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Mysterious Face of Compassion

By Seamus Miau/Translated by Ellen Hsu

Is it a miracle of the Virgin Mary or the Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin?

Situated in the East Bay area, near the lovely city of San Francisco, the Purple Lotus School is witnessing yet another miracle, inexplicable to current science.

In April 1996, when the great "Merit Wall" on campus had just been constructed, a mysterious face appeared on the wall immediately after the cement dried. Framed by hair tied in majestic knots, the face appears compassionate and solemn, while a teardrop seems to be falling from the left eye. Most astonishing of all, it seems that this unique face has a mind of its own. Sometimes it disappears into the wall to later reappear when approached by faithful worshippers.

The Buddhists who have witnessed this phenomenon believe this to be the face of the compassionate Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin. When Carmen Cheung, a speech pathologist, first approached it with her friends, they could not find the face. But, after everyone piously invoked the name of the Bodhisattva, the face sprang up clearly like a carefully sculpted relief. Everyone, including Carmen, was stunned! Others have believed this image to be that of the Virgin Mary. Magia and Junia Chou, the daughters of the Purple Lotus Society's Master Samantha Chou, attend a Catholic elementary school. Upon seeing the image, both called out earnestly and delightedly, "Look! It's the Virgin Mary!" One cannot help but wonder if there lies a story lies behind this apparition on the Purple Lotus School's cement wall, which is soon to be covered with marble slabs and dedicated to the sponsors of the school.

The Purple Lotus Society of the True Buddha School is a Chinese Buddhist organization in San Bruno. Continuing the Tantric heritage, the students of the Purple Lotus Society venerate His Holiness Living Buddha Lian-Shen as their Root Guru, and cultivate the True Buddha Dharma as the path toward perfect Enlightenment. As leader of the Purple Lotus Society, the venerable Master Samatha is compassionate and wise, revealing herself to be an embodiment of the qualities of the Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin. Determined to relieve all sentient beings of their sufferings, Master Samantha, constantly on the road, having traveled in more than 20 countries around the world in the last ten years in order to spread the Dharma. Despite her busy schedule, she always appears refreshed, glowing with an energetic radiance. Mr. Henry Chou, a practicing student of Tantric Buddhism for seven years, believes this to be only one of the many signs of this master's great accomplishments.

As her psychic abilities are well-known throughout the world, the Kuan-Yin face on the cement wall is not the first supernatural occurrence to be linked with the master. When the Purple Lotus School Planning Committee was officially established on the evening of October 4, 1993, Master Samantha was seen praying to the Devas and Dharma Protectors, asking for seven thunderclaps to be heard as a sign of support. At that moment, from out of nowhere, lightning bolts filled the cloudless sky and seven thundering roars appeared one after another. When the rain stopped thirteen minutes later, everyone present was amazed at having counted exactly seven thunderclaps. Since then many other incredible events have taken place at the Purple Lotus Society, all surpassing the boundaries of human logic. Monk Martin, a former teacher, offers the following elucidation for these marvels, "The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are compassionate toward sentient beings. To help us they display under different circumstances, into many forms, in order to reach us in our present environment. If one holds faith, one shall not be disappointed."

Another manifestation is that of a photograph taken by Monk Po Ling of the cement face. When the picture was developed, a light in the form of a purple lotus flower appeared, blooming directly beneath the inspiring face of the photo. Another disciple, Ms. Lannie Hsieh, capture on film a rainbow-like radiance while visiting the site with Master Samantha. In April 1995, a group of disciples from Taiwan visited the campus with Master Samantha, who told them that the school would have a rainbow as a proof only if it has the Tantric lineage. The moment these words were spoken, two rainbows appeared in the sky, one after another, both radiating for more than ten seconds. Perfect timing, perfect matching! There are many more photos at the Purple Lotus Society which exhibit these inexplicable phenomena, which demonstrate these inexplicable phenomena--all ecstatic visions in their own right.

Fundamentally, all religions are based on the inspiration of miracles. For Christianity there is the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. For Buddhists, the seven mystifying and lotus-adorned steps, which Buddha Shakyamuni took immediately upon his birth, creating an impact in shaping the fundamental tradition of faith in Buddhism. In Master Samantha's case, modern science failed to elucidate her sudden pregnancy after a two-year absence of menstruation. While the baby was in her mother's womb, she was heard by everyone to be solemnly chanting the name of the Buddha Amitabha.

The paranormal is not meant to be justify by technology or inference. This is also true of the benevolent expression on the cement wall, however, Master Samantha has her own exegesis for this extraordinary series of parallel events.

While observing the wall with her psychic vision, the Master saw the majestic Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin meditating inside the wall. Upon seeing Master Samantha, the Bodhisattva smiled graciously and waved at her, while brilliant and serene white light emanated from the Bodhisattva's body. Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin revealed to the Master that she was to bless all beings who come to worship, invoke, or make offerings at this hallowed site.

Therefore, to whom should we credit the marvelous countenance? Is it a miracle from the Virgin Mary or the Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin? With the essence of Enlightenment and universal wisdom in mind, perhaps one can argue that a distinction between the two is not important after all. In fact, True Buddha School recognizes the Virgin Mary as one of the widely accepted emanations of Kuan-Yin. If one regards the face as that of the Virgin Mary, then it shall be the Virgin Mary; but if one believes it to be the face of Bodhisattva Kuan-Yin, then it shall be the Bodhisattva as well. In the embrace of the universal creator, there is no difference, as any opposing positions would merely reinforce and perpetuate human religious boundaries and conditions.

We invite you to observe the miracle of the face through the eyes of your own spiritual path. A gracious smile awaits to inspire you! The cement wall will soon be covered by marble slabs. This is your moment to worship or witness here, where restful and kindhearted energy emanate. Come with sincerity and faith prepared to be another beholder to this amazing and awe-inspiring face of tenderness. The Merit Wall is located at 33615 Ninth Street, Union City, CA 94587. The site is open to the public from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

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