I come from Tainan County in Taiwan. My family did not practice Buddhism, though I recall that during my childhood, whenever I felt frightened, I would instinctively chant "Namo Amitabha" and my fear would disappear.
My mother staunchly opposed my plans when I originally wanted to cultivate in other Way-places in Taiwan, but to my surprise she consented with a smile when I prepared to attend the Proper Dharma Buddhist Academy. In 1993, when the Venerable Master returned to Taiwan to promote the Dharma, I took refuge with him on January 17th at the Blessings and Wisdom Temple in Kaoshiung. I then pondered whether or not I should particpate in the Repentance Before Three Thousand Buddhas to be held at Blessings and Wisdom Temple over the Lunar New Year. Then one night, I dreamt of the Venerable Master. He seemed very young, and was wearing a robe and the red sash. He was speaking the Dharma in a courtyard. My older sister and I went with some other Buddhists to pay respects. When we reached the place of the Venerable Master's lecture, I only remember his main theme being the impermanence of life. I started to weep aloud, telling my older sister, "You see that monk there just said that life is impermanent. Why am I still lingering here then?" The next day, I decided to go to Blessings and Wisdom Temple to bow the Repentance Before Three Thousand Buddhas. It was raining on the day of the sign up at the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society in Taipei. I missed my stop after transferring buses. When I took the reverse route, I did not know where to get off. Coincidentally, the bus driver was the same one from my earlier trip. He asked, "What are you doing here again?" He then asked for the address, saying that he'd let me know when I should get off the bus. Behind me sat a lady who, upon seeing the address, said, "I am very familiar with the 'Dharma Realm', I know it like it was my own kitchen." However, after I joined the Distribution Society, I only saw her twice. Afterwards, I never saw her gain.
By the time I reached the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society, it was already past 10 o'clock in the evening. The Dharma Masters and my family were all very concerned, thinking that I had gotten lost.
In the process of practicing Buddhism, I realized that people who practice Buddhism are fortunate and blessed. Although the Venerable Master is no longer with us physically, his Dharma body pervades the Dharma Realm and space. His presence is everywhere. As long as we cultivate and abide by his teachings, the Venerable Master will always be with us.
※Editor's note: Heng Jian Shi entered the monastic life in 1995, received full ordination last year (2000), and now serves at the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society in Taipei.