--By Bhiksu Heng Kuan
Buddhists around the world will be happy to learn that the Buddhist Association of Canada recently opened a Buddhist Temple in Vancouver, British Columbia. The Senior Upasaka C. C. Lu, a long time Buddhist devotee and founder of the Association, established and guided the refurbishing of the temple, and sponsored its opening on May 7th, 1972.
Dharma Masters from Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery in San Francisco, the only Great Vehicle Monastery with occidental Bhiksus in the West, were invited to perform the opening ceremonies. Canadian Buddhists were amazed by the depth and thoroughness of practice and study of the American Bhiksus; like many others, they had mistakenly thought that Asia had a monopoly on Buddhism. Five Dharma Masters, led by Dharma Master Heng Ch'ien, Supervisory Director of Gold Mountain Monastery, conducted the ceremonies; they include Dharma Masters Heng Shou, Heng Shoou, Heng Pai, and Heng Kuan. The Venerable Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua was the Dharma Host. Wonderfully efficacious mantras from the Secret School were used to open the light on the Buddha images, and the ceremonies were some of the most awesome and adorned ever performed here. Approximately two hundred people attended, and remained for the vegetarian feast, which followed.
After the ceremonies the Dharma Masters enlightened all present with many enjoyable and pointed stories and parables. When everyone had finished speaking, the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua said;
"Although it is now my turn to lecture, my stomach tells me it's time to eat. It is the custom in Buddhism, however, that one does not eat unless he has spoken the Dharma. To avoid upsetting my stomach any more than necessary, I'll speak a few words of Dharma in short order. It is necessary to taste the flavor of Dharma before you can truly sit down to eat. Although the Dharma Masters preceding me have fed you well with varied flavors of the Dharma, I must eat too, so I will speak.
What is Dharma? Dharma is method and model. Applying its methods will enable you to go from the realm of people to the realm of Buddhahood. Dharma is also the method by which suffering can be left behind and replaced by bliss. It is for this reason that you must understand the Dharma: you need it in order to understand how to cultivate, because you cannot go to the realm of Buddhahood and bliss without doing the work, without cultivating.
You wonder, "How can I cultivate the Buddhadharma?" First and most important, you must purge yourself of emotion and in its place bring forth wisdom, for with wisdom one can attain Buddhahood.
You wonder, “How can I leave behind suffering and dwell in bliss?" Let go of your greed, hatred, and delusion, get rid of these three poisons by means of the threefold study of morality, samadhi, and wisdom. You should diligently cultivate morality by maintaining the precepts, for this will give birth to samadhi, and a deep samadhi will nurture and cause your wisdom to grow. With wisdom you can attain bliss and ultimately Buddhahood. This is the way to utterly extinguish greed, hatred and delusion.
If you manage to get rid of all your greed, hatred, and delusion, you will have no more afflictions and vexations. Do you believe it or not? If you do get rid of all your greed, hatred, and delusion, but still have not obtained bliss, then come and I will let you cut out my tongue. But if you haven't actually freed yourself of the three poisons, from every trace of these poisons, then it would be hardly appropriate for you to take a knife to my tongue.
Time is getting on, and I won't speak much longer. My stomach is aggravated and is really having a falling out with me, cursing me up and down, "Oh, you miserable wretch, you only consider yourself and never think of anyone else. As far as you are concerned there isn't anyone else in the world!" With that I had better quickly close my talk by encouraging you once again to diligently cultivate morality by holding the precepts, cultivate samadhi, and cultivate wisdom. If you do you will be able to completely extinguish greed, hatred, and delusion, and by doing so you will be freed from all vexations, problems, and afflictions, for these are just the three poisons. Leave them far behind and you will meet up with bliss." The Master's talk greatly pleased the assembly, and everyone was in a peaceful and joyous mood.
—To be continued in the next issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea—-
The Venerable Master Hua (4th from the left), Abbot of Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery in San Francisco, is shown here delivering a Dharma talk to a large group of Canadian Buddhists of many nationalities who gathered to celebrate the opening of Buddhist Temple in Vancouver, B.C. He is shown here with disciples, Dharma Masters Heng Shou and Heng Kuan to his right, and Dharma Masters Heng Ch'ien, Heng Shoou, and Heng Pai to his left. Others shown flanking the Dharma Masters are from the Llama Center in Vancouver. Everyone who heard the Master speak was very happy.