I came to Buddhism in December 1984. Previous to that time, I had been reading many books on Christianity and always had a deep desire to learn more about religion and spirituality. I always had an innate desire to know more about myself and what happens to our souls after death and the meaning of our earthly existence. I did not pursue religion because I was caught up in the desire to complete my professional education and develop a career.
In 1984, I was satisfied with the level of my career and decided that it was a good time to pursue the study of religion again. My uncle asked if I might be interested in Buddhism. He said he had met the Venerable Master through a family friend. My uncle said this high monk was very special and many people spoke very highly of him. Please understand, my uncle always studied martial arts and qi gong. He was always fascinated with anyone who had those types of skills, and he believed high monks should always possess such skills. He said there was a temple in Los Angeles, Gold Wheel Monastery, which the Venerable Master had established, and suggested I go there and investigate for myself. I went to Gold Wheel Monastery in December 1984 and was immediately overwhelmed by the aura of the monastery. It was very simple, but had an air about it which is difficult to explain but instilled faith and trust. I immediately bought some beginners' books on Buddhism and read them. I read the life history of the Master and was profoundly impressed. At that moment, I knew this was the religion I was looking for. It is difficult to explain. I knew without a doubt that I should be a Buddhist disciple.
Within a month, I became a vegetarian and took refuge with the Master. I remember once when I was going to ask the Venerable Master a question, and a Dharma Master was translating for those of us who did not speak Chinese. The Master answered my question before I could ask it, and the answer was perfect. It was precise and very accurate. I was amazed the Master knew my thoughts before I had the opportunity to speak to him.
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I know the Master is gone from our current time, but I do not believe he is entirely gone. Occasionally I dream about him. I remember in one instructions on cultivation, such as to leave our greed, anger, and stupidity behind with him. In this dream, there was no one around except me. He spoke to me in Chinese and gave me very specific and special instructions, but to this day I do not know what he said, because I do not understand Chinese. These thoughts are still perplexing me to this day.