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Venerable Master Xuan Hua

“I have had many names,” he once said, “and all of them are false.” In his youth in Manchuria, he was known as “the Filial Son Bai;” as a young monk he was An Ci (“Peace and Kindness”); later, in Hong Kong, he was Tu Lun (“Wheel of Rescue”); finally, in America, he was Xuan Hua, which might be translated as “one who proclaims the principles of transformation.” To his thousands of disciples across the world, he was always also “Shi Fu” — “Teacher.”

For ten years he devoted himself to study of the Buddhist scriptural tradition and to master the major schools of Mahayana Buddhism, including the Esoteric and Chan Schools. He also read and investigated the scriptures of Christianity, Taoism, and Islam. At the age of thirty, he went to the Fa Yu temple at Pu Tuo mountain and received the ordination of a Buddhist monk. By this time, he had already established through his own experience what he later called the “three great vows” of his ministry in America: the primacy and establishment of the monastic tradition; creating institutions of education; and the translation of the Buddhist sacred texts (Sutras) into English and other languages.

In 1948, Master Hua traveled south to meet the Venerable Xu Yun, who was already 109 years old then and China’s most distinguished spiritual teacher. Master Hua then left China for Hong Kong. He received the patriarchal transmission in the Wei Yang Lineage of the Chan School from the Venerable Xu Yun in 1956. He spent over ten years there, first in seclusion, then later as a teacher at three monasteries that he founded.

Finally, in 1962, several of his Hong Kong disciples invited him to come to San Francisco. By 1968, Master Hua had established the Buddhist Lecture Hall in a loft in San Francisco’s Chinatown, and there he began giving nightly lectures, in Chinese, to an audience of young Americans. His texts were the major scriptures of the Mahayana. In 1969, five of his early American disciples took full ordination, thereby initiating the Master’s wish to establish an indigenous sangha in the West. Since then, hundreds of monks and nuns have trained, studied, and ordained under his guidance.

In 1984, Master Hua founded the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA), which serves as the umbrella organization for the monasteries, schools, temples, and all of the activities conducted as part of his legacy.

As an educator, Master Hua was tireless. From 1968 to the mid 1980’s he gave many lectures every week, and he traveled extensively on speaking tours. He continued to travel and lecture until late in life. He also established the Sangha and Laity Training Program (SLTP), Instilling Goodness Elementary School, Developing Virtue Secondary School, and Dharma Realm Buddhist University (DRBU) at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), and the Institute for World Religions, in Berkeley.

Master Hua manifested “stillness” on June 7, 1995.

Avatamsaka Vihara 華嚴精舍
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