Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tribute to Ven. Master Hsuan Hua


These few days, my thoughts are suddenly deluged by thoughts of my late Venerable Master. Now I found out why. The monastery that Master founded had recently celebrated its 30th birthday. And it’s only slightly more than a month ago, last June 7, that marked the 14th year anniversary of Master’s entrance into stillness. Everyone whom had been his students will unfailingly be touched by him. Now this is one very strict master. And till to-date, all his temple branches worldwide are following the same strict rules. Yesterday I dropped by the local branch and paid my respect to the late venerable master. I got 2 books from them free of charge. An administrative lady said the books I took may need to be purchased. I checked my wallet and found that I may not have brought enough money, so I said if it needs to be purchased, I’ll put the books back. So the lady checked the price list, as I glanced at the photo of Venerable Master in silent communication. She checked and checked and could not find the book there. Then she asked a resident there, and the nun decided to give them to me. But I donated some money. I regard the books as gifts from the late venerable master. This small incident gave me fresh testimony I still have a connection with the Master even though he had passed into stillness many years ago. Thank you. One of the book is about interesting stories of the Master by his disciples. In the meantime, I pay my humble respect to the late Venerable Master and the "Buddhas" at CTTBs. My only regret is not having the opportunity to go there when Master was alive. And still haven't had the chance to go there.
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One of the books I got was entitled “How Buddhism changed my life!” and it is a compilation of stories by Master Hsuan Hua’s disciples. One interesting story I found there is how the Master knew that there were more than 10 young men waiting outside the main gate during a sutra lecture at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. You see, during the sutra lecture, the main gate is always closed. During the lecture, the Master suddenly stopped to ask one of his disciple monk to go open the gates because he said there were more than 10 persons there who have waited for a long time. True enough when it was opened, there were more than 10 young men. How did the Master know about their presence outside the gate?

Story # 1: How some Chinese triad members were influenced into changing
One of his disciple, Upasika Helen Woo took them in to see the Master and suggested they take refuge. Upasika Helen Woo did not know who these youths were, but the instant Master saw them, he knew exactly who these persons were. The dharma assembly was stunned when the Master asked these youths repeatedly whether they were willing to give up stealing, killing, robbing and other evil actions. They replied “yes”. Later Upasika Helen Woo was told by the Master that these youths were members of the Wah Ching (or “China Youth” gangster group based in San Fancisco). This group and the Joe Boys were the Chinese triad groups responsible for the Golden Dragon Massacre in the 1970s. If you google these names, you will find their facts. After a while, a few of these members wanted to return to their old habits and they rebelled. On that very night, all of them had the same dream in which the Master appeared before them and told them to avoid doing evil actions. When they woke up, they related their dreams to each other and realized the Master is not just any Buddhist monk. Eventually they gave up their evil ways and became vegetarians. Even though the Master did not convert all members of China Youth, but with his enormous Way Virtue and Wisdom, he did influence some of their members into mending their evil ways and some peace managed to return to Chinatown due to him.

Story # 2: How Venerable Master came to my dream.
Before I even became an official student of Ven. Master Hsuan Hua, I already had faith in him. I was already reading many of his dharma books. I was trying to practice many of the things he taught. I decided that the Great Compassion Mantra would be one of my main dharani to recite and uphold. However, in terms of meditation practice as a cultivation dharma door, I wasn’t sure which to pick. I have faith in almost every major Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism. Sure I recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha”? or Namo Ti Tsang Wang Pu Sa”? Tara mantra? When I looked back, now I understand I was actually asking who is my principal deity. In Tibetan terms, “who is my root yidam?” That’s basically my question. A few days before that, on the 12 April 1987, I had started to recite the name of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva “Namo Ti Tsang Wang Pu Sa” I think 108 times a night. I did that because in the Sutra, it was stated that of you sincerely recite his name for some of the problems indicated in the Sutra, you may be lucky to receive some “answers” or be visited by the Bodhisattva himself. However, I thought that it could also work in my case where I wanted to know which Deity’s Name or Mantra I should cultivate.

On the evening of 16 April, 1987, I stood before a picture of Ven. Master Hua and with Chapter 6 of Shurangama Sutra open in front of me, I respectfully bowed 3 times to him.

“Namo Dharma Master To Lun” x 3

While bowing, I related to him my predicament. Then on that night I had 2 dreams. One was that of my mother cycling back home from my aunties’ house. And she said she had brought me some photos. She passed them to me and found that the photos are those of Ksitigarbha, Kuan Yin, Sakyamuni Buddha, and some spirits or deities on hills/rocks probably paying homage to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas present.

Then the second dream came. I did not dream of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, instead I had a dream of Venerable Master himself. He was sitting in my kitchen, at my dining table (with me as well). In the dream he told me to recite a certain Bodhisattva’s Name and I woke up on the morning 17 April 1987 with this particular Bodhisattva in my mind. So, I found my answer. But it wasn’t until years later, when I remembered this dream and I remembered the deity that was said to be my root deity (as advised by my tantric guru) that I was surprised at the similar advice from both gurus. For personal reason, I will not be revealing who is the Bodhisattva as advised by Ven. Master Hsuan Hua.

I have other stories, but I will save them for next time. Dharma Master like the late Ven. Master Hsuan Hua are indeed rare gems in this world. And I was very fortunate to get to know him, study his teachings and even took refuge in him. Sometimes we think of ancient masters that we were not so fortunate to make connections with such as Ven. Master Hsu Yun, Chan Patriarch Han Shan, Japan’s Honen and Shinran Shonin, Bodhidharma, and myriad Tibetan/Indian ones like Atisha, Je Tsongkhapa, Chandrakirti, Arya Nagarjuna, etc, and we think we are extremely unlucky. But we forget the present gems that walk amongst us in this time and age. Ven. Master Hsuan Hua only passed into stillness in the last decade. It’s not too long ago compared to the other masters mentioned. With his passing, one gem has gone (at least in his physical aspect), but I am confident there are many other gems still around in this world -guiding and teaching ignorant human beings. You just need to “open your eyes” and find these gems. I was lucky I found quite a few. Once these masters acknowledge you as his “Student”, consider yourself extremely lucky because you will be in his “protection” forever. Protection in the sense that you will be guided until you achieve enlightenment not only now but in future lives as well (depending on your level of devotion). It is when you do not have a master, that you need to worry. Well, if you don’t have a master, take Sakyamuni Buddha as your master, or any of the Bodhisattvas. That’s all.
The thing I am grateful is that I had a chance to meet him and take refuge in him before he left his body in 1995. Now, even if you want to take refuge in him, there is no way you could do that... at least not the conventional way.

Cheers and take care. I will close with this prose I wrote impromptu now in praise of Ven. Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua.

“The sky is enormously huge and vast,
Still greater than that is Master’s Way Virtue
!
The ocean is enormously deep and wide,
Still greater than that are Master's Vast Vows!
To you - Embodiment of the Triple Jewels,
And the Incomparable Saviour, I go for refuge!"
- added the last 2 lines on July 26, 10.35pm.

4 comments:

chee_keong78 said...

:)

Mahabodhiyana said...

CK, Are you a student of Master Hua too? What do you mean by that smile? Do you hv a blog too. Please explain yourself. Thanks.

s said...

More stories about Master Hsuan Hua will be appreciated if u have them. I am a great admirer of him. Though i am tempted to ask him to be my master thru photo-request. But i think it's greed when one already has teachers. I was very touched when i first read his life-story on the Dharma Realm related websites...To me, he is Avalokiteshvara in a wrathful form...

s said...

More stories about Master Hsuan Hua will be appreciated if u have them. I am a great admirer of him. Though i am tempted to ask him to be my master thru photo-request. But i think it's greed when one already has teachers. I was very touched when i first read his life-story on the Dharma Realm related websites...To me, he is Avalokiteshvara in a wrathful form...