City of Ten Thousand Buddhas


History and Background


It could be said that the causes and conditions for the establishment of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas were predetermined limitless eons ago. It was decided then that the Buddhadharma would be propagated to the West at the present time, and that the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas would appear. The City didn’t make its appearance by falling from the heavens or welling forth from the earth. Rather, it was built by people. Seventy or eighty buildings were constructed. How did seventy or eighty buildings come to be constructed? It was done before World War II, during a time of great affluence in America. That’s why such a large complex of buildings could be built. These buildings were not built in a shoddy way with inferior materials. They were built with honest labor and are very sturdy. The materials used were of especially high quality.

Originally, this had been the site of a large state hospital constructed by the California government beginning in the 1930’s. All the buildings and facilities were first class. There were over seventy large buildings, over two thousand rooms of various sizes, three gymnasiums, a fire station, a swimming pool, a refuse incinerator, fire hydrants, and various other facilities. A paved road wound its way through the complex, lined with tall street lamps and trees over a hundred years old. The connections for electricity and pipes for water, heating, and air conditioning were all underground. Both the architectural design and the materials used for the buildings were state of the art. The heating and air conditioning were centrally controlled. The entire complex could accomodate over 20,000 residents.

In the mid-1970’s, California suffered a drought of unprecedented proportions. There was mandatory water rationing, and those who failed to comply were fined. The drought had a tremendous impact on the hospital. There was not enough water to supply the entire complex. That was one of the main reasons the hospital was later sold. At that time, the more they pumped, the less water there was. Finally, the government hired a first-rate American drilling company to dig a well. They tested various spots and drilled several hundred feet down into the ground, but failed to find any source of water. The government had no choice but to gradually transfer the employees elsewhere and sell the hospital. The Venerable Master Hua commented:

It’s possible that they didn’t have any money left after they finished the construction. Also, given that there were around six thousand patients and hospital workers living here, the water consumption must have been quite high and the other expenses must have been considerable as well!

The water supply is a very scarce in this area. All the local orchards and vineyards need water. The owners of the neighboring orchards often brought grievances to the government, opposing the fact that a public institution was competing for water with the local people. That’s another reason the hospital was forced to close down. Since there was no water, they couldn’t cook meals. Water and fire were unable to help each other out. The water couldn’t help the fire, and the fire couldn’t help the water. People couldn’t help the water, and the water couldn’t help people, either. Under these circumstances, the government decided to sell the property. It was purchased by a wealthy man who believed the hospital could bring in a profit in the future. After he bought it, he decided he didn’t want to run a hospital, and so he put it up for sale again. He tried to sell it for several years, but no one came to inquire about the property. There were no prospective buyers.

At that time, even though Gold Mountain Monastery had three floors and 108 square feet of space, it was still too small to accommodate the crowd that came to attend Dharma assemblies. There were vagrants in the city, too, and even though they didn’t bite people or eat people, people were afraid of them. We all wanted to find a place in the countryside. One of my disciples, Heng Lai, who wanted to do some work for his teacher after he left the home-life, went out looking at properties everywhere. He probably looked as far north as Seattle, and on the way back he passed by the site of the hospital. Seeing that it was for sale, he decided it wouldn’t hurt to take a look. Then when he got back he said we could buy a portion of the property. He even suggested which building could serve as the Buddha Hall, which place could be the teacher’s residence, and which place could be the disciples’ quarters.

Estimating that one building could house a hundred or more people, he thought we could buy twenty or thirty buildings. He asked me to go take a look. I went there with five people to see the place. It was such a fine place, with so many buildings, but the price was so expensive. What could we do? Not to mention a poor monk like myself, even a millionaire monk wouldn’t be able to afford it. So we didn’t even dare to think about it, how much the less buy it!

After half a year, someone came and negotiated with me, suggesting that I invest in the hospital and use it to do business. But I didn’t even have any starting capital to invest. Later, I took eighteen people to look at the place again. I first went to look at the clinic building. I was swayed and thought to myself, “They didn’t even manage to finish building the clinic after spending so much money.” I turned to the group of eighteen and proposed, “We are all Buddhists, and we should do something on behalf of Buddhists. If we don’t manage to do anything for Buddhists, we should be greatly ashamed and we won’t be able to hold up our heads before the world. Therefore, today I am going to make a vow: I’m going to buy the entire property with all the buildings and land.”

Considering the site to be an ideal site for cultivation created by Nature, the Venerable Master personally visited the valley three times and negotiated with the seller many times. The Venerable Master wanted to establish a center for propagating the Buddhadharma throughout the world and for introducing the Buddhist teachings, which originated in the East, to the Western world. He planned to create a fountainhead of world Buddhism and an international monastery of orthodox Dharma for the purpose of elevating the moral standards and raising people’s awareness.

It’s very strange: After purchasing the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, in order to solve the water crisis, the Venerable Master used his wisdom-eye to locate the water source and then hired workers to excavate a well. As it turned out, the water gushed forth in abundance. “A miracle!” people exclaimed. Everyone still loves to talk about it. How did that inconceivable event take place? The Venerable Master was walking around, holding a staff. Suddenly he tapped the staff on the ground and said, “Excavate here!” The worker said, “It won’t work—we’ve already tried excavating all around this spot. We’ve surveyed this area. There definitely isn’t any water here!” The Venerable Master said, “Don’t worry! Just give it a try. Dig on!” When they had excavated over a hundred feet down, water started coming out. The supply was so plentiful that even with ten thousand more people, there would still be enough for everyone.


Ten Thousand Buddhas Shine Their Light Upon the Sagely City


After undergoing a period of renovation and clearing away the overgrown vegetation, the newly established Way-place looked quite new. In the fall of 1977, the fourfold assembly of disciples of Gold Mountain Monastery moved to the new Way-place—the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas—to continue working hard at their cultivation. The gate of three arches at the City’s entrance was constructed in 1980 with golden-yellow tiles and red brick walls (later painted light yellow) as its hallmarks. The platform above the arches can serve as a podium for Dharma lectures. There is room for an audience of more than ten thousand people in the surrounding grass fields. Inside the City, one encounters verdant green trees providing shade, their swaying branches casting shadows on the ground. There are a dozen or so cottages with gardens along the road. It really is like a city; the “City” isn’t an empty name. The Venerable Master once said, “Don’t come to the mountain of treasures and return empty-handed.” Why is it called the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas? The Venerable Master said,

Everybody who comes here has a chance to become a Buddha. As long as you come here, someday, surely you will be a Buddha. And it is not only ten thousand people, but a hundred thousand, a million, ten million, one hundred million, billions and millions of billions of people here in the City will become Buddhas. The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is a generic name. You may say the number of Buddhas here is as many as the grains of sand in the Ganges River. Why? Because as it says in the Flower Adornment Sutra, “There is nothing that does not flow forth from the Dharma Realm, and there is nothing that does not return to this Dharma Realm.” Therefore, anyone who arrives at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas will eventually enter the stream of Sagehood. So! No matter whether you are wholesome or evil, good or bad, you all have planted the seed of Buddhahood. When you plant such seeds, they will surely bear fruit in the future.

Currently about 80 acres of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas have been developed for use as part of the monastic complex. Twenty-five of the more than seventy large buildings are already being used for religious, educational, administrative, and residential purposes. The remaining 400 acres are fields, orchards, vineyards, and woods. In the springtime, the flowers bloom and the trees have fresh young foliage. In the autumn, the red leaves flutter down, filling the City. Squirrels, deer, and hares dwell in the woods. Peacocks dance in the vineyards, feeding on the grapes. Whether seen from a distance or at close quarters, the City gives people a feeling of cheerful expansiveness. When faithful devotees from all quarters come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, it is always with hope and yearning. Whether they come from far or near, visitors spontaneously give rise to the wish to transcend the mundane world.


The Main Entrance Gate of Three Arches


On the main entrance to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a gate of three arches, the words “The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas” are engraved at the top in the center. “Tathagata Monastery” is engraved on the left and “Dharma Realm Buddhist University” is engraved on the right. The first line of the engraved matching couplet says, “The Flower Adornment Dharma Assembly, the Shurangama Platform, and the Forty-two Hands and Eyes establish the Heavens and the Earth.”

The second line says, “The World Honored Ones of Wonderful Enlightenment and the Bodhisattvas of Equal Enlightenment, with a billion transformation bodies, can turn oceans into mountains.” On the other side of the gate, “Teaching and Protecting All Nations” is inscribed in the center, “Educating for Outstanding Abilities” is on the left, and “Adorning with Dharma and Precepts” is on the right. The first line of an engraved matching couplet says, “With kindness and compassion, cross over all. Those who believe will be saved. Bring forth the Bodhi mind and advance with courage and vigor to perfect the Right Enlightenment.” The second line says, “With joy and compassion, cultivate together. Those who worship will obtain blessings. Make firm vows and practice patience and Dhyana-concentration to awaken to the true teaching.”


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萬佛城成立因緣


對於成立萬佛城的因緣,宣公上人說:「成立萬佛城這個因緣,可以說在無量劫以來就注定的,注定佛法要傳到西方來,所以到這個時候,萬佛城就會出現了。這個出現不是從天上掉下來,也不是從地上湧出來的,是人造出來的,造出來有七、八十棟房子。怎麼造成有七、八十棟房子?因為在第二次世界大戰以前,是美國最有錢的時候,所以才能建起這規模,造出這樣的房子。造這些房子,都沒有偷工減料,是實打實著,很堅固的,所用的材料也特別好。」

這個地方原是美國加州州政府興建的公立療養院,規模宏大,由一九三○年代建起,所有的建築物和內部設備都是一流的。大建築物有七十餘座,大小房間二千餘間,球場三處,救火站、游泳池、垃圾爐、街道噴水頭各種設備,一條柏油馬路,蜿蜒伸展,四通八達,路燈林立,路旁都是百年以上的古樹。所有的電氣、用水、冷暖氣管道,全部由地下道通過。所有的建築物,無論在設計上、材料上,都相當考究,而冷暖氣設備全部由中央系統控制。

一九七○年代中期,加州遭受到史無前例的大旱災。每個人都要節約用水,否則要受罰。大旱災對這所醫院影響非常大,因為水源不足,無法供應全院使用,這也就是醫院要拋售的主要原因。

上人接著又說到:「房子造好了,或者也沒有錢了,加上這裡從前有病人和工作人員約六千人,耗水量很大,這一切的開銷還了得!這個地方的水源非常困難,附近地區盡是果園,處處需要水。鄰近果園園主常向政府訴怨,反對公家的事業和民間爭水,這也是不得不關閉的大原因。因為沒有水了,所以也不開伙了,水火不能既濟──水不幫助火了,火不能幫助水了;人不能幫助水了,水不能幫助人了。在這個情形之下,政府就要把它賣了。一賣,就有一個財主認為這個醫院將來會賺錢,就把它買下。買下以後,他又不想開醫院,所以就要把它賣了。賣了幾年,也沒有人問津,也沒有人去買。那時金山寺雖然有三層樓,有一萬八千平方呎,可是法會的時候,人一多起來,也不夠用;並且城市裡有一些流浪漢,他們雖不咬人、不吃人,但人就怕他們,於是乎大家就想要在鄉下找個地方。我一個徒弟,出家之後,想幫師父做點事,就各處去找地方,他從北邊大約到西雅圖,回來路經這所醫院,他一看這個地方要出賣,不妨看一看。回來他對我說,他想要建議買一部分,說哪個地方可以當佛殿,哪個地方是師父住的,哪個地方預備是徒弟住的。他就算,每一棟可以住一百多人,想買二、三十棟,就教我去看看;我就帶五個弟子到那個地方去看。這麼好的地方,這麼多房子,價錢這麼貴,怎麼辦呢?別說我一個窮和尚,就是一個萬金和尚也買不起。所以這樣子,連想也不敢想,更不要說買啊!這樣子過了半年,又來了一個人說可以投資作生意,和我商量,可是我又沒有錢,也沒有本錢。雖然如此,我就和十八個人到那個地方,先看前面這棟醫院,看了,心也就動了,心想:單單造這棟醫院也造不出來,所以我就和去的這十八個弟子提起,我說:「我們都是佛教徒,我們應該為佛教徒做點事情,如果我們沒有給佛教徒做事情,我們應該生大慚愧,沒有什麼面目見世間人,所以今天我要發願,要把所有的房子和土地給它拿下來!」

上人親自到山谷三次,認為是天造地設的好道場,經多次和賣主洽談。上人要在此地發揚世界佛教弘法事業,把東方佛教思想介紹給西方世界,準備作為世界佛教發源地,國際性的正法道場,來提高道德,喚醒人心。

說也奇怪,自從上人接手,闢為萬佛城之後,為解決水荒問題,上人用智慧眼,勘定水源的位置,然後雇工來城掘井,結果地下水源源而來,大家歎為奇蹟!至今仍津津樂道。這裡邊也有一段不可思議的故事:上人拿著一根柺杖,在地上行行走走,然後用柺杖在地上一敲,說:「在這裡挖!」工人說:「不行!我們在附近都已經挖過、測量過,這裡絕對不會有水!」上人說:「不要緊!你們就試一試,繼續挖!」結果挖了一百多呎,就有水湧出來,水源非常豐富,就是再加一萬個人,水也足供使用。


西方佛教的發源地 - 極樂世界在聖城


我因為看見阿彌陀佛這麼大的願力,我現在也想造成一個極樂世界;雖然我想把萬佛城造成一個極樂世界,但是現在還沒有正式成就,還沒有「黃金為地,晝夜六時,雨天曼陀羅華。」雖然說還沒有成功,將來有一天一定是成功的。說是:「所有跟我出家的弟子和在家的皈依弟子,他們如果沒有成佛,我也不成佛。皈依我的人他們做螞蟻,我也跟著做螞蟻;他們做蚊蟲,我也跟著去做蚊蟲;他們墮地獄,我也跟墮地獄;他們變餓鬼,我也跟著做餓鬼;哪一個做畜牲了,我也願意陪著他去做畜牲。」發這一個願力,必須要他們先成佛;然後我若願意成佛,我就成;我若不願意成佛,我還不成。

說:「你為什麼不願意成佛呢?」,因為我看見還有很多人沒有成佛,我還要去拖他們一把,所以就是我皈依弟子──出家的弟子、在家弟子──都成佛了,以後我還要看看情形再說。這是我今天想對你們說的話,所以我說我發這一個願力是很笨的,不過我這個笨人,就有個笨法子,就願意這麼笨;你想要我跑快的路、坐火箭,我不會的。

在萬佛城裏,我都是用兩條腿來走路的,不用那個噗噗車;甚至今天下雨,我也就偷偷跑來。那個方果悟左一次要用車接我,也接不著;右一次要用車去接我,也撲空了。一方面我是很笨,一方面也沒有那麼大福報,所以願意受一點苦。你們都被我這一句話所迷了:「受苦是了苦,享福是消福。」


美國最寶貴的一塊土地


在馬來西亞,或者以前在萬佛城說過,萬佛城是全世界佛教徒的,也是全世界人類的,也是全世界所有的眾生的。為什麼我要說這個話?我想:修道的人不應該有自私心。萬佛城是美國一塊寶貴的土地,美國是一個領導世界的國家;萬佛城是萬佛共同修道的地方,共同修道的地方就不應該有自私心。我想:我把它全部交給美國人,這也是錯誤;我若把它全部交給中國人,這更是一個錯誤,一般人一定說我是中國人,所以交給中國人,這是一種自私的心;我若把它交給中國和美國人共同來管理,這也不是一個圓滿的辦法。

所以我要把它奉獻給全世界所有的眾生,所有的人類,所有的宗教徒──不單所有的佛教徒;就是所有的各宗教的教徒,來共同管理這一個寶貴的土地。這樣子,就是表示我們每一個人都沒有自私心;不但我沒有自私心,你們每一個人也都不要有自私心。因為我們人一生幾十年,何必為自己那麼樣的執著、那麼樣的放不下?就活了幾千年,又能怎麼樣子?也是在這個世界上顛顛倒倒,染苦為樂、認賊做子。所以我決定把萬佛城奉獻給全世界的眾生,全世界的人類,全世界的各宗教徒。


萬佛城就是人人成佛的一個開始


這個地方松柏花草樹木,你能吸到這種新鮮空氣,一定會益壽延年的,會長生不老。所以在萬佛城住的人,你就不修行,這也是得到很大的利益,也是修行;所以這個地方是天造地設的,給我們佛教預備一個這麼天然的道場,教我們到這個地方來用功修行。

因為萬佛城將來是世界佛教的一個道場,也是世界的佛教發源地,也是世界人類、佛教人類共同的歸宿處、共同的皈依處。所以我們在萬佛城用功修行的人,一定要老老實實地、腳踏實地,拿出來一份的真心來用功。萬佛城現在等著人開悟,等著人證果,等著人來修行──要真正的修行。萬佛城就是正法的一個開始,萬佛城就是人人成佛的一個開始,一個道場。所以到了萬佛城,決定要成佛的;到了萬佛城,早晚要成佛的;到了萬佛城,不久將來一定要成佛的,因為這兒就是給佛預備的。

在西方,這個社會都是很大的,一切一切的局面都很大的;所以在西方有個佛教道場,也要很大的。所以有的人到這兒一看,就說:「這兒太大了!」大得把人嚇得不能相信。所以我們各位捷足先登,我們跑得快,先跑到萬佛城來;我們一定要好好用功,不要調皮。你要時時刻刻都要迴光返照,所謂「舉動行為管自己,行住坐臥不離家」;行住坐臥不離家,就是一舉一動、一言一行都要念茲在茲地看著自己,不要打妄想。


開闢新天地


我們現在是開闢新天地,在這個世界上,把佛教的種子種在每一粒微塵裏邊去;每一粒微塵裏邊,我們都要在那兒轉大法輪,弘揚佛法。這個工作,是我們每一個人自己的責任,不是其他人的責任。我們做佛教徒,就應該做佛教的事情,把佛教推行到每一粒微塵裏邊去,每一個世界去,推而廣之到整個法界裏邊去,這是我們的應該做的工作。