I used to be a “Buddhist” who craved petty bargains, didn’t like to do anything for others, and loved to eat meat. Now that I am in the advanced stages of cancer, I have become a devoted Buddhist who is vegetarian and volunteers at the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society (Taipei, Taiwan). This change was a gradual one; my wisdom didn’t develop all at once.
Although I saw the Venerable Master in person only once, he played a primary role in changing my views. In 1981 when I was working at the post office, although I was quite interested in Buddhism and read the Sutras, I continued to eat meat, assuming the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would forgive me for taking creatures’ lives. Actually, I was making a great mistake.
In a Buddhist newsletter distributed to the post office employees, there was a small item saying that “those who heard the Dharma spoken by the Venerable Master Hua would be able to attain Buddhahood before he did.” The Universal Door Bookstore sold a set of three tapes of the Venerable Master’s Dharma talks and recitation of the Shurangama Manra for NT$100. Since it was so convenient, I bought a set without thinking. To be honest, the first time I saw the Master’s picture, I did not like the Master’s appearance and was not very respectful. Nevertheless, I enthusiastically took the three tapes home, thinking to play them for the family at dinnertime. But when I turned on the tape player, not only did I find it hard to listen to, my husband couldn’t stand it and shouted, "Turn it off! Turn it off!" The sound of the Master’s voice really shook us up. Hearing the mantra of the Proper Dharma, we were like a bunch of ghosts, feeling so uncomfortable that we turned it off before a minute had passed.
Later on, I began listening to those three tapes in the middle of the night. The more I listened, the more I liked what I heard. Whenever I felt physically unwell or depressed, I would listen to the Master’s Dharma sound. I treasured those three tapes, for in them the Master talked about how to open wisdom, something I didn’t hear in most of his other tapes. I become very fond of listening to the Master’s Dharma talks and often went with my colleagues to the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society to buy tapes. For nearly a decade I admired the Master’s sound, his righteousness, and his wisdom, before I actually met the Master and took refuge with him in 1990, receiving the Dharma name Guo Xia. Unfortunately, not realizing my first meeting with the Master would also be the last, I didn’t cherish my opportunity.
When I discovered in 1993 that I had advanced stomach cancer, my life, work, and family were turned topsy-turvy. Having cancer was like falling into the hells. I was hospitalized, operated on, given chemotherapy, examined by gastroscopes and enteroscopes...in short, given every form of torture. My desperate prayers to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas seemed fruitless as my cancer grew ever more serious.
In March 1995, I was wracked with pain as I lay in the cancer ward of the National Taiwan University Hospital. Suddenly remembering hearing a tape of how someone had recited the Master’s name and recovered, I began reciting the Master’s name, and I
did feel a better. I recited more and there were further signs of improvement. That night I dreamed of three monks flying in the sky who seemed to give me some hints regarding certain matters. Half a year later when I was hospitalized again, I happened to share a room with Ms. Zhao, who told me about the new location of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society. Although I knew it had moved, I had not been to its new location. After being discharged, I began going to the Master’s Way-place and, under the kindly concern of the Dharma Masters there, I decided to become vegetarian and start doing volunteer work. I experienced an inner peace that I had never known before.
Even though I had disliked the Master’s appearance and the sound of his voice, the Master guided me without holding any grudge, showing me his measureless compassion.
Now that the Master is gone, how I regret not cherishing the opportunity I had! I often touch the Master’s hand in his picture, wishing that he would hit this lax disciple on the head with his cane.
Using the mind of wisdom
To smash all afflictions and obstacles,
In one thought he could see all.
This is the spiritual power of the Buddha.
He beats the Proper Dharma drum
To enlighten those in the lands of the ten directions,
So all are caused to go towards Bodhi.
The power of self-mastery can achieve this.
Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter Nine, Light Enlightenment