After leaving high school, I developed an inclination towards philosophical and spiritual ideals. I read many books written by a world renowned English philosopher, mathematician and author. His clarity of thought, impressive eloquence, oratorical prowess, sensitivity, sincerity and courage inspired me greatly. But, I was also aware of the limitations of our thinking processes and science. Upon reading that philosopher’s autobiography, I was profoundly disappointed. Despite his high caliber and rare intellectual skills, he was still a victim of love, emotions, and desire. Like most ordinary men, he too gave in completely to his rash impulses and passion.
In my lifelong search for the ultimate truth and perfection, I have always valued purity above everything else. Thus, when I first read the Venerable Master’s biography, I knew that I had found my Teacher! Why? Because I have finally encountered One Pure Heart who will always uphold all his vows and precepts even in this Dharma Ending Age. Through him, my faith in the Buddhadharma has deepened; for the strict exemplary life which he leads constantly brings to life all the most wonderful principles that are found in the Buddhist Sutras in such a moving and powerful manner.
Just as in the Avatamsaka Sutra, the long and moving section in Chapter Thirty-nine that explains what a Good and Wise Advisor is like, the Venerable Master is also that way:
The Good and Wise Advisor is like a kind mother, in that he gives rise to the Buddha’s seed. He is like a kind father, in that he vastly benefits... He is like a valiant general, in that he banishes all terror... The Good and Wise Advisor illumines the Dharma Realm... A Good and Wise Advisor nourishes the Bodhisattva’s body, just as parents nourish their child.
My mother was the kindest and most understanding lady I ever knew. Her sudden death in 1990 left me with a lingering, intense kind of dull and numb pain inside, and I thought then that I could never feel happiness again. But, during that time, I joined a delegation from Malaysia to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Shr Fu was in the administration office when we arrived, and I was surprised that my heart was filled with joy when I saw the Venerable Master. His presence alone was so comforting and soothing. I remember that when I first saw the Venerable Master in November 1988 at the airport in Malaysia, I was overwhelmed with great joy too!
In Chapter One of the Avatamsaka Sutra, the text reads,
In the past, the Buddha cultivated an ocean of joy,
Vast, boundless, beyond all measure;
Thus those who see are all delighted.
I will never forget the great compassion and gentleness which the Venerable Master showed to me during my first trip to this Sagely City. My heart and spirit was grieving, bleeding and weeping most badly then, and Shr Fu employed the most powerful and effective means to alleviate my pain and mental anguish, which is:
“Gentle-compassion.” Shr Fu responded to my suffering like a most perfect, kind and gentle parent. During my first appointment with the Venerable Master at this Sagely City, he said to me,
“Being filial to me is the same as being filial to
I used to contemplate frequently on the profound meaning behind the Venerable Master’s compassionate words. In Chapter Three of
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra, the Buddha said,
The Thus Come One has already left
The Three Realms’ burning house behind.
Quietly I dwell at ease,
In forest and field at peace.
And now it is, that the Three Realms,
Entirely belong to me,
And in them all the living beings
Are children of mind.
In his commentary to the above text of the Sutra, the Venerable Master explains:
“The Buddha is your transcendental father, a pure,
greatly compassionate father. He is pure and
undefiled. If you can recognize your father, then in
the future you too, can obtain purity and
non-defilement, and get rid of all filth. So don’t
run outside and fail to recognize your own father..”
In the past , I looked at my photograph of Shr Fu and beseeched him to help me be more brave before I went upstairs to sleep alone at night in a house which was filled with strange and vengeful ghosts. That night I dreamt of Shr Fu coming to bless me. Later, when I came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the Master blessed me again in the same manner in his office...only then did I realize that my earlier dream of the Venerable Master was real. After I returned home from that trip, I continued to sleep upstairs in that old haunted house not because I was brave but, because I could somehow feel Shr Fu’s protection.
I am very grateful that the Venerable Master’s most precious lectures are recorded and preserved on tapes and printed in books. I deeply treasure the chance I have now of listening to the Venerable Master’s taped lectures because he is my most Compassionate, Wise and Selfless Teacher; and I have experienced on so many, many occasions and instances where while the Venerable Master’s taped lectures were played during mealtimes or in the evenings, Shr Fu spoke and penetrated right through the heart and root of the problems and tests which I was facing at that time. Whether the Venerable Master is speaking to us live or through his tapes or books, I find that he always dispenses the right medicine at the right time. And so, I find listening to his taped lectures and reading his printed commentaries to be most ALIVE, essential and illuminating.
I believe that like the Buddhas and Great Bodhisattvas, the Venerable Master too has already transcended the limitations of time. Thus, when he speaks, he is also constantly able to move the past to the present and move the future to the present, thereby displaying the miraculous interpenetration of the past, present and future. This is probably why I often find that the Sutra I am reviewing or the Venerable Master’s commentary I am reading or listening to on tape fits so remarkably well the situation and circumstances of that period of time. In Chapter Twenty-four of the Avatamsaka Sutra, Jeweled Banner Bodhisattva says:
The Thus Come One is apart from discriminations;
He is not of this world and transcends all calculations;
All guiding masters of the three periods of time appear in this way.
In Chapter Twenty-seven on “The Ten Samadhis,” the Sutra reads:
How do Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas enter into and emerge from this samadhi? Disciple of the Buddha, Bodhisattvas Mahasattvas enter this samadhi...in an instant, and emerge in different times...Entering in the past, they emerge in the future...Entering in a moment, they emerge in the past, present, and future; entering in True Suchness, they emerge in verbalization.
These two excerpts from the Sutra explains the inconceivable, auspicious, transforming, and miraculous effect which occurs each time the Venerable Master speaks and whenever his taped lectures are played.
In the past, I used to regard all animals as being no different from people. In fact, I often viewed many species of animals as being better, kinder, more honest, and more sincere than most homo sapiens. I failed to see the unwholesome subtle effects and gross danger behind my stubborn concepts about animals. By being so fond of animals and by being overly sympathetic towards their plight, I ran the risk of ending up in their realm in some future existence.
During my first trip to this Sagely City, the Venerable Master said one sentence to me which broke my unusually strong attachment to animals. He told me,
“Do you have to be so close to them in order to
I realized then that I had always been excessively moved by the beings of the animal kingdom. Although I am now still concerned about animals, I am no longer extremely attached to them as I was before.
On August 2, 1993, I dreamed that Shr Fu was teaching us. In that dream, the Venerable Master asked his disciples some questions. Then, he called me and asked
me to explain or compose something using the words
“still, peace and oil.” I thought for a while and said to the Venerable Master,
The water is still
And the mind is at peace,
But the oil intrudes.
When I woke up I did not know what the dream meant, but during that time I was reviewing the Amitabha Sutra again. That morning I reached the part where Shr Fu talked about Maitreya Bodhisattva. When I read that Maitreya Bodhisattva
“eats his food plain, without soy sauce, hot sauce, or sesame oil. It doesn’t taste like much, but it fills his stomach,” I suddenly realized the meaning of my dream. After I had lived in the Sagely City for a while, I developed a greed for butter, and very often, half of my meal consisted of many slices of bread spread with a rich layer of butter. So, one can imagine how much
“fat” I was ingesting every day. I knew that butter is virtually all fat and that my high consumption of it was detrimental to my health, yet I could not give it up. The Venerable Master knew in advance the verse I would compose, and he also knew in advance that the meaning of the dream would become evident to me when I continued to read his commentary to the Amitabha Sutra that morning. The Venerable Master’s incredible power filled me with astonishing delight, gratitude, shame, and deep reverence. Hence, from then on, I never ate bread with butter again. After I altered my diet, I felt a kind of inner calm and peace.
“The water is still.” Our basic nature is still and unmoving.
“And the mind is at peace.” When there are no ripples or waves, our mind will naturally be at peace.
“But the oil intrudes.” But my greed for butter or oily food can cause the water to swell or surge up. When the sea becomes stormy, I can even get drowned in its tidal wave.
The Venerable Master has made a vow that wherever he goes, he will establish the Proper Dharma Age and not allow there to be a Dharma Ending Age. I believe this is one of the reasons the first of the Venerable Master’s Six Great Guiding Principles is
“No Fighting!” It is said that during the Dharma Ending Age, people will be strong in fighting. We are living in the age of ethical infants and nuclear giants. Thus, if we wish to transform the Dharma Ending Age into the Orthodox Dharma Age, we have to constantly make a stringent and courageous effort to always be tolerant, kind, gentle, patient and forgiving towards all living beings. We cannot harbor hatred, anger or jealousy towards anyone. Otherwise, how could we ever repay even a minute fraction of our Compassionate Teacher’s Great Kindness? Chapter Twenty-five of the Avatamsaka Sutra describes aptly the Venerable Master’s far reaching, vast vows and selfless spirit. Part of the text reads:
I should accept all sufferings for the sake of all living beings, and enable them to escape from the abyss of immeasurable woes of birth and death. I should accept all sufferings for the sake of living beings in all worlds, in all states of misery, till the end of time, and still always cultivate foundations of goodness for the sake of all beings. Why? I would rather take all this suffering upon myself than to allow living beings to fall into the hells. I should be a hostage in those perilous places: hells, animal realms, the places of King Yama, and so on; as a ransom to rescue all living beings in states of woe and enable them to gain liberation.
Even now, the Venerable Master is still turning the Dharma Wheel. In Chapter Twelve of the
Avatamsaka Sutra the text reads:
In the cases of those with greed, hatred, and stupidity,
The raging fires of these afflictions always blazing,
The Bodhisattvas manifest aging, sickness, and death for them,
To cause those living beings to all be tamed.
The Venerable Master has manifested passing away in this manner because:
a. He wishes to teach and remind us about impermanence and about the extreme urgency in cultivating hard to end birth and death. A verse of exhortation by the Venerable Master says,
In every thought do not forget the pain of birth and death.
With all your heart seek to escape the rim
of the turning wheel.
Smash to pieces empty space; comprehend the Buddha nature.
Understand, and then the cloud of delusion will fall away;
You’ll see the basic nature.
b. He wants us to cultivate ultimate independence.
c. He wants us to break off our attachment to our false body and self and to beautiful forms, for if we can break through all marks of form, we can arrive at the level of liberation.
d. He wants us to cultivate humility, compassion and patience vigorously.
All the living beings in the nine realms, all the Bodhisattvas, Those Enlightened to Conditions, Sound-Hearers, Gods, Asuras, people, animals, hungry ghosts and beings in the hells are included in the Venerable Master’s most compassionate vows. In his commentary to Chapter Fifteen of the
Avatamsaka Sutra, the Venerable Master says:
I have said to you all, every one of you: If you see my face, or hear my name, or take refuge with me, and if you have faith, I have vowed that you will all become Buddhas before I do. As long as one of you has not become a Buddha, I will wait for you...
The Venerable Master remains in this Saha world, waiting for all his disciples and living beings to return home to the Land of Limitless Light and Ultimate Bliss.
July 3, 1995