Amitofo. My name is David Yin; my Dharma name is Chin Wei. To
briefly introduce myself, I've been coming to Gold Sage for a few
years now, and feel very much at home here, but I still feel like I
do not know the nuns and lay people here that well. Probably the
main reason is because my Chinese is not very good yet and so
communication is difficult. So this is my chance to introduce myself
and gather support from the community here.
First, this presentation began with my speaking with Dharma Master
Yun about bringing Buddhism to the West, the Round Table of DRBY,
the Beginning Ch'an classes, DRBY conference, etc. And I felt Gold
Sage could be a starting place that could bring a lot of benefit to
the rest of the world. I hoped that everyone, DRBY, lay people, the
the left home community could all work together as a team and keep
the Dharma alive in the world.
I think we often hear people talk about "bringing the
Dharma to the West." This vision captures the heart of many people,
for instance myself, but for others, I think it might create a sense
of distance because they do not identify so strongly with the West.
So, while preparing for this presentation, I came up with a more
general vision: Keeping the Dharma Alive in the World.
Keeping the Dharma alive in the world then entails not
only bringing Buddhism to America, but also passing it on to the
next generation which I feel everyone feels a part of. In addition,
another element of the vision that is not captured in "bringing the
Dharma to the West" is the idea of bringing Buddhism back to Asia.
Although I do not have direct experience with Buddhism in Asia, I
feel many of the people who grew up in Asia will find a personal
connection there, and so the idea of bringing Buddhism back to Asia
The impression I get is that Venerable Master Hua's
vision is so vast and inclusive that I cannot truly comprehend it.
But at least I know that it extends past the boundaries of America,
or even Asia, or possibly even the entire world—the organization is
called Dharma Realm Buddhist Association for a reason.
At this point, I feel like I need to say a little bit
about my background so that everyone can understand why I think this
way. Actually I did not come to Buddhism with this mindset at all,
but it was a process of growth and change within myself.
Since young I always felt like I was looking for
something. I wished I knew what my purpose in life was—I thought,
"Wouldn't that make life so much easier?" Going back to my old
journals, I found that I often posed this question to myself, but I
never really actively sought an answer until I got to high school.
There were various reasons why my interest in finding
a deeper meaning was sparked in high school, but that would lead us
off topic. Simply put, I began to research a number of religions,
primarily Christianity because many of my friends were Christians
and it was so accessible and Buddhism because of my Chinese culture
and family background.
I do not know how much exposure to Christianity
everyone has had, but there is a very common belief, especially in
evangelical Christianity that: "You have to believe that Jesus is
your savior." And not only that, but "Jesus is the only way into
heaven." Although I sincerely tried to believe, I could not force
myself to believe this primarily because I felt that it didn't make
sense that people who did not believe would be destined for the
hells. And the stay in the hells is not temporary like in Buddhism,
but rather was forever.
So at that time, I also remember reading books by the Venerable
Master and Ajahn Sumedho. Out of all the books I read on religions,
spirituality, etc. Ajahn Sumedho's book the Four Noble Truths caught
my attention. Ajahn Sumedho emphasized that belief was not the
ultimate goal in Buddhism. Rather the emphasis was on patient
practice, which yields insight into how the world really is. He also
illustrated the importance of practice with his own experiences as a
Buddhist monk in Thailand studying under Ajahn Chah, which resonated
deeply with me. I felt that this really was a spiritual path that
At this point, however, I felt very confused and frustrated. I
already began to feel that much of what the world was seeking was
superficial. Catcher in the Rye, Ecclesiastics in the Christian
Bible, and a number of my own observations of the world outside
confirmed this feeling. However, along with this came a deep sense
of confusion because I did not know where to go from here. I felt
like I was thrown in the sea, and amidst the turbulent waves and
darkness could only see two lifesavers, one Christianity the other
Buddhism, and I did not know which one to grab onto. I actually
began to wish I had only studied one of them so that I wouldn’t have
to deal with this inner conflict.
I had many Christian friends and would join them in their Fellowship
gatherings, but as I said before I could not accept many of their
beliefs. As for Buddhism, I did not have a peer group who were
interested in the same questions I was in terms of investigating the
Dharma, so I felt like I was alone in my search. I felt that
emotionally I was being pulled into Christianity, but the principles
of Buddhism which made more sense to me was pulling me the other
One night, I clearly remember making a promise to God that if He
could show me the right way I will dedicate my life to it, no matter
what sacrifices I had to make. It was one of those do or die moments
filled with raw, unbridled emotion, but no convincing answer came.
There were some dreams that convinced me to be Christian for a
little bit, but they did not last. So, I continued to struggle with
what I should do in my life, and the question that I felt
encapsulated my search for purpose was: "What happened to us after
we died?" My thought was that if I knew the answer to this question
then I would know what lifesaver to grab onto.
This is the mindset I came with to the first DRBY winter retreat at
CTTB led by Rev. Heng Sure. Coming to the City, I was overjoyed to
find other youth interested in the same questions I was.
Although I'm simplifying things a bit, I remember sitting in a room
with Marty with possibly three or four other youth and somehow Marty
mentioned that he was on his "second life." He then gave a detailed
account of how he got sick and died in Malaysia and his experiences
of actually dying. The experience ended with him being brought back
by the Venerable Master who went to persuade King Yama to let Marty
come back because Marty still had work to do. Marty's last comment
was how it was a good experience because he was always a skeptic and
needed to experience something to really believe it. I was quite
shocked by the story because I did not expect it at all, and when I
looked at Marty, I thought he seemed very straightforward and
honest, not one to make up things, so I thought to myself, "Well, I
have the answer--time to live up to my promise!"
So, I threw myself into cultivation with a kind of
"I'm going to die
tomorrow" mentality (like the last Exhortation chanted at night in
the monastery), and as you can guess, I was way too extreme. I
thought I had to be true to the promise I made to myself along with
the sense that if I really could trust this path I had to experience
it for myself. So, I found myself trying to apply everything I read
or heard from Venerable Master to my practice and found that I got
pretty thin and unhealthy because I often heard, "Eat less! Sleep
less!" If I slacked off even a bit, I felt that I was no longer
being true to myself.
As you can imagine, I did not only hurt myself, but caused a lot of
unhappiness for the people around me, especially my mother. Another
story illustrates my hardheadedness at the time. One night while
driving up to Berkeley for Rev. Heng Sure's Dharma lecture with my
mom and Pei Ling, I insisted that we listen to the Great Compassion
Mantra in the car. My mother was tired and sleepy and wanted to rest
in silence, but I could not bring myself to turn it off, but rather
insisted on playing it very softly so that I could recite while
driving. I thought I was justified to do so because of all the
stories I heard about the importance of reciting while driving.
Afterwards, however, Pei Ling told me that I was being too stubborn
and should accord with my mother more. Forcing the Great Compassion
Mantra on other people was definitely not the Middle Way.
Over time my experiences at home, at school, and at the City caused
me to realize I was becoming too yin. I was too judgmental,
self-righteous, and close-minded. Things were pretty much black or
white and I found that I was having a difficult time just living
with myself. So when I had a chance, I asked Rev. Heng Sure about
what I was doing. His answer consisted of telling me that
cultivation should not be forced and that I should relax. I should
talk to my friends and parents more, and ultimately he asked me to
consider what image was I giving others about what Buddhism is? This
resonated with me because when I took a step back and really looked
at myself objectively, I realized the example I was setting was not
very good at all. He emphasized the Middle Way, trying to do too
much was the same as doing too little. Taking his advice was hard,
but surprisingly, when I let go a bit and became less serious, I
found things got better. At least I became a much easier person to
But another effect was that since I opened my eyes a bit, all of a
sudden Venerable Master's vision and vows of keeping the Buddhism
alive in the world made more sense to me. I began to see how much
benefit Buddhism really could bring to America and the rest of the
world. I found that this was something I wanted to be part of,
although I am not sure exactly how yet.