The Bodhi Stand
By Bhikshuni Heng Ch’ih
UPASIKA WOO KUO FOONG
Kuo Foong was born into a Buddhist family. Although her mother did not deeply understand the doctrines, she instilled faith in her daughter, taught her to recite the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, and took her regularly to temples to bow to the Buddhas.
When their house was shelled during World War II, Kuo Foong and sixteen relatives, friends, and visitors were buried in the rubble. When her mother returned and saw the house in ruins, she expected the worst and thought she would never see her children again. But all the while, buried as she was, Kuo Foong recited "Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa" and eventually the rescue crew found them. Kuo Foong encouraged everyone to participate in a three day vegetarian fast by way of thanks.
Again when she had to pass exams, Kuo Foong called on the aid of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva and spontaneously made this vow:
"I will be virtuous and take
refuge with the Triple Jewel.
And in this life, I will
cultivate the Way rather than
look for love and marriage."
She passed the exam and felt at peace with her commitment. Later when illness afflicted her, she became a vegetarian and learned to recite the Great Compassion Mantra by heart.
In 1969, Kuo Foong visited Hong Kong and stayed at a rural temple in Kooloon. During that time the thought came to her, "I would certainly like to cultivate in a place where the Dharma is in English. I would like to help propagate the Dharma in such a place." Shortly thereafter, says Kuo Foong, who deeply believes in the power of past affinities:
"Some American monks and nuns came
(to that temple in Hong Kong) five
of them. The Abbot of the temple
called me to come and serve tea.
After they had gone the Abbot told
me, 'See those left home people?
They are so young and yet they
know how to cultivate.'"
Called back to Malaysia by the death of her mother, Kuo Foong began to study Buddhism in greater depth and it was during that time that she first saw Varja Bodhi Sea. When the Venerable Master Hua and delegation visited Malaysia in 1978, Kuo Foong attended as many of the lectures as she could and began to appreciate what cultivation was really all about as she heard about the Dharma and practices at Gold Mountain Monastery and the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. "My thought was, 'Maybe one day I can visit those places.'"
In 1979 her past affinities ripened and her wishes were realized when Kuo Foong joined the delegation from Malaysia to come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for the Opening of the Light of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and the dedication of Dharma Realm Buddhist University. Kuo Foong stayed on at the City and for almost a year now has been actively engaged in the work of the Buddhist Text Translation Society propagating the Dharma in English.
She joins the full daily schedule at the City, which includes morning recitation, the high meal offering, evening recitation, nightly Dharma lectures, as well as special ceremonies on Buddhist holidays and weeks of intensive meditation and recitation. In this cultivation she has found relief from long term illness especially in single minded recitation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name.
"The responses I have had are
many and I always believe that
if it weren't for the power and
compassion of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva
I wouldn't even be alive, much
less fortunate enough to be able
to learn the Dharma."
After taking the Bodhisattva Precepts, Kuo Foong made the following vow:
"I vow that in this life I will
study the Buddhadharma and diligently follow the Path and that
life after life I will leave the
home life and cultivate until
I attain the fruit."