我還要把這個因緣，從十年前講回來。在一九八六年左右的冬天，海燈法師到萬佛聖城來拜訪上人。前幾天，我在法界佛教總會總辦事處（Main Office of DRBA）看到一張相片，令我非常感動。照片中海燈法師在講經，上人恭恭敬敬地合掌跪在旁邊，非常虔誠。上人那時候可能很忙，頭髮都比較長了，海燈法師來的那陣子，上人把我們帶到十五街舊的金山寺。我記得那還是在禪七中，因為這位海燈法師很難得來，所以上人把我們帶出禪堂，把握機會教育我們。
Venerable Master and all fellow cultivators:
Last year (1994) and this year (1995) were two unusual years in my life; last year my father passed away, and this year, the father of my Dharma body [the Venerable Master] passed away. But last year when my biological father, Heng Wei Shi, passed on, I was filled with the joy of the Dharma. I think the Venerable Master gave me that joy last year because he helped Heng Wei Shi pass away in a very peaceful and auspicious manner; in fact, there were auspicious signs. At that time, I was in the United States and I received an urgent phone message from my family that my father was about to pass away so I should return home. I stayed very calm and composed. One of my Dharma sisters went to ask the Venerable Master about the matter, and he only spoke one sentence, “It is okay for her to go back.” So I did.
On my third day back at home, my father passed away. Prior to his passing, my younger brother spoke to me, “You must tell Heng Wei Shi that when he is preparing to go, if people recite Amitabha’s name, it is the same as reciting the Venerable Master’s name.” He added, “Father has faith only in the Venerable Master.” I told Heng Wei Shi, “Reciting Amitabha’s name is the same as reciting the Venerable Master’s name. If people come to help you recite, they will only recite Amitabha’s name and not the Venerable Master’s name. But you should think of it as being the same as reciting the Venerable Master’s name.” He nodded and told me that he had dreamt that he was walking behind the Venerable Master who was wearing a red precept sash.
When my father was in the final stages of his illness, he was very weak yet felt no pain. My mother commented, “It is because your Venerable Master helped him. Otherwise, how could someone so ill feel no pain at all?” The morning that he was to pass away, everything seemed fine. Originally the hospital did not allow us to recite for him. But we spoke with the hospital director, hoping that he would grant us permission to recite for my father in the hospital. According to hospital regulations, after a patient passes away, he or she must be immediately removed from the sickroom. In this case, the hospital director consented, provided that we move from a double to a single occupancy room. That afternoon, we had an opportunity to move to a suitable single room. The hospital director pretended not to notice and allowed us to recite from five o’clock in the evening, when Heng Wei Shi died, till seven o’clock the next morning when the body was removed from the sick room.
I still remember Heng Wei Shi doing morning recitation that day lying on his bed. At noon, he also did the Meal Offering Ceremony, as he did every day. This had been his usual practice ever since his second visit to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in 1989. By this time, he could not hold the
Daily Recitation Handbook himself, and so I had to hold it for him. In fact, his yellow Recitation Handbook from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas had turned black from constant use. However, he could not recite, but only glance at it, and after a while he said in a weak voice, “Okay, I’ve finished the meal offering!” In the afternoon, he passed away very serenely. Two or three days afterwards, his body still remained soft especially compared to normal people. In fact, to my surprise many
sharira were found after his cremation. “Why are there so many
sharira?” Afterwards, my family told me, “If you had not come back, he would not have gone so peacefully.” I deeply believe that this is all due to the Venerable Master’s practice of filiality. Not only did our teacher practice filial respect personally, he also helps his disciples and other people to practice filial piety. If the Master had not said, “It is okay for her to go back,” then I would not have gone back. But the Master knew that if I had not gone back, my father would not have passed away in a peaceful and auspicious manner. With that one sentence, the Master helped me to practice filial piety.
Now I will go back to ten years ago, to the winter of 1985 when Dharma Master Haideng came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to visit the Venerable Master. Just a few days ago, at the DRBA Main Office, I came across a photograph which moved me very much. It was a picture of the Venerable Master kneeling on the side very respectfully with his palms together while Dharma Master Haideng gave a sutra lecture. The Venerable Master was extremely sincere and reverent. During Dharma Master Haideng’s visit, the Venerable Master was extremely busy, so his hair had grown long. I remember it was during a Chan session, but the Venerable Master took us out of the Chan Hall to the former Gold Mountain Monastery on Fifteenth Street because it was a rare occasion to have Dharma Master Haideng come to visit, so the Master wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to teach us.
I remember hearing a tape of Dharma Master Haideng telling the Venerable Master’s disciples, “None of you know who your teacher actually is, but I do.” His underlying meaning was that the Venerable Master is certainly not an ordinary person; yet we don’t even know enough to cherish him. The Master also told us then, “You should cherish what you have.” During Dharma Master Haideng’s visit, I was very busy. It was during this time that I received an urgent message from my family saying that my father had cancer. They hoped that I could go back to take care of him. To be honest, I was very scared because my family had not responded favorably to my coming to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in order to leave home. My mother had not agreed with my decision but my father gave me the money to make the trip here. However, after that, my mother and father were never happy, and my father suffered a lot of blame.
My family did not know that I had left the home-life. After some time, my cousin came to visit, and upon seeing me, she said in surprise, “You’ve left home! Your father would die of high blood pressure if he saw you.” I did not know how to face this situation, so I turned to the Venerable Master for help. He let me bring my cousin to K building where he received guests, and he talked to my cousin. Then my cousin asked me, “How long has it been since you left the home-life?” I replied, “Just a short while.” In fact, I had left home for quite some time by then, but I dared not say so. I glanced at the Venerable Master, hoping that he would cooperate with me on this lie, but he remained silent. After my cousin left, the Venerable Master said to me, “You cannot lie. Lying really harms your inherent nature.” That was a very good lesson for me. We should all realize that we cannot see the traces of a lie; nonetheless, it injures our inherent nature.
Now that my father was sick, I dared not go back because I was really scared. Even though the Venerable Master had said, “She can go back if she wants to,” I said, “No! I would only cry if I went back. I’d be of no use at all. I cannot go back.” The Venerable Master said, “Okay! Then you can stay. You must recite Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name.” Even though it was the middle of a Chan session, I recited Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name, and also the Great Compassionate Mantra. I do not know if it had any effect because I was very worried and under a great deal of pressure. Why? Because my father had suffered a lot of hardship over the fact that I had left home at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. I felt very guilty. If my father passed away, I would be indebted to my family; furthermore, my family would not be able to accept it. I recited Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name, but my mind was still confused.
After Dharma Master Haideng left, one day I was working in the kitchen in what is now Daoyuan Hall. The Venerable Master was on his inspection round. He paused and sat down to talk to me, “Do you know something? You have to let go of the mind. You are going to go crazy. You should not be attached to the affairs of the world.” The Venerable Master instructed me to tell my family to also recite Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name.
While my father was ill, I often spoke with him on the phone. One time, he told me over the phone, “Do you know something? Your Master came to see me in a dream, and I knelt before him and cried.” I said, “You have never met my Master; how do you know it was him?” He replied, “It was the same person I saw in the books.” I told the Venerable Master of this, and he replied, “Ask him what I said to him in the dream.” But when I asked my father, he could not remember.
Afterwards, the Venerable Master added, “Tell your father to come. Once he’s here, he will get well.” The following year, on the the Buddha’s birthday, my father, who was having trouble walking, came with the help of a cane. We first came to Gold Mountain Sagely Monastery, where a Dharma Assembly was taking place. At lunch time, according to Buddhist tradition, the left-home people take lunch before the laypeople. My father had not left the home life yet, and I pondered whether or not to help him get food since he had trouble moving about; but I dared not do it and instead went ahead to take my share. At that moment, the Venerable Master said very sternly in a loud voice, “Help your father get his food!” I was totally ashamed at that moment. I was really not filial at all; I didn’t know how to skillfully apply the Buddhadharma, but just followed the rules rigidly without versatility. The Venerable Master, with his perfect unobstructed wisdom, taught us how to actively apply the Buddhadharma to our daily lives. This left a very deep impression on me.
To be continued