THE BODHI STAND
DHARMA PROTECTOR UPASIKA LEE KUO HUNG
Kuo Hung, the youngest of seven children, was born in August 1943. During her youth she attended a Catholic school in Calcutta and concentrated primarily on Chinese and English in her studies.
Kuo Hung's mother has deep faith and good roots, and her cultivation of the Buddhadharma is ever firm and goes beyond her limits. She recites all the Great Vehicle Sutras day and night, especially every year in July, the month honoring Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. For the past twenty-five years, every July Kuo Hung's mother has held a month-long session to recite the Great Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra. Members of the family and many friends join the recitation session. In 1971 Kuo Hung began to recite the Sutra during the annual session. When she completed the month-long recitation, she was deeply moved and felt that life for all living beings is impermanent, and that all is void, that life itself always causes trouble, suffering, bitterness, and endless unhappiness. She felt that the only remedy to seek for happiness was to cultivate the Way and practice the Buddhadharma. Not only Kuo Hung, but the other members of the family as well were strongly influenced by her mother's deep faith and good roots, and her devotion to the Buddhadharma. In time her entire family became completely devoted and dedicated to the Buddhist faith.
1972 Kuo Hung went on a tour with her sister to Bangkok, Singapore,
Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and Ipoh, and Hong Kong. They were warmly welcomed
by all the great Venerable Buddhist Masters, laymen, and laywomen. They
were happy to see that people in Malaysia and Singapore were devoted to
Buddhism. But still Kuo Hung
felt that it didn't fulfill her desire for the Way she was seeking. After
they returned from their trip, Kuo Hung's devotion grew deeper. At night
in her spare time she would try to read the Buddhist books which were sent
to her family from Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong, but sometimes she
found them difficult to understand.
Early in 1974 Kuo Hung started applying for her visa from the Indian Government. She went through the formalities on her own, without the consent of her mother. She knew that her mother would not sanction such a trip because she was extremely conservative.
She always wished her children to join and live together and not to separate from her. She was a strict disciplinarian and disliked her children's social activities.Her strict instructions were obeyed by her children, and they accepted her good discipline, since they realized her task of raising the family single-handed after their father died was not an easy one.
In the winter of 1974 the Venerable Master Hsuan-Hua and two of his American disciples paid a visit to Calcutta, India, during their pilgrimage to holy places. The Maha Bodhi Society received word in advance of the Venerable Master's arrival and the Venerable N. Jinaratana, the General Secretary of the Society, informed Kuo Hung's family of the Master's arrival.
Kuo Hung and her brother went to the Maha Bodhi Society to welcome the Master. The Master's stay in Calcutta was brief and the same day he arrived the Venerable Janaratana, Kuo Hung, and her family went to see the Venerable Master off at the Howrah Station. As he was leaving the Great Master said to Kuo Hung. "If you want to come to America, you can stay in our nuns' Monastery. You will enjoy it there."
She replied, "Yes, I might visit there. And I will definitely come to see the Master. Thank you." After a few minutes the train started moving gradually toward the far distance, and they saw no more of the Master!
The brief meeting with the Venerable Master left a deep impression on Kuo Hung. She found his knowledge inconceivable and was amazed at how he could convince the American disciples. Prior to the Master's visit, she had not heard the Great Master's name nor was she aware of his genius in explaining the Buddhadharma.
In the months following the Master's visit, Kuo Hung received books sent to her family from the Master through Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco. When Kuo Hung finished reading the books she had deep respect for the Great Master's ineffably miraculous and amazing wisdom in teaching the Buddha's doctrines. She also felt great admiration for the members of Gold Mountain who maintained rigorous ascetic practices such as eating only one meal a day and whose wonderful works were carried on in the interest of expanding and promoting Buddhism. She felt that the members of Gold Mountain were lucky indeed to be able to hear the Buddhadharma explained by the Venerable Master.
It was then that Kuo Hung decided to come to America. She first wrote the Venerable Master asking his advice in how to come. Bhiksu Heng Kuan replied to her on behalf of the Venerable Master and after a short period of correspondence she received an H-3 visa, a religious trainee visa, and in March of 1976 she arrived in San Francisco and became a trainee at the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts. Kuo Hung says, "The petition proceedings went so smoothly that I felt it must be through the great compassion and spiritual blessing of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva."
Since arriving at the Institute, Kuo Hung has already begun working on translation from Chinese to English and faithfully attends the Great Avatamsaka Assembly. During the recent Kuan Yin Recitation Session Kuo Hung renewed her pledge to the Triple Jewel, bowing to the Venerable Master as her teacher.