(Part One Awaken by True Story of A Holy Monk)
About twenty years ago, I worked at the research triangle park area in North Carolina. I got married and had children. We bought a brand-new single family house in a newly built community. The community was built in a large forest. It had well-equipped facilities, a lake, a swimming pool, tennis courts, basketball courts, children’s playground, etc. On top of that, it was less than a ten minute drive to the company where I worked. It seemed to be a perfect place to live for a long time. However, when I wandered along the forest trails in the community, I often felt somewhat empty and unsettled in my heart. This place was not where I wanted to settle down, but I didn’t know the reason why.
At that time, I had read some books about Buddhism and set up an altar at home. There were many statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I thought I would enshrine as many as possible. At the time though, I still stayed at the level of superstition and didn’t really understand what Buddhism was and how to learn Buddhism. I was very fond of the Zen patriarch’s narratives about emptiness. The transcendent realm and the beautiful poems made me intoxicated, but the actual practice is too difficult. From the books I read, the patriarchs lived in a cave and meditated for decades. That was impossible for me, so I felt that I had no hope of enlightenment in this life. I also listened to a lot of recordings of a Chinese master who preached the Pure Land Sect, and read books written by him. I thought the Pure Land Sect is very good and simple. I just focus on chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha, and when my physical body dies, the Buddha and Bodhisattva will come and lead me to the Paradise of Bliss – I was really looking forward to that scene.
One day I got a free book about a holy monk <<The True Story of a Holy Monk>>. The Dharma introduced in the book was totally different from I had known. For example, the “nectar” from Buddha Kingdom — I never heard of that before. I was full of envy for the various real holy relics recorded in the book. This is something I had never seen before. What I had heard was that Buddhist does not talk about miraculous and supernatural powers… At that time, I was very confused. How can the Buddha save me without supernatural powers? Reading this book made me understand that although Buddhism does not focus on magical powers, the phenomena of magical powers are the byproducts in Buddha Dharma practice process. Practitioners cannot attach to supernatural powers, as that is not the gaol of Buddhist cultivation.
The book introduced, “After the blessing of the longevity nectar from the Buddha Kingdom, Vajra vellus hair grew from the eyebrows of the old Pharaoh Dorje Luosang, and grew one foot long later. If buddhists are predestined to take a bite, the blessings and wisdom will be immeasurable. “ It was such an extraordinary fact, and I was very longing for it in my heart.
A passage from Dorje Luosang Pharaoh on the rebirth of the Buddha Pure Land in the book totally awakened me. It read, ”…… do you know what it will be like when you die? …..How many people are suffering in dying, struggling and groaning. If the world is unpleasant, it is called death. Of course, his mind will be Chaos. I have seen many people who have lost their minds at the end of their lives, ….. after reciting Buddha’s name throughout their lives, when they finally die, they “Oh! Help!” or struggling. You told him, “Recite the Buddha’s name! Bring up righteous thoughts!” But what you then heard was his groaning and tragic screams, and the voice of being overwhelmed. In fact, he has long been confused. This chaos is not something you can remove just by mentioning righteous thoughts. It takes time to settle down! It takes immense concentration, which comes from our daily practice and commandments. If you lose your daily practice, there will be no concentration. Seven kinds of disciples, listen! If you can just recite Amitabha Buddha without any confusion, the Buddha wouldn’t say eighty-four thousand methods, and the Buddha will not tell you the Six paramitas and Ten Thousand Actions! The Buddha will not torture sentient beings. He taught us, we need to practice the six paramitas and ten thousand actions and go through the three great asamkhyeyas of eons before you can achieve it…” .
I think this statement is so very true because we usually feel very uncomfortable when we are sick. I remembered how the heart-piercing pain during childbirth made me unable to think about any other things. I finally realized that I have many wrong opinions and preconceived notions about Buddhism cultivation. I pondered to myself, how do I recite the Buddha’s name with undivided attention? When I did my chanting practice in my altar without any outside disturbances, I couldn’t recite Amitabha Buddha single-mindedly for 10 times straight, for all kinds of thoughts kept coming up. I didn’t know how to control my mind and center on the Buddha’s name. For me, the most I can was attempt my practice a half hour daily. How could I be able to recite Amitabha Buddha without chaos? Those monks recite the Buddha’s name every day, but very few can go to the Pure Land when they die. In the book old Pharaoh Dorje Luosang gave me a light there is a better way to achieve the goal of re-birth into the pure land. I decided to follow that light to find the true Buddha Dharma, so I can reach the liberation in this life time.