The Bodhi Mirror
INTRODUCING THE EMINENT DHARMA MASTER
SRAMANERIKA KUO MAN
Sramanerika Kuo Man, Shea Sau Chen, was born sixty-seven years ago in Shanghai, China, on January 3rd, 1906. Her family was Buddhist, and her father was a vegetarian--a practice she would not take up until she was forty-one. Hers was a benevolent family, and Kuo Man especially is one always ready to help people in distress, regardless of the consequences for herself. During the war years when food was severely rationed, Kuo Man gave up her own shares on several occasions in order to help those less fortunate than herself. In spite of this trait she is not a softy, when she raised her children, she made them pay for their own pleasures, and has been described as one who would rather throw money away than spoil her children with it. Nevertheless, a beggar was never turned away from the door without something to eat, even during the war years when pickings were lean and the hardships were everywhere and often severe.
After meeting the Master and taking refuge (see this issue's Bodhi Lectern) she often went to one of the Master's temples, Hsi Le Yuan Sse, to cultivate and hear the Dharma. On one occasion she was horror-stricken when she looked outside and saw that worms covered the ground and crawled in the trees. She didn't dare go outside.
When the day's cultivation was over she said to the Master, "Shihfu, I do want to come back tomorrow, but all the worms scare me so much I actually become paralyzed with fright. I'm not coming back." There were worms everywhere, five or six crawling on each leaf of the peach tree near the building. And these were no ordinary earthworms—they gave a sharp and painful sting if touched.
The Master replied, "Don't worry, and don't be afraid to come tomorrow. When you get here, there won't be any insects."
The next day she climbed the mountain with reluctant trepidation, but with enough faith to get her to Hsi Le Yuan. When she arrived she saw that where the day before there had been insects crawling all over the trees, dropping down over the paths, and crawling all over the ground, today not a single insect was to be seen. All the worms had vanished.
For six years after she took refuge with the Master, on the first and fifteenth of each month, she abstained from all food and only drank cold water. On one of these days she planned to go to Hsi Le Yuan, but her son, Kuo Hsin, dissuaded her, saying that it was too far to go without eating anything, and that the hike up the mountain would be too difficult.
So Kuo Man returned home, to make the hike up the six flights of stairs to their apartment; the building had no elevator. As soon as she entered the building on the first floor, however, she found herself suddenly on the sixth floor, outside her door, without having climbed the stairs. She thought that this was so strange that she immediately went to Hsi Le Yuan.
On another occasion she became ill with a strange karmic disorder. No matter who she met, she got a headache, and felt nagging fear. Consequently she became reluctant to meet anyone.
Extremely uncomfortable, she saw many doctors, none of whom could help her. Finally she told the Master, but he said, "It’s not time yet."
Finally on the 14th day of the second month that year, although seriously ill, she went to see the Master. He spoke with her and then told her to kneel before the Buddha. After about a half an hour he rubbed her head. Kuo Man stood up and found the disease had disappeared. Shihfu said, "You’re better now, you can go."
A few days later her mind became unsettled—uncomfortable. She went to see the Master again, and he freed her from the demonic obstruction. From that time until the present, even though she had been ill with a multitude of different diseases earlier in her life, she has not become ill again.
Once her son's wife had tuberculosis for the third time, an extremely severe case. Most people familiar with this disease know that, before the wonder drugs, when TB becomes active in a person for the third time, it is almost impossible to cure, and is usually fatal.
Although the son and his wife were both Protestants, he sought help from his mother, asking her to seek the intervention of the Buddha. Kuo Man did so, and received a prognostication saying, "Although the tree has gone bad, it can bring forth flowers again." Her daughter-in-law got well, and subsequently had three healthy children. She is now will and prosperous, and believing in the Buddha.
Sramanerika Kuo Man is an extraordinarily faithful and sincere disciple of the Buddha, and has been completely devoted to her teacher, the Venerable Master Hua. She has given more than generously to aid his propagation of the Dharma for more than twenty years, and is one of the great Dharma protectors who has supported the Master's work in both Hong Kong and America.
Earlier in 1973 she left the home life under the Venerable Master, and accompanied by her son and his wife, and his sister-in-law, came to San Francisco to draw near to the Master and study with him. She cultivates extremely vigorously, and is an inspiration to all who meet her. She is currently living and cultivating at the Sino-American Buddhist Association.