Once my father came to America, the Venerable Master went out of his way to care for him, which I had never expected. I never thought that things could turn out so perfectly. Since my father was ill, the Venerable Master allowed him to live by himself and also instructed me to spend the night there to take care of him along with my family. Once, when I went to visit to my father, my elder sister told me, “You know what? The Venerable Master suddenly came to see us. He encouraged us and gave us some instructions.” After that, the Venerable Master paid several more visits. I still remember very clearly the day that my father and sister were getting ready to return to Taiwan. We were at Gold Mountain Monastery in Chinatown, and my father was leaning on the counter writing something. I saw the Venerable Master standing behind him with his two fingers in a blessing mudra, blessing my father’s spine because the cancer was in that area. He did this silently without my father’s awareness. That was how the Venerable Master helped people without their knowing. He even helped my father down the stairs when he was preparing to leave. The Venerable Master forgot about himself for the sake of saving living beings.
Originally, I did not understand why the Venerable Master told me, “Tell him to come; he will get well.” But after my father went home, he gradually got better. He lived for another ten years or so. In the end, he passed away, but I was comforted by that fact that the Venerable Master had given him a new beginning in life. When my father took refuge, the Venerable Master gave him the Dharma name Guo Xin, “Fruit of New Beginning.” He spent the last ten years of his life studying the Buddhadharma. In January of 1993, in the midst of his illness, when my father could no longer move his lower body, the Venerable Master shaved his head at the Dharma Realm Buddhist Book Distribution Society in Taiwan, thus fulfilling his wish of leaving the home life.
I will mention another incident in which the Venerable Master skillfully chose the right time and right place to teach living beings. In 1989, my father again came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for a short stay. This time, his physcial condition had improved greatly, so the Venerable Master allowed him to live at Tathagata Monastery and cultivate with the assembly. At first, he was perhaps not used to the lifestyle here, so he wanted to leave after a while. I told the Venerable Master about this, and he said, “Tell him to stay a while longer, then he can go back.” So my father stayed on. But after a while, he wanted to leave once again, and the Venerable Master told him to stay on again. So he stayed on for three months. The last time, when he said he wanted to go home, the Venerable Master answered, “Okay, this time he can go home!” But when I told my father that the Venerable Master said he could go, his reply surprised me: “I don’t want to return anymore! You know, living here I have regained the inspiration I had as a young man. I can once again pick up a brush to compose poetry. This has not happened in over forty years.”
Even though my father could not completely let go of everything and returned to Taiwan in the end, he had lay a foundation for his cultivation during his stay at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. That was all because the Venerable Master knew the right timing in teaching living beings. After my father passed away, I had the chance to take a look at the poetry he composed while he was living at the City. It was written in Japanese, but rendered into Chinese, one poem says:
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
In the deep stillness of the night,
The cool, pristine moon appears in the sky.
This refreshing clarity is also my mind
Filled with the nature of the spirit…
Why was Heng Wei Shi able to get well? I now understand that the Master wanted my father’s karmic obstacles to follow the Master. The fifth assembly of the Shurangama Mantra consists of names of ghosts of disease. When the Master explained that mantra line by line in the 1980s, he said there were ghosts of colds, ghosts of diarrhea, ghosts of arthritis, and ghosts of every kind of disease. Cancer was a grave disease that had a very powerful ghost. The Master wanted my father to come so that the ghost making him ill would follow him to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the Master would be able to liberate it. That’s why, after my father returned to Taiwan, his condition improved steadily.