My inspiration to study Buddhism came from the
Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra. I had heard about the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) in Northern California in 1974. However, I had never imagined that I would take refuge with the Venerable Master Hua at CTTB thirteen years later.
I was studying in the United States in 1983. My wife, Guo-Yu, came to stay with me in 1984. Living abroad, we did not socialize as much. Besides studying and working, I began to explore the meaning of life. Because I was inspired by the principles of the
Sixth Patriarch Sutra, I began to attend seminars on Buddhism and visit temples in Los Angeles. However, things did not click for me until I discovered from reading
Vajra Bodhi Sea, that CTTB had a branch in Los Angeles called Gold Wheel Monastery. I went and visited this monastery on my own. In the past, I had always gone with my wife. Since the temples we visited in the past were not suitable for us, she was no longer interested in going to any temples, so this time I went by myself.
The first time I visited Gold Wheel Monastery, it gave me very different feelings. The left-home people here diligently followed the rules set forth by the Buddha. Besides eating one meal a day, they earnestly followed the daily recitation schedule. They were not eager to socialize, but only did so as circumstances required. I was very impressed. I told my wife about this and encouraged her to come along with me the next time. She felt the same way as I did when she went herself. Since then, we often went to Gold Wheel Monastery to listen to the Venerable Master’s taped lectures and to attend repentance ceremonies. Both of us were happy that we found a good Way-place.
The most exciting thing about the Venerable Master’s Way-places is being able to listen to sutra lectures on major Sutras. We listened to them volume after volume. The manager at Gold Wheel Monastery allowed us to take the tapes home. Strangely enough, after listening to the tapes I gradually comprehended Buddhism, which I did not understand before. My heart was always full of Dharma joy and I had a new perspective on understanding life. Both my wife and I wanted to take refuge with the Venerable Master, and we did so at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
As we were submerged in the Venerable Master’s Dharma sea, our student life ended. It was time for us to pack and return to our own country. We had expressed an interest in taking the Five Precepts. However, due to time constraints, this wish seemed impossible to fulfill. Unexpectedly, we received a phone call from a Dharma Master at Gold Wheel Monastery the night before our departure. She told us that the Venerable Master had come to Los Angeles and was willing to transmit the Five Precepts to the two of us. We were surprised and touched. That’s the way the Master was. He was always compassionate and never let any hardship stand in the way of fulfilling living beings’ wishes. Countless disciples benefited from the Master’s kindness in this way.
During the three years after we returned to Taiwan, the Master led Dharma delegations to visit Taiwan every year. Therefore, I was lucky to see the Master and listen to his Dharma instructions. We always longed to draw near to the Master and his Way-places. We recited the
Earth Store Sutra to ask the Bodhisattva to fulfill our wishes. Later on, my application to immigrate to Canada went very smoothly. We were granted approval the second year after my return. Vancouver was my destination because the Master had established a Way-place, Gold Buddha Monastery, there. At that time, my colleague who had applied for immigration via investments tried to convince me to move to Toronto. However, my goal was to draw near to the Master’s Way-place, so my resolve to learn the Buddhadharma to continue my wisdom life was not swayed.
In 1990, I went to Vancouver by myself. When I arrived, the economy and the job opportunities were much worse than in Taiwan and the United States. The lack of job opportunities and the low economy shocked me. I constantly worried for and entire two months. There was nothing I could do except recite the
Earth Store Sutra and seek the help of the Bodhisattvas and the Master. One day I was so distraught that I almost got into a car accident. That night, I dreamt that the Master manifested a boundless body. My body was tiny in comparison. I was close to the Master’s chest like a baby in a swaddling cloth. Due to his mother-like compassion, I felt very safe and secure. It was so real that it did not seem like a dream. I had never wished for this kind of wonderful state and never realized that the boundless body mentioned in the sutras was so inconceivable. In the dream, the Bodhisattva’s boundless body was too big and too close for me to see his head, hands or feet. But I knew it was the Master holding me close to his heart. It was so real that I can still recollect the feeling of tranquil security even today.
After a couple of years of hard work, we finally became established in Vancouver. All these years, my heart has been full of gratitude toward the Venerable Master. Due to his teaching, I have been able to understand how vast the sea of Buddhism is. We have Dharma water that we can never finish drinking and ghee [an analogy for the highest Dharma] that we can never finish eating. Diligently practicing the Buddhadharma is the means we can rely upon in the realm of birth and death; it is the only key to understanding and penetrating time and space and the only way to break through the boundaries of the past, the present and the future. We hold the truth and principles in our own hands. We all have parents who gave us life and physical bodies. However, the Master is our Dharma parent. Being filial to our parents is fundamental to being a human being. To be filial to our Dharma parent, we must listen to his instructions and teachings. So we shall follow the Master’s teachings and practice accordingly in order to repay his kindness.