Bhikshuni Heng Hua

      Bhikshuni Heng Hua was born in China in 1912. Her immediate and extended family were all Buddhists and two of her relatives became members of the Sangha during her lifetime--one was her great aunt and the other her uncle.

      She was born into a family of educators and enjoyed a life of blessings as a child. Heng Hua also received an M.A. in education and spent thirty-five years at Kao Ming School where she was promoted from teacher to principal to superintendent. All her childhood her mother told her about the efficacy of reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's name. After Heng Hua married her educational duties and her family kept her busy and she did not pursue the study of Buddhism during those years. She rarely went to temples, but through this period she never forgot her mother's guidance and often recited the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. Although her direct contact with Buddhism dwindled, she was deeply Buddhist at heart and was not interested in the urging of her friends to look into other religions. She new their doctrines did not satisfy her needs.
      In 1972 Bhikshuni Heng Hua, still a laywoman at the time, went to Argentina to visit her mother whom she has not seen in more than twenty years. Her mother passed away during that visit and Heng Hua was stricken with sorrow by the death. She went to visit her youngest daughter in 

New York and continued to mourn over her mother's passing. Her daughter admonished her: "If you just cry about your mother it will do no good. You should become a Buddhist and then you can really do things to help her."

      Heng Hua agreed to accompany her daughter to Great Enlightenment Temple in the Bronx where she heard a lecture on the Sutras. Dharma Master Jen Chun (see VBS#44p28) was lecturing the Ten Transferences  Chapter of the Avatamsaka Sutra. After her first taste of Dharma, Heng Hua returned regularly to listen to the Sutras and hear the Dharma spoken.

The following year she took refuge with the Elder Master Shou Yeh and in 1975 received the five precepts and the Bodhisattva precepts. The more she studied the Dharma the more her desire to leave the home-life grew. But her family was opposed so she waited. Finally in 1976 she decided that regardless of her worldly ties, she must leave the home-life. Her youngest daughter continued to support Heng Hua's dedication and acted as her protector for her ordination.

Heng Hua traveled to Taiwan to received the complete precepts at a platform presided over by the Elder Master Pai Sheng as Precept Transmitter, the late Master Tao An as Karmadana, and Dharma Master Chen Hua as Teaching Transmitter. After she was fully ordained, Heng Hua traveled around Taiwan to visit temples and monasteries. At Fwo Kuang Mountain, where she stayed a few days, she was sought out by Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ing who strongly encouraged her to visit Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco and pay her respects to the Venerable Abbot Hsuan Hua, under whom Heng Ch'ing had received the complete precepts in the 1976 transmission at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

Impressed by Heng Ch'ing's message, Heng Hua changed her plans and flew directly to San Francisco where she paid respects to the Venerable Abbot and joined the Avatamsaka assembly. She resided at the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts and also visited the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. She felt many affinities with these Bodhimandas and the four-fold assembly and remained in San Francisco for an extended period of time so she could join in the Dharma gatherings.

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NOW AVAILABLE: The Chinese addition of  A Record of Water and Mirror Reflections: essays by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. For information write the Buddhist Text Translation Society at Gold Mountain Monastery.

THE DHARANI SUTRA, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The Sutra speaks of compassion, which relieves us of suffering and gives us joy. Avalokiteshvara (Kuan Yin) Bodhisattva, who regards the worlds' sounds, embodies this infinite compassion. The Dharani Sutra shows how by the practice of compassion and the recitation of the Great Compassion Mantra we can gain the thousand hands and thousand eyes of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and rescue living beings in distress by means of wholesome magic and healing. 352 pages, $10.00.