The third day of the first month on the Chinese lunar calendar (February 21) happened to be a Sunday this year. About 200 visitors from the San Francisco Bay Area came in four buses to visit the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. They also went to the Hall of No Words to view the Venerable Master Hua's sharira, his Chinese calligraphy, some of the Sutras he recited, and articles he used in daily life when he was still alive.
At lunchtime, the Dharma Masters of the City asked the 200 some visitors to cherish their blessings and not to waste food. The visitors enjoyed a delicious vegetarian meal in the Dining Hall and scarcely left any food in their plates. Some of the visitors also went to the City's Junkang restaurant to buy MSG-free, vegetarian delicacies.
After touring the City, Yuanshun Chang, a businessman from San Francisco, felt that although the Buddha Hall in the City lacked the upturned roof corners of traditional oriental temples, there was a natural and genuine spirit in the City. He was also glad to know that the City holds Dharma assemblies on a monthly basis and transfers merit to living beings and to world peace. He said that he will bring his friends here for frequent visits.
On the 17th day of the same lunar month, a Vietnamese nun named Nguyen Thanh led a group of around 400 Vietnamese to visit the City. They were with a Vietnamese Temple-Chua an Lac (Temple of Peace) in San Jose, California. May Shih from Oakland, California remarked that the City was huge and laid out like a school campus. Richard Hardenstein, a computer engineer, accompanied his wife Joan on this trip. They both felt that the City was a community for everything, that there was no pressure, and even non-Buddhists would feel welcome.
On the 19th of the first lunar month, Bhikshu Dharma Master Zhilang of the Dharma Flower Meditation Center in San Jose and Bhikshuni Dharma Master Yuanqing of Anle (Peace and Joy) Temple (a Vietnamese temple) led a group of four hundred to visit the City and enjoy a vegetarian lunch in the Dining Hall. They very much admired the Venerable Master Hua's deeds. Dharma Master Zhilang acquired the whole set of the Venerable Master's commentary of the
Dharma Flower Sutra to take home to study.
On February 26, two professors from the Theology and Religious Studies Department of the University of San Francisco brought a group of over 80 students for a weekend retreat at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and for an authentic experience of religious and cultural exchange. These students were enrolled either in Professor David Batstone's "Interfaith Trialogue" (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity) course or in Professor Vijaya Nagarajan's course on "Ancient Spiritual Traditions" (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Native American traditions). These students were visiting the City for the first time, and all said they were in "culture shock." They followed the monastic schedule and spent a weekend living a life of purity. Many found it very difficult to rise for the morning recitation at 4 a. m., and some compared the weekend to boot camp.
During the panel discussion in the evening of Saturday, February 27th, these students raised various questions, such as: What is the reason for the separation between men and women? Why do monks and nuns renounce lust and desire? Do monks and nuns use Internet? How should one choose a teacher? These questions were answered by Dharma Masters Heng Lai, Heng Shun, Heng Liang, and Heng Yin. Dr. Akpinar, President of Dharma Realm Buddhist University, acted as the Master of Ceremonies. Professor and Baptist Minister Tom MacMillan, an old friend of the City, and Professors Batstone and Nagarajan of the University of San Francisco were the honored guests on the panel. The Dharma Masters explained in detail the importance of eliminating desire. Buddhism is not alone in this; other religions, such as Catholicism, also have a deep recognition of the need to eliminate desire. As for selecting a teacher, the best method is to use the Six Guidelines of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas— no contention, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuit of personal advantage, and no lying—to evaluate people. The managers of the various branch monasteries of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association often communicate by email; thus, monks and nuns also make use of the economical conveniences of modern technology. The Association welcomes everyone to visit our Home Page at