With One Heart, Bowing to the City of 10,000 Buddhas

October 28, 1978
Santa Cruz, California

Dear Shihfu,

We just bowed past the city limits of Santa Cruz. Ahead is about 80 miles of empty coastline before San Francisco and whatever our minds create. I am happiest when I bow a lot, sit long, and keep my mouth closed. I've noticed that those around me are a lot more natural and peaceful when I cultivate. Minding my own business and tending to my own faults seems to allow others room to move without feeling hassled and obstructed. I've put my mind to not getting worried or angry, no matter what. I've done that too long and it just pollutes the air and gives me gray hair and wrinkles. This verse from the Avatamsaka really struck me as the way to be:

He is quite free from contention,

From troubling, harming, and from hatred.

He knows shame, respect, and rectitude

And well protects and guards his faculties.

I recite this verse on and off during the day. Without fail it clears the shadows from my mind and leaves me feeling pounds lighter. I have never encountered anything more wonderful or true than the Buddhadharma.

In Santa Cruz we met Don Penners and his family. He is a local dentist who is selling his practice and moving to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to live and work. "We are all looking forward to the move. It's the best thing going in the world today. The Master's a great guy!" they said. When they first met the Master they were a little non-plused. "Well at first we weren't impressed. He looked so young and healthy--too much so to be a Venerable Abbot—so I crudely said, 'Who are you?' I thought he was one of the assistants. I've never seen anyone his age look so youthful and. happy! We got no reply."

"In fact," the Penners went on, "The Master said nothing to us at all the first time. It was like looking into a big mirror. All we saw was ourselves. It was like the Master was empty inside. There wasn't any of the usual 'Hi, how are you...what you been doing?' It wasn't until later that we came to appreciate what a rare and valuable experience that was. We really got a clear picture of ourselves. It was quite something, frankly!"

We have met some strange people, too. One night while I was making tea on the back of the station wagon, two men pulled up to ask about the pilgrimage. One of them related during a perfectly straight conversation, "People think Jesus is coming again. But they're wrong. The UFOs are coming. They are out there watching us like a farmer watches over a corn crop. When they come they are going to take some of us with them--alive, right out into outer space. The rest they will leave here on earth to blow themselves up with nuclear weapons and pollution. It says so in the Bible!" he insisted.


"Yeah, do you read the Bible?" 
      "Once upon a time..."

"Well I've mad it! So what are you going to do?" he asked urgently. 

"About?" I asked.

"When they come--the UFOs. Are you going with them or staying?"

"We'll just keep bowing to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas."

"You will? Well I guess, but...well they are coming real soon. I know it..." his voice trailed off as he looked up at the stars.

There are a lot of different ways of looking at things. What Heng Sure and I are slowly discovering is that whatever we get we have coming to us; that however we see it, that's how it is. As the Master wrote in a verse:

As one plants causes, one reaps the fruit--look within yourself.
With reverence coming and going impartial is the Way.

All is well. There's no problem so big that a day of bowing won't solve.

Peace in the Dharma,
Disciple Kuo T'ing
(Heng Ch'au) bows in respect.

October 28, 1978

Above Santa Cruz on Highway 1

"Truly recognize your own faults and don't discuss the faults of others. Others' faults are just my own; being of one substance with everyone: this is great compassion."

An old friend of Heng Chau's saw us outside a housing project in Santa Cruz. "His face 'cracked' and after a brief talk he left rather in a hurry," said Heng Ch'au. The next morning, just before zao keh, I was not yet on guard over my mind and I broke the rules by writing a casual chatty note to Heng Ch'au. As I reached for the pen and paper, I knocked the lit stick of incense out of the censor and burned a hole in my jacket. This was a clue that I should be careful and check myself—what is out of harmony here? (But, I ignored the signal and went ahead to take another false step.)

I wrote, "Your friend must think you have not only fallen but have also burned out your circuits—crawling in the gutter in rags with a friend who looks equally wasted," and gave it to Heng Ch'au to read.

Even before I saw the look on his face, I knew I had made a mistake. Heng Ch'au read it and his expression showed disappointment. He said nothing. I had all of zao keh and the following hour of meditation to reflect on and repent of my stupidity. Since I had broken the rules once, now I had to do it again to announce my error and apologize. I wrote, "Writing that note was a real mistake. 1. It slanders the Triple Jewel, by calling our appearance 'wasted' and 'in rags'. That breaks Bodhisattva Precept #10, 'Do not slander the Triple Jewel.' 2. It plants doubt-seeds in your mind ('Does Heng Sure really feel that way about what we're doing?') 3. It maintains my old bad habit of holding a superior and critical attitude towards others. In fact, I don't feel burned out or fallen—of course I don't feel that way about you. The note was a sarcastic, discompassionate slap at your friend. In fact, Bhiksu robes are the finest clothes I would wish for. Moreover, I wouldn't trade our work for any king's realm. (Now I have to start being worthy of my robes and my vows. I can start by not writing such ignorant, bad-karma notes.)




All I can say is that it was too early in the morning. I didn't have my thought-chopping sword drawn yet. An idle, nasty thought manifested as the note. Sorry for the hassle. 'Others' faults are just my own.'"

I saw it clearly this morning—how the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas will be a city of religious unity, of international brotherhood. We are pioneers in every sense of the word, following the broad Middle Way where no one in the West has gone before, to "open up and disclose the mysterious and subtle, to understand and expand the mind and its states," as it says in the Avatamsaka preface.

When our vision becomes reality. Wan Fwo Cheng will be the spiritual home of a new people, a rainbow family, "vast and great and totally complete." I saw that my job, my part of the work is to discover within myself how a Buddhist lives and behaves, and then give that life and behavior to the world. My job is to embody the principles of the Buddhadharma.

Three Steps, One Bow is a wonderful training program. Every day is another chance to test out the Master's principles and to purify my mind according to them. My responsibility is to be true and try my best to go towards the good in everything. I want to break through my curtain of ignorance, to rid my heart of all traces of selfish desire, to end sexual desire, to return to the root and go back to the source of original purity, which I once was in touch with before I got sick with all my bad habits.

Practicing the Buddhadharma is the way to really change the bad, the false, to the good and the true. Cultivation is the road back to genuine health. Our teacher and the Sutras are the models and the guides. The Venerable Abbot works like a good doctor, prescribing the most efficacious medicine for whichever of the eighty-four-thousand types of afflictions obstruct our way back to peace and happiness.

Originally, all the medicine we need for a complete cure of the big disease, birth and death, we already own inside ourselves, but we don't see it, don't know how to use it, just because of our attachment to our bad habits and our upside-down false thoughts. This is where the teacher-doctor comes in to tell us, 1. that we are sick; 2. that the cause of our sickness is looking outside of our own nature for happiness; 3. that there is a cure available; and, 4. that that cure is cultivation of the Buddhadharma.

Then, because the doctor is kind and compassionate, he gives us the medicine perfectly suited to our needs. But, it's up to us to be brave and take the medicine prescribed. Patience is most important. At this point, practice of the Dharma becomes self-therapy, self-healing.

We have to remember that we are sick, and we must keep our faith in the efficacy of the cure, and keep taking the medicine. The resolve for health follows faith in the doc­tor and the cure, then we must practice good health. Faith, vows, and practice are the prescription for total well being.

Our passage through Santa Cruz this month has been a mirror of the first stages of the Buddhadharma's cure. As I bow, I reflect on my past conduct in terms of the Master's teachings and the Sutras' model of Bodhisattva conduct. As I bow through Santa Cruz, it takes no effort at all to recognize that I am really sick. My past conduct reads like a checklist of the ten evil acts. I have done what demons do, involving killing, stealing, lust, lying, and intoxicants. It's not to say that I have changed since I began to practice good health. But, now I recognize how far wrong I've gone and how strong my habits are that still lead me away from health towards my old sicknesses. These habits are strong and not easy to change. But, I want to become a true disciple of the Buddha. No matter how much pain I have to take, no matter how long I have to take the medicine, I am determined to get well again. The Master's state of happiness and health, and the radiant goodness of the Bodhisattvas that live in the Avatamsaka Sutra are simply wonderful—to realize their state of well-being is what I want most of all.

His eminence and Delegation welcomed by Gold Mountain and Instilling Virtue School at San Francisco International Airport in 1977.


White Mountain and black waters,*

Nurture an uncommon hero.

Shunning wealth and glory,

His tattered shoes are light.

God and Jesus:

The brightness of substance and function.

Our minds and the Buddha-nature:

The fusion of perfection.

Teaching reverence for parents and ancestors,

Inspires virtue in people.

Exhaustive in loyalty, he bolsters ancient mores.

Great indeed. Cardinal Yu Pin!

Your comportment is a model

For the myriad number of beings.

All behold your bearing

With honor and esteem.

-The monk of Long White Mountain, Hsuan Hua

-Translated by Sramanerika Kuo Jing

*This refers to the Long White Mountain Range and the Black Dragon River of the northeastern province of China, Manchuria, where Cardinal Yu Pin was born.


In Memory of Cardinal Yu Pin

Cardinal Paul Yu Pin was an unusual man. In addition to his lofty international stature, his repute for great learning and superior moral standing, he was one whose circle and vision went beyond the confines of his own religion. He understood the need to embrace and accept all other religions for the sake of attaining genuine world peace.

Cardinal Paul Yu Pin was the Honorary Chairman of Dharma Realm Buddhist University, as well as President of the World Religions Center situated at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

He has maintained a long-standing friendship with the Venerable Abbot of Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco and Tathagata Monastery at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The two men exchanged sincere admiration for one another's convictions. Their aim was to work together to unite all world religions, in an effort to stop wars and propagate world peace.

In November, 1977, while attending an International Conference on Comparative Religions, His Eminence, Yu Pin and his delegation stopped over at Gold Mountain Monastery and resided at the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts and at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. For a Cardinal to visit a Buddhist monastery is an unusual and refreshing gesture, one which has heralded a movement of good will towards a blending of differences, a union of forces, and a start at working together to solve common problems which trouble our world. The four-day stay was a fruitful one, enhanced with warm feelings that delighted the entire four­fold assembly.

At that time, the Venerable Abbot said to Cardinal Yu Pin, "You should be a Buddhist among the Catholics, and I should be a Catholic among the Buddhists. If we exchange positions, then it's for certain the problem of warfare will be solved." Both men deeply agreed that all religions spring from the hearts of people, that underneath the external differences we are all one in substance, and that all religions are motivated by a common goal, that of liberating living beings and perfecting humankind.

Cardinal Yu Pin’s departure is a great loss to the entire world, particularly as he was just about to launch seriously into a program aimed at uniting all religions. However, his spirit and magnanimous vow-power stays, and continually inspires us to complete this important task at hand.

Below is a verse composed by the Venerable Abbot Hua in commemoration of his good friend.