putting down the An Shi Revolt.
If there had been the unification of the state and the monastery in the modern history of Buddhism, the Tibetan government before the liberation in 1950 could be one. However, this unification has its special historical background. In the beginning of the 18th century, Tibet was frequently troubled by internal turmoil. After suppressing the revolts, the Qing government sent two Prime Ministers to station in Tibet. Po Luo Nai, who made great contribution to suppressing the rebellions, was conferred with the title “Bei Zi” (a title in the Qing Dynasty) first and later the “Local Governor” in charge of the political affairs of Tibet. After he died, his son succeeded to the position. As the son never consulted the two Prime Ministers of the Qing government with the local affairs, the Prime Ministers ordered to have him killed. However, when the troops under his command heard of the news, they killed both Prime Ministers. As a result, the Seventh Dalai Lama had to order Gong Ban Zhi Da to act as the deputy governor of Tibet, to arrest and kill the murderers, and to report the whole process of rebellion to Emperor Qian Long of the Qing Dynasty. Emperor Qian Long then sent troops to Tibet, and after the revolt was put down, he reformed the political system of Tibet, abolishing the system of the reign of the local king, governor and Bei Zi, making the Seventh Dalai Lama rule the Tibetan local government which would be under the direct leadership of Prime Ministers sent by the Qing government and Dalai Lama. From then on, the system of the unification of the state and the monastery came into existence, and it lasted for more than two centuries.
Mr. Cheng: The Monk and the Philosopher: A Father and Son Discuss the Meaning of Life quotes, “Buddhism aims at the essential concerns about the existence of all living beings, and it analyzes and deconstructs the mechanism of happiness and suffering.” In the light of people’s different experiences, the book says, “Buddhism can trace the causes of sufferings to deep layers.” “If we have been chasing worldly goals for our whole life, the chance for us to become truly happy will be as slim as what a fisherman catches by throwing a net into a dry river …” Such expositions shocked my heart. According to Buddhism, high official positions and wealth are nothing but mere worldly vanities that cannot last forever. Even if one may possess them temporarily, sooner or later, they will lead to the imperfection of his “personality in this life”. The Buddha hopes, through “perfect personality”, to help people remove all obstacles that cause them and mankind to suffer, and to wake them up from the darkness of ignorance. But, if we give up the origin of mundane sufferings in this world, is there any Other Shore to compensate for these sufferings? What is the Other Shore? Many westerners are puzzled about it. Is it what people call “transcending the mundane world”?
Master Yang: To cure a disease, you must find out its cause. Mundane people in This Shore have been seeking for external things merely since they were born. They seldom reflect on the internal world, and thus they are fettered by the Attachment to Self and the Attachment to Things as Real. Controlled by the Attachment to Self, they are self-centered, and are happy only if they can have their own way. Otherwise, evil thoughts will arise immediately and bad deeds will be committed soon. As a result, the seeds of the counter acting force of the deluded thoughts and evil actions multiply, countless and boundless, stored in their Alaya Vijnana. Such seeds will bear fruit when conditions are ripe, and bad retribution may befall at any moment as impermanence comes quickly. Therefore, as long as they haven’t broken themselves from the two kinds of attachment, wherever they are, when the bad seeds grow under suitable circumstances, they will suffer disasters, vexations, and even undergo untold sufferings. This is what you described as the origin of the mundane sufferings. If people intend to eradicate this origin, they must sever the Attachment to Self and the Attachment to Things as Real, purify the seeds in Alaya Vijnana, and internally realize the state of Prajna Paramita. At this stage, the impermanence is transformed into permanence, and Dharmakaya is realized within the physical body; one attains sharpness in penetrating the laws of all dharmas, omniscience, complete tranquility, great bliss and thorough liberation. As the verse goes, “calmly, I face the sword; at ease, I drink the poison.” The Heart Sutra also quotes, “Having corresponded to Prajna Paramita, a Bodhisattva is free of attachment; free of attachment, he is free of fear, far from delusive dreams and thinking, and attains the Ultimate Nirvana.” What describes above refers to the state of the Other Shore.
Maha Acarya Feng Da’an gave the following instruction on Prajna Paramita, saying “Prajna means wisdom. When such wisdom is applied in the world, it can discover the various laws of the mundane world, thus it is the origin of all cultures. Paramita means reaching the Other Shore. All things in the Dust world are compared to This Shore. Transcending the Dust world exists a wonderful state compared to the Other Shore. What is the wonderful state then? It is the Dharma-nature underneath the defiled phenomena. This kind of Dharma-nature is beyond description or speculation. Those who have realized the true nature purely experience complete tranquility, great bliss, omniscience, and sharpness in penetrating the laws of all dharmas that thoroughly illuminate the origin of Dharmadhatu. This is totally different from the Prajna of This Shore that can only know the superficial laws of phenomena. This is why it is called Prajna Paramita. Those who have internally attained its realization, whatever they experience—physically or mentally, and whatever they do, they will always be in the state of great bliss, tranquility, and sharpness in penetrating the laws of all things, and will never be deluded. This is the great function of Prajna Paramita.”。
Mr. Cheng: The inconceivable wisdom you described just now made me have the feeling that Buddhism is for wise people, because only philosophers can attain to the tranquil state free from likes and dislikes. Such state can enable one to resist the temptation of external environment and to attain liberation through perfect personality. This is a field that law will not and cannot enter.
As a religion, Buddhism should also play its role in the mundane world. Will its expectation of the bliss of the Other Shore, to some extent, make concession to the irresistible desires and enjoyment of life in this world? If the modern legal system can reasonably fix the “social standard”, transcend the mundane world a little bit and be less secular, can we expect Buddhism and law to be internally and harmoniously unified and merge into oneness with a person’s spirit and body so as to create a perfect personality in a perfect society? If this is true, have we returned to the “Common Goodness” that Aristotle—the ancient Greek thinker expected? When one’s personal kind deeds do not conflict with the goodness of society, and the design of the ethical and legal systems of This Shore can make the following expectations come true, i.e. “giving me what I deserve to be given is as legitimate as getting what I should get”, “What one gets in society is in proportion to his achievement”, the result may be: Buddhism and law complement and learn from each other, contained reasonably in the same ethical system. It is really a subject worth our constant discussion.
Master Yang: The mind is the essential functioning faculty of the sentient beings, and its base is perceived differently. At the low level, it knows only the sixth consciousness; at the middle level, it knows the functioning of both the sixth consciousness and the eighth consciousness; only at the high level can it penetrate the Dharmadhatu-nature. Whether a person is wise or stupid is determined by the quantity of the defiled seeds in his Alaya Vijnana and the degree of his Ignorance. If this person has a lot of defiled seeds in his Alaya Vijnana and the Ignorance is heavy, he will be stupid; otherwise, he will be intelligent. The deeper his good roots from previous lives, the wiser he is, the easier it will be for him to correspond to the great Buddhist doctrines, and the more penetrative his understanding will be. However, we cannot say, “Buddhism is for wise people”. One’s natural capacity is important indeed, but all sentient beings are equal and possess Buddha nature. Even the most stupid person, as long as he makes up his mind, has strong sense of perseverance, believes in Buddhist doctrines, is willing to practice, keeps on practicing Chan hard and purifying his Alaya Vijnana, his innate wisdom will be tapped gradually, for Chan means calming the distracted mind and bringing out the pure consciousness that corresponds to the Dharma-nature. Concentration can give rise to wisdom.
I think, we would rather say, “Buddhism is for people who have affinity with it” than “Buddhism is for wise people”. We are having discussion on the relationship between Buddhism and law, which shows that you have affinity with Buddhism. Besides, you are so intelligent. So far as you believe in Buddhist doctrines, decide to tread the bright path of Buddhist practice, and practice properly, you will have great achievements. You can also experience that Buddhist practice and your work complement each other, and that your internal realizations in practice and the achievement of research in law will be both remarkable.
Oneyana Sudden School both penetrates into the worldly affairs and transcends them. What the Buddha reveals to us is the perfect and ultimate truth about the universe and our life. For such truth, we cannot but admire and pursue it; therefore, there is no such thing as “Buddhism makes certain concessions to the irresistible desires and pleasures of this world”. All living beings possess Buddha nature, and the ultimate goal of Buddhism is to make all sentient beings resolve to practice Buddhism, be hard-working and persistent, never to give up, explore and gradually penetrate the truth of the universe and human life until they have reached Buddhahood, and transformed the physical body into Dharmakaya, the impermanent into the permanent, the illusive happiness into the true bliss and the filthy land into the pure land.
If Buddhism which reveals the perfect truth gives way to the delusive worldly desires and pleasures, it will not，I think, benefit either Buddhism or law. Buddhist practice is like sailing a boat against the current, if you don’t forge it ahead, the boat will be driven back. Before a practitioner has attained to the eighth stage of Bodhisattva (also called the Unmovable Stage), it is very likely that he may retrogress or even give up. Therefore, in The Diamond Sutra with a Detailed Outline, Maha Acarya Feng Da’an wrote, “May I give a piece of advice to practitioners of the later generation—don’t give up before reaching the summit.”
Law is one branch of the social sciences. Einstein once said, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind. If there is any religion that can cope with modern scientific need, it would be Buddhism.” The above analysis indicates that Buddhism and law can communicate with each other and even be unified. If people in the law circle become Buddhists and practice hard, and all share the same concepts, it will be helpful indeed to the realization of peace and justice of society, and to the realization of the internal harmonious unity of Buddhism and law.