Sometimes people ask me, “Why does Fo Kuang Shan use P’u-men (Universal Gate) as a name for its temples and activities?” It reminded me of the situation in 1949 when I first came to Taiwan.
When I first arrived, I had nowhere to go or anything to eat. I remember going to a temple on Nanch’ang Road in Taipei. An elderly monk told me bluntly, “What right do you have to come to Taiwan?” Later that day, I went to another temple on Chungcheng Road, but I was turned away again. By nightfall, my clothes were soaked from the rain. I was hungry with nowhere else to go. Eventually, I took shelter under a large bell and went through the rainy night. The next day around noon, the dining hall of Shan-tao Temple was occupied by fifteen or sixteen people eating lunch at a small table for eight. There seemed to be no room at the table for me, so I left right away.
As I was wandering around, it occurred to me that I should go to Keelung to see a former classmate of mine. I walked all the way from Taipei to Keelung in the cold rain. By the time I reached my friend’s temple, it was well after one in the afternoon. When my friend heard that I had had nothing to eat for more than a day, he immediately asked me to go to the kitchen for some food. A monk who was standing nearby said, “Our master has already told us that there is hardly enough food here to feed all of us. You had better ask him to go somewhere else to look for food.” I was prepared to leave, but my friend insisted on buying some rice with his own money and cooked a pot of rice porridge for me. I can still remember holding that bowl of warm porridge with my shaking hands. When I finished eating, I thanked my friend and set out again in the cold rain, but I was not sure of where to go.
Due to the experience of those difficult times, I vowed that some day the door to my temple would be a “universal gate (p’u-men), open to all. Twenty years later, I set up the P’u-men Vihara first and then P’u-men Temple in Taipei and eventually realized my vow.
I instructed all my disciples to treat visitors and devotees with utmost kindness. I wanted people to feel happy after their visit. I also had an unwritten rule with all temples connected to Fo Kuang Shan to always have extra food in the event of some unexpected guests. Whenever monastics from other orders visited us, we always gave them NT $500.00 for travel expenses.
Subsequently, my new school or magazine would be named after “universal gate.” I hope everyone will follow the spirit of “universalism” and welcome people, not reject them.
By: Venerable Master Hsing Yun, How I Practice Humanistic Buddhism