When I was a small child and attended a neighbor’s funeral, I asked my father many questions such as: “Why do people die?” “Where do people go after they die?” “Why do people become sick?” And, “Why don’t people recover from their illnesses?” Questions like that were always on my mind.
During my Sophomore year at university, I came in contact with Buddhism. I gradually got answers to some of my questions. However, as before, I found it difficult to face family members or friends who were suffering from mental or physical pain. I simply didn’t have the knowledge or super powers to resolve their suffering or soothe their pains.
For many years, I searched for a highly realized master who could guide me to develop what I needed to help others. I studied Taoism, the Celestial Tao, and Christianity. I took refuge with many venerable monks of the Zen, the Pure Land, and Tantric schools of Buddhism in Taiwan. While I gained a great deal of knowledge of Buddhism, I did not attain any actual realization or enlightenment.
It was August 26, 1984, an auspicious, fateful day, a friend introduced me to an elderly gentleman in his seventies who told me this fascinating story…
Mahayana Zengong teachings were transmitted by a highly realized monk
On his way home one day after school, a thirteen year old junior high boy with his classmates ran into an ascetic monk with long hair who wore ragged clothes and was carrying a cane. The monk got the boy’s attention and told the boy that he would take him to a wonderful place the next day, but on no account should the boy tell anyone about it. The boy was struck with curiosity. So, the next day he gleefully met the monk as he was told.
The monk took the boy to a mountain where they entered a cave. The mouth of the cave was very small, but the inside of the cavern was extremely large with many paths and rooms. The boy soon realized that this was the neighborhood around his home. He felt extremely puzzled and asked the monk how his home had gotten into the cave. The monk smiled and asked the boy if he wanted to know what his life would be like. “Sure!” answered the boy and the monk told him to close his eyes. In an instant, the boy saw his whole life flashing before his eyes. “Is there any way to change it?” asked the boy. “Such is your destiny” replied the monk.
Everyday after that, the monk would come for the boy and taught him lessons which had to be completely memorized. Every other day, the monk would test the boy. If the boy did not remember everything, he was told to kneel as punishment. After many meetings, the boy finally memorized all of his teachings.
Master the Zengong and Carry the Lineage Torch
That boy was the elderly gentleman who, later on, introduced me to a set of teachings. These were practical teachings which allow one to unify the body and mind, integrate essence and application. The teachings begin with novice training to mind awakening and realization of Self-nature and on to attain the supreme enlightenment and the fruit of Buddhahood.
I asked him, “My respectful Senior, have you fully accomplished all the stages of this teachings?” He replied “No, only part of it, otherwise I would not be sick like this. On the other hand, I am thankful for the blessing of having realized these teachings so that I am able to live this long!”
When the old master was eighteen years old he took part in the War of Resistance against the Japanese invasion and subsequently the Chinese civil war after World War II. It was not until 1953 that he was able to come to Taiwan. During this tumultuous period he did not have much time to practice the teachings. Unfortunately, after coming to Taiwan he was framed and was put in jail for ten years. He did practice the teachings in his jail and achieved a very high state of realization. The old master was later poisoned and nearly died. After he was released from jail, life was extremely difficult for him. Due to the many hardships that he went through, the old master’s physical conditions just could not allow him to make further progress in his practice of the teachings. His only wish was to spread the teachings during the remaining years of his life and to insure that the teachings of this school were propagated far and wide for the benefit of human beings.
The old master told me that I was talented and had the ability to propagate Buddha’s teachings. He also said, I repeatedly took the bodhichitta vow to help sentient beings in my previous lives. Most importantly I had a very strong connection with the First Patriarch, the monk. He hoped that I would seriously practice according to the teachings. Then, I could help spread this Mahayana Zengong to all parts of the world within ten years. Thus, the transmission and survival of this supreme teachings could be assured and handed down to the future generations. Also, I would be an outstanding figure in the history of Buddhism. I replied to the elder master that I just wanted to fully realize these teachings so that I would have the wisdom and ability to resolve the sufferings of people in pain. As far as propagation of the teachings was concerned, I felt that I did not have what it takes to achieve this mammoth task.
He continued to encourage me and told me stories of my previous lives. The karmic connections were thus formed. It was under these circumstances that I dedicated my entire life and all my effort to the realization and propagation of these teachings.
The ragged robed monk mentioned above was the First Patriarch of the Mahayana Zengong school, the Zen Master Miao Kong. The elderly gentleman was my benefactor and my kind Dharma teacher. He was nearly eighty years old when he passed away in 1993. He was the Second Patriarch of the lineage, the Zen Master Yuan-Dao. In 1985 I accepted his command to offer the teachings of Mahayana Zengong to the general public. On December 17, 1989, I was publicly bestowed the title of the Third Lineage Holder of Mahayana Zengong and was presented with the Genealogy of the Lineage. In my effort to spread the teachings of Mahayana Zengong I have formally given teachings to over three thousand students, both in Taiwan and abroad.
(Translator’s note: This article was first appeared in the issue of Buddhist Newsweek, no. 122, January 20, 1992).
(c) USMZAS 1998