Heng Bai Shi, who is from Neili, Taiwan, had a difficult childhood. She was entrusted to foster parents before the age of one. Her foster mother committed suicide when she was seven. Her foster father abandoned the family, and she was taken in by her maternal grandmother when she was nine. At age eleven she moved to Taichung with her newly married sister. When she was seventeen, she quit Taichung Girls High School to find a job after her sister's business failed. She got married half a year later and had three children. Having suffered chronic illness in childhood, forced to quit school as a teenager, and experiencing marital disharmony, Heng Bai Shi had tasted the deep suffering of life and realized that neither her physical body nor the family could be relied upon. She vowed to Guanyin Bodhisattva that if she raised her children successfully, she would leave home and cultivate at age forty.
From then on, she was able to be a virtuous wife and a good mother, enduring any hardship by bearing in mind that she would leave home at forty. She read Buddhist books in her spare time. Following Elder Master Guangqin's advice that those who want to leave home should first purge their karmic obstacles, she obtained her family's permission and moved to the Chinese Buddhist Culture Center, where she worked in the kitchen in preparation for leaving home. Besides attending ceremonies, she patiently and diligently did all chores, large and small, thus earning the respect of the entire faculty and student body.
Having spent six or seven years reading the Venerable Master's commentaries on the Sutras, she admired the Master's virtue and the traditions at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, but did not know how to draw nearer. She bowed daily to the Venerable Master's photo, praying for guidance, and silently recited "Venerable Master Hsuan Hua" and the verse, "His kindness and compassion rescue all; / Believers are liberated and perfect the Right Enlightenment. / Transforming beings wherever he goes, his spirit remains intact; / Those who venerate him obtain blessings and awaken to the Unproduced."
Her prayers were answered in 1993, when she enrolled in the Proper Dharma Buddhist Academy. After having been out of school for twenty-seven years, it was with indescribable gratitude that she picked up a textbook again. Not only did she have her family's approval when she left home, the manager of the Culture Center gave her a farewell banquet.
She left the home life in Taiwan on March 25, 1995, and was ordained at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas on August 30, 2000. She currently serves at the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society in Taipei.
After entering the monastic life, she learned to play Dharma instruments and lead ceremonies as well as studying various rituals and precepts. Besides attending regular ceremonies, she maintains her own practices of reciting the Great Compassion Mantra, the Shurangama Mantra, the Earth Store Sutra, etc. If you were to ask her to name her favorite practice, she would definitely say that holding precepts and reciting the Amitabha Buddha's name are the most useful and heart-warming.