The Venerable Master said, “I came from empty space, and I will return to empty space.” Now that the Master has perfected the stillness, is he still with us? Is he still around us? Personally I feel that the Master manifested in the world in order to teach us the Dharma for gaining liberation from birth and death. What the Master taught us is extremely real and genuine. For example, one of my Dharma brothers explained why she left the home-life with the Master. She had never met the Master, but when she read the sentence, “In cultivation, we must cut off desire and get rid of love” in the Master’s instructional talks, she felt that he was an extremely rare Good and Wise Advisor, for this is not a teaching that an ordinary person can give.
In this Dharma-ending Age, the Master took special pains to bring to us the method of real cultivation, a pure and clean stream in this complicated society. Have his affinities for teaching come to an end? Not really. The Master is still with us. He is simply teaching us in a different way. Even though his physical body is gone, we should deeply believe that the spirit of his teachings will last forever.
I will now tell a true story that happened to a laywoman who lives in San Francisco before the Master passed into stillness. Once, during a major Dharma gathering at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, an elderly lady needed to return to Sacramento right away and asked this laywoman to help her find a ride. She asked around but was unable to find a ride, so she decided to drive the elderly lady herself. It was a five hour drive from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to Sacramento and back. Her son was with her, and the boy was so naughty that whenever he was in the car, he would leave his footprints on the car’s windows. That day, however, during the long trip the boy sat very still and upright in the backseat, not crawling all over the place as usual. Finding this strange, his mother told him, “There’s still a long ways to go. You can lie down to rest.” When the boy didn’t move, the mother again told him, “Don’t worry, you can rest for a little while.” The boy then told her very solemnly, “Mom, I can’t, because the Master’s sitting next to me.”
This is a story of how the Master manifested to teach living beings, and it happened before he physically passed away. Although he has passed into stillness, the spirit of the Master’s teaching is still present. For example, at the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society in Taiwan, even more people have come to request the Master’s books after his passing, and they request them by the boxful and by the bag. Many people have been influenced by the Master’s teaching since he passed away, and their faith is very deep.
One layman named Wang used to complain that, with the Master so far away in America, he couldn’t expect the Master to teach or help him. Yet, after the Master’s passing, he has received even more teachings from the Master, and so now he often brings people to the temple to attend the Dharma events.
There is a true story from the recent Memorial Ceremony in Taiwan. One day a laywoman suddenly came and told me about a woman who owned a vegetarian restaurant. Since business was poor, she decided to start carrying non-vegetarian food and to move abroad. No one could dissuade her. One night she had a dream in which the Master said to her,
You should not go abroad. I’ll be having a Dharma assembly here in Taiwan on the 11th, 12th, and 13th. You ought to come and help out.
Then she found out that it was really the case, and so she dropped the plan of carrying non-vegetarian food. She also helped with the food service during the Dharma assembly.
These are just some of the ways in which the Master teaches people according to circumstances. We should not become attached and use these to prove that the Master is present everywhere. Actually, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are always present, but the most important thing is that we must sincerely cultivate.
Why can we not see the Master? It’s because of our heavy obstacles. The Master is constantly with us. If we sincerely cultivate and return to the source, we will always be together with the Master. We will be a transformation body of the Master. Then we will not have let down the Master, who came to the world to teach us.
The Buddha has penetrated the most profound Dharmas.
No one can equal him.
Living beings are not able to understand it,
And so in sequence he explains it for them.
Flower Adornment Sutra, Chapter Nine, Light Enlightenment