THIS IS SOMETHING YOU WON'T BELIEVE!
by Lo Wei-Te
It is common knowledge that we live in an age of religious decline. Even those who make a 'career' of religion look upon spiritual attainment as a thing of the past, the lofty spheres of the ancients for which we have no hope. Consequently, no one truly makes the attempt. In Buddhism this is called the Dharma Ending Age. Clearly the Great Bodhisattvas who translated the Sutras from Sanskrit to Chinese had full blown spiritual penetrations. It is partly for this reason that the translations are respected and revered. From the Han Dynasty through the Tang, there are detailed records of the miraculous achievements of these Bodhisattvas, these worthy ancients who lived before the advent of the Dharma Ending Age.
Even Buddhists who have heard the proper practices for attaining the highest spiritual states explicitly described, have fallen into this vertigo, and have ceased their efforts, saying, "It is the Dharma Ending Age; the time of the Great Bodhisattvas passed centuries ago. There is nothing we can do." It is not that there is nothing they can do, but rather because they do nothing, that this attitude prevails.
This being the current religious atmosphere, where are the sages who will preserve the Way for the future? Where are the Great Bodhisattvas who have the spiritual attainment necessary to understand the scriptures and translate them into foreign tongues so that Buddhism will survive and flourish? The attitude that this is the Dharma Ending Age is so pervasive that only a direct proof will satisfy the doubting minds of the Age and encourage them to cultivate and certify to their own attainment.
In the fall of 1969, Dharma Master Heng Shoou, formerly Upasaka Kuo Hu
Klarer (see VBS #13, pg. 39), gradually eased himself into a schedule
that allowed for little else but meditation eighteen hours a day. He had
to overcome considerable difficulties, not the least of which might be
called "Western Leg," a curious malady common to most
Westerners whose legs won't go into full lotus. He made the Great
Compassion Mantra his principle cultivation while meditating, and
performed the Great Compassion Repentance Ceremony every day. Practicing
like this he experienced states of light ease, where his thought slowed way down and stopped. These were strange but
encouraging signs for this person who had recently left the music scene
in San Francisco, and so he doubled his efforts, working every day until
12 midnight, and then getting up at 2:45 a.m. to begin cultivating
again. At the same time he reduced his intake of food to one small bowl
each day. He was becoming exhausted, but was discovering deep sources of
energy at the same time. On three successive nights he dreamed about
Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, and on the third, Kuan Yin talked to him,
but he could not hear clearly. Shortly, thereafter, as he sat one day he
heard a screaming sound, like a long whine that
gradually grew in intensity faster and louder, until it exploded with a
huge crack like thunder, and he was off into Samadhi, in a very colorful
and different land, with strange beings, and a strange language, that
sounded a little like Sanskrit. He was completely surprised by this
touch of Samadhi.
||After this first experience, Dharma Master Heng Shoou entered Samadhi more often. He meditated all the time, and although he was becoming exhausted, he was preceding Amitabha’s birthday began, his fatigue had reached an extreme. The first day of the session went by like a dream, and on the second day he became very ill. Numb, cold, wrung dry, he dropped out of the session, and decided to sleep.|
When he tried to sleep, he began to sweat and get warm, and rather than falling asleep, his consciousness began expanding like a huge bubble, and then began penetrating further and further, not with a cyclical motion, but with a straight ascent that went on for hours. The realization gradually dawned that he was completely intertwined with Kuan Yin, each both huge and minute, interpenetrating one another, the response and the way intertwined... Kuan Yin was enormous, and yet a dust mote within Dharma Master Heng Shoou, and at the same time, Heng Shoou was enormous and yet a dust mote within Kuan Yin. The whole universe had opened up into infinite levels and dimensions in which there was Kuan Yin's body; the manifestation of this body covered the universe everywhere in all things like a great hood, solid and yet made of a million suns blazing in empty space. Heng Shoou then merged into the Dharma Realm.
When he regained his usual state of consciousness, he did not lose this experience; significantly, this unusual consciousness persisted even in his waking state. Altogether it lasted about 16 hours.
He was still quite sick, with an extremely high fever. At the same time, however, he was filled with a total pure compassion transcendent of all emotions. It was then that he realized he was not sick but rather was being changed and transformed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions, that Kuan Yin Bodhisattva was causing him to have faith. He continued to have extraordinary experiences. At one point an eye opened and he began to be able to see in many places, some thousands of miles away and to observe what old friends and others were doing. Many of these experiences were actually verified, showing that what Dharma Master Heng Shoou saw, and what was happening in a certain place were actually in agreement. Everything he saw was crystal clear.
On the third day of the recitation session he was meditating in the infirmary when all of a sudden he was a woman, a Bhiksuni, and was standing on the bank of the Ganges River in India. The river was broad and flowed slowly. It had a pebble bottom, and grassy banks. She and two other Bhiksunis had just finished bathing in the clear river, and were standing on the bank. Their bodies were solid and strong, as if they were used to manual labor.
All of a sudden they saw someone coming toward them on a bicycle. Then this person vanished. The Bhiksuni thought, "How can there be a bicycle..." and suddenly the illusory dual body of Dharma Master Heng Shoou realized that he was in two places at once, and that even though they were separated in what we normally conceive of as time, neither body was more or less real than the other; Heng Shoou and the Bhiksuni both existed as two consciousness’ in the two different places and times.
The Bhiksuni knew very well what was going on. Heng Shoou had not caught on yet. When he began to realize, the Bhiksuni said, "Oh, it's you," and at just that moment some men came toward them over the rise in the land, and stared at the three naked Bhiksunis. Both Heng Shoou and the Bhiksuni felt disgusted, and at that moment Heng Shoou realized that he and the Bhiksuni were one and the same. They both shared the same feeling of disgust; a feeling the American recognized as one he had frequently experienced. Now the one reality was fully realized, the two consiousnesses fused the earlier illusion of being two.
Still later while Heng Shoou listened to a Dharma Talk in the Buddhist Lecture Hall, the Bhiksuni swam slowly across the Ganges with her friends, past a boat with yellow sails to the grassy shore on the other side. While they swam they discussed their preferences for the Dharma of the various chief disciples of Sakyamuni, elders who were at that time in the Buddha's assembly. One Bhiksuni said that she preferred the Dharma of Sariputra, but the Bhiksuni who was Heng Shoou didn't prefer that Dharma. There was the simultaneous realization that she was high-really high-and lucky to be in the assembly of Sakyamuni Buddha. When he returned to his usual state of consciousness, Heng Shoou knew clearly that he had penetrated to past lives. All the time there was incredible energy pouring through him.
From that point on, in the ensuing weeks, his experiences increased. He could see through and inside his body, could levitate, and experience the six movements. Although he held the Triple World in the palms of his hands, he was getting giddy from all the energy pouring through him.
All of his eyes blazed open. He knew who was coming to visit and when. He could see what was going on behind him in the room, and could see other rooms in the building. He could travel around the city—many of these experiences were verified, and all of them happened while he was sitting in the Buddhist Lecture Hall at 125 Waverly Place in San Francisco.
Not only did he see and experience places on this earth plane; he traveled to the heavens as well, saw Gandharvas and Peng Birds, and all kinds of ghosts and spirits. He took a tour of the hells, and generally viewed the karma movie screen.
There were limits to his terrestrial travel, however. When he entered Samadhi he could go where he pleased; however, he found that past a certain point, buildings and people, all objects, would turn into patterns of light waves and energy. Nonetheless he was able to read the thoughts of others, and often knew in advance what things would happen. But he had become very fatigued, and his body ached. Then one day his body began to burn, and burned for four days. At this point he broke, and relaxed his cultivation.
Why did he stop at this point, when he seemed to be so close to the fruit? He realized that although he was able to cultivate hard and acquire these special signs that show advancement on the path, he had not yet accumulated the merit and purity of conduct over many years to maintain what he had gained. Such states are mostly the adornments of the tree of enlightenment, the roots of which are deeply embodied in the ground of the precepts, the towering branches of which penetrate the sky of Prajna.
After these experiences he quickly lost vital concern for all things except opening enlightenment, and dedicated himself to planting the causes that will yield this fruit.
As a consequence Heng Shoou, then still a layman, got a job and worked hard for a long time to provide the money necessary to help build Gold Mountain Temple, so that others would have the same opportunity to cultivate that he had. He had acquired a sense of great shame for his past misdeeds, had become humble, and realized the essentials of the work that lay before him.
Dharma Master Heng Shoou is now preparing to take the complete precepts of the Bhiksu. He will travel to Taichung, Taiwan, with Dharma Masters Heng Pai, Heng Ch'ao, and Heng Kuan, to participate in the precept platform at Compassionate Good Temple this year.
(In Part Five of The Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra with the Standless Gathas and Explanation of Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua, VBS #13, p.16, the Chinese text contains an error. The corrected line is given below. Ed.)