Events in the Life of the Venerable Master Hua


When I was studying, I also had my share of trouble. At first when I learned very slowly, everyone looked down on me, saying, "We've never seen such a dullard. He can't even memorize eight lines from the Three Character Classic." Once I got the hang of it, I learned very fast. Learning fast is a good thing, but it also has its troubles. No one thought much of me when I was a slow learner, but when I became a quick learner, some people were jealous or envious.

My teacher, who didn't know how to be a teacher, praised me in front of my classmates, saying, "In my fifty or sixty years of teaching, I've never had such a capable student as this. He will certainly do great things in the future." As soon as he praised me like that, the trouble came. What trouble? Girls. I think everyone understands what I mean. I don't have to explain, because everyone is an expert in this area. You didn't laugh at all while I talked for so long, but now everyone is laughing. I'm sure you all know what my girl classmate had in mind. My teacher had said I would do great things, and she wanted to see what kind of great things I could do.

When I got down from the brick bed to recite my lesson, the girl gave me a kick. I didn't know what she was up to. Even though I was sixteen, I knew nothing about romance. I didn't understand the mentality of girls. I glared at her and furiously said, "You want me to beat you up?" The girl ran away in fright, and I thought I'd gotten rid of that trouble. Guess what? She sent a matchmaker to my house to speak with my mother. The matchmaker said they didn't want anything--no money or gifts--simply my mother's agreement. My mother was overjoyed.

When I returned home, she told me, "Your classmate sent a matchmaker over saying her family didn't want anything except our permission. They were willing to send their daughter over with no conditions."
"Did you agree?" I asked.
"I waited for you to come home so I could ask you," my mother replied.
"At least you had enough sense not to make the decision on your own. If you had given your agreement today, I would be leaving home tomorrow."
My mother said, "You must not leave home."
I said, "If you don't want me to leave home, then don't promise this girl anything."
"Fine," said my mother.

That's how I got rid of the trouble I encountered when I was sixteen.

When the Mukden Incident of September 18, 1931, occurred, I was still young and didn't understand very much. I didn't have any sense of what "country" and "family" were. Later when the Japanese attacked China and went about murdering and setting fires, destroying the Chinese people, I felt it was totally unjust. What right did they have to lay waste to China? I wanted to join the revolution to drive the Japanese out so that the Chinese people could once again live in peace and safety.

However, in the end I failed to carry out my resolve. I wasn't able to reverse the tides of destiny. I didn't hate the Japanese, because I knew hatred was useless. I only tried to think of ways to counteract them. My idea was to attack them with fire. Since they belonged to the element fire, I would fight fire with fire, for example, setting fire to their dwellings. I wanted to write articles to stir up a revolution, but I didn't succeed. Later I chose to walk the path of monkhood. My lifelong regret after I became a monk was that I wasn't able to fulfill my patriotic duty. Since I wasn't able to sweat and toil for the sake of my country, I decided to rise above worldly affairs and propagate the Buddha's teachings.

I had predicted the surrender of the Japanese five years before it happened. Based on the theory of the five elements, I predicted that their presence in China would weaken and then disappear by that time. After the Japanese surrendered, when the central government had not accepted the island of Guang and the Communists had not yet taken control, there were many, many ghosts, demons, and weird beings on the streets of China. Some of the "people" walking on the streets were actually ghosts and freaks, but no one recognized them. There was no government and there were no laws at that time, so it was total anarchy.

Witch doctors and spirit mediums were widespread. They were basically demons wreaking havoc. Luckily there were still people who recited the Shurangama Mantra, so even though the demons made an appearance, they didn't do any great mischief. Anarchic times are not pleasant at all. At that time all the ghosts, demons, and weird beings came out, because there was no one to watch over them. Most people weren't aware of these things, but I saw very clearly what was going on. I have tasted the flavor of anarchy.

As a young child, I didn't even know how to speak slowly--that's how dull I was. I was no better than a mute. I sat at home every day, not wanting to play with other kids. When I joined the Virtue Society at sixteen, I practiced speaking every day and gradually learned to lecture in public. Then I studied Buddhism and taught the Dharma to others, explaining as much as I understood. I participated in many activities in the Buddhist society as well. Despite my youth, I was eager to serve Buddhism. And so at the age of sixteen I went to a temple to lecture on the Sixth Patriarch Sutra. After reading this Sutra, I wrote a couplet which says:

Although sudden and gradual are not the same,
When the work is complete, they are one: why divide north and south?
Holy and common differ temporarily, but
Their basic nature is the same. Don't argue about east and west.

I also lectured on other short Sutras such as the Vajra Sutra and the Amitabha Sutra, and taught people the Buddhadharma. Even though I was not fully literate myself, I was willing to lecture. There were so many illiterate people in China, and if I didn't teach them as much as I knew, they would never understand what Buddhism was about. At sixteen, I took it upon myself to propagate Buddhism. And so, after so many years of practice, I can now speak and lecture a little bit.

I also knew how to recite the Great Compassion Mantra in those days. The first time I saw the Great Compassion Mantra, I was extremely delighted. I started reading it when I boarded the train. When I got off the train half an hour later, I could recite it from memory. Then I learned the Forty-two Hands and Eyes. After cultivating them for several years, I began curing people's illnesses. Using the Great Compassion Mantra and the Forty-two Hands and Eyes, I was able to cure any illness.

In my life I have never been afraid of anything. I don't fear wild beasts, heavenly or earthly demons, spirit or ghost demons, or even human demons. Why not? It's because I am not afraid of death. I remember that as a young student of Buddhism, thinking that I had enough samadhi, I became arrogant and made a wild statement. I said, "Everyone is afraid of demons, but I'm not. Demons are afraid of me! Heaven demons, earth demons, spirit, ghost, and human demons--I'm not afraid of any demons at all." Guess what happened after I said that? A demon of sickness came.

And when it came, it was I who feared the demon, not the other way around. When the sickness came, my body wouldn't listen to orders--I couldn't even walk around or sit up. I was so sick that I lay on the bed from morning to night, unable to eat or drink. I thought, "I spoke foolishly, and now a demon of sickness has found me and there is nothing I can do." I was seventeen or eighteen at the time.

I was so sick I went into a coma and was on the verge of death. Suddenly I saw the three Filial Sons of the Wang Family of Manchuria. Two of them, a Buddhist Bhikshu and a Taoist Master, had left the home-life, and the third was an elderly layman. They came and took me out to play. As soon as we went out the door, our feet left the ground and we rode the clouds and drove the wind. We took off from the roof of the house and when I looked down, the house was already very small and I could see a lot of people.

We met a lot of people and traveled everywhere, to all the scenic spots in China and all the temples, on Mount Wutai, Mount Emei, Mount Jiuhua, Mount Putuo, and others. We also visited foreign lands and saw people who had blond hair and blue eyes. It was like a movie, scene after scene quickly passed. Frame after frame, we actually went to those places. We saw many sights and heard many things. When we returned, I opened the front door and saw myself lying on the bed inside the house. "How can this be?" I thought, and as soon as I was aware that there were two of me, the two changed into one.

My mother and father were at my bedside watching me. When they saw me begin to breathe again, they cried, "He's alive! He hasn't died!" "What are they talking about?" I wondered. Then I discovered I was lying on the bed unable to move, and remembered I was sick. My parents told me I had been unconscious for seven or eight days. They had thought I was dead.

After this experience, I considered myself a "living dead person," one who had been born again. After that, I never spoke recklessly. I did not claim to fear no demons, because I knew the demon of sickness was too powerful for me to overcome. Now, I also advise all of you never to brag that you don't fear anything, because if you do, something will happen to make you afraid. Nor should you say that you fear everything. In general don't make such claims. Talking in that way is useless.

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