Ascending the Hall to Speak Dharma in Malaysia
馬來西亞氣候炎熱，比丘僧眾們住在吉隆坡法總已有百年廟史的「登彼岸」道場，而比丘尼眾則住於 Cheras 的比較大的總部──「紫雲洞」道場。我們到達後的第三天晚上，那兒的一個比較大的法會剛結束，恆來師、恆律師與我本人為大約七百位新信眾打了皈依，又為其中的七十位授了五戒。因為僧團已有五年沒有踏足馬來西亞了，許多虔誠的信徒等待這一天已經很久了。
Our first stop was Hong Kong. The people who met us at the airport were extremely warm, sincere, and respectful. Like old friends reunited after a long separation, everyone was filled with joy. We drove across the new bridge on Lantau Island. The trip to Cixing Si, Shr Fu’s mountain monastery, used to begin with a two-hour ferryboat ride. Now we motored for an hour to the bottom of the mountain and then began to climb for an hour. Everybody was amazed that he could have made the walk on much inferior paths with pounds of building materials on his back. Disciples Simon and May Lau (Liu Guo-ruey) came from Burlingame to join the delegation for the Hong Kong visit. Heng Sure Shr paid a visit to Prof. Peter Ng from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Heng Sure Shr had attended a course at the Graduate Theological Union in “Ethics on the Pacific Rim” across the Internet with Prof. Ng. Three on-line “classmates” who had attended this cross-Pacific course at the CUHK met face to face for the first time. Prof. Ng invited him back next year to speak about the Ven. Abbot’s teaching of Confucian Ethics and Virtue Studies in the United States.
The Hong Kong disciples were thirsty for the Dharma. On our final night there, 70 disciples, mostly young adults and grandchildren of the Venerable Abbot’s first generation of disciples, took the Three Refuges and many requested the Five Precepts. At the airport farewell, they could hardly bear to see us leave.
We flew next to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where we were met by Chung Kuo-chi’s wife and daughter, Guo Ju and Michelle, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Liu Guo-fu and their two children, Xiao Hui and Qin Zhi, from the CTTB, who had come earlier to Malaysia. Other laypeople with smiling faces also rushed up to help us carry our luggage. Mr. and Mrs. Ching Kim Lim, who print the Vajra Bodhi Sea in Malaysia joined at this point for the rest of the pilgrimage.
Malaysia was hot; the monks stayed at our 100-year-old temple in the center of Kuala Lumpur--Deng Bi An; the nuns stayed at our larger headquarters in Tse Yun Tung in Cheras. A large Dharma assembly had just concluded and on the third evening of our stay, Heng Lai Shr, Heng Lyu Shr, and Heng Sure Shr spoke the refuge ceremony for 700 new disciples, including 70 who took the Five Precepts. Since the Sangha had not come to Malaysia for five years, many sincere people had been waiting for the first chance to formally take refuge. Bhikshuni Heng Tai and the Malaysian nuns organized the ceremonies.
On the day of the refuge ceremony, it was extremely hot. When the heat was getting to be unbearable, suddenly it started raining. At that point the Precept Transmitting Master was reciting “Homage to Sweet Dew King Bodhisattva,” and he remarked, “Guanyin Bodhisattva is sprinkling sweet dew rain upon the assembly, washing away our offense karma and defilements. Everyone ought to sincerely repent.” Strangely enough, after the rain the weather became refreshingly cool; but when the ceremony ended the heat returned.
Deng Bi An has distinguished neighbors; across the street is the Canadian embassy, around the corner are the embassies of Kuwait, Brazil, and the USA. A forty-story bank building stands right next door and five hundred yards away are the awesome, 80-story Petronas Twin Towers, currently the world’s tallest building. On the last day we traveled out to Selangor Province to Lotus Vihara, a small village temple that belongs to the DRBA. The community of disciples, lead by our nuns, are very sincere. Our delegation enjoyed the relaxed, pure country environment. Monkeys and chickens roam the streets; the variety and richness of the fruits and flowers look just like the rural parts of Vietnam, according to our laypeople. We traveled next to Brisbane, Australia, and met Singapore disciples Rosaline Kang and Peter Nai, as well as Mrs. Goh Kah Keng. Because it was difficult to find vegetarian food locally, some laywomen had flown in a week early from Malaysia to shop around and make preparations for hosting our group. The purpose of the visit was to look at two properties that have been offered to the Ven. Master and to the CTTB as potential sites for Way-places. The delegation saw a bit of the Australian sights (while visiting one of the properties outside Gold Coast we met kangaroos and wallabies in the front yard) and then spoke Dharma at the Gold Coast Performing Arts Center. A large crowd of nearly 200 Australians filled the cabaret-like theater. They responded well to our presentation. We were told that such a large Dharma gathering was rare.
Dharma Lecture in Gold Coast Performing Arts Center, Australia
We illustrated part of our talk with fifty transparencies projected from an overhead projector; the pictures showed the temples, projects and faces of DRBA in the West. The talk on the second night drew nearly as many attendees; the delegation members each took turns sharing their thoughts on why we drew near the Dharma, and on the Bodhi Resolve that set us on the path of cultivation. The question-and-answer session was especially exciting. One particularly tough question was answered to perfection by a twelve-year-old boy. Finally the Dharma Masters concluded the session and everyone left happily. Australia has good potential for the future of the Dharma.
Our next stop was New Zealand; we arrived at Ciming Si, a temple built in 1995 by Venerable Sheng Yin from Taiwan. The beautiful new temple was staffed by Dharma Master Chang Ying and the laypeople who hosted us included Mr. Chen Je-wen, a former volunteer teacher at the CTTB’s schools who recently immigrated to New Zealand. We spoke Dharma ten times over the next four days and enjoyed out stay. We also met the Elder Master Hsuan Chih, who had known our Ven. Abbot, Master Hsuan Hua, when they were in Hong Kong. Master Hsuan Chih stayed at Ci Xing Si when Shr Fu was building the temple and he told us many stories about our teacher in Hong Kong that we had not heard before. For example, he said that our teacher’s reputation as a special Dharma-speaker was well known throughout Hong Kong. “Your teacher was in a class by himself. He set the standard for Dharma discourse. He was the only monk who could pull out a poem from the 300 poems of the Tang Dynasty, or a quote from Lao Tzu to illustrate his talks. Nobody else had that caliber of scholarship.” One particular story was known to every Sangha member in Hong Kong. One day the Ven. Abbot was lecturing on the Amitabha Sutra at Xi Le Yuan Si. Some monks came in to take their seats. The Ven. Abbot said from the Dharma-seat, “You all sit in the back.” When the monks and nuns stood up to move, the Abbot said, “Oh, no, Sangha sits in the front. I was talking to the gods, dragons and the rest of the eightfold division. They sit in the back.” “Everybody in Hong Kong heard and believed that story,” said Master Hsuan Chih.
Delegation members with faithful devotees in Australia
We returned on Dec. 24th to Kuala Lumpur, left on the 25th, spent one night in transit and then came back to the USA on the 25th again, having crossed the international dateline, so we passed two Christmases, both in the air. In Australia we also learned that Santa Claus’ sleigh is drawn by eight kangaroos.