Long Beach Monastery, facing the Pacific Ocean, is the second Buddhist Way-place that the Master established in southern California, after Gold Wheel Monastery in Los Angeles. On October 23, the weather was very ideal. At 8:00 A.M., twenty-one Buddhist disciples who were preparing to shave their heads, along with 300 other Buddhists, participated in a bowing ceremony, which preceded the ceremony of head shaving.
Among the twenty-one people who resolved to leave the home-life, four are male and seventeen female. They came from Finland, Canada, the United States, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Their ages range from six to seventy-two. Mrs. Wu, an experienced long-time teacher of the well-known Taipei First Girls' High School in Taiwan, drove four days from New York to California to leave the home-life with the Venerable Master. A pair of youths who are brother and sister also left the home-life that day. The six-year old sister had said to her parents long ago when she was just learning to talk, "I want to be a Buddhist nun in the future." The ten-year old brother had also vowed three years ago, "I want to become a Dharma Master." Their parents, originally from Taiwan, are working as a computer engineer and a high school teacher. They sincerely hope their children can soon accomplish Buddhahood and save living beings. Another American-Vietnamese six-year old girl followed in the footsteps of her grandmother and twelve-year old brother when she requested half a year ago to leave the home-life. Her wish was fulfilled on October 23. When asked why she wanted to leave the home-life at such a young age, she replied confidently in fluent English, "Because I want to go to the jails and tell prisoners about the Buddhadharma."
During the head-shaving ceremony, the Venerable Master encouraged these new monks and nuns, the new blood in Buddhism,
In cultivation, 'The teacher leads you to the door, but it is up to each disciple to do the work.' If you do not concentrate and work hard in cultivation, then even if you bow to Shakyamuni Buddha as your teacher, it would be useless. All of you think about it. We leave the home-life in order to end birth and death and to attain enlightenment. If we continue to be careless and dawdling, then it is useless to leave the home-life. You have taken the first step towards Buddhahood today by leaving the home-life. You should all accomplish the Buddhahood soon.
Following the head shaving ceremony in the morning, the transmissions of the three refuges, the five precepts, the ten Shramanera precepts, and the Shikshamana dharmas were held in the afternoon. During the ceremony, in a special overseas call from China, the Master's disciple Upasika Yang told a true story:
When my father and I were visiting Potola Mountain, at Universal Salvation (Fuji) Monastery we saw a camphor tree that was so huge it would have taken ten people to encircle it. That tree spoke to me, saying it wanted to take refuge with the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. I found this quite odd and asked the tree, 'You've been in this monastery for so many years. Haven't you met a true cultivator and taken refuge? Why do you want to take refuge with the Master?' The tree said he had never met a real cultivator with whom he could take refuge, that the conditions had not ripened before, and that now he hoped to take refuge with the Master. I said, 'Okay! Wait till I ask the Master. I'll let you know.' Later, I went back to my room and fell asleep, exhausted. When I woke up, I had forgotten all about this matter. I had neither told my father nor asked the Master about it. We were going to visit other monasteries in the afternoon. When we got downstairs, I turned around to talk to my father. All of a sudden, I sprained my neck. Fortunately, it did not break. I was immediately alert, 'What did I do wrong?' Just as I was pondering, I turned around and saw the big camphor tree and instantly realized that I had forgotten to do what he had asked me to do. Just then, the tree said to me, 'How could you be so careless and forget what I asked you to do!' I said, 'I'm so sorry! My memory is very poor. Please don't be upset. I will ask the Master
now.' So I asked the Master for instruction. The Master said, ‘Whether or not he becomes my disciple is not important, but he should diligently cultivate precepts, samadhi, and wisdom, and extinguish greed, anger, and stupidity.' I relayed the message to the camphor tree and added, 'As long as you can observe the six great principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas: no fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no self-benefiting, and no lying; even if you don't have the affinities to meet the Master, you will still be the Master's disciple.' The tree promised to do as told. He further vowed to imitate Guanshiyin Bodhisattva in bringing forth a great resolve to universally save living beings in the future. Right then, I saw the tree turn into a Shramana kneeling on the ground with palms folded together, and Guanshiyin Bodhisattva appeared above him and anointed his head with pure water from a vase. I was deeply touched. I reported this matter to the Master after we got home. The Master took it seriously and asked me to get more details about the tree. His name is Ren Neng (Humane and Able). I asked him what his method of cultivation was. He said he had been reciting the Heart Sutra and investigating the principles in that Sutra. However, since he lacked the guidance of a good teacher, he had not fully understood it."
Since Upasika Yang is a sincere Buddhist who possesses the spiritual power to communicate with other species, the camphor tree made the request to take refuge with the Master through her. From now on the tree will receive guidance from a bright-eyed wise advisor. Upasika Yang asked the tree how he knew about the Master and why he wanted to take refuge with the Master. The tree said it was very simple: all living beings can hear the Master speaking Dharma. When the Master speaks the Dharma, all living beings throughout empty space and Dharma Realm can see and hear the Master. However, people who are burdened by wealth, worldly things, fame, and profit may look and listen, but they fail to see and hear. All other living beings are quietly cultivating, steeped in the sound of the Master's Dharma, nurturing their seeds of Bodhi. So the tree had been listening to the Master's Dharma for a long time.
Before the refuge ceremony ended, the Master made a special point of emphasizing the importance of cultivation. He said,
Whoever you are, if you have a true and sincere mind, if you are not careless in the least, if you do not do what the worldly people do but do the contrary, then you will be able to attain the benefit of Buddhism. So, whether you are left-home or lay people, you should be true Buddhists; be different from ordinary people; don't be like ordinary people: greedy, fighting, seeking, selfish, and self-benefiting, not letting a moment go by from morning to night without lying. This is most important! These six great principles are the first step toward learning Buddhism and eventually accomplishing the Buddhahood. Don't forget them! Don't neglect them! We should learn to take more losses and not take any advantages.