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《法界音》

 

NEWS FROM THE DHARMA REALM

萬佛聖城成立二十週年慶
CELEBRATING THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE FOUNDING OF THE CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

楚辰/文 by Chu Chen


一九九六年七月七日是北加州萬佛聖城廿週年慶,世界各地的佛教界人士紛紛前往萬佛聖城,一同歡慶北美第一座佛教大叢林的二十週歲生日。

佛教在美國紮根不容易,尤其要打進美國人的圈子更是難事。早年放下紐約一份雜誌編輯的工作,追隨宣公上人創辦萬佛聖城的大衛朗思說,二十年前買下萬佛聖城以後,為了取得使用執照,必須到郡政府開會。當時有幾位郡參事對他充滿敵意,其中一位連正眼都不肯瞧他一下。地方報紙的標題還將「萬佛城」標成「一萬個佛教徒之城」,使當時只有一萬五千人口的瑜伽市市民大為緊張,嚴陣以待。

萬佛聖城剛買下時,根本無水可用。大衛朗思親眼見到宣公上人教鑿井公司的工程師在一個地方掘井。這家公司已探勘過,認為這裡絕無可能挖到水源。宣公上人簡潔地說:「挖!」果然,不久之後,大股水柱冒出,大夥歡呼不已。這時晴朗的天空忽然祥雲來集,本來沒有一點下雨的徵兆,竟然下起滂沱大雨。二十年來,萬佛聖城再也不曾缺水(只有偶爾因水管破裂而停水)。大衛朗司直到今天仍感到不可思議。

萬佛聖城育良小學、培德中學的創校元老易果參指出,一九七○年代,吉姆瓊斯領導的人民教會就在萬佛聖城附近的紅木山谷。後來吉姆瓊斯帶領九百多名信徒在蓋亞那叢林集體自殺。這場悲劇使萬佛聖城附近的民眾很難接受陌生的宗教。

但是也有地方民眾對佛教有初步的認識。易果參以萬佛聖城山門外的郵局職員為例,有人問她:「妳怎麼敢待在這裡?離那些佛教徒那麼近,妳不害怕嗎?」這名職員的回答是:「這些佛教徒連蚊子都不殺害,有什麼好怕的?」

在洛杉磯十分活躍的房地產開發商吳胡果相回憶道,二十年前,宣公上人的弟子人數不到現在的十分之一,看到萬佛聖城地方這麼大,光是打掃、除草就做不完。所以他們都勸宣公上人趕快賣掉萬佛聖城,另外買一處小型道場,比較實際可行。

從威斯康辛州前來的果廷居士曾在萬佛聖城修行多年。他也向宣公上人報告過:「萬佛聖城地方太大了。」萬佛聖城占地四百八十八英畝,約兩百多甲地。上人告訴他:「不是聖城地方大,而是你的心量小。」

宣公上人要在萬佛聖城塑造一萬尊活佛、活菩薩、活阿羅漢。上人認為,跟無量無數的眾生比較起來,一萬實在是微不足道的數目。宣公上人當時又接著說:「現在還沒有一萬尊佛,不過我要將他們從十方請來,讓他們在這裡修行。一定要修行,將來才會成佛。」

果廷居士指出,萬佛聖城原來是一處廢置的精神療養院,而宣公上人將這座充滿痛苦的精神病院變成莊嚴的道場,讓來自十方的人修行,往成佛的路上走。所以,「一個地方看你怎麼用它。就好像你的心,看你怎麼用它。」

南傳小乘的蘇悉多法師,是第一位在英國托缽的和尚。這位在泰國受戒的歐洲比丘特地從英國前來參加萬佛聖城的廿週年慶,並且講述一則親身經歷的驚險故事。

有一次,他在印度被六名土匪打劫。其中一個土匪手持斧頭正要砍法師的頭時,蘇悉多法師忽然憶起宣公上人講過的懺悔與還債的道理。他立即心生懺悔,主動將頭伸出去,並以手在頸後劃線,指出斧頭的最佳落點,請土匪殺他,希望藉此還清宿債。這名土匪反而遲遲下不了手,最後土匪不但離開,還將搶走的僧袋丟置遠處地上,讓他拾回。

蘇悉多法師認為,他當時生出的一念真誠懺悔之心,為他消除了這場宿業。他很懷念宣公上人生前常不問而答,解除他心中許多疑惑。蘇悉多法師又以椰子為喻,說:「椰殼多毛而硬,一旦打開椰殼,裡頭的椰汁卻清涼香甜,沒有固定的形相。」這段法語令人在炎炎夏日裡頓生清涼之感。陪同蘇悉多法師前來的還有英國永生佛教中心的阿莫若法師。

一百零八歲的高棉裔老比丘達瑪瓦若也冒著溽暑,參加萬佛聖城廿週年慶,為大家開示。他說,多年前他在瑜伽市附近修行時,就曾到過萬佛聖城,上人對他一直禮遇有加,盛情可感。老比丘指出,生而為人是極為幸運的,但同樣是人,卻有四種不同的活法:

第一種人,活著就像被關在監獄裡,痛苦不已。

第二種人,活得像畜生或鬼。

第三種人,活得堂堂正正,就像人該有的樣子。

第四種人,活在人間,但精神已超凡入聖。

願意做哪一種人,全在於自己的一念心。「你就是你所想的、所吃的、所喝的」,老比丘再三強調這個觀念,勉勵大家好好修行,善用其心。

南加大心臟外科副教授黃明祿則追述他九三年時,隨同上人返台。上人當時發高燒,體力不支,卻仍然帶病為大家開示。「上人一上台講法,聲音洪亮,妙語橫生。而且白天夜晚都要接見許多客人,沒有時間休息。從一個醫生的眼光來看,這要是普通人早就昏迷或臥床不起,而上人還有精神唱歌,唱的是『永嘉大師證道歌』。我相信上人是在實踐他的第十二大願:代一切眾生受苦。」

黃明祿醫師在上人圓寂前,最後一次拜見上人時,向上人請示:「在外面行醫、做事業,競爭很激烈,感覺萬佛聖城六大宗旨很難守。」上人送了他一句話:「好好修行,不要再胡鬧了。」黃醫師說他有一陣子勤誦《金剛經》,念得都不想結婚了,並向上人報告此事。上人立刻問他:「你會背了嗎?」使黃醫師頓時領悟背經的重要。瞻望未來,黃醫師希望大家努力,繼續推動宣公上人廣建道場、翻譯經典、辦好教育等願力,將上人創建的廿餘座道場變成千萬座道場,讓正法弘揚到全世界。

柏克萊法界宗教研究院主任恆實法師也講了許多往事,令人拍案叫絕。其中之一是,一九七六年美國立國兩百週年,舊金山市長馬士孔尼邀請座落於舊金山中國城的金山聖寺派人參加花車遊行。金山聖寺是宣公上人來美創辦的第一座道場。

當時,上人座下的弟子們都覺得出家人不宜這樣拋頭露面,有失體面,紛紛表示應該回絕,然而上人卻一口應允。為萬佛聖城萬佛殿塑造千手千眼觀世音菩薩像的王泰生居士,巧手裝飾了一部頗為體面的花車。上人的弟子們坐在花車上,口誦六字大明咒「唵嘛呢叭彌吽」,眼觀鼻,鼻觀心,在舊金山市區金門公園一帶繞了一大圈,前後是其他單位的花車、鼓號樂隊等。經過校閱台時,舊金山市長馬士孔尼和市府官員特別對這部佛教花車起立致敬,合掌問訊。

遊行結束,上人的弟子們發覺,能將出家人的形相以及清遠的梵音送到舊金山市區,和大眾廣結法緣,其實是很有意義之舉。宣公上人當時告訴他們,這叫「現相不著相」。

更妙的是,三週之後,舊金山市府寄來包裹一件,說明這輛佛教花車贏得一九七六年舊金山花車遊行比賽第一名,獎品附上,請查收。

一九八二年,萬佛聖城已從初購置時的一片荒蕪整修得門面一新,正式舉行開幕典禮,海內外約有三千善信前來參加盛會。其中有位新加坡記者邵果昭特地前來採訪報導,寫了許多新聞稿。邵果昭在萬佛聖城各處逛,看到草地上冒出許多菇類,很高興地摘了好大一袋,送到廚房供眾。當時擔任廚房典座的女法師認出這是毒蕈,不肯收下。聖城一位美國居士克雷格凱森學過植物學,更嚴重警告說那是致命的毒蕈。邵果昭不死心,回到房間自己煮來吃,大約吃了十枚左右。

不料吃下不久,便面色發白。恆佐法師正巧有事找他,見狀立即送醫急救。醫生看了他吃剩的毒蕈後,便要恆佐法師為他準備後事。因為這種毒蕈叫做「死頂菇」,毒性特強,吃下去三、四小時後便停止呼吸,回生乏術。

宣公上人當時要大家為邵果昭誦《楞嚴咒》,過了一會兒,上人對恆實法師微笑道:「現在他的毒已經到我身上了。」恆實法師注意到上人當時臉色變暗,聲音比較微弱。但在醫院的邵果昭本來心跳已經停止,卻奇蹟似地活過來,令醫生嘖嘖稱奇,直歎前所未見。邵果昭後來平安返回新加坡,以後再也不敢胡亂吃不認識的菇類。

恆實法師回憶起這件往事,很感慨地說:「邵果昭個性剛強,不聽勸告。幸虧當時管理齋堂的女法師有智慧,也許是菩薩在旁邊保佑,不然第二天的報紙上就要出現『上千名佛教徒吃毒蕈死亡』這樣的標題了。」大家聽了又好笑,又不禁捏了一把冷汗。對宣公上人犧牲自己救眾生的精神,更多一層認識。

另一位美國籍的恆佐法師也話當年,回憶起上人親手打模塑造萬佛殿的一萬尊佛像時,是在每天凌晨做早課之前的時間(宣公上人座下的道場是在清晨四點鐘做早課),當大家還在作夢、打妄想時,上人已經塑了兩、三尊佛像,每天如此。當時打模用的是很細的石膏粉,粉末送進肺部,使上人常常咳得很厲害。

恆佐法師每隔一段時間,便將上人塑好的佛像從舊金山請回萬佛聖城。有一次恆佐法師在裝運佛像時,從佛像身上跨過去,上人連忙告誡他,這樣對佛像不恭敬。上人又教他,佛像要一尊一尊分開來小心包裝。恆佐法師頗有所感:「要教導西方人恭敬佛法真不容易啊!」

擁有博士學位的美國籍恆賢法師,也想起當年,台灣一座道場的住持曾邀請她赴台教梵文。宣公上人當眾問她的意願,她在座位上答覆,表示不想去,但她當時完全沒想到應該站起身來回答。上人因此很慈悲地宣佈一條新規矩:在美國不須起身答覆。雖然是多年前的往事,她回想起來,仍覺汗顏。並且深深感到宣公上人在教化美國弟子時,光是對「佛、法、僧」三寶具備恭敬心這一點,便不知費盡多少心血。

然而宣公上人的心血沒有白費,除了樹立起嚴持戒律、修苦行的家風,倡導「不爭、不貪、不求、不自私、不自利、不妄語」六大宗旨之外,又辦育良小學、培德中學、法界佛教大學、僧伽居士訓練班等教育機構,教育東方和西方的學子。此外,提倡敬老、懷少、素食等改良社會風氣的活動,還曾辦理東南亞難民營,協助兩千多名東南亞難民學習語文,在美國立足。也曾多次舉辦老人長青大學,為美國老人提供精神食糧。

二十年來,地方民眾對萬佛聖城的態度由害怕、猜疑,逐漸改變為接納、歡迎。萬佛聖城所在的曼都仙諾郡警官吉姆圖索,在萬佛聖城廿週年慶祝大會中特別致詞指出,他在警界服務多年,見過太多治安問題。但是萬佛聖城沒有治安問題,因為這裡的住眾重視倫理道德,所以他代表曼都仙諾郡警局歡迎萬佛聖城的存在,更歡迎大家來到萬佛聖城。

位於曼都仙諾郡波特瑞那城的「南濱老人中心」主任瑪格麗特金,常常到萬佛聖城作精神上的充電。她由衷地說:「在(美國)這個國家,萬佛聖城真是一座綠洲。」

The twentieth anniversary of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) was held on July 7, 1996. Many Buddhists from all over the world gathered to commemorate the twentieth birthday of the first Buddhist monastery in North America.

It’s not easy for Buddhism to take roots in the United States, much less to establish itself in mainstream America. David Rounds, who years ago resigned his editorial job in New York City to follow Venerable Master and to help establish CTTB, recalled, “Twenty years ago, after the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas was purchased, we had to attend several meetings with the county officials to obtain a permit for operation. At that time, several county supervisors were openly hostile to us; one of them would not even make eye contact with me. The local newspaper wrongly reported our name as the ‘City of Ten Thousand Buddhists’. Since the local town of Ukiah had a total population of only15,000, they were understandably nervous about CTTB.

When CTTB was initially purchased there was basically no water supply. David Rounds personally saw the Venerable Master telling the civil engineer from an irrigation company where to drill for water. This company had earlier tried to locate a water source without any success, so they strongly believed that to search for water was simply futile. Nevertheless, the Venerable Master simply told them,“Drill!” Sure enough, not too long after, torrents of water gushed out. Everyone shouted in exultation. At that moment, auspicious clouds appeared in the clear sky. Without any warning, there was a sudden downpour. For the past twenty years, the City has never suffered a water shortage except on a few occasions when the water pipe ruptured. To this day, David Rounds still marvels at this inconceivable fact.

Terri Nicholson, one of the people instrumental in founding Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue Secondary School at CTTB, pointed out, “How during the early 1970's, People's Temple led by Jim Jones was situated in Redwood Valley not far from CTTB. Later on, Jim Jones led more than 900 of his believers into mass suicide in the jungles of Guyana. This tragedy made it hard for the local people near the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to accept any unfamiliar religion.”

On the other hand, there were some people who were familiar with the basic ideas of Buddhism. Terri Nicholson gave the example of an employee of the Post Office right outside the main gate of CTTB. One day, one of the local folks asked this clerk, “Aren’t you scared to be staying so close to the Buddhists?” She replied, “What's there to be scared of? Those Buddhists don't even kill  mosquito.”

Helen Woo of Los Angeles, who is active in the real estate business, recalled, “ Twenty years ago the Master didn’t have even one-tenth the number of disciples he has now. The vast expanse of CTTB was too much for so few people to take care of. Cleaning the place and clearing away the weeds were never-ending jobs. That's why some disciples urged the Venerable Master to quickly sell CTTB and look for a smaller place.”

Martin Verhoeven of Wisconsin cultivated for many years at CTTB. He, too, had suggested to the Venerable Master,“CTTB is just too big.” (The ared of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is 488 acres.) The Master told him,“It's not that CTTB is too big, but that your mind is too small.”

The Master intended to create 10,000 live Buddhas, live Bodhisattvas, and live Arhats at CTTB. He felt that 10,000 was an insignificant number compared to the infinite number of living beings. The Master also said, “Right now, we don't have 10,000 Buddhas here yet; but I will invite them from the ten directions to come and cultivate here. It is imperative to cultivate if one wants to attain Buddhahood in the future.”

Martin Verhoeven pointed out that CTTB was formerly an abandoned mental institution. Nevertheless, the Venerable Master turned a place of misery into a magnificent monastery, inviting all people from the ten directions to come to cultivate and advance upon the path to Buddhahood.

Ajahn Sucitto of the Theravadan Buddhist tradition is the first monk who went on a long walling pilgrimage in England. This European Bhikshu who was ordained in Thailand came all the way from England to CTTB for its 20th anniversary. He narrated a frightening episode he personally experienced.

One time in India, he was held up by six bandits, one of whom brandished an ax and was ready to chop of his head. At that moment, Ajahn Sucitto suddenly remembered what the Venerable Master had told him about repentance and paying what one owes. He gave rise to a thought of remorse, and then he offered his head to the bandit, drawing a line across his neck with his finger to indicate the best place for the ax to land. He requested the bandit to kill him in order to clear the debt that he owed him. Instead, the bandit hesitated and could not bring himself to swing the ax. In the end, the bandits not only left him alone, but even threw his monk's bag on the ground so he could retrieve it.

Ajahn Sucitto believed that it was his most sincere remorse and repentance that eradicated his karma at that time. He is very reminiscent of the Master's kindness in providing him with answers to his innumerable unspoken questions and doubts. In addition, Ajahn Succito proposed an analogy of the coconut, saying,“The coconut shell is hairy and hard. Once the shell is open, the coconut juice inside is refreshingly cool, sweet, and fragrant; and yet is devoid of any fixed form.” This Dharma words provided instantaneous coolness in the summer heat. Together with Ajahn Sucitto was Ajahn Amaro of Amaravati Buddhist Center in England.

108 years old Cambodian Bhikshu Bhante Dharmawara also attended the twentieth anniversary celebration and gave everybody a lecture in spite of the hot weather. He said that many years ago when he was cultivating in the forest near the Ukiah Valley, he had been to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The Venerable Hua received him with respect and hospitality for which he was deeply touched. Then Bhante pointed out,“To be born as a human being is a very fortunate matter. Yet though people may be the same in the sense that they are categorized as human beings, they can be differentiated into four groups depending on how they live. The first group comprises those people who seem to be imprisoned in jails, so full of agony. The second group comprises those people who live like animals or ghosts. The third group comprises those people who live live properly, in accordance to how a person should be. The fourth group comprises those people who physically live here amongst mankind, but have spiritually transcended from the ordinary unto the state of the Sages. Which category you want to be lies in just one single thought. “You are what you think; you are what you eat; you are what you drink.“ The elderly Bhikshu repeatedly urged everybody to cultivate well and to make wholesome use of the mind.

Cardiologist and associate professor in Southern California, Dr. Hwang Ming Lu recounted a trip to Taiwan with the Venerable Master in 1993. At that time, the Master was running a high fever and was physically very weak. Still, he went ahead to propagate the Dharma. “As soon as the Master ascended his Dharma seat to give Dharma talks, his voice became sonorous momentarily and wonderful words would flow. In addition, he had to give audience to numerous visitors waiting to see him from morning till night. He had practically no time to rest. From a physician's point of view, an ordinary people would have fallen into a coma or been bed-ridden under such circumstances. Yet the Venerable Master still had the energy to hum a song, the Song of Enlightenment by Great Master Yung Jya. I believe the Venerable Master underwent these sufferings on behalf of all living beings as stated in his twelfth great vow.”

During Dr. Hwang's last visit to the Master prior to the Master's Nirvana, he consulted the Master,“I would very much like to abide by the Six Great Guiding Principles of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas - no contending, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no self-benefiting, and no lying. However, I find it very hard to put these principles into actual practice in a highly competitive working environment.”

The Master simply replied,“You need to really put effort in cultivation. Do not fool around any more.” Dr. Hwang admitted that there was a time when he vigorously recited the Vajra Sutra to the extent that he thought of not getting married. He told the Venerable Master about his change. The Master asked him,“ Did you commit the sutra into your memory?” Dr. Hwang then immediately realized the importance of memorizing sutras. Looking into the future, Dr. Hwang hoped that every disciple of the Master would try very hard to perpetuate the Master's vows of establishing monasteries, translating sutras, and providing good education; as well as to proliferate monasteries from the number of 20-some to that of thousands, thereby propagating the proper Dharma throughout the entire world.

Dharma Master Heng Sure, the religious director of the Institute of World Religions at Berkeley, also reminisced about many interesting episodes, leaving the audience marveled. One of the episodes was about the San Francisco float parade in 1976 to celebrate the bicentennial of this country's independence. The then incumbent Mayor of San Francisco Moscone extended an invitation to Gold Mountain Monastery requesting them to join in the city parade. The first Gold Mountain Monastery , situated on 15th Street in San Francisco's Mission District, was established by the Master in his early days in America.

At that time, the Master's disciples who read the invitation felt that it was not fitting for left-home people to be under such exposure. The thought about turning down the invitation. To their surprise, the Master agreed without hesitation to join the parade. Mr. Hwang Tai Sheng, the sculptor of the statue of Thousand-handed Thousand-eyed Gwan Yin Bodhisattva in the Buddha Hall of CTTB, decorated a float for the event. The Master's disciples seated inside the float and others marching, single-mindedly recited the Six Words Great Brightness Mantra “Om Mani Padme Hum” all throughout the the entire San Francisco Parade. There were several groups that came before and after. When Gold Mountain Monastery's float passed by the grandstand, Mayor Moscone and the other city officials especially stood up and showed their respect to this Buddhist float by giving a half-bow with palms together held abreast.

After the parade, the Master's disciples realized that to be able to impart to the San Francisco populace the mark of the left-home people, plus letting them listen to the soothing Sanskrit sounds, extensively creating Dharma affinity with the multitude, and was indeed a truly meaningful act. Then and there, the Master told them, “Manifesting the mark, and yet unattached to it.”

What's more, three weeks later, the Temple received a package from San Francisco City Hall informing us that we had won the 1st prize for our category the best marching unit. The trophy was enclosed for us to inspect.

By 1982, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas had been completely remodeled from the once barren field. Faithful devotees from all over the world attended the Opening Ceremony. Among them was Shao Gwo Jao, a journalist from Singapore, who made a special trip for this event and wrote many newspaper articles afterwards.

When Shao Gwo Jao hung around at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas he saw a lot of mushrooms shooting up from the grasslands. He happily gathered a bagful and brought them to the kitchen to offer to the assembly. The nun in charge of the kitchen refused to accept them, informing him that those were the poisonous variety of mushrooms and not suitable for consumption. Craig Cassen, an American layperson who studied botany, gravely told him that those mushrooms were life-threatening. However, Shao Gwo Jao just would not give up. He went to his quarters and cooked the mushrooms. Not long after he had ingested around ten of them, he turned very pale. Happening to see him, Dharma Master Heng Tzo wasted no time taking him to the hospital emergency unit. One look at the leftover mushrooms prompted the doctor to tell Dharma Master Heng Tzo to prepare for Shao Gwo Jao's end. Those were called Death Caps. Their toxicity was extra powerful. Whoever ate them would surely stop breathing three to four hours later. The chance to survive was zero.

The Venerable Master immediately asked everybody to recite the Shurangama Mantra for Shao Gwo Jao. After a while, the Master, with a smile in his face, told Dharma Master Heng Sure,“Now, the poison has transferred to my body.” Dharma Master Heng Sure noticed that the Master's face turned dark at that moment, and his voice became weak. Meanwhile in the hospital, Shao Gwo Jao, whose heartbeat had stopped, miraculously returned to life. All the doctors were greatly baffled. This was something extraordinary that they had never seen. Later on, Shao Gwo Jao returned to Singapore peacefully. From then on, he dared not eat any kind of mushrooms that he was not familiar with.

Recalling this incident, Dharma Master Heng Sure commented with gratefulness, “Shao Gwo Jao had a stubborn character. He did not listen to other people's advice. Itwas very fortunate that the nun in charge of the kitchen was knowledgeable, or it could be that a Bodhisattva was guarding by her side. Otherwise, the headlines in the local news next day could have read: Thousands of Buddhists Die of Mushroom Poisoning.“ Everybody laughed at the humor of this recollection, yet couldn't stop a shudder from running down their spines. They came to feel more deeply the Master's spirit of sacrificing himself for the salvation of living beings.

Another American left-home disciple, Dharma Master Heng Tzo, recollected the Master casting the statues of ten thousand Buddhas for the Buddha Hall at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Early every morning, while everybody else was still in their dreams or false thinking, the Master would be carving the Buddha statues. He would routinely carve out two or three buddha statues a day prior or Morning Recitation. (Morning Recitation in the 20-some monasteries established by the Venerable Master starts at 4:00am.) In his sculpture, he used a very fine-textured plaster of Paris, which would be inhaled involuntarily and caused the Master to suffer from coughing spasms.

Every now and then, Dharma Master Heng Tzo would transport the finished Buddha statues from Fold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. One time when he was doing this assignment, he stepped over the Buddha statues. The Master admonished him right away that it is not respectfully to do that. Furthermore, the Master taught him that the Buddha statues should be individually wrapped with utmost care. Dharma Master Heng Tzo deeply felt,“It is indeed difficult to teach Westerners to be respectful of the Buddhadharma.”

Dharma Master Heng Hsien, another American left-home disciple who graduated Ph.D., recalled an incident long time ago at Gold Mountain Monastery. The manager of a Wayplace in Taiwan invited her to go there to teach Sanskrit. The Master, then, asked her in front of everybody what her wish was. She remained seated while declining the invitation, not realizing she should stand up to five the reply. The Master compassionately announced a new rule of not needing to stand up in the United States. As a result, she feels that in teaching and transforming his American disciples, particularly in the aspect of being respectful toward the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, it is beyond one's imagination to know how much painstaking effort the Master employed.

Nevertheless, the Master's efforts are not in vain. Aside from having laid down the monastic tradition of strict adherence to the precepts and ascetic cultivation, as well as having enacted the Six Great Guiding Principles - no contending, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuit of personal advantages, and no lying, there are Instilling Goodness Elementary School, Developing Virtue Secondary School, Dharma Realm Buddhist University, and the Sangha and Laity Training Programs, all of which are geared toward educating people from both East and West. Moreover, activities such as Respecting the Elderly, Cherishing Youth, and Being Vegetarian have all been propagated with the aim of rectifying the values of society. At one time a Southeast Asia Refugee Rescue and Resettlement Center was set up, and more than two thousand Southeast Asia Refugees obtained the benefit of learning the language for communication and planting a firm foot on American soil. There were also several times that Elder Hostels were conducted to provide senior Americans spiritual nourishment.

During these twenty years, the attitude of local folks toward the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has gradually changed from fear and doubt to acceptance and welcome. Jim Tusso, a police officer of Mendocino County where the CTTB is located, mentioned in his speech during the Twentieth Anniversary Celebration that while serving in the Police Department for so many years, he had seen too many problems involving law and order. However, he found none of these problems at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. He attributed this to the ethical and moral principles that the people at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas value.

Therefore, on behalf of the Police Department of Mendocino County, Jim wholeheartedly welcomed the presence of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

Margaret King, director of South Coast Senior Center located in Point Arena of Mendocino County, frequents the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for a spiritual booster. From the bottom of her heart she declared, “The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is indeed an oasis in this country.”

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