June 5, 2005 at Gold Sage Monastery
English translated by Peter Wu
On a clear, bright early summer morning, people of different ages and from various places—all disciples of the late Venerable Master Hua—gathered at the big Buddha Hall in Gold Sage Monastery to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Master’s entering Nirvana. A Dharma assembly was held in remembrance of him. In the beginning, everyone observed one minute of silence. Next, they played a video about Venerable Master Hua—his conversations with the lay disciples in the San Jose area. The Master emphasized the importance of harmony in the family and how it deeply influences the structure of society. He indicated that nowadays more people are getting divorced than married. It is because the husband and wife do not respect each other—yin and yang aren’t in harmony. That’s why fathers don’t act like fathers; children do not behave like children; husbands aren’t like husbands; wives aren’t like wives. The outcome is that children cannot grow to be pillars of society. The worst case is if they grow up to rob, kill, and become vicious criminals. The Master gave a lesson on human relationships and alerted us to its importance. [Note: At present, the abortion rate is higher than the birth rate.]
A Dharma Master related a story about the Venerable Master. One time, while the Master was in Taiwan, he was asked where he got his education in order to register for residential records. He replied, “Flower Adornment University.” Only if you’re a Buddha or Bodhisattva from the Flower Adornment assembly can you make such a statement. Another Dharma Master encouraged us that as long as we’re sincere and cultivate diligently, the Master will always watch over us.
One of the laypeople in charge of taking pictures and another Dharma friend related a story that took place a week before. While a Dharma Master was relating the great compassion of Master Hua when he was propagating the Dharma in Asia in 1988, suddenly, a light came down from the sky and shined directly upon her.
The laypeople shared the following insights and stories:
1. Guo Jian thanked the Master for his teaching of “no self and no fighting”— the first step in learning Buddhism.
2. Guo An emphasized that we are very lucky to have encountered the proper teaching of Master Hua.
3. Guo Guang spoke of his learning and gradual understanding of the Buddhadharma, and of the profound influence of Master’s teaching on him after he had taken refuge with Master.
4. Guo Shan observed that we have to practice Master Hua’s Six Principles so that we can leave the turning wheel of the six paths.
5. Guo Yi commented that we shouldn’t fight with others. We should praise others more.
6. Laywoman Tong described how Master Hua helped solve her friend’s problems without her friend knowing.
7. Guo Xia thanked the Master for helping his family members and relatives.
8. Guo Yi (a longtime disciple of the Master) related how she and her roommate studied Buddhadharma from the Master in their early years.
What followed was a “passing the offerings” ceremony. After the lunch, a Dharma Master spoke of how Master Hua used expedient means to teach and transform disciples, and their inconceivable responses. Everyone has their unique causes and conditions so their responses differed, as in the saying “Medicines are dispensed according to the illness just as methods of teaching are adapted to fit the learners’ potentials.” Afterwards, more laypeople shared their thoughts:
Guo Nan related that after he studied Buddhism, he experienced two major incidents: a car accident and a big company layoff. In both cases Master Hua appeared in his dream to instruct him.
Guo Xing realted how the Master taught her to recite Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, and that this had saved her mother twice. One time, while working in the kitchen at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the Master spoke the Dharma of “Do more and talk less.”
Richard said that before he goes to sleep, he recites the two of Master Hua’s verses: (1) “Everything is a test / To see what you will do. / If you can’t recognize it, / You’ll have to start anew.” (2) “Truly recognize your mistakes, / Don’t discuss the faults of others. / Others’ faults are just my own. / To be one with all is great compassion.”
Today, everybody came with a sense of profound gratitude toward Master Hua and encouraged each other. From each individual’s experiences, we learned more about Master’s magnanimity and compassion. In order to truly repay the Master’s kindness, we disciples should really put his teachings into practice.
The City of the Dharma Realm
By Bhikshuni Heng Mao
English translated by Ling Feng
The annual Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas was held at the City of the Dharma Realm (CDR) from May 15th to June 11th. This is the only branch monastery that received special permission from Venerable Master Hua to hold the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas simultaneously with the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Dharma Masters Heng Liang and Heng Shr, senior nuns under the Venerable Master, set aside their many monastic responsibilities and made time in their busy schedules to come here and lead the repentance. For both, this is their first opportunity in more than a decade to bow to the more than eleven thousand Buddhas, bowing the repentance from start to finish. It is also the first time Dharma Master Heng Gwei was able to participate in the entire repentance. To satisfy the wishes of the local laity, the Repentance was conducted at night Monday through Friday, and all day long on weekends.
Because of the special circumstances, many more laypeople participated this year. With the fine voices of the cantors, everyone in the Dharma assembly was infused with the bliss of Dharma as they bowed. Some smelt a rare fragrance during the first weekend. Others, who started out afflicted and upset, felt refreshed and peaceful by the end of a day’s bowing. Eight or nine people took a bus to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to take the Three Refuge and the Five Precepts, leaving at 4:00 a.m., the second day after finishing the repentance. These people have taken a big step forward on their Bodhi Path.
On June 11th, the final day of Repentance, the ceremony of Passing the Offerings was held in Sacramento for the first time, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Master Hua entering nirvana. One week before the ceremony, the volunteers stayed for classes after bowing and a Dharma Master encouraged them with a true story, to let them know the most important thing as a volunteer is to contribute to this ceremony with a respectful and filial heart. The laity very sincerely brought offerings to the temple at 6:30 a.m. and participated in the Dharma assembly at 7 a.m. to finish the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas. There were 108 items of different offerings to be passed around, such as jewels, incense, flowers, lamps, powered incense, and fruits. Many laypeople also made offering to express their filial piety and these offerings, in addition to the 108 offerings that were passed around, filled two long tables in the small Buddha Hall.
The Venerable Master Hua was a lofty Sanghan of genuine cultivation and enlightenment. His vows are vast and great and he has saved many and moved limitless beings to reform their past faults and cultivate goodness from now on. Thus, even though he entered nirvana ten years ago, the people who have gratefully benefited from his Dharma teaching increase in number day by day.
Avatamsaka Vihara, Maryland
By Ren De
To commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the Venerable Master’s Nirvana, Avamtamsaka Vihara held a Dharma session to recite the eighty-one rolls of the
Avatamsaka (Flower Adornment) Sutra. The session started in the morning of June 4. Each day the recitation was from 7:00-10:30 a.m., 1:00-4:30 p.m. (with a half hour meditation break halfway through each period) and 7:00-8:30 p.m. A transference of merit was performed at 4:30 p.m. and the Evening Recitation was 6:00-7:00 p.m. each day. Up to eleven rolls were recited each day, and the entire sutra was finished on the evening of June 11. On June 12, an Avatamsaka Repentance Ceremony was held, followed by a great Meal Offering. Given that only a few Dharma Masters were stationed in the monastery, it was no easy feat to hold this vigorous session! Lay disciples participated in the recitation and about 150 people attended the ceremony on June 12. The faithful gained the benefit of Dharma as they sought to repay the kindness of the Venerable Master for his lifelong dedication to propagating the Dharma and benefiting living beings.
The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
By Ren De
English translated by Ling Feng
The 10th Anniversary of Venerable Master Hua’s Nirvana was commemorated on June 12th (Sunday) at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB). More than 1,500 disciples attended.
In order to accord with the activities scheduled for the 10th Anniversary of Master Hua’s Nirvana, the annual Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas was moved to start the second day after the Buddha’s birthday (May 15th) and end on June 7th, a total of 23 days. Group after group of the Venerable Master’s overseas disciples arrived at CTTB from Malaysia, Europe, Hong Kong, Canada, and Taiwan before Shakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday. The volunteers, who were twice as numerous as usual, kept things running smoothly. They were very happy to have the opportunity to plant blessings at CTTB. The ceremony of Bathing the Buddha was held at 8 a.m. on May 15th. That day was cool, a refreshing change from the hot summer weather a few days earlier. Perhaps the Dharma-protecting dragons and gods were showing their support for the monastery and their concern for the faithful.
Due to the large numbers of people, the Buddha Hall and the Patriarch Hall were both packed. Two speakers were installed in each location so everyone could hear the Buddhas’ names clearly. The Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddha consists of bowing to the
Sutra of Buddhas’ Names Spoken by the Buddha. There are more than 11,000 Buddhas in this Sutra. The ceremony started at 7:00 a.m. every day with the offering of flowers, the making of great vows, and then bowing to five hundred some Buddhas each day. In the afternoon the assembly goes to the Rebirth Hall to do the transference ceremony and then back to the Buddha Hall to read and chant the Section 9, which describes the past deeds of those great Bodhisattvas who renounced their wealth, their family, parts of their bodies such as their hands or eyes, or their lives. This section of text can really inspire beings in the Dharma Ending Age to cultivate. The repentance ceremony ended at 5 p.m. each day That is the annual trademark CTTB Dharma session for the first half year. The participants are very sincere and articles of their responses and insights will be published in future issues.
Since the Repentance took place during the training period for the upcoming Threefold Ordination, the preceptees participated in the whole session. Due to the fluctuating weather, nearly everyone came down with the flu; only one female preceptee was spared. Despite having a hard time trying to suppress their high fevers and coughing so they could continue bowing, the preceptees stayed in good spirits and endured the unbearable—they were not daunted in the least and managed to finish the whole session. Their vigor is truly admirable!
The cantors took turns and recited using different tunes. Their solemn and beautiful chanting could have resonated with and inspired even the deaf. There were more Westerners and English-speaking participants this year, indicating that Westerners are gradually accepting this practice, and also showing that “upon repenting of one’s offenses, one will be peaceful and happy again.”
This is a very important practice in Buddhism. To facilitate the spread of Buddhism in the West, we hope someone will translate the
Sutra of the Buddhas’ Names Spoken by the Buddha into English, so that it, along with the Repentance of the Water of the Samadhi of Kindness & Compassion, Medicine Master’s Repentance, and Emperor Liang’s Jeweled Repentance, can be introduced to Westerners at the monasteries of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. [Note: Actually on the evening that the Repentance concluded when people were sharing their insights and experiences, a Western preceptee mentioned that someone has already vowed to translate this Sutra into English.]
During the Repentance, the large number of participants made it difficult to circumambulate in the Buddha Hall during the morning and evening recitations. Thus people filed to the Long Life Hall and the Patriarch Hall, then returned to Buddha Hall to finish the circumambulation. On sunny days, during the evening recitation, the assembly circumambulated outside the Buddha Hall, in the open air. The blooming flowers gently danced in the evening breeze, their scent perfuming the air as they seemed to chant the Buddha’s name along with the assembly, while being mindful of the Dharma and the Sangha.
During lunch, the Venerable Master’s instructions on the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas were broadcast in the Dining Hall. In the evening sutra lecture, after listening to the Venerable Master’s sutra explanations, Dharma Masters and laypeople spoke Dharma too. We also watched a new DVD titled “I came from empty space” made by Gold Buddha Monastery in Vancouver, Canada. The DVD gave a brief introduction to the Venerable Master’s life.
The Ceremony Commemorating the 10th Anniversary of Venerable Master Hua’s Nirvana started at 6:50 a.m. on June 12th with a three-steps-one-bow pilgrimage. About 150 people bowed sincerely and stayed in neat formation. Their voices inspired passersby and listeners to bring for the
bodhi resolve. The Ceremony started at 8:30 a.m. in the big tent, and consisted of bowing to the Venerable Master, circumambulating the Sharira Tower, and performing the Passing of Offerings, in which 108 offerings were sincerely passed around by more than 1,500 disciples. Although many of the participants had never met the Master, they still came to pay their respects out of faith and admiration! Some said they saw a circular light or the Venerable Master sitting in full lotus in front of the Buddha.
The Transmission of the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts was held in the Buddha Hall in the afternoon. Nearly sixty people either became new disciples of the Triple Jewel, or received the Five Precepts, taking a big step forward on the Path to Bodhi! The Liberating Life Ceremony concluded near the Tower of Blessings building. It is always a joyful sight to see the caged birds fly out to freedom with wings flapping.
The number of people working in the kitchen did not increase during the Repentance. The staff worked day and night to serve three full meals a day and prepare the dishes for the Passing of Offerings Ceremony. The kitchen manager designed a new method of serving meals and a new seating arrangement, which makes it possible for everyone to get the food right away and not have to wait in line.
Time flies! It’s already been ten years since the Venerable Master entered Nirvana. His disciples’ fond memories of him have not diminished; on the contrary, the people who return “home” to pay their respects to this great Father have grown over the years. Although the Ceremony ended with the assembly filled with Dharma joy, there is no end to the Venerable Master’s spirit and determination to propagate the Dharma and benefit beings. This spirit will rely on the fourfold assembly’s efforts to sustain, and the future work of translation, education and construction will hinge on their sincerity and unity!