News From The Dharma Realm

Ukiah Daily Journal, Ukiah, Calif.

Thursday, October 16,1980



      Mendocino County has lately become the darling of the media, mostly because of the crimes, cults, and tragedies. A young Buddhist nun from the City Of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage may give our area some good publicity for a change.

      Heng-yin's "Awakening: Ancient Music For Modern Ears" on the local Wondrous Sound label (reviewed in Panorama on Sept. 4, and available from Box 217 Talmage, Ca. 95481 if you can't find it in the neighborhood record store), is an eccentric batch of lyrics sung with a contemporary flair.

      Though Heng-yin avoids such convenient classifications, her singing is reminiscent of a young Judy Collins or Emmylou Harris. The music ranges from folk to country to new wave; leading a local disc jockey to describe it as "Buddhist-punk"!

      This unique record has pricked some mighty powerful ears. Already it has been played regularly on radio stations throughout the state and was recently included in the nationally distributed radio show of D.J. Dr. Demento.

      Heng-yin comes from Seattle where she studied drama and philosophy at the University of Washington and played traditional folk and blues numbers on guitar in the local coffee houses. It was at this time that she first became interested in the ancient Eastern philosophies.

      Moving to San Francisco in 1969. Heng-yin immersed herself in the study of Chinese and Buddhism; to the point where she became a fluent translator. To date she has translated a dozen of the ancient texts into English. The City Of Ten Thousand Buddhas is probably the largest publishing house of Buddhist literature in the Western world.

      The success of her album poses new problems for the reclusive Heng-yin. Already she has been lured from her idyllic retreat in Talmage for several radio interviews in the Bay Area. Bill Steele spoke with Heng-yin about her music and philosophy on KWNE FM in Ukiah shortly after her album had been released.

      Demands for live performances are growing and the soft-spoken Heng-yin has finally consented. On Nov. 15 she will appear at the Cotton Auditorium in Fort Bragg, This will be her first public performance since her coffee shop days in Seattle.

      Where all this exposure might lead is unknown. Says Heng-yin, "I haven't got any 2 or 4-year plans. I'm happy to be doing what I am. I would like to make some of the ancient wisdom available to everyone. I'm really pleased with the response."

      Heng-yin is busy with a book of songs and a record written, composed, and sung by some of the children who attend school at the City Of Ten Thousand Buddhas. There is a possibility that she will soon embark on a tour of selected engagements, mostly at colleges.

      Because of the response to "Awakening: Ancient Wisdom For Modern Ears" another album is likely to follow from Talmage's own singing nun. The public seems to want something new and unusual, and Heng-yin certainly delivers on both counts.

      Heng-yin became involved in the writing of a song-book entitled "Songs For Awakening," which was published last year. A combination of original songs inspired by Buddhist teachings and some of the Masters' words put to music, the book was the predecessor to Heng-yin's record.

      The book received widespread acclaim, particularly from schools and study groups where it became a useful text. When Heng-yin's album came out, the lyrics were translated into many languages. It is now used as a teaching aid at many schools, including the John F. Kennedy University.

      Buoyed by the song-book's success and encouraged by Linda Pecaites, the artist who designed the album jacket and helped organize its recording, Heng-yin took some of her best songs to Beggars' Banquet studios in Sonoma County.

      There she received guidance from producer Warren Dennis, who helped polish her presentations. Some of Sonoma County's finest musicians were used during the sessions, including members of Collins and Levine, and Norton Buffalo's band. Celia Hollander, a musical therapist, contributed superb back-up vocals as well as guitar.

    Of all the 10 tunes on the album, the most instantly striking is "Gotta Do Something/Might As Well Cultivate" with its casual vocal delivered over a thumping synthesizer and percolating rhythm track.

Mail order Information:
Price: $7.00
(Calif. Residents add 6 % sales tax
  Bart. Counties  6.5 %)
Add $1 shipping & handling
Allow 4 to 8 weeks for delivery

Make check or money order payable to:
           Wondrous Sound Music
      Sino-American Buddhist Assn.
            Box 217, Talmage, Ca.  9548l
           (707) 462-0939

The Venerable Master Hua

Bh. Heng-yin Celia Hollander Warren Dennis