Joined by thousands of other Chinese who had left their country for the same reason, they adapted easily to life in their new country. Although Bhikshu Yi's father toiled diligently to provide for his family, he passed away only three years later. To lighten his mother's burden of rearing three young children single-handedly, Shih Hung Yi went to Rangoon to live near his aunt in a Chinese Temple while he pursued his studies. The Temple was adjacent to the world renowned Great Golden Pagoda and the Abbot there. Master Hsi Ch'en permitted Dharma Master Hung Yi to leave the home-life under him.
After he left home at age seven, he quickly committed all the chants, hymns, and ceremonies to memory. He also attended Chinese Elementary School for one year. Later the school closed and the Abbot kindly arranged for a private tutor to come and teach Bhikshu Hung Yi. From his tutor he learned Chinese and every morning he also attended Burmese School to learn Burmese.
When Bhikshu Hung Yi was fifteen, new turmoil arose and times in Burma were no longer peaceful. In order that he might continue his studies, his Master sent him to Taiwan. Bhikshu Hung Yi relates:
"On December 31, 1969, I left Burma, got on a boat that took me to Chi Lung Harbor in Taiwan, and embarked upon a new life. I did not know whether I was joyful or apprehensive, my mind was in a daze, whirling with shadows of the past and glimpses of the future. I remember that a fortune teller once said that my horoscope had the 'carrier horse' in it—that I was fated to a life of much travel and scuttling about. I believe the prophecy has some validity to it."
Dharma Master Hung Yi settled down to study at the Buddhist Institute at Fwo Kwang Shan in Kaohsiung Province. During the next eight years he began to fathom the foundations of Buddhist principles as well as the meaning of his own life. During summer and winter vacations from school. He would always go to Lien Kuo Temple to draw near the Elder Master Ts'an Yun, after whom he modeled himself in his own attitudes about cultivation.
Upon graduation in 1977, Dharma Master Hung Yi became Abbot of Pu Chao Temple at P'ing Tung Province. He also held a teaching position at Fwo Gwang Shan. During this period he gained practical experience in dealing with people.
Dharma Master Hung Yi concludes:
"It is said that the more one learns the more one understands how little one knows. I crammed myself full of books to the point that there have been times when I loathed the sight of a classroom. And yet my thirst for knowledge was never satiated. In my heart I always yearned for more. But then, causes and conditions matured in inconceivable ways. In the autumn of 1976 I learned about the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. If feel this city is a particularly pure Way Place that will become a center for World Buddhism. I also feel that in order to truly propagate the Buddha's Wisdom-life one has to break new ground in the West."
Dharma Master Hung Yi arrived at the City of Ten Thousand Buddha in December of 1978. He is intent upon improving his English so that he will be better equipped to help spread the Dharma. He says:
"I hope I can fortify myself daily and make the best use of this golden opportunity."