When I first met the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, I barely noticed him. I was at a weekend conference on Buddhism sponsored by the University of California. The conference was held in La Honda, located in a forest setting near the ocean. On the second evening of the conference, the Master entered the hall accompanied by some of his American disciples. His appearance was very ordinary and unassuming and I didn’t pay much attention to him. Instead I was fascinated by the sight of five American-born monks and nuns who had recently left home under the Master’s guidance.
Everything changed when the Master began to speak. His words stood apart from anything I had ever heard for their clarity and wisdom. I was moved to tears by what he said. It was like a dam had burst. I cried for hours. I realized I had been waiting all my life to meet this person.
In the twenty-five years since, I have heard the Master speak many times and I have never heard him say anything that did not ring true. He spoke the Dharma tirelessly and at every opportunity. He did not ask for money when he spoke and he did not exclude anyone from the Buddha’s Teachings. Whenever I asked him for help with a problem, he always did what he could to assist me. Not only did he help me, he helped all the members of my family in countless ways. I can’t imagine what my life would be like now, without the benefit of his kindness and compassion.
Now that the Master has gone, I feel that it is more important than ever to support his efforts to bring the Buddha’s Teachings to the West. The Master exhausted his life for this purpose and left behind as his legacy a great Dharma-treasury. It is up to his disciples to preserve this treasury and make it available to all who seek it, in the same spirit that the Venerable Master made it available to us.
July 10, 1995