Many European fellow initiates long very much to go to International Retreats, but they often miss the opportunity due to visa problems and other reasons. Therefore, they beseeched Master to hold a retreat in Europe, and Master consented immediately at the group meditation in Nice. This was undoubtedly the greatest news for the European initiates. Cherishing the rare opportunity to have a retreat with Master, several fellow initiates from mainland China travelled all the way from the United States to Europe. Under Master's blessing, their journey was full of miracles! Over three hundred fellow initiates from nearly twenty countries in Europe and America took part in the first European Three-Day Retreat.
In the afternoon one day before the European 3-day Retreat, Master, wearing a light yellow dress, appeared at the Hamburg International Airport, accompanied by Her escorts. Fellow practitioners and devotional supporters rushed forward with overwhelming emotion to present flowers to the most beloved and venerated Master.
With a cheerful smile, Master greeted everyone cordially, and distributed blessed food to everyone present. The luckiest ones were the small initiates who could throw themselves into Master's arms. Everyone was intoxicated by Master's infinite love. Some fellow initiates had just flown in from other countries to join the retreat, and they were fortunate enough to meet Master at the Airport. After a brief but joyful gathering, Master proceeded to the camp site at Luneburg, and thus raised the curtain for the first International 3-day Retreat ever held in Europe.
Wherever Master Goes Is A Fairyland
That evening, the considerate and loving Master quietly went to visit the initiates at the camp site. She looked extremely graceful and noble, with escorts leading the way in front, the sky full of brilliant stars in the background and accompanied by a gentle breeze, as if She were descending on a ethereal cloud. The scene was truly one of a fairyland in the secular world. Master traversed the camp site without speaking a word because it was unnecessary, yet, the entire universe could feel Master's loving blessing.
Many fellow initiates were sleeping due to their exhausting journey, but we deeply believed that their souls were savouring that warm and beautiful night. For the liaison practitioners from the various European Centers, it was the first time they had ever convened such a grand international retreat; Master's cordial concern made them feel doubly spirited and vigorous in their work.
The three-day retreat formally commenced the next day. After the meditation session in the morning, an initiation was held in the afternoon. As Master did not come to Europe often, many truth aspirants seized this precious chance to receive the initiation, and then joined the retreat. Having finished the initiation, Master ignored Her own exhaustion to answer all questions raised by the new initiates. In the evening, Master gave a discourse, and then blessed the new initiates. She then meditated with everyone and prayed for world peace.
Heaven And Earth Are Touched By Master's Fearless Love
During the discourse, Master told us: Human life is ephemeral. It is the greatest blessing for the fellow initiates who could come to the 3-day retreat and see Master. Master had to utilize Her merits earned from many lives' of spiritual practice to help us, so that we could be here to see Her. Master does everything for our needs; She exhausted Her time, energy and money to meet us there. Therefore, we must treasure this opportunity, which is hard to encounter, once in billions of ages, to really practice diligently.
Master said that She was willing to give Her life if we could get liberation and enlightenment faster. Speaking on this point, Master wept quietly, and so did the fellow initiates, who were all extremely touched. At that moment, even heaven seemed to be stirred by Master's great fearless love, and it started to shower! Master's painstaking intent roused everyone and they meditated more diligently the next day.
In the afternoon, Master received the foreign initiates in turn. The first group called by Master was the initiates from China, who upon hearing the news, could not help shedding blissful tears profusely. (Those who can not come to Formosa due to political condition of the two countries) Cordially and gently, Master answered questions pertaining to spiritual practice asked by the initiates from China. The atmosphere was very happy and relaxed, and the initiates from China were most grateful to Master's immaculate love and concern. Master then received the initiates from Au Lac and the European countries, and filled each of them with total bliss and satisfaction.
The Most Humorous Story-teller
That evening, Master appeared before everyone wearing a white evening gown, and a broad graceful smile. All the initiates crowded around the stage to listen to the pretty Mother bestowing them with bedside stories before they went to sleep. Master's narration was so lively and amusing, that She turned a serious Japanese Zen legend into a hilarious joke. Yet, after the tear inducing laughter, we also apprehended the profound meaning implied by the story, which made us truthfully admire Master's great wisdom.
On the last day of the three-day retreat, Master walked around the venue distributing blessed food to each initiate. She also especially blessed the working staff such as, interpreters, dharma guardians, and the kitchen helpers who worked during the 3-day retreat. Special permission was granted to the children and non-initiates, who longed to see Master but who could not join the retreat, to enter the meditation hall to see Master. They also received blessed food personally given by Master.
Amid the vast ocean of love, and the cheerful noises of blessed food distribution, the first International 3-day Retreat held in Europe was concluded.
Moments spent with Master are always short and precious. However, Master's infinite love has already fully charged fellow practitioners both physically and spiritually, which will remain with them until eternity.
During the European 3-day retreat, Master told us, "It is not easy at all for fellow practitioners to manage to attend the retreat, you must have overcome many difficulties; but you are not aware that Master power has already helped you dissolve many invisible obstacles."
My tears rolled down immediately when I heard this, because I knew it was true. It was all due to Master's blessings that enabled a miracle to occur so that I could attended this retreat. I am a foreign student in U.S.A. who comes from mainland China. Last June and July, due to a visa problem, I was not able to attend the retreat and see Master in Formosa, and was extremely upset about that. I had been longing for the opportunity to attend a retreat before my summer vacation ended. Upon obtaining the schedule of retreats, I was indeed excited, and prayed to Master, asking Her to help me to make it. When I began going through the procedures for travelling abroad, I came to know that my U.S. visa had expired, and I would have to go to China or a third country to apply for my visa. By the time I discovered that the retreat was to be held in Germany, there was not much time left for me to apply for a visa. I immediately called the Consulate General of Germany in Detroit, U.S.A. The Ambassador told me that it took at least four days to obtain the visa, but my re-entry visa for U.S.A. was a must. I said that I would go to Canada to apply for my U.S. visa, and told him that the reason I wanted to go to Germany was to attend a 3-day retreat conducted by Supreme Master Ching Hai to pray for world peace. The Ambassador immediately said, "That's great!", and told me that it was certain that my visa would be approved. I was pleasantly surprised, and couldn't help shedding tears, knowing that Master was helping me. The next morning, I want to see the German Ambassador. He promised to issue me the visa, but told me to obtain my visa at the German Embassy in Canada, because I did not have a returning visa to U.S.A. In my heart I prayed to Master to make him issue me the visa directly. Then the Ambassador immediately said that he would have another try.
Miraculously, after 30 minutes, my visa was approved! I gave him Master's sample booklet and magazine; he was very interested in Her teachings. Two other sisters obtained their visas through the help of this Ambassador as well. When their visas were approved, the Ambassador told them, "Please say hi to Supreme Master Ching Hai for me." I did not know that Master was to attend the European 3-day retreat until the night before I left for Hamburg. I was really overjoyed. The passengers sitting beside me on the airplane were all nice and friendly. They began inquiring about Master when seeing my necklace pendent with Her picture. I then introduced them to Master and the Quan Yin Method during the journey. Upon arriving at Hamburg Airport, I met some fellow initiates who had just arrived from Paris, London and other places, and learned that Master would arrive at Hamburg Airport, and that we could meet Her there! Hearing this, all our fatigue was swept away by great joy. The flower shop at the airport did exceptionally good business that day (fellow initiates all bought flowers from them).
We lined up in two rows, with flowers artistically arranged in various bouquets in our hands, respectfully awaiting the arrival of Master. The worker in the flower shop could not suppress her curiosity. Frequently, she stretched her neck to look for Master just as our fellow initiates did; she even moved the rack displaying merchandise from the shop door, inside, in order to allow for more space for Master's reception.
Master arrived, dressed in white, with lovely braided hair. She looked refreshing and charming. Many passers-by had the fortune to have a look at a real Buddha's graceful appearance and presence. The flower shop worker was so happy to see Master that her smile never left her face. Master blessed each of the initiates and would-be initiates on the spot.
Oh! Master, how can I describe my joy and happiness? Only because I was determined to attend the retreat, You not only blessed and protected me all the way, with 'green lights' everywhere, but You also allowed me to first meet You at the airport and receive the blessed candies from Your own hands! During the 3-day retreat, Master especially decided to meet the disciples from mainland China. When Quan Yin messengers announced this great news, I felt that Master's loving power was so strong that my tears immediately began to flow. Her endless loving power was so great that everyone wept on the spot. A sister told Master: when Master was scolding Chinese disciples the previous day, she suddenly felt that Master was the manifestation of God, she witnessed God's majesty, and her soul was shaken awake at that very moment. Master laughed and said, "Look, it is not that I want to scold you, but some people like that. Sentient beings' tastes are very diverse. Some like Master to wear nun's clothes, some like me wearing simple clothes, but some just like me in gorgeous clothes."
At that moment, I thought: I like You in white the most. Indeed, I
admire with great fondness all the pictures of Master in white; and
among over 100 sets of the Celestial Clothes in the Fashion Show, my
favorite one is the pure white dress which is as beautiful as a veil
of mist and fog. That night when meditating, I was shaken awake by a
sister nearby. Upon opening my eyes, I was dumbfounded: Master
appeared in my favorite white dress; She came walking down with Her
hem fluttering. Her beauty was unequalled by anything I have ever
witnessed. I was stunned in my admiration, even forgetting to clap my
hands. Master understood our desire to be close to Her, and mercifully
granted us an opportunity. No sooner had She taken Her seat on the
stage, than She said, "We are too far away like this, you can sit
over here." Boom! Instantly many
ground and circled Master closely, on and below the stage.
Master then told us many Zen stories. When She asked, "Enough?"
Everyone answered, "No!" How could it be enough? Accompanying such a
beautiful Buddha, such understanding, consideration, humor and charm a
master who always agrees to sentient beings' wishes. The disciples
all became infatuated and intoxicated, and returned to our unadorned
beauty and true nature.
That night before Master left us, I had the fortune to tell Her that
I liked Her in white. Master said, "White color represents purity,
that's why you like it." Yeah, in front of Master, everyone's purest
nature emerges, their most beautiful heart-flowers all blossom.
Master then told us many Zen stories. When She asked, "Enough?" Everyone answered, "No!" How could it be enough? Accompanying such a beautiful Buddha, such understanding, consideration, humor and charm a master who always agrees to sentient beings' wishes. The disciples all became infatuated and intoxicated, and returned to our unadorned beauty and true nature.
That night before Master left us, I had the fortune to tell Her that I liked Her in white. Master said, "White color represents purity, that's why you like it." Yeah, in front of Master, everyone's purest nature emerges, their most beautiful heart-flowers all blossom.
When greeting Master at the Hamburg Airport, I unexpectedly came upon my younger sister who was studying and working in Holland. This was our first encounter since we were initiated. Owing to the difference in age and the long separation, there was no common language between me and my sister, nor were there any intimate feelings justified between us.
Having spent almost every moment with my sister during the retreat, I found that she had become very diligent after the initiation, and also very independent and capable. Very often, she even took care of me like an elder sister would. I also found it much easier to get close to my younger sister. I am very grateful to Master for having demolished the wall between us. Our relationship has become as close as all the brothers and sisters in the big Quan Yin family. Now we have an eternal common language--our venerated Master and the Quan Yin Method.
On the second day of the retreat, Master received fellow initiates in groups. She specified that fellow initiates from mainland China would be the first group. All the Chinese fellow initiates, including my sister and I, cried with great emotion upon hearing this news. Being passport holders of mainland China, we could not obtain entry visas to Formosa to see Master at Hsihu. Aware of our intense yearning, Master had come thousands of miles to the European Retreat regardless of the toilsome journey, thus, satisfying the longing of the fellow initiates from China.
While seeing us, Master patiently answered all our questions. We were moved to tears right from the beginning, but soon, we burst into laughter amid Master's humorous words. Oh! Being close to Master and listening to Her words are always my happiest moments.
The truth is, our group of fellow initiates from mainland China is the luckiest lot among the Chinese fellow initiates. There are still many fellow initiates in China and Au Lac who have never seen Master. I can only hope that the day will soon come for the realization of the Golden Era, which Master described as having no passports or boundaries, because the whole world is just like one big family!
Through the Mid-Autumn Festival 3-day Retreat, Master, the compassinate Mother, let each participating initiate savour life in heaven. Master loved them like a mother, and the disciples adored Her like children everyone was intoxicated in this love! One day in heaven is like one year on Earth. Having a retreat with Master for several days is superior to practicing alone at home for decades.
The aesthetic Mid-Autumn Festival gave us several days of continuous holidays, while Master also bestowed on us the most desirable gift of reunion -- She granted the request by the disciples to have an International Three-Day Retreat at Hsihu Center.
On the first day, local and overseas initiates reported early in the morning in an orderly and blissful manner. To provide fellow initiates with a comfortable environment for the Retreat, Master had especially instructed a series of beautifying projects to be completed before the retreat began. Many enchanting scenic spots were created in the already tranquil and beautiful Center. The old Main Hall had put on an elegant new look of a Chinese Palace; the kitchen was redecorated to resemble a warm European home; next to the Dragon Boat Lake was a spacious park highlighting both contemporary and classical styles. A zigzag bridge winded its way through the center of the lake, creating a fairy-tale scene. Pebbled paths and many fantastic flowers and plants decorate every corner, making everything so resplendent. Anything that one could see or reach had been made into masterpieces of love, crafted with selfless contribution.
Overture Of Love
One day before the retreat began, the working staff moved into the Center to prepare for everything. On the next day, after completing the reporting procedure, tents were pitched, the kitchen prepared delicious food to satisfy the 'Bodhisattvas', and just as everyone was watching Master's video tapes, the news came that Master was on Her way back from the airport. Quickly, everyone lined up to welcome Her.
Having flown for twenty-four hours from Munich to Taipei, and gone through tedious transit procedures, Master still looked bright and spirited. She strolled through the crowd, blessing each of them, and cordially greeted everyone. After a short speech, despite the exhaustion of the journey and the scorching sun, Master walked around the place letting every initiate see Her clearly, thus satisfying their longing. Consequently, the Mid-Autumn Festival 3-day Retreat commenced amid this overture of love.
Master said that She could feel the pure hearts of the initiates, so She was very happy. Her bliss was the fellow initiates' bliss, and the noon meditation started in this harmonious ambience.
After a brief rest, Master drove to the basketball field in Her mini vehicle in the evening, and gave a delightful surprise to the initiates who were having their meals there. They put away their eating utensils and sat around Master's car to enjoy a light-hearted chat with Her. Grasping this rare opportunity, everyone was very happy to pour out their emotions directly to Master, who they missed so much. Master then drove to the water fountain, while briefly talking.
On the second day of the Mid-Autumn Festival the weather was hot, so Master considerately advised everyone to find some cool and shady place to meditate. Therefore, along the Nectar River, deep in the Bamboo Grove, at the peaceful Forest Main Hall, and around the Dragon Boat Lake, fellow initiates could be seen meditating with eyes closed while their souls were soaring high in heaven.
At dusk, everyone queued up happily to receive moon cakes and pomelos bestowed by Master, and then everyone got ready to enjoy a grand party. Fireworks of many colours were arranged on open ground to enchant the occasion with resplendent flares.
A Splendid Mid-Autumn Festival Evening Party
The music struck up, accompanied by the clamour of fire-crackers. Then beautiful fireworks penetrated the sky stirring every soul. At that moment, Master appeared as a Tang dynasty Empress riding in the imperial sedan chair and wearing the robe and crown. She was escorted by a large retinue of royal guards into the Main Hall with the dignity and majesty of a virtuous and compassionate King. Liaison practitioners from various centers dressed up as chancellors and generals and lined up on both sides; elegant and charming imperial concubines followed behind in their fluttering costumes. Master was smiling and waving Her hands to greet everyone. Many people were so touched that their tears rolled down immediately. With their palms closed, they were intoxicated in a rendezvous beyond space and time, which awakened ancient memories!
When Master sat on Her Dragon Throne on the stage, the performances began. First, initiates portraying diplomats from various countries paid their respects, followed by the ancient beauty Wang Zhao Jun of the Han Dynasty who presented offerings to the Empress. The ancient beauty adored the wise and divine King so much that she roused and descended from heaven to present this tribute.
An English Princess wearing a glorious costume knelt down and bowed. Master remarked humorously, "The beauty does not have to kneel!"
The gift from Fu Sang (Japan) was Sun Cakes. Master laughed, "This was exported from Kaohsiung and then imported again. You see, our native product is so nice! Originally, they are to be served at tea time, but they have become the National Treasure of Japan!"
A Korean beauty, the Captain Hook of United States, and the natives of Peng Lai Fairy Island (Formosa), all paid their respects by presenting offerings in succession, and wished the Tang Empress longevity. Then, they respectfully requested their Majesty to shift to the 'Royal Garden', where the main program would be performed.
A Feng Yang Flower Drum Dance performed by the Dharma Guard Group, who were disguised as females, won the first round of applause. A native initiate from the A-Mei tribe sang sweetly and clearly a beautiful song. The Eight Immortals descended from heaven, and presented Master with the 'Peach of Immortality' grown in the chamber of the Mother Goddess. Master took a bite, and claimed that it was delicious!
Other brilliant performances included instrumentals, Japanese folklore stories, and Chinese and foreign dances, which absolutely fascinated everyone. The National Dance Suite by the Taipei fellow initiates was particularly rich in content, and won thunderous applause. Dreamlike movements complimented the fairy clothes and a bank of clouds added to the mystical mood. Everyone felt as if they were in the Heavenly Palace, and were oblivious of time! Appreciating this series of brilliant performances, the Holy Empress gave them an 'okay' hand gesture. The atmosphere was so joyous and harmonious on and off the stage.
The climax of the night began when the Holy Empress moved to the Zigzag Bridge on the Dragon Boat Lake to watch the fireworks. The night sky was lit up by the colourful flares, which announced an auspicious message: "The True Empress - Enlightened Master - mercifully bestows graces on the whole world."
Master then returned to the Main Hall to give a discourse, while the disciples were rejoicing their great blessing of having a reunion with an enlightened master on a festival evening.
Master said, "Thank you for your great efforts. The program tonight was splendid. I wish you a happy Mid-Autumn Festival, and fulfilment in spiritual cultivation every day, just like the full moon tonight." "You, the fellow practitioners, have been meditating sincerely in these few days, and your actions, speech and thoughts are pure and clean. This is why the ambience is so excellent, so that we can enjoy these beautiful arrangements."
Master had been in many grand events around the world, including regal occasions, but She felt our program here was the most brilliant. Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy this marvellous show with us because worldly people are complicated in mind, and they may not cherish it. With deep feelings, Master said that if the world leaders or royalty could come to enjoy the evening with us, they would surely be delighted. And Master added that they would have greater wisdom to manage their countries afterwards. It was a pity that we could only enjoy it ourselves.
Ending Up With The Words Of Wisdom
The Three-Day Retreat concluded after the meditation session on the morning of the third day. Since it was Sunday, many guests, would-be initiates, and other initiates who could not join the retreat began pouring into the Center, all wishing to see Master.
At noon, Master, wearing a white Cheongsam and with a tall bun on Her hair, came to see the initiates in the Main Hall. Master specially allowed the liaison practitioners from various centers, and the initiates who came to work at the Center, to sit around Her while she talked.
As Master pointed out some historical truths with Her words of wisdom, all the initiates listened with undivided attention as if they were in a trance. Master said that a spiritual practitioner should use wisdom to discover the truth since many historical records may not be true. It needs great wisdom to comment on a person; to judge from the result of his action and not by the action itself, or his outer appearance.
Master also advised everyone to avoid going to extremes in spiritual practice, and to handle things with flexibility. Sometimes, when praised by others, one may feel uncomfortable, tense and uneasy. He needs to always protect his reputation and honour. When we truly want to help people and do things silently, we will not mind about other people's opinions.
Very soon, it was time to say goodbye. Master, the loving mother, could detect the disciples' reluctance to part from Her. Therefore, She gave one more speech in the Bamboo Grove. Master asked us to learn from Maitreya Buddha: greet people with a smiling face, and tolerate others with a 'big belly' (Maitreya Buddha's big belly was said to contain everything). Master said, when visiting the Center we should not bring along any mental garbage to contaminate fellow initiates, and should always smile. Master made an amusing remark: "Nobody wearing a face longer than 20 cm will be allowed to enter the Center."
Happy moments passed by very quickly. Our time together had lasted three days, but why was everyone still very unwilling to leave? Yet, fully loaded with gifts for the soul, fellow initiates packed their luggage and strode off with a firm and swift stride while bidding farewell to the beloved Master. Because : See You next time!
All these years, I have been waiting for a chance to participate in the entertainment show.
During the Mid-Autumn Festival evening party, I had the honor to provide a bit of entertainment for Master and the public. The opportunity filled my heart with gratitude. When the applause sounded from downstage and dear Master also gestured with an OK sign, I realized instantaneously that the roles of "performers" and "spectators" were only part of a grand show directed by God where everyone is blessed without any discrimination.
The dance was divided into five different elements: soft and tough, pure and simple, heroic and elegant. The element I was to perform was soft. The movements were not difficult, but trying to express the softness was not simple. If my heart was not soft enough then the act would seem to be empty. If too soft then it would lack vitality and would seem to be too weak.
During practice, I pondered the role for a long time. Only when I performed on stage did I fully understand. In the naturally formed universe, everything would have yin and yang gathering together. The apparent "soft" portion would also have the aspects of toughness. For example, to convey softness one would need great strength in the waist.
Just like Emperor Master, in the midst of Her majestic, solemn, impressive and dignified manner, there is still the element of compassion. Her gaze was firm yet gentle and Her demeanor was elegant yet relaxed!
Suddenly I had realized the problem with my practice and with my life after all these years. It seemed so difficult yet it was so simple - an imbalance of yin and yang.
After the three-day retreat, I felt that I had awakened from a long hibernation, shedding a layer of old skin and smelling the breath of spring. I have been reborn and I am growing.
At the evening party of the Mid-Autumn Festival, being a man, I played the role of a female to perform a Drum Dance which originated in Feng Yang in Northeast China. Master helped me change my original rude and impetuous character. I have also realized that all the jobs behind the curtain, including hair-styling and make-up, need a lot of attention.
On the stage, we learned to use lithe and
delicate movements to make the dance more beautiful. There were some mistakes in the performance, but they made the audience laughed happily. We completely achieved our objective to entertain.
We may be "ugly ducklings" now, nourished by the great love of the Quan Yin Method, yet with persistent effort we will one day transform into "beautiful swans".