I’d like to talk about how I came to study Buddhism. It was due to my wife’s influence. My wife was very happy when she read the Venerable Master’s Instructional Talks, and she began to do morning and evening ceremonies following the practice of the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. In the beginning I didn’t know anything about the Buddhadharma, but my wife’s worship of the Buddhas won my praise. Whenever she went to the temple to bow to the Buddhas, everyone seemed to take notice of her. It was as the verse says,
“The one bowing and the one bowed to are both empty and still in nature.” Even though I didn’t understand the Dharma, I praised her bowing. Gradually, I also began to understand the Buddhadharma.
Even before the Master came to Taiwan to propagate the Dharma, my wife was already following the Master’s teaching to cultivate the Buddhadharma. When the Master came to Taiwan in 1988, my wife and some other devotees in Taichung went to support his Dharma session in Taichung. Though I didn’t take part, because of my wife’s involvement I also took refuge with the Master. During the taking refuge ceremony, the Master stated that every disciple of his had to bow 10,000 times. Some days I would bow ten bows, or twenty bows, or fifty days, so it took a long time. In this way, I slowly entered the Master’s wonderful Dharma.
Once my wife and I went to attend a meeting at Yuanshan. After the meeting, my wife and I knelt in front of the Master, hoping the Master would give us his blessing. The Master, a Bright-eyed Wise Advisor who knew living beings’ dispositions, acted as if he didn’t even see me kneeling there. He didn’t even look at me. I became rather vexed, because I didn’t really understand the Buddhadharma then. My wife would often explain verses from the Buddhist scriptures to me and write them out. At first I wouldn’t pay attention to them, but when my mind was calm, I would look at the verses she’d written out and be filled with delight. I would praise the Thus Come Ones in my heart. I knelt before the Master for what seemed like a very long time. Finally my wife asked the Master,
“What Dharma-door should my husband practice?” The Master said,
“Recite Amitabha Buddha’s name.” He repeated this, and then my wife and I bowed and accepted the Master’s blessing. I had been vexed a moment before, but when the Master blessed us, I instantly attained a state of nonseeking.
Later I read in the Master’s Instructional Talks:
“When people reach the place of no seeking, they will naturally be noble in character. At the place of no seeking, there are no worries.” I immediately vowed,
“I will never again accept the Master’s blessing.” This matter made a great impression on me during my initial study of Buddhism. Later I had another chance to receive the Master’s blessing, but when I knelt in front of the Master to bow, I told myself silently that I wouldn’t accept the blessing. Yet the Master was still very compassionate and blessed me three times.
The first time I received the Master’s blessing, I was deeply moved. At the time, the Master was fasting on behalf of the living beings of Taiwan. He had not eaten anything for a long time, and his hands were trembling slightly. When the Master blessed me, he hit me very lightly, but I felt a rumbling
“Hong...” within me. We were in Taipei, and on
the way home and for the duration of the
following day, there was a roaring sound in my
head─“Hong, hong, hong...” That was the first time I was stirred by the Master.
One day my wife said to me, “When the Dharma session ends, our conditions with the Master will probably be over.” Yet, very wonderfully, Wang Jinping’s family donated their villa in Liugui to the Master. Because no one had lived in the house for over ten years, the locals considered it to be haunted. The Master asked two Dharma Masters to stay at that Way-place. Thus my wife and I had a chance to immerse ourselves in the Proper Dharma under the Master’s Dharma-protection for about three months.
During those three months, my wife and I and Upasika Hong Ziyin would go to the Way-place in Liugui every Sunday to support the Dharma there. We would recite Sutras. The house was in great need of repairs. The floor tiles had become dislodged, and the iron door was rusty. The local laypeople were very eager to help with the repairs. There were a lot of snakes in the area, which was a bit nerve-wracking. People without samadhi power could not have lived in that house. We often recited Sutras in those three months and were fortunate to learn many new things. With great delight, we studied the Sutra Treasury and gained a better understanding of the Buddhadharma.
The two Dharma Masters were later recalled to America, and we thought our conditions with the Master were over. But then the women’s Buddhist Academy moved to the Way-place in Liugui. My wife developed good relations with the nuns, which have continued to the present. Due to those circumstances, a Water Repentance Ceremony came to be held in the last week of every month.
Finally, I would like to thank the Master. Last year, after the Sagely City of the Dharma Realm was established, I went to attend the Dharma session. After it was over, I went to the International Translation Institute to say goodbye to the Master. The Master very kindly said,
“Stay a few more days.” Then he said, “Don’t forget to cultivate!” When I think of this last sentence, it seemed to imply that I would never see the Master again. I’m so sad today, for the Master had said,
“Stay a few more days,” but I had only thought that my ticket was set and I couldn’t not go back. In fact, the Master’s wonderful Dharma has deeply stirred my heart. The Master’s words,
“Stay a few more days” carries deep and lasting meaning. If I can let go of body and mind and listen to the Master, then I will be able to advance a level higher.
I hope everyone will take the Master’s admonishment to me as your own admonishment:
“Don’t forget to cultivate!” Amitabha Buddha!