Now at present, even though the Master has entered Nirvana,
my faith in him still remains the same.
I came to America in November 1983 and stayed with my friend who lived in Los Angeles. I was used to going to Buddhist temples to bow to the Buddhas when I was in the Philippines. I started to look for one around the area where we lived. Neither my friend nor I came across any Buddhist temple. Instead, she took me to a Catholic church. Nevertheless, I never gave up.
One day, while passing by Sixth Street, I saw a Buddhist temple. I wrote the name down quickly and looked it up in the telephone directory. I called to ask for directions, and there I was next morning at 7:30 am.
That was my first visit to Gold Wheel Monastery. The Bhikshuni led me in to bow to the Buddhas. After bowing to the Buddhas, I felt an indescribable sense of happiness which I had never experienced before. Then she gave me two issues of Vajra Bodhi Sea. I read them as soon as I got home. I noticed the ad for volunteer workers in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and I thought, "If I can go, I'll be more than happy to be a volunteer worker there." This thought remained in my mind. Meanwhile, I regularly went to Gold Wheel Monastery every Saturday and Sunday.
Not long after, the Venerable Master came. He had just arrived after a long trip from San Francisco and looked tired. Nevertheless, he didn't even pause to rest. The Bhikshuni told me to bow to the Master. I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Shortly afterwards, the Master started to speak the Dharma, in the middle of which he mentioned that there were two people there who had broken the precepts. I couldn't help but wonder, "How did he know? He just barely arrived! He's certainly not an ordinary person."
I continued going to Gold Wheel Monastery every Saturday and Sunday, and whenever I left the urge to go back was very great. Hence, I started my routine of going to Gold Wheel Monastery every Friday night and staying until Monday morning.
In December of 1983, I took refuge with the Master. After that, I had a dream one night. In my dream, the Master was watching me eat. Waking up from this dream, I took it as a message from the Master that it was about time I became a vegetarian. Since it was not convenient for me to be a vegetarian while staying with my friend's family, I moved out.
One day, I asked a Bhikshuni the innocent question, "What is leaving the home life all about?" She very kindly explained to me the life of a left-home person. Then one day the Venerable Master came to Gold Wheel Monastery again. He called me upstairs and asked, "Why do you want to leave the home life?" I was really amazed at how he could read my mind. Then he asked about my family background. Furthermore, he asked, "Can you recite the Shurangama Sutra from memory?" Mistaking "Shurangama Mantra" for "Shurangama Sutra," I said, "Yes, a little bit." The Master asked me to recite it. I immediately started reciting the Shurangama Mantra for him. I got stuck somewhere along the line. He compassionately helped me out and kindly told me what I was reciting was the Shurangama Mantra, not the Shurangama Sutra. I deeply felt the profound kindness and great compassion in him. He's like a father who cares for and regards every single being as his own child.
Gold Wheel Monastery organizes group trips by bus to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for Dharma assemblies. I went with the group quite a few times. On one occasion, the Master joined us from San Francisco to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. He sat in the very last row of the bus. I was sitting in the second row from the back. When he saw me, he asked, "How are you?" Then he proceeded with his daily Dharmas. As soon as we arrived at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, he took us to the back property and showed us the site where the future Jewelled Palace would be built. Later he took us to his place (K Building) and asked us to introduce ourselves.
In October 1984, I moved to City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and enrolled in the Sangha and Laity Training Programs. I stayed there for two years as a layperson and then left home on October 30, 1986, Earth Store Bodhisattva's birthday. There were eight of us, three novice monks and five novice nuns. I remember the Master telling us, "You Eight Vajras should protect and uphold the Way-place." These words are inscribed deeply in my mind up to this day. I constantly remind myself to do the best I can and not let the Master down.
I remember back in 1987, while everybody in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas was busy getting ready for the big event－Water, Land and Air Dharma Assembley while hauling things from one building to another, my foot was accidentally hit by a four-wheel metal cart. The impact was so strong that my foot was badly hurt. It swelled for days. Even when a Chinese doctor in the City put some medicine on it, the swelling didn't subside. A guest lady physician who happened to be in the City suggested that I see an orthopedist and have it x-rayed for broken bones. I didn't heed her advice, thinking that I'd be all right if I was sincere in my prayers. When the Venerable Master arrived at the City, the nun who worked with me at the counter told the Master about the accident.Then she came back to me and told me not to worry.
The next morning after morning recitation, I went back to my room to rest. I dreamed that the Master was standing about two to three meters away from me in Joyous Giving House. His fingers were pointing at my hurt foot and his mouth was reciting something. When I woke up, my foot didn't hurt the way it used to, and I walked over to the Buddhahall to help at the counter. The Venerable Master approached me and asked about my foot. I told him it was getting better. Later in the afternoon, the swelling began to subside and the wound gradually healed without my having to see a doctor.
From this incident and from seeing in the City how the Venerable Master compassionately alleviated his disciples' sufferings and cured their illnesses, and also from what I heard people say about their responses from the Venerable Master, my faith has grown deeper and deeper. Now at present, even though the Master has entered Nirvana, my faith in him still remains the same. I believe he will always be there when I need his aid. The Venerable Master is so kind that he won't let any of his disciples suffer.
The Venerable Master's patience was inconceivable. From the time he came to America until he was about to enter Nirvana, he was constantly teaching and transforming his disciples. He went through a lot of pain and hardship to teach and transform a single person, yet his face didn't show a trace of suffering.
One time the Venerable Master asked me to see him in K building. I knelt before him. First he assigned me a job, and then he talked to me and bestowed his teaching the way he usually did to all his disciples. Before I got up he asked me a question: "Do you have afflictions?" I lied and said "no" because I was afraid that he would scold some people and then those people would come back to me. However I knew very well that the Master would read my mind. He paused for a moment, then said "okay." When I was about to leave the premises, the Venerable Master asked again, "You really don't have afflictions?" That time I knew I couldn't lie again, so I said "yes," and told him a bit about my afflictions. He smilingly said, "Be patient, be patient." I said, "Yes, Shr Fu (Teacher)." A verse says:
Patience is a priceless gem,
But no one knows how to use it.
If people were able to use it,
Everything would turn out fine.
The Master's genuine wisdom and virtuous conduct are beyond words. He is a model for human and gods. His kindly compassion for living being is infinite. His teaching moved countlessly many living beings to completely change in the direction of goodness. He worked hard to the point that he forgot about himself. His vigor was incomparable. He was always vigorous in walking, standing, sitting, and reclining. He never rested. He deserves to be honored and respected by all living beings.
To be able to encounter such a good knowing advisor is very rare. I am lucky to have met him and to have become his left-home disciple. I benefitted greatly from his teaching. I strongly believe that as long as I follow the Master's teachings, I won't tread on the wrong path.
I vow that I will always be his left-home disciple in life after life. I have said this to the Master before. He said, "Try your best." I will, Shr Fu; I will always try my very best.