Resolving to learn from the Buddha, I entered the Gate of the Teaching.
Causes and conditions came ripe for me at the Holy City,
Where I met a Wise Advisor to reveal good roots.
He rescued both my Dharma Body and my Wisdom Life.
With one mind I return and rely on this Sagely, Worthy Sanghan.
His kindness in giving my life a second start can’t be expressed in words.
This illusory body, made of the Four Elements, although not real,
Still hosts Five Skandhas, that make grow my evils and offenses.
Past karma calls forth the Wind of Impermanence,
And legions of suffering and constant distress pursue me always.
My fate had nearly reached its end; by luck, the Master saved me!
A life at the brink got rescued, and I can begin anew.
Turning the world, his wondrous skill cures all diseases.
Appreciating the Master’s compassionate vows,
I received a fortunate response.
He brought back the dead from the wheel of pain,
And exhorts me to cultivate, so I will focus and strive on.
I must repent of past offenses till six faculties are pure,
And cultivate this Dharma door, till three karmas have no flaw.
Let radiant light pierce through the dark, and the inherent nature show.
May we all accomplish the Way and ride the Buddha’s carriage.
As soon as I took the Precepts in September of 1991, I was told to accompany a fellow sister to Taiwan for medical treatment. Her doctor was very kind-hearted and offered to give me a check up without charge. Unexpectedly, he found out there were three small tumors in my stomach which had to be removed by an operation. The operation took three hours. The next day the doctor in charge of the surgery came to me and said with a smile,
“I’m sorry! The scanning report was read incorrectly. After
we opened you up we found out that it was three water
bubbles, not tumors in your stomach. However, your
intestines are absolutely inconceivable! The entire membrane
has adhered to your other organs. The doctors from each
section had a consultation and decided that it would be best
not to touch them; otherwise, the result might be even
worse. So from now on you can only count on the Bodhisattvas
to protect and aid you and seek your own blessings!”
This adhesion of the intestines was the aftereffect from a serious bout of enteritis ten years ago. I had never paid attention to it because it only bothered me once in a while, shortly after meals, and did not cause any big trouble in my life. However, from this doctor’s appearance, it seemed to me I had just heard a death-sentence and did not have much time left!
After that operation, I soon regained my energy, and so left the hospital in one week with my fellow sister. I ate a rushed lunch in order to catch the plane leaving at three o’clock. Soon afterwards, I knew a major event was about to happen, and I suffered pains in my stomach so serious that it forced me to cancel my flight schedule. At six o’clock I went into the emergency room, and a doctor gave me a shot of painkiller to stop the pain. The effect came immediately which enabled me to rest. However, in a short while I felt a dull pain again, but because my fellow sister was just released from the hospital, I dared not to bother her, and simply endured the pain. At two thirty that night, the intervals of the pain decreased from every few minutes to tremendously painful cramps every second. It is so painful that I tried to squeeze myself through the cracks in the wall. In that air-conditioned room, sweat soaked my clothes and the quilt, my lips were bitten bloody, and finally I cried out, nearly scaring my fellow sister to death.
At midnight, we couldn’t get an ambulance and finally had to ring up and disturb a layperson. She got a cab and hastily took me to the emergency room. They gave me another analgesic shot, but this time it didn’t work. In less than ten minutes I was in such pain that my body trembled and spasmed. An X-ray showed that my intestines were blocked, and perhaps another operation was necessary. There were hundreds of thousands of pains in my head, and I could hardly recite the Buddha’s name even a single time. In my mind I could only cry for the Venerable Master to rescue me! At that time the doctor on duty dared not to treat my case and said he had to wait for the doctor in charge who would come at eight o’clock in the morning.
Early in the morning after five o’clock the doctor in charge suddenly appeared, saying he felt restless and couldn’t sleep. He had a hunch there was a problem in the emergency room. After he heard the report from the doctor on-duty, he hurried to check me and scolded that doctor,
“You almost killed this patient! How could you inject her with an analgesic for a blockage of the intestines? That would allow them even less to move and could cause necrosis of the cells!” After that came the misery of taking an emetic and inserting a nasal feeding tube. I might have been fainting or asleep, but in my state of shallow breathing I saw the big, tall body of the Venerable Master, wearing a yellow sash and holding a cane, standing by my bed, kindly and sympathetically saying,
“Okay, okay, it’s all over. From now on you should bow the Great Compassion Repentance sincerely. I have never seen you bow that ceremony properly.”
“This disciple will surely perform the ceremony properly!” My battle with life and death lasted for four days and the emergency was lifted only after a mess of greenish gall-bile rushed out of my nose. The doctor said,
“There’s no need to undergo an operation, you will recover.
You have a long life span; and this is simply a miracle.”
My second crisis came in March 1993. My heart suddenly was not in good order. It was as if several people’s hearts were bumping and beating together. It seemed like a motor running hard, but not pumping any water out, and it sounded strange. An electrocardiogram scan showed everything was normal. A Chinese medical doctor said that I was too tired, and that after much rest I would be fine. I wouldn’t accept that pronouncement, and after one more month passed, the situation became worse. One afternoon while bowing the Great Compassion Repentance I felt exceptionally uncomfortable; my heart-beat almost suffocated me. I went back to my room and silently recited the Great Compassion Mantra in time with the assembly in the Buddha Hall.
Suddenly I entered another state which seemed to be a very noisy, great Dharma Assembly that was taking place. I saw the Master come into my room, followed by an attendant and some other left-home people. I was trying to figure out how this small room could accommodate so many people. The Venerable Master placed four black pills in my hand, each one as big as my little finger, saying,
“Take them.” Getting up right away, I said, “I’ll go and get some water.” He said,
“Don’t bother, just chew them in your mouth and swallow them.” I took the medicine as instructed and found they were quite sweet, unlike any medicine I had ever tasted.
Afterwards, following the Venerable Master, I entered the crowded Buddha Hall and saw a lot of people waiting for his blessing. The Venerable Master took up his stick, and tapped their heads one by one, or rubbed the children’s heads. Many people asked the Venerable Master to cure their diseases, and some of them kept bowing to him. The hall was bustling with activity. The Venerable Master fulfilled all their wishes. In the end, he wanted to go back to rest. He walked over to the wall and leaned his hand against it. I hurried to him and saw that he looked terribly tired and asked whether he needed the attendant to help. The Venerable Master said,
“No, I have always relied upon myself!” Suddenly a radiance of bright light illumined above me; the Venerable Master was surrounded by a circle of light. I felt shaken and then awoke, and I realized it was only a dream! However, the problem with my heart was cured by the pills I ate in the dream, which is really inconceivable!
The latest experience happened at the beginning of June, when Mayor Harrison of Burlingame visited the Venerable Master at the International Translation Institute. There were many phone calls here at the Monastery, and visitors at noontime. I had to eat lunch quickly and ate some Chinese pickles. Unexpectedly, another disaster came upon me. After the meal, I felt a terrible pain in my stomach that went on continuously. The good feeling I got the last time was gone, and I sensed it wouldn’t be so easy this time. I feared my old problem had come back. Rolling around on the floor up on the third story, I was in terrible pain. I kept crying for the Venerable Master and asking what I should do.
At this critical point in the sickness, carelessly I took three kinds of medicine and they were all ineffective. The pain kept getting stronger. I set my teeth firmly and held my breath to struggle with the pain. By three o’clock I was exhausted, and seemed to be asleep. I saw the Venerable Master sitting at the other side of the table and he said to me,
“Throw it up. After you vomit, it will be okay.” Shaking my head, I said,
“I can’t, my intestines got stuck again.” His right hand was stretched out and pushed against my chest. I felt the approaching pressure and suddenly woke, and ran quickly to the bathroom where I vomited a great deal.
A Chinese medical doctor messaged the main acupuncture points on my hands, (the part between the thumb and the index finger) and the point of the three visceral cavities under my knee in order to help the intestines work. He said,
“You are lucky. Never eat any hard food which is difficult to digest in the future; otherwise, you won’t be able to stay alive.” I reflected afterwards, that at that time the Venerable Master was so busy entertaining guests, half an hour away by car, and at the critical moment he came to rescue me in a transformation body. His great kind and compassionate vows are really indescribable! I wrote this article carefully, and I wish all fellow cultivators to remember this:
Cultivate the Way at once─upholding precepts is the best!
If you want to eradicate offenses, energetically repent.
Don’t wait for Old Man Death to command your life,
Or you’ll leave the Buddha’s Gate with frantic, empty hands.
Always mindful of sickness, your discriminating mind will rest.
Assiduously reflecting on the time of death,
a mind for the Way will arise.
Let’s mutually encourage each other along!