Upasika Tseng Kuo Hsi

Kuo Hsi was born in 1936 in a traditional Cantonese family. She first encountered Buddhadharma during the three month and three week Amitabha Buddha and Great Prajna Sutra recitation sessions held at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in Hong Kong after the Venerable Hsu Yun's parinirvana. She took refuge with the Triple Jewel and learned to recite the Buddha's name.

Kuo Hsi had frequent dreams of sages and Bodhisattvas coming to rub her crown or aid her in times of difficulty after she became a disciple. One night she dreamed of a group of Western Dharma Masters. "Strange," she thought, "how can there be foreign left-home people?" That night she went to the Buddhist Lecture Hall in Hong Kong, only to find she had arrived too late. The first group of Americans to leave home under the Venerable Master had just returned to San Francisco.

In another similar dream, she saw a foreign Dharma Master sitting on the Venerable Master's high seat. That night she went to the lecture hall, only to find one of the Master's American bhiksu disciples lecturing on the Heart Sutra there. He had arrived just that afternoon. Her dreams were surely efficacious.

All along, Kuo Hsi knew she had to cultivate, but living in a cosmopolitan city like Hong Kong where the joys of the good life were just too many, she often got sidetracked. She wasn't really willing to put down ma-jang, horse races, good food, parties, and luxuries.

Even when the Master came back to Hong Kong on a visit in 1974, she expressed her fear of the suffering involved in cultivating. Yet time and time again Kuan Yin Bodhisattva gave her premonitions. Whenever she prayed to that Bodhisattva, a most impressive response would come forth if she was sincere in her request.

In 1976 suddenly the tables turned. Her family fortune took a dive, nothing went right. Continually hassled by a series of inexplicable, annoying circumstances, Kuo Hsi suffered from constant insomnia. This period of mental anguish caused her to truly see the manifestation of the eight sufferings that the Buddha taught. She realized that people in 

throes of mental illness have no link with the truth, and thus become no more than walking corpses.

      This greatly shocked her. It is sometimes under extreme pressure and hardship that people are moved to bring forth the Bodhi heart. Suddenly the world collapsed, the ground shifted, and Kuo Hsi had to face up to a reality, which she had so far swept under the rug.

Inside of a month she pulled herself together enough to resume her life, but with a new sense of the emptiness of mundane existence. She could now give up things, which she hadn't been able to give up before. She had already dreamt that her head was shaved and had at the time firmly discounted it as a whimsical fantasy. Now she followed her destiny.

Kuo Hsi came to America to join the Avatamsaka Assembly at Gold Mountain Monastery in 1977. After a short time she left the home-life on Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's birthday, June 19, 1977.

At present she cultivates and is resolved to get rid of her afflictions.


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The Sutra in Forty-two Sections, is a series of straightforward instructions spoken by the Buddha to his left-home disciples. The principles expounded are invaluable to all cultivators, and the Venerable Master Hua's concise commentary reaffirms the importance of precepts, samadhi, and wisdom in cultivation of the Way. Available In mid-October. $4.00 from the Buddhist Text Translation Society.

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