BODHI STAND presents
On the eve of September 12th, 1978, a friend called Lim Siew Khum at home to invite her to attend a Dharma assembly meeting the following evening.
"It's the delegation from America with the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and he will be speaking tomorrow night for the last time in Singapore," reported her friend, along with other details of the previous few day's Dharma meetings.
"I don't know..." replied Upasika Lim, "I'll let you know tomorrow." It wasn't that up. Lim wasn't Buddhist, she was. In fact she had resided in the monastic setting, such as it was, for a time in the past. Her father died when she was around ten years old and she lived with her widowed mother. Her family professed to be Buddhist but she never knew the profound principles 'of the Dharma during those early years. Her stay at a convent had been disillusioning, and in search of something she hadn't found there, she went to Australia, only to return after a few months and live again with her mother. Now she had another chance to encounter the Dharma, but would it really be what she was looking for or was it a vain hope she harbored?
The next day when she dialed up her friend, she still hadn't decided if she wanted to attend the Dharma meeting. But as they chatted, her friend informed her that the Venerable Master was the same bhiksu, under a different name, whose biography Upasika Lim had recently read and been profoundly moved by. That decided it, she would go hear the Dharma.
The hall was packed with people, hundreds, with standing room only, and for four hours the American disciples of the Venerable Master spoke Dharma--explaining the precepts and principles of the Proper Teaching, and enhancing them with many true anecdotes that illustrated the efficacy of the Dharma when cultivated firmly, sincerely, and constantly.
Finally the Venerable Master spoke, gently but decisively:
"All of us who have come together here have deep affinities with one another. But now, perhaps we have traded roles to the point that we no longer recognize one another clearly. Those who now are teachers may in the past have been the disciples; and the disciples now may have been the teachers before. Although we may fail to recognize one another personally, having changed appearances so many times, we still sense that we are one in spirit. And sometimes we perceive these connections clearly when we meet someone and have a warm friendly feeling about them immediately. That feeling exists here tonight in this lecture hall-- everyone seems very happy. We have gathered for the sake of the Dharma and it is as if we have been related for limitless kalpas past to now. Our affinities with the Buddhadharma are deep, and yet many have forgotten and fail to believe it.
"It's time now to wake up and not continue revolving on the wheel of birth and death. Me meet in order to help each other. We must turn back from confusion and take refuge with enlightenment. Most important, we must not be selfish. Those of you who have taken refuge with me have taken refuge with the Triple Jewel of the Buddhas of the Ten Directions and the Three Periods of Time. I only represent that greater whole. You who have taken refuge should not slander the Triple Jewel or find fault with the members of the four assemblies. You should adapt my motto, 'Everything's OK.' After I leave here a lot of people will criticize me. But those who have become my disciples should not fly to my defense and strike out. Instead you should bow to them. Remember what I've told you when the time comes.
"Those who have left the home life should oven less harbor selfish desires. In Buddhism we most sincerely suggest that Sanghins keep no private assets, that all private funds go to the Buddhist Church. Such a lofty practice molds virtuous character, banishes selfishness, and ensures vigorous practice and cultivation. In doing my part to develop this trait in the Sangha, I myself hold no private funds and what is more I have given the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to all Buddhists of the world, to all religions of the world, and to all beings of the world."
Lim Siew Khum came away from that meeting having heard what she'd never heard before. Now, the latent desire to leave the home life welled up unmistakably in her and she determined then and there to come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas with the hope of training to become a member of the Sangha. Though it was not easy, she fulfilled her resolve and now trains and studies at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
She says, "I earnestly want to leap off the revolving wheel of birth and death but at the same time I am deluded. The time has come now that I should wake up from the daydream and pursue without regression my ultimate goal--the goal of a11 cultivators, the goal of Bodhi. This realization was the outcome of our most venerable Master's astounding Dharma talk that last night he was in Singapore. Bold are his words, awesome is his demeanor, a living Buddha of the Dharma Ending Age not to be encountered within thousands of years. And now I am here. I find the four-fold assembly to be very fair and to live together with a strong sense of equality. With a most sincere heart, I want to learn from the beginning as a child learns to walk, the proper path to liberation."