Heng Cheng Shi’s life of tribulations reads like a poignant novel of romance and tragedy. The sad parts move one to shed tears of commiseration. The twists and turns of the plot stimulate one’s mind.
Heng Cheng Shi was born in Meinong, Taiwan, to the Gu family. She was diligent and generous. Married at 24, she raised two daughters. After experiencing a gamut of turmoil and separations, at the age of 32 she saw through the world and set out in search of a way to liberation. With her two daughters, she built a bamboo hut and cultivated there for 50 years, eating vegetarian food and reciting the Buddha’s name.
In March 1992, she left the home life under the Venerable Master. In August of that year, ill and at the advanced age of 82, she and her two daughters traveled to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to receive full ordination. The fourfold assembly of the City welcomed her warmly at the mountain gate and requested her to speak. She said, “I’m from the mountains and have no wisdom. I hope everyone cultivates well and learns the Bodhisattva conduct.” That was her simple and sincere message.
Heng Cheng Shi only became more vigorous with age. She participated in the full daily schedule set up by the Master. In her spare time she sat upright in the Buddha Hall and recited the Buddha’s name with her eyes shut, avoiding distractions and small talk. Her serenity inspired respect. Through her personal example, she taught living beings.
At the end of 1994, Heng Cheng Shi became bedridden from illness. Her two daughters faithfully attended upon her. At dawn on the 15th of the 3rd month this year, she passed away peacefully. Upon hearing the news, everyone rushed to recite the Buddha’s name and join the Earth Store Dharma Session. After several days, her limbs were still soft and her face seemed alive. Several hundred sharira seeds and clusters were found in her ashes after cremation, which evoked praise and delight.
Heng Cheng Shi lived to the age of 88; she was ordained for six years. She never remarried and was truly a model for the women of the world. After leaving home, she held the precepts, saved living beings with compassion, and influenced young people to study Buddhism and cultivate. Her serene passing spoke the Dharma, reinforcing people’s faith in reciting the Buddha’s name and vowing to be reborn in the Western Pure Land. The Venerable Master’s couplet on the mountain gate of Blessings and Wisdom Monastery reflects Heng Cheng Shi’s wish to return on the power of vows:
Perfect both blessings and longevity, and reveal and demonstrate
the Great Vehicle that leads straight to the other shore.
Cultivate wisdom and virtue simultaneously, and awaken to and
enter the wonderful Dharma and together realize Bodhi.