In the future, Gold Mountain Monastery, Gold Wheel Monastery and Tathagata Monastery should each have an abbot. Everyone should elect virtuous and capable people and give them the group’s support. Only in that way can anyone qualify to be an abbot.
What are the criteria for an abbot? First of all, he must have no temper. He should be courteous and get along well with people. He cannot use his authority to oppress others. He should work democratically in order to win the respect of others.
If the abbot had a big temper, no one would put up with his bullying. People would be angry inside, but would not dare to speak out. Such a situation would be totally unbeneficial and would only cripple Buddhism.
Anyone without a temper and with a mature level of patience is eligible to become an abbot. Those with bad tempers don’t have much of a chance, because their afflictions would probably completely burn up the Buddhadharma. Afflictions belong to the element of fire and can burn up everything. Such a disastrous fire cannot be extinguished even by the big rainstorm mentioned earlier.
What I am telling you today is very important. When you elect an abbot in the future, you should carefully consider the character and education of each candidate. In order to be an abbot, a person should have affinities with a wide range of people and get along well with everyone. He should share the bitter toil as well as the sweet rewards; then no one will dislike him, and everyone will respect him. If all the Bhikshus, Bhikshunis, Upasakas and Upasikas feel that a certain person is pretty good, that he is intent on cultivating the Way and would make a good leader, then he can be an abbot.
A talk given on January 20, 1978