People were frightened by a snake that often came out to play. Heng Yi Shi caught it in a bucket and set it free by the ocean, but it returned. She captured it again and released it several mountains away, but again it crawled back and continued to disturb people. Heng Yi Shi finally reported this matter to the Master. The Master said, "If it disturbs people again, put it in my bowl and send it to Tea-fruit Peak—banish it from the monastery."
A reporter once asked Heng Yi Shi, "You're very isolated up here. What happens if you get sick?"
"If I'm sick, then I'm sick. There's nothing I can do," she replied.
"What if you die? There's no telephone."
"Death is even less of a concern. Why worry so much? If there's food, I eat. I have no other choice."
"Why not install a telephone?" suggested the reporter.
"A phone is so expensive. Who's got the money? It costs several tens of thousands of (Hong Kong) dollars."
"It's free," said the reporter. What a joke!
Several months later, that reporter searched for Heng Yi Shi and finally located her at the Buddhist Lecture Hall. The reporter said, "I've had more than eighty telephone poles put up, but you haven't applied for a telephone yet." "I thought you were joking," Heng Yi Shi replied.
"It's free, other than an installation fee of $350 (Hong Kong)." said the reporter.
To facilitate human and automobile travel, Heng Yi Shi started opening up a road herself. She was told, "That's against the law. You're going to be reported."
"I have no choice," she replied. "People have to walk, and cars have to drive through." Other volunteers pitched in later to help her build a road.
Hikers often camped out at a campground in front of Cixing Monastery. Once the campers heard a horn being blown at midnight. When they asked people at the monastery why they blew a horn so early, they were told, "We didn't blow a horn. We don't even have one." It's said that the mountain spirits blow a horn to summon their fellow spirits for morning recitation.
Heng Yi Shi was once hauling sand past a cave of immortals some distance from the monastery. She saw many immortals frolicking in the cave. Some were swinging, while others were playing around. She also saw one of the eighteen Arhats, who had one leg drawn up. That Arhat cultivated at the cave.
Heng Yi Shi worked in the fields every day at Cixing Monastery. Feeling that life was too hard, she bought gasoline and hay and prepared to immolate herself—not as an offering to the Buddhas, but because life was too bitter. She fasted for seven days and thought her death was certain. The Master summoned her down the mountain the day before she planned to immolate herself, however, and asked her, "Will you run away when the fire reaches your body?"
"Heaven knows! I've never been burned before," she replied. The Master asked her to give up her work in the fields and recite the Buddha's name instead. He said, "Cultivation must be bitter. It takes bitterness to reach liberation. Without bitterness, there is no liberation." If the Master hadn't summoned her, she would certainly have died. The next day she read the Sutra of the Vajra Wheel of Ten Demonic Obstacles and realized that she was obstructed by affairs. She let go of the obstacle and left the home-life.
She received full ordination three years after leaving home, and the year after that (1962) the Master was going to the United States to propagate the Dharma. Heng Yi Shi nearly fainted from crying prior to the Master's departure. The Master said, "You have left home, yet I must leave. I worry that you may change your mind and return to lay life when I'm gone."
Heng Yi Shi pledged, "I will not change my mind. I must repay the Buddhas' kindness, my teachers' kindness, and your kindness." Tears ran down the Master's face. Fearing that his disciples would retreat, he told them he would return in a year's time. "If you don't believe it, look at my ticket. It is good for one year. I'll be back in a year." They promised him they would not retreat and asked him not to worry. Little did they know that the Master would not return for eleven years!
After nearly half a century, Cixing Monastery, situated on the northern part of Mount Dayu, was quite dilapidated and in desperate need of repair. Since it faced northwest, it received the full blast of the northwest wind. Sometimes the entire awning would be blown upwards. The kitchen roof would even be ripped and pulled upwards, but would then fall back into place. Fortunately, no grave damage was done. The asbestos tile roof had been patched for numerous leaks and could barely be used. Sometimes it leaked as they fixed the roof, and leaked as they ate. It rained not only outside, but inside.
Heng Yi Shi told the Master, "I'm afflicted. Cixing Monastery needs to be renovated again."
"What's there to be afflicted about? Let go of your attachment!" said the Master.
"How can I let go, Master?" she asked.
"I've let go of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Why can't you let go?"
"But where will I go if I let go of it?" she pursued.
"Every place is the same," was the Master's reply. Before he passed into perfect stillness, the Master held Heng Yi Shi's hand and urged her to let go of her attachment. "I can't," she said. Heng Lyu Shi, the abbot of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, asked her to promise the Master. Heng Yi Shi said, "Teacher, I can only promise that I will travel back and forth between the United States and Hong Kong." The Master held her hand for a long time and said nothing more.
After the Master passed into stillness, Heng Sying Shi and others took the Master's sharira [relics] back to Hong Kong, first to the Buddhist Lecture Hall, and then to Cixing Monastery. Heng Sying Shi, Heng Xiang Shi, and a third person drove from the foot of the mountain toward the monastery. Meanwhile, an elder layperson standing on the outer stairs of the monastery saw a crowd welcoming the Master with five-colored flags and a sedan chair. When that layperson related the vision, people realized that the Master had reached the monastery before Heng Sying Shi and the others, and that mountain spirits had come to welcome him.
Heng Yi Shi said solemnly, "The Master established twenty-some Way-places. He gave us so many places in which to cultivate. If we aren't satisfied, it won't be easy for us to cultivate. The Master didn't set up all those places for himself, for how much space does he himself use?" Heng Sying Shi said, "Everyone has heard a lot of stories. Actually, every practitioner has his or her own stories. The listener should not regard them merely as amusing anecdotes. Every incident has a principle behind it. When we hear about a matter, we should delve into its principle. When we understand the principles, we will be able to apply them when the situation calls for it. If we are entertained by an incident but fail to grasp the principle involved, we have listened to the Dharma in vain."
Built with the Master's blood, sweat, and tears, Cixing Monastery still stands on the peak of Mount Dayu today, and its residents are still imbued by the Master's spirit—crystallized in the Six Guiding Principles. These traditions remain unchanged by the Master's passing into perfect stillness. They will not be altered by external changes in time and space. We often hear people casually use the phrase "welling forth from the earth" to praise the emergence of a Way-place. Having read these accounts, do we realize how much hardship the Master suffered to make each Way-place "well forth from the earth" for our sakes? Have we asked ourselves when a Cixing Monastery—symbol of the Venerable Master's great kindness, great compassion, great joy, and great renunciation, in which he spares no blood or sweat, and never pauses to rest—will well forth from our own hearts?
The following verse summarizes the memories of these past several decades: Single-handedly he blazed a path up Mount Dayu And built a stairway to heaven. At the touch of his cane, the dragon's spring bubbled forth. With a flick of his whisk, the eye of the typhoon was deflected. Brick by brick, tile by tile, a precious monastery was built By the name of Flourishing Kindness in Lantou of Hong Kong. As for the Master's toil and exertion: Who toiled so long and hard to create Way-places as numerous as the moon's reflection in water?