Dhramanerika Heng Lan came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas two years ago to cultivate and study the Dharma. At present, she is vigorously memorizing and studying the precepts. The following is her story of how she became a Buddhist nun.
In 1982, I came in contact with Christianity. But I had never been baptized. In 1987, my father stayed in the hospital for six months because of cancer. A Christian friend of my father suggested that we pray to God everyday to receive blessings for my father. I took his advice and tried. That night, while I was asleep, a black tornado-like mass suddenly enveloped my head and kept circling it. I woke up frightened to find myself seemingly weak and bound up, and not a single word could come out my throat. I opened my eyes a little and saw both my father and older sister asleep. I tried to wake my sister up but could not utter a sound. Then I quickly mentally recited "Jesus Christ", over and over. A few minutes later, the black mass escaped through the window. From then on, I really believed that Jesus Christ exists.
Before my father's sickness, I had joined some activities in a church, listening to the Psalms and reading the Bible too. But I never tried to study the religion in depth. Finally I stopped going to that church. Still, I received some newsletters sent by other churches. I wrote them, asking questions, but none of their answers satisfied me. So I started to wonder if there were any other religions that could answer those questions that the Christian Fathers could not?
Two weeks before my father's death, on a very special condition, my sister called up a Buddhist monastery to ask about how to arrange the funeral affairs and let my father be free from the fear of death. They asked my sister to go there and talk. They patiently instructed her step by step on how to take care of people on their deathbed. That day, my sister brought back a copy of
The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Buddha Sutra, a string of beads, an Amitabha Buddha recitation tape and a body-covering cloth printed with the symbols of the Dharani Sutra.
In the hospital, we let my father listen to the tape and read the Sutra to him if we had the time. We told him,"Dad, you ought to follow Amitabha Buddha to the Land of Ultimate Bliss." At the time, we just did our best to do what we were taught, for we didn't really know anything about Buddhism.
One morning, we were quite surprised to find that my father's breath had already stopped. The doctor came to examine him and announced that my father had already died. We snapped to attention and hurried to make preparations for the funeral. We covered his body with the Dharani Sutra covering cloth, and stayed by his side as he was taken to the funeral parlor. When we got there, we knelt beside our father and kept reciting the Buddha's name. While we were reciting, we smelled chandana incense. My sister and brother also saw a stream of soft light shining on our father's body, and the covering cloth was billowing lightly as waves. This caused my faith to grow deeply, and I knew then that I had found the religion that I sought. In November of 1987, the same year of my father's death, I took refuge with the Triple Jewel. I often visited the monastery to listen to the Buddhadharma.
In 1988, the Venerable Master went to Taiwan to propagate the Dharma. It seems everything was ready for me to accept the Dharma, so I went to the lecture. When I heard what the Venerable Master said, I deeply felt that he is very different from most Dharma Masters. When I saw the Venerable Master, it was just like seeing my own father. I had a feeling that I don't know how to explain. At that time, I made a vow to follow the Venerable Master to cultivate.
Early in 1989, I resigned from my job and gave up my plan to enter college. I went faraway to the Proper Dharma Buddhism Academy to register and I stayed there to study. I liked the courses there because they were arranged very well. The daily studies benefited me a lot. Above all, studying the
Shurangama Sutra principally so much to me. Just like planting a good seed, I had the idea of leaving home and cultivating.
As Buddhism is starting to grow in the West, many people in western countries do not yet have correct views about Buddhism. They don't understand the meanings of great kindness, compassion, joy and renunciation. Although they can see the surface of Buddhism, they do not deeply understand its true meaning. So, I hope that I can honestly cultivate in daily life and truly understand the practices cultivated by the Buddhas and the Dharma spoken by the Buddhas. I also wish to use my language skills to give Westerners more chances to listen to the Dharma and read the Sutras so they can gain the true liberation of the spirit.