Someone once asked how old I am this year.
I ask the Earth in return,
“How long have you lived?”
Until the end of the world, where would I be?
Hundreds and thousands of years in rebirth,
Again, where would I be?
Whether Pangu or Nuwa,
Perhaps I’ve met them before.
But because we live in two different worlds,
There is no way of recalling.
Be it Chang’e or the Rabbit,
They are none but moments in stories,
Too beautiful to be true.
There is no way of asking Tang Yao or Yu Sun in person,
Nor a chance to get to know Wen Wu or Zhou Gong.
While Lao Tzu went Westward riding a bull,
They still say prosperity lies in the East.
In Zhuang Zhou’s dream,
Was the butterfly heading towards the North?
These people are but a dream to me.
Across the almost 100 years of my life,
North, West, East, and South,
No longer represent Earth’s ends.
Had I been traveling in the six realms of rebirth?
Or I had been wandering across the Dharma realm?
If I were to refer to historical records,
It would be all but a grey area of uncertainty.
Throughout more than 80 years of my life,
I had been through so much.
In the chaotic times of the Northern Expedition,
I came into this world all confused and ignorant.
The cannons of Fusang, and the beacons of Lugou Bridge,
The entire nation had lost their securities in life,
Fleeing in all directions, leading a vagrant life,
Where can one escape to? Where can one drift towards?
Fortunately, Buddha has reached out to me,
I have thus renounced.
From a poor rural village,
I was suddenly brought into a world of heaven.
In a stone city accompanied by the crimson leaves,
An ancient monastery hidden in the
deep mountain forest,
For a lonely but childly heart,
Devotion is like a ladder, a cliff,
I must continue to climb,
Continue to grow and progress.
The past is so distinctively clear,
With every detail hard to forget.
Having to learn the skills of the
Three Blades and Six Mallets,
The 18 types of ascetic monastic practices,
Were my motivations for striving hard.
Amidst the bitterness of life,
Faith has kept me standing.
Regretfully, the gunshots from the Civil War,
Have brought forth suffering and calamities.
And enhanced the pain of separation of loved ones.
The beacon fires in the turmoil of war,
Spread hither and thither into all directions,
Was it the cannons? Or the machine guns?
Perhaps it was life and death that brought me to Formosa.
I wrote the following
In Buddhist Affinities Across 100 Years,
“My mother had sent her son into the door of Buddhism,
Hoping that he could awaken to the Dharma body
Amidst the ocean of the phenomenal world.
Your son has now turned 87 in age,
Who shall repay your kindness by propagating the Dharma
And benefiting sentient beings.”
My vow is to propagate Humanistic Buddhism.
I place my hopes in every Buddha’s Light member,
Be righteous, be compassionate,
Be responsible, and be of service.
Let us transform Fo Guang Shan into a Buddha’s Pure Land.
May the Buddha’s Light shine universally,
And the Dharma stream flow eternally.
Thus is our lifelong wish.
Blessed be the Buddha,
Blessed be the Dharma,
Blessed be the Sangha.
── from Bainian Foyuan
(Buddhist Affinities Across 100 Years)