--By Bhiksu Heng Kuan


On September 22nd, 1972, a very significant event in the history of Buddhism and the world took place at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery in San Francisco California when the Complete Precepts of the Thousand Buddhas were transmitted on western soil for the first time. With this transmission Buddhism has become a self-perpetuating religion in the West, and a major step toward peace and harmony for all mankind has been made.

Not only will those participating in the ceremony benefit, the city of San Francisco, the nation, the western hemisphere and the whole world stand to gain from the vows made by those who received the precepts, for it is from this nucleus of Sangha members who have had the fortitude to do what has not been done in the West before, that Buddhism will spread widely throughout the land, carrying the true principles of the mind and nature of all things, and the true methods to eradicate violence and strife, to ail the world's people.

After a long day and night of bowing to the Buddha, seeking for eradication of obstacles, the novices donned their three precept sashes and ascended the precept platform at three A.M. on Friday the twenty-second of September 1972 to be the first in world history to become bhiksus and bhiksunis in the West. The Complete Precepts were transmitted after a 108 day platform of unusual intensity which included nine hours of study of the precepts, language study and study of related Sutras, three hours of bowing, morning and evening recitation, The Great Meal Offering, and three hours of meditation everyday. The day began for all who attended the platform at 3:40 A.M. and continued until 10:00 P.M. when the lights were turned out. Many who participated maintained the practice of not lying down to sleep at night, and everyone maintained the practice of eating only once each day.

The members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association, Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, and Vajra Bodhi Sea Publications Society extend their congratulations to the newly precepted Dharma Masters, and exhort them to work hard and without cease to propagate the good Dharma in the world. Leaving home is not an easy matter, and there are few who are actually able to do it. 
The attachments of men are heavy, to wealth, good food, good clothes,comfortable surroundings, 
and all the illusory pleasures that beckon from the world of form, and few are able to shake off these attachments to the degree that they can engage in the Buddha’s work and attain the higher states of consciousness on the path to enlightenment.

      The Buddha made it quite clear that it is just attachment to desire, and the self-gratification that follows that keeps man a slave of his senses and desires, his will bound and unable to function free from consideration of self-benefit. Among millions of people, only a handful has what it takes to leave the home life, and of that handful, only a few have the necessary fortitude and endurance, faith and single-minded devotion to reach the stages from which there is no retreat.

The Way is difficult to find; only a few are able to hear of it, not to speak of understanding the significance of what they hear. The Way is as difficult to enter upon, for of those who hear and understand, even a smaller number is able to put down the ties to worldly comforts and concerns. So this is a time for great rejoicing. The tradition of enlightenment appears to be dead in Asia, and Asian Buddhism has been infiltrated by many bhiksus concerned only with wealth and power, comfort and easy living. But now, as it dies in Asia, the tradition of enlightenment is born in the West, for the transformation bodies of great Bodhisattvas have come to Gold Mountain to receive precepts so that the tradition of enlightenment will not perish and be lost to men.

In the picture above those attending and following the precept platform bow in repentance to eradicate obstacles.


On September 24th, 1972, a welcoming reception and vegetarian lunch was held to honor the return of Dharma Masters Heng Ch'ien and Heng Pai from Mahayana Temple in South Cairo, New York, where they have been working on a translation of the Lotus Sutra. This is the first translation to be made into English with an accompanying commentary and it improves upon the accuracy of previous translations.

The reception began at 9:30 in the morning with ceremonies and bowing, after which followed a Great Meal Offering and the feast of pure food. When everyone had eaten his fill, Dharma Master Heng Ching, Managing Director of Gold Mountain who hosted the reception officially welcomed the Dharma Masters' return.

Dharma Master Heng Ch'ien, Supervisory Director of Gold Mountain and Chairman of Sino-American Buddhist Association then spoke and announced publicly for the first time the forthcoming travels of three Dharma Masters, Heng Shou, Heng Pai, and himself, to Hong Kong at the request of Hong Kong Buddhists to explain the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Blossom Sutra and finish the translation begun in New York. Dharma Masters Heng Shou and Heng Pai concluded the luncheon with Dharma talks.

The many Bay area Buddhists who attended the reception were in a joyous mood and remained to hear the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua explain the Avatamsaka Sutra that afternoon.

Shown in the center, from left to right, be Dharma Masters Heng Pai, Heng Shou, and Heng Ch'ien, all of whom will be traveling to Hong Kong to propagate the Dharma in the near future. On their left is Dharma Master Heng Ching. They are surrounded by Well-wishers who attended the reception in their honor.





--A new series on THE AMITABHA SUTRA



--The exciting store about the JU I WITCH





Dharma Master Heng Kuan, editor of Vajra Bodhi Sea, reemphasized a theme of earlier speeches at the Hung Fu Temple opening ceremonies on September 3rd, 1972, with the following words:

Wherever Gold Mountain people are found, that place is necessarily a place where the proper Dharma dwells. It cannot be a place where the Dharma ending age confuses living beings. Today is the beginning for San Francisco Buddhist Association and Hung Fu Temple; because we Gold Mountain cultivators are here, from this day on it is mandatory that this bodhimandala exemplify the proper Dharma.

Do we establish a bodhimandala in order to set up a fine kitchen? Because "the five flavors cloy the palate," we set up a bodhimandala to have a place to partake of the unsurpassed flavors of the Dharma and to give them to others.

Do we establish a bodhimandala in order to have a comfortable place to sleep? Excessive sleep depresses the spirit; we set up a bodhimandala to cultivate vigorously.

Do we establish a bodhimandala to have a place to enjoy the pleasures of beauty? "The five forms blind the eye, and the five tones deafen the ear." In a bodhimandala we have the opportunity to study the vinaya, the unexcelled guide to moral behavior, so that energy won't be lost in pursuit of beautiful sounds and forms.

Then do we establish a bodhimandala as a business? "Rare goods tempt men to do wrong." Then how about fame? Do we establish a bodhimandala to spread our names far and wide? "Racing and hunting madden the mind," and if one seeks fame, he cannot at the same time seek Dharma, and thus will .not obtain its fruits.

Nor do we establish a bodhimandala to follow, exclusively the methods of Laotze, and "care for the belly, not the eye," "preferring what is within to what is without," for this would only serve to establish our bodhimandala on a lonely mountain peak.

Instead of all these, a bodhimandala is established so that one can practice the Way of Bodhisattvas, benefiting oneself while benefiting others, and enter the path, which leads to enlightenment. Today we pass on our wish that Hung Fu Temple might become a place where the proper Dharma resides, where people of all nations can go to follow the Bodhisattva's path.

Dharma Master Heng Shou, a vigorous worker for Buddhism who was one of the moving forces in the construction of Gold Mountain Monastery, and is now an Assistant Director as well as Director of Administration for Vajra Bodhi Sea, had the following words to say:

My only concern here today is the purpose, for which this bodhimandala is being established, because setting up a bodhimandala in the west is a fantastically rare opportunity. If it is set up for the right purposes, it is a constant joy for all, because it is the spreading of the Buddhadharma. If its activities are undertaken with a large mind, with a big heart, then the bodhimandala will be of use. But if it is small, a small heart seeking its own profit, its own fame, nurturing its own small desires, then the bodhimandala will be very small, and of little use.

If you are able to undergo suffering then you can put an end to suffering. It's all over with. But if you enjoy your blessings then you just destroy your blessings. In America especially, this is something that somebody propagating the Dharma should know. For if he goes right along with the way of Americans, which has been to enjoy blessings, to create more blessings in order to enjoy them, and to totally avoid suffering, there's no chance of being of use, because there will be no difference between the average confused American and the life style in your bodhimandala.

If in teaching the Dharma here' at this bodhimandala you can teach Americans how to obtain liberation, then surely this is a very auspicious day and it bids very good fortune for the future. So it causes me to be quite happy.

Dharma Master Heng Ching, Assistant Vice Chairman of the Sino-American Buddhist Association and Managing Director of Gold Mountain Monastery, is Director of Translations for Vajra Bodhi Sea Publications Society. He had the following words to say:

Today another temple opens in the United States, and it is another great, great, cause for rejoicing. Why? A bodhimandala is the only place where right livelihood is taught, but since the Buddha already taught about right livelihood, today we'll not talk about that, we'll talk about wrong livelihood.

Wrong livelihood is something you can see a lot of in the United States today, without looking very far.

First, there are many people who put on many different strange appearances. They go out in bizarre garments, jump up and down and stand on their heads in the street, and do weird things to make a living. I recently saw in a book, written by people who claim to be Buddhists, the argument that only they knew how to bow to the Buddha. Their book contained pages and pages of photographs about how to bow to the Buddha, showing all the steps--getting on your knees, opening your hands, putting your head down--and it scolded people saying that nobody else knew how to do it right.

"Because nobody else knows the correct procedure," they said, "we have made this book to show you how to do it right." In fact, the way they were doing it was something they made up to take advantage of people, and was just their own special style.

Then there are other people who say, "We cultivate like this. We walk up the mountain every weekend and singsongs, the mountaineering Buddhists, and as a result of cultivating this dharma we can now fly up the mountain. We no longer have to walk up, and once we get to the top, lions and tigers come to protect us." They say this kind of thing in order to get money from people. This is another form of wrong livelihood, which we in the Buddhadharma do not pursue.

Next there are people who merely indulge in fortune telling, and they get hung up in divination. This is a really big dharma in the United States now.

Other people go to their temples to hear some good omens. They don't know much about anything, and are told by crafty clergy, "Oh, yes, everything is going to be ail right, everything is going to be just fine. All you have to do is donate a little to support us and there's no problem. Everything will be lucky and auspicious." This is another thing which we in the Buddhadharma don't do, and that's another really good reason to be pleased with the opening of the bodhimandala where there is none of this wrong livelihood.

Then there are people who bellow with big voices and show their awesome manner. They tend toward hysteria, or sing songs, and speak in an occult and mysterious manner, so that you have no idea what they are talking about. They pass themselves off as profound and great holy men, and fool a lot of people. This happens a lot in the United States.

People may indulge in many wrong livelihoods to secure a living. But now there is another temple opening, a place for the practice and teaching of right livelihood. This makes us very happy.



--Translated by Disciple Bhiksu Heng Ching.


Early in November, 1972, Dharma Master Heng Shou, Assistant Managing Director of Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, Director of Administration for Vajra Bodhi Sea Publication Society, and Secretary-General of the Sino-American Buddhist Association, traveled to Hong Kong at the request of Hong Kong Buddhists to propagate the Dharma. He will also work with his elder Dharma brother Bhiksu Heng Ch'ien and Bhiksu Heng Pai on a translation of the Lotus Blossom Sutra, and will deliver lectures on the Lotus texts.

The following prose piece and accompanying gatha were composed by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua on the occasion of Bhiksu Heng Shou’s departure for Hong Kong composed the following prose piece and accompanying gatha. (Essays and gathas written for Bhiksus Heng Ch'ien and Heng Pai may be found in issues 22 and 23 of Vajra Bodhi Sea.)


People propagate Dharma; Dharma is not used to propagate the reputation of people. On the part of the Dharma there are neither proper nor ending ages, it is simply that people are good and bad. There are those who never really took into the truth, and their behavior has been established as custom. People take the Buddhadharma as a joke and do not actually put it into practice; they look on cultivation as idle talk and as a result merely feign an imposing manner. Be particularly attentive to this, use all your might to get rid of such bad customs and reform the ways of the Sangha. Pay attention to this matter. Most particularly do not allow my painful years of toil in teaching you go to waste. Cause the glorious light of Buddhadharma to expand so that the proper Dharma may remain in the world. Remember this!


Cultivate blessings, cultivate wisdom, cultivate contemplation;

Plant many wholesome causes and don't get yourself riled up.

With kindness this is transmitted throughout three periods of time;

The teaching began in the six dynasties and now you're what you are.

The Saha and the Land of Bliss are manifestations of mind;

Heaven and hell both are within the non-dual Dharmarealm.

When not a single thought occurs you'll ever be at ease;

The invaluable mani gem inherently is round.


Letters to the Editor


Reverend Sirs,

Enclosed please find my check for a three-year subscription to Vajra Bodhi Sea. Your publication is a fine piece of work, and it is always a joy to read it.


Cordially in the Buddhadharma,

12 September 1972              
                               Professor Leo M. Pruden
                               Department of Religious Studies 
                               Brown University 
                               Providence, Rhode Island

The Professor Requests a Lecture

A series containing the texts of speeches given at the Jones Gulch Dharma Assembly which was arranged by Professor Lancaster of UC Berkeley in November, 1971. Continued from Issue thirty-one.  

      When you come to Gold Mountain Monastery you will see six large Chinese characters above the gold colored doors. Three of these say Gold Mountain Monastery and three say Avatamsaka assembly. The Avatamsaka assembly is now in progress; it will include explanation of both the prologue and the Sutra. The prologue, an extended discussion of the Sutra in terms of the first nine of Ten Doors of Discrimination of the Hsien Shou School, was written by National Master Ch'ing Liang.

Why did Avatamsaka Bodhisattva appear as National Master Ch'ing Liang to write this prologue? The Avatamsaka was the first Sutra spoken by the Buddha. After he became enlightened and saw that everyone has the Buddha nature, he wanted to tell everybody about it and did so by speaking the Avatamsaka Sutra for 21 days. When he finished, however, almost no one had heard him. He saw that ail sentient beings have a very pure Buddha-nature and a capacity for unlimited virtue and wisdom, but in spite of this proclamation of the Sutra of the Dharma-realm, they were still running around doing their thing. They weren't paying any attention, and hadn't heard. So he came down in the level of his explanations a little, hid the actual and roiled out provisional, thus beginning a long period of teaching. He started way down low—well, you could say it was way down low--and he spoke the highest of mundane dharmas. For instance he spoke the Surangama Sutra, which discusses the four elements, fire, water, wind, and earth, and how they combine to make our bodies and how they separate to return to their origins, arid how their natures pervade emptiness without obstructing one another. After the Buddha had talked about emptiness, he spoke about real mark prajna and so forth and gradually moved people up until they had the foundation and awakening to hear the Avatamsaka Sutra.

Later on when Avatamsaka Bodhisattva went to China, he wrote the prologue, seizing an opportunity to help us take a giant step forward from our present level of understanding, our capacity, and our exposure to Buddha-dharma, and guide us into the Avatamsaka Sutra. You, too can benefit from Avatamsaka Bodhisattva’s work every evening at seven at Gold Mountain. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity!

--Spoken by Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih at Jones Gulch in November 1971


      Does anyone know what a mantra is? NAN MA NI PA MI HUNG is an example of one. Since you all study Buddhism I'm sure you all know that mantras are the tools of cultivation of the secret school. Mantras are used for all kinds of things, for booking beings and causing them to come to you, for subduing and conquering evil forces, for warding off disaster, for auspicious circumstances and for calling in aid from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Many people who practice the secret school become very powerful, and many very famous, but not always because they are able to perform miracles.

A true cultivator of the Way doesn't ignore the mantras. He uses them to benefit himself, and to benefit others. He benefits himself by accomplishing enlightenment more quickly, and benefits others by relieving their suffering.

Once upon a time there was a novice monk who was a little stupid and couldn't seem to do anything quite right, although he often came close. To alleviate these difficulties his teacher gave him a mantra, NAN MA NI PA MI HUNG and told him to recite it until his major obstructions had been cleared away. Some twenty years later he was still reciting.

Being the kind of person he was, prone to mistakes, when he started reciting he got the mantra a bit wrong, and for twenty years had recited NAN MA NI PA MI NIU. This might have presented any ordinary cultivator with a problem because niu in Chinese means cow. But because of his sincerity, by the time twenty years had passed the beans he used to count the number of recitations he did each day were hopping by themselves, and he no longer had to expend the effort to move them from one pot to the other. He just pulled back in full lotus before his pots of beans and recited.

One day a high lama came by with his prayer wheel and tin staff, whirring, rattling, and intoning mantras to cause all the bugs before him to scatter out of the way. As he walked along an annoying sound kept breaking into his mindfulness. It was niu. Niu. He stopped to listen closely and couldn't believe what he heard, an incredible mantra, a travesty to the sect.  He immediately broke in on the young novice, who was no longer a young novice, and scolded him saying that he had been wasting his life, was ruining Buddhism, wrecking the Dharma, casting a bad name, and not only that, was cultivating causes to turn himself into a cow

In twenty years of recitation the young monk had gained a little bit of cool, but although he wasn't flustered on the surface-he just looked at the old Dharma Master and went on with his work--he was moved inside. After the old lama left he repented and began reciting NAN MA NI PA MI HUNG. The beans wouldn't move, and he was really upset by this. He practiced harder and harder, putting more and more heat into what he was doing, but the beans were still. Finally he calmed down and went back to his previous manner of cultivation, and at the sound of the mantra, the beans started hopping. Not only the beans, the now aging novice became enlightened in a flash and said, "Oh, that's the way it is."

His enlightenment was beyond distinctions between words and thoughts, and from that day on he was able to turn the great function he had realized to benefit living beings.


--Spoken by Bhiksu Heng Kuan at Jones Gulch in November 1971

Notice to our Readers


      Few students of Buddhism have not heard of the Venerable Master Hsu Yun, but because of the paucity of material in English, few know very much about his life, how he successfully cultivated many arduous bitter practices, achieved enlightenment, rejuvenated the five sects of the Dhyana (Ch'an) School, and carried them on as Patriarch of each of the lineages. An Eighth Stage Bodhisattva who entered the world "wearing clothes," the Venerable Yun is the source and model of the true and upright Dharma of our time.

In order to rectify the absence of material in English, Vajra Bodhi Sea will begin a new series, in forthcoming issues. THE PICTORIAL BIOGRAPHY OF THE VENERABLE MASTER HSU YUN, composed by the Venerable Master Hua, and translated by Disciple Bhiksu Heng Yo, contains essays, gathas (verses) and pictures describing each of the important events in the Venerable Yun's life.  An inspiring literary work and a worthy guide for cultivation, this is a series you will not want to miss.