A dharma talk by Rosa Chang & Ana Chang at GBM on November 26, 2017
All Buddhas & Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master, Dharma Masters, and Dharma Friends. Amitofo. My name is Rosa and this is my sister Ana.
2017, the year of the Rooster has been a very eventful year for us. We had 2 births, 1 wedding, and 1 rebirth in our family. These are all new beginnings for each individual. However, as per Dharma Master’s suggestion, we will tell you the story of our father.
Our father was born in 1924 in China, Canton, Zhongshan, Zimaling village. He married my mom in 1949. In 1952, he moved to Lima, Peru. In 1970 he immigrated to Vancouver, Canada. Our father built Como Market, our family grocery business. Our father left behind a loving wife, 2 sons, 2 daughters, 2 daughter-in-laws, 6 grand-sons, 3 grand-daughters, 4 grand-daughter-in-laws, 2 grand-son-in-laws, 3 great-grand-sons, and 2 great-grand-daughters. Whenever we have family gatherings, we have 4 generations joined together.
Our father instilled the importance of filiality, family togetherness, generosity, and compassion in us. He enjoyed going on family vacations and having family gatherings. Our father was a very generous and family-oriented person. He remembered where he came from and would go back to China every year to visit family and friends. He would give gifts and treat them to food. Although our father did not eat too much meat, he would let others do all the ordering and they would choose things like live seafood or live animals. Our father always paid for all the food.
After years of going to China and treating people to so much meat and seafood, karma finally caught up with him when he was around 80 years old. That was the start of all his illnesses. He started not feeling well, but he could not explain to the doctors the symptoms. He would often say he was dizzy, but it was not the kind of dizzy where he would fall down. The western doctors did not know how to cure him. In the last 9 years he has been in and out of the hospital 6 times with pneumonia.
Everything does happen for a reason. Yes, his illness is a bad thing. However, it was because of his illness, my sister and I started bringing our father to Gold Buddha Monastery and we became pure vegetarians, which is a good thing. In 2008, our father started attending all dharma assemblies at Gold Buddha Monastery. He became a pure vegetarian and took the 5 precepts. He enjoyed spending time at Gold Buddha Monastery, and have met many Dharma masters and Dharma friends here. He would stay the whole day at GBM from start to finish. Although, he may not understand the sutras, mantras, dharma talks, and repentance texts…we would like to think that everything he has heard has been absorbed into his 8th consciousness.
This year, our father was still able to attend the 1 week 3000 Buddhas Repentance, 3 weeks Avatamsaka Sutra recitation, and 1 week Emperor Lyang’s Repentance. He even attended the celebration of Guan Yin Pu Sa’s Enlightenment at GBM. However, on the actual day of Guan Yin Pu Sa’s Enlightenment, our father got really tired and did not want to get up. He was too tired to eat or drink anything, but he was peaceful. His blood pressure was very good, he did not have a fever, and his breathing was normal. So we knew it was not pneumonia this time. We asked him if he wanted to go to the hospital and he told us “No”. So we respected his wish and made him comfortable at home.
At all times we had the Amitofo chanting machine playing close to our father so he could hear. 3 days prior to his passing, my sister and I started chanting Amitofo ourselves to our father because we wanted to chant from our heart, instead of just using a machine. We also placed a picture of Amitofo on the wall in front of our father. We noticed that sometimes our father would have his palms together praying to Amitofo.
In the last few days of his life, we would constantly remind our father to recite “Amitofo”. We told him if Amitofo comes for him, to go with Amitofo and leave everything here behind. We told him we would take care of our mother. We told him we are all grown up and he doesn’t have to worry about us. We also thanked him for all he has done for us. We told him to go to Amitofo’s Land of Ultimate Bliss first and we will meet him there when it is our time. We told him if he sees Amitofo’s bright gold light, to go with him to Amitofo’s Land of Ultimate Bliss…our father nodded to show he understood us.
Our father passed away peacefully at home on Monday, July 17, 2017 at 3:20pm surrounded by family members at his side. He was 93 years old. After the 8 hours of reciting Amitofo, and all who came to recite have gone home, we went in to say our final good-byes to our father. We notice that it looked like there were sprinkles of gold dust on his face and he looked very peaceful.
On Dad’s 7th day after passing away, I had a dream. I was walking somewhere and Dad joined me. He look young, happy, and a full of energy. I told him to remember to go to Amitofo’s Land of Ultimate Bliss. He replied “OK”. We hugged and then I woke up.
Most of our family members made the commitment to only eat vegetarian food for 49 days. Ana, our mom, our niece, and I decided to each of us gift at least 100 Earth Store Sutras to our father within the 49 days. Part of our father’s 49 days took place during the 1 month Earth Store Sutra Recitation session, which made it convenient for us to read the Earth Store Sutra many times. In total, just between the 4 of us, we gifted over 560 Earth Store Sutras and transferred the merit and virtue to our father. Also, our whole family came together every Sunday to offer incense to our father at Gold Buddha Monastery.
Our father’s last 7 was on the exact 49th day. That day GBM celebrated Ullambama. We read in Venerable Master’s English commentary of The Shurangama Sutra that “on Ullambama, merit and virtue dervived from making offerings to the Triple Jewel is several million times greater than that derived from offerings made on ordinary days”. We are grateful that our father’s last 7 was completed on such an amazing day.
1 week after all of our father’s 7s were completed, we flew to Calgary to attend the Inauguration Ceremony at Avatamsaka Monastery. While we were there, we had the opportunity to receive the Precepts for the Deceased for our father.
After returning from Calgary, our mom started having dreams of seeing our dad. She said that she saw a big place, like the structure of a big airport. Our father came out and welcomed her in. He looked young and happy. As soon as they sat down, someone brought vegetarian haw gow and sui mai for them. Mom had a haw gow and Dad had a sui mai. Dad told my Mom the sui mai is really good, and Mom told him that the haw gow is really good too. Mom had 2 haw gows and 2 sui mais. After eating, they didn’t have to pay. They walked around and Mom saw Bhikshus everywhere.
Throughout the years, the Buddhas & Bodhisattvas have continuously blessed our father with health, strength, and energy to come to GBM frequently. He was able to come here all the time even when it rained or snowed. Our father treated Gold Buddha Monastery as his 2nd home. While at GBM he would ask us, “When do we go home?” However, at home he would ask us every day “Are we going to Gold Buddha Monastery today?”
Every year, Dad looked forward to attending the GBM Elderly Day. He was very happy to receive a gift for being over 90. He told us being over 90 is a big accomplishment, so he treasured every gift he received. Our father found peace and comfort here at Gold Buddha Monastery.
When our father was a young man, he saw a fortune teller who predicted that he would only live to 56 years old. We are sincerely grateful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas because we had 37 more years to be with him. It gave our father the extra time to see us grow up. All the times we have spent with our father are precious, and we are thankful for each day. We do miss him, but we know that we did all we can for him, and we can let go with no regrets.
We want to thank the Venerable Master for bringing Buddhism to the west, so people who do not know Chinese like us can understand, learn, and cultivate. We would also like to give sincere thanks to all Dharma Masters and Dharma Friends for your kindness, warmth, compassion, support, and respect to our father throughout the years at Gold Buddha Monastery. A special thank you goes to Dharma Master Jung for always being there for our family and for supporting and helping us through everything. Amitofo.