On reading the first two volumes in menory of the Venerable Master, I was struck by the diverse ways that he was able to influence so many people from so many different cultures and backgrounds. I would like to share with everyone something I witnessed where the Master was able to move a total stranger.
In 1991, when the Venerable Master was admitted to hospital, some of the Bhikshus went to see him. In his hospital room, we joined the monks who were staying with him night and day. We were all sitting on one side of the room and the Master was sitting on the edge of his bed. A doctor came in. She wanted to explain to the Master the two different types of treatment that could be used for his condition. At the end of her explanation she asked the Master: "And which one would you prefer?" The Master, with one sweep of his arm indicated to the doctor the assembled monks, and said:
You'd better ask them. They are the ones who are putting me through this. To me, life and death are one and the same.
The doctor carefully scrutinized the Master. She inclined her head first one way and then another. After a while she said: "You know, I believe you are qualified to say that." Now here was someone who didn't know anything about the Master. He was just another patient to her, and yet she was touched by that invisible something that emanated from the Master. That something special which goes beyond words and has moved all of us－some to look or listen, some to take refuge and some to leave home.
While these books are memorials, it is essential that we look towards the future. The Master did not want these books in memory of him. He thought of himself as an ant who came into the world without a trace and wanted to leave without one too. However, he came to America with the sole wish of bringing the Proper Dharma to the West. He emphasized three areas: cultivation, education and translation of the Tripitaka. These will be the foundation of Buddhism in the West. Thus, we who have had our light, however meagre, lit by the Venerable Master, should see that his wish is carried out.
A few days ago, I came across these words penned over one hundred years ago by the Russian writer, Fyodor Dostoevsky. Although they weren't written with the Venerable Master in mind, yet, because they describe him so beautifully, I would like to leave them by way of a conclusion:
The people are irresistibly drawn to Him, they
surround Him, they flock about Him, follow Him.
He moves silently in their midst with a gentle smile of
The sun of kindness burns in His heart, light and
power shine from His eyes, and their radiance,
shed on the people, stirs their hearts with
He holds out His hand to them, blesses them, and a
healing virtue comes from contact with Him.