Sitting in the front of Avatamsaka Hermitage [Potomac, Maryland] and looking out from the corridor on the second floor, the forest and bubbling brook are like a scene from a picture. Occasionally you can hear the sounds of birds singing and frogs croaking. In my mind I feel a calmness and serenity which cannot be expressed in words. I seem to have some comprehension of the Buddhadharma. I cannot help but feel thoughts of unlimited gratitude towards the Venerable Master. This place was reserved for the Venerable Master to retire to. Now, I alone am here to appreciate it. This must be from blessings I have gained from past cultivation. My fellow cultivators come and go quickly without ever stopping to enjoy the surroundings.
The Venerable Master had spent his whole life traveling about from place to place, propagating the Buddhadharma to save living beings, without pausing to take a rest. The disciples rarely had the opportunity to spend a lot of time with the Venerable Master, but every time we did see him, we learned a lot. If you observe carefully you will see that he used his own conduct when teaching and transforming living beings.
One time, I saw that the Venerable Master used the same paper napkin several times over. He said that one napkin can be used for three days. These words were like a blow to me, Amitabha. Before this, I had read many of the Venerable Master’s instructional talks so I have some understanding of cultivation, but this live demonstration is not something that can be found in books. Every day we waste our time and natural resources. When have we ever thought not to waste valuable time in cultivation? When have we ever cherished our natural resources?
Whenever people praised Dharma Masters for their vigor in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the Venerable Master would criticize his disciples for
“just eating and waiting to die.” Actually, the Venerable Master was very demanding of his left-home disciples. Towards his lay disciple, he was always kind and polite. If we don’t reflect upon ourselves, but instead look down on Dharma Masters, we are creating karma. Just as when Buddha had criticized those of the Lesser Vehicle for being
“withered sprouts and sterile seeds,” the Buddha could say that, but we ordinary people have no right to even entertain such a thought. We can only resolve to cultivate the Great Vehicle and practice the Bodhisattva Way.
If a cultivator can reach the point of “waiting to die,” this is already not an easy thing. That is, when a cultivator, in the face of death, can be without fear and joyfully wait for Amitabha Buddha to take him to the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, this is the ideal state of a cultivator of the Pure Land. As soon as the Buddha comes for us, we will leave without any greed for anything in the world. We should get ready and not let the Buddha have to wait for us.
Some people have said that the Venerable Master’s ability to memorize was impressive, whether it be Sutra passages or poetry. We have personally heard the Venerable Master recite from memory The Song of Enlightenment by Great Master Yong Jia, the verse “Vowing to be Reborn in the West,” and so forth. I don’t think this comes from having a good memory, but rather something that must be from the Venerable Master’s Certification to the Way.
Although the Venerable Master established many Way-places in America, the invisible Way-places that he established in our minds are more numerous. Every day when I recite the Buddha’s name and sit in meditation with my eyes closed, I feel that the Venerable Master is right here protecting me, so that nothing goes wrong. I believe that the Venerable Master is protecting every one of his disciples until they reach Buddhahood.
In the past, every time I saw the Master, tears fell from my eyes. I felt like I was seeing a long-lost relative. The Master said that I am just a young child who is unable to grow up. When I heard of the Master’s Completing the Stillness, I did not shed a single tear. At the end of July when I return to the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, I don’t know if I will be able to prevent myself from breaking down and crying. My teacher is tired now, and needs a rest. However, I’m sure that he will come back.
In the past, I could not comprehend what happiness there is in the bliss of Nirvana. Now I understand that the bliss of Nirvana is that we can join hands, roam together in the emptiness of the Dharma Realm, and never part again. My profound wish is that I will meet with the Venerable Master again in empty space.
Homage to the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra
Homage to Amitabha Buddha of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss
Homage to the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
July 3, 1995
Blowing winds and still waters expound the Mahayana;
Flocks of birds sing in chorus, elegant and resonant.
With proper faith, proper vows, and proper conduct,
Be mindful of the Buddha, be mindful of the Dharma,
and be mindful of the Sangha.
With vigor, perfect each of the levels of non-retreat.
In dhyana you may ascend through each of the nine grades
And meet in person Amita Buddha, your compassionate father.
Such a reunion with your flesh and blood brings happiness indeed!
──by Venerable Master Hua