If I want to practice the Bodhisattva path,
I must learn to have the kind of "self" the Master has.
I'm always reluctant to let go of my ego, always afraid of taking a loss.
It is nearly a year since my kind Teacher entered Nirvana. In this year I have continued to receive constant aid and teachings from my Teacher. My gratitude knows no bounds.
In July last year, I came with a group to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to attend the Venerable Master's Cremation Ceremony. Before we arrived in San Francisco, I ordered that evening's dinner on the plane. The dinners were delivered after we passed through customs, and everyone ate on the bus ride to the City. The dinner was so large that I could not finish it all, and had to throw away the leftovers. I felt very ashamed and castigated myself as I thought of the Master's frugal lifestyle and ascetic practices. I had not only been greedy for dinner, but had thrown away and wasted the uneaten food; how could I face the Master? How unworthy a disciple I was! At that point I very sincerely repented and vowed: During the Dharma session, I would follow the example of the Dharma Masters and take only one meal a day. I prayed the Master would forgive me and lend me his support.
During the Dharma session, I successfully fulfilled my vow and tasted the comfort and ease of taking one meal a day. And aside from a few hours of sleep each day, I rushed over to Wordless Hall to recite the Buddha's name. While beholding the Master and keeping him company, or taking part in various ceremonies, I totally forgot about taking my medicine for lowering blood pressure. I remembered only after returning to my home in Taiwan, but by then my health was much improved. How grateful I am to the Master for protecting me and teaching me so compassionately!
It's difficult to meet a good teacher; I have met one.
It's difficult to hear the Buddhadharma; I have heard it.
If I don't liberate myself in this very life,
In what life will I ever liberate myself?
These words always serve as a reminder to me that time does not wait. If I don't hurry up and recite the Buddha's name, it will be too late. In the past year I have been practicing more diligently than before.I always tell myself to recite single-mindedly and not let random thoughts arise. I try to follow the Master's instructions and recite to the point that "the wind cannot blow through and the rain cannot seep in." However, my habits are too heavy, and my mind often wanders as I recite the Buddha's name. I cannot concentrate. One time my mind became so caught up in thinking about some past event in which I was wronged (which I can't remember now) that even though I appeared to be following the Master's instructions－"don't get angry, don't set off atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs"－my heart was filled with discontentment and frustration, and I was almost driven to the point of tears. Suddenly I looked up and saw the Master's verse on the wall:
Everything's a test
To see what you will do.
If you don't recognize what's before your face,
You'll have to start anew.
Amitabha! Compassionate Teacher, you seemed to be right there beside me, giving me a swift and timely "blow on the head" as soon as you saw me afflicted with the three poisons. I awakened and let go of those afflictions of ignorance at once. I didn't even have the thought of "letting go," and I was able to single-mindedly recite the Buddha's name with ease.
Another time, greed, anger and stupidity took over as I unhappily brooded over how tired I would be because I had to babysit my grandchildren for a long period of time. Although I was reciting the Buddha's name with my mouth, my mind was full of affliction and idle thoughts. Again, I happened to see the Master's verse on the wall:
If you can't give up death, You won't obtain life in exchange.
If you can't renounce the false, You won't realize the truth.
Kind Teacher! This time you allowed your disciple to discover the root of her sickness. If I want to practice the Bodhisattva path, I must learn to have the kind of "self" the Master has. I'm always reluctant to let go of my ego, always afraid of taking a loss. Now I finally realize how selfish and foolish the ego is! When I saw the verse, I couldn't help but smile...in an instant the clouds dispersed and there was only the clear blue sky. Another rescue from my kind Teacher! How vast and great is my Teacher's kindness! He has taught me so much. I can only repent sincerely and recite the Buddha's name in earnest－making that an offering to the Venerable Master. Further, with these few words, I attempt to express my feelings a little bit:
Mindful of my Teacher's kindness, I diligently practice;
Peeling off my skin and removing my shell,
I search for the true mind.
Words of Dharma wash away the filth of the mind;
The brightly shining torch of wisdom chases away the darkness.
Work hard; don't be lazy or doubtful.
Our kind Teacher doesn't lose any time in teaching people.
Simply follow his instructions and diligently practice.
With a single recitation of "Amitabha," you'll be born
in the West.