Friday, June 11, 2010

Chapter 9 - A Fulfilled Vow

A Buddhist by the name of Lee Wei had taken refuge with the old monk Kuang-chin. His mother, Madame Wong was also the disciple of the old monk. Madame Wong passed away one year following the death of the old monk. She had devoted herself to charity, alms-giving as well as Buddhism when she was alive.

Once, Lee Wei took part in a pilgrimage to the mountain. This pilgrimage involved a group of pilgrims bowing once every three steps from the foot of the mountain towards the Precious Hall of the Great Hero situated at the top of the mountain. Everyone was chanting the epithet of the Buddha, and leading the group was a community of monks holding an instrument called Liu-yin( a handheld brass gong attached to a wooden handle and stringed to a striker). Liu-yin is a ritual instrument which produces a bell-like tinkle sound when struck. Everyone listens to the sound as it signals all to knell or bow, walk or chant the Buddha's epithet.

The constant flow of pilgrims wove a long and winding contingent, adorning the place with sacredness and liveliness. Pilgrimage has its advantages:
Climbing mountains and exercises build the body.
Cultivation through sincere prostration.
Recitation of the Buddha's epithet.
Cessation of erroneous thoughts.

Taking this rather rugged mountainous journey of pilgrimage is a test to every pilgrim as it winds for a few thousand feet, and the path is paved with nothing but soil. Lee Wei followed the contingent of pilgrims, chanting the Buddha's epithet and bowing in all sincerity. He once turned his head and saw a group of women in the pilgrimage. Among them was a woman carrying an incense bag, whose feature resembled his mother.
Lee Wei was stunned. He waved at her and she waved back. Lee Wei was sure that the woman was his mother. He quickly left his group and hurried towards the woman. Yet, when he stared again, the woman who looked like his mother was gone. Lee Wei could not believe his eyes, but she was nowhere to be seen. Lee Wei trusted his own vision and knew the woman was his mother. No doubt about that. Yet she disappeared in a flash. Most people thought Lee Wei was seeing things. Lee Wei said, "My mum was really among the group of women and we had waved to each other. How could she have disappeared within a few steps I took towards her. What is happening here?"
Outsiders felt it was simply impossible. When one is dead, one cannot possibly come to life. It had to be a blurred vision. A debate resulted between two camps. Someone suggested to Lee Wei, "Go look up Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu."
"Why go to him?" Lee Wei asked.
"He has spiritual ability." The person replied.

Lee Wei came to me and said, "Can you tell me the truth of the matter!"
I asked the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for an answer, and they gave me a verse in reply:
Keeping a strong and determined vow,
And carrying a marvelous bag of incense,
One praises the merits of the Buddhas,
And displays a countenance of compassion.

I told Lee Wei, "Your mother has a round facial feature with long and thin eyebrows and a pair of compassionate eyes. Her teeth have a marked characteristic as she had set a gold tooth on the right side of her lower middle tooth."
Lee Wei exclaimed, "That's absolutely correct! You even got the characteristic of her teeth right. This is simply incredible. Master, may I ask what's the significance of my mum's appearance?"
I replied, "Your mum has an unfulfilled vow."
"What vow?"
I replied, "When your mother was alive, she loved charity work and had volunteered to serve in the monasteries for many years. She once made a vow to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that she had wanted to build this mountainous road of pilgrimage. But the cost and budget of this work was huge and she did not have the means to shoulder this responsibility. Soon after she had made this vow she passed away. Thus, this vow of hers remained unfulfilled. Thus, it was possible that when she appeared to her own son during the pilgrimage, she was hoping that her son might help her fulfill this vow of paving and building this pilgrimage road." Lee Wei told me his mother had indeed served as a volunteer for many years with the monasteries and was very charitable. She had donated almost all the pocket money that her husband and her children gave her to charity. But he had not heard of his mother's vow to construct the road for the pilgrimage. Lee Wei decided to enquire about this matter from his father. Perhaps dad would know best.

Lee Wei returned to ask his father. His father confirmed there was such a vow, but due to his less than ideal financial condition, he could not carry out the vow. Lee Wei returned to tell me, "Master Lu! Your divination is truly remarkable. Besides knowing about the human world, you're able to know the things of the netherworld. This is simply unthinkable!"
"Why don't you fulfill your mum's vow!" I said.
Lee Wei said, "It's not that I'm unwilling. I am more than willing to carry out this task. But I am short of something."
"What something?"
I said, "I'll teach you a mantra and you shall have money!"
Lee Wei smiled and said, "Master Lu you must be kidding."
"No, I am serious." I told him in no uncertain terms, "I am willing to teach you this mantra because your mum had made a vow to build this road of pilgrimage and you're carrying this vow of your mum. If you chant this mantra you shall have great fortune within a few years. Remember, once you're rich, you must fulfill this vow."
Lee Wei asked, "Such mantra really exists?"
I said, "Certainly."

I took out one sutra. It was the Vasudhara Dharani Sutra. The sutra states:
"If any good man should write and accept (this sutra), he shall receive all joy and enjoy peace and prosperity. If anyone should adopt vegetarianism and celibacy, recite daily, he shall receive great wealth and prestige."

Lee Wei was apprehensive and said, "To adopt vegetarianism and celibacy?"
I said, "How about this. Don't feel anxious. I keep my methods naturally and simple. I don't want you to stick to vegetarianism and adopt a pure lifestyle. As long as you recite "Om Ah Hum" once before meal and once before you have sex, you can continue as per normal."

In addition, I taught him, "When you recite this mantra, you must first recite it 800times, after which you shall recite three times a day, once in the morning, once in the afternoon and once at night, 108 times each."
"Is the mantra long?"
"Only a few words long. It's that simple."

I wrote the mantra for him:
"Om Vasu Dhare Svaha."

Lee Wei read and said, "That's simple enough. I can do it."

I told Lee Wei,"Don't undermine these three syllables Om Ah Hum. These three syllables are the Three Syllables of Vidya. Vidya is purity, also described as a transformation into purity; hence, pure living. These three syllables are beyond comprehension, carrying a meaning that is deep and profound. Thus, they are simply awesome.

The Vasudhara Dharani can certainly attract great wealth and prestige. This mantra is not widely known, and is very precious. Unless necessary, I don't teach it. I would only teach those who truly keep their vows."

"Does it require initiation?"
"Yes. All mantras of the Tantrayana require initiation so that the power of the lineage transmission is linked."

I gave Lee Wei the initiation. Such is:
Vegetarianism and pure living are required,
But most people simply cannot follow.
One who stirs no dust of life is already a Buddha.
Thus there is nothing bizarre about transforming into purity.
Every layman is in reality a Buddha.
Yet men lusts for wealth and fortune.
My transmission of a mantra today is done in the name of charity.
An enlightened lotus must bloom in the face of a deluded heart.

Lee Wei trusted me. He had faith in the Vasudhara Dharani Mantra. Lee Wei was not new to Buddhism. He knew that to follow the Buddha's way, one needs to make these five great vows:

Living beings are innumerable; I vow to liberate them all.
Blessings and wisdom are endless; I vow to gather them all.
Dharma methods are countless; I vow to learn them all.
The Buddhas are supreme; I vow to serve them all.
The ways of Bodhi are limitless; I vow to attain them all.
Everyone in every Dharma Realm shall benefit from this.

Lee Wei has always wanted to learn Buddhism, and he is filial. He thus shared his mother's vow and felt that he should set out to complete whatever vow that his mother could not fulfill.
Everytime he completed his chanting, he would dedicate the merits:
May the prayers of sentient beings, bearing such remarkable vows of this world and beyond, be fulfilled swiftly.

Lee Wei cultivated for a year. His financial state remained unchanged, and there was no response of any kind. But he persisted without losing hope. One night, he had an interesting dream. He dreamed of his mother taking him for a flight.
He asked his mom, "When will my financial situation improve?"
His mom replied, "The conditions are ripe!"
He then asked, "How about the vow to build the pilgrimage road. Will it remain unfulfilled?"
His mom replied, "The condition is ripe!"

They flew to a hill and landed on the ground. The mother pointed to the hill and said, "Remember this. Left of this place lies a little temple of the Earth God. And to your right is a grave. In front there is a bridge over a stream and it is called Pu-li Bridge."

"This hill?" Lee Wei was sceptical.
"Purchase it."
"But there's no value to this piece of barren hill!" Lee Wei was in doubt.
Mom said in no uncertain terms, "Purchase it."

Lee Wei woke up from this dream and realized he was still lying on his bed. But the conversation he had with his mother still lingered and the two words "purchase it" came through loud and clear. One day, a friend was in financial difficulty and he needed to sell off his assets. He pleaded to Lee Wei to purchase his real estates as he was willing to sell it at a bargain. His friend brought Lee Wei to view a hill. To his astonishment, Lee Wei saw that it was the same hill he had dreamed of. There was an Earth God temple at the left and a grave at the right. In the middle lied a bridge over a running stream.
Lee Wei told his friend, "The bridge is named Pu-li."
His friend said, "When I first purchased this place the bridge was already there. I have never taken notice of its name."
They approached the bridge and checked. It was indeed named "Pu-li Bridge". His friend was shocked and asked, "You've been here?"
Lee Wei replied, "In my dream."
The friend said, "You must be kidding me!"

Lee Wei did as his mother had instructed in his dream and purchased the barren hill at a real bargain. After the purchase, Lee Wei was at a loss as to what to do with it. Did mom want me to grow laichee, longan, plum, papaya, banana.......
People mocked Lee Wei's stupidity. These days, there was simply no way one could get rich by planting fruits. Lee Wei felt he was foolish indeed! Every now and then he would take a trip to the hill. He realized this hill had little to offer. If he were to grow fruits, he felt he was not an expert in this field. Development of hilly lands into large communities stopped short of his hill. He never planned to build a columbarium. What about building a temple? But who would bother to build a temple in a remote hilly location? Besides, this hill was not exactly a good Feng Shui spot.
Lee Wei just could not figure it out. Many had wondered about this. The reason of Lee Wei's purchase of this hill was purely based on a dream. He told someone about it and people regarded him as a person "gone mad".

However, Lee Wei discovered cool and refreshing spring water flowing from a certain concave area in the hill since his purchase of the place. At first he took little notice of it. But as the water was gushing out continuously in great volume, flowing into the riverbank nearby, an idea struck Lee Wei. He bottled a sample and sent it to a laboratory for testing. It turned out to be a high quality natural mineral water. This water contains no fat, carbohydrates and protein. It contains sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, flourine...The laboratory report stated that the water is of superb quality and contains minerals needed and absorbed by the human body. It contains no deposits and tastes refreshingly cool. It is mineral water. Lee Wei linked this idea to building a factory for mineral water. He came to me for a name, "Please give the mineral water a good brand name."

I first named it, "Simply Pure. Fresh. Crystal Clear."
Lee Wei said, "Seems repetitive."
I gave it another name, "Puli"
Lee Wei uttered, "That's it! It clicks!"

The name of the bridge is Puli Bridge. He named his hill as Puli Hill. Thus, naming the water that springs forth from the hill as Puli Mineral Water was totally fitting! When Puli Mineral Water was launched, its sales rocketed and was very well received. Puli Mineral Water swept the market and consumers simply loved it. It became the choice drink over other brands of mineral water.

This is:
Popular among people.
Beneficial to all.
Even stranger is the fact that the spring water from the hill keeps flowing, as if there is an inexhaustible underground river beneath the hill.

Lee Wei did not forget his vow and upon receiving his blessings, completed the pilgrimage road in no time. He thus fulfilled his mother's vow. Lee Wei, like his mother, gives to charity and as a wealthy man, his donation amounts to huge sums of money. Many Buddhist organizations have thus approached him for donations. Lee Wei supports the building of temples, hospitals...etc. I had seen Lee Wei appearing on television and was being praised for his charity. One year, I returned to Taiwan. I went pass a rather grand and luxurious building and asked, "Whose company is this?"
"Lee Wei's."
I uttered "Ah!" and fell silent. I heard later that Lee Wei had wanted to look me up but I did not see him. Until one time he sent a car to pick me up that I finally arrived at his house. His house was guarded with security sentry at the gate. The house appeared magnificent, a testimony to Lee Wei's status as the director of many companies. Lee Wei came down from the stairs and when we met he appeared very warm and friendly. He instructed the servants to serve me well. He said, "Why didn't you look me up?"
I said, "Sorry! I am really busy!"
"What are you busy with?"
"Liberating sentient beings."
"Do you need me to help you?" Lee Wei asked.
"Ah! Nothing!" In turn, I asked him, "What is it that you want?"
"Nothing. I just want to meet up with you, Master Lu. Now you're a grand Living Buddha."
We spoke for a while. I asked, "Do you still recite the Vasudhara Dharani Mantra these days?"
He replied, "Yes of course. I recited more often in the past. But now that I am busier, I recite less." His face blushing, feeling a little embarrassed.
I told him in no uncertain terms never to forget his mantra recitation. He nodded and replied, "Yes. Yes. Yes."


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