The news of the Elder Master Venerable Hsuan Noble Hua’s completion of stillness has shocked many people. I am filled with melancholy. Why? Because the Master was bearing the karma of living beings when he left. Living beings commit sins to the end of their days. Not only do they have no opportunity to repent, but they constantly create new offenses. If they do not have the goot roots to meet the Proper Dharma, then they have no means to repent of all the evil deeds they have done. Our greatly kind and compassionate Master bore the karma of living beings upon his own shoulders. As his disciples, we ought to deeply reflect on the teachings the Master left us, and try to emulate and realize his vast vows.
I took refuge on March 15 of this year (1995). I could be considered a disciple of the
“late period” of the Master, because during the one year or so that I’ve been at the Way-place (Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Association in Taiwan), there has not been a refuge-taking ceremony. We had long heard the Master was coming to Taiwan to propagate the Dharma, but later we heard he was ill. He sent two left-home disciples to Taiwan. During the Dharma session, the two Dharma Masters briefly related how they left the home-life and then let the audience ask questions.
Someone asked about dreams, and one Dharma Master replied,
“We are dreaming right now.” All of a sudden this reminded me of a dream of the Master that I’d had. When I came to this Way-place in mid-October of last year, I discovered with surprise that it was what I liked, the Way-place I’d been looking for. I felt delighted and resolved to come every Sunday (because I had to work during the week) to participate in the various Buddhist activities.
When I first saw the Master’s image─I can’t describe my feeling─it was as if I knew him before. When I first heard the Master speaking the Dharma in his straightforward way, I felt very close to him, and so I wanted to take refuge with the Master. But then I heard that to take refuge with the Master, one had to bow 10,000 bows. I had never heard of such a thing before and thought it very odd. However, the Master is so extraordinary, I thought, so I might as well bow! I set up a small altar in my home with images of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and the Venerable Master, plus a small censer, and then began to bow a hundred bows a day.
After I’d bowed for several weeks, I had a dream one night in which I saw the Master wearing a dark brown, old robe. He was in front of a simple altar. The altar had a black-and-white photograph on it, and there were many people beside it. I was standing in the front, and some people said to me,
“Come and bow to our Master.” The other people knelt down, and I followed suit. Just as I was rising from the bow, I woke up from the dream. It was 4:20 in the morning. I suddenly thought this must be the Dharma body rescuing and teaching people; it corresponded to the couplet under the Master’s image:
“His kindness and compassion cross over all;
/ Believers are liberated and perfect the Right Enlightenment. / Transforming beings wherever he goes, his spirit remains intact; / Those who venerate him obtain blessings and awaken to the Unproduced.” How rare and mysterious! Afterwards, I would relate my dream to those I knew, letting them know about the responses from the ten thousand bows.
The Master’s virtue crosses over and teaches and transforms people invisibly. I believe what he said in his final instructions:
“Right now I’m like two people. One person is still going around rescuing living beings. But this person who is me, I don’t care about him. I won’t help myself.” This is a reminder to us that we never stop learning, being vigorous, propagating the Buddhadharma, realizing our vows, and learning the Master’s virtue of genuine practice. Though we cannot be as perfect as the Master, as the Master’s lay and left-home disciples, we should at least
“take the precepts as our teacher,” especially the five precepts. Then I believe the Buddhadharma will certainly remain in the world and the teaching of the Proper Dharma will never perish.
Though we can no longer see the Master’s physical body, if we cultivate diligently, he will be very happy and will energetically protect us and stay beside us. I pray that those who have heard and who have not heard will all receive the Master’s protection and cause the orthodox teaching─the Proper Dharma─to flourish.
Amitabha Buddha !
Cultivating the Bodhi Way
The Great Bodhi Way is straight as can be.
Don’t let yourself get sidetracked or try to find a shortcut.
If you seek the Dharma with a true heart, there’s sure to be a response.
If you are insincere and negligent, you’re just wasting time.
Advance vigorously, be patient, and don’t retreat!
Practice giving, uphold the precepts, and cultivate wisdom.
One day you will complete the journey to the other shore
And join the Buddhas of the ten directions at the lotus pool.
──by Venerable Master Hua