Upon the completion of the Cremation Ceremony for the Venerable Master Hua, the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association distributed questionnaires to Buddhists from all places to collect their opinions. One hundred people filled out the questionnaire. The statistics of their personal data and a summary of their answers are as follows:
|Age:||Under 19: 7
||20 – 29: 7|
– 39: 28
||40 – 49: 33|
| ||50 – 59: 12
||60 – 69: 9|
| ||Over 70: 4
The age distribution of those who filled out the questionnaire is from 7 to 87. Two-thirds of the people were between the ages of 30 and 49.
|Gender:||Male: 25||Female: 75|
|There were three times as many women as men.|
Status:There were 16 left-home people
(including several Theravada Bhikshus from England) and 84 laypeople.
Religion: The overwhelming majority of those who filled out the questionnaire were Buddhists (82 people). Five were Taoists and followers of folk religions; two were Christians; and the religion of the remaining eleven is unknown.
Occupation: Seventy-six of the eighty-four laypeople answered this question. Their data is as follows:
|Business*:||29 ||(nearly 40% of the pool) |
|Housekeeper: ||13 |
|Medical & Nursing:
|Construction & Engineering:
*Including computer, administration, finance, accounting, clothing, and food and drink.
1. What country or state are you from?
Sixty-seven out of the hundred (two-thirds of the pool) were from Taiwan. The remaining one third came from England, various states of the United States, Canada, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and other countries.
2. Did you take refuge with the Venerable Master? If so, when and where?
Eighty-six are the Venerable Master’s disciples. Twelve people have not taken the refuge with the Master, and two did not respond to this question.
| Date of taking refuge:
||1960 – 1979:
|| 1980 – 1989:||33|
|| 1990 – 1995:||43*|
*Eleven took refuge during this Cremation Ceremony.
3. Have you been to the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) before? What is your impression of it this time?
Fifty-two had been to CTTB before. Seven of them noted that the City has been beautified by many well-pruned gardens, benches beneath trees, and so on. A laywoman from Taiwan said that although the living quarters in the City are simple,
“It’s more comfortable than a five-star hotel.” Three people thought that the planning and administration in the City needed to be improved.
This was the first visit to the City for forty-five people. Every one of them felt that the environment was tranquil and that it was a good place for cultivation. Seven thought the CTTB was a pure land in the world, the pure land of ultimate bliss. Thirteen-year-old Chen Jinren saw animals (Editor’s note: CTTB has peacocks, squirrels, pheasants, etc.) living in harmony with people. But two laypeople were unaccustomed to the great temperature difference between day and night in the City.
4. Would you like to describe your conditions with the Venerable Master?
Sixty-nine people answered this question. Forty percent said they came to know the Master through relatives or friends.
- Introduced through relatives and friends: 27
- Read the Master’s books and the City’s Buddhist magazine, Vajra Bodhi Sea: 20
- l Attended a Dharma session held during a Dharma-propagation tour by the Master: 10
- l Through various branch monasteries
(Gold Mountain Monastery, Gold Wheel Monastery, Gold Summit Monastery,
Avatamsaka Monastery and others): 8
- Saw the Master in dreams before hearing about him: 2
(Two laywomen, one American and one Chinese)
- Saw the Master speaking Dharma on television: 1
- Listened to the Master’s taped talks: 1
5. What were your feelings upon hearing of the completion of stillness of the Venerable Master?
The majority (64) of those who answered this question said they were deeply grieved, shocked, or had lost their support, and that from now on
“he proper path for asking about the Way is lost.” One laywoman in the food and drink business sighed,
“There is no hope left in life.” Six people indicated that they should be more vigorous in upholding the Master’s resolves, observing the Six Great Principles, and taking the precepts as their teacher, so that they will not fall short of the Master’s teaching. Seven pray for the Master’s early return in accordance with his vows. A seven-year-old boy, Chang Zhaoyi, said,
“Now that the Master has entered the stillness, he
can fly and become a Buddha.”
One Chinese Sangha member answered with these few words,
“The task being completed, he put it all down and departed.” An Italian Theravada Bhikshu said,
“Great peace.” A British Dharma Master rejoiced that the Master could enter Nirvana, sharing the same feeling as a Taiwanese layperson who said,
“This disciple feels happy for the Master, for he is
now truly free and at ease.”
Five people thought the Master was merely manifesting birth, old age, illness, death, and the impermanence of life. In their opinion, his spirit exists forever, and we should reflect on the Master’s great pains to make this manifestation.
A disciple who studies science said,
“When I learned that the Master had been ill for
five or six years, and yet did not stop expounding
the Dharma and propagating the Way, I felt unlimited
reverence and admiration.”
A chemist thought the Master’s manifestation of stillness was
“the Master’s warning to us.” She also felt the Master was
“a great person who was constantly curing others’
ailments and yet totally ignored himself when he too
A Christian said he
“felt nothing because the Master has never left.”
6. What are your impressions of:
A. Talks in Praise and Recognition of Our Teacher’s Kindness
Fifty-one people indicated their satisfaction with this program. Two pointed out that all the talks were
“words from the heart.” Two others said that they
“came to know more about the Master.”
Three people expressed their dissatisfaction. They felt the talks were speeches of polite greetings and not practical. They further suggested that it is preferable to speak from the heart then speaking words of praise. A British Theravada Bhikshu felt the talks were
“somewhat lacking: speakers perhaps not completely
‘settled’ in the situation.”
B. Cremation Ceremony
Seventy-two thought that the ceremony was well arranged, and the process simple and not exaggerated, exemplifying the Master’s character and practice. One visiting Dharma Master said emphatically that,
“It’s inconceivable. I could never sit in full lotus before, but at the Master’s cremation I did it easily.” The seven-year-old boy, Chang Zhaoyi, said that during the cremation, he
“smelled a fragrance.” One layperson suggested that the crematory be kept.
Four people pointed out areas for improvement. Two thought that the assembly order was a little disorganized after the cremation ceremony. Huang, Gwosheng
from Canada felt that “there were too many
Seven people wrote that they felt very sad during the cremation and that they cried.
C. Scattering of ashes
The day after the cremation ceremony, the Master’s ashes were lifted up into the air by a hot air balloon and scattered in the air in front of the Five Contemplations Dining Hall in the City. Seventy-two people thought the arrangement for the whole event was quite proper. Four people pointed out that they did not expect the use of a hot air balloon, which they thought was quite creative. Two indicated that
“it was unprecedented.” Another three people said they dared not watch because they were so sad. One Buddhist felt sorry that the Master’s ashes were only scattered in the West and not in Asia.
There were five Buddhists who thought that if they could
“bring some sharira back to worship, it would make it more perfect.” Two people felt that this ceremony was a dharma manifested by the Master, while the Master himself is eternally neither existent nor non-existent, and has attained great ease.
D. The Slide Show
Fifty-eight people expressed satisfaction with the show. Five suggested that if the introduction was done with video tape the effect would be more ideal. Six suggested that the slides be turned into documentary films and books for circulation.
E. Buddhist Ceremonies
Sixty-nine people felt the ceremonies were well arranged. One of them even indicated that they were
“very adorned, as if we were in the Western Land of
Two people were especially fond of bowing the
“Avatamsaka Repentance.” Another person had a very deep impression of the transmission of three refuges and five precepts. A Westerner said,
“I found the ceremonies very healing.”
Four people indicated there were areas which needed improvement. Their opinions were as follows:
- The sound system was too loud, it was piercing to the ears.
- The schedule for the ceremonies was too tight causing people to run to and fro. (However, one person said she was happy that the schedule was tight so that not a bit of the time was wasted.)
- Too many interruptions from nonprofessional photographers in front of the Buddhahall.
- The Buddhahall was too small. “I hope we can
build a larger hall someday.”
7. Has this experience changed your life in any way?
Fifty-nine people answered this
question. Thirty-nine of them pointed out that they
regarded the matter of birth and death with
increased urgency. Everything is impermanent; they
feel they should work harder and practice in
accordance with the teaching, following the Master’s
Six Principles. Twelve people gained a “better understanding of Buddhism.” One of them said this was the
“first opportunity she had to recite the Avatamsaka Sutra in her life.” [Editor’s note: Before the Master manifested stillness, he instructed disciples to recite the Avatamsaka Sutra. Thus after the Master entered stillness, all the branch monasteries recited the Avatamsaka Sutra for forty-nine days.] A laywoman indicated,
“The scorching weather during the three-day Dharma
session was speaking Dharma: ‘The three realms are
like burning house.’ If one does not cultivate in
this life when should one cultivate?”
Five people said that they wanted to do a good job in protecting the Dharma and bring forth the Bodhi mind. One of them said,
“CTTB should be developed into the largest Buddhist
holy ground in America. All of us disciples should
dedicate ourselves to completing this task.”
Eight people thought they had
“changed their bad habits.” For instance, “I had a bad temper before, but now I’ve improved.”
“I’ve made great changes. I’m able to put down prior attachments. No matter what one attains in life, one still leaves without anything when the time comes.”
“We must learn the thrifty lifestyle here, not be
wasteful, and be more aware of environmental
Two people said they wanted to “improve their English comprehension.” After attending CTTB’s morning and evening recitation as well as Buddhist ceremonies in two languages, a pediatrician from Taiwan found his English insufficient and hoped to bring back some English Sutra tapes. He was also interested in the translation of Buddhist Sutras into English. [Editor’s note: Dharma Realm Buddhist Association founded by the Master has published over two hundred volumes of Buddhist Sutras with the Master’s explanation in English. There are also tapes of the Master’s instructional talks in Chinese and English translation.] One left-home person vowed to study English so that she could propagate the Dharma, translate the Sutras, and work on education in America.
8. General Impressions
Forty-three people thought the Dharma session was
“perfect and there were no flaws whatsoever.” One person wrote,
“This is my first Buddhist experience of bowing and reciting, and these three days have been the best time of my life.” A sixty-five-year-old woman said directly,
“I slept well and ate well, and I hope to come back again.” One layperson said,
“The medical aid center functioned well. The wet
towels and cold drinks provided by the responsible
team helped many participants in the excessively hot