On July 6-7, the fourfold assembly of disciples came from all directions, including Gold Dharma Monastery in New Orleans, Long Beach Monastery and Gold Wheel Monastery in Los Angeles, Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco, and the City of the Dharma Realm in Sacramento, to attend the Anniversary Ceremony on June 8th. Moreover, busloads of Vietnamese Buddhists--many more than in the past--came from far away with Dharma Masters Ming Jau, Heng Da, Heng Syan and Heng Lyang. In the early 1980’s, the Venerable Master established the Buddhist Refugee Council at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, to help the Vietnamese have a comfortable stay in the U.S. during that difficult time. Even after the Venerable Master’s nirvana, they came to show their gratitude and respect for his great kindness.
On the evening of the 7th, Dharma Master Ming Jau was invited to speak Dharma. His topic was how to get rid of the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion. He pointed out that delusion is the origin of ignorance. Since delusion causes us to commit various offenses, we must eradicate it first. Its coarse attributes are easy to eradicate, but its subtle attributes are hard to see and remove. If we wish to leave the sea of suffering in this Saha world, then we should closely guard the six sense faculties and not harbor any of the three poisons at any time.
Coming back from Indiana to visit CTTB after a five-year absence, Dharma Master Heng Da urged the assembly to follow the Venerable Master’s example in his reverence towards the Noble Elder Hsu. We should follow the Six Great Guidelines. Whether monastic or lay Buddhists, each of us should try our best to fulfill our responsibilities and be a good cultivator.
On June 8th, the ceremony for commemorating the Venerable Master’s nirvana began at 8:00 a.m. with bowing to the Venerable Master, circumambulating the sharira stupa, and the passing of offerings by a thousand people. At lunch, Dharma Master Heng Syan, the first speaker, spoke of how the Venerable Master taught us to reflect upon ourselves, not to look outside, at other people or at states. We should look at ourselves so we correct ourselves. That is the ultimate purpose of cultivation. The Venerable Master often taught us to be such that: “The eyes see forms, but inside there is nothing. The ears hear sounds, but the mind does not know.”
Next, Dharma Master Heng Sure spoke about how Buddhism has been in America for only thirty years and many people still don’t understand the Buddhadharma. “One of the places people really don’t get it is everyone assumes Buddhists are very still and quiet. Well, if we follow the example of the Venerable Master, we discover Buddhists are not only quiet but also active. There are four particular legacies we are still working on, because the Master’s spirit is still manifesting in motion. One obviously is to establish the Sangha. When the Sangha comes from the ground where the Dharma has been taught, you’ve got a future. The second legacy is to translate the Buddhist canon. The Master himself spoke the Dharma without exception, every night of his existence in America for thirty-some years, and his disciples are still working on translating those lectures into various languages. The next legacy is education—teaching young people to bring out their talents, training people towards their potential. Wherever there is a Way-place, there is a classroom. And the last one is interfaith—Buddhism is the new kid on the block in the religious texture. We can’t expect others to believe what Buddhists understand, so it’s our job to understand the traditions already rooted in this soil in this time and learn and make sense of those and connect the hospitable, the opening, the welcoming—learn, listen and then share. So the Venerable Master made that a priority to introduce the principles of the Dharma into mainstream, intellectual discourse in this country. That’s why we have elementary, middle school, high school, a university, and the Institute for World Religions. Those are the Venerable Master’s four legacies, where in stillness and in motion, we carry out the Buddha’s work. Within these four legacies, where do I fit? That’s a question I’d like to ask everybody to contemplate.”
Over a thousand people attended the 8th Anniversary of the Venerable Master’s Nirvana. Everyone felt a sense of gratitude for the Master’s teaching. This was an opportunity for the Master’s monastic and lay disciples to encourage one another to carry on his spirit in propagating the Dharma. May everyone work hard to perpetuate the Proper Dharma forever!