Even if he was all alone, he continued with his cultivation.
Whether many people came or only one, he still lectured in the same way.
I met the Venerable Master Hua way back in 1948 at Nanhua Monastery in Shaoguan, Guangdong. Everyone had gone there to escape the war. The Master and I were together there for over a month. He was living in the Tripitaka Hall. Venerable Master Hsu Yun thought very highly of him.
The Master and I were from the same part of China. I had only heard of him in Manchuria, and when I finally met him at Nanhua Monastery, I wished I could have met him earlier. At that time everyone was feeling very insecure, because we were fleeing from the war and were staying there only temporarily. Later, in Hong Kong, the Master and I often saw each other and were together. I discovered that the Venerable Master was an extremely diligent cultivator who was not afraid of suffering. His cultivation was realistic and genuine, not at all frivolous or superficial. Thus, we all respected him very much.
After going to America, he received many Western disciples; one of his great strengths was that he could communicate with Westerners even though he didn't know English. He had an extremely good memory and could remember anything after reading it once. His many years of propagating Dharma and the large following he came to have in America are very admirable indeed.
He was determined to cultivate even in the most difficult situations when there was no Way-place. He was never the least bit lax in his practice. Even if he was all alone, he continued with his cultivation. Whether many people came or only one, he still lectured in the same way. This spirit of perseverance won him great respect. No matter where he went in the world to propagate the Dharma, the multitudes flocked to welcome him and take refuge. This was a response to his honest cultivation.
I heard that many sharira (relics) were found after his cremation. This is proof of his skill in cultivation. It is through his accomplishment in the practice of precepts, concentration, and wisdom that he was able to have such a great amount of sharira. At the same time, he did everything he could to propagate the Dharma for the benefit of people in America. He had many Sutras printed and many volumes translated from Chinese into English. This is not an easy thing to do.
When we heard of the Venerable Master's passing, we felt that Buddhism had lost a great leader in the Dharma, a virtuous and esteemed elder, and we felt it was a great pity. In the present Dharma-ending Age, the virtuous Dharma Masters who have attained the Way are passing away, one by one, with no one to succeed them. This is our great worry. Those of later generations cannot measure up to them. In terms of cultivation, most left-home people cannot match them either. As the virtuous leaders pass away, we worry that there will be no successors. This is a hidden concern in Buddhism.
We hope that you laypeople will bring forth the resolve to leave the home-life and support Buddhism. Left-home people protect Buddhism from within by devoting themselves to the practice of the Dharma. If the Sangha Jewel didn't exist, Buddhism would also die out. Therefore, it is essential to have left-home people. Leaving home is not enough; one must also study the Dharma and then put it into practice. It's not enough to just learn a little Dharma and then rely on your mouth to do all the work. Understanding must be paired with practice in order for there to be some achievement. If you have one but not the other, you won't get anywhere. What we admire most about the Venerable Master Hua was that his understanding matched his practice. He was really able to do this, and that's why so many people look up to him today.