Before I encountered Buddhism, the question “What is the meaning of life?” was constantly on my mind. In my search for an answer, I read the teachings of Confucius, Laozi, and other philosophers, but I didn’t find a completely satisfactory answer. One day I took home some free Buddhist books from a vegetarian restaurant. As soon as I started reading them, I knew I’d finally found the answer I’d been looking for. If a person is born, he will also die. If one wants to liberate oneself from the cycle of birth and death, the only thing one can do is honestly practice the Buddha’s teachings. Since then, I have read a great number of Buddhist books and annotated Buddhist scriptures. I have also become a vegetarian and learned to meditate and to recite the names of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
After graduating from college, I wanted to pursue graduate studies in Buddhism. Unfortunately, my family wrote two letters opposing my decision, and I had no choice but to return home to Hong Kong. In Hong Kong I made cultivation my first priority and considered everything else to be of secondary importance. I had the opportunity to make pilgrimages to the Four Holy Mountains in China, and the fortune of seeing the Buddha-light at the Golden Summit of Mount Emei in Sichuan Province. After returning to Hong Kong, I decided to concentrate on my cultivation. Equipped with a tent and some provisions, I hiked into the mountains to meditate and recite the Buddha’s name. However, sincere cultivation always evokes demons. The first night, I encountered a “winter melon” (kumbhanda) ghost, which pressed down on me like a mountain. The second evening, I discovered a forest fire near the place where my tent was pitched. Fortunately, Guanyin Bodhisattva’s awesome spiritual power protected me and nothing happened. In order to support myself, I found a part-time job as a tutor and lived quite a carefree life, cultivating and teaching side-by-side. When my family found out, however, they wanted me to find a full-time job. At that point I felt that there were too many hindrances to cultivation as a lay person, and I conceived the thought of leaving the home-life. At a friend’s suggestion, I attended a Buddha’s Birthday celebration at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in Happy Valley, Hong Kong. After it was over, I went to stay at Cixing Monastery to try out monastic life. About half a year later, in 1988, the Venerable Master came to Hong Kong and I left the home-life with his permission.
I do not think my leaving home was a chance event. Starting from the day my parents shaved my head when I was three years old, they have called me by the nickname “Monk.” I detested the name when I was young, because my father always said, “Only lazy bums become monks; hardworking people would never be monks.” Now I realize that this name is a very honorable one. So many would like to become monks, but are unable to escape the confines of worldly life.