My eldest son asked me, “Mom, our Teacher can cure and save so many people when they are afflicted with nasty illnesses or when they are faced with death. When our Teacher is sick, there should be many Buddha and Bodhisattva friends around him. Why didn’t they come and save him?”
When I first heard of our Teacher’s passing away, my first thought about answering this question was,
“Perhaps the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas took pity on our Teacher, because of the suffering that he was undergoing, so they liberated him.” Of course, this was not a good answer. In the midst of my sadness, I contemplated on our Teacher’s Completing the Stillness. He was just trying to speak the Dharma of: no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no seeking for self-benefit, and no lying for the last time before his passing.
On June 12, 1995, my whole family and some friends from the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, six of us, planned in great detail to fly south. At first, we wanted to visit the funeral home before they moved the Master’s body, and then we wanted to accompany the funeral procession to the Long Beach Way-place to participate in the ceremony that was taking place for placing the Master’s body into the casket. We arrived at the airport much earlier than was scheduled in order not to miss the plane. However, two of our reservations were playing hide-and-go-seek on the computer until the plane actually departed. Then they showed up on the computer without any problem. At that time, my children cried helplessly over the incident, because they were upset over not being able to see their teacher. Since things happened this way, we missed going to the funeral home, but had to go directly, instead, to Long Beach Monastery.
This hour-long wait puzzled me, because I could not find an explanation for the causes and conditions until Mrs. Chen, a member of our group, spoke up and said,
“Probably the Venerable Master knew that your three children would not be able to take being in a funeral home.” At the time, I was intent upon going to be with the Master, and had not given that any thought. A few days later I did remember that my eldest son always reacts in a very unusual way whenever he encounters funeral homes, funeral processions, or cemeteries.
Where are you Venerable Master! We thought you were resting peacefully in the funeral home, but actually you were in the airport making the arrangements in the computer. We anxiously rushed to Long Beach with the intent to bow and pay our respects to you, when in actuality you were right with us all along. Oh, Venerable Master!
“All Buddhas are more compassionately mindful of all living beings than their own parents. When parents are mindful of their children, their compassion lasts for only one life. Yet, when Buddhas are mindful of living beings, their compassionate regard carries on without exhaustion.” The above quote not only exists in Buddhist Scriptures, but has come to have some true meaning in my life.
With the Venerable Master’s picture in my hand, and in a dazed state, I walked into a picture frame shop in Chinatown, where there were many customers at the time. The owner of the shop said to me,
“It will take at least two days for the framing. It cannot be any sooner. If you want it any sooner, you will have to go to another store.” Without thinking, I took the Venerable Master’s picture out of the envelope that I had. When the storeowner saw the picture, his eyes suddenly opened very wide. He then asked,
“Who is he?” I said, “This is my Teacher.” He asked, “What is a Teacher?” I replied,
“A Teacher is someone who is better than a father, and who is much closer than a father.” On the one hand, he looked as if he understood, but then on the other hand, he looked as if he didn’t understand. Then he started doing the calculations on how much the framing would cost. He looked up and asked me,
“How soon do you want this?” “Right now...” “Come back in two hours.” Before I had a chance to thank him, he was already walking back to his workroom. Then, when I was just about to leave the shop, the store owner rushed out and said to me,
“I will give this frame to your teacher. You don’t need to pay for it.”
In my mind, I cried out, Amitabha! Venerable Master, you said,
“That you came from empty space, and will return to empty space.” However, you are still in empty space.
The affairs of the world are impermanent;
don't be attached to them.
In dreamlike samadhi,
one is free and at ease.
Roaming playfully with spiritual powers,
one accords with changes and transformations,
In stillness, contemplate all things:
how their glory fades by itself.
──by Venerable Master Hua