I have studied Buddhism for many years, but had never gone to a Buddhist temple to take part in any Dharma session or Buddhist group activity. I would simply recite the Great Compassion Mantra or the Buddha’s name at home when I had time.
On November 16, 1988, I happened to hear that there was going to be a Dharma session at a monastery in Daxi (Taiwan). That day I got on the bus, asked for directions, changed buses, and finally got to the monastery. Just as I was about to walk into the Buddhahall, a Dharma Master came walking out of the Buddhahall. He was followed by a crowd of devotees, all of whom wore the same expression of joy and worshipful respect on their faces. Then I found out that the Dharma session had just ended. I was frustrated with my poor blessings: The first time I came to a Buddhist monastery to attend a Dharma session, I only made it in time to see the end of the session. Many people were filling out some kind of application. I took an application as well, and since everyone seemed to be filling one out, I also filled one out.
After about ten days had
passed, I received a Certificate of Taking Refuge
with the Triple Jewel. I skimmed through it and then
put it away in a drawer. In October of the following
year, one night I dreamed that I was walking and
walking, and I came to a small house in which there
seemed to be a lot of people. Being curious, I
crowded my way in to see what was there. I saw an
old man with white hair and a white beard, carrying
a white whisk in his right hand. He sat in full
lotus posture with his eyes closed and a smile on
his face. Just then, the old man lightly waved the
whisk and a puff of smoke rose from his head. Ah! He
was no common person! He must be an immortal! “Lian!” Someone behind me was calling my name.
“Are you going to take refuge? You must take refuge with this Dharma Master!”
“With whom?” I asked. It was my second sister-in-law, holding a booklet and showing me a photo of a Dharma Master holding a whisk. I thought he looked very familiar. As I was trying to think of where I had seen him before, I woke up. Then I remembered the refuge certificate that I had received in the mail a year ago and hadn’t looked at since then. I looked for a long time before finding it. Wasn’t that Dharma Master sitting in full lotus with a whisk the same one my second sister-in-law was urging me to take refuge with in my dream? It was the Venerable Master Hua.
That day, I happened to find out that the Venerable Master was coming to Taiwan next week to hold a Dharma Session for Protecting the Nation and Quelling Disasters. This time I arrived at the monastery early in the morning. I finally finished the formal ceremony for taking refuge and became a true disciple in refuge. I also followed the Master’s requirement and bowed to the Buddha 10,000 times. Three years later, I took my two sons to take refuge with the Venerable Master as well.
I think the compassionate Venerable Master must have discovered that he had a foolish disciple who was a disciple in name only, so he appeared in my dream and prevented me from committing the offense of cheating the Triple Jewel. Now that the Master has completed the stillness, I shall transform my sadness into strength and follow the Master’s teaching to always remember the truth of the Six Great Principles.