In the afternoon of June 7, 1995, when I heard the news that the Venerable Master had completed the stillness, I found it a bit difficult to accept. However, it was a fact, and perhaps because I had long known that the Venerable Master was in the hospital, I was soon able to calm down my feelings of grief.
Throughout his life, the Venerable Master gave everything he had to living beings. He never thought on his own behalf. For this reason, countless Chinese people and people of other nationalities came to take refuge under him and receive the influence of the Buddhadharma.
What I admire about the Venerable Master is that he always considered the benefit of everyone and never thought of personal gain. He was strict with himself, but lenient with others. For example, although he knew that Westerners were hard to teach, he wished to perpetuate the Proper Dharma in the world, so he resolutely crossed the ocean alone and took on the responsibility of planting the roots of Buddhism in American soil. Later on he successively founded the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts, Instilling Goodness Elementary School, Developing Virtue Secondary School, and the Dharma Realm Buddhist University, giving a tiny hope of renewal to a country whose educational system was on the decline (the United States).
Another thing that moved me was that the Venerable Master, hoping that the religions of the world will dwell in harmony and make great contributions to humankind, invited a Catholic priest to perform Catholic Mass in the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas. This kind of spirit is very rare in today’s utilitarian society.
The Venerable Master made extremely exacting demands on himself. From the time he left the home-life, he vowed to take one meal a day at noon and not to lie down at night. He set down that kind of foundation, hoping he would be able to benefit more living beings in the future. As the Venerable Master has said,
“I vow to bestow upon all living beings of the Dharma Realm all of the blessings and happiness I am destined to receive. I vow to take upon myself the miseries of all living beings of the Dharma Realm, that I alone may endure them on their behalf.” How could someone without a lofty and selfless spirit be able to do this? I’m sure many people admire the Venerable Master’s powers. Yet the Venerable Master said long ago that as long as a person applies effort in practicing the Six Principles─no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuit of personal advantage, and no lying─he or she will eventually be more than qualified to become a Buddha or a Patriarch.
When the Venerable Master was manifesting illness and staying in the hospital, he once instructed us,
“As long as none of you lose your temper, I will recover!” I often reflect on how the Venerable Master arduously established the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in order to help us achieve our work in the Way. Yet, as disciples, have we ever realized or understood the pains taken by the Master? We continue to be confused and afflicted, discriminating between self and others all day long. Perhaps that is why the Venerable Master manifested death, in the hope that we will be more vigorous, for it is up to us alone to succeed in our cultivation.