OPENING THE LIGHT IN VANCOUVER
by Disciple Bhiksu Heng Shoou from
On May 7th, 1972 the Buddhist Association of British Columbia held opening ceremonies for Buddhist Temple in Vancouver. At 10:00 o'clock in the morning the hall was crowded with Chinese and Western devotees who participated in the ceremony to activate the spiritual essence in the Buddha images. Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua presided over the ceremony, assisted by disciples, all Western Dharma Masters. A group of more than ten lamas joined in the service, as well as over twenty members of the Montreal Zen Center.
At the assembly held after the ceremony, Chairman Upasaka Lu described the accomplishments of the Buddhist Association, and its future plans to propagate the Great Vehicle Buddhadharma in the West. "We must save all those who have lost their way, who have become confused. We must rely on the illumination of the Buddha's light to increase blessings for mankind. Now I would like to introduce to you these Dharma Masters from the United States, all of whom are extremely learned in both the Buddhadharma and worldly subjects. They are all bhiksus, having received the complete ordination, and thus are authorized by the Buddhas to speak the Dharma. Their study and understanding is extremely profound and you should recognize them as the dragons and elephants at the Buddha's gate.
"Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua, Abbot of Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, is a Dharma disciple of the High Master Hsu Yun, and successor to the genuine transmission of the robe and bowl. The Master's disciples include not only literati, men of great eminence, businessmen, and celebrities, he has also transformed hundreds of hippies as well, guiding them to belief in the Buddha, and causing them to begin their lives anew. Wherever he speaks the Dharma, worldly men are startled and their confusion shatters. The blind are caused to see and the deaf to hear. It is as if one were sitting at Vulture Peak." In Vancouver, all those who heard the Master speak obtained what they had never had before.
The Venerable Master Hua (center) is shown here activating the spiritual essence of the Buddha images of Buddhist Temple in Vancouver, B.C. Shown assisting the Master are Dharma Master Heng Ch'ien (right) who is Supervisory Director of Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery and Director of Publications of Vajra Bodhi Sea, and Dharma Master Heng Shou (left), Assistant Managing Director of Gold Mountain, and Director of Administrations for VBS.
Master Hsuan Hua's talk was preceded by those of the other guest
speakers. Dharma Master Heng Ch'ien who is Supervisory Director of Gold
Mountain Dhyana Monastery and Director of Publications of Vajra Bodhi
Sea, discussed a famous parable spoken by the Buddha. "The Great
Vehicle is often explained by analogy; for example, the analogy of the
Three Vehicles in the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Blossom
Sutra. This compares the objectives of cultivation of the Great and
Small Vehicles. It says that the Saha world is brimming with suffering
and that if one doesn't board the prajna boat, he will be unable to pass
"Now a Buddhist Association has been established in Vancouver to propagata the Dharma and protect the teaching. This is a prajna boat. Since now there is a boat of compassion sailing the sea of suffering, universally crossing over beings, everyone should climb on board and quickly reach the other shore. The only reason for living here in this troubled world is to propagate the Buddhadharma and rectify the hearts of men. The Sutra says, 'A human body is hard to obtain, the Buddhadharma is difficult to hear.' Now the opportunity is as good as it was in the past, and yet we still do not board the boat. Not only do we not feel grateful towards the boat builders, we have lost an opportunity for salvation. This is indeed pitiful."
Dharma Master Heng Ch'ien, Dharma Master Heng Shou, who is Assistant
Managing Director of Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery and Director of
Administrations of Vajra Bodhi Sea spoke. "Studying Buddhism is
studying wisdom. If one has wisdom, he can attain release from his
offenses and miseries, and then obtain genuine bliss.
"In ancient times, there was a king who honored and believed in the
Buddhadharma, but the people of his country passed their time peeking
tame and advantage. Since he wished to exhort everyone to practice the
Path, he commanded his Minister to obtain an elephant and to summon four
blind men and inform them, 'Here we have an elephant, and you four blind
ones have been selected to determine its appearance using your faculty
of touch. If you are able to describe the elephant's genuine appearance,
by using your hands as a substitute for your eyes, I will reward you
with all the wealth in the treasuries.'
saying this he directed the blind man to begin feeling the elephant. The
first blind men grasped the elephant's long nose and exclaimed, 'Ah, the
elephant is like a great toothless snake.' The second man grasped the
elephant's ear and with a great sound, proclaimed, 'By means of touch I
have ascertained the genuine appearance of the elephant. The elephant is
pliant, like a tortilla.' The third man's hand touched the elephant's
belly, at which he exclaimed, 'Their answers are both empty lies; how
can they say that an elephant is like those things? Actually, an
elephant is like a drum. Strike
it and it resounds.' The fourth man walked around the elephant and began
poking around near the ground. Touching the elephant's four legs he
said, 'An elephant is not any of the various things which they said it
to be. In actuality, it is a small grove of trees.'
"Now what is the point of this story? It's just that we cultivators of the Way sometimes practice as if we are blind, unable to see the plain truth before us. Grasping around in the dark without the light of the Buddhadharma to illumine our surroundings, we are unable to clearly recognize the situations, which face us. Now everyone should protect and maintain this new place of cultivation here in Vancouver so that all those who wish to practice the Dharma will have a place to work. Don't be like; the blind men who did not get the gold because they were unable to see what was right before them.
the same way as these blind men approached the elephant, worldly people
only understand grasping after fame and profit, not knowing to study the
Buddhadharma. They grab to the point, where the whole world is without
the slightest peace. Now we should all produce a little effort to
benefit ourselves by benefiting others. Thus we may bestow on this
generation a natural health, happiness, and harmonious peace."
Master Heng Kuan followed Dharma Master Heng Shou with these words.
"Establishing a Bodhimandala is the most important activity in
which you can engage yourselves, for it is in the Bodhimandala that the
most important work in life is done. In the Bodhimandala men pacify
their hearts, and thus bring peace to the world. How? The Sutra says,
'Everything is made from the mind alone.' If the mind is calm, how can
the world be in turmoil?
"But you should know that establishing the Bodhimandala is no simple task, and that there will be times in the future that are far from the joyousness of today's festivities. Confucius said, 'When the weather turns cold, the pines and cedars don't lose their leaves.' In difficult times the worthy man is firm in purpose and does not yield to adversity. What is adversity? Anything that comes to disrupt the peace and threaten the livelihood of the Bodhimandala. The future of the Bodhimandala, of Buddhism in Canada, and of peace in the world rests with you. I hope that your work will be as certain and lasting as the evergreen."
Dharma words of Dharma Master Heng Shoou: "There are those who say
that Buddhism has nothing to do with the modern world, that everything
has changed. I'd like to show how this Dharma assembly is very much like
those of the Buddha's time. When the Buddha was in the world, there was
a great merchant named Anathapindaka, who wished to establish a place
for the Buddha to 'expound the Dharma. He went to see the Crown Prince
Jeta, seeking to buy the Prince's beautiful flower garden. Prince Jeta
said to Anathapindaka, 'If you are able to cover the entire grounds of
my flower garden with gold, only then will I sell it to you.' The elder
emptied his treasure vaults and covered the ground with gold. There was
nothing the Prince could do, but he pointed out to the merchant, 'You
have covered the ground with gold and so the garden is yours. However,
you have not covered the trees with gold, so they still belong to me.'
However, the Prince favored Anathapindaka's resolve to establish an
aranya for the Buddha, and so together they made an offering 'to the
Buddha, Anathapindaka offering the grounds and the Prince offering the
is our Dharma assembly here like that of the Buddha? You could say that
Upasaka Lu is like Anathapindaka, who has made it possible for a place
to investigate the Buddhadharma to exist here in Vancouver. And everyone
who is in the assembly should be like Prince Jeta, who helped out
Anathapindaka, and support and protect this Bodhimandala so that the
Dharma will flourish here in Canada."
Dharma words of Dharma Master Heng Pai: "Since I don't have
anything to say, I'll tell a story instead. Once, the Buddha and all the
bhiksus were invited to accept a meal offering. They left only a young
novice behind at the monastery to watch the door. While they were gone a
good merchant who very earnestly wished to make an offering came to
invite the Buddha to his house to eat, and speak the Dharma. He saw that
in the entire monastery there was only one novice, but since the novice
was a disciple of the Buddha, the merchant felt sure he would be able to
ascend the seat and speak the Dharma.
he requested the novice to come, made offerings to him, and then knelt
before him and very sincerely requested instruction. While he was
kneeling with his head lowered, the terrified novice quietly slid off
the seat, tiptoed out the door, and raced back to the monastery where he
locked his door and dived under the bed to hide.
kneeling for quite some time and not hearing a sound, the sincere layman
ventured a peek up at the Dharma seat and saw...No One! At this he
suddenly opened enlightenment and understood that people are empty
illusions. He was delighted and ran all the way back to the monastery to
thank the young novice. He pounded on the novice's door shouting 'Let me
in! Let me in!' The young novice, sure that he had incurred the layman's
displeasure, became so frightened that his mind turned to one
and...suddenly he too opened enlightenment and understood that people
and dharmas are all empty."
Dharma Masters delivered their talks in both Chinese and English, and
after they had spoken, the Chairman Upasaka Lu, thanked everyone for
coming and invited all to remain for lunch. (The last speaker was the
Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The complete text of his talk will appear in
issue #27 of Vajra Bodhi Sea.) Afterwards a sumptuous vegetarian meal
was served and everyone present enjoyed the pure food.
in the afternoon the Great Compassion Repentance was performed.
After the ceremony, the President of the Montreal Zen Institute
and all of the other members present knelt before the Master and
requested instruction. The Venerable Master gave them instruction, and presented
them with a complete 25 volume set of the Large Sutra on Perfect Wisdom
for their association. Afterwards, since time was getting late, everyone
rejoiced in the teaching and dispersed.
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