Thirty-five Day Fast for World Peace
Less than 6 months after the Venerable Master's arrival in September 1962, he took on a 35-day fast to seek for world peace. The Master said:
"I've just arrived in this country, and I haven't contributed anything to the people of this country or helped them in any way. If war were to break out, countless lives would be lost on both sides."
The Chinese Times article titled "Seeking World Peace," dated September 27, 1962 read: Dharma Master To Lun has been fasting for twelve days at the Buddhist Lecture Hall, 731 Sacramento Street, in order to seek for world peace, for the abolishment of cruelty, and for good health for all humankind. It's said that this is the fifth fast the monk, now in his fifties, has conducted. He arrived in Hong Kong six months ago. During this fast, he rises at 4 a.m. dons, his precept sash, sits upright in meditation, and fasts. When his fast will terminate is not known.
The following account of this incident is shared by Oldy But Goody:
When the Master set out for America, he had a 10-day stop-over in Japan. He visited a temple where Chinese Dharma Masters were staying and upon entry detected their acute jealousy. Although it was his practice to take one meal a day at noon, when tea and refreshments were served, the Master decided to take a bite of food so as not to appear to be too different from the others and risk arousing their jealousy even more. He accepted six or seven fried soy beans and ate them.
Immediately he knew that the beans were loaded with deadly poison. Although he knew, he chose not to give any indication at the time, and did not dispel the poison from his body at once as the First Patriarch of China, Bodhidharma, had done when he spit it out on a tray one time, and on a rock another time, when he was poisoned by jealous people. Although the poison did not kill the Master, it lodged in a single place in his body and a painful sore formed on his lower leg.
Having been unsuccessful in poisoning the Master to death, one of the jealous monks went on ahead to San Francisco, the Master's destination, to campaign against him. After the founding of the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco in 1958, word of the Master's virtue, compassion, and cultivation had spread and many people sought to take refuge with him, sight unseen.
The jealous monk did his best to dissuade people: "He claims he never eats after noon, but I watched him with my own eyes while he ate one afternoon in Japan," he reported, failing to mention that he and the other monks had put poison in the food. But his skilled persuasion caused many who had planned to welcome the Master at the airport upon his arrival to change their minds and decide not to go.
Jealousy comes in many forms. One kind was this intense jealousy his contemporaries felt toward the Master--they wanted the rewards that came to the Master. Another kind of jealousy was harbored by some of his disciples--they didn't want to share the Master with anyone. One such disciple was a young, unmarried man in his early thirties who came to the Master because he wanted to learn gung fu, for he could see at a glance that the Master possessed skill. The Master always tried to save whoever drew near and so he used expedients to try to help this disciple, allowing him to accompany him and attend to some of the matters involved in doing the Buddha's work.
That's how it happened that this disciple accompanied the Master when he took a trip to the Southwestern States and visited the Hopi Indians. The Master felt deep concern about the pitiful conditions under which the Hopis were forced to live--their dwellings being no better than crude sheds fit for animals. It appeared that in the Hopi religious tradition was something about a prediction that eventually a savior would come to help their tribe--one who could be recognized by his red robe, black hat, and a symbol resembling a swastika on his chest. Needless to say, when the Master, who had been invited to speak to them, appeared before them in his red precept sash and black cap, bare skinned to the waist, due to the desert heat, so that the wan character burned on his chest was clearly visible--the Hopis were filled with a mixture of awe, joy, and hope. Transcending language barriers, the Master recited the Shurangama Mantra for them. The whole tribe was deeply moved. Wishing to draw nearer, they approached the disciple who was accompanying the Master, leaving their names and addresses and asking if there were any chance to see the Master again.
But that disciple's jealousy obstructed the situation and he not only failed to give them the opportunity to take refuge with the Master, he also did not keep their names and addresses and refused to arrange interviews for them. [Note: That disciple died within few years after that incident, without ever being able to open his heart and do the good deeds that might have saved him from his untimely death.]
That was also the year of the Cuban Missile Crisis--a tense moment in history when the Soviet Union began a missile base installation on Cuba. President Kennedy gave Russia and Cuba an ultimatum: The US was prepared to go to war if the installation preparation continued.
The Master during his early 35-day fast for world peace.
For those three reasons--the Cuban Crisis, the Hopi plight, and the poison in his system--the Master began a fast dedicated to world peace. The method of fasting, one of Guanyin Bodhisattva's Greatly Compassionate Dharmas, normally stipulates no food or water whatsoever for the first few days of fasting, and then only one-half cup of water per day for the duration of the fast.
Near the end of the 35-day fast, to the surprise and relief of everyone, the Soviet Union unexpectedly, voluntarily withdrew the missiles and the Crisis abated. During that time, civil rights movements began bringing the nation's attention to the plight of the Native Americans. And by the end of the fast, the poison had been dispelled, leaving just a permanent scar on the Master's leg.
Excerpt from an article by Oldy But Goody, p. 91 - 94
"In Memory of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Vol. III"