Only through cultivation can we achieve liberation from the sufferings of impermanence; from the sufferings of the cycle of reincarnation, which entails repeated birth, aging, illness and death; and from the sufferings of the three lower realms. To obtain liberation from all of these sufferings, I incisively saw the emptiness of the four great elements of this world and became a nun. The goal of my becoming a nun is to live in full accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, strictly keep the precepts, and cultivate myself after the Buddha. I dare not slack off or break the precepts in the slightest, for I am deeply aware that if I broke the precepts, I would have become a nun for nothing and wasted my time! Realizing impermanence and the relentless pace of change, I was able to establish firmly my determination to end the cycle of birth and death. At the temple, I constantly cultivated myself according to the dharma.
However, the beneficial effects of my practice were very few. Only after extraordinary conditions of merit accumulated from many previous lives reached fruition was I able to go to China; formally acknowledge H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu Holiest Tathagata as my Master; and learn esoteric Buddhist teachings by following His Holiness. Little did I know that the Buddha Master would demand that I first comprehend thoroughly exoteric Buddhism and pass a test on the exoteric teachings before His Holiness would transmit the preliminary practices, main practices, and completion practices of esoteric Buddhism. With utmost devoutness and respect, I cultivated myself under the teachings of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. Living with a group of nuns all year round, I diligently carried on my practice.
Five years passed. I gained some direct understanding of my original nature and made clear progress in deepening my insight. However, I seldom manifested true dharma powers. When I saw that many high-level fellow disciples who were around me were able to manifest true dharma powers, I was both upset and nervous and felt tremendous pressure. I asked myself, “Can I liberate myself from the cycle of reincarnation just through empty theories? Why is it that my fellow-disciples of the Buddha Master can manifest the Buddha-dharma and I cannot?”
Many times I beseeched Buddha Master H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu to practice the nectar dharma. Each time my Buddha Master compassionately responded with the following teaching: “I have learned how to practice the nectar dharma, but I truly am not sure that I can cause nectar to descend. I have practiced that dharma a few times with no success. This certainly is not a dharma that can be successfully practiced without exception. That is because whoever requests Buddha to bestow nectar must first be granted a dharma certificate with a nectar-merit. That is created when more than ten thousand great rinpoches from Tibet together practice the Fire Offering Dharma and transfer the merit of that practice onto a piece of paper on which seed syllables are written. Although more than ten thousand rinpoches and lamas practice the Fire Offering Dharma, the most important thing is that certain true Bodhisattvas must be among them. If among them there is not a Bodhisattva who represents charity, a Bodhisattva who represents wisdom, a Bodhisattva who represents great compassion, a Bodhisattva who represents patience under adverse circumstances, and a Bodhisattva who represents supernatural powers, then the nectar dharma certificate will be of no effect. All five holy aspects must be represented. Otherwise, I cannot successfully practice the nectar dharma.”
There was one time when a Tibetan dharma king arrived and brought with him a nectar dharma certificate. I took that opportunity to beseech my Buddha Master to practice the nectar dharma. As before, my Buddha Master said, “All I can do is try. Do not be disappointed if I do not succeed. I truly cannot be sure of success. You should go and give the practice of that dharma a try. If you succeed, then you succeed. If you do not succeed, then you do not succeed.”
I was very familiar with the rituals of this practice. I began the practice in accordance with the dharma and prayed to Buddha to bestow nectar. However, I was left with an empty bowl at the end of the ceremony. Buddha did not bestow nectar in response to my prayer. This time I was not disappointed because I knew this was a tremendous dharma. My Buddha Master sincerely explained to me that even He does not have absolute confidence that His practice of that dharma will succeed. It was only natural that I could not successfully practice such dharma. My Buddha Master gave me a special discourse on that subject.
Another year passed and I practiced this dharma once again, only to receive the same result—nothing. This time I felt very sad and ashamed. In the past, elder monk Wu Ming, the chairman of the World Buddhist Sangha Council, washed the dharma bowl under the watch of the Buddha Master. The Buddha Master then successfully invoked the bestowal of nectar for that group of eminent monks. But why was I not up to the task? I begged my Buddha Master for a discourse to explain why it was that I could not bring real benefit to living beings.
The Buddha Master benevolently expounded: “Successful practice of the dharma to invoke Buddha to bestow nectar requires the aggregation of many causes and conditions. The dharma-conditions are not complete if even one of the conditions is missing. That time when I successfully invoked the bestowal of nectar was a fortunate happenstance among my other unfortunate attempts that did not succeed. Moreover, with respect to the necessary conditions, elder monk Wu Ming and elder monk Yi Zhao have great merit and high realization. They have the karmic affinity to receive the benefits of a true Five Holy Aspects Dharma Certificate.” The Buddha Master also added, “When practicing the nectar dharma, one must at least have a true Five Holy Aspects Dharma Certificate. Even with the foundation and external karmic condition of having such a dharma certificate, the person’s practice must still be in accord with the dharma.”
I reported to the Buddha Master that there were no mistakes in all of the rituals that I practiced. However, the Buddha Master said, “You did not understand what I meant by practicing in accord with the dharma. I was referring not to the rituals of the nectar dharma but to “What Is Cultivation?” You must gain a deep understanding of the cultivation that I taught you all. Your practices must be in accord with those of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.” At that moment, I felt very ashamed of myself and repented from my heart. (The precious dharma of cultivation transmitted by the Buddha Master is contained in this book, A Treasury of True Buddha-Dharma.)
From that time on, I told myself every moment to take firm hold of my three karmic forces—behavior, speech, and mind. As a result, I deeply understood how truly difficult it is to cultivate oneself and that cultivation is a most subtle matter! If one cultivates oneself with a mixture of hidden doubts and misunderstanding, if one does not thoroughly cultivate oneself, or if one’s bodhicitta is inadequate, then it is not real cultivation. In this way, I practiced earnestly. One day I came to a sudden realization. I decided to drop the word “I” and correct all my errors as soon as they occurred.
After practicing for another three months, the karmic conditions came together. A Fire Offering Dharma Certificate from more than ten thousand eminent monastics, dharma kings, and rinpoches was obtained. The Buddha Master began to select the one person who would wash the dharma bowl that would receive the nectar. More than twenty experienced practitioners from Taiwan and the United States were there to choose from, including rinpoches and great dharma teachers. Geshe Xing, Xima Rinpoche, and I were from the United States. In the end, unexpectedly, a humble nun such as myself was chosen to carry out the practice of the dharma.
After cleansing and consecrating the mandala, we first respectfully invited the Buddha Master to ascend to the throne. At that time, I suddenly experienced a great sensation and powerful blessing. I knew that the Buddha Master would invoke Buddha to bestow nectar that day. Still, I was somewhat worried since the Buddha Master told me before He began practicing the dharma that He truly could not be sure that He would successfully invoke Buddha to bestow nectar. His Holiness said that if He could not successfully invoke nectar it would be because the karmic conditions were inadequate. His Holiness hoped that I would understand. Still, the Buddha Master stated that no matter what happened, I must earnestly learn Buddhism and benefit living beings. After I heard those words from the Buddha Master, I felt quite humbled.
At that dharma assembly, I washed the bowl in accordance with the dharma rituals. The sound of everyone chanting mantras filled the entire mandala, resulting in an extremely auspicious atmosphere. After the dharma certificate that embodied the fire-offering merit of more than ten thousand monastics was burned, an exceedingly wondrous air filled the sky and the mandala. Dharma teachers saw Buddha and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva moving in the sky. This time, Buddha bestowed nectar, and it quaked and moved in the purple-gold bronze dharma bowl. All of the monastics and laypersons saw this scene and became very excited. They vowed to work hard at their cultivation and benefit multitudinous living beings. News reporters from both the Chinese and English media reported on that magnificent and holy Buddha-dharma event.
Looking back on this today, I think that the vows of those people who were at that dharma assembly were moving, but did they really understand what cultivation is? Actually, many people do not understand what cultivation is. The answer is that they did not understand what cultivation is! Just like myself in the beginning, although I became an abbess, my cultivation was flawed. I, too, was unable to fully cultivate myself. We should all earnestly study this book about the Buddha Master, A Treasury of True Buddha-Dharma. We should also earnestly correspond our three karmas with the teachings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and carry out in our daily lives the dharma of cultivation that the Buddha Master has transmitted to us. Only then can we attain accomplishment!
I will now make the following vow of truth about the nectar bestowed by Buddha. At the time, I washed the purple-gold bronze dharma bowl in front of all of the monastics and laypersons. I did not pull any tricks or put anything in the dharma bowl. Everyone saw the nectar descend into it. When Buddha bestowed thread after thread of nectar through the lid of the dharma bowl into the dharma bowl, some people saw golden light, while others saw red light. Seeing different things was the result of each person’s particular karmic conditions. If I am lying, pulled any trick, or put anything in the dharma bowl to delude living beings, may I experience evil karmic retribution, descend to one of the three lower realms, and undergo endless suffering for such wrongdoing.
To people of the world, it may seem vulgar for a nun to be making vows, but may this vulgar statement turn into my true and pure heart. The successful bestowal of nectar by Buddha has compelled me to ponder deeply and thoroughly and to realize the importance of cultivation! Had I not engaged in such cultivation, I would have contaminated the dharma bowl with my evil karma when I washed it. Had superlative karmic conditions not existed, how could nectar have descended to bless everyone? The great dharma “What Is Cultivation?” that my Buddha Master transmits in this book, A Treasury of True Buddha-Dharma, is the real priceless treasure! This is the blessing for living beings for millions of eons to come!
Buddhist nun with a heart of humility,
Long Hui Shih