Dharma Realm Buddhist News


    The first transmission of the complete precepts in Western history is currently in progress at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery in San Francisco. The precept platform, which is being conducted in the orthodox tradition, will last a full 108 days. Sramanera and Sramanerika are receiving thorough training in the fundamental material which every worthy bhiksu and bhiksuni should know, and spend many hours each day in the Buddha Hall sincerely seeking eradication of obstacles. Inspired by the high standards of cultivation set at Gold Mountain, all the novices are maintaining the practice, of eating only before noon and taking only. one meal a day, consuming nothing other than tea or water at other times; a majority of those involved in the precept platform are also maintaining the practice of never lying down to sleep. Rare as these practices are, they take on even greater significance in the light of the daily schedule at the precept platform:

     3:40 A.M.  Morning boards. Everyone arises from evening rest.

4:00       Morning recitation.

4:50       Bowing to the Patriarchs

5:15-7:20  Meditation

7 30-8:30  Bowing to Sakyamuni Buddha.

8 30-10:30 Review lectures covering material lectured the previous day.

10:30      Great Meal Offering.

11:00      The daily meal is taken. 

12:00 Noon 
-1:00 P.M. Bowing to Sakyamuni Buddha.

1 15-2:30  Study and instruction period.

2 30-3:30  Lecture: Sramaneras Deportment, Bodhisattva Precepts, etc.

3 30-5:30  Study and instruction period.

5 30-6:30  Language classes. Classical Chinese, Japanese, French, and Sanskrit

           are taught.

6:30       Preparation for the explanation of the Avatamsaka Sutra.

7:00       Evening recitation.

7 45       Explanation, of the Avatamsaka.

9:00-9:30  Bowing to Sakyamuni Buddha.

9:30       Bowing to the Patriarchs.

     Following the final bows, everyone is free until the following morning at 3:40. Many cultivators, however, stay up late into the evening to study the sutras and meditate. The five hours of study and instruction each day give the novices the opportunity to learn the required material: the Leng Yen Mantra, the Great Compassion Mantra, the Ten Small Mantras, the, Ten Precepts with explanations, the "Essentials of the Sramanera's Rules of Deportment," the Bodhisattva precepts, and the Bhiksu precepts. Not only are they required to know this material, they must be able to explain it in lectures as well. All the novices are periodically tested to be sure that they are keeping up.

    Although the Precepts of the Thousand Buddhas may be transmitted at precept platforms of varying length, the first ordination in the West will last for 108 days, much longer than recent ordinations in Asia which have lasted for anywhere from a few days to 53 days. The intent is clear:  in order that the proper Dharma be truly established in the West, there must be people who adhere to the highest standards of cultivation. Without the utmost dedication, the proper Dharma will disappear from the realm of men.

    There were many applicants, from the United States, Europe, and Asia, who wished to attend this transmission of the precepts, but many had to be turned away; only those who have the determination and fortitude to join the cultivation and follow the regulations at Gold Mountain were accepted. These people, who are victorious when the Way is most difficult, will be the leaders who establish the Buddha's true Dharma in the West, and who preserve the tradition  of enlightenment so that it will not perish from the earth.

Watch for "The Ten Dharma Realms are Not Beyond a Single Thought," a gatha (Buddhist poem) composed by the Venerable Master Hua to commemorate the opening of Hung Fu Temple, in forthcoming issues of VBS.


      In August 1972 the Venerable Abbot Hsuan Hua and the Sangha of Gold Mountain Monastery were invited to receive an offering of pure food by Upasika Kan Kuo Yen and her daughter T'an Kuo Shin at her daughter's home. Other guests included Bhiksuni Chiao An, Principal of Bejeweled Enlightenment Middle School in Hong Kong, and Bhiksuni Ch'eng Ming, Director of the Hua Yen Lotus Society in Hong Kong, both of whom recently arrived from Asia, Professor Hsieh Ping-ying, teacher of literature and composition at Taiwan Normal University, famous author, and advisor to Vajra Bodhi Sea, and Upasaka Kuo Yu Linebarger, a graduate student in Chinese and a faithful disciple of the Venerable Abbot.

      After the meal offering of pure vegetarian food, each person spoke Dharma in turn for the benefit of all present. The great variety of speeches and stories greatly pleased everyone.

      In this picture commemorating the occasion the Venerable Abbot is seated in the center'. In the first row are (l.to r.) Upasika T'an Kuo Shih, Professor Hsieh Ping-ying, Bhiksuni Chiao An, Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih, Bhiksuni Heng Yin, Sramanerika Heng Hsien, Bhiksuni Ch'eng Ming, and. Upasika Kan Kuo Yen. In the second row (l.to r.) are Sramanera Heng Chu, Bhiksu Heng Shoou, Bhiksu Heng Ching, Bhiksu Heng Ch'ao, and Upasaka Linebarger.

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by Bhiksu Heng Kuan

      On Sunday, September 3rd, 1972, the San Francisco Buddhist Association sponsored the opening of Hung Fu Temple in San Francisco. Dharma Master Le Tu, Abbot of Hung Fu Temple, invited Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua to be the Dharma Host. The Sangha of Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, including Dharma Masters Heng Ching, Heng Shou, Heng Kuan, Heng Shoou, Heng Ch'ao, Heng Yin, Heng Ch'ih, Heng Hsien, Heng Yo, and Heng Chu, all Americans who have left the home life under the Venerable Master and have been attending upon him and studying with him for many years, assisted at the ceremonies.

      On the previous evening, Saturday, September second, the Hung Fu Bodhimandala was purified and its boundaries established in ceremonies hosted by the Venerable Master.  Following the ceremony the Venerable Master spoke Dharma, relating wonderful stories which caused everyone who heard to resolve to work diligently and vigorously at his cultivation.  Everyone was in a joyous mood.

      On Sunday morning the hall was crowded with devotees, Asians and Westerners, who came with their congratulations to participate in the opening ceremonies which were hosted by the Venerable Master and led by Dharma Master Le Tu assisted by Dharma Master Hsing K’ung.  During the ceremonies the Venerable Master activated the spiritual essences of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, recited gathas in their praise, and recited a long g'5tha, "The Ten Dharma Realms Are Not Beyond a Single Thought," composed to commemorate the occasion of the opening of Hung Fu Temple.

      After a vegetarian feast the first  Dharma assembly at the newly inaugurated temple was held. At this meeting all the Dharma Masters present spoke for the four­fold assembly; many Dharma Masters from the Sino-American Buddhist Association spoke in both English and Chinese, and when necessary spot translations were given by Dharma Masters Heng Ching, Heng Shou, and Heng Yin of Gold Mountain. The texts of the speeches follows below for Vajra Bodhi Sea readers who were unable to attend the ceremonies. When all the Dharma Masters had finished speaking, the Venerable Master Hua explicated the commemorative gathas he had written. Following his talk everyone returned home in a peaceful and happy mood. The Venerable Master's address will be found in a future issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea.

      Shown in the picture below, Dharma Master Heng Yin (center) translates for Sramanerika Heng Hsien (right) in the Buddha Hall of Hung Fu Temple. Dharma Master Heng Ching, Managing Director of Gold Mountain Monastery sits on the left.

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        The first speaker at the assembly was Dharma Master Heng Chu, who is currently preparing to receive the complete precepts at the first transmission to be held in the West.

       Late in the 6th century, the great monk Chih Che gathered in all the teachings of Buddhism, which had branched out and grown incredibly vast and diverse in the 1000 years since they had been taught by the Buddha, and organized them into a coherent chronological system. This school was called T'ien T'ai, named after the mountain on which the Master Chih Che lived.

       The T'ien T'ai school divides the 49 years of the Buddha's teachings into five periods of time:

       The first of these is the Avatamsaka Period which lasted for 21 days. After the" Buddha opened enlightenment he remained under the Bodhi tree and spoke this Sutra which filled the Dharmarealm, Although he didn't move from his place under the tree, he spoke in seven places at nine assemblies. Since few people could fully understand it at the time, this Sutra was stored in the dragon palace at the bottom of the great sea. Nagarjuna Bodhisattva later visited the palace and memorized the last of three volumes of the great Sutra 5 it is this final volume which remains now in the world.

              After the Avatamsaka Period the Buddha spoke the Agamas, which consisted of basic Buddhist doctrine concerned with karma, rebirth, cause and effect. Hearing these teachings people's faith took hold and they studied The Four Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, and other such Dharmas, gradually opening their wisdom.

      Following the Agamas the Buddha preached the Vaipulya, "broad and equal." During this period he encouraged the Arhats to start thinking of the Bodhisattva path, not just of their own salvation, to think of rescuing all living beings. He taught the Vaipulya for eight years.

      When he finished the Vaipulya he moved into the Mahaprajnaparamita, "great perfection of wisdom," which lasted 22 years. During this time he taught the doctrine of emptiness, showing that the world is nothing but a mere illusion, that all dualities that we see are nothing but figments of our imagination.

      The fifth and final period is the Saddharmamaha-parinirvana, which lasted 8 years and one day. During this period he spoke the ultimate, complete, and perfect doctrine, taking all his teachings and weaving them back together into one vehicle. This is where he showed that the Buddha had only one perfect aim, to cause all beings to open enlightenment. The previous teachings contain many expedient devices, and are stepping stones for entering into the complete meaning found in The Lotus Sutra.

      All of the sutras now existing in the world can be classified in this fivefold division of the Buddha's teachings.             


Sramanera Heng Yo, who is currently preparing to receive the complete precepts,

gave the following talk:

Today, everyone should be pleased that San Francisco now has one more Bodhimandala because now there is more opportunity for cultivation. But as one looks around, one is reminded that there are many people who are not as fortunate as we who have encountered the Buddharma. Perhaps their roots are not as deep or strong;

the fabric of their lives is woven with suffering and terror. A present example of people such as these is those who 'live' in the constant shadow of death in Indo-China. These people are the very ones who must be crossed over quickly.

In Buddhism there are The Six Perfections which we can use to cross over living beings, especially those who are stubborn.  The first of these perfections is giving; second, morality or holding precepts, third, patience under insult, fourth, vigor; fifth, dhyana samadhi; sixth, prajna. Using the third paramita, patience sunder insult, one can be successful at getting rid of the thoughts of violence one harbors in one's heart.

All war and violence originally manifest from the mind; they don't come from outside. When we get rid of the violence and thoughts of killing in our own minds, then we can end all war and ill will. To use constant effort in the task of clearing one's mind of ail violence is very difficult. Now that there is another place specifically designed for this purpose, there is one more glimmer of hope in the sea of darkness.


Sramanerika Heng Hsien, a Ph.D. candidate at Berkeley, and author of the Sanskrit lessons which appear in each issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea, was the next speaker at the Assembly;
            All Buddhas come into the world for the sake of living beings; if it were not for living beings ail Buddhas would not come into the world.
            In the same way this Bodhimandala opens in San Francisco for the sake of crossing over living beings. You can say it is like a bud which is just about to open and bloom. What kind of flower is this? It can be what it wants; it can be a rare exotic flower which can only live in a hot house or special environment, or it can be a very sturdy plant and firmly plunge its roots into the new soil of America.

      When the Buddha was in India' and the Buddhadharma was just starting, there was an outside way group called the Brahmans who made beautiful ceremonies that no one else knew how to do. Everyone had to come to them to have a ceremony.

      When the Buddha' came, a good many Brahmans converted to follow him. One day two Brahman youths came to the Buddha and said, "World Honored One, can't we make the Buddhas teaching, into beautiful ceremonies too, and do them all exactly right?"          

      The Buddha said, "This would be a mistake. What would be better to do is make the teaching understood."

      Now you may say, well if the Buddha said to: make the teaching understood, what are you doing speaking to us in English when we only understand Chinese? Your Observation illustrates my point perfectly. Whatever I say, if you don’t understand, what use is it?

      It is my hope that the flower of Buddhism in America will not stay an exotic plant, not bloom in a hothouse environment, but will prosper and bloom throughout the land.

*******************          to be continued

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.

December 22             Amitabha Buddha's Birthday

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