--An account of the first vegetarian Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day, 1972. Upasaka and Upasika Kuo T'ung Laughton made offerings to the Triple Jewel in the Buddhist tradition, showing how well the long-standing Eastern customs fit our Western traditions. By Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih.

Continued from Issue 34.

Dharma Master Heng Ching created an interesting analogy. "Just as the backbreaking labor involved in planting, weeding, nourishing and tending crops may seem to bear remote connection with the abundant Thanksgiving feast, especially when one is bent under the beating sun in the middle of an endless row of inch-high corn, so too a cultivator of mindfulness of the Buddha may find the 79th bead of his daily 10,000 recitations of the Buddha's name a far cry from the Land of Ultimate Bliss. But just as the Thanksgiving harvest follows the spring planting and summer toil, so too one who diligently cultivates mindfulness of the Buddha will one day find his lotus opening as he is born in the Pure Land!"

Dharma Master Heng Hsien also gave her thanks. "On this special day I wish to express thanks to our teacher who has handed down the tradition of receiving offerings which dates to the Buddha himself, and thanks to the lay community, represented today by Upasaka and Upasika T'ung who are preserving this tradition. It is my hope that on a national scale this country will know enough to be thankful for its abundance and will fully realize the seriousness of misusing or wasting the resources made available to it. It is hoped this fact will be understood before the retribution which results from reckless use of resources becomes too heavy."

Dharma Master Ch'ih presented another analogy. "Usually the three karmas are considered detriments to cultivation of the Way. However, the body, mouth, and mind of living beings can be likened to a camera with its lens, body and film. The lens of a camera can be focused on wholesome rather than unwholesome objects, just as the mouth of humans can be used to speak people’s praises rather than slander them. If the body of a camera is light tight the images recorded will be sharp and clear, just as when cultivators make their bodies free from outflows their wisdom becomes keen and their energy full. The images recorded on the camera's film can be immoral or moral, violent or serene, just as the information people feed their minds can be filthy or pure, enlightening or deluding."

Dharma Master Heng Yin continued the Dharma talks, "In 1620 a small ship landed at Plymouth Rock and a handful of courageous people stepped onto American soil to become pioneers of a great nation. Now our master has come as a pioneer of Buddhism in this great country whose people have yet to fully discover and benefit from the wonderful principles of Buddhadharma. The American men and women who have left the home life under the Master are also pioneers as are the lay men and lay women who support and maintain, protect and uphold the Buddhist Sangha. There is difficulty at the beginning. We must fight our karma and the temptations of a rich life in a land, which has everything. If we can do it and get through it then Buddhism will be very strong, and the nation will receive great benefit. I am thankful today for the Triple Jewel and our teacher. We should not forget that only through such bitter cultivation may one ultimately reap the wonderful fruit of Bodhi, enlightenment.

The foundation of proper Dharma lies in the five lay precepts which are to refrain from killing, stealing, committing acts of sexual misconduct, lying, and consuming intoxicants. Again Upasaka T'ung spoke of the importance of these precepts, the first in particular. "I am thankful," Kuo T'ung continued, "that I am a vegetarian so that I don't have to participate in the massive karmic offenses involved in killing turkeys. I hope that all Americans can learn as I have the benefits derived from refraining from killing, because if just this one act of killing turkeys for Thanksgiving can be dispensed with the karma of the entire country would be a lot better."

The feast, which included an array of deftly prepared vegetarian delicacies, was topped with the traditional pumpkin pie. The Dharma talks, lively and informative, were climaxed by the wonderful words of the Venerable Master Hua, whose offerings of Dharma delighted everyone present. The Venerable Master closed the celebration with a reminder to offer thanks to heaven and earth, father and mother, and a gentle exhortation to use one's own light to illumine within and return to one's source.


Prominent Brazilian


Shown here to the right of the Venerable Tripitaka Master Hua (center) is Upasaka S.S. Yu, and on his left Upasaka K.C. Pan. Both influential Buddhists from Brazil, they recently came to Gold Mountain to pay their respects to the Master and meet the Buddhist community of San Francisco. They are shown here being welcomed by some of the Sangha and laymen of the Sino-American Buddhist Association.

Several years ago at the first major Buddha's birthday festivities to be held in America, among the many dignitaries and officials present was Luiz Dilormando do Castello Cruz, Consul in Charge of the Consulate General of Brazil at that time. 

During his address he said, "...Coming from a country, which has barely five hundred years of history, I can, however, tell you that the wisdom of the Buddha has been present for at least a hundred years, and am really thankful to have this opportunity to bring to you...the greetings of my office, of my government, of the people of Brazil, and chiefly of the Buddhist community of Brazil...”

Upasaka S.S. Yu and Upasaka K.C. Pan are two members of that Brazilian Buddhist community who are continuing the tradition of enlightenment in South America and thereby increasing the peace and understanding among the peoples of the world. The members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association extend a warm welcome to them and congratulate them on the work they are doing to propagate the Buddhadharma in the West so that the path to realization of the self nature will be available to all living beings.  The members of the Association are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the gathering of peoples of many different nationalities in a cultural exchange that enhances relations between nations and strengthens t cause of peace in the world.

Language Studies

In order to make the good Dharma widely known in countries all over the world through effective lectures and translations of the important Buddhist scriptures, the Sino-American Buddhist Association offers advanced training in languages based on Buddhist texts in French, German, Chinese, Japanese, and Sanskrit, and an advanced course in the structure and use of the English language in effective writing in various genres including translation. All of these courses are offered in addition to two daily two-hour lectures on major Buddhist scriptures, the Surangama and the Avatamsaka.

Shown below, Bhiksu Heng Ching conducts a course in classical Chinese. Offered twice weekly, it is based on the Surangama Sutra. A third class in Chinese is given each week using the biographies of the Patriarchs as its subject matter. Dharma Master Heng Ching is also lecturing the Surangama Sutra every afternoon in addition to his other duties as Managing Director of Gold Mountain and Director of Translations for Vajra Bodhi Sea Publications.


Shown here with the Venerable Tripitaka

Master Tu Kung Hsuan Hua, 
Abbot of GoldMountain Dhyana Monastery,
is the Master painter Upasaka Chang Dai-chien, a Buddhist adept who has brought, among his other works, the image of the Buddha into the hearts of millions of people around the world. The gatha below was written to commemorate the occasion of their meeting.


The foremost of all the national 
and a former fellow-cultivator

In the past and present, 
China and abroad, 
filling a great thousand world,

Your reputation extends so far 
that people
fight to see you--

A flash of lightning out through 
higher than the sky.

Avalokitesvara manifests the 
appearance of an elder.

Amitabha personally extends 
his congratulations.

Although the sportive samadhi is 
a great deal of fun

Don’t forget your purple golden 
lotus in the West.

From the Mountain Monk Hsuan Hua  

                                    --Translated by Bhiksu Heng Chin

Hung Fu Temple Opening
September 3rd, 1972

--continued from issue 34

Opening the Light for Kuan Yin Bodhisattva

Four times eight are the responses; two times seven, no fear.

Apart from words, he speaks the law; the deaf and dumb all hear.

The West has long looked up to The One Who Views Own Being,

Of great compassion from the Southern Seas, May his radiance draw near.

I'm no mathematician, but I know that two times seven is fourteen and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva is fearless in fourteen ways, all of which he bestows upon living beings. Four times eight is thirty-two, thirty-two response bodies, which he uses to save them.

How does he speak the Dharma without using words so that the deaf end dumb can hear? He points to his ear, "Hear! Hear! Return the hearing to the self-nature and the self-nature will realize the unsurpassed path. Look inside yourself. Don't look outside. Look into your own mind to see what the trouble is and then make it peaceful."

America, England, Europe, have long admired Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. Now we hope that he will come from Potala Mountain in the South Sea to shine his light on San Francisco.

--To be continued

Distinguished Visitors


Gold Mountain was recently honored by a visit from Professor Maurice Tseng who came to meet the Sangha and pay his respects to the Venerable Abbot. Professor Tseng, who specializes in classics in the Chinese Language and Literature program at San Francisco State University, has done advanced studies at Yale, George Washington University, and Berkeley, and had taught at both Yale and Berkeley.

    He is shown in the picture here with one of his students, Upasaka Kuo Yu Linebarger. Upasaka Linebarger, a close disciple of the Venerable Abbot for many years, is currently working for a Masters degree at State University, and is intimately involved in the translation of Buddhist texts at Gold Mountain.


      Among other recent visitors to Gold Mountain were Mr. & Mrs. Stowell Rounds from Wilton, Connecticut, who recently moved to Tucson, Arizona. Mr. Rounds is a lawyer and author of law texts, and in this regard he has, for the last ten years, kept material on tax laws current by authoring and revising books in this area.

Mr. & Mrs. Rounds were very pleased to have the opportunity to visit with the Sangha of Gold Mountain, join the Sangha in a vegetarian meal, and attend the Avatamsaka Dharma assembly that afternoon. They appeared to especially enjoy meeting with the Venerable Abbot. Following the meal Mr. Rounds wished the Abbot well and said, “I am extremely pleased that I have been allowed to come here, and am very happy to see a living example of such a great Eastern religion actually being practiced here after having been successfully planted on Western soil. I wish all of you and this Monastery a long life.”

Their son Kuo Chou (David) Rounds, a disciple of the Venerable Master’s, graduated with highest honors in English from Harvard in 1964. He spent several years working as an education reporter for a newspaper in Mt. Vernon, New York, and published his most important piece of writing to date, a novel, Coalitions, in October 1970. He is currently editor of the Napa County Record. In his spare time Kuo Chou teaches an advanced course at Gold Mountain Monastery in the structure of English and its effective use in composition.