Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, and good advisors: Greetings to everyone!
I am very grateful to have this opportunity to share with you these words from the bottom of my heart: Venerable Master, I miss you!
I would like to express, albeit inadequately, my gratitude and nostalgia towards the Master by sharing a personal experience I had with the Master.
The story involves a bowl of rice gruel. The incident occurred in 1992 at the Avatamsaka Hermitage in Maryland. At that time, the Venerable Master, despite his illness, was attending a Presidential Conference at the White House for the sake of world peace. The Master was also speaking Dharma at Avatamsaka Hermitage, and that's where I met him. Under the circumstances, I was able to be with the Master from the day I met him until he departed from the Hermitage. I saw him manifest the appearance of a Buddha twice, but I was too blind to figure out that he was an ancient Buddha come to the world. In my foolishness, I only knew to kneel in front of the Master to seek his blessing, but did not request Dharma advice concerning my personal situation. It's a great pity that I missed my chance.
The incident of the bowl of rice gruel happened during that time. The Venerable Master had three attendants: Guo-Ying Koo, Guo-Hao Hu, and Upasaka Li (I don’t remember his name). One day Guo-Ying told me she needed to take care of some business and asked me to help cook rice gruel for the Master. I happily agreed, thinking, “That's easy enough.” I circumambulated a while longer in the Buddha Hall, then went to the kitchen when I thought it was about time to starting cooking the gruel. Upasaka Guo-Hao was there making biscuits and stir-frying vegetables. I usually cook the rice on high until it boils, then put the lid on and let it simmer on low. That way, the rice softens easily and tastes very good. By the time the biscuits and vegetable dishes were done, however, the rice was still uncooked. I started getting nervous. Guo-Hao turned the heat on high, saying that the Venerable Master ate at a fixed time. My heart started thumping wildly, as I regretted not starting earlier and wondered what kind of rice it was anyway. It should have been done much earlier. What a hassle! My eyes kept moving between the pot and Guo-Hao's face, while I scolded myself silently for being so useless.
It was time to serve the meal, so Guo-Hao set a bowl of rice gruel on the tray and went upstairs to deliver the Master his meal. I remained transfixed like a mummy, staring at the gruel still cooking in the pot, while my mind followed Guo-Hao upstairs. Guo-Hao didn't come down for a long time, and the gruel was finally done. I went upstairs to take a look and found Guo-Hao squatting in front of the Master's door. He seemed to be in a trance or asleep. “Why haven't you served the meal?” I asked him. He said, “The Master's door is closed, which means he is still meditating.” I rejoiced and quickly exchanged the bowl of rice gruel on the tray. As soon as I had done so, the Master opened the door. I thought it was a coincidence then. How could I have known that the Master was a sage? It was only after I came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas that I realized that the Master had delayed his mealtime to save me from guilt and self-reproach. I am deeply grateful to the Master for his compassion.