When I heard the sad news that the eminent Buddhist monk on the other side of the ocean, the Venerable Master Hua, had completed the stillness, grief welled up in my heart. Due to the great distance, I was not able to personally attend the memorial service. Aside from telling the Sangha members at the various monasteries of which I am the Abbot to hold mourning ceremonies and to recite Sutras and transfer merit, I am writing this short essay to express my heavy sorrow and grief.
More than ten years ago, in 1984, Dharma Master Mingyang (the Abbot of Dragon Flower Monastery in Shanghai), Dharma Master Miaoshan (the Abbot of Universal Salvation Monastery at Mount Putuo), and I attended the celebration of the completion of the Jade Buddha Pagoda and the inauguration of the Buddha image at Mahayana Monastery in New York at the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Ying Xingjiu of the Eastern American Buddhist Association. When the Venerable Master Hua found out about this, he made several phone calls inviting us to go to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas as guests, and since we could hardly refuse him, we accepted the invitation. We were given a solemn yet fervent reception. The Venerable Master Hua himself led his disciples in giving us a red-carpet welcome.
The Venerable Master treated us with great warmth. He conversed with us for a long time. He told me that he had bought what was originally the site of a hospital in 1975 and converted it into a base from which to propagate the Buddhadharma─presently the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. This was a very difficult task. He endured great hardship and toil. He also said his final goal was to build the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas into a center for world Buddhism, where the cultural exchange between East and West could be furthered. We were very deeply moved by the Venerable Master’s words.
In the spring of the following year (1985), the Venerable Master sent several American nuns from the Sagely City to visit Jade Buddha Monastery in Shanghai. We received them warmly at Jade Buddha Monastery. During their tour and visit, they praised the architectural magnificence of the Buddhahall and the adorned images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of Jade Buddha Monastery. They were surprised by the great numbers of devotees and tourists that came to the monastery and the prosperity of the temple. Upon leaving, many of them said,
“This visit has left a deep impression.”
The American nuns’ successful visit to Jade Buddha Monastery in Shanghai and other places made the Venerable Master extremely pleased, and in the summer of that year, he personally paid a visit to his native country. When the Venerable Master arrived at Jade Buddha Monastery, I led all the monks─over a hundred in number─to welcome the Venerable Master from the path at the front gate all the way to the Abbot’s quarters. He was deeply touched by this. In the Abbot’s room, he met with the Deputy Director Wang Hongkui of the Religious Affairs Bureau of the City of Shanghai, who explained to him the national policy of religious freedom and the conditions of Shanghai’s Buddhism. The Venerable Master was extremely happy after hearing him. Later he said to me,
“The flourishing of Shanghai’s Buddhism is
inseparably related to the protection of the entire
In March 1987, the Venerable Master Hua wrote a letter requesting the Buddhist Association of China to invite a delegation of eminent and greatly virtuous Sangha members to go to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to host the Water, Land, and Air Ceremony. The Buddhist Association of China decided to ask Guangji Monastery in Beijing and Dragon Flower Monastery in Shanghai to form a seventy-member Chinese Sangha Delegation to travel to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to attend the Water, Land, and Air Ceremony. In July 1987, the Sangha Delegation from Guangji Monastery and Dragon Flower Monastery, led by Dharma Master Mingyang and myself as an advisor, travelled to the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas near San Francisco. We brought with us the
“Water-Land axle-tree” and various Dharma instruments and equipment, sashes for the Sangha, and over eighty Buddhist Sutras including the
Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra and the
Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment Sutra. These things filled ninety-seven cases and weighed 2.5 tons. When we arrived at the San Francisco airport, the Venerable Master Hua led two hundred disciples of the fourfold assembly in giving us a reverent welcome, kneeling with joined palms, making prostrations, and reciting the Buddha’s name.
The Water, Land, and Air Ceremony at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas lasted for seven days and nights. Early every morning, Dharma Masters would begin reciting Sutras and bowing in repentance at the various platforms (Inner Platform, Great Platform, Flower Adornment Platform, Shurangama Platform, Dharma Flower Platform, Pure Land Platform, and All Sutras Platform). The clear sound of the Dharma resounded through the buildings, and the whole scene was solemn and adorned.
Not only was this the first time since new China was established that Chinese Buddhism had sent such a large Sangha Delegation across the ocean to hold such a splendid and magnificent Buddhist ceremony in another country, it was an unprecedented event in the entire history of the propagation of Chinese Buddhism.
The Venerable Master said,
“I believe that the twenty-first century will be an age during which Chinese Buddhism spreads to the world.” During the farewell meeting after the Ceremony, the Venerable Master was very moved and presented us with a poem on his feelings:
With this Chinese and American cultural exchange,
The friendship between the two countries will endure for
ten thousand autumns.
The Venerable Mingyang perpetuates the life of wisdom;
The Elder Zhenchan carries out vast plans.
All of you dragons and elephants (outstanding individuals)
should work hard together,
And the faithful donors of the ten directions have come to
The Water-Land Ceremony is now complete;
The sound of the Dharma spreads everywhere and
will never fade away.
The Venerable Master has already completed the stillness and left us. The Buddhist world has lost an eminent Sanghan of lofty virtue, and I have lost a good Buddhist friend. Today, as we remember the Venerable Master Hua, we should strive to emulate his spirit of sacrificing himself for the sake of the Dharma and crossing over the ocean without fear of toil and suffering
The Venerable Master’s example will live forever!
We hope he will come again, following his vows, to propagate the Dharma and benefit beings, to teach and save those in the world.
Written by Zhenchan, July 1995, Prajna Abbot’s Hall, Jade Buddha Monastery