“As long as you are sincere, I will go to teach you no matter where you might be.”
I believe that Shr Fu did not leave us at all. He constantly aids me in unseen ways. To be more precise, I feel his concern and guidance for me through reading his books, my notes, and listening to his taped lectures. Also, he responds whenever I call his name in times of difficulty, pain or distress. He will also come in dreams to instruct, warn, console me etc. His omniscience has deepened my faith in him. I would often speak and bow to his image and photograph. The fact that he never fails to respond really moves me to tears. It is uncanny but he truly knows everything – my feelings, experiences etc. When I cry, he immediately lets me read his verse on Maitreya Bodhisattva:
If you ask me why I’m laughing,
Let me first ask you why you are crying.
Crying and laughing are not the Middle Way.
Why should we be attached to the two sides?
In one gulp, he swallows the tears of sorrow and resentment.
His two eyes see through those who involve in fame and gain.
No one recognizes this Bodhisattva. They all miss him at arm’s length.
They are still wandering about wasting time.
[In Memory of the Venerable Master Hua, Vol.2, p. 326]
I would like to relate another incident which confirms that Shr Fu is omniscient (all-knowing). Once during evening recitation in CTTB, I had the horrible and suspicious feeling that I may have ingested eggs hidden in some vegetarian food that was bought by an outsider. My mother was unduly afflicted and upset on seeing my troubled look. She gave me a piece of her mind and lectured me in front of the altar. After the recitation, I went back to my room and opened my Sutra. Shr Fu gave me a dose of Dharma medicine and reaffirmed my mother’s scolding. He said aptly, “Don’t have so much false thinking. If you do, your hair will turn white.” Isn’t this inconceivable?
Once, I was determined to sit in full lotus. Before that, I could only sit in half-lotus for a maximum of two hours. For no apparent reason, I suddenly had the urge to dig up my old notes taken while I was a DRBU (Dharma Realm Buddhist University) student. These notes were kept at the bottom of my cupboard and had lain untouched for many years. When I went through the notes, I came across a Chan talk by Shr Fu in 1976. He said,
“Best if you can sit in full lotus. Half-lotus is also O.K. Cultivation isn’t a question of legs but your mind. If you don’t have polluted thinking in your mind, then whatever posture you’re in, you are still using effort. If you have polluted thoughts, you’ll not get any response regardless of whatever posture you are in.
“Cultivating the Way is cultivating the mind and nurturing the nature. Cultivating the mind is contemplating your false thoughts. Return the light and look within; investigate yourself. See what kind of thoughts you have more of – is it desire, greed, anger or ignorance? If your thoughts are pure, then you’ve a response from your effort.
“Whether you sit in full or half-lotus or both legs down, what you really want to do is to SUBDUE your false thoughts. When subdued, your wisdom can then manifest. If the false is not gotten rid of, the true cannot manifest.”
When I started to investigate the Buddhadharma, erudition was my main emphasis. I concentrated on Buddhist studies but neglected to put the principles into practice. I failed to realize that true cultivation is an integration of understanding and practice. Through the Sutras, Shr Fu reminded me of the importance of truly practicing what is learnt:
“If you know a lot of Dharma but fail to practice it, it’s useless. However, if you know a bit and is able to put that bit into practice, it’s really useful.”
The importance of practice is reiterated in his statement,
“In studying Buddhadharma, you’ve to truly put it into practice.”[Flower Adornment Sutra (FAS) Chap 39 II, p. 109]
He also said,
“If you do not fully incorporate the Sutra’s teachings into your daily life, then the Sutra is the Sutra, and you are you, and there is no ‘perfect penetration and mutual non-obstruction.’ You’ve to digest all that you learn and put it into practice. That is the most important part of Buddhism.” [FAS Chap 39 II, p. 48]
“It’s not enough to just know these principles but be unable to apply them on a practical level. The Dharma has to be practiced.” [FAS Chap 39 V, p. 216]
“If you only believe or understand the principle, but do not go ahead and cultivate, it is useless. The Buddhadharma has to be practiced… If we know one fraction, we should cultivate that fraction. If we know two, we should cultivate two. There should be no disharmony between knowledge and practice…” [FAS Chap 11, p. 2]
I also happened to read a verse composed by Shr Fu called “Listening but not Practicing the Dharma.” It starts like this,
Listening to the Dharma everyday but not cultivating,
It is not different from being mute, deaf or numb…
He explains that we learn Buddhadharma everyday, but we do not cultivate. It’s just like being mute, deaf or numb. As the saying goes, “Having ears but not hearing the perfect and sudden teaching and having eyes but not seeing Vairochana Buddha.”
“...what’s the use of listening to the Dharma? If we listen not because we want to practice it, why then do we waste our time to listen to the Dharma? Everyday we are busy listening to the Dharma, but we never cultivate in accord with what we learn…our behavior contradicts what we learn. Thus I can only say that people like this are just like being mute, deaf or numb.”
Shr Fu also praised highly a layman from Hong Kong, referring to him as, ‘One who puts into practice what he believes,’, ‘a person who truly practices,’ and ‘a practitioner within Buddhism.’ He also commented that if everybody within Buddhism can be like this, then Buddhism will flourish day by day. But it’s a shame that not everyone within Buddhism fully appreciates the need to actually put principle into practice.’ [FAS Chap 39 VI, p. 14]
He further comments,
“If you can uphold and practice the Buddhadharma, then you are really protecting your teacher.” [FAS Chap 39 V, p. 74]
Without the constant reminder and guidance of a Good Knowing Advisor, it’s easy for us to stray from the correct path and the Middle Way, to lose focus and tend towards extremes. I’m truly fortunate to have Shr Fu constantly checking on me, whether I’m progressing or retreating, on my false thoughts, bad habits etc.
Somehow, although I try to change my bad habits, I couldn’t totally put them down. As the adage goes, “Old habits die hard.” I do make effort in renewing myself for the better. However, as hard as I try to suppress my faults from ever arising again, at times they will creep up again. Sometimes I even make excuses for my faults and rationalize my wrong deeds or improper thoughts. But deep within me, I know that I’m wrong and am ashamed to admit this. One night during the taped lecture in CTTB, Shr Fu said very calmly and slowly,
“If I’m a teacher and my disciples fail to listen to me, I know that it’s because I’ve no virtue.”
When I heard his words, it really moved me to shame. Shr Fu didn’t scold me for not listening to him, but blamed his lack of virtue. In my mind I had the thought, “Shr Fu, it’s not because you have no virtue; the reason for me not according with your teachings is because it’s difficult to change ingrained bad habits.” Later, I repented for failing to follow his teachings. This incident propelled me to change myself for the better according to Shr Fu’s teachings.
I would zealously absorb these superb teachings and diligently put them into practice in my daily life. For instance, I didn’t react to verbal abuse, cynical sarcastic remarks hurled at me. I tried to hear as if not hearing, as the verse goes, “The ears hear defiling sounds, but the mind does not know.” However, it is easy to be vigorous in the beginning but hard to maintain it as you go along. As time lapses, I will soon forget what has been learned and when an unexpected test comes, I will be caught unaware. Sometimes, Shr Fu will give a pre-warning of an imminent test. At other times, he will let me sit for the test and let me know indirectly how I fared through his books, tapes, etc.
To illustrate this, someone said some very unpleasant remarks to me. I was deeply hurt by the accusation and ingratitude. However, I managed to regain my composure and said nothing. I went back to my room and later cried silently. The next day, Shr Fu gave me a good dose of medicine…
“The discriminations in your mind are too heavy… If someone scolds you, then you cry. Why do you need to recognize things as good or bad? You should see praise and scolding as being the same. You should be thus, thus unmoving.” [FAS Chap 9, pgs 122-3]
To be continued