- The Venerable Master knew only that there were others; he didn’t know that he had a self.
- When the Venerable Master was being a “monk in the grave” in San Francisco’s Chinatown after he had just come to America, he would sometimes go to the garbage dump and take out vegetables to eat. He didn’t feel there was anything bad about it. The Venerable Master said,
“Cultivators shouldn’t eat too well. If they eat too well,
they won’t cultivate.”
- The Venerable Master has a compassionate heart. He completely knows and perceives the sounds of sadness, sounds of grief, sounds of suffering, sounds of resentment, sounds of sighing...even the shedding of a single tear of living beings, and even when they are more than 84,000 miles away. The Venerable Master hears their sounds and rescues them from suffering.
- The Venerable Master said, “As long as I am in San Francisco, I will not allow San Francisco to have an earthquake!” When a major earthquake occurred in San Francisco in 1989, the Venerable Master was in Taiwan, toiling nonstop to hold a Dharma Session for Protecting the Nation and Quelling Disasters (he was also undertaking a complete fast at the time). The Venerable Master was very concerned about the living beings in the earthquake zone, so he immediately returned to America. Three days later, he flew back to Taiwan to continue giving his blood and sweat to protect the nation and its people.
- For more than ten years, regardless of the wind, rain, or hot weather, the Venerable Master would travel once a month from San Francisco to Gold Wheel Monastery in Los Angeles to propagate the Dharma. The car that the Venerable Master rode in was battered, old, and had no air conditioning. Although his robes would be soaked with sweat after the uncomfortable journey, he never once complained. When they passed through Coalinga (where cows were slaughtered), the Venerable Master would get out of the car, face the several thousand cows who were doomed to be slaughtered, and recite for them, compassionately saving them and enabling them to leave suffering and attain bliss.
About half a year after Gold Buddha Monastery was founded in Canada, the Venerable Master started going to Los Angeles only every other month. After Gold Buddha Monastery opened, in order to save the money it would have cost to buy a plane ticket, the Venerable Master would travel by car for eighteen hours to Seattle, and then ride for three more hours the following day to reach Vancouver. After propagating the Dharma there for several days, he would then travel by car back to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. During those trips, except during his one meal at midday, the Master didn’t even drink water. It was very difficult. That was how he travelled between the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the various Way-places, undergoing great suffering and hardship.
- The Venerable Master toiled every minute and second, travelling from place to place, forgetting himself for the sake of the Dharma. Over the years, I have seen the Venerable Master travel for over ten hours without even taking a drink of water. Wherever he went, as soon as he arrived at the Way-place, the Dharma Masters there would bow to him and then immediately report to him on various matters. Sometimes this would go on for several hours, and there would still be endless temple matters and personal problems that required his immediate attention. The Venerable Master didn’t even have time to eat, much less to take a rest. Yet I never saw the Master complain once. He always bore the toil and the complaints, setting an example with his own conduct. He didn’t pay any heed to his body. Every day he exhausted himself like this.
- The Venerable Master often reminded us not to let our time go to waste. No matter how exhausting or long the journey was, the Venerable Master would always rise early the next morning. Sometimes he would start working at two or three o’clock in the morning.
- No matter where the Venerable Master was, whether he was in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas or somewhere far away, he would never ask a layperson who lived outside the City to drive him somewhere.
- In April of this year (1995), I had an opportunity to visit Cixing Monastery─the Venerable Master’s Way-place at Lanto Island in Hong Kong. From Hong Kong, I rode on the ferry for one hour, then took a one-hour bus ride, and finally climbed the mountain for an hour, before reaching Cixing Chan Monastery hidden deep in the mountains, where no trace of human dwellings could be seen. I think back to the time when the Venerable Master was constructing the monastery. For the sake of feeding the workers, he would take the ferry to Hong Kong to buy rice and then carry the heavy bags of rice over his shoulder and walk back up the steep slopes to the monastery. The Venerable Master’s laborious pains can still be seen all about the monastery today. I cannot help feeling grieved and deeply moved!
- The Venerable Master not only fasted for world peace, he frequently also refused to eat when his disciples were stubborn and disobedient, lost their tempers, or got into arguments. He would blame himself for lacking virtue and failing to teach his disciples well.
- Each of the Way-places of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association is characterized by the constant turning of the Dharma wheel. Whether there are many people or few─even if there aren’t any─lectures on the Sutras are held every day. If there is one day the Sutras are not lectured, that day people should go without eating. When the Venerable Master spoke the Dharma, he penetrated it deeply yet expressed it in very simple words. His words were straight to the point. He employed skillful expedients and had ocean-like wisdom. After listening to the Venerable Master’s talks, each disciple would say, "Today the Venerable Master was talking about me!" The Venerable Master spoke the Dharma in such a lively and humorous way that his disciples were never able to doze off during his talks.
- The Venerable Master remonstrated earnestly with his disciples, giving instructions in their ear or telling them to their face, teaching them, “Don’t give up on yourself! Everyone can become like (the sage-emperors) Yao and Shun!”
- In the Way-place, the Venerable Master set up strict rules and taught his disciples to concentrate single-mindedly at all times and diligently cultivate. One’s eyes should not look around at random. One’s mouth should not indulge in meaningless conversation, idle chatter, or irrelevant talk, as these are a waste of time. In order to avoid obstructing the Way, one’s mind should not try to exploit conditions or curry favor from anyone.
- When the Venerable Master explained the Lives of the Patriarchs, he frequently exhorted us to go against the mainstream, to be brave candles in a strong gale, heroes, and outstanding people. Where should we begin? By applying effort while we are walking, standing, sitting, and lying down; while we are eating, wearing clothes, and sleeping.
- The Venerable Master was both a strict teacher and a kindly father. Although he appeared stern, his heart was gentle and warm. He cared infinitely for his disciples and silently took care of every person.
- What upset the Venerable Master most was to see his disciples lose their tempers.
- One night, during a Sutra lecture in Wonderful Words Hall, not a single left-home person was willing to go up to the podium and lecture. After the lecture was over and people were leaving Wonderful Words Hall to return to the Buddhahall, the Venerable Master knelt down by the doorway and watched the assembly walk out, reproaching himself sternly, bestowing a wordless teaching. I don’t know how many people realized what great lengths the Venerable Master had gone to.
- The Venerable Master had great wisdom and handled all matters without conscious deliberation, resolving all problems at once.
- The Venerable Master’s memory power was astounding. As Layman Zhou Guoli recalls, during the nine years that the Venerable Master explained the Flower Adornment Sutra in the 1970’s, he was able to recite the text in a clear voice, without missing a single word and without looking at the book.
- The Venerable Master was the most carefree person I have ever met. He was truly able to “sweep away all dharmas and separate from all marks.” He didn’t have any attachment at all, unlike us ordinary people, whose every thought is about: “What I have done, what offering I made in a certain month of a certain year, what I..., I..., I...”
- The Venerable Master’s state was inconceivable and ineffable. No matter how much I write, I will never be able to finish. It’s impossible to truly express the Venerable Master’s great kindness, great compassion, great joy, great renunciation, great courage, great wisdom, great conduct, great strength... The Venerable Master’s state was the Flower Adornment State. Only through constant reading of the Flower Adornment Sutra with a calm mind will we be able to recognize our extraordinary teacher. The most fortunate thing in my life is that I have been able to encounter the Venerable Master and frequently draw near to the Venerable Master in this Dharma-ending Age.