Mr. Hung Kuei Chang, who was born at Zhucheng, Shandong Province and fondly called “Uncle Chang”, passed away peacefully at his home around 9:30 A.M. on September 27, 2005. After this news spread, many people went to his house to recite the Buddha’s name for him that afternoon. When he passed on, he was seated and leaning against the bed with his eyes closed. Due to his calm appearance, some thought he was still alive but very weak. Since that was the case, it was not appropriate to talk then; and people just recited the Buddha’s name to see him off. Little did they know that Uncle Chang had already passed on. After noon, more and more people came to recite the Buddha’s name. Perhaps it was because of everyone’s sincerity that the atmosphere was very peaceful and filled with the ineffable joy of Dharma. Uncle Chang’s clothes were changed after eight hours of Buddha recitation. His body was then moved to the Nirvana Hall where people chanted continuously. On September 30th, his family members, according to his last wish, scattered his ashes into the sea after the cremation. The life of Uncle Chang had come to an end.
Uncle Chang came to the United States on the same flight as the Venerable Master when the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA) delegation was returning from Taiwan in the winter of 1990. The Venerable Master, with his wisdom, quickly understood Uncle Chang’s background and personal history and said to him very earnestly: “At the City of 10,000 Buddhas (CTTB) we lead a bitter life and suffer a lot of sicknesses.” It was as if Venerable Master was talking about himself but at the same time, he seemed to want to tell Uncle Chang something else as well.
After returning to CTTB, the Venerable Master wished that Uncle Chang could establish a vegetarian restaurant in the City. Of course, Uncle Chang then started working very hard. At every opportunity, he would visit various vegetarian restaurants in the Bay Area or even as far as Southern California to learn how to run and manage a restaurant. Finally, Jyun-Kang Vegetarian Restaurant opened its doors at CTTB, with Uncle Chang as the first chef. It was truly a tough job at his age, since he was working very hard day and night.
In addition, Uncle Chang worked as a dormitory supervisor for the Developing Virtue Boys School around 1991. The boy’s dormitory during that period was at the Tathagata Monastery. He would play basketball with the students after school and became good friends with a student from Tianjin, China. This was another small episode in his life.
In 1993, he had a stroke and could no longer work. However, his mind and will remained strong. Regardless of how much he suffered, he never complained. As the years passed, his health deteroriated. As a result, he would stay in his room and recite the Sutras. When his strength allowed, he could recite the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva three times a day. This is a commendable achievement in the practice of the Buddhadharma. Uncle Chang was not only forthright and hospitable, but helped others with enthusiasm. When he worked, he did it with great vigor. His voice was sonorous. Because he had a strong sense of justice, he would reveal his feelings very frankly when he felt something was wrong and unjust. Now, he has passed on. Let us conclude with a poem about his life:
For seventy some years, he was not free.
How many hardships, how many sicknesses!
Fortunately in old age, he met an eminent monk,
Who showed him the spiritual light that shines through
past and present.
Everyone recites “Amitabha Buddha” in unison,
Opening the inexhaustible Gate of the Dharma Realm.
Uncle Jang, please come in!
Do you wish to know where he eventually settled down?
His feet stand upon a golden lotus flower.
His ears listen to the Dharma of the Unborn.
His eyes open to see the Compassionate Honored One.
With one heart, he makes obeisance to Amitabha.