THE BODHI STAND
Upasika Kuo Ling Pecaites
All conditioned dharmas
Are like dreams, illusions, bubbles,
Like dewdrops and a lightning flash.
Contemplate them thus.
-Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra
It was at Buddha Root Farm that Linda Pecaites encountered the Proper Dharma, took refuge with the Triple Jewel, and bowed to the Venerable Master as her teacher.
She recollects: "Walking barefoot on a dirt path among the Smith River blackberry vines, behind men and women in quiet gray clothes and flowing brown sashes, for the first time in this life reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha in harmony, I had the deep and shattering realization of having walked that very path myriads of times before and recited the Buddha's name through countless lifetimes."
From childhood Linda had been aware of the sharp contrast of "realities" that existed for her.
From early childhood there are the haunting poignant memories of protestingly arriving at morning waking from journeys to more pure and happy lands. With this the clear realization that there was far more to existence than the waking hours; that myriads of world systems existed to explore and to visit.
I remember the brutal insistency of every-day reality and its game of participation contrasted to continual retreat to dreams and poetry and nooks and crannies in the woods where spring's first violets and the squirrels played uninterruptedly.
No wonder the Abbot's words struck such deep chords in Kuo Ling's consciousness. During one instructional talk at Buddha Root Farm he said:
Deep in the mountains the air is fresh and there is not the slightest trace of pollution. The Five Turbid Evil Worlds the Turbidity of Time, the Turbidity of Views, the Turbidity of Living Beings, the Turbidity of Afflictions, and the Turbidity of a Lifespan—exist in places crowded with people. This wilderness, by contrast, is the clear, pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. If you can cultivate in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, the power of the response of the Way will be completely different from that of the noisy bustle of the city. Here, is easy to enter samadhi, to gain concentration, and to obtain the Buddha Recitation Samadhi.
Years before that 1973 Amitabha Session at Buddha Root Farm, Kuo Ling had a dream:
...A clear and radiant dream of wandering through soft and limpid mists among the foothills of an emerald jeweled mountain. An ancient sage approaches to lead the way up through the mists, past the golden meadows below to the undulating green hills above. Up, up, into the thick of clouds and precipitous pathways. The distance between guide and follower increases as the difficulty of the path grows "until a mist swallows any trace of the guide or path or mountain, leaving only emptiness and waking and the realization that this was a message for the marking of my life.
Or was it a dream? She wondered when she found herself six years later walking up a rocky trail to a log cabin in the Oregon wilderness in the footsteps of the Venerable Abbot. "The past and present linked and meshed, the memory of the dream became a waking, walking vision."
Says Kuo Ling, "Listening to the Dharma lectures and hearing of the concept of the Bodhisattva, the vast great idea and practice of a living being who will rescue all living beings before he takes his rest, I understood a pact I made with Catholicism's God at the age of 10 or so. Well, Lord, if there isn't room in your heaven for all living beings, then I simply won't come either.' I recognize now a child's longing for the Bodhisattva path."
She was given direct reinforcement of the necessity to become the embodiment this vital concept in the Master's instruction during the Refuge Ceremony in which she became a disciple:
All of you who have taken refuge here should be leaders of Buddhism. You must act as models for all peoples. Be good Buddhist disciples and spread Buddhism throughout the entire world, throughout the universe. If there is one person who does not believe in the Buddha. It will be because you have not fulfilled our responsibilities. The Sutra of Comparative Merit and Virtue says, 'If there were Buddhas in number as the seedlings of rice, stalks of hemp, stalks of bamboo and reeds in the great world system, and if you presented those Buddhas with the four kinds of offerings, and then, when those Buddhas passed into extinction, you again made offerings of incense and flowers, food and drink, and built shrines and temples for them, the resulting merit would be great indeed. However, when you yourself take refuge with the Triple Jewel and exhort others to take refuge, the merit from this exceeds the former.
Kuo Ling has chosen to remain close to the Proper Dharma and the Venerable Master, enduring many tests and experiencing first-hand the magnitude of the Mahayana. As a long-time resident of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, she protects the Dharma and offers her talents to its propagation. From her perspective it is:
Day to day dreaming with its visions of purity, quietude and kindness, of patience, vigor and images that float among a world system landscaped with paints and brushes, watercolors and photographs, flowers and deep bows of gratitude to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions and the, three periods of time and to the boundless compassion of my teacher, the Venerable Abbot.