My name is Hu Jeng Syou Yu. I was born in Chishan, Gausyung County, Taiwan. Although my family worshipped Gwan Yin Bodhisattva, they were not vegetarians. My first insight into Buddhism, although I didn't know it was Buddhism, happened when I was very young, before I went to kindergarten. Every night lying in bed I imagined how scary it would be to be buried in the ground after death. I was moved to tears by this. From very early on, I feared the pain of death. But I never told anyone about it until I met Darwin (my husband). For as the eldest child, I became very independent and decisive while my parents were busy taking care of my brothers and sisters. If I could solve a problem by myself, I would never trouble others with it.
In high school, a friend introduced the Bible to me. But it could not resolve my doubts. Continuing my search for truth, I came upon the sutra called
Eight Great Enlightenments. I had a real interest in Buddhism from the start. This sutra was like a magic key which opened up the supreme and profound treasury of Buddhadharma.
I especially liked the idea of "Be responsible for your own life," based on the law of cause and effect. The other idea that caught my attention was "All living beings have the Buddha nature and can become Buddhas." These ideas were two bright lamps which illuminated my confusion, and I benefitted greatly from them.
Q: In the sutras that you have read, what teaching have you found the most useful?
A: You have to be responsible for your own life. As it is said, "If you want to know your past causes, you are receiving their fruition now. If you want to know your future retribution, it comes from what you do in this life." One's mind is the source of one's appearance, and one's destiny is created by oneself. Nobody can take your place.
Q: In your opinion, how can one reveal the practice of the Buddha's teachings in the mind?
A: You have to have solid faith first. If you yourself have no faith, then how can others believe in you?
Q: How do you teach the Buddhadharma to your children? What do you want them to get out of it?
A: First, they should understand how life works: Whatever cause you plant, you will receive the corresponding result. If you don't discuss certain issues with children, it doesn't mean they won't wonder about them on their own. Rather than letting them grope around in the dark, it's better to talk things over with them. So I don't avoid discussing about the matters of life and death. Once we know where we go after death, there is no more fear. But this takes real, long-lasting cultivation, so it's important to practice vigorously.
Q: Darwin, what changes have you seen in your wife since she became Buddhist?
A: Darwin: The most obvious change is that she doesn't argue with me as much. What's even more interesting is that our children will say to us, "You've taken the Five Precepts now. You can't talk recklessly, or your precept protecting spirits will abandon you!" She has changed a lot. Definitely she was already very good. Now she gets an A+ or an A.
Q: Mrs. Hu, how do you feel you have changed since studying the Dharma?
A: First, I don't see money as so important anymore. When I first came to the U.S., I went back to school, so that I could find a better-paying job later on. Now that I've graduated, I feel it's more meaningful to work for Buddhism.
Secondly, the scope of my life used to be limited to my family. Now I'm gradually expanding my range, by letting my home be the meeting point for all Dharma friends from San Jose. Every Wed. evening, we get together to recite the Buddha's name, bow in repentance, and study the Sutras. Sometimes we also meet on Fridays at noontime.
Q: Mrs. Hu, what changes have you seen in Darwin since he began studying Buddhism?
A: Like everyone, he has his highs and lows, but now, when he deals with people, his personality is much mellower.
Q: Where do you see the changes?
A: In daily life. He gives people more of a chance now to express themselves, and that has really made a difference in our time together as a family. I am grateful for that.