In June of 1985,1 happened to come to the City of Ten Thousand Bud- dhas to attend a Guanyin Session. The first time I entered the Buddha Hall, I understood nothing at all. When I saw others joyfully taking refuge with the Triple Jewel, I secretly thought to myself, "I'd like to strike a deal with this Virtuous High Master whom others say has tremendous psychic powers: If I find a good husband, then I'll take refuge." Unexpectedly, my wish came true very soon. When I decided to fulfill my promise, the Venerable Master happened to be nearby at Gold Mountain Monastery, and he agreed to transmit the Refuges to me.
At that time I was accompanied by my devoted husband. The Venerable Master solemnly led us in reciting Sutras and mantras for a long time. In the beginning I was able to follow, but gradually the recitations became more difficult, and although I concentrated my full attention on listening, it was hard for me to repeat everything. I was rather muddled during the latter part of the ceremony, to my great embarrassment. When it was finally over, the Master very kindly explained the meaning of the Dharma name he had given me, Kuo Chu ("Fruit of Helpfulness.") He said I had four duties of helping.
It sounded very reasonable to me at the time. Probably the conditions were not ripe yet, for I did not reflect upon the Venerable Master's words or keep them in mind. All that mattered was that I had fulfilled my promise and taken refuge; it never occurred to me that I should cultivate or try to follow the Master's instructions. My husband told me anxiously that the Master had been staring so hard at him that his gaze seemed to penetrate deep into his mind. The Master seemed to see right through him, and he was so scared that he didn't dare to look straight at the Master. I felt a little envious: Why was the Master staring at him when I was the one taking refuge? Later we realized that the Master had crossed over a kumbhanda (nightmare ghost), for my husband was able to sleep peacefully and never again felt pinned down and suffocated.
The test came two years later when our son was born. Exhausted and impatient, I nearly drove my husband to divorce me. Fortunately he reminded me of the promise I had made to the Venerable Master not to divorce. That woke me up from my dream. Since divorce was out of the question, I began to control myself; I learned to be patient and to reflect upon myself. Naturally, I would almost unconsciously think of my partner's good points. I had gotten so muddled that I even forgot that I had met my spouse after bargaining with the Master. Thus, due to the promise I had made years earlier, my marriage survived. In all honesty, all of our quarrels resulted from my headstrong temper, failure to reflect, and constant harping on his faults. After passing beyond that crisis, everything has become smoother in terms of our studies and work, and our family has become a harmonious and happy one. Aside from raising our children, we spend our days doing research, hoping to write more articles so we might get promoted.
When the Venerable Master passed into stillness, I didn't even know about it. I was torn trying to decide whether or not to accept an offer to be department chairperson at my university. While agonizing over the pros and cons of accepting the position and feeling very helpless, I attended an Earth Store recitation session. This experience made me see the benefits of learning Buddhism and worshipping the Buddhas, as well as my own greed and delusion. When I, this prodigal child, wanted to turn around and study Buddhism, the Master had already entered Nirvana. How scarce my blessings are! A great and wise teacher is hard to find. I had met my teacher over ten years ago, and he patiently instructed me, yet I did not cherish it at all. The remorse, regret, and despair I felt were worse than if I had lost the dearest person or possession. Fortunately, Dharma brother Wu Lianhui repeatedly supported us and sent us the Master's Dharma treasures. He introduced us to DRBA's branch temples in Taiwan, where we attended various Dharma assemblies. Thus, our family of muddled disciples slowly returned to the proper Path. Among the Master's Dharma treasures, we found nourishment for heart and soul.
My mischievous younger brother began a business a few years ago. He proceeded recklessly, without thinking of the consequences. When business was good, he was extravagant and wasteful, and soon used up his blessings. In one short year, several people defaulted on loans they had taken out with him. Yet, as if addicted, he couldn't stop despite knowing the dangers. He was repeatedly cheated, and he would always ask his parents to bail him out. Having depleted his parents' savings, he borrowed from friends, like a bottomless hole that could never be filled. The situation was very serious by the time we found out about it. We kept urging my parents to pull back from the brink of disaster and exhorting them to learn Buddhism. However, it is hard to escape heavy karma and cut off strong emotions; the calamity could not be avoided. Over the past two years, my heart bled as I watched my kindly and well-educated parents undergo countless ordeals. Caught between my own family and my in- laws, there was nothing I could do as the funds we had saved for our children's education disappeared, and we took out a huge loan that I had to help repay. My heart was filled with reluctance, contradictions, and fear. I often worked late into the night, until I could write no longer.
To be continued