Even with the Biography of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and the essays on the Venerable Master written by his disciples, our recognition of our kind Teacher can only be considered a drop in the great ocean. This is because anything with form and appearance is limited. The Venerable Master has accomplished whatever he had to do. All his deeds are without form and appearance, not something that the eyes of ordinary people can perceive. The Venerable Master is
“a Bodhisattva come again, roaming through the world in the Flower Adornment state, saving all living beings.” From the Venerable Master’s Eighteen Great Vows, we can sense his inconceivable state of selflessness and great compassion of oneness with all. The Venerable Master’s salvation of living beings is truly limitless and boundless, unreckonable and ineffable. The immensity of his merit and virtue is described by this verse in the Flower Adornment Sutra:
You might count every thought, numerous as atoms in all lands;
You might drink entirely the mighty oceans deep;
You might measure all of space, or harness fast the wind;
But no one could ever finish praising the virtues of the Buddha.
The Venerable Master himself is a
“Wordless True Sutra.” All the people who come in contact with him gain insights and benefits according to their individual dispositions. All living beings share in the benefit of Dharma. If there are those who do not recognize him, it is because of their heavy karma. Those who slander him reveal their own stupidity and will have to undergo the retribution. Although the Venerable Master has departed, his Dharma is still here. There is an invisible force silently aiding us, revealing the Dharma and teaching us. I think each person has experienced this kind of inconceivable feeling and received the benefit of Dharma. When a Great Wise Advisor selects his time of going, the teaching he manifests is certain to contain profound meaning. As to where the meaning lies, each person must analyze it for himself based on his own conditions with the Venerable Master.
When I first heard the news of the Venerable Master’s completion of stillness, I was shocked, sad, and doubtful. In general, I hoped it wasn’t true. I had a thread of hope that the Venerable Master was in samadhi and would come out in a few days. When the official announcement was made, I knew that it was an undeniable fact. Feeling that I’d lost a kind father, I wanted to cry but the tears wouldn’t come. Thinking of the Venerable Master, I was filled with melancholy. I felt remorseful to my kind teacher, feeling that I hadn’t been filial to him...
When I beheld the Venerable Master, it immediately made me think of the visage of the Sixth Patriarch. I also heard my Dharma brothers talking about their own impressions. Some people thought the Venerable Master was manifesting the Vajra body. This reminded me of the verse in the Vajra Sutra which says:
“All conditioned dharmas / Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, and shadows / Like dewdrops and lightning flashes. / One should contemplate them thus.” I had read this Sutra before, but because I’m very dull, I never grasped the meaning of Prajna in the Sutra. The various transformations manifested by the Venerable Master made me realize that all of the physical and visible phenomena in the world are as fleeting as illusions, bubbles, and shadows. They vanish in the twinkling of an eye. Although the Venerable Master has already transcended the worldly plane and entered the state of a Sage, although he possesses the wonderful functioning of spiritual powers and can take the sufferings of living beings upon themselves, dispelling disasters and lengthening their lives, the transformation body of a Bodhisattva is also false and cannot avoid the suffering of physical decline. All false appearances are produced from the karma of living beings. Thus the Wise Advisor always exhorts us to use the false to cultivate the true and not to cling to this stinking bag of skin.
I rejoice that I haven’t lived in vain, for I have met the Venerable Master and been permitted to leave home and become a nun in this Dharma-ending Age. Even if my life were to end now, my wishes have already been fulfilled! I didn’t expect the Venerable Master to manifest Nirvana so soon. Although his physical body is gone, his true body has never left his disciples. I am also grateful for the Venerable Master’s compassion. He is constantly turning the Dharma wheel and proclaiming the subtle and wonderful Dharma, comforting and encouraging his disciples. We rejoice that we have been able to see the Greatly Wise Advisor speaking the Dharma in person. We will always remember his teachings. It has not been easy for all these causes and conditions to come together. They are difficult to encounter in a hundred million eons, but we have encountered them. If we fail to cultivate diligently in this life, when the three disasters arrive, it will be too late.
The Venerable Master manifested as an ordinary monk entering Nirvana in order to teach living beings about the unspeakable suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death. As the Master said, life is truly like a play. Life is just this fragile and fleeting. Everyone should hurry to apply effort in cultivation and not forget the suffering of birth and death for an instant. In every thought we should wish to escape the cycle of transmigration and not linger in the burning house of the Triple Realm.
Although our kind teacher has gone,
his Dharma will always remain.
Before we have repaid our Teacher’s kindness,
we must not retreat from Bodhi.
To the ends of time, I vow to continue my affinities
with my Teacher
And return to empty space together with my Teacher.