Asians! Take a Look!

What do you think?

--Translated by Bhiksu Heng Ching
  with an Introduction by Bhiksu Heng Kuan

Where Asians once surpassed Westerners in their understanding of the Dharma Realm and its inhabitants, they are now chasing at the heels of Western scientific, industrial, and technological methodology. But as phenomena fade out of existence in one place, they spring up in another.  Perhaps some of you will remember Dharma Master Heng Ch'ien's encounter with the kumbhanda ghost and his experiences with other types of ghosts described in the first issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea. The kumbhanda tried for about half an hour to smother him under an invisible force field, and the troupe of visiting friends turned out to be ghosts who frequently urged him to destroy himself using their powers of concentration to threaten his life.

This troupe followed him from Seattle, where he first encountered them, to San Francisco when he went to cultivate the Buddhadharma under his teacher, the Venerable Tripitaka Master Abbot Hsuan Hua. They stood in the street below the Buddhist Lecture Hall calling his name and howling in the night, but never dared come up the stairs to get him. Since he has resided at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, the ghosts have not come around at all.

On a few occasions, however, when he has had-to be absent from the Monastery, the ghost troupe has instantaneously picked up on his departure and followed him. Once when he visited his mother who was ill they went after him with great intensity, following him right to his parent's home. But when he returned to Gold Mountain Monastery, the ghosts became frightened and left. Throughout this time, when he was near the Venerable Abbot, the ghosts did not dare to bother him.

Recently Dharma Master Heng Ch'ien has taken a leave of absence from his positions of Supervisory Director of Gold Mountain Monastery, President of the Sino-American Buddhist Association, Advisor to the Precept Transmitting Committee, and Director of Publications of Vajra Bodhi Sea to accept an invitation to be a visiting Bhiksu and to translate and lecture the Lotus Sutra at Mahayana Temple in South Cairo, New York. Strangely enough, shortly after he arrived at the Temple, his ghost friends showed up, running up and down the halls and knocking at his door. Because he recites the Surangama Mantra daily, and is translating the Lotus, the ghosts were powerless and soon left. These strange events were anticipated in the verses written by the Venerable Abbot to commemorate Dharma Master Heng Ch'ien's trip.

The following verse and prose piece were written by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua as an "exhortation on the occasion of Dhyana Cultivator Ch'ien's journey to the Eastern States Buddhist Association at the request of Mahayana Temple to lecture the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Blossom Sutra.

Long ago in the distant past outstanding conditions were planted.
In watering and in caring for them, do not fear what is hard.
Make the Dharma Realm your mind, and have no 'this' and 'that'.
How can vows as vast as space ever be exhausted?
Brandish the wisdom sword subdue the ghosts and demons.
With the pearl of samadhi in your grasp, illumine heaven and earth.
Turn the Wonderful Dharma Wheel, proclaim the Buddha's teaching.
North, South, East, and West spread out the Dharma feast.

In the distant past you cultivated wisdom and vigorously practiced prajna. As a result, your native abilities are smart and keen. As the first to leave the home life, you are to be a crown for western students of the Buddha. Now you should cultivate Dhyana and practice concentration, pay attention to samadhi and develop great strength in it.

Translate the teachings of the Sutras so that they tally with the Buddha's mind above and with the needs of beings below.

      Although you have temporarily left Gold Mountain to go the New York, you are still within my Dharma Realm. New York is a great city where people are drunk and confused by wealth. Good and evil are intermeshed and living beings bob about, floating and sinking in the karmic sea. The road forks at merit and offense; understanding is paradise, confusion is hell.