I really like to see left-home people. Whenever a left-home person passes me as I walk on the street, my heart is filled with joy.
In 1993, I had the opportunity to meet the Venerable Master, take refuge, and receive the precepts from him. The Master had accepted an invitation to give a lecture at an institute of technology.
On the day of the lecture, I went half an hour early so that I could sit in the front row. By accident, I sat in the seats reserved for honored guests, and was very embarrassed. After a little while, as the Dharma Masters led the audience in reciting the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva, the Venerable Master walked slowly into the auditorium. As the Master passed in front me, I cried out in my heart, “I’ve finally seen the Master!” I started crying without knowing why. Afterwards, when the Master went to the Banqiao Auditorium to speak Dharma, I was working as a volunteer at the reception desk, where free books were being distributed. At some point in the Dharma assembly, the crowd in the auditorium began reciting Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name. Knowing that the Master was about to come out, all the volunteers knelt down and recited along with joined palms. I was looking up at the Master as he walked in my direction, but when the Master directed his glance slightly in my direction, I was so frightened I immediately closed my eyes and lowered my head, not daring to look up for several minutes. I wondered if I had done something wrong to cause me to feel so afraid.
On the day when the three refuges and five precepts were to be transmitted, the Master ascended the stage and first bowed to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. That was the first time I saw an eminent monk make obeisance to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and it was extremely inconceivable to me. In the past, I had always seen other high monks and virtuous ones go on stage and begin lecturing right away. Only the Venerable Master was so respectful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. After transmitting the refuges and precepts, the Master gave a Dharma talk:
Receiving the five precepts is the only first step towards becoming a Buddha. The rest depends on your own hard work.
I naively thought to myself, “It’s great that receiving the precepts means we can achieve Buddhahood, but I wonder how long we’ll have to “work hard” before we succeed.” Finally, as the Master remained seated and recited Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name along with the assembly, I bowed three times to the Master and left.
To me, the Master seems like a compassionate Buddha or Bodhisattva. His vows are vast and boundless: to bring the Buddha’s teachings to the West, to translate the Buddhist canon into the world’s languages so that all people can benefit from the Dharma. Another of the Master’s vows was to promote education, in order to teach the future leaders of the world how to be good, law-abiding citizens. He opened new temples and monasteries in various places around the world, giving people the opportunity to see and hear the Buddhadharma and join the ranks of those who practice it.
I am deeply touched by, and feel the highest admiration for, the Master’s contributions to Buddhism, and his spirit of sacrificing himself for the sake of the Dharma. He practiced what ordinary people could not practice, endured what others could not endure, and underwent what most people could not undergo. Sparing no blood or sweat, he never paused to rest.
Although the Master passed into stillness in June of 1995 and his physical body is no longer here, his disciples, undeterred by the hardships, continue to propagate Buddhism in order to cause the Proper Dharma to dwell forever in the world.
Perhaps someone sees him first being born,
His wonderful form like a golden mountain.
Dwelling in his final body,
He eternally acts as a moon among people.
Perhaps someone sees the Buddha walking,
Replete with limitless merit and virtue.
His mindfulness and wisdom are wholesome and skillful,
As he steps like a heroic lion.
Perhaps someone sees his purple-blue eyes
Which contemplate the ten directions.
Sometimes they appear as laughing
In order to accord with living beings’ desires.
Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter Nine, Light Enlightenment