Upon receiving the obituary notice sent by the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in California, U.S.A., I came to know that the Venerable Elder Hua, founder of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association and the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas at Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain, and the ninth patriarch of the Weiyang Sect of Buddhism, had peacefully manifested the stillness in Los Angeles, U.S.A., at 3:15 p.m. on June 7, 1995 (the tenth day of the fifth lunar month of the year yi hai) at the age of seventy-eight. The fourfold assembly of disciples at the various branches of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (Gold Mountain Sagely Monastery in San Francisco, Gold Wheel Sagely Monastery in Los Angeles, Gold Summit Sagely Monastery in Seattle, Gold Buddha Sagely Monastery and Avatamsaka Sagely Monastery in Canada, and others), following the Elder One’s last instructions, recited the Flower Adornment Sutra and the Buddha’s name for forty-nine days, praying that the Elder One will soon return on the power of his vows and universally save living beings. From July 26 to 28, 1995, beginning at 7:00 a.m. each day, the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas held a three-day Memorial and Cremation Ceremony. I was asked to be on the Committee in Honor of the Nirvana of Venerable Master Hua, and I came to the United States especially to attend the Memorial and Cremation Ceremony. I sincerely pray that the Venerable Elder Hua will soon return on his vows and universally save living beings.
The Venerable Elder Hua was a native of Shuangcheng County, Jilin Province, China. In 1948 he received the Dharma-transmission from the Elder Master Hsu Yun and became the ninth patriarch of the Weiyang lineage of the Chan Sect. In 1962, after living in Hong Kong for over ten years, he went to America to propagate the Dharma. Over the next thirty-odd years, he expounded more than thirty Mahayana Sutras and his disciples published over one hundred volumes of translated Buddhist texts in English, Vietnamese, and other languages. These publications have been widely circulated in places such as northern California, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. He founded twenty-seven Way-places, and his disciples are found in all parts of the world.
The Elder One maintained the precepts strictly throughout his life and emphasized the importance of teaching by example. At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and other Way-places he established the six great principles of no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuit of personal advantage, and no lying, which are held in respect by both monastic and lay disciples. He also promoted educational activities and founded elementary and secondary schools and the Dharma Realm Buddhist University at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
In May of 1987, preparation began for the trip of a seventy-member delegation of monks from Guangji Monastery in Beijing and Dragon Flower Monastery in Shanghai to go to America to hold the Water, Land, and Air Ceremony. I and Layman Wang Xin (the Director of Religious Affairs of the Buddhist Association of China) and Mr. Zhao Changming of the Religious Affairs Department of the National Affairs Assembly went to America in advance to set up the platform and discuss the questions of expenses with the Venerable Elder Hua. We made the necessary preparations for the Water, Land, and Air Ceremony to be held at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in July. Under the personal guidance of the Venerable Elder Hua, the assembly participated in the Water, Land, and Air Ceremony, which lasted continuously for seven days and nights and concluded successfully.
Not only was this the first time since new China was established that Chinese Buddhism sent a large delegation abroad to hold such an elaborate Buddhist ceremony, this was also unprecedented in the history of the outward propagation of Chinese Buddhism. It was an actualization of China’s policies of freedom of religion and of open exchange with other nations and was of great influence abroad. The Venerable Master Hua’s merit is truly immeasurable. I described the event in the article
“The Sound of Applause at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas” in Shanghai’s
Liberation Daily on October 8, 1989. Since then the Venerable Elder Hua’s name has become widely known among Buddhists in the mainland, and his explanations of the
Dharma Flower Sutra, Shurangama Sutra,
Vajra Sutra, and other Sutras have been reprinted in great volume within the country. His Dharma rain reaches everywhere, perpetuating the Proper Dharma. Later, I went to America several times to take part in the ordination ceremonies and other activities, working hand in hand with the Venerable Elder Hua to propagate the holy teachings.
After the forty-nine-day ceremony in honor of the Venerable Elder Hua’s Nirvana, there will be an ordination ceremony from September 18 to 23, with myself as the Precept-speaking Master, Dharma Master Heng Sure as the Karma Acharya, and Dharma Master Heng Lai as the Teaching Acharya. The Venerable Elder Hua strictly maintained the precepts throughout his life, and the Sangha of the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is well-known for their strict practice. For example, when the Chinese Sangha Delegation arrived at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the Venerable Master led the assembly to kneel and welcome us. This is the most exalted form of courtesy in Buddhism. The monks and nuns at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas take only one meal a day, never lie down to sleep, and promote a style of practice that is bitter and austere, thus evoking the respect of the laity. The
Flower Adornment Sutra says:
Precepts are the unsurpassed foundation of Bodhi.
One should completely uphold the pure precepts.
If one is able to persevere in upholding the precepts and rules,
Then one will be praised by the Thus Come Ones.
The precepts are the foundation for obtaining great Bodhi─the unsurpassed proper, equal, and right enlightenment. If the foundation is not firm, it will be difficult to accomplish anything. It is like building a house: If the foundation is not solid, the house will collapse in a storm. Of the three nonoutflow studies, precepts are the foundation. From the precepts, samadhi arises; and from samadhi, wisdom can come forth. The World Honored One, Shakyamuni,
said in the Sutra of the Final Teaching, “Bhikshus, after my Nirvana, you should cherish the Pratimoksha.” Pratimoksha refers to precepts. It is also translated as
‘separate liberation’ and ‘liberation in every place.’ The precepts taken by the seven assemblies of disciples can prevent them from making mistakes and separately liberate the Seven Limbs of the body and mind from evil karma. Thus, they are called the precepts of separate liberation. The World Honored One also said,
“Precepts are the basis for proper and compliant liberation. Thus they are called Pratimoksha. By relying on precepts, one gives rise to Chan samadhi
and the wisdom that extinguishes suffering.”
In order to carry on the Buddha’s instruction to
“take the precepts as our teacher,” the transmission of precepts is being held at the conclusion of the ceremonies in honor of the Venerable Elder Hua’s Nirvana. The significance of this is extremely deep and far-reaching.
At the same time that we praise the Venerable Elder Hua’s limitless merit and virtue, we should strive to imitate the Venerable Master’s noble character, practice the Six Great Principles that he promoted─no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuing personal advantage, and no lying─carry on his vows, and make Dharma Realm Buddhist Association and the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas even better.
I pray that the Venerable Elder will soon come back riding on his vows, causing the Buddha’s sun to shine ever brighter and the Dharma wheel to constantly turn.
Honorary Director of the Buddhist Association of Shanghai
Abbot of Dragon Flower Monastery of Shanghai
Abbot of Yuanming Lecture Hall of Shanghai
A lofty Sanghan went to America to create good causes
Whether old friends or new acquaintances, everyone liked to draw near him.
He crossed the vast ocean to propagate the holy teaching.
He flew to a distant foreign land to spread the pure sound.
In Tathagata Monastery, people cultivate in accord with the Dharma;
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the myriad things flourish.
The perfection of his merit and virtue will shine in the pages of history.
His great deeds will endure for a thousand autumns and illuminate the present.
The bell and drum are struck at Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain.
In the town of Talmage, there was an eminent Sanghan.
The Venerable Elder To Lun’s compassion was earnest.
The Shramana Hsuan Hua’s kind vows were profound.
Opening the door of extensive giving, he hosted the Water Land Ceremony.
With an assembly open to all without restriction, he benefited sentient beings.
His vast, great vows are as deep as the sea.
We hope that, riding on his vows, he will return to save living beings.
I am a small ant that wishes to crawl beneath the feet of
all living beings. I am a road that wishes all living beings will walk
upon me and travel from the stage of ordinary beings to the
stage of Buddhas.
──Venerable Master Hsuan Hua