I’m 72 years old this year and have been learning Buddhism for 23 years. On the surface, I appeared to be a ‘senior’ Buddhist disciple. As a matter of fact, I was spending those years aimlessly pursuing the formality of Buddhism and carelessly allowed time to elapse until 6 years ago when I realized what authentic Buddhism was by participating in an event of chanting sutras for the deceased.
I used to consider myself as a Buddhist practitioner who recites the holy name of Buddha. I managed to play common dharma instruments and chant the verses of praise despite the fact that I was illiterate. I became a leader of the laypeople. I did my best in making charitable contributions to Buddhist temples. I jumped on every opportunity to follow dharma teachers to participate in Buddhist affairs and help others together with a group of laypeople. While I thought I accumulated merits from what I did, I benefitted little from my Buddhist practices.
There came a karmic affinity when I was invited to do chanting for a Buddhist brother who passed away. Buddhist brothers and sisters from various areas gathered together to do the chanting continuously day and night for the deceased. However, their chanting was quite different from mine. What was it? I wondered. Then, I witnessed an auspicious feat where relics were found after the cremation. I have helped in many chanting occasions for deceased practitioners and yet, have never seen anything like this before. After contemplating on the feat, I came to realize that the relics were manifestations of the achievements of the deceased Buddhist brother. Who was his master? I wanted to learn from him as well!
The thought stayed in my mind even after the event. I found out by asking around that the Buddhist brother listened to the prerecorded dharma discourses expounded by H. H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. He accumulated great merits and achieved accomplishment by practicing the dharma in accordance with the teachings. I couldn’t wait to visit a center to participate in listening respectfully to the Buddha Dharma expounded by H. H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. The Buddha expounded the Dharma comprehensively and thoroughly, which really fascinated me. I embraced myself with the teachings of the Dharma, which quenched my thirst, satisfied my hunger, and seemingly created a sea of Buddha Dharma for me to dive in. I gained great joy from listening to the dharma. Therefore, I called and invited my younger brothers and sisters to visit the center. They listened to the Dharma expounded by H. H. Dorje Chang Buddha III with my assistance. My two younger sisters, two sisters-in-law, and I all passed the exam and became Masters of Dharma-Listening Sessions. Together as a family, we learned Buddha Dharma and cultivated ourselves to benefit living beings.
The teachings from Namo H. H. Dorje Chang Buddha III allowed me to understand the relation between the cause and the effect and how if there was a cause, there would be always its effect. In the past, I didn’t understand the true meaning of the Dharma and thought self-cultivation meant chanting sutras. Cultivating oneself means that practitioners take the Buddha as their role model and mind their physical, verbal and mental karma by following those of the Buddha’s to modify their own words and actions and to correct their habitual behaviors. I benefitted a lot from listening to the Buddha Dharma. I not only practiced it but also promoted it. With the collaboration among a lot of people over the years, more than twenty Buddhist centers of various sizes were established. There were more than twenty group cultivation sessions held each month. I was grateful for the empowerment from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, which caused the positive karmic affinities of the living beings to come together so the Bodhi seeds were planted and waited to blossom one day.
Life is impermanent and time awaits no one. I respectfully listen to the Buddha Dharma every day. I oblige myself in leading everyone to the Buddha Dharma listening sessions and to learn from precious books such as the ‘The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation” and ‘Learning from the Buddha” regardless of inclement weather conditions such as heavy rain or snow. It requires determination and persistence on the path of self-cultivation. There were times that some Buddhist brothers and sisters dissipated, regressed, or strayed away from following the Dharma. I would bring it to their attention and advise them on that. Together with other Buddhist brothers and sisters, we did our best in chanting sutras for the deceased whenever we got the chance to participate. We donated the proceeds from those events to releasing living beings.
I also advocated at home the practices of no-kill and releasing living beings.
There was a time that a friend bought us a box of crabs. My husband was happy and ready to indulge himself in having a meal of those crabs. I asked him nicely to release them back to the wild when I sensed that they were about to suffer but he refused. Every living being was my family. How could I not do anything when they were about to be cooked?
My husband asked me to make dinner around dinner time. I laid in bed crying with my limbs moving randomly in the air. My husband was in shock and asked me what happened. I rolled myself around in bed even more and told him that countless crabs were asking me to save them and how they pinched me when I didn’t agree to it, which hurt very bad. I asked him to release those crabs to save me for the sake of me being his wife. He agreed reluctantly to release them after he saw how much I suffered. My “sufferings’ were instantly alleviated. It was my way of improvising a rescue plan for those crabs. It was also a result of listening respectfully to the Buddha Dharma that I started to have benevolence and compassion, refraining myself from killing lives and protecting them.
Time flies. The result over the past six years of learning Buddha Dharma and cultivating myself has surpassed that of the past sixty years of dream-like lifestyle. In comparison with the haze of confusion in the past, the goal of my cultivation has great clarity, which is to benefit living beings and end the cycle of birth and death. I’m thankful for the opportunity of learning orthodox Buddha Dharma. I’m determined to diligently cultivate myself to achieve liberation to benefit myself and others. It would be very foolish of me not to take advantage of this great opportunity to learn the Buddha Dharma and cultivate myself, wouldn’t it?