Zeng Shuang-hong (Jin Jau Shr)
I came from Malaysia. In 1992, I came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to attend a Dharma Assembly. I met the Venerable Master Hua and asked him a few questions, after which he advised me to recite mantras. After finishing the Evening Recitation, I returned to the Fu Ju Lo and began to recite those mantras. I kept this practice up till today and have never stopped in between.
I volunteered at Prajna Guanyin Sagely Monastery in Malaysia. In the year 2000, I also helped out at Gold Buddha Monastery and I am currently assisting at the Junkang Vegetarian Restaurant at the City. It is inevitable that I will sometimes encounter disputes with my colleagues at work, but I always think, “Coming here, we must always remember to be grateful and repay others’ kindness, and to accept all tests; otherwise, there will be no way to overcome the ego. If we cannot overcome difficulties, then how are we going to cultivate?” The impermanence of life made me think of leaving home to end birth and death. I hope everyone will bring forth the resolve for Bodhi and together, cross over and reach the other shore.
Guo Jia-Hui (Jin Cang Shi)
Actually, we were supposed to be speaking in the order that we left home. However, those who come from the branch monasteries have been allowed to go first. Therefore, it is my turn now.
I joined the ESL (English as a Second Language) course and the Earth Store Recitation Session in the year of 2000. I went to Gold Sage Monastery and had a talk with Shu Li. She was very determined to come to the Way-place to cultivate. So I found that she has more good roots than me. I still dreamed of having a career and a good family even though I was in the Way-place. On top of that, I had never experienced the communal lifestyle of the temple. I was a bit worried at the beginning; I need to balance my emotions. What was my main reason for deciding to leave home?
During my vacillations, I encountered a cultivator who was very ill but who was still very determined to leave home despite her illness. I was very puzzled. I went to ask a Dharma Master, who explained, “She has found the truth.” It shocked me. Where is the truth in my life then? What has she found? Driven by curiosity and giving myself a chance to find out, I stayed on there to continue to find out the truth.
The Venerable Master taught us to recognize states, be patient, admit our own faults, and reflect within. These are not easy at all. I tried to follow his instructions. I realized that disagreements and misunderstandings are common in communal living. By practicing what the Venerable Master taught us, I could smoothly go through all these and live harmoniously with others. This is real thing. It is more powerful than worldly dharma. I started to discover the truth. The Buddha Dharma is the truth.
The second reason is that I deeply believe the power of cultivation can help yourself and others. For example, the Jeweled Repentance of the Emperor of Liang was held recently at the Gold Sage Monastery. One laywoman is a nurse working in a hospital. She wished to take a leave of absence to attend the Repentance. However, many other nurses were also taking leaves at the same time. Finally, only five nurses were left to handle the work of by nine nurses. Two wards had to be merged into one. The laywoman managed to participate in the one week Repentance despite the shortage of nurses and increase of patients. Yet those five nurses had more or less the same amount of work as usual. That laywoman felt that the Emperor of Liang Repentance was inconceivable. It could benefit a lot of living beings. When practiced with sincerity, it can dispel resentment and make the hospital serene. She pointed out that not only during the Emperor of Liang Repentance, but during usual Dharma ceremonies at Gold Sage Monastery, she could feel the serenity in the hospital. Therefore I believe that self-reflection can change a person’s character. Cultivation can help living beings. It is like the Venerable Master’s great power. He can prevent an earthquake in San Francisco and the imminent war from happening. We should slowly learn to be like the Venerable Master in the future. Let us unite to make wars disappear. I received many blessings from you all when I decided to leave the home life. I would like to give you my blessings too. I hope you will never retreat from your resolve to protect the Buddhadharma. If you wish to leave home and cultivate, may you not be bothered by states, but persevere to the end and be free from obstructions in your practice in life after life.
Liang Mei-ying (Jin Ji Shr)
I am from Taiwan. Since I was young, I have liked to watch people when they fry gluten. From morning until noon I would watch, but I would not buy any. In 1993, Venerable Master Hua came to Taiwan. In the Dharma Assembly, there were over thirty people who had brought forth the Bodhi resolve to leave the home life. They woke up very early to prepare to have their heads shaved. Not knowing why, I also woke up early, not to have my head shaved, but to go to observe the ceremony. I found someone at the door, vacillating on the question of ‘to leave home’ or ‘not to leave home.’
In 1995, another group of people brought forth the resolve to leave home. When I heard the news, I also went to observe the ceremony without any special feelings.
Whenever I had dreams, I was never the lead “actor” but only a spectator. Now, impermanence has forced myself to join this show and I am no longer a spectator, so I have no choice but to come up on stage to speak. If I were to go back now, I would say to the owner of the fried gluten stall, “I feel like frying gluten. I believe I can fry them into big and fat ones, and very delicious too!”
The Venerable Master Hua said that because of our karma in the past, we are now gathered together in this hall. In the past, I used to dream and watch. I hope that after I leave the home life, I will not be dreaming anymore and will quickly wake up. I hope everyone will also wake up quickly too.
Lin Jun-lin (Jin Wei Shr)
I am from Taiwan. When I was young, I saw a lot of marital conflict. Therefore I never believed in love and friendship. No matter how close your friends are, they will still desert you when you have problems.
My father is a very devout Buddhist. He also wanted his children to be Buddhist. We were very playful. He used all kinds of methods to teach us; for example, in the summer, before we can have ice cream, he would ask us to recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva’s name using recitation beads.
In 1998, I took refuge with the Triple Jewel. I took my university examination in 1999 and began having contact with Buddhism. I used to think it was meaningless to be a Buddhist as it was only chanting and praying. Therefore I was very much against the idea until I had true understanding. I understand that Buddhism teaches us how to be a person, be detached, and end birth and death. I did not have a tough life myself but I saw many people suffering. Learning Buddhism enables me to understand how to end birth and death and not go through the cycle of birth and death. So I wanted to leave home after I completed my university examination. It is not easy to end birth and death. You have to practice with diligence. When I was at home with all my friends and family around me, I could not concentrate on cultivation. Therefore I decided to leave home. I successfully passed the examination and could have entered an ideal university which was a dream for most of my classmates. But I gave up the opportunity. My family and relatives scolded me, but I was very determined to leave home. My mother rejected my decision and said that it was impulsive. I took the five precepts before I started to study at the university. I was very determined and aware of what I wanted to do. When my classmates were playing, I would recite the sutras. They went out for fun; I would go to the Way-place. Gradually, I started to lose momentum due to lack of perseverance. I thought it would be good to remain single. I ignored all the male friends my classmates introduced to me. I found them unnecessary. Later on, my confidence was shattered. After my first year at the university, I realized that I had left the Way and panicked. Subsequently, I had the opportunity to come to the City for two months. My initial Bodhi resolve of leaving the home life returned. A Dharma Master told me that she had a university classmate who told her that she would leave home in the first year at the university. She did not. She told her the same thing in the second year, but she still did not. It went on until the fourth year. Then she got married. Having heard the story, I decided not to go back to the university. I knew my resolve would ultimately waste away. If I waited too long, it would be horrible. I would end up like her. A lot of people persuaded me to come back to the City after I finished my university. Four months later, I applied to discontinue my study and I stayed at Amitabha Monastery for four months before returning to Gold Sage Monastery. This world is full of evil friends. If anyone has the intention of leaving home, please hurry and do not wait any longer.