Bodhi Stand


Kuo Huang (Bui, Thi Thuy Huong) was born on December 15, 1951, in Hue, Vietnam, as the third child of seven in her family. Her immediate and extended family were all Buddhists and one of her brothers became a member of the Sangha recently. Kwo Hwang was married to Dang An Khoa and this year bore their first son, Nam Tran Dang, or Kwo Wu.

As a member of the Vietnamese Buddhist Youth Family since she was five years old, Kwo Hwang has long been able to recite the Heart Sutra, the Great Compassion Mantra, and other small mantras by heart but she never truly understood their meaning or function. Nonetheless, she possessed a deep faith in them. She relates:

Once when I was about seven years old, I was going to see the dragon dance and along the way I had an accident. As a result, my head was bleeding profusely. I began to constantly recite "Nam Mo Dai Bi Qwan The Am Ba Tat" (Homage to the Greatly Compassionate Bodhisattva who contemplates the sounds of the world) and my pain and fear were subdued instantly.

      She frequently accompanied her mother to the temples and joined in the recitation ceremonies in which she always found enjoyment and a sense of peace. An energetic person, she wanted to be involved in social work, as her mother did, and volunteered for work in hospitals, orphanages and for relief work for flood victims.

      Eventually she came to America and attended the University of Wisconsin where she received a degree in business administration in 1974. In December 1976, her wedding day was doubly happy as it marked the reunion of her brother and sister. What is more, on the same occasion, they took refuge with the Venerable Master Hua.

Qwo Ti, one of her brothers had made the decision to stay at Gold Mountain Monastery and eventually he left the home-life on her very first visit to Gold Mountain. Of this, Kwo Hwang says,

At first I was shocked and felt much grief at the prospect of losing my brother. However, as time passes, I begin to recognize that his leaving the home-life is a blessing for the whole family.

For reasons beyond her comprehension or expression, she has a deep faith in the Venerable Master. She was profoundly moved by his great vows and his great compassion. But she believes that one can't gain purity merely by seeking refuge with a Great Teacher or by mere faith in Him. It is not within his power or even in the power of a Buddha to wash away the impurities of others. In other words, one can neither purify nor defile another. We have to be responsible for our own purification. As in the Dharmapada the Buddha says:

By oneself alone is evil done; by oneself is one defiled.

By oneself alone is evil avoided; by oneself alone is one purified.

Purity and impurity depend on oneself; no one can purify another.

At present, Kwo Hwang is practicing the Five Precepts, being a pure vegetarian, and eating only one meal a day. But precepts are only the beginning stage and are merely a means to an end, not the end in itself. They are essential, but they alone don't lead one to ultimate liberation or perfect purity. Beyond precepts is wisdom. In order to attain wisdom, Kwo Hwang tries to hold the five precepts, meditate, and learn the Sutras.

Recognizing the beauty and comprehensiveness of the Noble Eight-fold Path of the Buddha, she wishes to and tries her best to shape her life according to that Path.
Kwo Hwang concludes:

I am determined to propagate the Buddhadharma and to protect the Dharma and the Sangha until my last breath--and in order to do so, I know I have to cultivate hard to understand and practice the Buddhadharma properly.