The Venerable Master’s completion of stillness has brought endless sadness and grief to his disciples. Every disciple hoped that the Venerable Master would remain in the Saha world forever to instruct us on the wonderful principles of cultivation. When the Venerable Master propagated the Dharma and lectured on the Sutras, he always made the profound wisdom of the Sutras easily accessible to us and earnestly exhorted us to practice in accord with the Buddha’s teaching. The elder one was ever kind, gentle and sincere, giving disciples an incomparable sense of purity and peace and causing us to pay homage with the utmost reverence.
Twelve years ago, my daughter and I immigrated to America and were living in Los Angeles. A few years later, I was feeling very bored and restless and wanted to return to Taiwan. When I told the Venerable Master, he said,
“I’ll be opening a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. If the only reason you want to go back is because of boredom, you and your daughter can go help out at the restaurant.” Moved by the Venerable Master’s compassion, the two of us moved to San Francisco and worked at the Ten Thousand Buddhas Chun Kang Vegetarian Restaurant for over three years. In writing this, I feel boundless gratitude to the Venerable Master for his kindness, compassion, joy, and giving, which allowed my daughter and I to find a refuge in this vast human sea. Now our whole family is happily living and working in the Bay Area. Our family will never be able to forget or to repay this kind favor.
One year, my daughter and I went to attend the Opening Light Ceremony for the Mountain Gate at the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Several thousand people from around the world came to attend this unprecedented event. For the dozen or so years that we have known the Sagely City, my daughter and I have received the Sagely City’s aid and have been influenced by its cultivation of the Buddhadharma, enabling our karmic hindrances to disappear. From the Venerable Master’s instructional talks, we have learned that compassion begins with a vegetarian diet.
Vegetarianism not only helps us to maintain the precept of not killing, but also cures illness and extends life. By promoting vegetarianism and opening a vegetarian restaurant in the hope that living beings will stop eating the flesh of other living beings, the Venerable Master is truly practicing the Bodhisattva’s great kindness and compassion. That year, my daughter and I both made vows before the Buddhas that we would become vegetarian and no longer touch meat products. The tumor on my conscience thus gradually disappeared. If I had not followed the Venerable Master’s advice and had continued eating meat, it would probably have been difficult to avoid having an operation or losing my life. The Venerable Master is truly our parent, helping us to extend the wisdom life of our Dharma bodies.
One day after listening to the Venerable Master lecture on a Sutra, over ten of us disciples were sitting around the Master asking questions on cultivation. One disciple told the Master he’d heard there was a five-colored sharira of the Elder Venerable Master Hsu Noble Yun in No Words Hall. He asked if we could go to behold it and bow to it. The Venerable Master smiled and said,
“If it’s not a special celebration, I don’t casually allow people to see it. You’ll have an opportunity to bow to it later on.” We should have heeded the Master’s wish and not made the request again. Yet, driven by our fervent wish, this group of bold disciples again sincerely requested the Venerable Master, who was like our kind father, to allow us to go bow to the Elder Master’s sharira. And so the Venerable Master made an exception and granted our request. We chose a few representatives who followed the Venerable Master upstairs in No Words Hall to pay reverence to the Elder Master’s sharira. The Venerable Master personally carried the Elder Master’s sharira and slowly walked into the Guanyin Hall, where he reverently placed it on the altar. Then the disciples lined up and bowed and gazed upon the Elder Master’s dazzling sharira, just as they had wished.
That scene remains clearly etched in my mind. How can I not be grieved by the fact that I am now beholding and bowing to the Venerable Master’s sharira?
One day, a disciple said to the Venerable Master:
“The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas at Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain covers several hundred acres. It’s too bad we can’t get an overall view of the Sagely City and recognize how the Sagely City really looks.” Hearing this, the Venerable Master happily said,
“Tomorrow I’ll take you to see the City’s true appearance.” The following morning, the Venerable Master arranged for a car to take us to the mountains in the back. There were lush green woods and a large walnut grove in the back mountains. Standing at the top of a hill facing the breeze, the Venerable Master pointed with his hand and said,
“Over there, we’re going to build a Jewelled Palace of Great Heroes. It will have red pillars and glazed yellow roof tiles. The temple will be surrounded by seven rows of trees. There will be seven jewelled pools filled with water of the eight meritorious virtues in the front of the temple. It will be an ideal Pure Land of ultimate bliss. I hope the left-home and lay disciples of the future will cultivate vigorously there from morning to evening and together attain the Bodhi fruit (Buddhahood). This mountain has a fine shape. An extraordinary monk and patriarch will appear there in the future.” As I recollect this, the Venerable Master’s adorned image appears before me. I can still see the Master’s face and hear his voice.
Although the Venerable Master’s physical form has left us, his words of Dharma are still in my ears.
“Renounce yourself for the sake of others. Don’t
seek fame and profit. Forget yourself for the sake
of the Dharma. Practice truly. Express the marrow of
the Flower Adornment Dharma; expound the essential
meaning of the Great Vehicle. Get along with people
and be amiable...Those who are truly wise would
never praise themselves or slander others.”
The Venerable Master is teaching living beings the wordless great Dharma of neither coming nor going. And so he gave these final instructions to his disciples:
“After I have gone... Scatter my ashes in empty space, and don’t do anything else. Remember, don’t build any stupas
or memorials for me. I had nothing when I came, and
I don’t want anything after I’m gone. I don’t want
to leave any traces in the world! I came from empty
space, and I’ll return to empty space.”
Beyond thinking of the Venerable Master longingly, as disciples we should take the Buddha-mind as our own mind and our Master’s resolve as our own resolve. We should do our best to carry out the Venerable Master’s three great vows: to propagate the Dharma, to translate the Buddhist Canon, and to work on education. We should cause the Venerable Master’s great vows and deeds to be passed on to the future. Only then will we be able to repay a slight fraction of the Venerable Master’s kindness.
There is a Chan verse that aptly praises the Venerable Master’s conduct:
Carrying the sound of the spring, the wind blows through the valley.
The mountains and clouds are reflected in the deep lake.
An expanse of springtime water and a curl of rising smoke:
Every phenomenon comes into being and
changes in its own natural way.
If you ask me why I’m laughing,
Let me first ask you why you’re crying.
Crying and laughing are not the Middle Way.
Why should we be attached to the two sides?
In one gulp, he swallows the tears of sorrow and resentment.
His two eyes see through those who involved in fame and gain.
No one recognizes this Bodhisattva. They all miss him at arm’s length.
They are still wandering about wasting time.
──by Venerable Master Hua