Before I left the home-life, I often cultivated at a Buddhist association in Butterworth, Malaysia. One day, a friend mentioned something about a Dharma Master in the United States who strictly upheld the precepts, was pure and lofty in his practice, had high virtue and was greatly respected. I felt that this must be a good knowing advisor. Therefore, I came from afar to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. After meeting the Venerable Master, I was moved by the Master's kindness, compassion, and sympathy for living beings. Thus, I decided to leave the home-life under the Master.
On the path of cultivation, one is bound to encounter tests. Over a year after I left the home-life, my spine was attacked by tubercle bacillus, and one of the vertebras became infected and rotten. An operation was required to remove the rotten segment, cut a piece of rib bone to fill the space, and secure the spinal column on both sides with steel locks. This kind of spinal bone transplant surgery often damages the central nervous system. However, without the surgery I would become paralyzed within a year. There are usually many post-surgery effects. Even though this operation was tremendously risky, I had faith. I believed the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Master would aid me.
I was hospitalized for one month before the surgery took place. The doctors insisted that I remain in bed and not get up, fearing that I might become paralyzed if I wasn't careful in moving about. During this period, I mindfully recited Guanyin Bodhisattva's name and the Great Compassion Mantra. With the help of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the surgery went smoothly. I got up from bed five days after the surgery, and I left the hospital in eight days. The success of the surgery and my speedy recovery surprised the doctors and nurses. They asked me why I didn't get dizzy walking around, after having been bedridden for so long. I believe this is just the inconceivable wonder of the Buddhadharma!
When I returned to the City to recuperate, I found that the surgery had affected my memory, vision, strength, etc. For three years, I couldn't cultivate with the assembly, nor help out with any work, and this pained my heart. Early last year, my situation greatly improved. What made me happiest was that I could cultivate, study, and work with the assembly. After this ordeal, I realized that life is truly suffering. Earnest cultivation is the only real thing. It's said, "Don't wait until you're old to start cultivating, for in most of the lonely graves there are young people." I believe, if we follow the Master to cultivate with utmost sincerity and earnesty, we'll surely fulfill our vows to end birth and death, leave suffering, and attain bliss.