I met Venerable Master in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 1978 at the Chinese Assembly Hall where the Venerable Master was lecturing on the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva. It was just a five-minute encounter from a distance, but I felt attracted to the Master momentarily. At that time, I was new to Mahayana Buddhism and did not know much Chinese, either spoken or written, so I did not stay on to listen to the Master’s lecture, but went home with my wife.
Later on, one of my friends gave me a copy of the Sixth Patriarch’s Platform Sutra in English from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. After reading this Sutra, I became fascinated with the Master because there was a short history of the Master in the few pages at the front of the Sutra. I could understand the Master’s profound commentary of the Sutra, and it immediately strengthened my faith in the Mahayana school, after having been a Theravada Buddhist for about ten years because of my English educational background. Consequently, I made a resolve to meet the Master again and seek his teaching of the Dharma.
This resolve was fulfilled in 1979 when I came to San Francisco for a convention given by my company. Armed with the address of the Gold Mountain Monastery, I paid a visit to the Monastery on the day I arrived in San Francisco. From there I got directions to go to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) and took a Greyhound bus to CTTB that same afternoon. When I reached CTTB, it was late evening. I joined in the evening recitation, after which the Master allowed me to bow to him at close range. I cried when I stepped into CTTB, and I cried again several times during the evening recitation and when I was bowing to the Master. It was as if I had returned home and met a long-lost parent and teacher. The Master kindly gave me a meditation topic to think about, and that made me more keen to draw close to the Master.
At the conclusion of my company’s convention, the Master invited my wife, my son, and me to have lunch at Gold Mountain Monastery. There, I listened to the Master’s words of great wisdom and was also introduced to some of the Dharma Masters who were having lunch together with the Master. One of the Dharma Masters, an American, recited the Great Compassion Mantra, which made me want to learn the Mantra, too. That is how I was motivated to recite the Great Compassion Mantra within the few following months. I bought some books published by the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association and studied them when I returned home. Those books deepened my understanding of the True Dharma propagated by the Master, and I made another resolve to return to CTTB to learn from the Master.
In 1981, my desire to learn from the Master became so intense that I came alone to the CTTB at my own expense. During this trip I had several miraculous or wonderful responses which I am pleased to share now.
I came to CTTB in 1981 with eight questions to ask the Master. I kept those questions in my pocket hoping that I could ask the Master in person. However, when I arrived at the CTTB, the Master was giving an afternoon lecture after the meal offering. I was led to listen to the lecture by one of the Dharma Masters. As I was listening to the lecture, I realized that all my questions were already being answered by the Master, even before I had the chance to ask him personally. I was filled with joy and reverence for the Master. So, I thought that my mission had been achieved, and I asked the Master’s consent to let me move on to another place. However, the Master told me that I should stay on longer to learn more from him. Obediently I stayed on and learned a great deal about Chan meditation and the remarkable way of life of the Sangha in CTTB.
My stay in CTTB that time was extended to one whole month as I realized that more and more of my questions about life, birth, and death were answered in the most inconceivable ways, such as during the morning and evening recitations, during Dharma talks by the Master himself or his disciples, as well as in all the sayings posted on the walls in the dining hall, the Buddha hall and Tathagata Monastery, where I was given a room to stay.
One other very important thing happened during this time. That is, one day before I left my home in Kuala Lumpur to come to the CTTB, my thirteen-year-old son had had a fall from the bicycle he was riding. I had crudely treated his wounds and dressed them up in my own way. I did not know that his wounds had become infected while I was in the CTTB. In the third week of my stay in CTTB, my wife telegrammed me and I called home to speak to her. She told me that my son’s wounds had developed into very bad sores and his body also had rashes like shingles. She had taken him to see many doctors (both Chinese and Western), but none of them could heal him. She asked me to return home immediately to help her handle the problem. She also asked me to ask the Master to help. I decided not to return home until the following week because I wanted to participate in the seven-day recitation of Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name, which was beginning the next day. I told her to bow to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the Master at home and ask them for help. She did that, and within the next three days, she found a doctor who could heal my son’s wounds. That experience increased her faith in Buddhism and the Master. At the end of the seven-day recitation, the Master announced to the assembly during lunch that when the participants went home, everything would be all right. When I returned to Kuala Lumpur two days later, I found my son back to normal.