過了一段時間，我回洛杉磯去辭我的工作。我一回去，家中長輩大為不快，說我倒他們家的門楣子，因為他們家是官家，從此再也不許踏進他們家的門檻。我羞愧哽咽而回，那大概是我生命中最黑暗的時刻。求短的念頭總揮之不去，上人說：「好啦！像你這樣，應該去萬佛聖城大廚房工作三年，再談出家。你現在覺得世間沒意思，做人苦，等到你下地獄時，其苦百千萬倍。你現在都受不了，那時又如何受得了?」” 我到萬佛聖城時，正逢一九八二年彌陀七，緊跟著又有四個禮拜的禪七。我一到大廚房，看到這麼大的火爐、菜刀、鏟子，我嚇都嚇呆了。以前養尊處優，連電鍋都不曾摸過，這下我也不敢再提出家了，想一溜了之。法師們大概也知道我的想法，不安排我在廚房作事，而安排到大佛殿唸佛。 在我來聖城的路上，同車尚有一位老婆婆，叫李居士的，一路上對我備加照顧。以其高齡，不能我來照顧她，反叫她來照顧我，很叫我慚愧。
In Los Angeles, in 1982, I was learning geomancy under the Elder Hsia Jin Shan. One day, he announced that the next day Dharma Master To Lun would come to propagate Dharma and we could bring some vegetarian food to create affinities with him if we wished.
I had no idea how to prepare vegetarian dishes then; it was my mother who helped me get all the food done. The next day , we went to the Gold Wheel Monastery to pay our respects to the Venerable Master.
The first moment I saw him,he seemed to be looking right at me, his eyes, bright and awesome, were as if seeing through my bones. I was somehow awed. After the lunch, my mother and I both took refuge with him, having been guided to do so by Mrs.Woo, a lay woman.
Time passed and it wasn’t long before I had a dream that I got lost driving on an express highway. At a glance,I saw there was a temple by the roadside. I pulled off the highway, and straightaway headed toward the temple. An old nun inside the temple received me, and she reminded me over and over again while conversing with me:“Turn back, turn back ! before it is too late.” I woke up bewildered and told Mother about the dream. She said, “I heard that the Master is good at interpreting dreams. Why don’t you go ask for his help.” So the next day, I brought my dream to the Master; even before I uttered a single word, he started off by asking me, “Did she tell you to turn back soon?”
rue, indeed, Master,” I replied in great astonishment, “but what does it mean?”
“You’d better not marry, for marriage would bring you no happiness; only the opposite.”
Unconvinced, I retorted in my heart “Do you mean that everyone should shave their heads just like you?. But as I look back now, that was the very moment when I lost the opportunity to save myself from stepping into the sea of sufferings that arise from marriage,which awaited me down the road. I was attached to my impression that many of my friends who were Christians had very stable marriages; they raised many sons and daughters, and they ate well and dressed well. So I saw no reason not to get married.
Still unawakened and muddled, I plunged into marriage, going exactly against the Master’s advice. True indeed, it wasn’t sweet at all, but a fruit of bitterness, and it was too late already. I gave rise to thoughts of committing suicide more and more often. After a verbal quarrel with my family, in a fit of grief and anger, I bought an air ticket and flew to the Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco. Kneeling down in front of Master, I begged to leave the homelife, without the proper knowledge of what left-home life really meant. I had a misconception that left-home people were born hairless and that was the way they were. Master had me settle down in the Women’s Quarter of the Monastery, predicting my husband would find me .
After some time , I humbly requested leave to go back to L.A. and resign my job before I came back. The Master agreed to let me go. When I returned home, my family was upset and unhappy and rained their blaim down upon me, saying I was shameful and a disgrace to the family, for they held a high position in the government .They forbade me to step into the house from then on.
Shame-faced, I made my way back, sobbing , facing the darkest moment of my life; the thoughts of committing suicide caught me like a spider web. The Master consoled me, “It will be all right. A person like you should go to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and work in the Big Kitchen for three years before you talk about leaving the homelife. You feel life is gray and meaningless now and wish to die rather than to live. If you do that, then when you fall into the hells, the sufferings will be hundreds of thousands times greater than your sufferings now. You can’t even take them here now, let alone in the hells.”
It was during the 1982 Amitabha Dharma Session when I arrive at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and there was a four-week Chan Session that followed right away after the Amitabha Session. The first time I went into the kitchen, I was shocked to see how huge the stoves , pots , knives, and shovels were. I had been living such an easy and comfortable life for so long that I had never even touched an electric rice cooker. The idea of leaving the homelife evaporated into thin air, and I no longer dared to mention it. I even thought of running away. The Dharma Masters seemed to have read my mind. They arranged for me to recite the Buddha’ name in the Buddha Hall instead of working in the kitchen.
On my way to CTTB, there was a lay woman Lee who took the same bus as I did. Although she was elderly, she still managed to take very good care of me. I felt ashamed for not knowing how to take care of her.
One day , I noticed that the kitchen had run out of bread, so I went out of CTTB with the intention of buying some bread at the corner store, forgetting one important rule set down by the Master: “Whoever wishes to go outside the Main Gate should go in pairs or more.” I went out alone, without realizing Upasika Lee was actually following me and protecting me. It was around 6 or 7 PM and was already getting dark, which was another reason why I didn't catch sight of her. When I came back, someone told me the sad news: “Do you know that Lee was run over by a car? “ I was shocked at the dreadful news and have been overwhelmed with extreme uneasiness ever since. I feel certain that because she was trying to follow me and protect me, she met with such a tragic death. I felt she died for me. At night in my sleep I could hear and see her weeping.
Later the Venerable Master told us about the cause and effect of her fate. In her past life,she was a general. There were eight surbodinates on his military staff. They lost a battle and repented before him, begging for their lives. Unforgiving as he was, he had all of them executed. Some of these eight men were reborn as her sons and daughters, and grew up to be extremely disrespectful and unfilial to her, really making her later years in life miserable. The head of these eight men was reborn as the driver who drove the car and knocked her down in this traffic accident. So the cause had come to ripen and she had to pay back the debts of that life .
I recited the Earth Store Sutra for her many times. Gradually I no longer heard her crying at night. I am very fortunate to be able to have encountered such a great knowing advisor as the Venerable Master.
Sudongpo and Dhyana Master's Chenghao
After the poet Sudongpo gained some awakening while sitting in Chan meditation, he became arrogant about his knowledge of Buddhism. He heard that at Jade Springs Monastery Dhyana Master Chenghao's practice of Chan was lofty and his Chan banner hard to understand. Sudongpo's attitude was condescending. and so he decided to test out the Dhyana Master's skill.
As soon as they met, Sudongpo said: "I've heard that the Dhyana Master's Chan skill is lofty, would you please explain what a Chan awakening is?" Not answering, Dhyana Master Chenghao asked back: "What is your name?" Sudongpo said: "The name's Ch'eng [balancing scales] as in weighing the Elders of the Universe to see how heavy they are!" Dhyana Master Chenghao gave a great shout and said: "Tell me, how heavy was that shout?" Sudongpo was left speechless. He made obeisence and left.