Venerable Master Hua was a filial child and always advocated filiality. Every year late in the fall or early during the winter, Dharma Realm Buddhist Association’s temples honor elders by celebrating Honoring Elders Day. This event is quite significant. As part of this year’s program we are “Speaking of the Past and Present.” Originally, I didn’t dare to speak today, but other fellow cultivators kept encouraging me, so I’ll just share some things about myself. I will first “speak about the past” by relating an incredible experience from my grandmother’s past. Our old home in Fujian had several levels of entry. Enter the front door and there’s a veranda. Go through the veranda and there’s the living room. Behind the living room is a lounge. Beyond that is a garden. We have a Buddha hall at home and it is behind the garden. My grandmother was a lifelong vegetarian, and late in her life she recited the sutras every day.
My family lived next to the city’s north gate, which was near a rural area. One day while my grandmother was reciting a sutra, a pig was chased into the city. Once it came in, it came to our door and was banging against it. Even the person who was rounding up the pig couldn’t do anything about it. It pushed its way through the door. After it entered, it went through the long corridor and entered the living room, proceeding to the lounge. It knew how to make the turns to reach the garden, where my grandmother was reciting a sutra. She recited three sutras every day. At that time she was reciting the
Amitabha Sutra. Amazingly, the pig knelt next to her. It didn’t take one wrong turn in a house so complicated. It went directly and knelt there. When my grandmother looked up later, she didn’t chase it away. When the person who was trying to round up the pig came, my grandmother told him, “I’ll buy this pig and liberate it!”
My grandmother was a vegetarian and recited sutras for most of her life. My late mother did too. As for me, I also became a vegetarian. When I came to Taiwan, my father-in-law and mother-in-law were also vegetarians. I believe that we all had affinities.
As for the present...after I retired, I didn’t practice much on a daily basis. I only recited the
Vajra Sutra once a day, starting from the opening verse up to the
Heart Sutra and the Great Compassion Mantra in the back. I felt that this was enough for a layperson. Unexpectedly, my gallbladder became inflamed last November 16th. The average [treatment for a] gallbladder inflammation is very simple: all they have to do is cut a few holes and extract the gallstones. It didn’t work that way with me because my inflammation was too serious. Some of my organs were stuck together so that I had to have a surgery, which took five and a half hours in the operation room and then time in the intensive care unit. Things went smoothly after the operation. A little after four in the afternoon on the fourth day after the operation, the intravenous drip was taken off. After nine o’clock that night, suddenly I had a cold sweat all over my body. I panicked. By that time, the nurse was worried and asked me, “Do you have heart disease?” I said, “I don’t!” She called the doctor. The doctor took a look and quickly used oxygen on me. I thought the doctor was about to write a “notification of death” then. Of course all the while since I had entered the hospital and had been in the operation room, I recited the
Heart Sutra and the Great Compassion Mantra, but strangely enough, I couldn’t recite one line of the
Heart Sutra or the Great Compassion Mantra at that point. Five minutes later, things were okay. The next day when the doctor came and made his rounds, I told him about the situation last night. He said, “That’s because your intravenous drip was taken off!” I panicked because I didn’t have this kind of experience before.
After this experience, I was alarmed that I hadn’t been doing enough in terms of spiritual practice and cultivation on an average basis. If I had practiced and cultivated enough, whichever sutra or mantra it may be, would have just rolled right off of my tongue when I was near the brink of death. But I couldn’t say one word then. Today, I would like to take this opportunity to repent to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master and all of you. I don’t practice enough on a typical basis and I will have to apply more effort. Amitabha!