Although I took refuge with the Triple Jewel ten years ago, I have been lax in my cultivation, and thus I have been floundering in the sea of karma for many years. Last October, I heard that the Master had entered Nirvana. Aside from making me feel repentant, the news shook me up in the depths of my obstinate and confused soul. My Dharma brother Wu always encouraged me to write down my experiences with the Master. Hopefully, this story of mine will encourage friends who have similar experiences. With this story, I would also like to express a tiny part of my gratitude to the Master.
In the summer of 1985, I joined a three-day pilgrimage to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas organized by Gold Wheel Monastery. Aside from feeling purified and filled with joy for the Dharma, I felt extremely lucky to visit the holy city and meet the Venerable Master. I deeply admired the Dharma Masters for their ascetic practice and diligent study of Buddhist scriptures. My mother and I are both teachers, and we recognized that only the Master’s virtue and personal example could inspire so many disciples to uphold the City’s strict tradition.
There was a Refuge Ceremony on the third day, and although I really wanted to take refuge, I was hoping to have a companion in cultivation, since I was by myself and away from home. Silently, I promised the Master that if he helped me find a good companion, I would come back and take refuge. Miraculously, I met my husband on the first day of college. We were both math majors and Buddhists, and we had similar family backgrounds.
A year later, we passed by San Francisco on our way back to Taipei to get married. Remembering my vow to take refuge with the Master, I called Gold Mountain Monastery. When the Master learned that I wanted to take refuge, he told me to return at nine o’clock the next morning. I rejoiced at my good luck! Only now do I realize how compassionate the Master was! The Master came out to meet us and gave us one of his cards. (I glued this card on the back of a picture of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva that I carry with me. That’s probably why I have always received timely help in difficult situations.) The Master talked about the causes of our society being so chaotic and the importance of education and the family, etc. Before allowing us to take refuge, he wanted us to promise that we would “never divorce.” I gave him my word without hesitation. He smiled and asked for the hours and dates of our birthdays. We could not give him the complete information, but he went ahead and calculated with his fingers while gazing at my husband, who had taken refuge as a child. I was a little jealous. Later I thought that the Master was probably giving him a “prophylactic shot” since I was a very difficult woman. The Master gave me the Dharma name Guozhu along with four tasks. He said that I must first help in establishing the family and then propagate the Dharma. Shortly after my first son was born, my schoolwork became burdensome, my health deteriorated, and the child was difficult to raise. Fights and quarrels ensued. We each felt that we were doing more than our share. When we fought to the point that we were disgusted with each other, divorcing seemed the easiest way out. I reasoned: if the child were mine alone, I would do everything I could to care for him without complaint; however, since the child belonged to both of us, my husband should work as hard as I did to take care of him. In this way, I let my ignorance get the better of me until my husband seriously told me, “If you have no concern about violating the Master’s instruction, we can get a divorce immediately.” I decided to cool down and be a little more patient. Only then did I realize how illogical and contradictory I was being. The power of deductive reasoning gained from so many years of studying science and mathematics had helped me solve many problems before. However, ignorance can hardly be overcome with a lack of clarity and patience.
In fact, in the split second prior to losing my temper, while reason was competing with ignorance, I often indulged myself and let the fire of ignorance blaze unchecked. Behaving this way, I hurt both of us. If I could have held back a little, said a few words less, things would have been all right. That is the principle of patience and self-examination the Master had been teaching us over and over again. “Never divorce” made a happy family; patience and self-examination shortened the distance between others and ourselves.
During the past ten years, my husband and I finished our studies and found teaching posts in the same university. The health of our family has improved as a result of treatment from a good and wise advisor, as well as upholding of the Great Compassion Mantra. When everything seemed to go smoothly, the Master entered Nirvana. We were much saddened, and felt helpless and remorseful over having wasted ten years of our lives. We had been neglecting our cultivation. How could we ever face our kind teacher? To this day, every time I bow to the Master my heart is filled with sorrow. Tears fill my eyes: "Master, please forgive this unfilial disciple!" The Master’s entry into Nirvana has caused this confused drifter to turn around. I have not completed the tasks the Master gave me. I must hurry up! The Master knew that our natures are lazy, that we have no perseverance and are easily influenced by the surrounding environment. He kindly provided us with many good and wise advisors who constantly give us precious instructions to dispel our confusion. Though the Master has returned to empty space, he is still protecting us as always. From his taped and printed Dharma talks and explanations of the Sutras, as well as from the monthly Vajra Bodhi Sea magazine and the newsletter “Source of Wisdom,” we know that the Master accompanies and helps us all the time along the path of Bodhi. As long as we are truthful and sincere, the Master will always zero in on our ignorance with the simplest words of wisdom.
The great kindness and virtue of our teacher can hardly be expressed by such an unfilial disciple as me. No words can adequately describe these qualities. With this article, I would like to express one billionth of my gratitude and feelings.