FU TEMPLE OPENING
Continued from #30
Master Heng Ch'ih, a diligent cultivator of Ch'an and indefatigable
member of the Buddhist Text Translation Society, exhorted the assembly with the
The Three Non-outflow Studies are faith, vows, and practice. Anyone who wishes to enter the vast and precious sea of Buddhadharma must do so by faith.
In the Diamond Sutra Subhuti asks the Buddha about faith:
World Honored One, will there be living beings who will truly believe these sentences and sections when they hear them?"
The Buddha told Subhuti, "Do not talk like that! After the Thus Come One's extinction, in the last five hundred years, those who hold the precepts and cultivate blessings can believe these sentences and sections and accept them as truth. You should know such a person has not planted good roots with just one Buddha, two Buddhas, three, four or five Buddhas, but has planted good roots with measureless millions of Buddhas.
The decline of the Dharma falls into five periods. The first period, which includes the time when Sakyamuni Buddha was in the world, is called the Age Strong in Liberation. The 500 years following is called the Age Strong in Dhyana Samadhi; the next 500, the Age Strong in Much Learning, the next 500, the Age Strong in Building Temples and Stupas; and the last 500 years, the Age Strong in Fighting. It is the people who live in this last age, whom the Buddha assures Subhuti about, saying that even in the Dharma Ending Age there will be people who hold to the Proper Dharma as a result of their deep faith.
Faith does not die but continues to grow stronger life after life because of the power of vows. One who has faith makes Vows before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, recites these vows every day, and relies on the power of these vows in his cultivation. Because of this he is enabled, life after life, to encounter the Triple Jewel, take refuge with the Buddha, and again renew his vows.
Although there is faith and the continuing force of vows, one still needs to practice diligently in accord with his beliefs and vows. Thus the Buddha told Subhuti that one with firm belief has not planted good roots before just one or two Buddhas, or three or more Buddhas, but with many, many Buddhas. Planting good roots is just putting the principles of the Buddhadharma into daily practice.
It is my hope that all of us will follow these Three Non-outflow Studies and foster the good roots, which enable us to constantly deepen our understanding of the Dharma and ultimately allow us to bring to perfection our cultivation of the Way.
Dharma Master Heng Yin, the first Western woman to receive the complete precepts and become a bhiksuni, spoke the following words of encouragement;
Original Teacher Sakyamuni, Mountain Elders, and Good Knowing Advisors, compassion.
Today, the Old Demon King is truly terrified. Why? Because the San Francisco Buddhist Association has opened Buddhist Bodhimandala. The merit involved in this is limitless, and we of the Sino-American Buddhist Association, Gold Mountain Monastery, and Vajra Bodhi Sea, extend our congratulations. But the Demon King is scared. He's afraid he's going to lose his position and his followers.
Buddhism is a complete and universal religion. It does not discriminate between nations and races. Whether in India, China, or America, the Dharma serves one purpose: it teaches men to return from confusion and go toward enlightenment.
There are not many Bodhimandalas in America, and because the Dharma is just beginning to spread here, everyone should assume the responsibility for propagating it, and work a little harder. That is why we of Gold Mountain Monastery lecture the Dharma seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year--everyday we study and teach the Buddhadharma. To be perfectly frank, what America needs is the right Dharma; what America does not need is the dharma of the Dharma-ending Age.
The opening of Vast Blessings Temple is an auspicious event, one, which will benefit living beings for years to come. I hope that you all go forward with vigor and pay no attention to whether or not the Demon King trembles.
Dharma Master Heng Ch'ao, a diligent cultivator of ascetic practices who received the complete precepts last year in Taichung, Taiwan, spoke the following Dharma words:
There are many miraculous happenings in Buddhism, and I'm going to tell a story of one of them which concerns the Avatamsaka Sutra. In the Northern Chin Dynasty, the third son of the emperor went to Ch'ing Liang Mountain to make an offering of his body to the Buddha. His attendant on this journey was the eunuch Liu Ch'ien Chih. As the attendant to the king's son, Liu was a witness as the king's son set his own body on fire.
Liu was so impressed with this deep sincerity that he decided to cultivate the Way. He returned to the emperor to seek permission to dwell on Ch'ing Liang Mountain and cultivate. He returned to the Mountain with the Avatamsaka Sutra, a gift to him from the emperor.
There is no way to describe his vigorous cultivation; it was inconceivable. Day and night he was constantly vigorous, reading, reciting, and repenting. As he read the Sutra his heart went out for the desirable qualities of the Buddha. He wanted them very badly. Once for three weeks he didn't eat or drink anything, not even water, and at the end of this time he was almost dead, his life energy exhausted. However, he was so sincere that where before he hadn't had any facial hair at all, it started to grow back and he regained the marks of a great man.
Later he opened enlightenment and wrote a commentary. He fully understood the Avatamsaka Sutra and wrote a 600-roll commentary to it. A praise says of him:
A living patriarch who explained the Hua Yen and doubled the light of the sun.
Dharma Master Heng Shoou, who cultivates ascetic practices and has been diligently studying the teaching school, told a story, which delighted everyone. The story appears below.
Heng Shoou: Children! You should pay attention to what I am now going to say!
Master Hua: You're an adult?
Heng Shoou: Everyone should pay attention to these words. Once when Sakyamuni Buddha was in India he spoke Dharma beside a pond. A frog that was in the water climbed out on the bank when he heard the Buddha begin to speak, and sat there listening happily.
There were many people there listening to Dharma. One person who came was a clumsy shepherd who carried a large staff. When he arrived he brought his staff down heavily as he settled himself on the ground, and totally squashed this little frog. As the frog's head was smashed, he didn't have much to think about.
When he woke up he found himself sitting on a big-jeweled throne. This was a little bit amazing. It was all very beautiful, and when he looked into the situation a little bit he discovered that he was now Sakra, chief among gods. Since he was a god with the spiritual power of the heavenly eye, he investigated the situation some more and discovered that in fact he had been a frog, who just a few minutes ago had been wiped out by a large piece of wood. He also realized the great efficacy and benefit from merely having heard the sound of the Buddha's voice let alone knowing what the Buddha said.
So Sakra took all his treasures and jewels and appeared in the world where the Buddha was speaking, where the little frog's body was still warm, and made an offering to the Buddha. He bowed and told the Buddha what had happened. Someone wrote this down so that we in the future could know the benefits of merely hearing one sentence of the Buddha's Dharma.
It is my hope that now that there is a new Bodhimandala in San Francisco, which is a very rare thing, everyone will protect this new place of cultivation, and perhaps lecture sutras here or come to hear sutras lectured, and come to bow and worship the Buddha.
to be continued
GOLD MOUNTAIN BUDDHISTS PAY THEIR RESPECTS
On September seventh, 1972, the Sangha and laymen of Gold Mountain Monastery celebrated the anniversary of Earth Store Bodhisattva's birthday with ceremonies and bowing beginning at nine-thirty in the morning. Following The Great Meal Offering and a meal of pure vegetarian food, the fourfold assembly paid respects to the Venerable Master Hsu Yun, Patriarch of all five Ch'an schools, with ceremonies and bowing. The Venerable Master Yun, who lived to the age of 120, has tens of thousands of disciples, and during his long and varied life he built and repaired scores of temples and thoroughly revitalized Buddhism in Asia to the point that his influence has been felt all over the world. The Venerable Patriarch's birthday falls on the same day, as Earth Store Bodhisattva's each year.
At four o'clock on the afternoon of the same day a unique and extraordinary ceremony was held for the first time in the West, The Transmission of Precepts to the Deceased. This ceremony is performed for the benefit of those who have passed away so that they might have better rebirths in the future. The precepts were transmitted by the Venerable Master Hua at the request of sincere Buddhists who were concerned for the welfare of deceased relatives and friends. Many who were present were clearly aware of the incredible energy and power involved in this unusual ceremony, and some remarked that they felt the presence of the spirits who received the refuges.
Three days later on September tenth, the Buddhists and friends of Gold Mountain crowded the Jeweled Hall of the Great Heroes to offer their respects to the Great Master the Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng on the anniversary of his birthday. Ceremonies were held in the morning, followed by The Great Meal Offering and a meal of pure vegetarian food. That afternoon the Venerable Master Hua presided over the Avatamsaka Dharma Assembly.
In the photograph, the Sangha, laymen, and friends of Gold Mountain pay their respects to the Great Master Hui Neng with alternate bowing.
THE PROFESSOR REQUESTS A LECTURE
A series containing the texts of speeches given at the Jones Gulch Dharma Assembly, November 1971. Continued from issue twenty-seven. In this issue the speeches of Dharma Masters Heng Ching and Heng Yin will appear.
In the past few years Buddhism has begun to grow in this country, starting from a sporadic interest in the esoteric, meditation, and scholastic study. Work done in schools gradually engaged many students, and as they got further into it, they came to see the necessity of putting theory into practice. As you all know, people have been putting Buddhism into practice in lots of different ways, and thus the beginnings of American Buddhism are to be seen in many forms. One thing that we regard as important in founding Buddhism, which was regarded as very important when Buddhism went to new countries in the past, is following the method, the prescribed course of training established by the Buddha for his disciples.
When people hear this they think, "Oh, Rules and regulations. What a drag. This is what we're all trying to get away from! We're trying to get to be perfectly natural. Isn't that what Buddhism is all about, being your own inherent original nature and doing things that way? Doesn't that mean just chucking all rules, restraint, and order?"
Yes, it does mean that, but only after you've been able to maintain all of those rules to the point where they are totally natural and you are incapable of ever transgressing them.
Again people say, "That sounds really preposterous what possible good can come out of maintaining all these rules?" There was once a Dharma Master, Patriarch K'uei Chi, who cultivated, in addition to precepts, the rules of behavior, learning, and was one of the most learned men of his time. And he put out a light so bright that for forty miles around it blinded all the gods. Another Dharma Master named Tao Hsuan cultivated precepts and received the offerings of the gods.1 Both of these men regulated their lives, held certain restraints on themselves, and put a lot of effort into their work, and as a result were able to receive these wonderful responses. The important point everybody should realize is that this is not just something, which happened thousands of years ago. It can happen to anybody today who is willing to cultivate and practice with the same effort and dedication.
—Spoken by Bhiksu Heng Ching at Jones
November 13th, 1971.
1The story about these two Dharma Master told by Bhiksu Heng Ching at Jones Gulch will appear in the commentary of The Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra in issue number 33 of Vajra Bodhi Sea.
I recognize some of you from before, but most of you are new. Professor Lancaster told you that we had remodeled a factory to the point that it doesn't look like a factory, but it really is a factory. The factory on Fifteenth Street is now one, which in the future will turn out Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and patriarchs. Members of the Sino—American Buddhist Association, Vajra Bodhi Sea Publication Society, and Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery have been working to bring the Buddhadharma from the East and transmit it permanently on western soil. How at Gold Mountain there are thirteen people who have left the home life and next year the first ordination ceremony ever held in the west by Westerners will take place there.
It is not the case that the Dharma just comes into being spontaneously. The Dharma exists in our hearts, in our true hearts, because Buddhas are basically what we are. It is just that we have lost the knack, the ability to function as Buddhas. But the Buddhadharma, the teaching of the Buddha, doesn't just appear. A group of people can get together and say "I think we should open a temple and have the Buddhadharma here," but it will not be there automatically, just because they are sincere. The Buddhadharma must be transmitted.
Sakyamuni Buddha sat under the Bodhi Tree, saw a star, and opened enlightenment. And when the time came, he transmitted his Dharma to his disciple Mahakasyapa and Mahakasyapa later transmitted it to Ananda. Each gave the Dharma in a transmission. In India the Dharma passed through twenty-eight patriarchs and the 28th was called Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma took a look with his Buddha eye and saw that people were ready to receive the teaching in China. He underwent difficulties and hardship and took the Dharma to China. For the first ten years he was in China, nobody paid the least bit of attention to him. He couldn't speak the language, and everywhere he went no one recognized him. They thought he was really strange. Gradually, however, those who really wanted to study to become Buddhas came to recognize Bodhidharma, and he transmitted the Dharma seal mind to mind, heart to heart to his successor Shen Kuang. Shen Kuang's successor was Tseng Tsan and so forth until we get to the eighteenth. Chinese Patriarch who has now come to America to become the first American Patriarch and transmit the Dharma to the West. I hope everyone will take careful note of this historical fact.
At Gold Mountain Monastery we give the Buddhadharma an American style, working to wake America up from four in the morning when we rise and recite until ten at night when we rest. There are classes in Chinese, Sanskrit, French, and Japanese conducted every day and the Dharma, the transmitted Buddhadharma as it came through Sakyamuni Buddha, is spoken every night at seven o'clock. That, too, is an historical fact. Also it doesn't matter if you believe in the Buddha if you want to come to Gold Mountain and work with us, because the Buddha believes in you. If you study the Buddhadharma sincerely, you will obtain a response.
—Spoken by Bhiksuni Heng Yin at Jones
Gulch in November 1971.
to be continued