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To Pass the Legacy on to Future Generations
--Introducing Bhikshuni Heng Mao

捨擔 文 By She Dan
樂道 英譯 English translation by Le Dao





恆茂師怕在小道場做錯事有所不覺,而喜歡大叢林,同修互相規勸指導,才能清淨三業,僧團也得以興旺。她先後在臺灣道場六年,法界聖城五年;在道場協助行政、領眾念佛、教戒律、習講楞嚴、教中文。上人圓寂八年,感念 師恩浩大,恆茂師唯 有以承先啟後自勵,協助培育僧才、服務 道場為她盡形壽的職責。

Bhikshuni Heng Mao graduated from Taiwan Chung Hsing University with a degree in Business Management. After working for over ten years, she passed the National Higher Examination and served in a government office. After work hours, she loved to go to temples. One day, while cleaning the glass in a temple, she thought, “I wish to be a left-home person in life after life.”

When the Venerable Master Hua led a delegation to Taiwan in 1989 and conducted a Dharma Assembly for Protecting the Nation and Quelling Disasters, she was a volunteer. Deeply impressed by the Master’s virtue, she vowed to follow him to propagate the Buddhadharma. One evening during the lecture, the Master said that if anyone wished to leave the home life, they could come to the front to sign up and talk about their conditions. Urged by a friend, she mustered her courage and went up to request a chance. The Venerable Master remarked, “It’s not easy!” She felt sad and thought, “Yes, I know my bad habits are many.” After walking offstage, she kept bowing to the Master and pleading silently for his help: “If I cannot become a nun with the Master in this life, I will definitely fulfill my wish in the next life or future lives!” Blessed by the Venerable Master, she made a 180 degree turnaround—she quit wearing makeup, cut her hair short, became a vegetarian, practiced taking only one meal a day, and did not socialize on business trips. Her only wish was to set everything else aside and cultivate singlemindedly. In 1990 she came to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and her hair was shaved within one week. Over a month later, she became a novice nun on the Venerable Master’s birthday. During the ceremony, the Master asked her, “What home are you leaving?” She replied, “I am leaving my lay home, the home of afflictions, and the home of the Triple Realm.” The Venerable Master agreed and named her Guo Ching and told her, “Study English well.” In 1991 she was ordained and given the Dharma name Heng Mao.

One day at Wonderful Words Hall, she attended her favorite class—matching couplets. After the Venerable Master wrote down the first couplet, disciples went up to the blackboard to write their matching couplets. The Master would read each one, comment on and/or polish it. Upon reading the couplet, “Completely crossing over the Buddhas in all households” [Parents are said to be living Buddhas in a household.] written by Bhikshuni Heng Mao, the Venerable Master scolded: “What a grandiose statement! You haven’t even crossed over your own parents and yet you wish to cross over the Buddhas in all households!” She felt really embarrassed being scolded in front of the assembly. But then she reflected upon herself: Yes, it’s true that she had not been very filial to her parents. As it is said, “After one perfects one’s humanity, one can realize Buddhahood.” She told herself, “This disciple admits her fault and will improve.” She took the Precepts for the Deceased on behalf of her deceased father and set up a permanent rebirth plaque for him. In 1993, she stood in for her mother to take refuge with the Venerable Master on his visit in Taiwan and bowed 10,000 bows to the Buddha. Her mother, who is 85 years old this year, has become a vegetarian, does simple morning and evening ceremonies and has asked family members to recite the Buddha’s name for her at the time of rebirth.

For a long time after Bhikshuni Heng Mao left the home life, she would recite the Earth Store Sutra, the Bodhisattva Precepts in Brahma Net Sutra, and the Chapter of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva’s Conduct and Vows. Later a fellow cultivator reminded her, “The ordinary mind is the Way. In cultivation, one should emphasize daily practice.” Reflecting on how the precepts promote harmony, she started to focus on her interactions with people—especially to avoid annoying anyone. As her years in the precepts increase and her perceptions have changed, Bhikshuni Heng Mao is able to reflect upon herself whenever she faces a challenge or things don’t go her way.

She uses reflective insight to refine her mind. She thinks that cultivators should set goals to guide their way. In any situation, if one does not get thrown off by trivial matters, one can pass the test. She also believes, “Whatever is meant to be yours will always be yours. Let things happen naturally. Nothing can be forced.”

Fearing that she would not detect her own mistakes, Bhikshuni Heng Mao prefers staying in a large monastery where cultivators can exhort one another to purify the three aspects of karma and the Sangha can flourish. Among the temples of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, she has spent six years in Taiwan and five years at the City of the Dharma Realm, assisting with administration, leading the assembly in reciting the Buddha’s name, lecturing on the precepts and the Shurangama Sutra, and teaching Chinese. The Venerable Master entered nirvana eight years ago; appreciating his great kindness, Bhikshuni Heng Mao wishes to pass the Master’s legacy on to future generations. She considers it her lifelong responsibility to promote Sangha education and serve in monasteries.


法界佛教總會Dharma Realm Buddhist Association │ © Vajra Bodhi Sea