Disciples listening to the Master's lectures on the Avatamsaka (Flower Adornment) Preface, Prologue,
and Sutra at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery.
During this lecture series the Master encouraged disciples to do preparation. It was never known when the Master would call on a disciple to lecture that evening's passage first.
Earphones were used so disciples could listen to the Chinese while the English translation was being given. Simultaneously, other disciples were in a sound-proof booth typing the lecture into English as it was spoken in Chinese.
Lecturing on the Sutras and speaking the Dharma.
The Master accorded with conditions in order to teach beings. That means that whatever the Master did was an expedient aimed at helping an individual or a group. It also means that often the things the Master allowed others to do for him were not necessarily things that he liked having done for him.
One example is how his disciples liked to serve the Master a cup of liquid during his Sutra lecture. For a while, one of the monks was very involved in serving the Master that cup of liquid. But in order to prepare this drink for the Master, he would miss evening recitation. The Master didn't like that, but at first he kept quiet. Later, he began to complain that the cup the monk served him was dirty.
Finally when that didn't work, the Master decided to use an expedient. One evening he drank most of the cup of liquid and then began to peer intently into the almost-empty cup. His intense interest in his cup was soon noticed by everyone. Then, while still examining the contents of the cup, he called Bhikshu Heng Ching up to the high seat, announcing that his cup had a bug in it and instructing him to look in the cup and then tell everyone what he saw. Heng Ching stared into the cup and then reported, "All I see is a bit of soggy dust fuzz in the cup."
"That's not dust! That's an insect!" argued the Master. "Pass the cup around for everyone to take a look!"
Heng Ching did as he was told. Those disciples who peered into the cup also saw what looked like a bit of soggy gray fuzz in the bottom of the cup. After the cup went around the room, it was placed back on the Master's table at the high seat.
The Master continued his lecture on the Avatamsaka Sutra, but whenever the translation was going on, he would pick up the cup and stare into it intently. Finally, he called Heng Ching back up again and said, "Look in the cup now and tell me what you see."
Heng Ching did as he was asked and reacted with amazement. "Why, there's a perfectly-formed insect in the cup!"
"Pass it around," the Master commanded, and Heng Ching did. What the disciples saw this time was indeed an exquisite insect perched on eight legs shimmering with multicolored iridescence, looking unlike any creature belonging to this world. That night everyone saw what they had never seen before while the tea-serving monk was taught a lesson: "I don't want to be the cause of your missing evening recitation!" explained the Master. "I don't have such blessings, and I don't want to have to bear the cause and effect."
Excerpt from an article compiled by Shi Hengchi, p. 67 - 68
"In Memory of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Vol. II"