The Commemoration of the Ninth
Anniversary of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua's Entering Nirvana
Infinite Commemoration and Worship
A Report on the Ninth Anniversary of the Venerable Master Hua's Nirvana
On June 27, the fourfold assembly of about fifteen hundred disciples came from all directions to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to commemorate the Ninth Anniversary of the Venerable Master Hua's Nirvana.
On the evening on June 26, people watched a video of the Venerable Master giving a Dharma talk in Singapore when he led a delegation to Asia in 1988. Theysawthe Venerable Master's compassionate appearance, carefree manner and his profound talk. Those who had never met the Master had a chance to hear his voice and get to know him. Many disciples renewed their memories of drawing near to the Master in the old days.
At 5 a.m. on June 27, two laymen, Wei-Hung Chen and Jose Gomez were initiated into the Male Novice Training Program, taking a first step in their resolve to do the Buddha's work. Laymen who wish to attend this program must volunteer for six months at a DRBA branch monastery, receive and observe the Five for six months, and demonstrate sincerity in cultivation. After six months' preparation and upholding the Eight Precepts as a trainee, one may receive the Ten Precepts for Novice Monks. After one year, if one passes the evaluation, one may be ordained as a Bhikshu.
At 7:00 a.m., facing the rising sun, the assembly went to the future site of the Institute for International Philosophy & Ethics. The Abbot, DM Lyu explained the locations and functions for the different buildings. DM Sure told everyone that their special sincerity was needed to ensure that the project would be completed successfully in accord with all the environirental, legal or construction code requirements. With such sincere prayers, everyone there respectfully recited the Great Compassion Mantra in unison and dedicated the merit and virtue to the fulfillment of all wishes.
The assembly then returned to the big tent to begin the ceremony for commemorating the Venerable Master's nirvana, which included bowing to the Venerable Master, circumambulating the sharira stupa at No Words Hall, and the passing of offerings by about twelve hundred people. At lunch, the crowd was so large that they filled both dining halls and even, for the first time, used tables prepared in advance in Daoyuan Hall. DM Sure gave the first Dharma talk. He pointed out there are many special features at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, for instance eating silently He hoped that all friends in Dharma could experience the cultivation style at the City and attain the benefit of Dharma during their visit.
DM Chih expressed that if she had to write to the Venerable Master on that day in memory of him, she would start with sutra translation. Right now there are several new books of the Flower Adornment Sutra published. Our distribution scope has enlarged and if people go to Bames & Nobles [a popular bookstore], they will be able to purchase the Venerable Master's books. Education is one of the Venerable Master's important works. Our Developing Virtue Secondary School had a very positive accreditation visit from the Director of WASC (Western Association of Schools & olleges). Dharma Realm Buddhist University has now formally become an Affiliate of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). The Master emphasized establishing and developing the Sangha, upholding the precepts, advocated wearing the precept sash at all times and taking one meal a day. As his disciples, we understand the importance of having the Sangha take root in this country. Just this morning two men joined the pre-monastic training; in Fall there will be women leaving home life too. The Venerable Master tirelessly spoke Dharma at many places throughout his life. Recently the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association acquired several more monasteries, and the Dharma wheel continues to turn unceasingly. More importantly, the permit for the Institute for International Philosophy & Ethics has been vested, and there won't be anymore political obstacles in the way. Construction will start next year.
The Abbot, DM Lyu apologized to the assembly for the limited space in the Dining Hall, which made people wait longer to get food. The Venerable Master had long ago foreseen the need for a new, large-scale Way-place. In the future the Dining Hall will be three times the size of the current one. For the sake of benefiting sentient beings in many ways, well build a big Institute. To become a Buddha, one must benefit sentient beings; we benefit sentient beings in order to become Buddhas. The Venerable Master's spirit to benefit sentient beings will never rest. In order to commemorate the Venerable Master, the Abbot hoped that everyone would propagate the Master's spirit and aspirations, as well as helping to make sure that the IIP&E project will soon be realized!
After lunch, numerous people crowded into the Long Life Hall to attend the ceremony for transmitting the Three Refuges and Five Precepts. A long line of people waited to behold the Venerable Master's sharira at No Words Hall, so the open hours were extended to 3:00 p.m.
Years have passed, yet memories of the Venerable Master have not diminished. His admonitions about the mistakes in society and earnest exhortations still ring in our ears. The transmission of the orthodox Dharma relies on his disciples continuing to do their best. May we learn and embody his spirit of "shedding blood and sweat and not pausing to rest" so that the sagely teaching will not decline and sentient beings may leave suffering and attain bliss!
From Vajra Bodhi Sea, Issue # 410, July 2004, p. 47 - 49.