Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the Venerable Master:
Today I will share some of my conversations with the Venerable Master. I came to the United States for the first time on December 16, 1993. I had wanted with all my heart to visit the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and draw near the elder monk. That was my goal.
I don't know what happened though, because my friend arranged for me to go to the City of the Dharma Realm instead. Yesterday Heng Jen Shr talked about how she had gone there in June, after they first acquired the place. Nothing was set up yet. Even the Buddha Hall was a temporary setup in a small building. That was the arrangement at the time.
Anyway, I had finally arrived in the United States, and although I didn't reach the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, I came to one of the Venerable Master's Way-places nonetheless. During those ten days, I followed the schedules, learned to do morning and evening ceremonies, and ate one meal a day at midday.
Originally I had planned to fly to Los Angeles on December 30, then back to Taiwan. On the morning of the 27th, the recitation of the Bodhisattva Precepts took place. That was the first time in my life that I had recited the Bodhisattva Precepts. While I was reading and trying to follow the meaning, I thought, "It's not easy to be a Bodhisattva." It's also difficult to uphold the Bodhisattva Precepts as a layperson. Therefore I filled out an application form. Somebody told me that the next day, the 28th, there would be a head-shaving ceremony at the City of the Dharma Realm. It was the first Refuge and Leaving Home Ceremony to be held there. They told me that the Venerable Master was definitely going to be there. "If your causes and conditions are right, maybe tomorrow you will have the opportunity to shave your head and fulfill your wish of becoming a nun," they said.
Some people kindly told me, "If you can leave home tomorrow, you will dream about the coming of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, or the Venerable Master tonight. You will have an auspicious dream." When I woke up the next morning, I had lots of dreams but none of them had Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I thought, 'Since none of you welcome me, forget it! I might as well go home!' After the morning ceremony, I told the Dharma Masters, "I'm taking my application home. I'm not leaving home. I'm going back to Taiwan."
After the morning ceremony, a Dharma Master said that the Venerable Master had already arrived at the City of the Dharma Realm the night before and people would be able to meet with the Venerable Master that morning. I thus met the Venerable Master, who said, "You're meant to be a nun. Anyone born in the year of the monkey (in the Chinese zodiac) is meant to leave home." I still remember a Dharma Master sitting next to the Venerable Master saying, "Venerable Master, I was born in the year of the monkey, too." The Venerable Master replied, "Aren't you already a nun?" The Venerable Master talked to me for half an hour. It was still very rushed. I will just share one thing over which I couldn't help but heave a sigh. When the Venerable Master commented at one point that he didn't have too many disciples, I said, "Venerable Master, I saw your disciples and followers in Taiwan in 1993. There were lots! Why do you say there are few?" The Venerable Master said thoughtfully and with a heavy heart, 'Those people are just my fans. Very few believe in me."
Those words are worth some in-depth reflection. Are we really learning the Buddhadharma from the Venerable Master? Or are we just his fans? If we say, 'The Venerable Master is a preeminent Sanghan member and a person of great virtue, so we should respect and admire him," then when we find other preeminent Sanghan members and greatly virtuous ones elsewhere, will we go away? If so, then aren't we like the guerilla troops that blindly go everywhere? Or are we truly learning the Buddhadharma from the Venerable Master? Amitabha!