Bodhi Stand


Born in Vietnam in the 1930's, Guo Ren was a filial child, not only to her parents, but humankind in general. When she was seven she would lose her appetite or even refuse to eat if she saw animals being slaughtered for her family's meals. At age ten she helped her parents by caring for her brothers and sisters, and even when they scolded and hit her, she was patient, thinking, "I was born to bear suffering."

Her giving extended far beyond her own family circle, as she would always feed poor people, and even offer her own household servants the good food they had served to her. Always when she could, she would assist people, be they rich or poor, old or young, sick or spiteful. "I was born to help people," she thought. The question that persisted throughout her childhood was "Why are we rich and other people poor?"

Guo Ren took care of her parents until the day they died and saw to their funeral and burial. During the period of mourning she ate strictly vegetarian food, prayed, and liberated living beings to transfer merit to assist her parents in their rebirth.

Once her Master in Vietnam said: "Once a person wasted seven grains of rice, and he was reincarnated for seven lives as a horse." After that, whenever she saw someone who did not finish their food or who dropped it on the table or even on the floor, she would pick it up and eat it for them to save them from some severe retribution.

Upasika Guo Ren has been happily married for thirty two years, and Lap Ha, her husband, says of her, "My wife is not an ambitious woman, how lucky I am to have her!" There are six children in the Ha family, four sons and two daughters.

In 1975, the Has left Vietnam with their fourth son and two daughters to come to America as refugees. Guo Ren relates: "We were in a hurry to leave our country; each person was allowed to carry only one bag, so we left everything behind."

The first night they arrived in America, Guo Ren had a dream in which she saw Gold Mountain Monastery (in San Francisco) and the next morning told her family about the dream, describing both the inside and the outside of the Monastery. Guo Ren's eldest son (who had come to the United States a few years earlier to attend college) took the Ha family to see Buddhist Temples in Berkeley, Oakland and San Francisco. "We bowed, made offerings, and left without having found "the Temple"

Upasika Ha

"Do you know of any other Temples around here?" Guo Ren asked her daughter.

"Yes, I have a Chinese friend who told me there is a good one." The next day they went together, family and friends, about nine people in all, and after bowing to the Buddhas, were shown around Gold Mountain. Guo Ren's eldest son exclaimed, "Mother, this Monastery looks like the one you saw in your dream." Indeed, Guo Ren kept comparing and examining everything with what she had seen in her dreamland it was completely the same. "Besides" she adds, "I remembered that when I was in Vietnam I cut Heng Ju's picture from a Vietnamese newspaper and an article that told about his pilgrimage from San Francisco to Seattle, bowing once every three steps. 

I vowed that if I had occasion to go to America I would first go pay my respects to Heng Ju and Heng Yo. It was a miracle that the first person we met at the Monastery was Heng Ju!"

      She saw the Venerable Master's picture on the altar and said to her family that he must be a great Bodhisattva. She felt there were connections with her former teacher in Vietnam and concluded: "I think this Monastery is a very good one."

Guo Ren and her family continued to come to Gold Mountain to worship and make offerings. After six months she decided.

Guo Ren and her family continued to go to Gold Mountain to worship and make offerings. After six months she decided to study Chinese and improve her English. After one year she and her family took refuge on the birthday of Venerable Master Hua. They have attended many recitation and Ch'an sessions last year, at an Amitabha Buddha Recitation Session, Guo Ren received the Bodhisattva Precepts. She is a complete vegetarian and although a householder, holds to the practice of not eating after noon. She recites the Sutras and the Buddha’s name regularly, and in all her relationships she speaks Dharma, encouraging people to cultivate and helping to console the sick and suffering.

Guo Ren concludes, "When I have accomplished my vow to help the people outside the Temple, I will go back to the Bhiksuni life. For the time being, I’m practicing the Bhiksuni life as best I can at home and especially like meditation."