There are thousands of millions of kinds of people
And thousands of millions of roads.
While each road is taken by an unlimited number of people,
There is an end to each person’s journey.
I have often thought and said that there are three aspects of life which no one else can do for one, namely staying healthy, studying, and eating food or taking medicine. The hardest thing to bear is to be separated in life or parted at death. In early June 1995, I became sick and my whole body ached from the head to the skin and muscles. On the eighth and ninth, I could not even get up to go out, nor could I go and see a doctor. All of a sudden, I got a phone call informing me that the Venerable Master had entered into stillness in America.
I wept and blamed the mass media in Taiwan for their lack of respect and filiality. When I called the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Association (DRBBDA) in Taipei, the Dharma Master there told me not to feel sorry. She said we should work hard to propagate the Venerable Master’s Dharma so that it will abide in the world forever. As his disciples, we should convert our grief into action and practice the Master’s Dharma well. Mr. Hu of the National Museum contacted me through Mr. Le, Chief Secretary of Mahayana Hermitage (the Buddhist Lay Association of the Republic of China). The National Museum requested information on the Venerable Master for their biography of renowned contemporary monks. I went to the DRBBDA on Chung-hsiao East Road and obtained a full set of the Venerable Master’s books and cassette tapes, for which I was very grateful. The Dharma Masters tape-recorded my conversation. Although these are just some small remembrances, they flow from my heart. The Dharma Masters wanted me to record these incidents. Although I do not write well, those compassionate Dharma Masters kept encouraging me to do so.
The Venerable Master instructed his disciples to
“diligently cultivate precepts, concentration and wisdom and put to rest greed, hatred and stupidity.” These words continue to echo in my ears. Like many of the others who emigrated from Mainland China to Taiwan in the early days, I grew up in a family of mixed Buddhist and Taoist faith. Since my grandmother’s time, my family has cultivated the Dharma-door of the Bodhisattva Who Regards the Sounds of the World. My parents also do charitable works, especially the giving of medicine. However, no one in the family had taken refuge with the Triple Jewel. In 1988, I invited my sister to Taipei, and we took refuge at Taoyuan. That was when I began to learn more about Buddhism and started to recite the Great Compassion Mantra.
The Master came to Taipei in 1982. He came again in the fall of 1988 and presided over the Dharma Session for Protecting the Nation and Quelling Disasters, based on the Guanyin Dharma-door. I, as a representative of the Chinese Cultural Museum Corporation, and Professors Yang Yingfeng and Lu Jiangang and others organized the Dharma Session and Refuge Ceremony at Taoyuan. I was given the Dharma name Guoxiang. At that time, it was reported that three hurricanes were going to reach Taiwan simultaneously. The Master told his left-home disciples:
“All of you may go without food, drink, and sleep, but you may not stop reciting the Great Compassion Mantra and praying to the heavens above. If a hurricane hits Taiwan when I reach the Zhongzheng Airport, you will all be punished severely.” Sure enough, none of the hurricanes hit Taiwan; they all changed course and headed towards the Phillipines.
Something remarkable happened during the Great Dharma Session held at Taoyuan. On that day, the weather was fine. Several thousand devotees circumambulated the Buddha while reciting the Great Compassion Mantra. Afterwards there was a refuge-taking ceremony. During the ceremony, several strong gusts of wind flapped the bib of the child in the arms of a woman standing in front of me, who kept mumbling to herself. Afterwards, it was said that about three hundred thousand souls of people killed during the Nanjing massacre had come to take refuge. (The books record the incorrect figure of one hundred thousand, which is two hundred thousand less than the actual number.)
That afternoon, we tried to contact the Master but failed, so finally we accompanied the Director of the Judicial Assembly, Mr. Yu Junxian, to meet the Master. They were glad to see each other and began to discuss ordinary matters. After that, many of my elders and colleagues (including many Christians and Catholics) came to see Master. Through meeting the Master, they began to understand more about Buddhism, and some of them even took refuge with Master and began to cultivate the Dharma-door of the Bodhisattva Who Regards the Sound of the World.
One day, we set out at five o’clock in the morning to look at some land, because the Master had kindly planned to establish a Way-place in Taiwan. The Master used expedient dharmas to resolve the troubles of his disciples whenever he saw a chance.
The Chungcheng Memorial Hall was packed for the Master’s lecture. Many people couldn’t even get in. Later, they wanted to find someone to write some verses composed by the Master. I suggested the son of Mr. Lin, the secretary of the Founding Father, because his calligraphy is very good. When I asked the Master’s opinion, he said,
“Don’t write it formally yet. First have him
write a draft and show it to me. There will be
some wrong characters. After I correct them, he
can write it formally and then I’ll sign.”
Sure enough, there were three wrong characters. They were the characters for
“lute-string,” “politicians,” and “trace.” After they were corrected, the Master signed and added his chop. According to the Master, he had that jade chop carved before he left Beijing. He had always carried it with him, but never used it to sign anything. He signed five copies, one for the Chiang family, one for Director Yu, one for Wu Boxiong (the mayor of Taipei), one for the Chinese Cultural Museum, and one for myself. All of them have the Master’s signature and chop.
The Master was the most patriotic person, and he was even more concerned about the safety of the entire human race. Three U.S. Presidents met the Master and asked for his advice. Several times, they asked the Master to become naturalized as an American citizen. However, the Master applied for and got his Chinese passport right after the
“National Treasure” Elder Dharma Master Guangqin, the Abbot of Miaotong Monastery in Liugui, completed the stillness.
During the recent war in the Middle East, the United Nations decided to serve as a mediator. I asked the Master if he could ask President Bush not to send troops to the Middle East. The Master called long-distance and said,
“There’s no way to stop the war, because too much collective karma has accrued in the Middle East. However, if the entire human race, especially the Buddhists, would stop killing, do morning and evening recitation, maintain a happy spirit and not get angry, and speak more kind words, then the harm caused by the war will be reduced to a minimum.” (Later I learned that the Master went to the Middle East personally to rescue people.)
During the Dharma Assembly held in the Chungcheng Memorial Hall, I witnessed an extremely spectacular and colorful light in the evening sky. I also witnessed a blind woman repent under the Master’s guidance and regain her sight. During the assembly, everyone recited the Great Compassion Mantra together. As a response, a very vivid image of a dragon appeared in the sky. People witnessed this with their own eyes, and photographs were also taken.
In January 1993, the Master came to Taiwan to propagate the Dharma. After he had returned to the United States, he suddenly called me from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), but I wasn’t there to answer the phone. Later I called the Master back and told him that in Taiwan there were reports in the media misinterpreting the Master’s intent and compassion. The Master was not angry. He merely said,
“Is it possible? Who could have used me? Could I
My daughter went to visit the Master in 1988. In 1990, when she was studying at a music academy in San Franciso, the Master told her to visit the CTTB often. Out of admiration for the Master, she and several students from Taiwan went to visit the Master. They all got scholarships later on. Another time Director Yu told the Master his health was not good. The Master told him,
“You are older than I am. Come to live at CTTB,
and I’ll treat you as my elder, because I lost
my father when I was young. Then your health
will improve, and you won’t need an operation.”
The year before last, before Director Yu passed away, his secretary told me that he underwent three operations (Director Yu didn’t go to CTTB).
When I think back to the opportunities the Master gave me to talk with him face to face, the Master mentioned,
“Between CTTB and a city [San Francisco], there is a bridge with this rule: If there are two people or less in the car, they collect one dime more. If there are three people or more, they collect one dime less.” Once the Master learned about this, he would get three people together to do grocery shopping in order to save on the toll. Over the years, he saved several thousand U.S. dollars this way. It is worth mentioning that the CTTB did not buy its vegetables. Rather, the Master would let his disciples go to the market to pick up discarded vegetables, take them back, and then clean and process them.
Before the Master left the home-life, every morning he would kowtow in the yard. He bowed to repay the four kinds of kindness above and to aid those suffering in the three paths below. When he left home at nineteen years of age, he made great vows. Two of the vows are not something that ordinary cultivators could practice thoroughly. One was that from then on, he would only wear three layers of clothing. The Manchurian winters were icy cold and snow would cover the ground. The other was that he would only take one meal a day in the middle of the day. During his youth, the Master could eat five bowls of food at one meal. After he resolved to take one meal a day, he didn’t eat more than three bowls. The Master had made this great vow because the Japanese were occupying part of China and bullying the Chinese people at that time. He hoped his fellow countrymen would have enough food and clothing. He would rather endure hunger and cold himself than see his fellow countrymen do so. It is also common knowledge that after the Master left the home-life, he did not lie down at night.
In order to eradicate the collective karma and social disorder in Taiwan, the Master was ready to come to Taiwan to propagate the Buddhadharma at any time to protect the nation and dispel disasters. Most of his disciples know how difficult and exhausting it was for the Master to come to Taiwan. They know that he was misunderstood and treated unjustly by the Buddhists of Taiwan. But the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas know that the Master’s Dharma will remain in this world forever.
Life is basically nothing but a dream.
You come and you go, always with your two hands empty.
Although your heart beats without cease,
It can beat and beat, and still it’s all empty.
It can beat its way to the heaven: Everything is empty.
It can beat its way into the ground: Emptiness is all there is.
Emptiness and wonderful existence are the state of True Suchness.
One should know that all dharmas are devoid of characteristics.
A hundred years of human life
Birth is always followed by death.
When you’re prosperous, you enjoy wealth and position.
When you’re just ordinary, you return to nature.
Sometimes you’re in a favorable state;
sometimes you meet adversity.
Glory is like the earth’s rotation
High position is like manure and dirt.
Name and fame are like clouds and smoke.
All your life is like a dream.
What need is there to linger on?
Meditate, bow to the Buddhas in the morning and evening,
And transmit the Way, and your blessings will be perpetuated.
If you let everything take its course,
then you can contemplate at ease.
With single-mindedness and proper thought,
you certify to Bodhi.
The rise and fall of everything in the world─
I have experienced it all.
The illusory knowledge in my mind─ I shall put it all down.
The phenomena in this world are as numerous as dust and sand.
Once they are swept away by the Dharma wind,
my mind will be at ease.
In the white water spring, one big sky appears. [The Master’s line]
In the dark black soil, two mountains protrude. [Guoxiang’s line]
Hastily running throughout the four seas,
Like the dogs and horses being driven to exhaustion.
The conditions of Dharma are more and more prosperous.
Running into asuras wherever he went,
Throughout his life, he exhausted his body and mind.
The sound of farewell is heard in the year of the pig.
We worry the Bodhisattva so much that his tears fall on the ground.
This year, a shooting star fell to the ground.
The Vajra king of this time ascended to the Western heaven.
Below the white, snowcapped mountain,
The willow trees line the river, forming a shady canopy.
Next to the Vulture Peak, the waters reflect the sky.
My vows are engraved in my bones and my mind:
The next day, by the green mountains,
I will recognize my heart’s wish.
The mountains and rivers assume a new energy.
Constantly flowing green waters purifty my mind.
My mind and energy unite,
just like the mountains reflected in water.
The Dharma that arose in the East has come to the West.
Our minds have expanded; the water flows freely.
Our capacities have broadened; birds can soar at ease.
Truly repent of the animosities in the world.
Encompassing all phenomena, one attains Nirvana.
An eminent Sanghan of this age--no one recognized him.
A greatly virtuous one of this time--no one knew his intent.
He perpetuated the Dharma lineage, despite the hostile energies.
Why not raise your head and greet the rising sun?
On the main peak of the mountain range,
Through the black pines, there’s a panoramic view of the universe.
A fragrance encircles the Five-Peaked Mountain;
An echo resounds in the mountain.
The melody nourishes the flower pistils;
The ordinary mind ascends above the clouds.
With proper knowledge, one has samadhi in the midst of confusion;
With proper views, everything is still in the hubbub.
In the stillness of samadhi, heaven, earth, and people come forth.
Without a word, everything exists.
In the sky above and on the earth below,
There’s the Dharma-door of the mind only.
With the mind and earth united in one substance,
The sky is supported.
With heaven and earth in resonance,
The Buddha’s sound is heard once more.
His fame prevailed throughout the world.
Yet his heart was with the Saha world.
He led living beings to renew themselves.
He worked to reform religion and restore statesmanship.
Uniting China, marching toward the dawn of the new century,
Leaping out of the Saha world,
And waking up the sleeping tiger of China─
Who else but the Venerable Master Hua could do this?
Cultivation is done in daily life;
Every minute detail is in the mind.
Nirvana lies in repentance;
Deep practice is in Prajna.
The six faculties are all created from the mind;
The six paths are not beyond one thought.
True Suchness lies in seeing the nature;
Understanding the mind, one becomes a Buddha.
With random thoughts not empty,
When can you see your nature?
With random thoughts not stopped,
When can you understand your mind?
On the path to enlightenment, there is no duality of dharmas.
In the state of Nirvana, there is no duality of mind.