Preface

Through the power of his vows and great compassion, the Venerable Master Hua came to transmit Buddhism to the Western world. Before leaving China and Hong Kong for the United States, the Master received the Dharma transmission from Elder Master Hsu Yun. Thus, the Master is the forty-fifth Patriarch from Shakyamuni Buddha, the Eighteenth Patriarch in China, the Ninth Patriarch of the Wei Yang Lineage, and the First Patriarch in the West.

Upon his arrival in America, the Master set about to bring the Triple Jewel into the hearts and lives of Westerners. From 1968 onward, he taught people by his own example how to venerate the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and sages; he gave lecture series with simultaneous English translations on the entire Shurangama Sutra, Lotus Sutra, Avatamsaka Preface, Prologue, and Sutra, and other Mahayana sutra, shastra, and vinaya texts; he composed verses to explain the functions of the major Mahayana mantras; and he gave Dharma talks that related Buddhism to daily life. This was his gift of the Buddha and the Dharma Jewels. In 1969, he helped five American disciples become fully ordained members of the Sangha, thus establishing the American Sangha in the West. In 1972, he conducted the first Full Ordination Precept Platform held in the West. With that, the Sangha Jewel began to perpetuate itself on Western soil.

Then for three decades, the Master compassionately nurtured the good roots of all who drew near him, teaching them not to harm others. He set up schools to educate and train youth, offering them a firm moral foundation. He saw to the translation and propagation of the Dharma, so that people could develop their inherent wisdom. He established Way places where those who wished could study and practice the Buddhaís teachings. He guided the growth of the Sangha and lay communities, giving them six principles to follow: do not fight, do not be greedy, do not seek, do not be selfish, do not pursue personal benefit, and do not tell lies. In short he tried his best to make sure that Buddhism became firmly established in the West and long abiding in the world.

This presentation of the Venerable Masterís life and legacy uses the Dharma Wheel to outline eight major aspects of the Masterís contributions and achievements for Buddhism. Layer upon layer, the depth of the Masterís dedication to the perpetuation of the Proper Dharma in the world becomes evident; the scope of his compassionate and expedient teachings is revealed; and the breadth of his vows that reach to the ends of time and space is but hinted at. May each of us who enter here to explore the life and legacy of the Master be inspired to become better human beings, so as to better help all living beings.

June 2001