The Venerable Master and I

by Michael Lu

The Venerable Master’s virtue and conduct, the Venerable Master’s power from his vows…is something that people admire; likewise, many people in this world honor and respect the Venerable Master. He encountered many dangers and sufferings in order to propagate the Buddhadharma in America, establishing way-places to teach and transform living beings, placing the stepping stone of the Buddhadharma in the United States. A saying goes like this; “The person in the past plants the tree, and the person in the future uses the shade of the tree”. We are able to learn the Buddhadharma in America today because of the Venerable Master’s sweat and blood, and his turning the great Dharma Wheel. I would like to talk about how I met the Venerable Master, including why I wanted to study here in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

I first heard of the Venerable Master in Maryland. In the beginning, I completely did not understand what kind of person was he? I only knew that he established Avatamsaka Vihara and he took in many disciples. My mother often told me stories about the Venerable Master. She said the Venerable Master was very filial. After his mother passed away, he stayed by his mother’s grave for three years to express his filiality. I really liked to listen to these stories and I learned some things. I only went to Avatamsaka Vihara every Sunday and I did not know what I was reciting during the dharma assemblies. I also attended the Sunday school class at the temple, and learned a little Buddha dharma and “Standards for Students”.

There is an event that is carved deeply in my mind. One time, I went to the class the older kids attended to see what kind of stuff they were learning. At that time, they were learning “The Sutra of Filiality”, and they were also learning about the part where once your parents pass away, you have to often commemorate them. When I heard that my mother was going to die in the future, I started crying badly, up to the point where my mom had to come to the classroom and take me outside. This was my first time understanding about the matter of “death”.

I had a really happy and joyful life during my stay at Avatamsaka Vihara; I made a lot of friends and sometimes I went to their homes to play and fool around. Once, in 2004, I went to CTTB to attend the Ten Thousand Buddhas Jeweled Repentance. After I looked around, I felt that I really liked the surroundings of CTTB. There are the rare peacocks; they often brag about their beautiful feathers, and they love to strut in front of cars, which shows how arrogant they are! There are also the shy squirrels; they always run away quickly when they see me from far away. Last but not least, there are the thousand-year-old trees, the pine tree forest, the beautiful flowers, the lovely grass…All these visions of nature are so beautiful and pretty that they are so moving to me. When I was about to depart from CTTB, I was full of sadness.

Once I returned to Avatamsaka Vihara, I kept on wishing that I could come to CTTB soon: If I am there, I can go to school on one hand and learn Buddha dharma on the other hand. Because the causes and conditions were not ripe at that time, three years passes before I finally got my wish fulfilled, which was to go to CTTB. I started 4 th grade at Instilling Goodness Boys’ School in the school year of 2007. At school, I worked really hard on my studies. My whole family used so much time and energy so that we could move to CTTB, yet if I don’t do well in academics, how can I repay my parents?

In CTTB, I sometimes go and play some basketball, soccer, ping-pong and other exercises, this way I can relax myself, and I won’t become a “bookworm”. I have learned a lot at Instilling Goodness Boys’ School, some I’ve heard of before, some I haven’t. For example, I’ve never heard of “The Analects of Confucianism”, ancient texts, Chinese culture, and even Chinese composition. At my old Chinese school in Maryland, my teacher encouraged me to participate in a composition contest. But I never submitted a finished essay, because I had absolutely no ideas; it was like my mind just automatically went blank! Now, I know how to write essays, although I haven’t written it really well yet. Even though I’ve learned a lot of academic-based knowledge, I still feel that virtue is the most important. If we graduate from the Developing Virtue Boys’ School, but we don’t have much virtue, then we don’t qualify as alumni of the Developing Virtue School.

CTTB has allowed me to learn more Buddha dharma and also gave me the opportunity to translate the “Dharma Flower Sutra” every Monday evening. I am really grateful to the Venerable Master, because if there was no Venerable Master, then there wouldn’t be the person I am today. I will do all that I can in order to repay my gratitude towards the virtuous Venerable Master’s. I also want to thank all the teachers for teaching me and showing me the right way. I feel that CTTB is like a big family, and everybody bears sufferings together and enjoys the sweet stuff together. I feel very lucky and honored because I am a part of CTTB.

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