By Daya Lu
Since my mom found
Avatamsaka Vihara in March 2006, and started to bring me and my siblings (Meimei and Max) to the temple every Sunday, I have been coming to the temple for a little over four years. During these four years, I did not think much about my weekly Temple day. To be quite frank, if I had a choice, I would rather stay at home on Sunday and sleep late, but Mom said we absolutely must come! What can I say? I had to come. So my temple day is kind of boring.
But on May 16, I felt a change happening to me. Maybe my 4 years of temple study has taught me something that I am not aware of.
It was a Sunday, after lunch in the temple, Mom suddenly told us that we would go to Potomac River to participate in the "Releasing Life" activity.
I was not excited to hear the news at all. First, I was not enthusiastic about this activity. What is the point? I do not see how putting some fish back in the river can help all the other fish in other parts of the whole world; Second, I personally do not eat fish, the fish-eaters have to release them, not me!
However, Mom said it was non-negotiable. I had to go.
When we arrived at the river, my brother and sister both got so excited, ran to the river bank, jumping up and down, but not me!
Then the big truck arrived. All the adults formed a big line, passing buckets of fish from the truck to the river. I joined the kids, and carried the fish to the river, one bucket after another. At first, I felt it was kind of ridiculous, not to say it was hard work. Slowly, I felt some excitement. At one moment, as the fish were anxiously running into the river from my bucket, enjoying the water, I seemed to feel their sense of regaining freedom and happiness. Wow! That moment was truly heart-opening!
The joy of the fish returning to the river motivated me to carry more buckets of fish to the river, and before I noticed, the entire truckload of fish were gone, all released to the river! What? That was too quick!
Mom said I just proved myself to be a good student of the Buddha. What? I did not believe my ears. Mom explained that I helped myself from not liking the activity to enjoying it. She said that being a good student of the Buddha does not mean we have no weakness, but that we are willing to help ourselves overcome our weakness with the Buddha's wisdom. Wow! That's new.
But what made this day even more unforgettable was the following dialogue.
Mom asked us: Who is our most important teacher? Without any hesitation, we shouted: mom and dad!
Mom smiled, but kept pressing for more: And who else?
We answered: teachers in schools.
Mom replied: Sure. But who else?
I replied: It is the Buddha! The Buddha taught us the most important wisdom.
Mom was very happy with my answer, and said: Yes, the Buddha is our ultimate teacher!
Then mom asked us: who brought you guys to temple? Who gave you the opportunity to study the Buddha Dharma every Sunday?
Easy Question! The three of us answered in one voice: It is you, mom!
Mom shook her head, and corrected us: Remember, kids, mother did NOT bring you to the Buddha Dharma, but Venerable Master Hsuan Hua did.
Mom said, "Without Master Hua, there would be no City of Ten Thousand Buddhas; there would be no Avatamsaka Vihara, and we would have nowhere to go to learn the Buddha Dharma".
I have to admit that I have never seriously thought so deeply about this before. I have taken everything for granted!
Mom taught us a short poem written by Master Hua, I found it so beautiful that I learned it by heart immediately (in Chinese). Here is Mom's rough translation:
All you experience in life is but a test,
To act in wisdom is the best,
If you fail the test,
Simply start from the very beginning and redo the test.
I like this little poem! It is so easy and so deep! I like it so much that I typed it up in the computer in Chinese and emailed it to my mom's friends in China , who all loved it. I also wrote the poem in big words and put it up on the wall.
Although I do not fully understand its profound message, some part of me is deeply touched by it. I feel I can use its wisdom every day, now. Moreover, I believe this little poem and Master Hua's teachings are going to guide me and other kids always, ensuring us to become better persons in every way.