This is a continuation of a report that I started on Tuesday night concerning a trip through Asia by the DRBA Sangha.
To review a little bit, I traveled with Heng Yun Shi to Taiwan. I had lived there for five years, from 1989 to 1994. When I first arrived there, I felt that it was much more polluted than I remembered. More than that, I felt that the atmosphere was not very good. I figured that it had something to do with the earthquake that happened last fall. I was telling you about Heng Quan Shi and some of the stories that she related about the earthquake. When Heng Quan Shi came to see us, she said she felt there were many souls that had not been crossed over (rescued), but actually there had been quite a few crossing-over ceremonies. Many people could still hear voices of people calling out for help at night. Heng Quan Shi hoped that in the near future a large delegation from DRBA would go to Taiwan and do a big crossing-over ceremony.
In fact, just about everywhere we went, people said they hoped DRBA would send a big delegation in the near future. I also mentioned that every day during the Emperor Liang's Repentance Ceremony we would have Dharma lectures, but I didn't tell you that every day, many of the lay disciples would get up and speak. They all spoke very well. It was very clear that they understand a lot about the proper Dharma. They had proper views, and they're cultivating diligently there.
We stayed there for about twelve days altogether, and then Heng Yun Shi and I went to Hong Kong to visit our elder Dharma sister there, Dharma Master Heng Yi. She left home with Shifu over forty years ago. We also went to see our other Dharma brothers and sisters in Hong Kong. It was also very polluted in Hong Kong.
Now, maybe many of you have never been to Hong Kong. The population there is very dense and the land is very small, so the buildings are all very close together and very tall, very high buildings. You get a feeling of being in a very small place. But the lecture hall in Hong Kong that Shifu founded is a very special place because it's in Happy Valley, which is close to the center of Hong Kong. But it's overlooking a horse racing track, so it's one of the few places in all of Hong Kong where you can have any kind of a view. It's on the eleventh floor, and when you are there you feel almost like your up in the clouds. And you can see a great distance, so it's a very special place in Hong Kong. It's very small, but it's a very nice place. It's a valley because the racing track is surrounded by towering buildings, so it kind of makes a valley.
It's a small place in Hong Kong, and of course all of the people are very busy making money, so there are not very many people who study the Dharma very seriously. But those who study are really sincere. And so the people who came, although they were a small group, were all very sincere about seeking the Proper Dharma.
There's one strange thing, and it was the same thing in Taiwan. When you're outside you feel that the air is not clean, and it's very noisy, and very dirty, and very unpeaceful. But as soon as you walk into the Way- place, suddenly you feel like you're in a different world. And the atmosphere has a flavor that's the same in all of our Way-places, a sort of indescribable state that is familiar wherever you go to our Way-places, no matter which country.
We didn't go there for any particular Dharma assembly, so we followed the schedule. They bowed the Water Repentance, they recited the Earth Store Sutra, and then one day we went to Flourishing Kindness Monastery on Lantao Island, which is a very special temple that Shifu also founded.
Now, this temple is really in the mountains on an island near Hong Kong. When you're there, you really feel like you're in a mountain monastery. It has a very special feeling about it. And the Buddha Hall there is very small, but the bell and the fish are huge and it has a very high ceiling, so when they hit the bell and the fish, it really makes you feel like you're in an ancient temple from thousands of years ago. It's a very special place.
That is the temple that Shifu built. Maybe some of you have read in his biography that he would take the ferry every day across the ocean to this island, and then he would carry on his back the bricks and the materials for building this Buddha Hall.
When we went there, now most of it is a little paved path, so it's much easier for us to walk. But even though it's easier for us to walk it still takes about an hour and a half to get up the mountain, and by the time you get there you're all sweating, tired, and out of breath. So you can just imagine what it must have been like forty years ago when there were no smooth paths and it was more difficult to climb, and besides that, having this heavy pack on your back. But when I went this time I was told that Shifu didn't only walk up the mountain. He did three steps, one bow. He bowed up the mountain every time he went, which was just about every day. So obviously, we very much appreciated this Buddha hall. It's a very, very special place.
Now, I always thought that this place had always been a temple because it feels so much like a temple. But this time I was told that, in fact it started out to be a mansion, a retreat on the countryside for a rich woman. The mansion was offered to Shifu because of his virtue, and then he turned it into a Way-place.
Heng Yi Shi is also a very vigorous cultivator. She says she has no cultivation, but she's in her mid-seventies and all of these years she has been climbing up and down that mountain. And before we came she went out and cleared the path so that we would have an easier way to come. She cut down all of the old bamboo that was growing into the path. And then old Heng Wei Shi, who's in her eighties, cooked us all this huge lunch. So, although they're old, they're still vigorous. Amitofo.
To be continued