六年前，有位朋友剛從外地搬來，心情欠佳，向我打聽何處有寺廟，她想去拜佛。曾聽朋友提起往 Story Road 山上行，有一家很大的寺廟，是萬佛聖城宣化上人的分支道場，心想那一定很靈驗。以前每當報刊上有宣公上人的消息，先生都會唸給我聽，告訴我有關宣公上人奇妙的傳聞。所以就向朋友打聽地點，當我一切準備就緒，那位失意的朋友卻不想去了，我只好隻身前往。心想：拜佛能保平安，可能也會發大財；所以就懷著一顆好奇且尋寶的心情毅然前往。
“I was at Gold Sage Monastery today and a Dharma Master told me that there would be a Lotus Repentance next week …” Suddenly, loud laughter rang out. “Not Lotus Repentance, it is the Emperor Liang Jeweled Repentance,” my friend corrected me. In Mandarin, the words “Emperor Liang” and “lotus” sound alike. I only knew that the lotus always represented Buddhism; how was I to know that there are so many terms?! I laughed along with my friend to cover up my ignorance.
Six years ago, a friend moved here from overseas and was feeling depressed. She enquired from me if there were any monasteries around as she would like to pay her respects to the Buddha. I once heard from friends about a big monastery up on Story Road. It is a branch of Master Hua’s City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. I thought to myself that it must be very efficacious. In the past, whenever there were articles on Master Hua, my husband would read to me all his wondrous deeds. After I managed to find out the address and got everything ready, my depressed friend decided not to go. As such, I decided to go on my own. I thought to myself, paying respect to the Buddha could bring peace, security and possibly great riches! I came to Gold Sage Monastery with a curious and treasure-seeking mind.
Driving up the mountain early in the morning, my heart felt joy when I saw the three words “Gold Sage Monastery”. I met a Dharma Master when I entered the office, and as she did not find me familiar, she knew that it was my first time there. The Dharma Master kindly showed me around, introducing me to the library, the exhibition hall, and finally the Buddha Hall. She told me that I could bow to the Buddhas there as well as join them for a vegetarian lunch at noon. She then hurried off to attend to other tasks.
Bowing was new to me. How was I supposed to do it? I knew how to offer joss sticks, but not prostrations! As I glanced around the Buddha Hall, with its rows of neatly-arranged bowing cushions, I stood stumped for a few minutes before realizing I had better find a Dharma Master to seek advice on how to bow. I managed to find a Dharma Master. After listening to her careful explanation, I managed to learn it. I was alone once more in the Buddha Hall. I thought to myself, since I have already learned how to bow, I should therefore bow sincerely to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to show my respect and to pray that they keep my family well and safe. With that in mind, I chose the most beautiful bowing cushion right in the middle of the Buddha Hall to respectfully do my prostrations.
Later, during the Emperor Liang Jeweled Repentance, I noticed that no one used that particular cushion. I asked a dharma friend and found out that it was reserved for Master Hua. I hurriedly sought forgiveness from the Dharma Master. At that time, the Emperor Liang Jeweled Repentance lasted for eight days, of which I had only missed one day. Friends commented that I was very
fa xin (earnest in Mandarin). Nevertheless, I did not know what fa xin meant; I was merely deeply attracted to the melodious chanting. These few years, thanks to the compassionate guidance of many Dharma Masters, I have been helping out at the monastery from time to time and thus have created dharma causes and conditions with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Thanks to the Dharma Masters’ guidance and to fellow cultivators’ encouragement, I finally started learning Buddhism as well as reciting sutras. However, as my “good roots” were few and I only had a shallow understanding of Buddhism, doubts kept arising in my mind. There were teachings that I just could not accept. I had always felt that living is about leading a happy life and that we should just take things easy. Why bother with so many restrictions?
It was not until two years ago, after I read the book
Timely Vajra Blows, that I became serious. This book contained a question-and-answer dialogue between Master Hua and his disciples. In it, Master Hua gave answers that were straight and to the point without any hindrances. Nothing was covered up or a cliché. There was no beating around the bush. Every single word was the truth. I literally finished the whole book in one night. His simple yet concise answers clearly reveal the Master’s great compassion and vows; with heartfelt admiration, I deeply appreciate how his tireless teachings aim to awaken our own self-nature, to help us sever ignorance and attain nirvana.
That led me to request Master Hua to accept me as a disciple at Gold Sage Monastery. Not long after that, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas held a Celebration of Amitabha Buddha’s Birthday. Accompanied by my husband and friends, I finally became a disciple of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha – officially taking refuge in the Triple Jewel. My Dharma name is Chin Su.