The Master had another plan. After taking a fishing boat from Aberdeen (neither the Star Ferry nor the Green Horse Bridge existed then) to the Taio Pier, he made a bowing pilgrimage to Cixing Monastery, making a full prostration every three steps of the way. Normally, it took two or three hours to walk from Taio Pier to the monastery. The Master bowed with the wish that Cixing Monastery would soon be completed.
The buildings that were renovated to become Cixing Monastery were incredibly dilapidated. The walls were gutted with bullet holes; the ground was strewn with bones. The place had been used as a base camp by guerrilla troops during the Second World War. Large numbers of people were killed in the battle that ensued when Japanese troops landed at the Taio Pier and reached the site of Cixing Monastery, covering the ground with bones. The place had not been cleaned at all after the war. The Master spent much time praying for, and rescuing those who had died in battle. Cixing Monastery is known for being inhabited by ghosts. Residents of the monastery see ghosts all the time. There are so many of them around that people can barely walk. The ghosts like to play practical jokes on the residents. For example, when someone uses the kerosene stove or charcoal to start a fire for cooking, the match is often mysteriously snuffed, when no one else is around. Thus meals often take a long time to prepare. When the Master was at Cixing Monastery, he often recited mantras in a certain direction. When people saw the Master not saying a word, they knew he was liberating ghosts.
There were numerous ghosts, but interestingly enough, the Master told Heng Yi (at that time still a layperson), "Ghosts are scared away as soon as they see you." Once during a Buddha recitation session, the Precepts for the Deceased were going to be transmitted and the Master asked Heng Yi Shi to write a plaque. Heng Yi Shi said, "There hasn't been any death in my family. Why should I write a plaque?" During that period, whether walking or going up the stairs, Heng Yi Shi regularly stumbled and fell. The Master told her that a very tall, large ghost was following her, but she didn't know who it was. On the third day of the session, through the Master's aid, she discovered that a relative of hers had gone to Hong Kong and died of fever.
The construction began in 1949 and was completed in two stages over three years. First, a hall for the Three Sages of the West (the women's hall) was built on the west side. It had excellent geomancy. After that hall had its opening ceremony, the Jeweled Hall of Great Heroes (the men's Way-place) was built to its right, where the former Guoqing Monastery had been. When that hall, a fine place for cultivation, was completed in 1951, it was renamed Cixing Chan Monastery. Heng Sying Shr comments, "Those who are not sincere about cultivation are unable to remain long. Once, someone known as the local Arhat left after staying only one night."
Since no one made offerings in the beginning, Heng Yi Shr had to farm the land herself. She and an elderly person did it alone at first. Later there were nine helpers: three worked in the kitchen, three planted the fields, and two did cleaning. After the opening ceremony was held Cixing Monastery began to hold Guanyin Sessions and Buddha Recitation Sessions. Over a hundred people participated in each session. There were Sutra lectures till ten o'clock every evening, attended by laypeople in their forties and fifties who would walk up over a hundred steps to reach the monastery. Cixing Monastery held ten to twenty weeks of Chan sessions each year. Many Dharma Masters who had fled the Mainland cultivated there.
To be continued