Venerable Master:You should all know how Long Beach Sagely Monastery was established.
Helen: We are very lucky to have such a fine place. It used to be a Catholic convent. The nuns lived a cloistered life here for forty years. Since they never went out, they had their own clinic and their own bakery for making bread and cookies. Although people made offerings to them, the convent was not entirely open to the public. There was a small area in the front for visitors, but the rest of the convent was closed to the public. Later, feeling that the place no longer suited their needs, the nuns moved to a new place in Santa Barbara. Our opportunity had come. The Master came to take a look and also liked it.
Venerable Master: I just listened to your description of it. I didn’t visit it before we bought it.
Helen: In all of these moves, I was always the first one to look at the new place. If the Master okayed it over the phone, we made the deal. We’re really lucky to have this place. It’s a famous landmark in Long Beach, because the nuns lived and cultivated here for forty years. All the local Catholics know this place. If you just mention that it’s at the intersection of Redondo and Ocean Boulevard, people will know it. When we bought the place, we asked them to leave the statue of the Virgin Mary in the front, because we also worship her as Guanyin Bodhisattva. Even now, Catholics still come to pay homage and bring lots of fresh flowers to offer to her every day. Originally, there wasn’t an area large enough to serve as a Buddha hall. The Buddha hall we are sitting in now used to be a garden. After we drew up a design and applied for permission from the local government, we converted the garden into the Buddha hall.
Venerable Master: You should all know the history of Long Beach Sagely Monastery. It was purchased by the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas; no one else paid a penny. I remember the history of each of our temples very well.
I want to tell you that, from now on, you may make donations according to your ability, whether you wish to perform services to save the deceased, renovate a temple, or whatever. Although we now have so many temples and the expenses are not small, we can still manage to feed and clothe everyone, and no one will have to freeze or go hungry.
Now, you who are my disciples should know that your teacher is poor, and you ought to follow me in poverty. Once you have money, the troubles come and you cannot cultivate. Once you have wealth, you will want to eat, drink, and have fun－and you won’t stop at anything. You won’t be like your teacher, who uses the same napkin for many days. I don’t think any of my disciples do that. You are all from free countries and don’t know how to be thrifty. For that reason, I don’t want to be like those money-grubbers who say, “What Heaven has conferred is called money; accordance with nature is called money. Money may not be left for an instant.”
Today I am very happy. This monastery is much bigger than the one we had on Huntington Drive in 1976. It has a garden and overlooks the ocean, and the air is quite fresh.