born into this world was a difficult experience for Peter John Schmitz.
In fact, he and his mother were given the last rites by a Catholic priest.
But somehow he survived.
He relates: "At age three a thought formed in my mind for the first time. It was a sort of connection to whatever came before this life. Suddenly the realization hit that this whole process of life was wrong and I was not supposed to have been born."
At age six a car accident put Peter into a coma for five days and again a priest was called.
Eventually he started school but he suffered from a lack of interest and held the assumption that education was not important.
After high school, he was drafted and had to spend a year in Vietnam in 1966. This bitter experience gave him further reason to believe that this life is a working out of retribution, and if one is not careful, a place for planting causes for further retribution. No motive, he found, could justify the taking of life.
In order to forget he launched into drugs and travel. It was a futile search for peace of mind. After five years Peter admitted his "running away" was getting him nowhere.
Maybe money was the solution, he decided, and on the advice of an uncle went to Alaska to get rich in 1973. Money did not resolve his discontent.
The following year, while on a visit home to Eugene, Oregon, Peter had the good fortune to meet the Venerable Master. "This first encounter with the Master planted the seeds for change," he says. "Up to that time, drugs and sex had become the important activities of life, After that meeting it was not the same."
"By 1976 I was able to attend a session at Gold Mountain and take refuge." Later he took precepts and, as he puts it, "The changes that followed made me wonder if I was not losing my mind. Actually it was just the burning away of obstructions which enabled me to draw close to the Buddhadharma."
Peter, given the Dharma name "Kuo Tsai," moved into Gold Mountain and a year later to the City of ten Thousand Buddhas.
"Listening to Sutras and trying to cultivate proper conduct in this pure place have finally brought meaning to my life,"
In the summer of 1978 Kuo Tsai was a member of the Sino-American Buddhist Association's Asian-Region Delegation. For several months he traveled in the company of the Venerable Abbot and Dharma companions through Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and other areas propagating the Dharma and letting people know about the opportunity the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas offers for people to practice pure conduct in an atmosphere which is supportive and peaceful.