From January 3 to 18, 1993, the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua led a forty-five-member delegation on a two-week visit of Taiwan. The Master's visit caused great excitement among the faithful laity. Admiring the Master's virtuous conduct and his ascetic practice, many took the opportunity to take the refuges, receive the precepts, and leave the home-life with the Master. There were some who originally knew nothing about Buddhism, but who, after hearing the Master's strong warnings concerning Taiwan's current situation, began engaging in earnest discussions on the positive and negative aspects of the situation.
It was eleven o'clock at night on January 3 when the Master slowly walked out of customs. At once, several hundred faithful disciples who had been waiting for a long time knelt down joyfully and started to recite: "Namo Guanshiyin Bodhisattva." It was a splendid and moving scene as Taoyuan International Airport was suddenly filled with the sound of Buddhist chanting. Seeing the Master's face filled with kindness, compassion, joy, and charity even after such a long and tiring journey, many disciples were moved to tears. The Master's purity in the practice of the precepts, samadhi, and wisdom had moved these people so deeply that, even at such a late hour, they still wanted to come and welcome the Master.
The day after the delegation's arrival in Taiwan, the artist Yang Yingfeng, President Chiang Chifu of Zanghua Normal University, and others came to pay the delegation a visit.
On the third day, the Master began a tour around the island despite the fact that he was ill. First he went to Nantou and held a ground-breaking ceremony for a sharira stupa. Then the Master went to Kaohsiung, where he gave lectures to his disciples and hosted a refuge-taking ceremony at Dharma Realm Sagely Monastery and Blessings and Wisdom Monastery in southern Taiwan. Then, although the Master was seriously ill, he went to Amitabha Sagely Monastery in Hualien in order to fulfill the wishes of his disciples in eastern Taiwan. Despite his weariness, the Master travelled non-stop around the island, propagating the Dharma in order to give blessings to the people of Taiwan and hoping to diminish natural as well as man-made disasters.
After a two-and-a-half day tour around the island, the Master left Hualien and returned to Taipei, where Chang Fei, Ge Fuhung, and other actors and actresses, along with their friends and relatives, were waiting to take refuge with the Master. Although the Master had just returned from a long and tiring journey and hadn't eaten lunch yet, after a brief rest he conducted the ceremony for transmitting the Three Refuges to them. He then exhorted Chang Fei and the others to follow the Six Great Principles of "not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing personal advantages, and not telling lies." This is what the Master has been teaching all his disciples over the years.
The following day, a ceremony for leaving the home-life was held in the Dharma Realm Buddhist Books Distribution Association in Taipei, and over a thousand people came to attend. Liang Surong, the Supervisor of Presidential Affairs, who had begun to realize the impermanence of worldly affairs after seeing several of his colleagues die, also came to attend the ceremony. Among the thirty people who shaved their heads to become monks and nuns, there were two Indonesian-Chinese brothers named Lin who were only eleven and twelve years old. Having made vows to cross over living beings, they had their parents' permission to leave the home-life with the Venerable Master. It is truly due to their deep good roots from past lives and their ripening conditions that they have been able, at such a young age, to make such vows and leave the home-life to take on the heroic appearance of Sanghans.
After the ceremony for leaving the home-life, there was a series of lectures which went on for two days. Even with such a tight and busy schedule, the Master still managed to meet a lot of visitors. Most of these visitors had made appointments with the Master even before he came to Taiwan. On the morning of January 9, the Master met and talked with Lin Yanggang, the Director of the Judicial Yuan of the Republic of China, and Liang Surong, the Supervisor of Presidental Affairs. Although the conversation was brief, every remark by the Master inspired deep reflection. For example: "The situation of Taiwan right now is similar to that of the Southern Song Dynasty in the Ling An period. The nation was confined to a small area, and everyone was fighting for fame and profit." "If a person with strong morals and great virtue leads the country, the country will prosper. When the country's downfall is imminent, bad signs will be seen." "In the political field we should not favor any one party; we should all work together." "The Six Principles of not fighting, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing personal advantage, and not lying are the best methods, but stupid people are not bold enough to apply them."
The Master's talks, reported by newsmen, stirred up enthusiastic discussions among the public. Those who agreed with the Master's words, having researched the history of the Southern Song Dynasty and confirmed the alarming truth in the Master's warnings, suggested that everyone should face the situation and find a way to resolve the problem. Those who disagreed with the Master's viewpoint called the Master "a monk who interferes in politics." The Master remained unmoved by both praise and slander. Even the harshest denouncements failed to stir him to anger. Greatly concerned about the welfare of Taiwan's twenty million people, the Master said, "Actually I do not want to interfere in political affairs; it's just that I'm too concerned about Taiwan to remain silent."
On the afternoon of January 9, the Master went to a Dharma Master's dwelling to hold an "opening light" ceremony for the Buddha images. Hundreds of faithful laypeople, led by the members of the Cultivators' Association founded by that Dharma Master, filled the building. Businessmen and employees from nearby stores all took this opportunity to come to see the Master. The Dharma Master's former husband told the assembly of how the Venerable Master had saved her life from a serious sickness. A mother, Mrs. Du, in a choked voice, described how her daughter had been unconscious for forty-two days after a conflagration and how the Master rescued her from the hands of death. Huang Guoling, who came from Malaysia recounted how some ten years ago, she had been in real suffering when she discovered that her husband was having an affair. Fortunately, the Master had instructed her to recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name, and by doing so she had obtained some responses that saved her family from breaking apart. Lastly, the Master said in a sincere but humorous tone, "All of you good men and good women with wisdom, don't listen to them talk about how I've cured their illnesses or what kind of responses they have gotten. That's just what they say. When I was young, wherever I went I would try to save people's lives. I was willing to give up my own life in order to cure someone else's illness. Later when I went to Hong Kong, I stopped curing people's illnesses because it was offending their karmic obstacle ghosts. People's illnesses are caused by their karmic obstacles, which are created not in one lifetime but over many lifetimes. When these karmic obstacle ghosts come to collect their debts from people, they are not reasonable at all. They are like the Communist Party, which insists on "sharing" your property regardless of whether or not the property belongs to you. If you wish to recover from your illness, you have to be sincere, for sincerity brings efficacy. If you are not sincere and you think you can just rely on me, it won't work."
The assembly was hoping to hear more Dharma from the Master, but the Master had already been invited by the Buddhist Cultivators' Association in Taipei to give his next lecture in a tall office building near Longshan (Dragon Hill) Monastery in Wanhua. More than two thousand people filled the twelfth and thirteenth floors of the building. It was so crowded that the latecomers couldn't even get in the door. After the Master delivered a one-hour lecture, the workers from the Master's next scheduled lecture were already waiting to escort him to the next lecture hall.
Leaving the hall of the Cultivators' Association in Taipei, the van carrying the members of the delegation made its way out of the narrow alley with difficulty and finally got onto the traffic-packed highway leading to Gongguan. Reflecting on the luxurious lifestyle of many rich Taiwanese, the Master sighed and said, "You think their kind of life is enjoyable, but to me it's like being in hell." Truly, many of those who enjoy riches and abundance do not know how to cherish their blessings. Every day they lavish money on eating and drinking; they lead lives of pride, luxury, profligacy, and idleness, and they commit countless offenses.
On the evening of January 9 and the morning of January 10, there were two lectures entitled "The Modern Human Mind, Conduct, and Disposition" and "Progress in Science and Philosophy" in the gymnasium of the National Taiwan's Institute of Technology in Taipei. Thousands of young students flocked to listen to the Master and his disciples. After each lecture, the Master accepted questions from the audience. His answers were incisive and humorous, making the audience nod in agreement and sometimes burst into laughter. For example, one person asked, "How can one be reborn in the Pure Land?" The Master replied, "Why do you want to be reborn there? How can you get there when you are carrying so much garbage?" Another person asked, "How can I counteract improper thoughts? " The Master said, "Reflect within and ask yourself: hy can't I bring up proper thoughts, and why do I enjoy improper thoughts so much?'"
After the lecture on January 10, some thirty people from the legal profession, including judges, public procurators, lawyers, and many of their friends and relatives, came to seek advice from the Master. They asked, "How can we reform the legal system?" The Venerable Master said, "You should be just and unbiased. Do not take bribes, but simply serve the people. " They also asked many questions concerning their families, and the Master encouraged them to recite the names of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and the Buddha.
From January 11 to 17, a seven-day Dharma Assembly was held in Taipei State Gymnasium in Banqiao City for the recitation of the Shurangama Mantra and the Great Compassion Mantra and the transmission of the Three Refuges and the Five Precepts. Approximately five thousand people attended each day.
On the morning of the eleventh, the Master came to preside over the Dharma Assembly. In the afternoon, Huang Junqiu, the Director of the Control Yuan of the Republic of China, came to the Huamao Hotel to meet the Venerable Master. When their talk turned to the politics in Taiwan, in which "the younger generation is gradually taking over the duties of the elders," the Venerable Master said, "The elders are more experienced, and they are more steady and mature in doing things. Young people do not have much experience, and so they cannot accomplish much. Yet we can still appoint those who are truly talented. In ancient China, Gan Luo became Prime Minister when he was only twelve years old. Tai Gong remained loyal to and protective of King Wen even when he was eighty years old. Those who are headstrong and refuse to listen to others' advice will not be good for the country." Recently, physical force has frequently been used in political meetings at all levels of government. Regarding this, the Master said, "Those who constantly fight are not politicians. They are only sending the people to the hells and bringing calamities upon them."
The Master sighed, "I am now like Confucius, who travelled throughout the feudal states and tried to promote peace among them. I know my goal is impossible, and yet I still do it." Director Huang said enthusiastically, "No, you know it can be done, and so you should do it." Then he talked about his own future vow, which is to establish a hospital for the elderly. The Venerable Master expressed his approval and encouraged Director Huang, "You should do it for the benefit of all and not to give yourself a high position."
In the afternoon, Dharma Master Zhenyi from Baojie Monastery brought more than one hundred people, who met with the Master in small groups. One woman, holding her adorable little son by the hand, came to thank the Master, saying, "I had been married for ten years without conceiving. Four years ago the Master came to Taiwan, and with the Master's blessing, I now have a son." The Venerable Master said, "Don't talk about it; if you talk about it, there will be no end to the people who come to me." Two days ago when the Master was answering questions at the Institute of Technology, he had already said, "Don't ask me questions about getting married or having children…"
Most people think that the Master is bestowing blessings only when he strikes them with his cane or rubs the crown of their head. In fact, the Master may bestow blessings without making any display. For example, whenever the Master is not speaking during a Dharma Assembly, he is silently blessing the participants of the assembly.
After the Master met with the group of over a hundred people, Liang Surong, the Supervisor of Presidential Affairs, immediately invited the Master to a press conference. The Venerable Master indicated that there were three purposes for his visit to Taiwan this time. The first was to bring blessings to the living beings in Taiwan. The second was to invite Supervisor Liang Surong to serve as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Dharma Realm Buddhist University. The third was to exhort the citizens of Taiwan to conduct themselves according to the principles of humanity. This means they should truly cherish their country, families, and themselves and should take care of the widowers, widows, orphans, and the solitary. Politicians should not fight each other. Those who live on this precious island should cherish this field of blessings. They shouldn't act like one "who doesn't know how to put his blessings to the right use, and who keeps looking for trouble where there is none."
After the press conference, the Venerable Master was invited to visit the International Virtue Society. When the Master was fifteen years old, he became a member of the Virtue Society and participated in the work of teaching and transforming the thoughts of the people. Therefore, he felt an obligation to visit the International Virtue Society as it has been revived in Taiwan. The Master also visited the Establishing Virtue Kindergarten founded by the Virtue Society, and he was happy to see the spacious, bright classrooms and the children's innocent faces revealing the original purity of human nature. The Master encouraged the Society members to continue working hard to help purify this evil world of the five turbidities.
By then it was evening, and the participants in the Dharma Assembly at the Taipei County Stadium in Banqiao City were waiting to hear the Master's evening lecture on Buddhism. With his aged, illness-stricken body, the Master endured yet another ride through the heavy traffic on the highway. One disciple who couldn't bear to see the Master undergoing such toil said, "Master, you must be tired..." The Master smiled and said, "If I were to die of weariness, that would be okay. There's nothing to talk about." The Venerable Master, who has never complained of weariness, always aims toward his goal of "offering this deep resolve to the myriad Buddhas' lands, thus endeavoring to repay the Buddhas' boundless grace." For the sake of propagating the Buddhadharma, guiding those who are upright, and helping those who are good-hearted to succeed, the Master is willing to shed blood and sweat, never pausing to rest. The way that the Master worked from morning to night on January 11th was typical of the Master's entire stay in Taiwan. That day a strange thing happened. One disciple told the Master that a large forest fire had been burning for several days on Jade Mountain and requested the Master to mercifully rescue the numerous creatures that lived on the mountain. The Master simply told her not to care too much about this matter and didn't respond to her request directly. Strangely enough, however, frost began to fall on Jade Mountain that very night, and the great fire was completely extinguished.
The following week, people from different religions (including Buddhist Dharma Masters and Christian ministers) and from the circles of education, business, and politics poured in to see the Master. Witnessing the political unrest in Taiwan, an army sergeant had been so worried that he always went home and knelt before the Bodhisattva's statue and cried. The Master has always praised patriotic people, and for this sergeant he explained a prophetic verse composed by Dharma Master Bu Xu of the Sui Dynasty (A.D. 589-618), enabling him to understand China's destiny in the recent hundred years. Then he could calm down and continue to work hard. Faced with a changing political situation, we should first seek to reform ourselves and not go against our conscience.
On January 16, a group of Taiwan government officials had a private meeting with the Master; they included Chief Administrative Officer Hao Bocun, Minister of Justice Lin Yanggang, Chief Inspector Huang Junqiu, Minister of the Interior Wu Boxiong, legislative representative Wang Jinping, deputy of the National Union Association Kang Lingxiang, and others. The day before, Huang Dazhou, the Mayor of Taipei, had also paid a special visit to the Master before going to work in the morning. As usual, the Venerable Master gave them these true words of advice: "Do not fight, do not be greedy, do not seek, do not be selfish, do not pursue personal advantage, and do not lie." He also advised them not to think of their own safety, but to think instead of the country's future and the well-being of the citizens.
On Sunday, January 17, the Taipei County Stadium was packed. Over ten thousand people came to receive the Three Refuges, the Five Precepts, and the Precepts for the Deceased [Bodhisattva Precepts]. The manager of the seven-day Dharma Assembly organized the whole event very capably, and with the help of the lay volunteers he had called together, the Dharma Assembly went smoothly and was very adorned, orderly, and in accord with Dharma. The Venerable Master was comforted by this. With the great number of people who received the precepts this time, the violent energy in Taiwan will certainly be decreased and turned into auspicious and proper energy. Many disciples came to see the Master at the very end of the Master's visit in Taiwan, hoping the Master would transmit the Dharma to them, cure their sicknesses, and so forth. More disciples came to Huamao Hotel right before the Master went to the airport, including those who specially made a trip from the south. Their sincerity was very moving. Since there are still many laypeople who were unable to participate in the Dharma Assembly and receive the precepts as they wished, the Master's disciples plan to invite the Master to come to Taiwan again next year to spread the sound of the proper Dharma to living beings who yearn to hear it.