The Buddhist Lecture Hall locale
In San Francisco’s Chinatown
Was the Way-place where we awakened
To the wisdom of Foremost Shurangama,
To karma, to causes, effects, and more.
We found our Teacher who taught us before.
We wept for joy at this rare reunion.
If asked why we cried, no words came forth.
When we asked why, the answer was kind:
“You ride on vows you should renew.”
“Take refuge with three--the Triple Jewel
And follow the precepts to make yourselves pure.
Precepts are the basis of Buddhism.
From them comes samadhi and then comes wisdom.
No outflows is the ultimate aim.”
Directly he gave us Compassionate Dharmas
“I went high and low collecting these hands!
Say them every single day.
Turn them in; guard your light.
Be mindful of Guan Yin Bodhisattva!”
By the end of summer through study and practice
The shimmering goal: Shurangama Samadhi
Shone strong and ultimately firm.
A concentration beyond both entry and exit
Devoid of lust; defying death.
But our bodies─our weak and fickle flesh─
Were not so easily tamed by Truth.
And so the Abbot turned to Vajra
Prajna Paramita─the Middle Way.
To destroy our compulsive prejudiced views.
Tossing in the sea of suffering and sorrow.
We were told to bear what cannot be borne.
We were told to repent and advised to reform.
Sorry we were for our many mistakes.
Our minds became purer as offenses were purged.
The Standless Verses revealed the Heart.
The yellow child jumping; white billows ballooning.
Better than any Song yet sung.
When will these black waves cease?
How carefully our innocense must be kept!
Turning the wonderful Dharma wheel,
The Abbot never grew tired of teaching.
Bringing us Earth Store Bodhisattva,
He came on foot to our Laywomen’s Forest
To proclaim the Sutra of Filial Piety.
Such mighty vows! Such gentle guidance!
How can we hope to repay that kindness?
“Only when no one is here in the hells
Will I consider my job complete.”
A thump of his staff ! A tinkle of rings!
Who was he, our Humble and Wise Advisor?
Some say he was indeed Earth Store.
Others say he was Cao Xi’s Source.
Let me quote once upon a time:
“Who is Amitabha? I am Amitabha!”
Never mind, he would only deny it!
And say that to seek him in sound or sight
Is to miss by a thousand miles or more.
Was he not as is water when cut by a knife?
Could we compare him to blowing on light?
Unwearied, unworried he roamed at ease.
Bringing us word in this turbid world
Of a pure and pristine Buddha nature
Inherent in each and every being.
Exquisite like the Lotus supreme!
His relentless compassion never laxed.
“Time is like gold; but try to buy it!”
He urged us on to do our best
Only by his own example.
Remembering makes my conscience hurt.
The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Truly a Supreme and Holy Site!
He bore a debt so deep and heavy
It frightened the worldly; they ran away.
He remained unabashed at being abandoned.
Magnificient he stood; reminiscent of Sage-kings.
No one at all knew his sound.
Away from his land, in life-time exile,
He never betrayed his own country.
The Dharma Realm is his home.
Down into the dark, rich soil
Of this vast and vibrant Western land
He planted a small Bodhi seed.
First guiding its slender sprout with care,
Eventually he nurtured a tender trunk.
No task was too small for him to see through.
No blessing too great to give away.
All that he did for each of us,
Forgotten by him, is alive in our hearts!
To follow his Way is one tribute we pay.
But to follow the guidelines he stated so simply:
No fighting, no greed, no seeking, or selfishness;
Not searching for things that will bring me benefit
And never telling deliberate lies─
How hard I must try to embody these!
Unfolding the layer on layer of hosts
And attendants who serve those roles in turn,
He expounded the perfect Flower Adornment.
In dust motes are Buddhas; in hair-pores are lands─
Reciprocal, fused, and interconnected.
In that infinite microcosm of oneness
At last we found out who he was!
He was every Bodhisattva who ever
Gave away his eyes, his ears,
His heart, his health, his body and life.
For whom? For those who asked;
Or who listened but never heard the words.
For all of us who still have greed.
We took, he gave─his blood and breath.
Too late we wish he had suffered less.
Like the moon in waters his transformations abound.
In dreams he offers comforts and cures.
May we meet him again in Amita’s pure land.
Meanwhile, we know what we must do:
Bring our own Bodhi resolve to perfection!