On July 22, 1998, a delegation from Dharma Realm Buddhist Association set out for Taiwan to pay respects to and learn from the Elder Masters there. In Taipei, Hsinchu, Taichung, Kaohsiung, Hualien, and other places, the delegation also held Dharma Sessions for Protecting the Nation and Quelling Disasters, in which they recited the Avatamsaka Sutra's "Chapter on the Vows and Conduct of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva", bowed the Avatamsaka Repentance, and transmitted the Three Refuges, Five Precepts, and Precepts for the Deceased. All the merit was dedicated to the people of Taiwan and to world peace.
The delegation of thirty-some members included seven Bhikshus, over ten Bhikshunis, and laypeople. In the three years since the first Ceremony Commemorating the Venerable Master's Nirvana in 1995, the Master's disciples in Taiwan have thirstily sought the Dharma. In response to their invitations, the delegation followed a tight schedule of Dharma assemblies that was like sweet dew to the faithful disciples.
The delegation's activities began on July 23 with a press conference in the Alumni Association at National Taiwan University in Taipei. Jin-Ping Wang, the Vice Director of the Legislative Assembly chaired the conference. He introduced the Venerable Master's efforts in the West to establish a Sangha, translate the Buddhist Canon, found educational centers, and bring all religions together. He also answered reporters' questions.
A panel discussion on "Propagating Buddhism in the West" was held in the afternoon of July 24th at the Academia Sinica. Over three hundred Buddhists and scholars attended the lively discussion. Outside the hall was a huge computer-controlled electronic sign that blinked the current and coming attractions. Dharma Master Heng Sure reflected, "At CTTB we make the same banners but we do it the old-fashioned way, in hand calligraphy. Clearly we aren't as up to date as the Academia Sinica, the highest scientific academy of the Republic of China."
The delegation's visit was a big deal for the summer session Buddhist studies group at Ching Hua University in Hsinchu. Over the main street, several blocks from the gate of the school, big welcome banners were hanging from the overhead pedestrian walkway. Eleven big tour buses came from various places, and over a thousand people attended the lecture on Buddhism. Everyone was filled with the joy of Dharma. One could see that Taiwan is a country where Buddhism is flourishing.
In Taichung, some of the male delegation members made a special visit to the Venerable Elder Vinaya Master Dao Hai. Everyone was touched by the Venerable Vinaya Master's compassionate regard for living beings. At Yuantong Hermitage, fifty-six kindergarteners with deep good roots took refuge with the Triple Jewel. It was a good sign of Taiwan Buddhism's efforts to inculcate virtue in the younger generation.
The blazing summer heat in Liugui, a village situated in the mountains of southern Taiwan, could not stop the faithful, who crowded into the tiny area and tirelessly wiped away their sweat during the Dharma session. Some delegation members went to visit Miaotong Monastery, a pure and strict Bodhimanda founded by Elder Master Guangqin where three hundred Bhikshunis live and cultivate.
In Hualien, the delegation visited Tzu-Chi, where they toured the hospital and learned how Tzu-Chi took care of patients who were near death. They also paid respects to the Venerable Master Cheng-Yen at Jingsi Hermitage, who took time out of her busy schedule to meet them and answer questions. They learned much Dharma from that visit.
Out of filial piety, people brought their elders and children along to receive Precepts on Behalf of the Deceased. The Chinese tradition of honoring and remembering their ancestors was clearly evident. Holding the plaque, one felt as if one were seeing one's long-departed relative. As the Incense Praise started, many people could not help crying. They knelt until their knees were red and swollen but didn't mind it in the least. All they wished was to rescue their deceased relatives from suffering. "Bodhisattvas are afraid to create bad causes; ordinary beings only fear the consequences." If all people could refrain from evil and practice good, this ceremony would only be an illusory dream.
During the transmission of the Precepts for the Deceased in Taichung and Kaohsiung, several children had wonderful responses. Two brothers simultaneously saw the Venerable Master walk out of his portrait, collect the plaques, and send them up into the air. This piece of news soon spread about, and everyone felt it was inconceivable and unprecedented.
As a result of the delegation's sixteen days of non-stop activities, living beings in Taiwan received the Venerable Master Hua's Dharma rain and the Master's Taiwan disciples felt boundless gratitude and remembrance. Dharma Master Sure remarked, "The day that Americans can be like Taiwan Buddhists—so sincere in their belief, respectful in making offerings, and enthusiastic in attending Dharma sessions and supporting the temples—there will be great hope for Buddhism in the West."