The Venerable Master bid farewell to Elder Master Hsu Yun in 1949 and went to Hong Kong. He first stayed at East Putuo Monastery. Later someone showed him Guanyin Cave on Mount Furong, and he moved there to cultivate. The cave had nothing inside but four bare walls. The Master sat on a smooth stone slab to meditate. His legs went numb after three days due to the dampness. He could not get up and had no food to eat. Letting go of all attachments, he continued meditating. Two weeks later, his legs returned to normal. He began going down the mountain to Bamboo Grove (Zhulin) Monastery to get food each day.
Since the cave was too damp, after one year the Master built a small hut outside. The Dharma Master next door enviously commented that if the Master had the means to build his own hut, he certainly didn't need to be offered food. From that time on, Bamboo Grove Monastery no longer provided food for the Master. Since the Master had never been willing to beg despite poverty, he took advantage of the circumstances to sit in meditation for several days straight, during which time he did not feel hungry.
Meanwhile an Upasika named Kuansheng Lao had been bitten by a dog and the wound had not healed despite medical treatment. Weitou Bodhisattva appeared in her dream one night and told her that her wound would heal if she made offerings to a Dharma Master An Ci at Guanyin Cave. The Bodhisattva also showed her what the Master looked like. Startled and happy, Upasika Lao bought 30 pounds of rice the next day and carried it up to the cave to give to the Master. Seeing a donor approach, the neighboring Dharma Master intercepted her and insisted on collecting her offering.
Upasika Lao protested, "You're not the Dharma Master that Weitou Bodhisattva told me to make offerings to." The Master heard them arguing and came out of the cave to see what was going on. Upasika Lao immediately recognized him as the monk she was told to make offerings to in her dream. Not wanting to contend or be greedy, the Master divided the offerings evenly with the other Dharma Master. After she had made the offering, Upasika Lao's wound did indeed heal. When the news of the miracle spread, more people began to make offerings to the Master. The Master always kindly divided the offerings with the other Dharma Master. At present, one of that Dharma Master's female disciples still lives in Guanyin Cave.
The Master soon moved to an unused lot on a ridge at Seahorse Mountain (Hemashan) Village at Xiaqi Bay (Shaukiwan) and built Western Bliss Gardens Monastery. He and Heng Ding Shi, Heng Yi Shi, a lay disciple and two hired workers built the monastery with their bare hands. At first, there was no water. The Master recited mantras and inserted a bamboo tube into a crack in the wall. Strangely enough, water bubbled forth, and the water problem was solved. Meanwhile, the spring at Guanyin Cave dried up. Many people praised this as a miracle, saying that the Master had caused the water source to shift.
Since the Master had received the true precepts of Buddhism and had perfected the awesome deportment, he was protected by dragons and gods wherever he went. I believe that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions were pleased and praised his conduct. A layperson at Cixing Monastery reported seeing a dragon soar into the Buddha Hall to bow in worship. After the Master went to the United States, the water supply at Cixing Monastery was sometimes not so adequate.
One time Bhikshuni Heng Yi Shi and others saw that the water reservoir was dirty, so they went down to clean it. However, as they were cleaning, water stopped flowing out of the tube in the wall. They immediately told the Master what happened. The Master said, "Why didn't you tell me you wanted to clean it?" The dragon in charge of delivering water had been scared off when they had gone into the pool, since women were considered unclean. The Master recited some mantras, and water began flowing into the dried-up pool again.
After the opening ceremony was held at Western Bliss Gardens Monastery, someone donated a piece of land to the Master on Guanyin Bodhisattva's Anniversary. That piece of land is now where Cixing Monastery stands.
Since the war between the Nationalists and the Communists was at its height, chaos reigned throughout the land. Many monks fled to Hong Kong for refuge, where they wandered the streets seeking alms. The Venerable Mao Feng, abbot of East Putuo Monastery, generously opened his doors to them, even though his own monastery was already short of food. Everyone ate whatever there was to eat, be it gruel or rice, and took each meal as it came. Venerable Mao Feng was known as the king of compassion among the Dharma Masters in Hong Kong.
The Master compassionately resolved to build Cixing Monastery on that donated land, so that more monastics could have a place to practice. Heng Yi Shi told the Master, "You want to build a monastery here? It's so high. There's no water, sand, or stone. What are you going to build with?" However, nothing could daunt the Master.
Since there was no sand at hand, they went to the mountain streams to dig up sand, rinsing it in gold-panning fashion. How precious each grain of sand was! Since there was no stone, they dug up huge boulders on the mountains, then had laborers hew them into rectangular blocks weighing 80 to 110 pounds each. Since the Master didn't know how to hew, he paid twenty-five cents for the hewing of each block. However, he and his disciples transported the blocks themselves, hauling them on their shoulders. Two blocks weighed over 130 pounds, and they had to cross two mountains to reach Cixing Monastery. Imagine the difficulty! All those huge stone blocks went to make the walls of the monastery.
They had sand and stone, but they still needed cement to build the monastery. The yellow mud on the mountain would not serve for sturdy construction. It took over an hour to walk up the mountain to the monastery empty-handed. All the cement had to be hauled up by human labor. A bag of cement cost twenty-five cents, and laborers charged 60 cents to haul one bag up the mountain. It was too expensive, so Heng Yi Shi hauled the cement herself. There's a proverb in Hong Kong, "The servant surpasses the boss." The monastery was already accessible by car when Heng Sying Shi went there in 1985, but the roads were in such poor condition that they still had to haul things up by human labor. Building Cixing Monastery in such unfavorable conditions was no easy task. It's no wonder that the Master was so anxious.
Heng Sying Shi read in the Master's commentary on the Shurangama Sutra that the Master's hair had turned white from over-anxiety when he was building Cixing Monastery, and later turned black again after he stopped worrying. Imagine the terrific energy the Master expended on this project. To ensure the successful construction of Cixing Monastery, the Master resolved to burn his finger as an offering to the Buddhas. The Master hated to see the plight of his fellow Sangha members, many of who were drifting about with no place to stay. As the Master's eighteen vows say, "I vow to fully take upon myself all sufferings and hardships of all the living beings in the Dharma Realm. I vow to fully dedicate all that blessings and bliss that I myself ought to enjoy to all living beings of the Dharma Realm." With the early completion of Cixing Monastery, the Master's obligations would soon be fulfilled.
The Master asked Dharma Master Yongxing to wrap his finger with cloth in preparation for burning as an offering to the Buddhas. Thedisciples somehow found out and panicked. The construction wasproceeding at full speed. The Master's disciples pleaded with him, "Whathappens if you hurt yourself? The project will be delayed." They kneltand begged the Master not to burn his finger. Since the Master alwayscomplied with the wishes of living beings, he agreed to their request. Hetearfully asked Dharma Master Yongxing to unwrap the cloth around hisfinger. Then he wrote on the ceiling above his bed: "Dead!"(Please see photos on the back cover)
To be continued
Venerable Master's Dharma Words
※ Cultivation requires a calm, peaceful mind devoid of affliction and conceit.