In order to commemorate the completion of the forty-nine-day memorial service in honor of the Nirvana of the Venerable Master Hua, who was the founder of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association and of the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas at Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain, the fourfold assembly of disciples in southern California held an International Meal Offering Ceremony for the Sangha on July 25, 1995. This was also a way to express their filial piety and to repay the Venerable Master's kindness.
The virtuous Sangha members who came to receive offerings came from all over the world, including such countries as China, America, England, France, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Tibet. There were nearly one hundred and seventy Sangha members, eighty percent of whom were Bhikshus (monks), making this an unprecedented event. The most senior Sangha member was Hawanpola Ratanasara Mahathero of Sri Lanka, who is seventy-five years old and has been ordained for fifty-five years. Venerable Ajahn Sumedho and three other Sangha members from England also attended the event. The Venerable Dharma Masters Dhammarajanutwat, Kongsophan, and Umsum, who have over fifty years in precepts, also travelled by plane and graced the event with their rare presence. Lin Yanggang, the Director of the Judicial Yuan of the Republic of China, was represented by Mr. Yu Zhengzhao. Coming overseas from Shandong Province, China, were Mr. Guo Qiuya (the Deputy Director of the Overseas Affairs Office of the People's Government of Jining City and the Director of the Baoxiang Monastery Committee) and Mr. Yang Chunbing (Standing Committee Member of the Research Institute of Historical and Cultural Cities of China).
Ceremonies in praise and recognition were conducted in Chinese, English, Vietnamese, and Pali in the morning. The pure sounds of religious chanting carried afar during these especially splendid ceremonies. The Dharma-protecting laity prepared a vegetarian banquet and made the meal offering in accord with the Buddha's instructions and the Dharma. After the meal, promptly at twelve o'clock noon as everyone recited the holy name "Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha," eighteen laypeople wearing black robes, representing the fourfold assembly of Dharma Realm Buddhist Association, sincerely presented gifts to each Dharma Master.
At the completion of the offering ceremony, Professor John Tsu of Dharma Realm Buddhist University welcomed the guest Sangha members and elder masters and the representatives of various senators, congressmen, and the mayor of Long Beach. Dr. Tsu also gave a brief sketch of the Venerable Master Hua's life. Then Dharma Masters from various countries also spoke. They pointed out that the world needs a religious leader of great wisdom to guide it, and the Venerable Master was a living example of this--he had cultivated and attained to the perfect, ultimate wisdom. The orthodox Buddhist tradition has been transmitted to America. This is the Venerable Master's greatest achievement. Therefore he was able to evoke the sincere trust of the living beings of the world. Even so, the Venerable Master never had any attachments. He was like a bird flying over a pool of water, not leaving any traces, free to the utmost. Only those replete with blessings and virtue were able to meet the Venerable Master. Therefore, as disciples we should continue to carry on the Venerable Master's will. Taking the Venerable Master's compassionate mind as our own mind and his compassionate vows as our own vows, we should dedicate ourselves to benefitting living beings.
To conclude this Meal Offering Ceremony to the Sangha, Dharma Master Heng Sure gave two examples to illustrate the Venerable Master's inconceivable state of the non-obstruction of great and small. When the ceremony drew to a close at 2:20 in the afternoon, the Sangha members from the Theravada and Mahayana traditions stood for group photographs in the garden of Long Beach Monastery. This was one more instance of the Venerable Master's advocacy of religious unity. At three o'clock in the afternoon, the ceremony for Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance was begun, and the merit from it will be dedicated to all in the Dharma Realm in the hope that all living beings will benefit from the Venerable Master's deep, great kindness; cultivate according to the Dharma; leave suffering; and attain bliss.
by Lin Xuchen,