TBS News, Reverend Lian Qi
The swallows made their presence felt as they soared across the sky. The breeze that accompanied the chirping created a harmonic music of sorts. So, on May 17, 2020, when Grandmaster and Shimu arrived at Rainbow Temple, they were just in time to see this joyous scene. As Grandmaster watched the dainty birds, he remarked, "Swallows are auspicious signs." And it's so true! Since ancient times, swallows have always been regarded as auspicious creatures, and if they were to enter one’s house, good luck is sure to ensue. If swallows were to build nests in the house, then the house is said to have good fengshui and luck.
In Book 170, "Seattle Reminiscence", Grandmaster mentioned that generations of swallows had been building their nests in Rainbow Villa. Therefore, a spiritual cultivator at the Villa should always watch out for these swallows, for they would appear at the corridors, on cars or on nearby branches. They would always leave behind a white trail of excrement.
At Rainbow Temple, there are also the frequent deer, ants and butterflies, whose lives we must compassionately protect and treat with care, tolerance and patience. The creatures hail from ancestors who were the original inhabitants of the land. Grandmaster said, "When the Villa was built, the workers found a huge ants' nest in the ground. The workers wanted to burn it as that was the most expedient way to clear the ants, but Grandmaster was opposed to killing the insects. So, great effort was undertaken to wrap the nest in a carton box and transport it to the mountains."
One could not help but see Grandmaster's soft-heartedness and his love for sentient beings. Sometimes, one would see some big black ants wandering outside the Homa Hall and one could only wonder if they are the descendants of the ants who had strayed away from the nest.
As the volunteers welcomed Grandmaster into the Homa Hall, they could not help but notice the huge jade pendant that Grandmaster was wearing. He introduced the jade to everyone, "I heard it is a relic from an excavation."
Just as Grandmaster and Shimu finished paying respects at the altar, they heard someone calling in to enquire about the Double Lotus Realm Columbarium. After that, Grandmaster said solemnly, "Visitors should be treated well like customers. When they come and visit us, pay respects to the altar, or enquire about our services, we must always place them at the forefront. We should not stand on a pedestal. Buddhism is about delivering sentient beings; the services we provide are a kind of customer service. We must always strive to render convenience to others. Only then can we mass-deliver those with affinity."
Grandmaster set an example by personally demonstrating, many times, what a 90-degree bow looked like. Shimu added, "Our cultivation venue is made possible by the great benevolence of the Buddha. Everyone is able to have a place to do spiritual cultivation in peace. We must constantly strive to improve ourselves; we cannot be complacent with just the 'safety net' that our predecessors have left behind. That's not sustainable."
This brings to mind the "Customer Relations and Etiquette" class held at Lei Tsang Temple in Taiwan last December. Organized by the True Buddha Foundation, the class was facilitated and taught by a professional from the industry. On retrospect, when one thinks of how much True Buddha School (TBS) has grown over the past ten years despite fierce competition in the religious arena, one marvels at not just Grandmaster’s Great Achievement, the trueness of True Buddha Tantric Dharma and the prowess of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but also Grandmaster's and Shimu's humility and courtesy. Grandmaster and Shimu are always magnanimous and yielding to sentient beings, and these are characteristics that are essential in this society where care and concern are olive branches that help people. We, as sentient beings, realize that Grandmaster and Shimu are the best textbook case studies for customer relations as they exemplify, in action and in speech, the very qualities of great interaction with sentient beings.
During mealtime, Grandmaster talked about the dharma discourse that took place after the homa of the Tara Who Saves from Contagious Diseases. He explained the concepts of no-self, no-afflictions, no-mind, and no-thoughts. In this present world, everything in life is a test. Grandmaster said, "Once, I dreamt that someone had taken my precious stone. In vain, I demanded the return of the treasure. I became so panicky that I nearly wanted to kneel down to beg the person to give it back to me. When I woke up, a voice told me that I had failed the test."
Shimu also offered an example. Once, she dreamt that all the pockets in her clothes were full of money. The money had fallen to the ground and she resorted to using her skirt to hold it.
The volunteers nearby explained that Grandmaster and Shimu valued the money and the precious stone for philanthropic activities. Grandmaster was quick to respond, "There is still greed. To have the Right Thought when one's awake is easy. One can easily pack and donate a bag of money and won't even take it to heart. However, in a dream, although one should maintain no-mind and no-thoughts, it's difficult to do so."
If Grandmaster and Shimu -- who embody wisdom, achievement and wealth of life experiences -- could use dreams to warn themselves, let alone TBS disciples who have to be even more cautious.
During mealtime, Grandmaster was full of praise for the Vietnamese savory rice pudding that a Reverend had cooked. It was very delicious. Grandmaster recalled an incident in the past when a Seattle disciple treated Grandmaster to Vietnamese savory rice pudding; to this day, the taste still lingers on. The volunteers were astonished that Grandmaster could still remember a dish that he sampled so long ago; Grandmaster could even remember the name of the disciple who treated him to the food. Grandmaster laughed, "Oops. I am caught out for not having total no-self and no-mind. It's indeed difficult." As we partook our meal while listening to Grandmaster and Shimu, we could really get some enlightening insights into life.
Someone suddenly mentioned that May 18 would be arriving the next day. That date was special. Forty years ago in 1980, on that very day, Grandmaster took the plane and stepped onto American soil for the first time. On that day too, the greatest volcanic eruption from Mount St Helens (State of Washington) took place. The impact was global; it's just like one of the six big 'vibrations' that the Buddhist sutras mentioned before. Luckily, there was no great harm.
Grandmaster recalled that the trip entailed a tour of the USA, courtesy of a Taiwanese disciple's daughter's boyfriend. He drove them to Upstate New York where Fa Lun Temple was. There, Grandmaster met one of his Root Gurus, the 16th Karmapa, from whom Grandmaster received many empowerments. When Grandmaster migrated from Taiwan to Seattle, Grandmaster learnt Unparalleled Tantra (Anuttarayoga Tantra) and Great Perfection from his Root Guru; Grandmaster eventually obtained Great Achievement and turned the great wheel of the Dharma. He was able to use True Buddha Tantric Dharma to deliver sentient beings.
Padmasambhava once said, "In the end of days stained with the five defilements, the metallic bird (airplane) will fly the sky and Tantric Buddhism will prosper." The giant plane-maker, Boeing, is in Seattle, isn't it? Regardless of whether these are spiritual responses or coincidences, they are no longer important because Grandmaster has definitely delivered millions of sentient beings. True Buddha Tantric Dharma is already widespread around the world.
Grandmaster is multi-talented; he has excellent penmanship and he is a maestro in the rendition of fists and strokes. He can be quiet and active. Hence, after presiding over the ceremony, he went to the Main Hall to perform a series of 'Vajra Pole' moves which swept away the karma hindrances of sentient beings. After that, Grandmaster went to play the piano. The sight was astonishing -- more astonishing than seeing Grandmaster on the Dharma seat! Grandmaster swept his fingers across the black and white keys for a while; he was apologetic as he had forgotten how to play because it's been a long time since he'd last touched the piano. Shimu, who was beside him, reminded Grandmaster of the keys a couple of times, and very soon, Grandmaster was playing a song very well. The music was expressive; it is like a butterfly that flits up and down over fragrant flowers and eventually fluttering out of the window to the great expanse of the sky outside. The purity of the music brought to mind scenes of childhood during which innocence was as natural as breathing. As a finale to the evening, Grandmaster performed Taiji Fists to exercise the body.
One can see that Grandmaster does every single thing seriously and wholeheartedly. From presiding over a ceremony, discoursing the Dharma, playing the piano, to performing the Vajra and Taiji Fists -- Grandmaster does them sincerely and wholeheartedly. We are all humbled by Grandmaster’s suave life philosophy.
As night began to fall, a group of sentient beings started to fly back to their nests from the green mountains beyond. The swallows' chirps once again came on and reverberated the heartstrings within us. Soon, as we raised our eyes and watched the sky, we saw that the Rainbow Temple's swallows had returned.