一切眾生 入不二法門 同證三覺地
百界諸佛 上座千華臺 莊嚴萬德天
Gold Mountain Monastery is the earliest monastery established by the late Ven. Master Hsuan Hua, founder of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA) in the United States of America. Along with the expansion and growth of DRBA, Gold Mountain Monastery relocated and expanded as well. Looking back at the history of Gold Mountain Monastery, we can trace it back to the first way place established by the Ven. Master – The Buddhist Lecture Hall.
The Buddhist Lecture Hall was established in 1959. At that time, Ven. Master has yet to arrive in the United States. Weekend dharma assemblies such as dharma lectures and Buddha’s name recitation sessions would be carried out by lay disciples who have taken refuge with the Ven. Master. In February 1962, after a brief transit at Japan and Honolulu, the Ven. Master finally arrived at the San Francisco International Airport. In April of that year, Ven. Master started to lecture on the Vajra Paramita Sutra and established Chan Meditation class to teach young people how to meditate.
A lot of the earlier disciples would emulate Ven. Master’s daily schedule at the Buddhist Lecture Hall and receive his teachings that eventually laid down their solid foundation of cultivating the Buddhadharma. At the same time at the Buddhist Lecture Hall, Ven. Master expediently used his compassion and wisdom to cross over many American youths, who resolved to devote their lives to propagate the proper dharma.
In 1970, Ven. Master purchased an old mattress factory on 15th Street in the Mission district and repurposed it to establish the Gold Mountain Monastery. The Buddhist Lecture Hall was then officially decommissioned and took its place in history. Although the lecture hall no longer exists, it still lives strongly in the heart of every disciple.
Due to many years of neglect, the newly purchased Gold Mountain Monastery was covered in a thick layer of dust, many windows were broken, the roof was leaking and more than half of the lights were not working. Under the leadership of Ven. Master, all the disciples personally took part in the work of remodeling. At that time, Gold Mountain Monastery is a well known “refrigerator”. Since there was no heat, the three-story brick building was an excellent storage for cold air. The indoor temperature was often much colder than outside. Due to this environment of extreme hardship, it trained and nurtured many cultivators who brought forth solid resolve in cultivating the way and this laid down the deep and profound foundation for propagating Buddhism in the United States.
Gold Mountain Monastery relocated to its present location in 1987. The monastery is now located in the heart of San Francisco Chinatown on Sacramento Street. In the midst of the bustling retail scene, the noise of the traveling vehicles and people can be heard from the street. It is also common to witness the excitement of lion dance or dragon dance performances. However, once stepped inside Gold Mountain Monastery, it is as if one has entered a different world. The air is filled with subtle incense fragrance and there would be a serene and peaceful atmosphere which words simply cannot describe.
Gold Mountain Monastery is open every day. During the weekends, there would be dharma lectures and dharma sessions on repentance or Buddha recitation. There is also a weekend Gold Mountain Instilling Goodness School. The school’s mission is to teach students Buddhist truths, Chinese language and proper moral concepts, eventually nurturing the children to be virtuous and outstanding youths.
Lastly, I would like to quote the six Great Principles: No fighting, no greed, no seeking, no selfishness, no pursuing personal advantage, and no lying that Ven. Master taught all his disciple to follow. His wish is for everybody to go toward that goal, especially those who often come to Gold Mountain Monastery to bow to Buddha, participate in repentance ceremonies and study the Buddhadharma. We all should make resolve to cultivate, and together we will reach the Land of Ultimate Bliss. This is our sincere wish.