June 7 will always be an unforgettable day of sadness. A holy and virtuous monk of this age manifested the stillness. It would be hard to describe in words the pressures and feelings in the hearts of his disciples in this last month.
Although I was quite shocked when the news of the Venerable Master’s completion of stillness came, I refused to believe that it was true. How foolish I was! I thought it must be one of the ways the Venerable Master used to teach his dull-witted disciples. I kept telling myself, the Venerable Master has entered samadhi and will come out again. He wouldn’t leave us.
When I went down to Long Beach to attend the ceremony for placing the Venerable Master’s body into the casket, after gazing upon the Venerable Master, I finally woke up from my dream. My hopes vanished and a tumult of feelings arose. My mind was a blank. I was bewildered and at a loss for what to do, like a child who has lost his parents, like a ship that has lost sight of the light tower, like the world without light. I had nothing to rely on, and could only cry for days. I couldn’t come to terms with what had happened. Emotionally, I had hit bottom.
When I was young, during vacations I would sometimes accompany my grandmother, a devout Buddhist, to a temple to worship. I didn’t understand the vastness and profundity of the Buddhist doctrines then, nor did I understand enough to venerate the Triple Jewel. I thought of monkhood as only one of the many professions, and considered monks to be no different from worldly people. When I saw my frugal grandmother send the money her children have given her to the temple, I thought she was as stupid and superstitious as could be.
It was only when I met the Venerable Master that I, a person of deep karmic hindrances and scanty good roots who didn’t believe in the Buddhadharma, changed my mind, redirected my life, and renounced the worldly home. If it hadn’t been for the Venerable Master’s virtuous influence and compassionate acceptance, I could not have become a left-home person in this life. However, due to my scarce blessings and heavy karma, although I left the home-life under the Venerable Master, the Master did not shave my head himself. And although the Master had been in the Sangha for sixty years, I followed him for only a little over three years.
When the Master personally taught the fourfold assembly of disciples at the Sagely City, I didn’t have the affinities to be there and hear his teachings. When the Venerable Master was lying sick in bed, although I wanted to visit him, I could only face his image and wish him well from far away! These circumstances cause me to ask myself,
“Why did I have such slight affinities with my Good
Knowing Advisor in this life? How should I foster
the good roots that will enable me to follow my Good
Knowing Advisor in the future?”
Although one may say that the Venerable Master’s Dharma body is everywhere and his disciples need not be attached to the Master’s physical body, that kind of elevated state is beyond me. Fortunately, we can still bow in homage to the Venerable Master’s image and listen to his Dharma. These are the only things we can use as we foster our good roots, saturate our Buddha seed-nature, and learn to have a little bit of the Venerable Master’s spirit.
While the Venerable Master’s virtue is unparallelled and his state of cultivation is so lofty that no one can fathom it, his deeds to rescue the world and save people are known by all. Although I did not personally witness those deeds, I see that the members of the Sangha range from illiterate folks to Master’s degree and Ph.D. holders; from the young and strong to the aged, feeble, sick, and crippled; and even those who committed vile and evil deeds in the past. Out of compassion, the Venerable Master accepted them all as his disciples. As it is said, the Bodhisattva’s mind is as vast as empty space.
The Three Great Principles of the Sagely City of TenThousand Buddhas are:
“Freezing, we do not scheme. Starving, we do not beg. Dying of poverty, we ask for nothing. According with conditions, we do not change. Not changing, we accord with conditions. We carry on the single pulse of the patriarchs’ mind-transmission.” The Six Great Guidelines are: no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuing personal advantage, and no lying. These are the principles of cultivation that the Venerable Master taught us, and within them lies the spirit of the precepts.
The Venerable Master’s completion of stillness is a test for the fourfold assembly of disciples. Some Dharma brothers have been fasting to request the Buddha to dwell in the world; some want to follow after the Venerable Master; others continue working busily in the Way-place to repay the Master’s kindness... In all of these states, we must rely on the Dharma-selecting Eye that the Venerable Master taught us to have in order to discriminate between the Way and what is not the Way and to decide whether to advance or retreat. As one Dharma brother warned,
“You have to take care of yourselves!” Indeed, we have left our hometowns and crossed the ocean to come to the Sagely City, hoping to personally receive the Venerable Master’s teachings, direct and indirect, or even drastic measures to arouse us from stupidity. If we still fail to honor the Master’s instructions, strictly uphold the precepts, and vigorously practice ascetism in order to end birth and death, won’t we be disappointing the parents of our physical body for their kindness in raising us? Won’t we be disappointing the parent of our Dharma body for his kindness in giving us our wisdom life?
Verse on Universal Worthy Bodhisattva
Empty space may come to an end,but my vows will not be exhausted.
They fill up the Dharma Realm and pervade every mote of dust.
He appears in all places, manifesting transformation bodies in every land
To cause all living beings to realize Bodhi and accomplish great and
──by Venerable Master Hua