For generations, my family made our home at WuJia Bao (Wu Family Compound),Dong-Gwan(Eastern-Pass)Village,Swang-Cheng(Twin-City)County, Manchuria. Ever since the Manchurians took over China, we have been a large family of affluence and honor among the local gentry class. The founder of the Ching Dynasty ,Nu Er Ha Chr, used an Eight-Banner system in grouping and organizing his troops. My family was classified as the Pure-Yellow-Banner troops and had a kinship relationship with the royal family. Therefore, we were able to benefit from some privileges, for example, when a male baby was born, some lands would be given; when a female child was born, some money for her future dowry would be given. The size of the land to be given was determined in this manner: A horse was taken out to an open field, and was whipped hard with a quirt.The horse would run far. The distance between the starting point and the stopping point was used as a radius to draw a circle. All the lands that fell within the circle were given as a grant.
Our family's great wealth was not unique; what was unique was that our family had a long and special affinity with Buddhism. My great-grandfather and Venerable Master Chang Ren became blood brothers. My grandfather and Venerable Master Hsuan Hua did the same. The fact can be proved by a letter written in Venerable Hua's own hand to Heng An Shr in Harbin,the capital city. Remembering his friends, about a decade ago Venerable Master Hua began looking for the whereabouts of the offspring of my grandfather.
Our family was big, and we used to feed and keep many people on a long-term basis. After Venerable Master Chang Ren finished the six years of vigilance by his parents’ graves , out of respect for his filiality, we made our offerings to him for seventeen years--from the day he went up alone to Chian Mountain until the day he left the homelife. We even built a fine abode for him. Athough he was still a lay man, we all knew he possessed the Way. How did we know? During his filial observance, he ate raw corn meal mixed with cold water. He ate these simple austere meals, measured with his hands, no more and no less ,day after day. When some people brought him better food, he did not move in his meditation. He paid no attention to the food. Out of curiosity, some hid away to observe in a grove of trees not far away. They always went home disappointed. What was more, the winters in Manchuria are extremely cold . When a person spits, the spit freezes even before it reaches the ground and will not stick to a stone. If one dosen't cover his ears with a thick cotton hat , his ears will freeze solid and fall off at the touch of a finger. Yet Filial Son Wang looked very sanguine and was even able to sit on a long tombstone in meditation.The area around his seat was free of snow flakes. According to my grand-mother, he was holding some sorts of mantras all the time, which might have been either the Shurangama Mantra or the Great Compassion Mantra.
For the seventeen years he stayed with my family, we encountered no disasters.In Venerable Hua's book of Reflections in Water and Mirrors, he told the stories of Filial Son Wang: one of the stories related to how our compound was besieged by a crowd of bandits. They attacked by day and by night,yet they could not enter. During that time, few family members stayed with us, most fled to town. Filial Son Wang held off these bandits. In Samadhi, he recited the Mantra and invoked the power of Gwan Gung.
On another occassion, on the eve of a Chinese New Year, as usual we were about to slaughter dozens of pigs for the festivities. One pig broke loose from the binding ropes and rushed in a frenzy to Filial Son Wang. It knelt and begged to be spared. Filial Son Wang saved the pig. Ever since then, our family stopped killing pigs for meat.
Every word Master wrote about our family is true. I won't repeat those stories in detail, but I will just add one story about my father.
Although Filial Son Wang was still a layman, he spoke Dharma for quite a few people. One time,Layman Wang was speaking Dharma for our family. Many others were attracted to come to listen too. They thronged about him, sitting or standing.They listened quite attentively. One security guard who was tired leaned on his rifle. The butt end rested on the floor; the barrel end pointed at his chin.. He totally forgot that the gun was loaded. My father was about ten years old then and very mischievous. He was running all over the lecture hall. Suddenly , he sneaked under the guard,unseen, and with all his strength he pulled the trigger. Instantly there was a popping sound. The guard was scared out of his wits. He was one of the hired full-time workers . Had he died, we would have faced a great deal of trouble. Strange to say, we heard the sound but the rifle did not fire. My grand-father thought it must be a dead bullet, so he opened up the gun and reloaded it with the same round. He aimed high at the sky and fired,“Bang!”.It rang loudly. It was a good shot. We instantly realized who saved the guard. We hurried to Filial Son Wang to give him a thousand thanks.
Time passes and situations change. Wave upon wave, a sea of revolutions swept over China. Our family fortune dwindled like evaporating water. Then it came to the point of the Land Reform launched by the Communists, in which the landless got lands, the landlords lost, the rich went to hell”. Seeing others tortured to death, their families shattered to pieces, we decided to break up and run before we were doomed too.We changed names and hid far away.Thanks to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, we survived, although the family members were scattered and our properties were gone.We were the only people who managed to escape successively in our home town.Thanks to my grandparents who were faithful and giving and always helpful to others. The merits they earned have blessed three generations.
In the spring and summer of 1995, Venerable Master Hua helped my brother and me leave China and come to City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Thus he fulfilled his wish of taking care the children of his boyhood friend. He was ultimately very humane.