Joining the Family of CTTB:
Incredible Causes and Conditions

A Talk given by Helen Yu on July 17, 2018

All Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, Dharma friends, good evening, Amituofo!

My name is Yu He, Dharma name is Qin Rui. Today it is my first time to tie Dharma affinity with everyone here at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Since it is my first time, I will follow the usual custom—to talk about the causes and conditions that led my family and me to learn the Buddhadharma, and also the causes and conditions that brought us to Ukiah and to join the family of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. 
I was born and grew up in Nanjing, China, which was also known as Jian Kang, the capital city during the Liang dynasty. Gone are the magnificent days when the city proudly witnessed hundreds of Buddhist temples—almost five hundred—spreading throughout the city. Those few ancient temples that have survived the wars and political turmoil have been badly damaged. Despite the effort to rebuild and renovate them, restoring them to the original state is quite impossible. 

My parents and my generations grew up in a time destitute of traditional culture and religion. Confused and ignorant, I was like most others—for me, a temple was just another tourist attraction, and burning incense and bowing to the Buddha was a practice of superstition. Looking back, I felt ashamed of myself and that I had created countless offenses out of my own ignorance. Many years later, I had the opportunity to encounter the Buddhadharma in the U.S., thousands of miles away from home.  How fortunate that in this very life of mine, I was able to hear the proper Dharma that is so difficult to encounter in a million eons. Only then I began to realize how deep and profound the Buddhadharma is.

We moved from Wisconsin to Maryland at the end of the year 2014. The cause and condition that brought us to Buddhadharma started when in November, 2014, my husband's first mother passed away, and Mr. Yeh, a friend and colleague of his, kindly offered to set up a one-month rebirth plaque for his mother at Avatamsaka Vihara Buddhist Monastery. Ever since then, regular visits to the temple became an important part of our life.

My husband became a firm believer of the Buddhadharma and started to cultivate diligently since the first day he encountered the Dharma. I, on the other hand, was still looking on—undecided. One day he told me that he was going to be a vegetarian; I brushed him off. "It was just another impulsive decision he had made," I thought. "In less than 2 weeks, he will go back to his old self again." To my surprise, this time, he was serious and kept his words. In the beginning, out of convenience and laziness, I did not want to cook separately, so we all started to eat vegetarian food. Later, as I learned more about Buddhadharma, I started to accept a vegetarian diet voluntarily. Although the kids used to love their pork dumplings and fried chicken strips, after some teaching and explanation on becoming a vegetarian, they were very compliant and took on a vegetarian diet readily without any regret, and have not looked back since.  

June 27, 2015, marked the beginning of our new life. On that day, our entire family, including our two sons,  took refuge with the Three Jewels at the Avatamsaka Vihara Buddhist Monastery in Maryland. My husband and our younger son also took the five precepts on the same day. Our older son and I later took the five precepts in December, 2016, during the Amitabha Session after we moved to Ukiah. So, it has only been about three years since we have encountered Buddhadharma. "We are only pre-schoolers when it comes to studying Buddhadharma," my husband likes to say jokingly.

It is also worth mentioning that previously my family had lived in Rockville, Maryland, for 5 years, from 2005 to 2010. However, at that time, we were still caught deeply in our mundane life and had not the slightest idea of what the proper Buddhadharma was, and, of course, even though we lived so close to Avatamsaka Vihara Temple, it was as if the temple were thousands of miles away.

I mentioned that Mr. [Ping-Hong] Yeh was the good-knowing-advisor who introduced us to the Buddhadharma. Personally, yet there was another important reason that  I was attracted to coming to Avatamsaka Vihara Temple. It was their Sunday Developing Virtue School, also known as the Class of Di Zi Gui (Standards for Students) among all the moms.  That's because Di Zi Gui was the main classic text that the children learned in the class. Many years earlier, I had the thought of teaching my sons Di Zi Gui. For one reason or another, it was put off. Therefore, I was very grateful that the Dharma Masters and the volunteer teachers at Avatamsaka Vihara Temple had fulfilled my wish.

Since we started to come to the Avatamsaka Vihara Temple, and through The Class of Di Zi Gui, I came to know the volunteer teachers and other moms who shared common views on education. We discussed and exchanged ideas and experiences on educating young children. How to provide the best education for our children is one of the foremost concerns for most of the parents. Particularly, in such a time of chaos, confusion, materialism, how to raise a child with a pure mind and a clear head is something that we must think about.

"It takes a village to raise a child". In other words, it takes the combined effort from families, schools, and the whole society to educate a child. Today's society is by no means a dependable source of education. Just look at the social media that confronts us daily—what kind of influence they have placed on our younger generation.

Today's school education is also worrisome. Many Chinese parents would sacrifice anything in order to provide the best education for their children, that includes spending all their savings to buy very expensive houses in affluent neighborhoods in order for their children to attend a good school. However, considering today's bigger environment, little do they question: “Would a so-called good school really provide the good education that their children need?” Today, children are fed knowledge and information, taught skills, athletic and artistic, and tactics on preparing for exams.  Furthermore, students are being instilled with the value of individualism, being encouraged to challenge tradition and authority, engage in all sorts of competition. Fame, power, and wealth become the standards of success.

How about family education? Family does not exist outside the society. Even though the parents may try very hard to teach their children, they still face the insurmountable influence from the society, school, and from all other directions, like a praying mantis trying to challenge an upcoming cart. Thus, we need Buddha's wisdom and guidance, his support and protection, to illuminate our way and keep us on the right path.

We are very grateful to the Venerable Master for his great vision on education. His guiding principles on education have provided us with the best solution for today's education. That is to educate our children with both the teachings of the ancient Chinese sages and that of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Filial piety, faithfulness, honesty, kindness, and justice are the human roots. Buddhadharma and worldly dharma are one, not two. They are connected. Such valuable wisdom is not taught in regular schools.

At Avatamsaka Vihara Buddhist Monastery, the children learned Di Zi Gui, the Song of Enlightenment by Great Master Yong Jia, as well as Buddhist teachings, and selected sutra texts. Classics are not only for reciting, more importantly, we need to put them into daily practice. The teachers have repeatedly emphasized on this aspect. I myself also benefitted greatly from learning Di Zi Gui. Action speaks louder than words. As parents we should set good examples and practice what we preach. This reminded me of a story. Once a woman complained about her children not behaving, and asked for advice from a Dharma Master. The Dharma Master asked her:"When you found a mistake on a Xerox copy, do you make the correction on the copy or the original?" Parents are the originals, children are the copies. Through learning Di Zi Gui, I also reflected upon myself realizing that we as parents should pay attention to our own moral cultivation.

Starting with Di Zi Gui, we were also introduced to the classic texts by ancient Chinese sages. Inspired by Professor Wang Cai Gui, we joined other families, and our children started to read Analects by Confucius and also Mencius. They continued studying to this day. The Venerable Master had always encouraged young children to learn these classic texts, whether it is the Buddhist sutra text, mantras, or verses, or Chinese ancient classics. They will help lay the moral foundation for a child.

In addition to attending weekend Dharma assembly and other ceremonies, our whole family also participated in the weekly meditation sessions held on every Friday evening in the Buddha hall. We also would like to give our gratitude to Dharma Master Heng Je, who patiently guided us and taught us the principles and the practice of meditation. For a Buddhist, to practice meditation is to study Chan and enter samadhi, and to eventually uncover one's own true Buddha-nature. For beginners or children, meditation quiets down our restless mind, enables us to stay focused, and through such practice, we hope to gain the wisdom.

Through Avatamsaka Vihara Buddhist Monastery, we learned about the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and its Instilling Goodness and Developing Virtue School (IGDVS). In the summer of 2015, our sons attended the summer camp held by IGDVS boys school.  It was the first time we paid a visit to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The CTTB and the IGDV school left us with a wonderful impression.  The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has provided the children with a pureland for them to study and to grow. My husband and I wished that our two children could come to attend the school here and to study in such a pure and pristine environment. So after we returned to Maryland, we started to apply for new jobs and prepare for our move to Ukiah.

Initially, I encountered some small obstacles during the job-searching and application process. We bowed to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the Venerable Master asking for their blessings. Soon after, we received the response when a suitable position opened up. The rest went smoothly. My former job was quite stressful. Often, I had to work overtime until 11 p.m. or 12 midnight, or sometimes even as late as 1 a.m. Therefore, time spent on taking care of my family and children was very limited, let alone the time for cultivation. Physically and mentally, I was also exhausted. With the new job, I was able to achieve better balance between my job, family, children, and the cultivation. My husband's previous job was doing research for a medical center. Due to the nature of his job, it was very difficult for him to locate a job in Ukiah area. Prior to our move, he made a vow in front of the Venerable Master that if he was able to find a job and our family move to Ukiah, he would serve as a full-time volunteer teacher for the boys school. Without the help from the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the Venerable Master, the chance of our whole family moving to Ukiah would be very slim.

It took us a year and a half, starting from when we first visited Avatamsaka Vihara Monastery in January, 2015, until we moved to Ukiah in August, 2016. A lot of Dharma friends at the Avatamsaka Vihara Monastery were surprised at our move.  Our search for a house was also a breeze after we moved to Ukiah. In fact, we found the house close to CTTB in just several days after we had arrived in Ukiah. It took us only less than two months to close the deal and move into the newly purchased home. Looking back, we found ourselves in disbelief. What incredible journey we had gone through. Our experience is certainly the result of our causes and conditions; it is also the blessings from all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the Venerable Master. We understand that we were given the opportunity to come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and that we should cultivate diligently and support and protect the Way-place. That's what we should be doing.

Thank you, all Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master, all Dharma Masters, teachers, volunteers, and all Dharma friends. May you all quickly accomplish the Way! Amituofo!


return to top