I was deeply saddened to learn of the untimely demise of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua which occurred on 7th June 1995. I have had the good fortune to be associated with him and enjoyed his warm hospitality during my visit to him on the occasion when I attended the opening ceremony of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in 1979. I am happy to recollect that the Late Venerable Master Hsuan Hua reciprocated that visit by being my guest of the Buddhist Maha Vihara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, soon after that. Throughout my association with him my respect and admiration for his humility, intelligence, dedication, energy and warmth knew no bounds.
I am proud to recognize the tremendous service that the Late Venerable Master Hsuan Hua had rendered during his lifetime in the cause of Buddhism. Although he was an orthodox follower of the Mahayana School of Buddhism, he nevertheless displayed a great openness of mind and recognized the transcendental essence of the Teachings of the Enlightened One. Although not English educated, he was able to bring the sublime teachings of the Buddha to the West and thereby inspired both Easterners and Westerners to follow his discipline and devotion to the study of the Dharma. His was a dynamic personality that inspired his followers, both monks and nuns as well as laypeople, to follow the path of discipline, virtue and wisdom that he himself had trod throughout the seventy-six years during which he manifested himself in this earthly form.
He devoted his tremendous energy not only towards the noble task of teaching, but also to that of developing the more tangible, physical aspects of Dharma Practice. His greatest contribution in this area was the building of the magnificent edifice called the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, which will long endure to symbolize the presence of the sublime Dharma in the West. It is not only a place of worship and a meditation centre; it is also a University and a renowned Buddhist Research and Translation Centre. Many millions of sentient beings will benefit from the work done at this centre for a long time to come.
Following in the footsteps of the great Chinese Buddhist Missionaries of the past like Fa Hsien and I Ching, the Late Master Hsuan Hua travelled widely not only in the West but also in Asia as well, spreading the Dhamma in far-off places like Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan where he established Buddhist Centres for the study and propagation of the Dhamma. In Malaysia there are many members and devotees who respect him and try to emulate the footsteps of the great Master Hsuan Hua.
The demise of Master Hsuan Hua is indeed a great loss to all of us. But we can learn even from his passing away of what our Lord Buddha had reminded us─that all of us are subject to the triple suffering of Jati (Birth), Jara (Decay) and Marana (Death). No one can stop that. We must therefore endeavour to renew our efforts to follow in the footsteps of the Late Master and work diligently to free ourselves from the bonds of Samsara, the endless round of rebirths.
May he, like all of us, be freed from worldly suffering and may he attain final Nirvanic bliss.