The present accomplishments of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas result from the toil and efforts of Buddhist disciplines in overcoming numerous hardships.
I.The Buddha’s Teachings Spread Worldwide
The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has been in existence for seven years now. Its present accomplishments result from the toil and efforts of Buddhist disciples in overcoming numerous hardships. Countless miracles have occurred. Let us recount from the beginning how this flourishing City started.
Over twenty years ago, the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua saw that the conditions were ripe and travelled alone to America to sow the seeds of Proper Dharma in the fertile soil of the Western Hemisphere. Through the years he has arduously blazed new trails, enduring hardship in order to raise the banner of the Proper Dharma and turn the great wheel of Dharma.
Upon arriving in the United States in 1962, he founded the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco’s Chinatown. He named himself “The Monk in the Grave” and lived in quiet anonymity. In 1968, the Master explained the Shurangama Sutra for students from the University of Washington in Seattle and founded the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. In the years that followed, he founded various branches of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, including Gold Mountain Monastery (1970), the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts(1972), Gold Wheel Monastery in Los Angeles (1975), the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage, Mendocino County (1976), Bodhidharma Center in Seattle (1976), and others. Like bamboo shoots after a spring rain, these Way-places of Proper Dharma thrived and prospered, laying a stable foundation for Buddhism’s future.
II. Promoting Free Education to Reform Social Trends
In his transformation of people, the Venerable Master carries out worldly endeavors in a transcendental spirit. He sees the failure of education as the root cause for the decline of morals, the degradation of culture, and the poor quality of teaching. Parents allow children to do as they please, unconcerned for their futures. Schools are ineffective in educating and disciplining children. Instead of learning ethical values at school, children learn to ignore their consciences and violate nature principles. It’s no wonder there are so many dropouts and juvenile delinquents who become involved in murder, arson, drug peddling, theft and every conceivable crime.
Purely by means of virtue, the Venerable Master has influenced rebellious young people to reform. He has even ended gang wars, bringing peace to society. He has quietly helped the overseas Chinese, creating tremendous merits.
The Master has long been committed to education. As a teenager in Manchuria, he started a free school for poor children. Wishing to rescue education from its present predicament, the Master announced on the Fourth of July in 1980 that the schools at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas would charge no tuition and would actively promote a model curriculum of ethical virtue and character so as to transform people’s attitudes and reform social customs. Instilling Goodness Elementary was founded in 1975, followed by Developing Virtue Secondary School. In both schools, boys and girls study separately. Proper etiquette, filial piety, and fraternal respect are emphasized. Under skillful and patient instruction, young people behave virtuously as a matter of course. Instilling Goodness Elementary School focuses on the virtue of filial piety, while Developing Virtue Secondary School emphasizes service to society as well as filial piety. The aims of Dharma Realm Buddhist University are service, filial piety, humaneness, and justice.
The destiny of the world lies in the hands of young people. If we devote less than our full attention to their education, the consequences will be dire indeed! It is of critical importance to nurture young people who will be capable of leading and shaping society. The various educational institutions of this association aspire to foster outstanding future leaders of uncompromising integrity who will benefit all beings and bring blessings to humankind.
III. A Pure Land of Blessings within the Mundane World
Since purchasing the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in 1976, the association has quietly persevered in its work, undaunted by setbacks. The City has been discriminated against and attacked, being slandered by those who rely on Buddhism for their livelihood. Having calmly withstood all adversities, the City is now recognized as an international “pure land on earth”. It stands strong, independent, and shining in its splendor.
The City is located 115 miles north of San Francisco and covers more than 400 acres of land, including Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain. Surrounded by mountains, the City has all kinds of trees, flowers, and vegetation, such as the world-famous redwood, pine, cedar, bamboo, and rows of fruit trees. White cranes, peacocks, and other birds sing the wondrous sounds of Dharma. Spotted deer, squirrels, and other wild creatures populate the grounds. Over seventy large buildings, constructed with materials of the best quality, house up to twenty thousand residents. Breathing the fresh, clean air and taking in the lovely setting, it is easy to fall into a reverie.
IV. An International Monastery of Imposing Architecture
The City has undertaken numerous construction and renovation projects. The magnificent triple-arch front gate, which doubles as a lecture platform, was completed in 1982. The walls of the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas are adorned with ten thousand small Buddha statues, and an eighteen-foot-tall statue of the Thousand-Handed, Thousand-Eyed Guanshiyin Bodhisattva stands in front of the hall. Countless miracles are associated with this statue of the Bodhisattva. Those who pray sincerely before it never fail to gain a response. Thus this statue is visited by an endless stream of pilgrims from every nation.
The Vajra Jeweled Ordination Hall, also completed in 1982, is unique in its magnificent design, which includes inter-reflecting mirrors on four walls. The Five Contemplations Dining Hall, the most recent project to be completed, has a seating capacity of two thousand. Dormitories in the City include Tathagata Monastery, Great Compassion House(for men), Joyous Giving House(for women), Horse Whiney House, Dragon Tree House, and Lion House. In addition, the City serves as an acupuncture clinic, a general hospital with 180 rooms for patients, the Buddhist Council for the Rescue and Resettlement of Refugees, and a Center for World Religions.
Funds are currently being raised to build a Jeweled Hall of Great Heroes that will be 110 feet high, 330 feet long, and 210 feet wide. It will hold up to ten thousand worshippers at once. The first floor will be the Flower Adornment Proper Dharma Lecture Hall, and the second floor will be the Jeweled Hall of Great Heroes. The structure will have double eaves with the corners curving upwards and be surrounded by flowing water. It will be colossal and magnificent, the most splendid Buddha Hall in the West.
Since the United States is a great nation of the world, we must have a large, international monastery to lead world Buddhism into its next stage of splendid achievements!
V. The Six Guiding Principles and Selfless Public Spirit
Under the high standards of integrity of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the “dragons must coil up and the tigers must crouch down,” so to speak. The members of the fourfold assembly avoid opportunism, flattery, and vulgar trends. As a monk, the Master has always lived by the Six Guidelines: not to fight, not to be greedy, not to seek, not to be selfish, not to pursue personal gain, and not to tell lies. As a result, his followers have developed uncompromising standards of integrity. The practitioners of our association take the following as their creed:
Freezing, we do not scheme.
Starving, we do not beg.
Dying of poverty, we ask for nothing.
According with conditions, we do not change.
Not changing, we accord with conditions.
We adhere firmly to our three great principles.
We renounce our lives to do the Buddha’s work.
We take responsibility to mold our own destinies.
We rectify our lives to fulfill the Sanghan’s role.
Encountering specific matters, we understand the principles,
Understanding the principles, we apply them in specific matters.
We carry on the single pulse of the Patriarchs’ mind-transmission.
We try our best to avoid the utilitarian, opportunistic, and selfish attitudes common in this day and age. We strive to practice in an honest, down-to-earth fashion, devoting our lives to Buddhism with almost foolish sincerity. The Venerable Master uses nothing but patience to teach his disciples. Young Westerners in particular, who are used to listening to no one and having their own way, have been inspired to submit to him wholeheartedly. When his disciples fail to listen, the Master bows to them, using his superhuman sincerity and patience to gather in sentient beings.
VI. World Buddhism Shines Resplendently
Since coming to the United States over twenty years ago, the Venerable Master has consistently embodied the courageous spirit of the maxim: “I shall not eat on any day that I have done no work.” He always teaches by example and does not know the meaning of fatigue when it comes to instructing people.
His monastic disciples, who are of Chinese, American, British, Vietnamese, and Malaysian origins, are characterized by their outstanding ideals, profound erudition, and strict moral discipline. They delight only in the Proper Dharma and do not exploit the laity or curry favors from the rich and powerful. Neither turning away those who come nor pursuing those who leave the monastery, these disciples turn all donations over to the temple and receive no personal offerings. In this way, they hope to reform Buddhism, revive the Vinaya (moral discipline), and practice the lofty and virtuous conduct of a public monastery.
The monastics at the City observe the Buddha’s regulations of eating only one meal a day and not lying down to sleep. They practice vigorously so as to perpetuate the Proper Dharma. The fourfold assembly is engaged in translating the Buddhist canon, providing education through the schools, reciting the Buddha’s name, meditating, practicing repentance, and reciting mantras. In all of these, they advance single-mindedly, forgetting themselves for the sake of the Dharma. Yet there are detractors in Buddhism who criticize such practices as not according with the Proper Dharma and the Middle Way, and who accuse us of showing off. It is hard to fathom their intentions.
In the City’s auspicious environment, talented and learned individuals are not lacking. In this age of Dharma’s decline, they shine through the darkness to illuminate the universe, spreading the Buddha’s teachings and perpetuating the Triple Jewel. It is said,
There is nothing that does not flow forth from the Dharma Realm.
There is nothing that does not return to the Dharma Realm.
This is the place where sages, worthies, and heroes of the ten directions convene. On this occasion of the City’s Seventh Anniversary Celebration, may we advance with vigor and enter the realm of infinitely bright liberation together.