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Memories of the Venerable Master

Harmony in the Four Assemblies Is Most Auspicious

A Talk Given by John Chu in the Buddha Hall of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas on the evening of Wednesday, August 22, 2001
李宗佑英譯 English Translation by Michael Lee









Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, and all Buddhist friends:

I am Jen-Ho Chu, and my Dharma Name is Guo-Xiang. I was fortunate enough to have taken refuge with the Venerable Master after meeting him on the East Coast in 1989. After taking refuge, I stayed on the East Coast where I worked. At the time, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB)had just acquired the Avatamsaka Hermitage there. I would often go there to study Buddhism after getting off work. If there were chores to be done, I would help out a bit. Because I had taken refuge with the Venerable Master there, I wanted to be near that Wayplace and learn the Buddhadharma. Around the winter of 1990, I made a decision to go to CTTB to live. Not long after the Venerable Master visited Washington D.C., I asked the Venerable Master’s permission and it was granted. Then in May of 1991, my whole family moved to CTTB. It has been ten years now, and I am still very glad that I made this decision.

I feel that I am not the only one to do this. Every individual who has moved to CTTB has done so on their own initiative. I believe that no one was forced to come. Since we came here voluntarily, we must therefore continue to carry that original motivation as we identify our roles and maintain our posts. Each and every one of us must hold the spirit of self-motivation and do our best at our assigned posts. As the old Chinese saying goes, “Three ordinary men’s wisdom put together is better than a single wise man.” Although we may not have great wisdom, if three people can make an effort to mutually encourage each other and cooperate, then they will surely do some quality work and surpass that single wise man. If the three ordinary men constantly bicker, then they will not accomplish anything.

In the office, sometimes I hear complaints: “We have a new arrival; is he going to teach at the school too? What we need most here are volunteers. We need people who do real work. Lots of people only know how to talk but do nothing.” That’s a typical complaint. One time, there was a Westerner who had lived in CTTB for over twenty years. He came to the office and I asked him, “What kind of people do you think CTTB needs the most? People who are eloquent? Or people who are diligent? Or perhaps people who are real thinkers?” I figured that since he had lived here for so long, he would be more likely to have the right view and opinion. He thought about it for a while and said, “None of these!” Then he replied in Chinese, which surprised me very much. He said, “What CTTB needs is people who have attained enlightenment.” Of course, people who have attained enlightenment are the best, but for common folks who have not attained enlightenment, as long as they can follow the rules and earnestly cultivate, work, and learn, every single one of them is an important part of CTTB.

I remember that when the Venerable Master was alive, whenever someone took refuge with him, the Venerable Master would always say out of kindness, “Everyone who takes refuge with me must bow to the Buddhas ten thousand times; everyone who takes refuge with me must become a Buddha before I do.” I am sure that everyone who has taken refuge with the Venerable Master has heard this. Even in 1993 or 1994, when the Venerable Master could not personally conduct the refuge ceremony and had his disciples take his place, the Venerable Master was still concerned and would call the office to say, “After the ceremony, you go and tell them for me, “Everyone who takes refuge with me must become a Buddha before I do. Generals don’t dismount your horses; just hurry on your way. Work hard! ” Every one of these words came out of the Venerable Master’s genuine sincerity and great vows. We, his disciples, must have unwavering faith in the Master. We must believe in the power of the Master’s vows; he will definitely do what he said.

On this occasion of the Dharma assembly commemorating the sixth anniversary of the Venerable Master’s entering Nirvana, we invited the Vietnamese Dharma Master Ming Zhao, who has come practically every year. Although he is a Master of the Southern Tradition, he has a great affinity with the Venerable Master. This time he stayed in Cottage 7, and he told me that he felt very happy and consoled, because although the Venerable Master has already passed away for six years, the people of CTTB are still united in harmony. He saw that we had made progress in many areas and felt that this was not an easy thing to do.

Shakyamuni Buddha told his disciples that after he passed away, they should take the precepts as their teacher. When they upheld the precepts and remained pure, and did as Shakyamuni Buddha taught, then even if they were ten million miles away from him, it would be like they were right beside him. If his disciples could not strictly uphold the precepts and follow the Buddhadharma in cultivation, then even if they spent everyday next to Shakyamuni Buddha, they would be as far away from him as heaven is from earth.

I think that our situation is similar to that of Shakyamuni Buddha back then. The Venerable Master’s Six Great Guidelines--do not fight, do not be greedy, do not seek, do not be selfish, do not pursue personal advantage, and do not lie--are the invisible foundation of CTTB, as well as the cornerstone of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. If the four assemblies in our Dharma Realm Buddhist Association abide by the Six Great Guidelines and truly carry them out, then no matter how long or how far the Venerable Master has parted from us, we are constantly by the Venerable Master’s side. Amitabha!


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