English | Vietnamese


The Bodhisattva in My Mind

Nguyen Phuong

Translated into English by the DRBA Vietnamese Translation Group


When he [the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua] was going through many arduous hardships to bring Buddhism to the West, I was still wandering in an unknown place. When his hair turned  gray, then I was born, and when I was old enough to  study Buddhism, he had already entered Nirvana. I cannot express how regretful I am in having insufficient conditions to be in his presence, to be taught by him and to be one of his disciples. I believe that I am not the only one who feels this way, that there are also many others who were born too late to encounter him.

Although his physical body is no longer in this world, his mind is still present everywhere, quietly helping beings who are floating up and down in this world of suffering. Although I was not able to learn directly from him, the legacy that he left behind is a precious treasure that can help me and countless others gradually lift the curtain of ignorance to recover the clarity and bright light of our inherent nature.

Like every other confused being, when I use the mirror of precepts and wisdom, I realized that I have committed countless transgressions.  I make mistakes everyday, if not big mistakes then small mistakes. During moments when I lose faith in myself and no longer believe that I can benefit anyone in this life, then in my mind his teaching appears:

"Everything's a test.

To see what you will do.

Mistaking what's before your face,

You'll have to start anew."

The teaching is simple but has helped me get up from the pit of despair. I have committed a lot of bad deeds and done evils, but I must not give up in my pursuit to be a better person. "The Master opens the way for me to start over again; everyone has helped me to start over, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are helping me to start over." It is like I just escaped from hell, full of hope and believing that i can do better, a lot better ... 

Life has many ups and downs, and there are many times when I fall into desperate circumstances. There were times when I was weak and cried in despair when adversity struck. In that despair, his mighty words provided me with a great source of strength: 

"Freezing to death, we do not scheme.
Starving to death, we do not beg.
Dying of poverty, we ask for nothing."

I said to myself, "If death is not that scary, then what else should I be scared of?" And again, I was able to overcome my own fears, overcome my own adversities. 

Many years have passed quickly since I have knownabout him and followed his teachings. Today, I have a chance to express my deep gratitude to him - a Bodhisattva has manifested in this world to benefit living beings, and when conditions arrived, he left this world. However the scope of his mind still covers the Dharma Realm and constantly saves living beings, helping them to get out of the dangerous path of birth and death. 

Now, I am trying to change myself, to practice the Proper Dharma to repay a tiny bit of the countless gratitude I owe him.