On November 13th 1971 at the request of Professor Lewis Lancaster of the University of California, Berkeley, Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua and some of his disciples including Dharma Masters Heng Ching, Heng Shoou, Heng Pai, Heng Yuan, Heng Yin, Heng Ch'ih, Sramanerika Heng Hsien and Sramanera Kuo Tao spoke at the third Jones Gulch Dharma Assembly at Jones Gulch, California. These symposiums, the largest of their kind, have been sponsored and directed by Professor Lancaster for Berkeley students and other interested people in the Bay area who wish to expand their knowledge of Buddhism.
At the first of these assemblies, the Venerable Master explained the Ten Great Kingly Vows of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva, (See VBS 3), and at the second meeting Dharma Master Heng Ching gave a Dharma talk, and Bhiksuni Heng Yin described The Eight Vows of Respect (See Issue #8), after which the members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association led small discussion groups. Those who packed the hall at both of these assemblies were excited and pleased by the talks.
Because most Vajra Bodhi Sea readers were unable to attend the most recent assembly, the Dharma talks will be published in this and in forthcoming issues of the magazine. Talks given by the Venerable Master's disciples will appear first, beginning with BODHI-TOKYO-LING by Bhiksu Heng Shoou which will appear in this issue. The last installment in this series will present the Master's lecture, one which filled the assembly with great happiness, making all aware that they had met a wonderful and rare opportunity to hear the Good Dharma and increase their understanding. You will be able to find this series in future issues under the title, THE PROFESSOR REQUESTS A LECTURE,
—By Bhiksu Heng Kuan
BODHI TOKYO LING
--By Bhiksu Heng Shoou
There is someone in this assembly who is thinking to himself, "Several months ago I decided to study Buddhism, and to do this in a very comprehensive way, to find out what Buddhism is really about. So, I enrolled in a class, and now that I've been studying for several months I know what Buddhism is. I've heard a lot of people who have said all these different things, and I've carefully taken notes and reflected on all of it, and NOW I KNOW. I know how to be a Buddhist and I'm going to be one. Right now I'm going to begin and become a Buddhist.
"I've noticed that among Buddhists the first thing you have is a long, strange—sounding, unpronounceable name. To be a Buddhist I must have a name, so I will make up a name. Let me think, what will my name be? Ah! BODHI! That's really a fine name, Bodhi. But wait, that's just a little short, a little incomplete, Bodhi...Bodhi...Bodhi...TOKYO, that's it, BODHI-TOKYO. Wow! What a name! But wait, haven't I heard something else. Let me see, hmmm...Ah, yes, LING. BODHI-TOKYO-LING, that's my name. I'm now a Buddhist, with the name Bodhi-Tokyo-Ling, which even I am having difficulty pronouncing. Yes, now I must certainly be a Buddhist.
"Now, I'm a Buddhist with a name, but there still seems to be something missing. What could it be? Clothes? But what do Buddhists wear? Hmmm. First, I should get some Japanese straw sandals; yes, that's a move in the right direction. But that only takes care of my feet, I still need...what???...Oh! a long robe. But even with my straw sandals, and a long robe, there is still something missing. BEADS, that's what I need, beads. A long string of beads, preferably noisy ones.
"So. Let's see. I have a name, Bodhi-Tokyo-Ling. And I have a pair of shoes, which I must admit are difficult to keep on, BUT a Buddhist must persevere. I also have a long robe, which I step on as I walk up the stairs, and beads. I have a name, and I have all the right clothes, but I have to do something. Buddhists do things. All the Buddhists, which I have studied, are always doing things, but what is it that they do? Oh, I know! First I'll pick a language that nobody understands. Which incomprehensible language should I pick? I know! I'll pick one that even I don't understand. I'll make one up. But what exactly do I do with it? This is very easy, this being a Buddhist is very easy, just find a language that no one understands and mumble it. I have a long name that no one can say, clothes I can't wear, and an incomprehensible language that I can mumble. Now, I'm a Buddhist."
Now this person has built up his picture of the model Buddhist...flopping around in his sandals, bowing at everything he sees, mumbling, and saying to himself, "Yes, this Buddhism is not bad. It's really not bad at all. It's really pretty fine. But all this, however, seems a little incongruous with this place where we are now, this place called Jones Gultch. Jones is certainly not a Chinese name, and I know that in Tibet there is no Jones Gultch. Come to think of it I'm wearing Levis. These are certainly strange clothes I must admit, but they don't make it as a long robe. And, come to think of it, if I make up a language that no one understands, and go around mumbling it all day, even I won’t know what I’m doing.”
As I was sitting here preparing to speak, I saw this person thinking about these things, and to relax his mind I figured that I should tell you that Buddhism and Jones Gultch are in fact synonymous. Today is a very rare and auspicious occasion, in that this is one of the first Jones Gultch Dharma assemblies making it historically significant.
At this point you may think, "Wait a minute, this isn't famous history. It isn't even in the past, and furthermore no one knows about it. I've studied about all the famous meetings of two thousand years ago and they are famous, but this one..."
It is just that you don't understand history clearly. In two thousand years, this will be a famous Dharma assembly of the past. Then and there will be people in many strange countries, speaking strange languages which we have not even heard, and universities full of scholars will try to unravel the mysteries of English and to translate the word Levis, which will have already passed out of existence for some two thousand years. Scholars will investigate the question, "This Jones, who was the real Jones?" There will be books written and dissertations published on "Jones—The Man and the Myth", and "Guichism—Concepts in Early Buddhism". Schools of scholarship will rise and fall around such important questions. So I would like to congratulate, everyone at being in on, not only a new phase of Buddhism, but of scholarship.
Now, what is the point of all this, you may well ask. It is simply to invite all of you to Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery where Buddhism is not a matter of long robes and funny shoes, which are difficult to keep on, nor is it a matter of mumbling things in languages which you don't understand, learning to make your eyes slant, or eating ghee with your hands. All of these cultural phenomena are not Buddhism. The Dharma is alive in the hearts of all living beings, and takes form in the many cultures and traditions in the world. That, which is in accord with what the Buddha set up, with the principles expounded by the Buddha, is the Dharma. To become attached to cultural manifestations of the Dharma as being the substance of the Dharma is to miss both the benefits of the Dharma, as well as those of culture. It is as if someone were to point out the moon to you and, instead of seeing the moon, you think that the finger is the moon. Hot only do you not see the moon, but you also mistake the finger for something, which it is not, thus losing the function of the hand.
2999 CALENDAR OF BUDDHIST HOLIDAYS
August 21 Great Strength Bodhisattva’s Birthday.
August 23 Ullambana Festival.
September 1 Nagarjuna Bodhisattva’s Birthday.
September 7 Earth Store Bodhisattva’s Birthday.
September 7 Birthday of the Great Master Hsu Yun.
September 10 Birthday of the Great Master Hui Neng, The Sixth Patriarch.
September 29 Dipankara Buddha’s Birthday.
October 21 Anniversary of the Great Master Ch’ang Chih’s Attainment of the Way.
October 22 Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua Left the Home Life.
October 23 The Great Master Ch’ang Jen Left the Home Life.
October 25 Anniversary of the Day Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Left the Home Life.
November 5 Birthday of Medicine Master Buddha.
November 10 Birthday of Patriarch Bodhidharma.