He gave up the rewards of his homeland,
but not his loyalty to it.
Not taking a drop for himself
he amassed boundless blessings
Which he gave with delight to beings
So they might ascend to Bodhi.
He constantly tended his garden
Of tender Bodhi Sprouts:
He would weed them, prune them, and encourage them
To grow big, healthy, and strong.
Whenever a Bodhi sprout would say,
“I don’t want to grow anymore,
I’ve had it!”
He’d smile kindly, and let it be.
He labored not for a reward.
He cherished and saved the most simple things:
Tissue paper, water, electricity.
He dared not waste the tiniest object,
But in giving he was the richest of kings.
With infinite, genuine patience
He’d wait for just the right time,
And then speak a few words of wisdom,
Precisely right on the mark.
In this way, he gradually raised us.
Each one at his own rate of learning
He tested us, and if we did fail,
He repeated the lesson again, no problem!
We’d run to him with our bruises.
Then he would calm us down,
And explain to us how to do things,
Without always stumbling and falling.
Appearances could not fool him;
He insisted on the truth.
Yet sometimes he’d let things go by,
For those who weren’t ready to take it.
Compassionate parent, he exhorted us,
“Don’t do any evil, offer up all good!”
Hoping to wake us up from our folly,
So that we might escape the inferno.
He feared neither hunger, cold, nor death;
There was only one thing he feared:
He feared for the pitiful masses of beings
Who toss in the sea of suff’ring.
It’s so hard to truly describe him,
For he left not a trace of himself.
Nor was there a trace of self
In anything that he did.
His state too high to be seen,
Yet his actions so natural and plain.
He did not want to mesmerize people;
He just wanted to help them be sane.
With precepts as his substance,
And the appearance of a pure Bhikshu,
Extracting the principles from the specifics,
He applied them to new situations.
In the arts, sciences, and literature,
In every kind of learning and skill,
The Master of all Masters was he,
Yet never was he pretentious.
Every small and great matter we’d bring him,
To be solved by his great wisdom.
With great kindness he would consider,
Then surprise us with just the right answer!
He could see hidden talent quite clearly,
Then nurture it to become full.
He cared about others’ advancement,
Not for his own reputation.
His manner of teaching was markless:
No Teacher, no student, no lesson.
And yet when graduation time came,
The learning had all taken place.
Although his patience was endless,
He demanded the best quality,
And with each step we’d take on the Path,
He’d be with us to further us on.
A vast treasury lay in his bosom:
Precious gems, a spectacular array.
If you are sincere, and try your best,
He will show one especially for you!
But these gems he does not show casually;
He would not throw pearls before swine.
He saves and protects them, knowing their worth,
Till we can appreciate them.
Some say he’s beyond all emotion:
Beyond happiness and beyond grief.
That every facial expression
Is a response to the needs of beings.
That may be quite true, indeed,
I haven’t the wisdom to say.
Yet from my human perspective,
I have seen him truly delighted.
Whenever one of his students
Would bring forth the true Bodhi mind,
I believe he would truly be happy,
I believe then he felt satisfied.
Whenever one of his students,
Would genuinely cultivate,
His expression would always be special,
Not like at other times.
As for tears, sometimes he cried.
Once he wept and explained:
“As I bestow this Dharma upon you,
I already know you won’t practice.”
Another time he cried
in front of professors and teachers,
When he learned that the youth of today,
No longer have the will to live.
When we feel no one understands us,
We feel lonely, and in deep despair,
He speaks a few words of kindness
To teach us not to be selfish.
To him we bring all our sorrows,
And he takes them on to himself.
But not a single worry or trouble,
Would he pass on to anyone else.
Even when in great pain and so spent,
He would raise his great heroic vigor.
To light up a magnanimous smile,
Not wanting to cause us to worry.
Knowing dharmas and beings are empty,
He could simply have left all the trouble,
But he went through such pain and trouble,
Riding on the power of vows.
Not until all beings attain Bodhi,
Will he ever, ever rest.
Not coming, not going,
Thus, thus, unmoving,
How can he truly be known?
Some say Amitabha, some say Gwan Yin,
Or Earth Store Bodhisattva is he;
Or Confucius the father of teachers,
Or other Sage-heroes of men.
How could one man be many?
That truly is hard to conceive of!
Is it because he embodies the virtue
Possessed by all such Great Ones?
I so dull and dim-witted
Could not finish praising his virtues.
This black ink upon white paper
Falls so short, and fails to describe him.
But anyone wanting to know
What the Great Master Hsuan Hua was like,
Can start with the great Flower Adornment
That King most high among Sutras.
For there’s not a word in that Sutra
That the Master did not reveal
And personify in every aspect
This I firmly and truly believe.
And one more thing should be known,
Every Word that came from his mouth
Was the Truth, like it or notb!
Moreover, he really did it himself!