後來我進了大專的國際貿易科，才決定不唱歌仔戲；我學了很多行銷的概念，如何組織公司，如何做國際性的貿易往來等等。在那種環境的熏陶之下，我滿腦子 Money!Money! Money!（錢！錢！錢！）於是我立了人生的第二個志願--做富婆。
When we had to write essays as children, I remember that the teacher often gave us the topic, “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up.” Once when the teacher assigned this topic, many students wrote that they wanted to become teachers when they grew up. As the teacher read the papers one by one, she smiled in satisfaction. However, when she read mine, her expression changed and she called to me, “Come here!” I went up to her, and she asked in a loud voice, “You want to act in Taiwanese folk plays when you grow up?” The whole class broke into laughter and looked up at me. Blushing in embarrassment, I looked down and thought, “What’s wrong with that? If those plays are bad, why does everyone love to see them?”
Taiwanese folk plays are a local feature. In earlier days, outdoor plays would be staged for thanking the spirits at weddings. Having grown up in such an environment, I learned the roles of the leading young man or young woman, the gestures, the singing styles, and the tunes and was able to act and sing like a professional. I didn’t know the principle behind why Mencius’ mother moved three times, and only learned that story through seeing it in a play. In my young heart, singing in folk plays was my first aspiration.
This aspiration did not cease until I began studying international trade in a vocational high school, where I learned about marketing and how to start a company and do international import/export. In such an atmosphere, my mind was filled with “Money! Money! Money!” and I developed my second aspiration in life—to be a rich woman.
As chance would have it, I joined the school’s Buddhist Society. Buddhism left me feeling refreshed. When the Venerable Master came to Taiwan in 1989, the Society’s teacher advisor suggested that I take refuge. Although I didn’t know the Master, I rather blindly went and took refuge.
Strangely enough, after I had taken refuge, I stopped liking money so much. Originally I wanted to be a famous tycoon, but that aspiration faded. I began to search for the meaning of life; I felt there was a deeper level of purpose to life. That’s when I had my third life aspiration—to become a nun. After graduating from school and entering into society, I had encountered various trials and tribulations in dealing with people and events, as well as seeing relatives and neighbors die suddenly. I had experienced the ephemeral nature of life, which strengthened my resolve to leave the home life.
On New Year’s Day in 1997, I spent my long holiday at the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Society in Taipei, bowing the Emperor of Liang’s Repentance. The bowing left a deep impression on me, compelling me to apply to come to the United States to attend another Dharma assembly. After that assembly, I stayed here and left the home life.
From a householder to a monastic, and now becoming a fully ordained Bhikshuni, I feel like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly destined to fly even higher and farther in the future. During the 108-day precept period, we attended over a hundred classes and learned many concepts about the precepts. There are two core aspects to the precepts: the first is the essence of the precepts, and the second is the consideration of time and place.
When the Buddha established the precepts, he did so according to the violations his disciples committed. That happened in a different time and place, and some of the precepts no longer apply to today’s Sangha. However, if we can apprehend the essence of the precepts laid down by the Buddha, we will be able to apply the precepts in a dynamic way, without getting stuck in overly literal interpretations.
The Venerable Master always taught us to rely on the Dharma, rather than any particular individual. China underwent numerous changes of dynasties. This was because China’s government depended on the person in the lead, rather than on laws. If an emperor died, his dynasty perished with him. The Buddha often told us to take the precepts as our teacher, because after the Buddha passed away, the Sangha had to carry on as usual.
We should constantly train ourselves to reflect upon the benefit of the Dharma and upon the wisdom-life of our Dharma body, so that we can be nourished by Dharma water. Moistened by Dharma water, our Dharma body’s wisdom-life will be prolonged. Otherwise, it will be like the saying, “The first year after we leave the home life, the Buddha is right in front of us. Three years later, the Buddha is far away on the horizon.” Amitabha!