四祖正覺禪寺 Fourth Patriarch Monastery
現在的新一代，他們很有善根，有的能出家修行弘揚佛法，有的在家護持三寶，我相信都是深獲上人的法乳所致。上人雖在西方傳法，而東方人亦受益；正如《華嚴經》〈賢首品〉所說，「或於東方入正定，而於西方從定出；或於西方入正定，而於東方從定出」，不受時間、空間的約束。在真如寺一位來自九華山的老法師問我，上人臨終時留下什麼遺言？我說：「『我從虛空來，回到虛空去。』上人並要弟子誦《華嚴經》。」這次大陸遊的經歷，令我感念上人，他的教誨非但影響我、我的家庭、我的朋友，更改變了我的世界，及其他人的世界。上人為要我們開悟，慈悲教誨，希望我們去執著、離分別，同住無生彼岸。他所做的一切，都是為眾生，又是無念、無欲、無私、無我、無牽、無掛的為眾生，正如他老人家常說 Everything is O.K.，他所展現的，就是華嚴境界，與無止盡、無時空限制的大慈大悲。
A Dharma brother in Zhenru Monastery told us we should visit the abbot of the Fourth Patriarch Monastery (Huangmei Dhyana Master Dao Xin) who is known to be a “living dictionary” of Buddhism in Mainland China. When he was invited to become the abbot of the monastery, he stipulated his conditions for accepting the job: there must be no entrance fee and the Tourism Department must not interfere in the operation of the temple business so Dharma can return to its tradition of authenticity. The temple is very grand and very culturally rich. It was built with funds raised by the 99-year-old Dharma Master Ben Huan. There is a waterfall inside the temple and people can read the original handwriting of ancient poets under the Soul Nourishment Bridge. The Vairochana Pagoda sits high on the top of the mountain. The Fourth Patriarch’s body used to be housed there.
While the Guest Prefect Master was guiding us to our room, a young Bhikshu gave us a greeting. Hearing that we came from the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), he asked us to tell him more about CTTB. He told us that he was from Harbin and has always admired the Venerable Master Hua. He had also read some of the Master’s books in the past. He invited us to join the three-week Chan session that was going to be held in two days and led by the abbot, Dharma Master Jing Hui (Purity and Wisdom).
The day before the Chan session, Elder Dharma Master Jing Hui arrived. We all went to pay respect to him. He received us very warmly and shared with us his conversation with Master Hua in 1987 and 1989. He also showed genuine interest in the current situation of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the Dharma Masters there. My roommate told me that he used to be the attendant of Ven. Master Xu Yun. Later Ven. Master Xu Yun sent him to a Buddhist Academy for further Buddhist education. During the Cultural Revolution, he had to protect the actual flesh-body of the Sixth Patriarch by moving it so the Red Guards would not be able to locate and destroy it. In 2003, Master Jing Hui was invited by Master Ben Huan to be the abbot of the Fourth Patriarch Monastery.
Over 80 lay people arrived the day before the Chan session. Besides two of us who came from the United States, other participants came from various provinces such as Shandong, Hebei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Fujian and Guangdong. Additionally, there was a Korean lay participant who found out about the session through the Internet and young students who got a taste of Chan during a previous summer camp. The rest were disciples from the Fourth Patriarch Monastery. Their ages ranged from the 20’s to 70’s.
The temple manager started the Chan session with a lecture on how to wrap our legs to keep them warm and then covered key points of meditation practice. He taught us with great patience and eloquence, combined with demonstrations of how to practice. He made the seating arrangements for everyone and instructed us on the rules of the Chan Session, followed by strict training on walking and sitting meditation. His voice was clear and energetic.
The Venerable Abbot pointed out a six-word mnemonic device on how to practice: focus, concentration, clarity, purity, persistence and continuation. He advocates integrating Chan in our cultures and lives so that our spirits are uplifted and purified, and the Buddhadharma fuses with the practical aspects of our everyday life. When he gave the instructional talk, he required the monastics at the temple to learn the vigorous tradition of Zhenru Monastery. He has also mentioned the strict cultivation of the monastics at CTTB, which is known for training monastics of high caliber.
A middle-aged man from Wuhan city had crippled legs which made it very difficult for him to move around, yet he never missed a sit and completed the three-week Chan session. A 70-year-old woman from Sichuan province was hit by the proctor’s board many times when she dozed off in the Chan Hall. However, she never retreated or missed a sitting period. A little girl from Shandong signed up for this Chan session because of her past experience in a local “Dharma Flavors Summer Camp”. Even though the leg pain from sitting in Chan was hard to endure, she endured it. After the Chan session, she smiled constantly and reported that she just wanted to laugh. After the session, she felt happy and lighthearted. The manager of the monastery said, “Conditions bring us together and cause us to disperse; this goes on continuously.” The session concluded with everyone being hit by the incense board.
The following is a verse to remember this Chan session:
Participating in the Chan session in the Fourth
With good food and drink, I maintained good energy.
Working hard to investigate in the hall for twenty-one days,
People were tormented as if in the perpetual hells.
There is no end to the drifting in the cycle of birth and death.
When will the afflicted crazy mind rest?
Where did the distorted thoughts and attachment come from?
When did ignorance, greed and love arise?
What is my original face?
Who is transmigrating in the six paths?
Quietly observe the nature of equality: there is no emptiness, existence or non-existence in empty space.
Darkness and brilliance are of one substance.
Afflictions and Bodhi are not two, either.
Guard the mind and discipline the behavior.
Honestly recite the Buddha’s name to return home.
From this trip, I am very delighted to see that the Buddhadharma has rejuvenated in China. Whether it be monastics or laity, most have read or studied Venerable Master Hua’s instructional talks or commentaries on sutras.
The Venerable Master Hua’s Commentary on the Shurangama Sutra is even more of a treasure to them. The Venerable Master has definitely influenced Buddhism in China and was extolled by the general public, especially in Buddhist circles. The Buddhadharma had suffered a catastrophe and was brutally crushed during the Cultural Revolution. Luckily, the Venerable Master continued to speak Dharma in the United States during that time. Since restrictions or bans were lifted after the Cultural Revolution, “Dharma jewels” had subsequently flown from America back to China. What was even harder to come by was that the Venerable Master invited more than a hundred monastics from China to visit the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in 1987 and 1989. This has helped revive the Proper Dharma in difficult circumstances.
The newest generation of Chinese that I saw have very good roots—some are able to leave home and venture forth as monastics to enhance and propagate the Buddhadharma; some as laity support the Triple Jewel with their resources. I personally believe that many of them must have benefited from the Venerable Master Hua’s Dharma. Although the Venerable Master propagated Dharma in the West, people in the East also benefited. As the Worthy Leader Chapter of the
Avatamsaka [Flower Adornment] Sutra describes, one can “enter samadhi in the east and come out in the west; enter samadhi in the west and come out in the east…” The Venerable Master was not bound in the least by time and space. At Zhenru Monastery, an elder Dharma Master from Jiuhua (Nine Flower) Mountain asked me what Venerable Master’s last words were before he passed away. I replied: “‘I came from the empty space. I also return to the empty space.’ The Venerable Master also asked his disciples to recite the
Avatamsaka Sutra after his passing.” On my trip I was always thinking of the Venerable Master Hua. His instructions not only influenced me but also my family, friends, my world and others’ worlds. To help us awaken to the Truth, he compassionately taught us to get rid of our attachment, renounce all discriminations, and dwell on the shore of the nonarising of phenomena. He did everything for the sake of living beings. Everything he did was free of thought, desire, selfishness, self, worry, and attachment. As he always said, “Everything is O.K.” He demonstrated the Avatamsaka state of infinite great kindness and great compassion unrestricted by time and space.