A Sangha That Practices the Proper Dharma
When the Master first came to America to propagate the Dharma, he wished his Western disciples to understand all three divisions of the Buddhist Canon. Therefore, in addition to explaining the Shramanera Vinaya and Rules of Deportment himself, he also invited several eminent Sangha members of great virtue to come and lecture on the precepts. Wishing to encourage his disciples in the study of precepts, the Master would accompany them each time they left the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas at four or five in the morning and drove three hours to San Francisco to listen to another Dharma Master lecture on the precepts. During the lecture, the Venerable Master would always be kneeling in the back of the room listening. His disciples would kneel in the front and listen. That was how the Master taught by example.
-by Equal Wisdom, p. 95
"In Memory of Ven. Master Hua, Vol. I"
Everyone knows that "wearing the precept sash and eating one meal a day" are the traditions of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The Master specifically announced that anyone who left home with him had to honor the Buddha's regulations of eating one meal a day at noon and always wearing the precept sash. And so no matter how much the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas came under criticism by those outside -- even when people slandered the City as doing new and strange things to show off, the Master would never, ever change his policy because of that. Regarding the barrage of slander, the Master merely said: "This is not some rule I made up. This is the Buddha's regulation. We want to honor the Buddha's regulations." But the Master was expedient with the older left-home people and allowed them to take three meals a day. This rule remained right up to the final instructions given by the Master just before his Nirvana -- it never changed. And to date, disciples remain dedicated to this tradition.
The Master himself said:
- If people who want to leave home with me can eat one meal a day, then I will accept them. This is a fixed requirement for anyone who leaves home with me. In spite of any pressures whatsoever regarding the times and circumstances, this cannot be changed.
- I'm prepared to die, if you want, but I refuse not to wear my precept sash. I'm prepared to die, if you want, but I refuse not to eat only once a day at noon. Those who have that kind of strong samadhi-power -- that kind of faith -- rightfully belong at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
Excerpt from Upasaka Youbing Chen's thesis,
A Discussion of Venerable Master Hsuan Hua's Contibutions to Buddhism,
p. 435 - 436, "In Memory of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Vol. III"
The Master specifically announced that anyone who left home with him had to honor the Buddha's regulations of eating one meal a day at noon and always wearing the precept sash.