Although I was not a disciple of Shr Fu, I was privileged to have the benefit of his friendship and assistance during a time of need. I began working for CTTB in the fall of 1979 as a teacher of calligraphy. Later I was allowed to set up a graphics art studio with Linda Pecaites in the building adjoining the ceramics studio. I believe it is now called Wonderful Words Hall. There I taught classes and worked on publication projects for Vajra Bodhi Sea, the Lotus Sutra and other books. The time between the fall of 1979 and the summer of 1981 was difficult for me personally. I was leaving a ten-year marriage and transitioning into single motherhood. My son Bodhi was three to five years old during this period and was also going through a difficult time of adjustment.
Although I have hints of the history of my relationship with Shr Fu from past lives, I have to rely on the dream he sent me shortly after beginning to teach calligraphy to the nuns. In this dream he said,
“Please come here and bring your friends. You bring a nice family feeling to this place.” This resulted in the formation of a pre-school taught by two nuns, which Bodhi and his Ukiah friends attended. I also brought many friends to the Master’s lectures through the next several years. I always felt welcome and unencumbered by rules, as long as I showed appropriate respect for others.
In the winter of 1980 my best friend from childhood, Barbara Mayginnes, had a second child. She had moved to Ukiah from Portland, Oregon, in the 1970’s, had married a friend in my spiritual group, and had become a disciple of the same spiritual Master. In January 1975 she had a son named Shamaz. My son was born exactly one and a half years later. Our boys spent two years in Instilling Virtue School during the time I worked at CTTB. Barbara’s second child was born caesarean. After the birth she was weak and was not recovering in a normal fashion. She soon found out that the doctor had cut a ureter (the tube that transfers urine from the kidney to the bladder) during the operation. Therefore a second operation had to be performed. During the recovery period in the hospital, complications set in. Barbara’s body began producing blood clots, and the doctors decided to put her on the blood thinning drug, heparin. This in turn caused internal hemorrhaging in the abdominal cavity. Again she was in a life threatening situation. During this critical period, the doctors were undecided as to what to do, and time was running out. We were losing Barbara.
On the morning of February 14, 1980, I phoned a nun at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and told her about Barbara’s condition. She, in turn, notified Shr Fu, who was in San Francisco that day. Later the same day, I called Gold Mountain and asked a monk to relay more details to Shr Fu. I was told that this was not customary and that he probably would not respond. However, I was insistent. A call was returned by the same monk within ten minutes, telling me that Shr Fu said I should recite the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. I did so.
The doctors had decided that the only possibility of saving Barbara was to perform a third surgery, this time clamping the vena cava to protect her heart from a large blood clot. I recall a visible cloud of darkness in the hospital and the feeling of being surrounded by death. I had the sudden realization that I might never see my friend again. I recalled many scenes from our childhood and our lives together and became very sad at the thought of losing her. This was a stark possibility. My emotional reaction was very strong, and I almost panicked.
During the third operation, I received a page to pick up a telephone in a waiting room. It was Shr Fu himself. I always recognized his phone calls by the vastness of the silence before he spoke. It was like picking up the phone and listening to empty space. He told me to recite for Barbara with sincere single-mindedness─“Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu
Sa”─no other thought. He then told me not to worry but to see Kuan Yin coming to help my friend. Three other close friends and I recited, and immediately the energy changed. The darkness left as powerful waves of light and healing began to flood the hospital. Again, this was both visible and palpable to me. We knew that the critical period was over. The operation was successful. Barbara came out from the operating room slightly conscious and was able to give us the
Shr Fu called the next day to find out how she was. He then recommended that she also recite to regain her strength and for the optimum benefit. She did this. Later on Shr Fu told me that it is the trueness of heart that is most important in reciting. If one is sincere and selfless, help will always come. A mantra without proper attitude and state of mind is empty.
As Barbara recovered, she was in pain but she emanated a special radiance and peace that I have seen around certain people who have suffered greatly or come close to death. I was struck by her compassion and concern for the well-being of others. At one point, she said,
“I’ve been knocked around and it’s a blessing. I
never thought I’d say that. The past is all
gone. The past doesn’t exist anymore. It has
been wiped out completely.”
Shr Fu kept tabs on Barbara for several months without her knowing, asking me about her state of health each time he called. He intimated that I could tell him about people who needed help and that if he could, he would help them secretly. He said that he was only able to help those people in real need. Barbara was such a person. Therefore he had responded and called me to advise me about her after I had requested his help.
The last time I met with Shr Fu privately was after he had been very sick with a kidney condition in 1992. At that time, he asked me to write down an account of this story. It is only now, just after his passing, that I am coming to understand why. Kuan Yin helps all people who are sincere and in need. This is not obvious to the outer eye. Many people look like they need help, but are not ready to receive it. Others suffer quietly and do not outwardly show their receptivity, yet from within, they are ready. Shr Fu was able to look within the hearts and minds of others and was compassionate. He took time out for many more people than was obvious, even to those very close to him. His compassion reached well beyond the limits of the
I had the privilege of a special view of his work as an outsider and insider. He helped me, my son, and my friends. He worked with me in dreams, gave me forewarnings of things to come, and showed me a large picture of his working. He was not concerned with reputation, nor with being understood by our small minds, yet his method of teaching was simple from the vantage of higher truth. He knew when to be fierce and strict and when to be soft and forgiving. The Masters use expedient means that are not understood by the measure or standards of the world. If we do not listen with the inner ear, we miss the greatness of their teachings. This means remembrance, faith and surrender when we are most attached and blind.
I hope that everyone at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas will keep alive the spirit of openness and friendship that Shr Fu demonstrated in his dealings with people from all spiritual paths. Times of transition offer an opportunity for jumping to levels of understanding and functioning that were heretofore undreamed of. The challenge before us all is to be true to our commitments and ideals while honoring every soul we contact on the journey. Taking this principle a step further, the synergy created by joining forces across imaginary barriers of mental constructs has the power to transform our communities and the world. This is the power of the future I see.
I am so grateful to have known Shr Fu again and to have received his love and graciousness. My Master, Kirpal Singh, left the body in 1975. Knowing what I went through at that time, I have sympathy for those who are suffering this loss of their venerable Master and teacher. I can think of no greater pain in a lifetime. My love to all of you.