I was born in North Vietnam. Ever since I was born, my mother took me to listen to the Sutras and attend ceremonies everyday. When I was one year old, my mother took me to the temple to take refuge. My Dharma name is Ming Xin (“understand the mind”). When I turned three years old, although I didn’t know how to write or read, I accompanied my mother daily to the temple to recite sutras and thus memorized the
Amitabha Sutra and the evening bell recital, and learned to recite the Buddha’s name. The Dharma Masters and the lay people were very surprised to see that I could follow along with the reciting.
When I was six, I asked my mother to let me to live at the temple. My mother said, “You are still young and don’t know how to work yet. If you want to leave home, you must learn how to sweep the floor and wash the dishes. When you can do them well, I will bring you to the temple to live.” I listened to my mother and I got up early every morning. I swept the floor and washed the dishes. After I had finished, I went to school. The year I turned seven, in the summer my mother sent me to a temple in the countryside (75 km from home). Besides my mother, no one else in my family knew of my leaving. My mother asked the Dharma Master at that temple to accept and take care of me. The next morning my mother returned home. My Master was very worried that I would miss my mother and want to go back home. However, the temple was the home I longed for. For this reason, I did not miss my mother or wish to go back.
The temple is called Duo Bao (Many Treasures) Temple and is well known locally. Before the war broke out, this temple specialized in printing Sutra texts. After the war, the villagers were very poor and did not know how to make offerings to the Triple Jewel. Therefore, the temple had to plant two acres of grain. When I was young, aside from going to school I had to help cook, chop wood, plow the fields and plant vegetables.
When I first went there, even though it was difficult, my Master still tried to provide for my schooling. She said, “I didn’t have the chance to go to school; now if I am to raise you, I will try to support you to study. If one has no wisdom, it will be difficult for one to do anything for the world.”
In the year 1995, after I graduated from high school, I took the Shramanera [Novice] Precepts on Shakyamuni Buddha’s birthday. Two years later, I received permission from the Buddhist Association of Vietnam and took the complete precepts in 1997. Later, I got my Master’s permission to go to the capital to study at the Buddhist University of Vietnam.
In the year 2001, right before I graduated from the Buddhist University, a nun who came back from France for her mother’s funeral, invited me to recite Sutras for her deceased mother. She asked me whether I’d like to go to the United States to study. I answered that I would. She gave me the address of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) and told me that she had a Dharma sister there. She suggested that I write to her to help me. Two weeks after my graduation, I received her reply with the application papers for Dharma Realm Buddhist University.
A year later, I was admitted to the university. On September 8th, 2002 I bowed and took leave of my Master and mother, and went on my own to America. I believe that my trip here was very smooth due to the aid of Master Hua, because it is usually very difficult for Vietnamese to obtain a student visa. This is the first time I have come to such a beautiful and rich country and to such a special place. The environment is totally different from Vietnam, especially the language. I sincerely request the Dharma Masters and good advisors to compassionately teach me and help me finish my studies here.