About eight years ago I ran into a
friend whom I had not seen for a long time, and I was surprised by the
change in her: instead of being the impulsive and headstrong person I
remembered, she was mature and sensible. She said, “Buddhism has
changed me...” She knew that I lived alone and told me that if I was
ever afraid or in a difficult situation, I should keep reciting
Amitabha Buddha’s name. Although I didn’t know anything about Buddhism,
I was impressed by the change in my friend and so I took her advice.
Whenever I woke up in the middle of the night or felt afraid, I would
recite the Buddha’s name. It would calm my fears and make me feel
peaceful and even happy, but I never really thought about why it had
this effect on me.
After a period of time, I felt a
strong urge to read the Buddhist scriptures, yet I was afraid I
wouldn’t understand them, so I didn’t attempt to read them. Later on I
obtained a copy of the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store
Bodhisattva. There is a verse by the Bodhisattva Forest of
Enlightenment at the front of the book: “It is like an artist spreading
colors on his canvas; different forms falsely appear, but there are no
differences in the basic elements.” That made a lot of sense to me, and
so I courageously began to read more of the Sutra, little by little.
Although it was quite difficult and I didn’t completely understand what
I was reading, I really wished to believe in the Buddha. Yet I didn’t
know what I had to do to become a Buddhist.
Later I had the opportunity to
worship the Buddhas and bow in repentance, and I eagerly attended
lectures on the Sutras and listened to the Dharma. I visited various
temples, but always felt that something was missing. When I went to the
International Translation Institute in Burlingame in May of 1993, I
finally found what I was looking for. I heard a lecture by the
Venerable Master, in which he said, “In studying Buddhism one must
maintain a kind and humble state of mind. Avoid becoming arrogant.” “We
must turn the light around and shine it within ourselves. At all times
we should seek within, instead of looking at other people’s faults.”
These statements brought me out of a dream, for they pointed right at
my own problems. These were just the teachings I needed to hear and
My study of Buddhism really began
after I met the Venerable Master. I hope that I can honestly walk the
path of studying and practicing the Dharma, without being impatient for
results and without retreating.