Chapter one: A childhood of virtue, a teenage of determination

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Shi Huikong     Time:2015-04-11 15:39:34
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Master and his mother at Dechen Building, Beijing Longquan Monastery. October 24th, 2008

Master Xuecheng, whose secular name was Fu Ruilin, was born on October 3 (the nineteenth day of the eighth month of Bing Wu year of the lunar calendar), 1966, to a family of strong Buddhist culture in Luofeng village of Laidian town, Xianyou county, Fujian province. His grandmother was a Buddhist practitioner and later became a nun. His mother is a devoted Buddhist also. His father worked as an accountant and office clerk in the village. Being modest and courteous, his father is also known as a benevolent man. There are three sons in the family and the Master is the eldest.

The Master has been filial and thoughtful since childhood. He spoke little but studied hard. He went to Xianyou Laidian Central Primary School at the age of 8. In spare time, he always volunteered to help his parents with housework such as cooking, washing, sweeping, fetching water and plowing the field. On weekends, he would walk over five kilometers into the mountains where his parents cut firewood and help them carry it home. The Master's mother once recalled, "My son would stay at home and cook when I worked in the field in the daytime and attended the prayer-guiding services for the dying or the deceased at night. On his way home from school, he often collected fallen leaves for the stove. Just think, he was only 9 years old at that time." He always behaved in a dignified manner, never looking around while walking; honest, tolerant and upright, he never quarreled with other children. Once when the production brigade distributed food, the children vied with one another, except for the Master. He was laughed at for being silly. The Master's mother said that being a child of self-discipline, he was only putting other people's enjoyment in the first place.

Xianyou Jile Convent of Fujian (the old Buddha Hall)

Influenced by his mother and grandmother, the Master, at the age of 10, voluntarily became a vegetarian and began to chant Buddhist scriptures at the age of 12. In the evenings, he would chant and meditate until 9 p.m. before doing his homework. Therefore, sometimes he only slept for about two hours. The Master's mother recalled, "When he was 15, I taught him to chant Shurangama Mantra. He learned fast and never had to ask me to repeat it for the third time. He began to cherish the idea of becoming a monk, but we, his parents, disagreed at that time, and he had to obey."

Xianyou Jile Convent of Fujian (the newly built Buddha Hall and Rixin Complex Building)

The Master, from 1979 to 1982, attended the Overseas Chinese Middle School in Xianyou county where he was an honorable student. During his free time, he frequently visited the nearby Jile Convent (originally called Wangsheng Temple). He felt a sense of affinity and familiarity whenever he was there. He especially liked the benevolent and peaceful countenance of the statues of Bodhisattvas. At that time in the village there lived a lay Buddhist named Fu Jinfu (later became Master Dinglai), who often brought Buddhist scriptures to the Master. The Master showed enormous interest in Buddhist classics. He loved to read biographies of great patriarchs and prominent masters, in particular, that of Ven. Master Xuanzang, a great master of the Tang Dynasty. How Ven. Master Xuanzang pursued and spread the Dharma, how his great vows were to "inherit the Buddha's teachings, carry them forward and spread them", all this exerted profound influence on the Master's future determination to become a monk.

Tags:Ven. Master Xuecheng, childhood

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