THE EMINENT UPASAKA KUO KUEI NICHOLSON
by Upasaka Stephen Lovett
The skin of Upasaka Kuo Kuei, metaphorically speaking, extends from his clear eye to his calm demeanor, his slow and considered drawl, and his calmness in all kinds of unusual situations. The skin being what it is, one would not expect a restless nature which has been saturated with a great variety of experience Born in Berkeley California in December, 1946, into an artistic milieu, Upasaka Kuo Kuei attended Berkeley public school until he was twelve. At that time his mother died, and although he appeared to be unmoved by her death it proved to be an untimely and violent liberation. From this point on for the next few years he was expelled from one Bay Area school after another, both public and private, was a perpetual truant problem, had run—ins with the police, and finally moved away from home to finish high school in Pasadena, which he did with great zeal and excellent grades.
The following year he started college in Mann, majoring in Art, and quickly developed many latent talents, becoming a jack of all trades artist, and a good one. He was deeply imbedded in school, enjoying classes in an experimental environment and living in a Berkeley commune devoted to radical political change, when he met a man with a seventy—two foot schooner, looking for someone to crew for him on a trip around the world. A few changes later found him dropped out of school working at sail and boat repair, and sailing up and down the east and west ,coast, which he did for several years, not for the sake of the thing itself, but for the going, always testing, trying, searching to settle his hidden restless nature in a wholeness without obstacles within or without. And so it was that he found his way to the West Indies, where he chartered his own boat and worked as a free lance boat builder.
One time after spending several weeks alone on the Atlantic, he experienced what was finally fulfilling and satisfying, and completely natural, a sense of unity and oneness. He had been studying theories of consciousness for about three years at the time, but this was his first indication that there were higher and purer states of consciousness which were not synthetic. Needless to say, this experience gave him a great feeling of independence, unity, and faith.
He returned to the States, took up designing furniture, and built a few more boats. He went to Seattle where he became friendly with some people who operated a farm near Mount Rainier. He moved there, and took up family life as a farmer with a group of about twenty—five people devoted to experimentation with social structures and states of consciousness.
The following year, feeling a need to regain the solidity he had found alone on the Atlantic, he moved into a teepee by himself for the winter. Early the next spring the farm burned down; its departure from his life encouraged and reinforced a dream that had been becoming more elaborate from some time: to build his own boat and sail around the world.
During the long winter he had spent alone, he also realized that there was knowledge and vision beyond his immediate powers, and that the only access to these was a Master teacher. Working all the angles, Kuo Kuei attended the 1970 Summer Session for meditation and Sutra study at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco. At the same time he planned to find work to finance his dream as soon as the session was over. He chose to attend the session because he had heard of the wonderful Dharma and great spiritual power of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, and felt drawn to study with him. When he first arrived at the Buddhist Lecture Hall, and met the Master1 he saw the room filled with a green gold light emanating from the Master’s body, and at the same time be felt very close and familiar to the Master. He was deeply impressed by the calm and peacefulness in the room. He soon took refuge and became the Master’s disciple.
He left the summer session and took up his job, but even though he soon had the funds and material to actualize his dream, he frequently experienced an emptiness in the physical realm of existence which pervaded all desire. After a year of deliberation, during which time he felt a strong sense of unity with his family, and returned to live with his father, he made the decision to postpone his voyage around the world, and made a vow to attend the Avatamsaka Dharma assembly being held at the Gold Mountain Monastery. This assembly, the first of its kind in the West, will meet for at least five years while the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua explains the Avatamsaka Sutra the most complete teaching in existence.
Kuo Kuei has made an extensive study of Eastern religions and their
Western psychological counterparts. He has carried his study of Buddhism
into practice, and is now deeply involved in cultivation of
Not only does he eat only one meal a day, he cultivates the practice of
never lying down to sleep, holds
Bodhisattva precepts, meditates
and attends daily Dharma lectures. He arises at 3:45 A.M. every
day, and puts in a full day of practice. Kuo Kuei has put his many talents
to good use in the construction of Gold Mountain Monastery and has
devoted much time and effort to adorning the Bodhimandala.
Tiger with Horns
The Sino American Buddhist Association, Gold Mountain Temple, and Vajra Bodhi Sea together will sponsor three cultivation sessions this coming Winter. The first, a Kuan Yin Seven, consisting of seven days of recollecting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) will begin on October 30th and end November 5th. The following day, November 6th, is the anniversary of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s birthday which will be celebrated with recitation of sutras and mantras, and a vegetarian feast at 11:00 A.M.
Beginning December 6th will be three weeks of Dhyana Meditation ending on December 26th. Meditation will begin early in the morning and last until late at night each day during these three weeks. Instructional talks will be given daily by the Master. The following day, December 27th, will begin a Seven Day Recollection of the Buddha Session which runs through January 2nd, 1972. January 3rd is the anniversary of the Birthday of Amitabha Buddha and there will be ceremonies throughout the day and a vegetarian feast at 11:00 A.M.
Cultivation of Dhyana Mediation is compared to a tiger, and cultivation of the Recollection of the Buddha is compared to horns. Thus the combination of both meditation and recollection is "A Tiger With Horns", a most powerful creature.
For further information, call or write the Sino—American Buddhist Association, Gold Mountain Temple, 1731 15th Street, San Francisco, Californian 94103 Tel:(415)621—5202