◆出家弟子扶柩 Left-home disciples carrying the casket
The car convoy slowly moved forward. Both sides of the road were packed with earnest people who had their palms placed together. The body of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, who had completed the stillness ten days earlier, was transported from Los Angeles and reached the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in northern California on Saturday, June 17, at seven o’clock in the morning.
In the afternoon of the June 16, Long Beach Monastery in Long Beach, southern California, held a ceremony for liberating life and a ceremony for moving the Venerable Master’s coffin. The weather had been clear and sunny for many days in Long Beach, but on the 16th, it suddenly became cloudy and rainy, and the temperature fell abruptly. It was as if Nature was grieving as well over the Venerable Master’s completion of stillness and the moving of his coffin.
On the evening of the sixteenth (Friday), disciples of the Venerable Master from the Los Angeles area accompanied the truck bearing the Master’s coffin on its journey northward. The car convoy reached the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas on Saturday morning at around seven o’clock.
A yellow banner with the words “Welcoming the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, the Founder of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas at Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain, on his return to the City” was suspended high up on the gate at the main entrance to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. When the Venerable Master’s coffin was respectfully taken out (and moved to a smaller vehicle), the multitude recited the Buddha’s name with even more fervor and strength.
After the vehicle bearing the Master’s coffin had passed under the arch of the main entrance, the faithful followers standing on both sides of the road joined together in the middle of the road and followed the vehicle as it made its way towards the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Left-home disciples of the Venerable Master then respectfully moved the Master’s coffin into the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The ten thousand statues of sitting Buddhas which cover the four walls inside the hall were cast and made by the Venerable Master himself in earlier years.
After paying homage to the Buddhas in the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the disciples respectfully moved the Venerable Master’s coffin into the Hall of No Words, which had been the Master’s dwelling at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas when he was alive. When the Venerable Master spoke the Dharma or lectured on the Sutras at the City, he had done so either in the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas or in Wonderful Words Hall. Yet the Master named his quarters the Hall of No Words, so it carries the metaphorical meaning for wordless teachings.
Many members of the San Francisco and San Jose branches of the Tz’u Chi Foundation hastened to the City on Friday and volunteered their help in directing traffic, organizing people into lines, and so forth, thus demonstrating the spirit of cooperation among Buddhists.
At half past noon, the assembly lined up and, while reciting the Buddha’s name, entered the Hall of No Words in succession to gaze in respect at the Venerable Master’s countenance. Many faithful devotees felt that the Master’s visage after his completion of stillness bore a great resemblance to that of the Great Master, the Sixth Patriarch of the Chan School.
At present, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is following the Venerable Master’s last instructions and holding a Dharma assembly to recite the Avatamsaka Sutra and a Dharma assembly to recite the Buddha’s name. The Avatamsaka Dharma Assembly takes place in three locations daily, for the Great Means Expansive Buddha Flower Adornment (Avatamsaka) Sutra is being recited in Chinese, English, and Vietnamese. The state of the Avatamsaka exhausts empty space and pervades the Dharma Realm. Its vastness encompasses the limitless and boundless, precisely in accord with the Venerable Master’s final words: “I came from empty space, and to empty space I will return.”