Bhikshuni Jin De:
I recall once reading an instructional talk the Venerable Master gave to some disciples who were about to receive full ordination. Comparing himself to a brick or tile maker, the Master said, “Brick made from mud that is merely left to dry naturally will crumble very easily and not make good building material. It would not make a good house.” I myself feel like a brick made from mud, which is not yet ready to build anything.
How can we make brick into good building material? They must be fired for a long time till they reach a certain solidity and durability, before they can be used for building. What kind of houses do we want to build? The Master hopes his disciples will build Dharma houses—abodes for the Buddhadharma—and warns us not to be bricks that easily crumble.
Thirty some years later, as we review the Master’s instructions, we can feel that the Master is still reminding us that the hardships and challenges we encounter on the path of practice are meant to be; we ought not let them sway us. Like firings in a huge furnace, these tests help us get rid of impurities and cast out the ignorance that has accumulated since time without beginning. Each time we make it through a difficult situation or endure some hardship, we will feel, “Wow, my ignorance has decreased a bit!” Conversely, our wisdom will have grown. These experiences help us to lay a foundation for our practice and accomplish three essential qualities for cultivation: determination, sincerity, and perseverance.
This year’s preceptees have been very fortunate. Virtually all of us share a common feeling that “from the time we first came to the Way-place till after we left the home life, we have had ample opportunities to learn and receive various kinds of training in various departments of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association.” For example, in learning the Buddhadharma from the sutras and doctrines, from the rules of deportment, and from daily life interactions and activities, step-by-step we are building a solid foundation for our practice.
The 108-day intensive training has also provided plenty of opportunities for us to learn how to cultivate both blessings and wisdom.
Immersed in this learning environment, we have all been changing imperceptibly without realizing it. However, our senior Dharma brothers and teachers have taken great pains to facilitate this process, which has also required the coordinated energy and resources of many people and departments, for which we are deeply grateful. The Master said, “The best way to repay someone’s kindness is to work hard in your cultivation.” We must practice with great effort to repay all the kindness we’ve received.
This year’s preceptees hail from various parts of the world and are of various ages and cultural backgrounds, yet we all share a common wish, which is that in the future we will diligently fulfill our roles as left home people, helping living beings whenever we can, and—this is very important—remain united and harmonious as we carry out this vow. We hope we will not disappoint the Venerable Master by being bricks that easily crumble; may we be durable bricks that will build a strong Dharma house.