Today, my idol and teacher, Venerable Master Jing Kong, passed away in Taiwan at 2:00AM. He has had a tremendous impact on my life. He helped me understand that real Buddhism is not superstitious, but rather extremely practical, logical, and applicable to daily life. He also inspired me to make world peace my aspiration, and to learn traditional Chinese culture as the path towards that goal. Most of the content on the Weekly Wisdom Blog has been influenced by him, so if you received any benefit from this blog, you can thank Venerable Master Jing Kong.
Normally, we are sad when our loved ones pass away. Well, in Buddhism, we understand karma and reincarnation. Buddhism teaches us to cultivate good karma so that our next reincarnation (as well as this current life) will be ever better. In the western cultures, karma is often seen as superstition, but that’s because people don’t understand how it works. Venerable Master Jing Kong helped me to understand it, which I wrote about here.
Venerable Master Jing Kong had his destiny calculated (this is a common science in China), and his lifespan was only supposed to be 45 years. His father and grandfather also only had 45 years in their destiny, and they indeed died at 45. To give an analogy, our karma is like our genes. We might have a certain lifespan according to our genes, but we can extend that lifespan if we live healthily, and we can shorten it if we live unhealthily.
Venerable Master Jing Kong encountered Buddhism in his mid-twenties, then he followed its teachings earnestly. His original destiny was to be poor and short-lived. But he became extremely rich (in the sense that he whenever he wanted money for a good cause, millions and donors around the world would donate), and he passed away today at age 96. He more than doubled his original life span! But that’s just a small taste of his full karma.
The ultimate goal of Buddhism is to transcend reincarnation, thereby transcending suffering. Specifically, Venerable Master Jing Kong taught us to chant “Amitabha” and practice the Bodhi Mind (also called The Enlightened Mind) to be reborn into the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. There, you become a Buddha with infinite life. Over twenty years ago, Venerable Master Jing Kong said, “I will definitely be reborn there.” Lying is a big sin in Buddhism, so we can be sure he is not lying. If he lied, then there’s no way his karma would be so good. Therefore, I feel bittersweet. A certain part of me is sad that he has left the world I am in, but I am also very happy for him, because I know he went to the best place possible.
In the past, he told his students that he didn't want to live in this world anymore. He wanted to go to the Western Pure Land now. At that time, many of his disciples cried. Later, he smiled and told them, “You guys did not pass the test.” Buddhism teaches us to not be attached to anything, to not cling to anything. If we are overly sad about him leaving us, then we are clinging to him, and that is going against his teachings. Hence, I will not be so sad because he wouldn’t want me to be too sad. But at the same time, I will miss him dearly.
To give some more context, in his seventies, he actually was about to pass away. But then he saw Shakyamuni Buddha, Guan Yin Bodhisattva, and Amitabha. They asked him if he was ready to go. He said “Yes.” They asked him if he had anything else he wished to do in this world. He said, “No, but if you have anything you wish for me to do here still, then I will respect your wishes.” Immediately, he came back to life, and for the next twenty years he has been promoting Buddhism as an education (not superstition), inter-religion harmony, world peace (he spoke many times at the United Nations), and Traditional Chinese Culture (Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism).
He taught me that the best way to repay gratitude to teachers is to follow their teachings. Therefore, I blog a lot about things I’ve learned from him (either directly or indirectly) and share my own experience. I hope that if he were in front of me today, I can say to him, “Dear Venerable Master Jing Kong. I am so grateful to you, and I have been following your teachings in my life and sharing them with others. I have done my best to be a good student to you, and I will continue to do so. I hope you can be proud of me, and I wish you the ultimate bliss that you deserve.”
There are still so many things I’ve learned from him that I have not yet written about, and there is so much I still plan to learn. Well, he also taught me to not be rushed, that quality matters more than quantity, and that I need to walk my talk before sharing with others. So I will continue my slow but consistent pace of sharing wisdom to the world.
Thank you Venerable Master Jing Kong.