At the invitation of the Buddhist Association of the University of Texas at Austin, Jade Buddha Temple of Houston, and Minh Dang Quang Hermitage of Galveston, a delegation of four nuns—Bhikshunis Heng Hsien, Heng Syin, Heng Yin, and Syang Lian—from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas visited Texas from April 2 to 13, 1998.
On Friday, April 3, the delegation first visited Minh Dang Quang Hermitage, the only Buddhist temple on Galveston Island. The delegation led a Great Compassion Repentance and introduced Dharma Realm Buddhist Association to the laity there. Books and tapes of the Vietnamese translations of the Venerable Master’s Dharma Talks were distributed. One of the laymen had worked with the Venerable Master and the Buddhist Council for the Rescue and Resettlement of Refugees in the 1980’s, and had been instrumental in settling over 200 Vietnamese refugees from that program in the Houston area. Many laypeople were students or faculty from the nearby University of Texas Medical Branch.
On Saturday, April 4, the nuns visited Vietnam Buddhist Center in Sugarland, Texas, and gave the temple Vietnamese and English publications of the Buddhist Text Translation Society. On Sunday, April 5, they were invited to Jade Buddha Temple, where they led a meditation class, gave Dharma talks, and answered questions. They spoke about the history of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, the importance of the Shurangama Sutra and of holding precepts for those who are serious cultivators and meditators, and the need to reform education by re-introducing ethical values.
On Monday, the delegation flew to Austin. On Wednesday, April 8, the nuns spoke on “Meditation, Chanting, and Precepts: Ways to Achieve Mindfulness” to the Buddhist Association of the University of Texas at Austin. On Thursday, they introduced and led a Great Compassion Repentance. For almost everyone, it was the first time they bowed this repentance, and they found it very powerful and peaceful. On Friday morning, the delegation spoke to a class on Buddhism taught by Dr. John K. Nelson, Assistant Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The nuns spoke on contemporary Buddhism in China, Taiwan, Vietnam, and the United States, and also about the Venerable Master Hua as a reformer of Buddhism. That evening they spoke to the UT Buddhist Association on “The Practice of the Bodhisattva Path.” On Saturday a One-Day Meditation Session was held from 9 to 5 on the UT campus. The schedule consisted of alternating sits, walks, and instructions, as well as a vegetarian lunch brought by the laity. On Sunday afternoon the nuns visited the only two Vietnamese temples in Austin and introduced the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to the laypeople there.
Everywhere the delegation members went they spoke about the Venerable Master’s three vows: 1) to bring the Proper Dharma to the West and establish a Sangha that strictly follows the Buddha’s tradition; 2) to translate the Buddhist canonical texts to Western languages; and 3) to promote educational reform. In general people were very receptive to these ideas and many expressed interest in visiting or studying at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. They also hoped the City would send more delegations to Texas in the future.