Biography of Venerable Master Hsuan Hua


Intro


Hsuan Hua(宣化上人) was an influential Chan Buddhist monk and an important figure in the development of Western Buddhism in the United States during the twentieth century. Hsuan Hua was the ninth lineage holder of the Guiyang Chan School of Buddhism (潙仰宗), one of the five Chan families and was granted dharma transmission from that lineage by the Venerable Master Hsu Yun, one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Hsuan Hua was one of the first known Chinese Buddhist Chan masters to transmit East Asian Buddhism to the West and ordained some of the first native-born Buddhist monks in the United States.
During his time in the United States, Hsuan Hua founded the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA); the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, California, one of the first Chan Buddhist monasteries in the America; the Buddhist University; and the Buddhist Text Translation Society, which works on the phonetics and translation of Buddhist scriptures from Chinese into English, Vietnamese, Spanish, and many other languages.


Early Life


Yushu, the name before Hsuan Hua was a monk, was a native of Shuangcheng County of Jilin Province. At the age of eleven, upon seeing a neighbor's infant who had died, he became aware of birth and death. At 12, he began to repent for being unfilial to his parents in the past. He bowed to his parents every morning and evening, as a way of acknowledging his faults and repaying his parents' kindness. At 15, Yushu became a Buddhist. He began to attend school and explained the Sixth Patriarch's Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, and other sutras to the illiterated people. He also started a free school for those who were poor and needy.


Leaving Home


When he was 19 years old, his mother passd away, and he decided to be a monk afterward. His name was changed to An Tzu. He built a simple hut by his mother's grave and observed the practice of filial piety for three years. He also made 18 great vows, paid reverence to the Avatamsaka Sutra, performed worship and pure repentance, practiced Chan meditation, studied Buddhist teachings, ate only one meal a day, and did not lie down to sleep at night.
When An Tzu's observance of filial piety was completed, he practiced asceticism in seclusion. Later he returned to his temple and was chosen to be the abbot.


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Dharma transmission from Hsu Yun


In 1946, after the end of World War II, An Tzu traveled to Guangzhou to pay respects to the Venerable Master Hsu Yun, one of the great Chan teachers of his time. In 1947 he went to Mount Putuo (普陀山) to receive the complete ordination. In 1948, An Tzu reached Elder Master Hsu Yun and was assigned to be an instructor in the Nanhua Monastery Vinaya Academy. Later he was appointed to be the Dean of Academic Affairs. The Elder Master Hsu Yun saw that he was an outstanding individual in Buddhism. Hsu Yun transmitted the Dharma lineage to him, giving him the Dharma name Hsuan Hua, meaning "Proclaim and Transform," and making him the ninth lineage holder of the Guiyang school of Chan, the forty-fifth generation since Mahakashyapa (one of the principal disciples of Buddha who convened and directed the first council).


Residence in Hong Kong


In 1948, Hsuan Hua bid farewell to Master Hsu Yun and went to Hong Kong to propagate Buddhism. Hsuan Hua gave equal importance to the five schools (Chan, Doctrine, Vinaya, Esoteric, and Pure Land), so he put an end to sectarianism. Hsuan Hua also renovated and built temples, printed sutras and constructed images. He lived in Hong Kong for more than ten years and had his first substantial experience of Western culture.


Bringing the Dharma to the West since 1962


After Hsu Yun passed away in 1959, and Hsuan Hua completed the proper ceremonies in his memory, he felt it was time to pursue his Dharma mission in the West. Several of his lay disciples from Hong Kong had already gone to United States to study. He instructed them to establish a Buddhist association, which later became Dharma Realm Buddhist Association. Hsuan Hua traveled to Australia in 1961 to investigate the conditions for the growth of Buddhism there. After a difficult year, he returned to Hong Kong in 1962. That same year, at the invitation of his Buddhist disciples in San Francisco, Hsuan Hua traveled alone to the United States.


Building the foundation of Buddhism in America


Hsuan Hua lived in a damp and windowless basement, which was resembled as a grave. He nicknamed himself the "monk in the grave." Hsuan Hua started having regular contact with young Americans who were interested in meditation, and some also attended his sutra lectures. Translators were hired for those who could not understand Chinese; on some occasions, Hsuan Hua himself spoke to them in English to the best of his ability.
In the spring of 1968, he hosted meditation session and Buddha-recitation session for a group of students from the University of Washington. During summer, he held a Shurangama Study Session. After the session was concluded, five young Americans requested permission to become monks, beginning the tradition of native-born Sangha in American Buddhism.
Then, Hsuan Hua concentrated on three main areas:
1)   Bringing the true and proper teachings of the Buddha to the West and establishing a proper monastic community of the fully ordained Sangha
2)   Organizing and supporting the translation of the entire Buddhist canon into English and other Western languages
3)   Promoting wholesome education through the establishment of schools and universities.


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First Ordination Ceremonies on Western Soil


Increasing numbers of people wished to leave secular life and become monks and nuns under Hsuan Hua's guidance. In 1972 he organized the first formal, full ordination ceremonies for Buddhist monks and nuns to be held in the West at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, and invited elder masters to preside with him over the ordination platform. Two monks and one nun received ordination. Subsequent ordination platforms were held at the City Of Ten Thousand Buddhas in 1976, 1979, 1982, 1989, 1991, and 1992, and progressively larger numbers of people received full ordination. Over 200 people from countries all over the world were ordained in these ceremonies.


Reform of Buddhism


Hsuan Hua supported the Shurangama Sutra, an important Mahayana sutra in Chinese Buddhism, which emphasized moral precepts and meditation as a foundation for cultivation. He felt that Buddhism in China had degenerated into superstition. He hoped that by propagating Buddhism in the West, he could demonstrate the genuine principles of Buddhism. He encouraged his disciples to learn the ancient traditions without superstitious, and tried to understand the reasons behind the practices.
Hsuan Hua emphasized his disciples on: not contending, not being greedy, not seeking, not being selfish, not pursuing personal profit, and not lying. He also attempted to heal the two thousand year old rift between Mahayana and Theravada monastic communities by encouraging cordial relations between the Sanghas


Death


On June 7, 1995, Hsuan Hua passed away in Los Angeles. His funeral lasted from June 8 to July 29, 1995, and was attended by more than 2000 disciples from the United States, Canada, and various Asian and European countries.


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宣化上人的生平事蹟


幼年


宣公上人,東北吉林省雙城縣人,民初戊午年農曆三月十六日生。俗姓白,名玉書,又名玉禧。父富海公,一生勤儉治家,以務農為業。母胡太夫人,生前茹素念佛,數十年如一日,懷上人時曾向佛菩薩祈願,生上人前夕,夢見阿彌陀佛大放光明,遂生上人。


皈依


幼年時代,上人隨母親茹素念佛,生性沉默寡言,但天賦俠義心腸。年十一,見鄰居一死嬰,感生死事大,無常迅速,毅然有出家之志。十二歲,聞雙城王孝子──上常下仁大師,盡孝得道,發願效法。懺悔過去不孝父母,決定每天早晚向父母叩頭認錯,以報親恩,自此漸以孝行見稱,人稱「白孝子」。十五歲皈依上常下智老和尚為師。同年入學,於四書五經、諸子百家、醫卜星相等,無不貫通。求學期間,參加道德會等慈善團體;又為不識字者,講《六祖壇經》、《金剛經》等;為貧寒者,創辦義務學校。


出家


十九歲母親逝世,遂禮請三緣寺上常下智老和尚為剃度,法名安慈,字度輪。並披緇結廬在母親墓旁,守孝期間,發十八大願,拜華嚴、禮淨懺、修禪定、習教觀、日一食、夜不臥,功夫日純,得到鄉里人民的愛戴禮敬,其洗鍊精虔,感動諸佛菩薩、護法龍天,故靈異之事多不勝數,神異事蹟廣傳,被稱為奇僧。一日打坐,見六祖大師至茅棚,告曰:「將來你會到西方,所遇之人無量無邊,教化眾生,如恆河沙,不可悉數,此是西方佛法崛起之徵象。」說畢,忽而不見。守孝期滿後,隱居於長白山支脈彌陀洞內修苦行。後回三緣寺,被選為首座。居東北期間,觀機逗教,點化迷萌,濟世活人,感化無量龍蛇、狐狸、鬼神,求皈受戒,改惡修善。



禮虛雲老和尚


一九四六年,因慕虛雲老和尚為宗門泰斗,遂束裝就道,前往參禮。途中備經艱苦,蹤跡遍及內陸各大梵剎,一九四七年赴普陀山受具足戒,一九四八年抵達廣州曹溪南華寺,禮虛雲老和尚,受命於南華寺戒律學院任監學,後轉任教務主任。雲公觀其為法門龍象,乃傳授其法脈,法號宣化,為溈仰宗第九代接法人,摩訶迦葉初祖傳承的第四十五代。


到香港弘法


一九四九年,叩別虛雲老和尚,赴香港弘法,闡揚禪、教、律、密、淨五宗並重,打破門戶之見。並重建古剎、印經造像,分別成立西樂園寺、慈興禪寺、佛教講堂。居港十餘年間,亦應眾生懇請,普結法緣,相繼開講《地藏經》、《金剛經》、《彌陀經》、《楞嚴經》、《普門品》等經典多部,舉辦《大悲懺》、《藥師懺》、佛七、禪七等法會,又創辦《心法》雜誌等,終日為弘揚大法而奔忙,使佛法大興於香江。其間亦曾幾次赴泰國、緬甸等地,考察南傳佛教,志欲溝通大小乘,以團結佛教力量。


到北美弘法


一九五九年,師觀察西方機緣成熟,為將佛教的真實義理傳播到世界各地,遂令弟子在美成立中美佛教總會(後改為法界佛教總會)。一九六一年,赴澳洲弘法一年,以機緣未成熟,一九六二年返港後,應美國佛教人士邀請,隻身赴美,樹正法幢於三藩市佛教講堂。初住無窗潮濕之地窖,儼然如墳墓,故自號「墓中僧」。此時正逢美蘇兩國有古巴飛彈危機之事,為求戰爭消滅,世界和平,絕食五星期。絕食畢,戰爭遂解。


宣化上人在美國的首批僧人


一九六八年,成立暑假楞嚴講修班,華盛頓州州立大學學生三十多人,遠來學習佛法。結業後,美籍青年五人,懇求剃度出家,創下美國佛教史始有僧相的記錄。此後,上人致力於弘法、譯經、教育等事業,又廣收徒眾、建道場、立宗旨。集四眾之真誠,盡未來際劫,遍虛空法界,光大如來正法家業。


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翻譯經文


在弘法方面,上人講經說法,深入淺出,數十年如一日,並極力栽培四眾弘法人才,多次率團至各大學及世界各國弘法,以期引導眾生改惡向善,開啟本有智慧。在譯經方面,現已有百餘種譯為英文,為佛經譯為英文最多者。另有西班牙文、越南文等譯本,預計將《大藏經》譯成各國文字,使佛法傳遍寰宇。在教育方面,萬佛聖城設有育良小學、培德中學、法界佛教大學、僧伽居士訓練班等教育機構。分道場多附設周末、周日班學校,以孝悌忠信、禮義廉恥八德為做人基礎,以大公無私慈悲喜捨為究竟目標,男女分校,義務教學,培養品格高尚的真人才,來挽救整個世界。


宣化上人的教導


宣化上人教導弟子天天參禪打坐、念佛拜懺、研究經典、嚴持戒律、日中一食、衣不離體,和合共住,互相砥礪,在西方建立真正行持佛法之僧團,以圖匡扶正教,正法久住。又開放萬佛聖城為國際性宗教中心,提倡團結世界宗教,大家互相學習,溝通合作,共同追求真理,為世界和平而努力。



上人一生大公無私,發願代受眾生一切苦難,將己身一切福樂迴向法界眾生,難行能行,難忍能忍,堅持雄偉堅貞之志節,做疾風中的硬燭,烈火內的精金。宣化上人堅守自出家以來的六大宗旨:不爭、不貪、不求、不自私、不自利、不打妄語,利益群生;以慈悲智慧之教化,捨己為人、以身作則之精神,令無數人真誠改過,走向清淨高尚之菩提大道。上人曾撰一聯以明其志:

凍死不攀緣,餓死不化緣,窮死不求緣;
隨緣不變,不變隨緣,
抱定我們三大宗旨。

捨命為佛事,造命為本事,正命為僧事;
即事明理,明理即事,
推行祖師一脈心傳。


圓寂


1995年,宣化上人在美國加州洛杉磯圓寂。