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What My Father Had Taught Me

More than 30 years ago, my father was in a critical condition due to a sudden brain hemorrhage. Being a beginner in Buddhism then, I’d just learned about the Guanyin Bodhisattva’s great compassion. As the sovereign regarder, she’d vowed to free all beings from suffering after hearing their cries for help. Praying to her had not only comforted me but

“Hop on!”

I ducked head first into the passenger’s seat and gave dad a bear hug. “There is nothing more reassuring than being in your car, dad!” Thanks to his crybaby of a daughter who loves to tag along, dad has perfected the skill of driving fast and steady whether he’s on the highway or a rugged mountain road. “This car’s got

The Light of Great Compassion in the Ward

One day, our nuns arrived at the hospital to visit patients who were severely ill. The ward was cold with an air of despair. Exhausted, the caregiver was going through her phone. Some were unconscious, some paralyzed, and others, battling death. Some were once glorious, some healthy, and others successful, yet had lost everything in a moment’s time without knowing

A grand aspiration brings

Teacher Zhen-Ru once said in Global Lamrim that Bodhisattvas Manjusri and Maitreya can take on infinite forms and roam the worlds so they can guide and teach all sentient beings. She then posed the question:“If you could take on infinite bodies, what would you do?” “Hm…” The question had never really crossed my mind. After all, to have infinite bodies

To Wake at the Sound of the Board

In the monastery, our alarm is the sound of a wooden mallet striking against a wooden board. To wake immediately at the sound of the board is a standard our teacher had left for all monastic practitioners. It is a sign of diligence and self-discipline. As practitioners who strive to continuously better ourselves, not only did our teacher ask this

Panic No More

I was a timid child growing up. Whenever my mom didn’t pick me up from school on time, I’d cry all the way home. Terrified, I’d ask her why she couldn’t have come a little bit earlier. One day, my mom looked me in the eye and told me very earnestly to pray to the Guanyin Bodhisattva whenever I’m scared.

Let No Dust Alight

“It’s totally not worth it if I were to lose my wisdom because of all this dust!” That day, when I came across the pile of dust on top of our bookshelves during the annual clean-up, I couldn’t help but recall Teacher Zhen-Ru’s words: If the place you store your scriptures is full of dust, you’ll become unwise. Our class

An Unsolicited Friend

One night, as I was getting ready for bed, I noticed a note on my desk. “Do you think the others would want to know more about this debate question? I can look into it tomorrow morning. Think of it as an offering!” Met with a debate topic that only brought more questions than answers, Venerable Charity offered her unsolicited

You Raise Me Up

I grew up in Southern California. Although I’ve some rudimentary knowledge of Chinese, I still find parts of the language rather foreign. Needless to say, to learn Collective Topics, the preliminary course of the Five Great Treatises is a great challenge. Thinking back now, we were constantly reminded of our passion for learning when we first started. But not only

Hope from the Grapevine

I once heard of a story that happened near Teacher Zhen-Ru’s house. There was a large grapevine by the apple tree. Its vines were so intricately intertwined that it not only seemed to be suffocating the tree, the grapevine itself had withered from lack of air. Seeking the help of an expert agronomist, the monks were told that between the

Future Geshema

Last Mother’s Day, I listened to my mother stifle her sobs on the other end of the telephone, speaking of inconsolable loneliness. Evening prayers – the prayer hall reverberated with the monastics’ melodious chanting. But my heart had drifted elsewhere, gliding along the roadmap of another kind of life: graduating from college, finding a job, spending time with my parents,

Raise the Torch of the Teachings

Many years ago, Teacher Zhen-Ru had encouraged us to study extensively in order to maintain the Buddhist teachings. Such practice is a common concern highly valued by many great teachers. For the past few summers, we’ve had the wonderful opportunity to receive auspicious teachings from two great teachers who’ve travelled from afar. This year, we’ve also been given the chance