The Venerable Master Hua visited Vietnam twice. In November 1974, he went to Vietnam for the second time and exhorted people to give up evil and return to wholesomeness, to quickly recite the Buddha’s name and cultivate. But how many people listened? How many people understood the Master’s exhortation? Not long after this visit, Vietnam was taken over by the communists. At that time, a laywoman was in Vietnam and whenever she thought of how Vietnam was lost, the horror resurfaces in her memory. She is very grateful that Guanyin Bodhisattva saved her family’s lives from great danger so that they could escape from Vietnam. Her husband used to work at the Chinese Embassy in Vietnam as the Head Secretary for the Ambassador. One day, the embassy received an emergency phone call from Vietnam’s airport due to a group of Chinese who were stuck there. These people needed some help in translation so they could get through customs. The ambassador asked her husband for assistance. Her husband said, “I have too much urgent paperwork to process. I cannot go.” The ambassador replied, “Don’t worry about it. This is more important than what you’re working on. How about this? Why don’t you take my car so you have the privileges of an ambassador to travel without restrictions? That group of people is stuck at the airport and unable to go anywhere. Hurry!” At the ambassador’s request, he had to put down what he was working on and leave his office for the airport. As soon as he drove out of the Chinese embassy, it exploded. Vietnamese communists pretending to be civilians had entered and hidden explosives to bomb the embassy.
When this laywoman heard about the bombing, she felt like she had lost the core of her life, especially when she found out that the bombing had its source in her husband’s office. She cried and said to Guanyin Bodhisattva, “What’s going on? Is my husband dead?” While she was crying, her husband returned. He said, “If the ambassador hadn’t asked me to leave in his car, it would be impossible for me to come back here!” This laywoman thought to herself: “Guanyin Bodhisattva is so efficacious! I was just thinking that I worship Guanyin Bodhisattva so devotedly; how could such a horrible thing happen to my husband? Fortunately, Guanyin Bodhisattva was watching over us.” Thus her husband escaped a disaster.
At that time, the entire neighborhood resounded with sounds of explosions and machine guns. Everyone was fleeing for Saigon. When she left, she was in her pajamas with her child still in swaddling clothes. The three family members followed the crowd closely. She walked for three days and was finally able to get some water for her baby. She and her husband had no food at all. They eventually found an abandoned car to use. Just when they had nearly reached Saigon, the entrances to the city were blockaded to prevent refugees from going in freely. Only a certain number of people were allowed into the city daily. When the quota was reached, the gate would be shut and no one else could go in. The gate closed on her three times when it was almost her turn to enter the city. “The explosions were getting closer and closer behind us. I knew that the communists were not far from us. If we did not leave the country soon, our lives would be in great danger.” So, on her fourth try going into the city, she did not dare to open her eyes and just kept on reciting Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name. She thought of nothing but Guanyin as if Guanyin were her life-savior. She recited and recited. Then she heard her husband’s voice: “All right! You can rest now. We finally got into the city!” She replied, “Please don’t trick me. We are not in the city yet. We have failed three times. I don’t believe that we have arrived in the city.” Her husband said, “If you don’t believe me, open your eyes. We have really entered the city of Saigon.” When she opened her eyes, they were right in the city.
At that time, the government of Taiwan had sent a China Airlines plane to pick up all the staff working at the Foreign Affairs Department. Regardless of how much money you had then, it was not certain you would get a ticket. Why? Back then, being able to get a ticket depended on your connections and your luck. It could not be obtained with money. At the airport, many people would tell you that they had enormous amounts of money and beg to board the flight. The airport was full of people trying to get on a plane. On the brink of such calamity, they were able to leave Vietnam. This was her personal experience of escaping from Saigon.
Those of us who have never been through a war and all its hardships have a hard time imagining the suffering these people went through.
That is why we are not vigorous enough when we recite the Buddha’s name. We usually recite with our mouths instead of our minds. We often have a lot of false thoughts. On the trip to Asia in 1974, before the Venerable Master left Hong Kong, he said, “I am dying.” This was to tell us that we should constantly keep this in mind: “I am dying soon. If I don’t recite the Buddha’s name, what else could I recite? In order to save our lives, our minds must be sincere to the utmost. The Master exhorted us on the key points of the practice of Buddha recitation. Do we have the kind of determination that it is as if we were reciting the Buddha’s name on the verge of death? It seems very hard to envision this. Even though it is difficult to do, we still must march forward down this road.