New Year 1949
On New Year's Day of the following year (1949), I wrote a letter to the Venerable Master Yun resigning from my post as Dean of Academic Affairs at the Academy. I then stayed in the Tripitaka Hall and read the Tripitaka (Buddhist Canon). During the precept-transmission I was asked to be one of the certifying acharyas. Afterwards, I went with Venerable Master Yun to Dajian Monastery in Shaoguan. When Venerable Master Yun then suggested that I continue with him to Yunmen, I agreed to join him there but insisted on first returning to Nanhua. In the beginning of the fifth month, I set out for Dajiao Monastery (in Yunmen). The mountainous path was winding and narrow, similar to the roads in Sichuan province. Night fell when I was about twenty li from Yunmen. Since I was travelling alone, it was difficult to make progress on the unfamiliar path. Suddenly a lamp-light appeared before me, and I followed it. The light remained at a constant distance of about a hundred paces before me, and when I finally reached it, it disappeared. Looking around, I discovered that I had arrived at the very gate of Dajiao Monastery. Everyone had already retired. I knocked on the door, entered, and saw the Venerable Yun, who asked, "Why did you arrive so late?" I told him the reason and described how I had been guided by a lamp-light. The Venerable Yun said, "How remarkable! It is difficult enough to travel on these mountain roads during the day without a guide. How remarkable that you have been able to find your way in the pitch black of night! Very strange!" After arranging a place for me to stay, the Venerable Yun said, "You were the panshou (head of the assembly) at Nanhua, and you should continue to be the panshou at Yunmen. You should lead the assembly to cultivate during ceremonies, at mealtime, and sitting in meditation."
I had not been at Yunmen very long when I became ill because of the dampness of the weather. It was very hard to bear, and so I requested leave from the Elder Master to return to Guangzhou to recuperate. The Venerable Yun refused and said, "Don't go. If you do, it will be difficult to return." I said, "No. Your disciple has already made up his mind. He is definitely going." Hearing my words, the Elder Master was grieved to the point of tears. He took my hand and said, "If you go, we will not be able to meet again." I said, "I'll return as soon as my illness is healed. Please don't worry about me!" The Elder Master said, "After you have left, you should make every effort on behalf of Shakyamuni Buddha and establish Way-places to carry on the work of the Patriarchs of the past. The future is very bright. Push on, work hard. Conduct yourself well, and don't disappoint me. Take care. Goodbye."
Guanyin Cave, Furong Mountain, Hong Kong.
The Master sat unmoving on a flat rock in the barren cave for several days and nights, only deciding to get up after about 100 hours of uninterrupted sitting. But when he tried to stand, he found that his legs wouldn't move. The Master paid no attention to his paralysis, but simply continued to sit on the rock in the dank cave. He remained in the full lotus meditation posture day and night for two full weeks, and then gradually began to recover the use of his legs.
I traveled to Guangzhou and then to Hong Kong, where I stayed at East Potola Monastery. In the seventh month, I returned to Guangzhou and stayed at Liurong Monastery. The Abbot Mingguan asked me to serve as the hall manager and assistant manager of the monastery. Since I planned to return to Yunmen after the mid-autumn festival (the fifteenth of the eighth month) I agreed to serve for the time being. But in the beginning of the eighth month, Shaoguan fell and the road was cut off, making it impossible to go back. On the night of the eighteenth of the eighth month, Xie Kuanhui and Chen Kuanman paid for my boat fare and I went to Hong Kong again. I traveled to Thailand to examine the southern transmission of Buddhism. In 1950 I returned to Hong Kong and went into seclusion in Guanyin Cave. I was as if deaf and dumb. Each time I thought of the Elder Master Yun's parting words, I regretted not having listened to the Good Knowing Advisor's advice. I wanted to go back to see the Elder Master, but it was impossible. Alas! What could be said?
In the winter of 1951, I worked on the construction of Western Bliss Gardens (Xileyuan) Monastery. At the request of Luo Guoming, Chen Guofa, Tang Guoshan, Mai Guolian, Yuan Guolin, and other laypeople, I lectured on the Earth Store Sutra at Tongshan Temple. In the fall of the following year, I lectured on the Vajra Sutra at that Temple. The fall after that, I lectured on the Amitabha Sutra at Baojue (Precious Enlightenment) Monastery. Later on I delivered a fourteen-month lecture series on the Shurangama Sutra at Western Bliss Gardens Monastery. Later I lectured on the Earth Store Sutra at another temple. I worked on the construction of Cixing Chan Monastery and had an image of the Venerable Master Yun carved as a token of my utmost reverence.
I wrote to the Venerable Yun and received from him a document entitled "The Treasury of the Orthodox Dharma Eye: The Source of the Buddhas and Patriarchs" -- the Dharma of the mind-to-mind seal which is transmitted outside the teaching, the wonderful mind of Nirvana, the real mark which is without marks, the true emptiness which is not empty. Following the intent of the Patriarchs above and teaching living beings below, I was constantly mindful of the deep kindness of this Dharma-milk. The Elder Master wrote to me, urging me to do meritorious works. I vowed to contribute several tens of thousands of dollars to pay for the Buddha images in the Jeweled Hall of Great Heroes of Zhenru Chan Monastery at Yunju Mountain. I also traveled to Burma and purchased more than three hundred large cartons of gold foil for gilding the Buddha images. The Venerable Yun was very happy and wrote repeatedly in thanks. This shows the vast extent of the Venerable One's deep concern for the younger generation. He is humble and never careless. He denies himself everything to be generous to others and renounces his own will to comply with that of others. His awe-inspiring spirit, his matchless compassion, his lofty virtue, and his absolutely genuine impartiality cause people to serve him happily and willingly.
The Dharma lineage of the Wei Yang Sect from Shakyamuni Buddha to the Venerable Master, the forty-sixth generation.
I received another letter from the Venerable Yun instructing me to return to Yunju Mountain. While in Chan contemplation I came to know that the Elder Master wished to transfer the responsibilities of Zhenru Monastery to me, but for various reasons I could not heed the command. Even now my regret knows no bounds. The Buddhist Lecture Hall had just been established, and every day I was busy with the work of propagating the great Dharma. Since there was no way I could be in two places at the same time, I planned to go back to be with the Elder Master and attend upon him after I had taken care of matters satisfactorily and found someone to assume my responsibilities in Hong Kong.