On September 16, 2005, in an advance celebration of Gold Wheel Monastery’s thirtieth anniversary, the Jeweled Repentance of Emperor Liang was held and the Precepts for the Deceased were transmitted. By means of these Dharma assemblies, we pray for world peace and harmony among humankind. Knowing how difficult it is to encounter such auspicious causes and conditions, devotees from the ten directions enthusiastically participated. Gold Wheel Monastery also invited Dharma Masters from the various monasteries of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA) to come together for this great celebration. All together, there were twenty-nine Dharma Masters, plus a number of Dharma-protecting laity from the other DRBA monasteries, who came to Gold Wheel Monastery. Everyone sincerely bowed in repentance and transferred the merit to all sentient beings, benefiting both the living and those of the underworld. The Buddha’s light shone forth in Gold Wheel Monastery and it can truly be described as, “Greatly illuminating, Turning the Dharma Wheel.”
For Gold Wheel Monastery, the meaning and essence of the thirtieth anniversary surpasses ordinary events. Gold Wheel Monastery is the first monastery that Venerable Master Hsuan Hua established in Southern California in 1976. During that time, in response to sincere requests from laypeople in Los Angeles, the Venerable Master would travel down from Northern California at least once a month, rain or shine, to speak the Dharma for them or to transmit the Three Refuges. Later on, the number of faithful devotees grew. Hence, a small building located at 5743 Huntington Drive in South Pasadena was purchased and officially established as a Buddha Hall named ‘Gold Wheel Sagely Monastery’.
In 1977, praying for world peace, Dharma Master Sure and Dharma Master Chau resolved to go on a pilgrimage to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Starting from the newly established Gold Wheel Monastery, they embarked on a journey of Three-Steps-One-Bow that covered eight hundred miles, arriving at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas after two years and ten months. This is an important milestone in the history of Buddhism in the West that happened three decades ago. In 1979, Gold Wheel Monastery moved to Eagle Rock. As the numbers of laypeople increased, more space was needed. In 1982, Gold Wheel Monastery moved to Sixth Street. In 1989, as causes and conditions took their course, Gold Wheel Monastery once again moved, this time to Avenue 58 in Highland Park, where it is currently situated.
After three decades, Dharma Master Sure came to Gold Wheel Monastery to host the Jeweled Repentance of Emperor Liang, transmit the Precepts for the Deceased, and speak the Dharma. It is like going back to thirty years ago when the Venerable Master told the laypeople in Los Angeles, “We have been together in a Dharma assembly many lives past. During that time, we made the vow to come to this land, to this country, to propagate the Buddhadharma. Some made the vow to come as Bhikshus or Bhikshunis; some, as Dharma-protecting laity. Now, the causes and conditions have matured, so we are now transported by our vows to gather together in this assembly.” Due to causes and conditions from the past, we are now together in this Jeweled Repentance of Emperor Liang, practicing together, fulfilling the vows we made. Therefore, the causes and conditions that brought us together are profound. A lot has transpired within the course of thirty years. It passed by swiftly like a dream, like an illusion. In essence, we are doing exactly what the Venerable Master said – extensively carrying out the Buddha’s mission in our dreams. Although human life is like a dream, our senses feel so real. Everything in this world revolves around the dharma of causes and conditions. Hence, it is said: The dharma does not arise by itself, it is prompted by circumstance. The Way is not walked for no purpose; it responds according to conditions. Even though the Venerable Master has entered nirvana, the Dharma wheel nevertheless continues to turn on and on…
In preparation for this celebration, everyone in Gold Wheel Monastery worked together under the guidance of the Dharma Masters. The monastery was cleaned up and redecorated after the recent renovation. Upon setting foot inside it, one saw the beautifully adorned Buddha Hall. The fragrance of flowers wafted in all four directions. Everybody was filled with the joy of the Dharma. Bathed in the purity of the monastery, the assembly sincerely and singlemindedly bowed in repentance. Dharma Master Heng Liang’s gentle chanting, flowing with compassion, together with Dharma Master Heng Jiao’s harmonizing counterpart, inspired everyone to bring forth the resolve for Bodhi and sincerely repent in order to seek inner peace and the eradication of karmic obstacles. Led by Dharma Master Heng Liang, the splendid chanting of the entire assembly reverberated throughout the Buddha Hall, immersing everybody in an ocean of wondrous sounds. Even the elderly seventy and eighty year olds bowed and chanted, determined not to miss out. It was a touching scene.
At lunchtime, the dining hall was completely full. Everybody ate in silence and listened to Dharma talks given by Dharma Masters Heng Chih, Heng Shr, Heng Shen, Heng Jiao and many others. They displayed a serene composure and yet conveyed a sense of lightheartedness. The oldtimers of Gold Wheel Monastery listened with a warm sense of connection and newcomers were filled with the joy of Dharma as well.
The Venerable Master used to encourage his disciples in Gold Wheel Monastery to adopt these two words – Gold Wheel – in their cultivation. ‘Gold’ represents not retreating in the face of a thousand demons, not giving up when confronted by tens of thousands of difficulties, bearing a steadfast resolve for the Way. ‘Wheel’ refers to the Bodhi resolve constantly turning and going forward, never falling back. The Venerable Master wanted his disciples to have a non-retreating resolve for the Way in life after life until they become Buddhas. In gratitude to our Venerable Master, we must follow his teaching and advance with vigor. At present, we see each other in the Dharma assembly of the Jeweled Repentance of Emperor Liang. In the future, we hope to see each other in the Sea-vast Assembly of Lotus Pools. This is my wish and exhortation to everybody. Amitofo!