In memory of Ven. Miu King

法雲雜誌第十二期

In memory of Ven. Miu King

Autumn

Time seems not to decrease my deep sorrow even after Ven. Miu King passed away four years ago, since the memory is still so fresh when I recall the past.

It rained cats and dogs while the wind was blowing very hard without rest.
I was driving to Oakland Airport to take a flight to New Mexico to attend the Fourth Anniversary of the Memorial Service for Ven. Miu King.  The rainstorm on that day was like the reflection of my sad feeling that has never subsided since I lost my beloved Master.

Enlightening ignorance through gradual guidance for the growth of wisdom
I became acquainted with Ven. Miu King at the Fa Yun Monastery in Danville, California. I was a student at that time and had very limited knowledge about Buddhism. 

I still have a very vivid recollection of that day when I was enjoying afternoon tea with my Mom and brother in George Meyer’s Coffee shop located in Danville Safeway Plaza when suddenly I saw Ven. Miu King step inside the shop with several of his followers.  I was deeply impressed by his dignified look. He had such a gentle and peaceful manner about him. I turned my head back to Mom and said, “Isn’t that Ven. Miu King whom we saw on video once before?”  Agreeing, Mom, accompanied by my brother and me, went over to greet the Venerable and asked him whether we could have a chance to visit him at the Fa Yun Monastery on the following day. The Master replied he was scheduled to go overseas to spread Buddha’s teachings, so he invited us to come visit the Monastery after one month. This was how we met Ven. Miu King.

When we visited him at the Monastery for the first time, we were deeply attracted by his amiability and benevolence. Our conversation was totally different from what I originally thought on serious topics. Accordingly, we requested the Venerable to offer us the Transmission of the Three Refuge and the Five Precepts in order for us to formally become Buddhists. Honestly, we did not quite understand the meaning of the Five Precepts at that time, but we requested it owing to our good feelings toward the Venerable. Mom was actually very hesitant about my decision to accept the Five Precepts because she thought I needed to be a vegetarian for the sake of the precepts and worried about my health such as not getting enough nutrition.  The Venerable clearly explained the meanings of the Three Refuge and the Five Precepts to us to relieve our worries and doubts.  He told mom that it was not a requirement to become a vegetarian by observing the Five Precepts. However, we voluntarily wanted to be vegetarians as a matter of course. From that very day we were converted to Buddhism due to a great joy from enlightenment of the Dharma.

I was quite curious about Buddhist liturgy, regulations and activities in the beginning since everything was so novel to me. Fortunately, I had many opportunities to meet the Master due to living nearby the Monastery. However, I was too young to understand the sufferings of life at that time.  Every time when I visited the Master, I just talked to him about what had happened in my daily life and seldom touched upon the truth of the Dharma.  The Master always listened to me very carefully and kindly guided me when necessary.  When he learnt that Mom was a Taoist during her youth and believed in Maitreya, he gave us the Three Sutras of Maitreya. When he knew I enjoyed reading, he lent me some books or Buddhist scriptures with his own explanatory notes inside to help me understand the content.  He always granted all of our requests such as attending ordination ceremonies, participating in evening services with his monastic disciples and all of the activities related to the Three Gem. 

I remember the Master often used the relationship between an adult and a child as an example to help me understand when we chatted. Now, I finally realized a sage is like an adult and an ordinary being is like a child. An adult won’t mind a child’s ignorance, on the contrary, he has more compassion to guide and help a child to the right way.  This is just like what it states in the “Parables” of the Lotus Sutra in which the Father used lots of beneficial temptations to lure his children to escape from the burning house of the three lower realms. Ven. Miu King treated people compassionately in very ordinary ways but in reality, he influenced them infinitely to their great benefit.

Gradually, I was greatly motivated and interested in learning more about Buddha’s teachings.

Treating all beings as equals and guiding them to obtain virtues of the Dharma
It was from the forty-nine day meditation retreats conducted at the Fa Yun Monastery in Danville that I became absorbed in learning the Dharma by listening to the Master’s teaching and explanation of the Vibhajya (vibhaga) Yoga from Sandhi-nirmocana-sutra.

There were many monks and nuns from different countries coming to the Monastery in Danville to attend the forty-nine day meditation retreats because they admire the Master’s excellent teachings and virtues.  The small meditation hall was thus so crowded. It was also my first time to be in contact with so many monastics. For those who just came to the States, they encountered several things they needed for help and guidance.  Due to the precepts, they couldn’t visit the Venerable alone, so I was very often asked to accompany them for a visit with the Master Miu King.  I, thus knew the Master assisted them with many things in order to have them study the Dharma here more securely and peacefully. I really respected the Master’s great compassion to all beings because he did his best to fulfill their requests for benefiting them to study the Dharma smoothly.

I had difficulty in comprehending the Vibhajya (vibhaga) Yoga when I first read it.  I thought Buddhist terminology and Sanskrit words such as samatha-vipasyana were too profound and abstract. However, the Master used very simple words to elucidate the development of concentration (samatha) and the development of insight (vipasyana). He explained the text to us through organized methods for our easy understanding of practice of samatha and vipasyana.  For this reason, I gradually had an idea about concentration of mind by special method for the purpose of clear insight into truth in order to be rid of illusion.

All of the monastics benefitted from the Master’s teaching and instruction, especially on detailed guidance on meditation, so everyone’s heart was full of great joy of the Dharma.  The Master always advocated studying Buddhist scriptures comprehensively and broadly. One should follow Buddha’s teachings to practice the true way of meditation in order to have the right view on Buddhism and to obtain virtues of the Dharma. Therefore, many monastics continued to stay at the Monastery to follow the Master’s teachings after finishing the forty-nine day meditation retreats. It was the beginning stage for which would later become the establishment of the Buddhist Institute.

Providing clear instruction and guidance to attain the Noble Path.
In 1996, Ven. Miu King founded Fa Yun Buddhist Institute in California. He commenced a new phase to cultivate monastic education in order to carry on Buddha’s teachings for future generations and propagate Buddhism.

With the Master’s permission, I attended class as an auditor at the Buddhist Institute for monks in Danville. Although I was just a beginner in learning the Dharma, I participated in their public speaking sessions and rehearsed what the Master had taught us out of curiosity. I was absorbed in listening to the Master’s teachings since I needed to prepare for the public speaking sessions.  Ven. Miu King first explained the Four Foundations of Mindfulness to help us comprehend right thinking and right views. He also instructed us to practice contemplating the body as impure and utterly filthy as well as concentrating on the breath for meditation, and then lectured on Yogacryabhumi-sastra (the work of Asanga). His teachings provided his monastic and lay disciples thorough and comprehensive understanding of the Dharma in order to ultimately attain the Noble Path.

I remember I was very moved and inspired when I first listened to the Master’s teachings of the Yogacryabhumi-sastra.  The author, Maitreya Bodhisattva, had very keen observation and profound comprehension on how the function of the six organs work when a person comes into contact with the outside (six) attractions. The meaning expressed in this Sutra was so abundant and insightful, so it made me feel that worldly books really could not compete with Buddhist scriptures. The aim of Buddhism is to make people realize falsehood of life, since we are easily cheated by the illusory world. Obviously, we could not widen our views without the Master’s guidance and explanation on the Dharma.

There were many people coming to the Monastery to study the Dharma under the Master after he founded the Institute, that several of them even became his monastic disciples. Therefore, Fa Yun Buddhist Institute, then had a mission of monastic cultivation to preserve and propagate the Dharma for future generations.

The style of the Master’s Buddhist Institute was very different and unique as he do not believe in fundraising. His focus was on cultivating merits through combining the study and practice together.  When entering the Master’s Buddhist Institute, I usually saw the students either listening to the Dharma lectures or doing sitting or walking meditation. Very often I could see a skeleton (or a skeleton picture) hanging on the wall in almost every dormitory as it was used to practice contemplating the body as impure. There was no Donation Box placed inside the Institute, but lots of scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism as well as profound and awakening Buddhist verses were abundant. Therefore, the Master’s Institute was filled with a calm and peaceful atmosphere as well as solemn silence all the time.

In 2000, Ven Miu King left the prosperous and convenient California location and moved the Institutes to New Mexico. The Institutes were relocated in high mountains and remote areas. His intention was to create a quieter and more suitable place for his monastic and lay disciples, so they could benefit the most from meditation and study. His compassionate vows to all beings were so remarkable and admirable that the style of the Institute was like a pure stream flowing over the impurity and chaos of this world.

Sympathizing all beings by his total dedication to preserve Dharma without regress
On April 17th, 2003, Ven. Miu King passed away unexpectedly in Taiwan. This sad news was a shock to all of his disciples and followers.

I couldn’t accept it when I was informed of his passing.  I cried hysterically and grieved at the loss of such a great and exceptional Buddhist practitioner in this world. Whom can I depend on now for teaching and guidance?

Now I just realize why the Master called me before he left for Taiwan at that time.  During the long conversation on the phone, for over one hour, the Master enumerated many examples to make me understand how life was full of afflictions, uncertainty, and impermanence. He tried to persuade me to become a monastic for the goal of attaining the Noble Way because it would liberate me from attachments, vexations, and delusions. He suggested that I could learn from each of his excellent monastic disciples of the Institute. His good intention was so touching to me but I was very astonished at his proposal at the time that I didn’t know exactly how to reply. I thought I still had time for considering his proposal.  I never knew it was going to be the last teaching and guidance from my Master.

When I didn’t grasp the opportunity at that moment, it just slipped away. It is too late to regret now. I am getting old without making good progress of Buddhist cultivation as I am always busy in my daily life. Although I don’t need to worry about my living, I feel insecure because life is just so changeable.  How can impermanence not disturb your mind at all?  Even when I resolve to study the Dharma diligently, I am often forced to postpone it due to work or something else.  The situation is just like the old elephant helplessly stuck in deep mud and unable to get out by itself ! Time is flying so fast ! I worry I will eventually spend the rest of my life just like this.  It is like what the Nirvana Sutra said, “Don’t regret to die in vain due to wasting time?”

I would like to dedicate this article in memory of Ven. Miu King as I was so very grateful to his guidance and teachings. I was very fortunate to meet him in this life. Although he is no longer with us, his Dharma lectures are still preserved. Let us encourage ourselves to follow his teachings without sluggishness and compete with time in cultivating Dharma virtues with persistence and diligence. This is the best way to express our gratitude to the Venerable since he dedicated his life to promote the Dharma without regress due to his compassionate vows to help all sentient beings and to propagate Buddhism!