Coming home (III)

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Peng Lei     Time:2017-09-11 23:12:09
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What is a full-time volunteer’s life like in the Longquan Monastery? Are you curious about this? A Dharma sister shared her experiences of being full-time volunteer in the English team of Longquan Monastery. Thanks for her firsthand and sincere records.

Stay in the Monastery

Everything went so well that as soon as I came to the office of the English Team, I got my own  working position. In addition to taking responsibility of some daily chores, my main job was to assist Xueling with the visiting guests from overseas.

The first guest I entertained was Liu Li (pseudonym), from Botswana. Except that Longquan monastics had built temple there, I knew nothing about this country. After meeting her, the distance between me and the Bohua temple was shorten a lot. We are the people who are inspired by the master's aspiration. Liu told us that everything was going pretty well over there, although the general condition was not as good as Longquan Monastery.  The Venerables have to DIY a lot ofthings, assume many roles and depend on themselves for everything.

How compassionate and kind they are! They said goodbye to their family and to their motherland. They went to the faraway Africa just in order to carry the Buddha's great love to all sentient beings.

At first we did not talk much. I was settling into a life myself that I mostly ran errands for Xueling. However, I thought I should do my best to serve Liu Li cordially in the monastery which might bring my best wishes to the living beings in Africa. As I thought this, my heart was filled with joy.

Another guest Mingming (pseudonym) came from the United States. She and Dharma brother Liu Li came to the temple almost at the same time. But Mingming stayed here even longer. For several days, we were almost inseparable. I learned that the parents of Mingming are professors of Tsinghua University. She grew up in Tsinghua garden, and she got her education in Tsinghua University, and then went abroad to study and work. Twenty years have gone. There are two things that surprise me the most about her. First, born in an intellectual family, she has little intellectual "pride". She was eloquent but plain. Second, she had lived in the United States for twenty years, but her manners were all Chinese. She often joked to me: "In the United States, I am like a freshwater fish living in salt water, but I am not at ease." She told me about her experience with Longquan Monastery, which was interesting. One day, she and her family drove to Phoenix Ridge for fun. It happened that there was a Dharma assembly for taking refuges in the monastery. There are about three hours to go from filling out the information to the ceremony. During this period, her father-in-law returned to the Tsinghua garden. The reason was that he had an old friend, who also believed in Buddhism. He called his friend and asked him come to attend the assembly. As a result, her father-in-law did not convert himself, but his old friend and his daughter-in-law.

After taking refuge in Buddhism, Mingming did not learn and practice Dharma earnestly until her favorite dog Andy died of cancer. Andy's death contributes to transforming Mingming to become an earnest Buddhist. She told me that she was very grateful to Andy and hoped that he has a better afterlife. Though her voice was peaceful, I could feel her deep emotion to Andy.

Later, I knew that Mingming bore a significant mission to Longquan Monastery this time. After a visit to Longquan Guanyin Monastery, she felt keenly the great advantage of having a Bodhimanda over online practice. Longquan Guanyin Temple once time. Consequently, she made up her mind to buy a private house to function as a Bodhimanda in Indiana where she lives. She came to Longquan monastery first, to report to Shifu about the progress of the purchase, and more importantly, to implore Shifu to send some Dharma masters to preside over the future Bodhimanda. I could not help admiring her when I knew her sincere aspirations.

During the several days when Dharma brother Mingming was in the monastery, together with other volunteers, we received a very important guest. He was Master Kailv from Plum Village, France. To me, Longquan Monastery is like a university, in which I can encounter various wonderful persons. They all have rich life stories as well as a most humble heart. Master Kailv arrived early that day, in company with some laypeople from HongKong and other places. In the morning, Master Kailv and Master Xianqing met in the Mingxin Pavilion. Master Kailv talked about his experience of learning Dharma in the past years. He said, at first, he studied Dharma for over ten years at the Taiwan Buddhist Institute, where he read many sutras. In those days, he was always in a taut condition, unwilling to open his heart and rarely encountered with laypeople. Later, he went to Southeast Asia and other places to learn Theravada Buddhism for about two years. Then, he went to Plum Village in France, where Master Yixing (Ven Thich Nhat Hanh) stayed. He had read books of Master Yixing and respected him a lot. So he wanted to see whether Master Yixing was a person same as his words. He planned to study in Plum Village for some time and then left. Unexpectedly, he stayed there for six years. Master Kailv talked his experience in a mild tone, happy but silent. Such state touched all of us.

During the last days of my stay in the monastery, I met a volunteer from Italy. She is a student in Italy University. Now she studies Chinese in Qingdao University of Science and Technology as an exchange student for one semester. A teacher of her in Italy is fluent in Chinese. This teacher is interested in the Dharma and even has translated some books about the Dharma. What is interesting is that, before she left, I told her that I like an Italian writer very much long time ago, but I forget how to spell his name in English. In the evening, I sent the writer’s name “Italo Calvino” to her through WeChat. She was very surprised and told me Italo Calvino is a very famous writer in Italy. She never thought this writer’s books would be translated into Chinese. At that moment, I felt for sure that spiritual communication and cultural exchange are very interesting.

During the half month in the monastery, I have accumulated many memories. Those memories are like seeds of good deeds, buried in my mind. I hope those seeds can take roots, sprout and grow into big trees in the future.


Tags:quit job, go to the monastery, full-time volunteer

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