After personally seeing the Venerable Master’s body being placed in the crematory, and several hours later, seeing his ashes being scattered from a hot air balloon, and seeing his five-colored shining sharira, one has no choice but to accept the cruel fact that the Venerable Master has already completed the stillness. At first, I held to the thread of hope that the Venerable Master was only in samadhi, for after all, he was no more than seventy-eight years old! The Saha world still has so many things for the Venerable Master to worry about, so many living beings waiting for the Master to teach and rescue them...
I often congratulate myself for being very blessed: When I was growing up, I had many good teachers who taught me and influenced my life in a very great way. Nevertheless, these good teachers of worldly subjects cannot compare to the Venerable Master, whom I met six years ago.
The Venerable Master said he wanted to create living Buddhas, living Bodhisattvas, and living Patriarchs in America. For that reason, the loftiness of his Dharma and the strength of his medicine were not something that most people could immediately accept. Consider, for example, the abbotship of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Since I first visited the City six years ago, it’s not known how many abbots have come and gone. There is a new abbot just about every year or half year. Dharma Masters who didn’t wear their sashes or eat in the formal way were invited from Taiwan and mainland China to come and set up new rules at the City, and only afterwards did everyone wake up and realize that it was another test! If even the abbot’s position is this way, need we mention the qigong masters and other externalist teachers who are invited to come and give lectures?
During the Unrestrained Repentance Ceremony three years ago, the Venerable Master’s severe and merciless manner scared away many who didn’t know the situation. Fortunately, two Bhikshus who recognized their faults and corrected them passed this rigorous test. During the period when the Venerable Master was gravely ill, he summoned one of them to him and asked,
“How has the play-acting been going?” After he said that, the Master and disciple embraced each other and wept. How could ordinary people understand the pains taken by the Venerable Master?
The Venerable Master’s earnest compassion was such that he would not forsake any living being who had affinities with him. Because the Venerable Master’s fame was so widespread, there were those who tried to use his influence, who drew near him in order to raise their own status. Such people would often cause his disciples to get mad and complain, and even to retreat from the Way. Yet, consider what kind of Bright-eyed Good Knowing Advisor the Venerable Master is. How could he not understand? The Venerable Master, with his heart of great compassion, patiently taught these disciples and never gave up on them lightly. On the one hand, the Venerable Master wished to compassionately draw in the disciples who were at fault and give them a chance to reform. On the other hand, he wanted to use this to test his disciples. The Master said,
“If one cannot endure even the temper of one’s Dharma-brothers, how can one accomplish one’s work in the Way?” From this, we can see the great pains taken by the Venerable Master to teach and save living beings!
During the time when the Venerable Master was manifesting illness, many devoted disciples either tried to treat the Master themselves or invited well-known Chinese and Western doctors to treat the Master. The Venerable Master is actually a great king of doctors who compassionately turned the ship around. Yet in order to teach and transform living beings according to their potentials, he kindly did as his disciples wished and accepted the unnecessary treatments. Ultimately, who was treating whom? Perhaps Guanyin Bodhisattva’s verse will give us a hint:
The old monk has come in leisure, with nothing much to do.
He plays hide-and-seek and lies on the sickbed.
In his heart, he constantly cherishes a resolve
as vast as empty space.
On his creased forehead, a spiritual light gathers.
Tossing and turning, he can barely endure the pain.
Yet he never forgets to benefit and rescue living beings.
For hundreds of thousands of eons, we have sought him
in the multitudes.
Coming face to face we fail to recognize him:
This is worth reflecting on.
Look at existence and contemplate emptiness:
the emptiness isn’t empty.
They treat the illness and seek the cause,
but the cause is not the cause.
According with conditions and responding to matters,
there is neither rising nor falling.
Those who are afflicted, wearied, and confused
ride his ship of kindness.
The Venerable Master has lectured on an extensive range of scriptures, which includes Sutras, the Vinaya, and Shastras. When the Master speaks the Dharma, he expresses profound principles in a simple and lively way which no one else in the world can match. Beginners as well as old pros alike can benefit from his Dharma. Fortunately, most of the Venerable Master’s lectures on the Sutras have been well preserved on tape. Listening to the Venerable Master’s lectures on tape is almost like listening to the Master in person. We should circulate these treasures of Dharma on a wide scale.
The Venerable Master has kindly left behind several thousand sharira for people in thousands of future generations to behold. They are also an inexhaustible treasury the Venerable Master left for his disciples. How can we not be moved to tears by this?