In 1974, the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Abbot of Gold Mountain Monastery, was invited by students and teachers at the University of Washington to deliver instructional Dharma talks at the University twice a day for three days, on August 19th, 20th, and 21st. He travelled to Seattle on the 18th of August, and was accompanied while there by five of his Bhikshu disciples, including Heng Ju and Heng Yo, who had just completed their remarkable Three Steps One Bow pilgrimage for world peace.
The Venerable Master took the opportunity of the invitation to speak at the University located in Seattle to travel north to welcome and congratulate his two worthy disciples in the completion of their vows. The Venerable Master also planned to inaugurate the mountain at Marblemount, the future site of Cloud and Dragon Monastery, during his stay in the state of Washington. The new monastery takes its name from a dragon writhing through a cloud in a valley seen from a mountain top one night by Bhikshus Heng Ju, Heng Yo, and Heng Shou.
Because of the busy schedule of lectures at the University, plans were made to travel to Marblemount, Washington, nearly three hours north of Seattle by car, on the day after the lecture series at the University was completed. Early in the week, however, the Venerable Master announced a change in the schedule. On the last day of the lecture series, he announced, we would travel to Marblemount after the morning lecture (which ended at noon), eating our one meal of the day in the car while riding to our destination. When we arrived, we would hold ceremonies to “open the mountain,” and then quickly drive back to the University in time for the evening lecture.
Although it seemed like an impossible schedule, everyone followed in accord. On Wednesday afternoon, August 21st, the Master, accompanied by five Bhikshus and three laymen, travelled to Marblemount. The Bhikshus were Heng Ch’ien, Heng Shou, Heng Kuan, Heng Yo, and Heng Ju. The laymen included Upasaka Takping Pong, founder of the Bodhi-Dhamma Center, an affiliate of Dharma Realm Buddhist Accociation, and his wife Gwendolyn Pong.
I was one of the Bhikshus accompanying the Master. When we arrived, the second car had not yet appeared, and so I took a walk down the mountain through the dense foliage toward the river...and saw smoke. Upon closer inspection, I found that about 30 square feet of the forest had been consumed, and would soon break out into a raging fire if we didn’t do something. A combined effort of Bhikshus and laymen carrying water from the river and turning dirt on the fire, along with support from the local fire department, extinguished the blaze in about an hour.
If we had come to the mountain a day later, as originally planned, instead of a dense green forest we would have found only rocks and dirt. Everyone bowed deeply to the Master and thanked him for saving the forest land.
The Master then inaugurated the mountain, and we returned to Seattle just in time for the evening lecture. The lecture series in Seattle was widely attended, and many people, in spite of their busy schedule, came to all the Master’s lectures. Many sought interviews during the day with the Master, and all were delighted to have the opportunity to hear the Dharma.