The Elder Upasaka Chow Hsuen-teh(), a chemical engineer and respected Buddhist from the Republic of China, made a special stop on his recent travels in the United States to visit the Sangha of Gold Mountain and pay his respects to the Venerable Abbot.
A vigorous protector of the Triple Jewel, Upasaka Chow leads many philanthropic, educational, and religious organizations, among them the China Academy's Institute of Buddhist Studies, of which he is Chairman of the Board.
Upasaka Chow’s recent travels were occasioned by the opening of the Research Center of the Institute for Advanced Study of World Religions located at the State University of New York’s Stony Brook Campus. He represented Chinese Buddhists at the opening.
|On his return trip to Taipei Upasaka Chow made a special stop in San Francisco. While there he attended the Avatamsaka Dharma assembly on several occasions, and had several audiences with the Venerable Abbot. Upasaka Chow was obviously very pleased and grateful for these rare opportunities. Shown here are pictures taken commemorating his visit. In one he is shown with the Venerable Abbot Hua, and in the other with some of the Sangha of Gold Mountain.|
On Sunday October 22nd the members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association and other San Francisco Bay Area Buddhists pothered to pay their respects and celebrate the anniversary of the day Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva left the home life. This event was of special significance to the members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association for it was on this day many years ago that the Venerable Tripitaka Master, Abbot Hsuan Hua left the home life at Three Conditions Temple, just south of Harbin in Northeast China.
This day was even more auspicious because it was surrounded by two other important holidays. On 0ctober 21st Gold Mountain Monastery celebrated the enlightenment of the Great Master Ch'ang Ch'ih of Three Conditions Temple, and on the following day celebrated the anniversary of the day the Great Master Ch'ang Jen of Three Conditions Temple left the home life.
Ceremonies on the twenty-second began at seven in the morning following morning recitation and two hours of meditation, and continued through the afternoon Dharma assembly. Shown below are those who attended paying their respects to the Bodhisattva and the Venerable Master.
People who had the opportunity to attend these ceremonies are among those with deep good roots. In the Earth Store Bodhisattva Sutra the Buddha told Avalokitesvara that if any being who suffered offenses in the six paths hears Avalokitesvara’s name, sees his image, worships or praises him, that being will be irreversible from the unsurpassed Way, will always be born among men and gods, and will receive wonderful bliss. Those who attended the ceremonies should feel fortunate indeed.
from issue #31
Dharma Master Hsing K'ung, a visiting Dharma Master to San Francisco, assisted in the opening of Hung Fu Temple. His speech at the opening ceremonies follows below:
Compassionate Eider Master Hua, Compassionate Dharma Masters, Worthy Laymen.
That you came today to officiate is very auspicious. Your ability to speak the Dharma is because of the merit of your Teacher, the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and his great compassion. Where I speak correctly there is no problem, but where I speak incorrectly, I beg you all to correct me.
In the Buddhadharma there are the Right, the Image, and Dharma Ending periods. The Right Dharma lasts a thousand years; the Dharma Image lasts a thousand years; and the Dharma Ending Age lasts ten thousand years. That is how the Sutras have reckoned it. In the Right Dharma Age, many certify to the fruit; in the Dharma Image Age, many cultivate the building of temples; in the Dharma Ending Age there are many who fight.
However, one could also say that we have changed the Dharma Image and Dharma Ending Ages into the Right Dharma Age. This is because what we do here today, and what we say is in accord with the Right Dharma. When I heard each of you Dharma Masters speaking, I realized that the teaching of the Venerable Master has made your wisdom thick and deep in order to promote the Right Dharma.
Everyone can obtain the true principles of Buddhism and rely on them to certify to the fruit. Just this is the Right Dharma Age. Therefore it is like a hand; on one side we find the Dharma Ending Age, but turn it over, there is the Right Dharma. It's like taking a boat across the water. If you know how, the water can be used to get you across, but if you can't use it, it will drown you. This is not an easy matter. You could also say that it has taken limitless kalpas of good roots to promote the Buddhadharma in America.
Take, for example, the Venerable Master who has come to America and has developed so much talent, teaching so many people. His merit isn't derived from planting good roots under one, two, three, four, or five Buddhas, but it comes from vows held over limitless kalpas. He has come to America to be a model, to teach and transform living beings. This is a case of great vows enabling one to do what ordinary people could not do.
We rely on the Thus Come One's Right Dharma to believe, understand, to practice and to certify. This is extremely important.
Therefore today San Francisco has another Buddhist Association, a foundation for propagating the Buddhadharma. One could also say that it is a bright wisdom lamp, and I hope that its light will not shine only on America, but out on the whole world so that not only America can rely on the Right Dharma to cultivate and certify, but so that the entire world will receive its influence. I am extremely grateful to the Venerable Master and all the Dharma Masters and laymen who in their busy schedules took time to attend these opening ceremonies.
Dharma Master Le Tu, Abbot of the new Hung Fu Temple, thanked those who assisted in the opening ceremonies with the following words:
Thank you very much, Venerable Master Hua, and all Dharma Masters, for coming to Hung Fu Ts'e to perform the opening ceremonies and speak Dharma. You each speak using Mandarin and English, and as you are Westerners, to be able to learn Mandarin in such a short time is a very difficult matter. To be able to use Mandarin to speak the profound principles of the Buddha is even more difficult. Therefore although this is the time of the Dharma Ending Age, it is the Right Dharma Age here where you are. Thank you.
When the other Dharma Masters had finished speaking, the Venerable Master Hua explained the gathas he had written to commemorate the opening of Hung Fu Temple. A transcription of his words appears below.
--Translated by Disciple Bhiksuni Heng Yin
I originally planned to speak evil dharma for you, but there is no time to speak evil, and I'm not able to speak well, so I will speak neither evil nor good. Today, when the essence of the images was activated, I recited a few gathas. I’ll take this opportunity to explain them to you.
Sakyamuni Buddha neither goes nor comes,
But fills all empty space within the Dharma Realm,
Now, on San Francisco, his light brightly shines,
For good and faithful patrons, blessings and virtues expand.
Sakyamuni is our original teacher. Where is hey He's right before our faces, atop our heads, behind us, beside us to the left and right. He is nowhere here, and nowhere not here, he neither goes nor comes. Why do we say this? It isn't a reckless statement and there is basis for it. The "Thus Come One doesn't come from anywhere and doesn't go anywhere," says the Diamond Sutra, "and is therefore called the Thus Come One." Although the Dharma-realm is big, it is not outside the Buddha's Dharma-body. Although empty space is big, it cannot include the Buddha's Dharma-body.
Now the San Francisco Buddhist Association receives the Buddha's light, which illuminates the great trichilicosm as well. It shines on the small and the great, on the near and far. The good men and faithful women of Vast Blessings Temple of the San Francisco Buddhist Association will certainly increase their two adornments of blessings and wisdom. To expand means to open, like opening a treasure box full of gold, which was there all the time but only just now has opened.
to be continued
A private reception on Wednesday November 15th at the Center of Asian Art
and Culture, Brundage Collection, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco,
celebrated the opening of a retrospective exhibit of the work of the
greatest contemporary Chinese artist Chang Dai-chien. The exhibit, which
will continue through December seventeenth, contains paintings
representing each year of Upasaka Chang's work since 1928.
In his forties he discovered and spread the fame of the Buddhist cave paintings at Tun Huang. Even before that time his masters had told him, in his own words, “to follow the footsteps of those eminent Buddhists.” Now, late in his life he has embarked on a new style about which he says,” to be an adept at it, and to able to achieve perfection, one should, in the words of Lao-tze
Take the center of the circle and transcend the phenomenal.
This is indeed difficult to attain, but if one can get at what the philosopher described, “shadowy and flickering, yet within there’s an image,” then one shall find the hub.
Linked with his rapidly growing popularity in the West, Upasaka Chang’s works will carry the images of the Buddha into the hearts of millions. His superb representations of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Arhats, bhiksus in meditation and so forth are the equal of any Buddhist artist of the past; what is more, from a fundamental understanding of emptiness, most easily noted in his landscapes, he has taken creative leaps, calculated and successful, from the essential styles of traditional Chinese masters. In Chang Dai-chien we certainly find the living tradition of Buddhist art which has now been transmitted to the West.
At the reception, attended by more that three thousand eminent guests from all over the world, it was obvious that the viewers were dazzled by the genius of the works. The Sangha of Gold Mountain was pleased to receive an invitation to see the paintings, and honor one who has done so much for the cause of propagating the right Dharma.
--By Bhiksu Heng Kuan
Please accept my obeisances. I recently read your article in the March "Maha Bodhi" and was simultaneously surprised and excited. I have recently been attempting to contact parties in Thailand and Hong Kong for information concerning Sangha ordination for women. I might add, these attempts have proved almost fruitless. Needless to say, I found the "Gold Mountain Temple" article very interesting.
Yours in the Dharma of Lord Buddha,
the Jones Gulch Dharma Assembly which was arranged by Professor Lancaster of UC Berkeley in November 1971. Continued from issue thirty-one.
Dharma Master Heng Shoou spoke of becoming a Buddha, which is no piece of cake I can tell you, having just begun myself; it is very difficult. Once you are a Buddha I guess everything is very easy. He also spoke of the accouterments that many people think go along with Buddhism which are really superfluous. What is really important are the precepts, the sastras and the sutras.
The very beginning of Buddhism lies in the precepts. A beginning cultivator must always receive and study the precepts for a long time before he can emit light and have food brought to him by the gods everyday. A lot of people may think that they would rather not put so much effort into morality, not realizing that it is necessary for achieving and maintaining higher states. So I thought I'd tell a story to illustrate what the precepts can do. They are not just for achieving bizarre states but are also a way of protecting yourself, from yourself and from your desires.
One day when Sakyamuni Buddha was walking along the road with some of his disciples, he passed a cornfield and asked his disciples what they thought the field was for. They didn't know and asked him to explain. He said, "This corn was grown by hunters. As soon as the corn becomes ripe the hunters pull down the fence, and from the surrounding countryside deer rush in, only to be caught by the hunters."
Then the Buddha asked his disciples if they could think of a way that the deer could get at the corn without being caught. When they couldn't come up with an idea he suggested that perhaps the deer could come from a long way away, and sweep in and out of the corn field a lot faster, and perhaps the hunters would not be able to capture them. His disciples thought that that would not do, for even if they came from a long way away, as soon as they swept into the cornfield they would be easy game for hunters.
So the Buddha asked again, and suggested that perhaps the deer might just poach a bit, and instead of being sucked in by the hunters, might just take it easy and sort of nibble at the corn, just come in and take a little bit and run out again. The disciples all agreed that this method would work.
The point of the story is that though everybody needs to eat, eating needs to be done with discretion. You should he careful or you will become game for the hunters, and your own desires will trap you just as the deer were trapped. If you learn to regulate your desires, and keep them under control, you will be able to survive. Now it could be said that the deer that succeeded just kept one precept, "take it easy when looting cornfields."
Precepts are the beginning of cultivation. They make it possible for you to regulate your life and protect you from yourself while you learn to attain the higher states, like emitting light, becoming a Bodhisattva, and being fed by the gods. Because precepts are the beginning, they must be the beginning of Buddhism in this country. You can decide to hold only one precept if you wish, depending on how vigorously you wish to cultivate, how thoroughly you wish to regulate yourself, and what states you wish to obtain. Precepts can take you from the cornfield right up to Buddhahood. Everybody has the Buddha nature, but it is necessary to bring it out; it just doesn't come by itself. The Buddha-nature is independent of desire and so precepts are the very beginning of cultivation.
--Spoken by Bhiksu Heng Pai at Jones Gulch, November 1971.
A lot of you I know already and probably some of you have seen me doing such things as coming late to class and perhaps even arguing with my professors, which is very unruly, and, so you know that there is not a tremendous distance between us, and you may wonder what I am doing sitting up here talking to you, when you could just as well be sitting up here, and I in your place listening. And this is the way it ought to be; there should be no extreme distance between us since we are all involved in getting Buddhism started in America.
Now some of you may be here just out of curiosity, but you are nonetheless students of the Buddhadharma. In fact, I would say that a lot of bags some of you may still be in are nonetheless also part of studying the Buddhadharma. For example, you may have gone through a time of being very involved in politics and come to the realization that although your aim was to bring material prosperity and spiritual justice to other people, what was really exciting in politics was the fact that you were giving yourself up to helping other people. Perhaps you found that what you really wanted was not so much to see everyone with fine houses and equal income, but you wanted to get them caught up in helping other people as well, that this was what was really exciting about the whole activity.
Then of course there are the drug practices, and some of the people here may not be out of that either. This also turns out to be the high experience, the experience where you break through everyday reality, that is, what we take for reality. But when the vehicle of transcendence is drugs, there is no way to correlate the drug experience with what you come down to. In fact, when you come down you find that your moral fiber and your energy have somehow just slipped away while you weren't paying any attention, and that the ultimate truths that you find, or think that you have experienced, are contradicted on the very next trip. You find yourself totally at a loss.
And then there is also the intellectual bag. You pick up one philosophy one day and examine it under the microscope, and another one the next day, with the firm conviction that you are viewing these from the outside, that you are somehow not taking a stance the whole time you are examining them. And it is possible to think that you are looking at Buddhism objectively when you study it. But in fact we can't even walk across the room without having a system of beliefs. Whatever we may say about the extension of belief, we are convinced that the floor is going to hold us up and so it does. This is where Buddhism gets interesting, because Buddhism describes the world around you as created by your mind. That is, all that we live on, in and depend on is something we are doing ourselves. Even scientists are beginning to realize this as they study how the results of experiments are affected by the very results that they hope to attain. They are experimenting on experimenters, having them think of what they are trying to prove, giving each group of people the same experiment to do with each thinking it is for a different reason. They find that experimenters tend to have the results they think they are going to have; doing the very same operation, different groups come up with different results.
If it is all done by the mind, well, we can do something about our minds. If we can get ahold of our minds then we can shape the world around us in much more meaningful ways. We could make a place that we truly want to live in.
You may ask then, what am I doing going regularly over to Berkeley. I am studying incomprehensible languages and some of you are doing the same thing. We've seen each other in classes, and some of you even know that for all my pretensions, sitting up here talking to you, I still can't pronounce Tibetan with any facility. But there is a whole lot of work to be done. As it has been said over and over again, and what has happened in the West is that the ground has been broken by scholars who haven't for the most part been involved in Buddhism or been practicing Buddhists at all. And yet they have provided the material that Buddhists need to work with, the dictionaries and grammars and editions of text from manuscripts that are very hard to get hold of and very hard to read. All these things have been done by scholars. And it is almost as if the scholars are hoping now that the people who actually practice will in turn show them what the practice is about. It would be easy to trip out on Buddhism and enjoy the highs and the exhilaration from the practice; there is no denying that a lot of meditational practice is just plain fun. But at the same time these attachments would be selfish if we didn't get together to transmit the whole teaching to the west, and not just play with the Buddhism.
And so we are very happy for an occasion like this symposium, where people who are both studying and practicing get together, compare notes, and see what we are all doing.
--Spoken by Bhiksuni Heng Hsien at Jones Gulch, November 1971
I thought I would be forgotten about because I'm down on the floor, but that's obviously not the case. Today we have heard about Tao Hsuan and the heavenly gods, heard about the Buddha factory, the patriarchs, heard about National Master Ch'ing Liang, about mantras and hopping beans of the secret school, heard Bhiksu Heng Shoou describe Bodhi Tokyo Ling, we heard about the precepts, and now we just heard a bit about drugs, and politics and pronouncing Tibetan. Not all of this, which has been said, is false.
One thing that Dharma Master Heng Shoou spoke about was the clothes, the names, and the other equipment to become a Buddhist, but what he forgot was the teacher. We heard that the tradition is passed on from mind to mind, and this is the one thing that people like Bodhi Tokyo Ling are lacking. One thing that we have at Gold Mountain Monastery is the teaching, the transmission, and this is the difference between the branches and the root. If you don't want to rely on all these words that have been floating around this afternoon, come to Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco and find out what really goes on.
--Spoken by Bhiksu Heng Yo at Jones Gulch, November 1971.