My story is small and
insignificant. I am an American layperson who is at the
Beginner-Kindergarten level of Buddhism. Living in New Orleans,
Louisiana, I attend services in a Chinese home-temple. The Sangha is
very friendly, patient, and helpful to me. It was through this spirit
of giving in the association that I began to receive newsletters,
magazines, and tapes from the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association in the
City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
I was touched immediately by
the clarity and directness of Master Hua. Even though he could not see
me, I felt he was able to see through me. Constant and
perpetual--Master Hua’s wisdom-message caught my attention and kept
knocking on the door of my muddled and unsettled mind. Even in death he
does not go away.
The monk who cultivated by
his mother’s grave taught me three universal lessons:
1. There is no more time to
waste. To delay one day is to delay one year. Keep death on both
eyebrows, and my life will not be wasted.
2. Leave the academic and
intellectual discussion of Buddhism to others who are better suited or
more inclined. What counts is action. Bodhi resolve and lofty
aspirations are good-sounding terms but somebody better be cooking the
rice and sweeping the floor. A cultivator’s practice is not some
mysterious quality. Practice is normal, routine, direct, pragmatic, and
uncomplicated. Good practice means that your knees hurt. Master Hua
opened my understanding to the importance of staying grounded on Earth
and not flying, unnecessarily, off to Heaven.
3. The contemporary world
today is upside-down and totally unbalanced. The only way we can remain
undistracted and stay on the path is to have rules that we believe will
work for us. There are ancient solutions to modern problems. The way to
see our way through this “new age” modern mess is to respect, preserve,
and honor the ancient and traditional teachings. Master Hua clearly
gave us those rules to live by. That was his effort. Our job is to
follow and obey the rules.
The Master’s death should
not alarming. Actually you could say that he died many times for us
during the course of his lifetime. Each time he let go of some
attachment, or seeking, or some piece of selfishness, he died a little.
Think of how many small deaths he incurred that brought him closer,
each time, to the root of his tranquility. From this deep, natural
peacefulness the seeds of his teaching could sprout, flourish, and
propagate. Everything arises, returns, and is returned.