Part Nine: Conclusion
Patriarch Bodhidharma, undaunted by the distance, took the Buddhadharma from India to China, where it later flourished. Venerable Master Hsuan Hua made a vow early on to carry the Dharma to Europe and America, where it could guide more people to sail toward the other shore of wisdom. When the Master was in America, he made three great vows:
1. To emphasize ethics and virtue in education, and to promote education as a volunteer effort.
2. To translate the Buddhist canon into every language, and to establish a Translation Institute.
3. To facilitate communication and unity between the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions; to unite the Great and Small Vehicles.
The Master considered education to be of equal importance with the propagation of Dharma. Students at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas have to memorize "The Rules for Being a Student" and the "Three Character Classic." The Venerable Master could be considered the first person to advocate volunteer education in the West. He actively sought out volunteer teachers in order to foster a lofty standard of both academic and ethical excellence. The Master made the vow to oversee the translation of the Buddhist canon into all languages at the time he left the home-life. He could be considered the third monk, after Dharma Masters Hsuan Tsang and Jianzhen, who has made this vow. Over 130 volumes of English translations of Buddhist texts have already been translated; translations into other languages such as French, Spanish, Vietnamese, and Indonesian are now in progress. The Master also put vigorous effort into uniting the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions. He said,
The northern and the southern traditions both aim to help living beings make the Bodhi resolve, end birth and death, and leave suffering and attain bliss. Therefore, the northern and southern traditions of Buddhism should communicate among themselves and consider themselves one entity. It shouldn't be that you do your thing and I do mine, so that the strength of Buddhism gets all scattered.
Anyone who tries to cause dissension within Buddhism is not a Buddhist disciple. Don't speak of Great Vehicle and Small Vehicle; there isn't even a single vehicle! Our selfishness, our willingness to harm others and help ourselves, and our wanting to praise ourselves and slander others--these are the causes that lead to wars.
The Master once spoke in self-reproach of the division between the Mahayana and Theravada:
I too am guilty in Buddhism. Why? Because I haven't fulfilled my responsibility. I haven't succeeded in closing the gap between the northern and southern traditions. If the northern and southern traditions reject each other and each raises its flag and applies effort only on the surface of things, how can Buddhism ever be in unity?
Many exchanges between the Mahayana and Theravada traditions have taken place at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, opening a new page in the history of Western Buddhism.
The Master said that he came all alone from Asia, thousands of miles away, to America—this foreign land where there was no Buddhadharma whatsoever—in order to bring the Proper Dharma to the West. Today, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has become the major Way-place in the West, and various branches have been established. The Master led his disciples of various nationalities to propagate the Proper Dharma and to work to bring people of all religions into unity. The Master walked this long road with footsteps of incomparable steadfastness. The Master's wish is that all living beings will attain Buddhahood before he himself does. He wants to help all living beings leave suffering and attain bliss, regain their true wisdom, and obtain freedom and liberation. The Master said in a talk,
I'm just a little ant who wishes to crawl beneath the feet of all Buddhists. I'm a road, and I hope all living beings will travel on me and go from the stage of common people to the stage of Buddhas.
If any of my disciples fall into the hells, I wish to take their place. I vow that those who see me or hear my voice, or who merely hear of my name, will all quickly become Buddhas. I'm willing to stay in the Saha World and wait until all of you have become Buddhas.
The Master's lifelong contributions to Buddhism are like empty space; how could this article fully describe them all? He has left behind countless Dharma treasures for us, so we must all vigorously cultivate from now on, following the Six Great Principles. Only then can we repay the Master's efforts and hope that the Master will soon return, following his vows, to save living beings.
End of article