I can see His Holiness Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu."
Author: Shellyann Siddoo
My name is Shellyann Siddoo, and the following is my amazing experience with His Holiness Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Sheng-yen Lu, the founder of True Buddha School which lead to my journey into Buddhism. I will address His Holiness Living Buddha Lian-Sheng, Sheng-yen Lu as Grand Master in the following paragraphs.
Twenty-one years ago, my family and I moved to Toronto, Canada from Trinidad. Just like every parent, my parents wanted the best for my sister and I. My sister and I, both fulfilled my parents' wishes by pursuing careers in the field of science.
Unfortunately, while working in a lab five years ago, there was an accident and I was severely burnt on my face, neck, chest, arms and hands. As a result, my vision became impaired and I lost the use of both of my hands. Since the accident I wanted to learn more about life and my purpose here on earth.
During the course of the past five years, I occasionally had a repetitive dream with me sitting under a tall tree next to a pond filled with bright lotus flowers with birds chirping all around me. Little did I know at the time that was an indication of my future journey into Buddhism.
A year ago, on May 19, 2012 my friend who was like a sister to me, Shriya Shah-khlorfine passed away during her descent from Mount Everest. When I found out Shriya had passed away, I was devastated. My fiancé, Navin did everything in his power to support me during this difficult time. The one thing that I found comfort in was sitting by the lake listening the sound of the waves as it hit the rocks. Most weekends last year, Navin and I spent our time at Scarborough Bluffer's Park. On our way to and from Scarborough Bluffer's Park, Navin used to tell me that a beautiful and grand structure was being constructed. We both were very curious to know what was being built. As the months went along, a magnificent Buddhist temple was revealed.
One evening in Fall of 2012, Navin noticed lots of cars in the parking lot of the temple so we decided to go inside. We were warmly welcomed by one of the temple members. Walking into the temple, I felt peaceful and a sense of coming home. It was the first time in months that I finally had hope again. The member of the temple invited us to the grand opening ceremony of the Jing Ying Temple the next day. When we arrived at the temple we were surprised by the number of people who attended. Inside was filled so we stood outside the grand doors along with countless others. Even though we weren't inside of the temple, I felt a rush of unconditional love and peace overflowing from inside. It was a surreal experience. We later found out that Grand Master was inside the temple for the grand opening ceremony of the Jing Yin Temple.
In January of 2013, Navin and I went back to the Jing Yin Temple to inquire if they had meditation sessions. To our amazement, we learnt that they had weekly cultivation sessions which included meditation every Sundays. The next Sunday we decided to attend one of the weekly cultivation sessions. We walked in just as the members were about to start their weekly cultivation. Once again, we were warmly greeted by a temple member and then were directed to our seats. As we sat down, another temple member (Monita Chan), sat next to me and graciously explained everything that was going on during the cultivation session. Even though there was a language barrier, we never felt lost. Navin and I were amazed by the generosity of all the temple members.
After the cultivation session was over, our translator, Monita gave me a photo of Grand Master. Keep in mind, I never saw the photo but I felt compelled to cherish this photo. Every morning, I stood in front of the photo of Grand Master which I placed at my altar (a place of worship) and thanked Grand Master for blessing us with the opportunity to be a part of this magnificent temple. As we went to the temple more frequently, I felt alive again.
In early March of 2013, Navin and I wanted to pursue our journey further into Buddhism because we both had noticed a positive shift in our lives so we decided to take refuge in Grand Master. Five days before taking refuge, I began to ask myself if we were making the right decision. That very night I had a dream of a radiant spiritual figure who I have never seen before but I had a knowing that it was Grand Master.
In my dream, Grand Master was wearing a red and gold robe and on top of His head, He was wearing a red and golden crown with a vajra on top of His crown. Located on the front of His crown was a majestic white diamond which radiates a bright beautiful light which I was captivated by. In one hand, Grand Master was holding a dorje and the other, He was sprinkling holy water on both Navin and myself while the temple members were chanting. I felt a weight lifted from me and for the first time, I felt free. After "seeing" Grand Master in my dream, it gave me confirmation that we are on the "right" path.
On March 30, 2013, Navin and I took refuge in Grand Master and Master Lian-xiong conducted the ceremony for us on behalf of Grand Master at Jing Yin Temple. What was amazingly incredible was the fact that on the day that we took refuge, it was also an auspicious day, the birthday of Avalokitesvara Boddhisttva. I can say wholeheartedly since taking refuge at Jing Yin Temple my hope for a bright future has been restored and my life have much more meaning. My family and friends also noticed a change in my personality. I am much more happier and filled with enthusiasm for life.
With deepest gratitude, I thank Grand Master, Master Lian-xiong, Reverend Lian-jun, and all members of Jing Yin Temple for guiding, educating and supporting Navin and I during our journey into Buddhism.