News from the Dharma Realm
SEEDS OF BODHI PLANTED IN SOUTH AMERICA
After an extended tour of South American countries, the Venerable Master Hua, Abbot of Gold Mountain returned to San Francisco and resumed his lectures on the Avatamsaka Sutra. Having visited South America to look into the conditions for Buddhism there, the Master reported that the hearts of South Americans are straight and honest, and that they are good people who live in harmony. He said he made this trip because the land is new and the majority of the people have not heard of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha: a great expanse of land without the seed of Bodhi. Consequently while he was there the Master recited the Great Compassion Mantra one hundred thousand times to help sow the seed. "It will be your responsibility," he told his disciples, "to harvest the Bodhi fruit." The Master works ceaselessly with unbounded compassion to help people increase their understanding and leave suffering, and has continued to open the way so that Buddhism's message of enlightenment and peace will flourish and benefit all the world's peoples.
The four-fold assembly was extremely happy to hear of the Master's return, and he received a steady stream of visitors for days. The word of his arrival quickly spread, and more than 100 joyful disciples gathered on the following day to welcome him.
Shown here with Tripitaka Master Hua, Abbot of Gold Mountain Monastery, and some of the Sangha and friends of the Monastery are Mr. and Mrs. Leonard W. Baur (left) and Mr. and Mrs. Roy C. Jastram, (right) parents of Bhiksunis Heng Yin and Heng Hsien. Mr. Baur, a Freight Traffic Consultant, is self-employed, and Dr. Jastram is a professor at University of California at Berkeley. On Saturday August 25th they visited Gold Mountain and joined the assembly for ceremonies and a vegetarian meal.
All of the parents were delighted to have the opportunity to meet the Venerable Master. Both Bhiksuni Heng Yin’s mother and her brother are also his disciples, and welcomed the rare opportunity to have an interview with the Master.
The celebration of Sakyamuni Buddha's birth at Gold Mountain Monastery this year was attended by a serious group of Sangha members, Buddhist disciples, adepts, and scholars who wished to pay their respects to the Buddha by further purifying the self-nature. The day was characterized by a variety of activities.
Among the most widely attended were Dharma talks given by members of the four-fold assembly.
Upasaka Kuo Yu Linebarger is currently working on a master's degree in Chinese, and has been a vigorous cultivator, Dharma protector, and member of the Buddhist Text Translation Society here at Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery. He's been here for a long time and is well qualified to talk about the Dharma with you. We'll now hear some golden tones from Kuo Yu.
I would like to welcome all of you here today. It makes me very happy to see such a large turnout, because today is very special. It is the birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha.
"Once upon a time there was a wealthy business man in a large city. He had a big house, two cars, a pretty and talented wife, a summer retreat on the Virginia coast, and all the material wealth that anyone could wish for. One day he had a son, and being a good and proud father, he wanted his son to be his own spittin' image, and to live the same gracious life-style. So as his son grew up the businessman gave him everything he needed: he sent him to private schools; he sent him to a very good prep school; he gave him a flashy sports car; and supplied him with everything he needed to be comfortable.
When he graduated from prep school he was admitted to Yale, and started his academic career by working on the school paper. He got along well with his peers, and enchanted his professors. One day he was driving his new sports car when he happened upon an accident. The people in the accident were severely injured which disturbed him greatly. Later he was at his father's house in the suburbs when a couple of neighbors got into a fight and one of them shot the other. Again the son was very disturbed.
These experiences caused him to realize that he had carried around a basic question for a long time, but that it had never surfaced because he had never experienced anything to bring it up. The car accident and murder caused him to question within himself: why he existed, what was the meaning of his life. He pondered these questions so deeply that he quit school to devote his life to finding their answers.
He hopped a charter flight to Europe and traveled there with a number of people who told him that India was the place to go. He took trains and buses to India. When he got there he encountered great suffering and misery, and he also found some people whom he thought might be able to help him answer his questions.
He studied with a couple of gurus, one who was able to walk on fire, and the other who was able to sleep on nails, and they were both able to read his mind. For a while he thought they were really something special because they could do things which he had never heard of before, but this didn't last. After a while the questions came up again, and these men weren't answering them. They were just playing around.
He began to travel around India again, but every teacher he found was unable to answer his questions. Sufficiently discouraged, he returned to the United States, still with his questions burning within his heart, and he took up study of people and philosophies of the Western tradition, took mind-expanding drugs, and went to live in a commune in Oregon. Then one day he happened upon a person who, after hearing his story, told him, 'You know what your problem is? You've been searching outside all this time. You've gone to India, and experimented with drugs, all in search for freedom. But this has all been in vain. All you have to do is turn the energy you've been expending in your search inward.'
This is what Buddhism is all about, directing your energy inward toward the source, because as has been mentioned already, the Buddha is not found outside, he is within, within every one of us. So while you are bathing the Buddha today, and on all days as you go about your daily activities, remember that the essential teachings of the Buddha are to direct the energy back toward the source, that is, back within one's self. In this way you can answer the basic questions of birth, old age, decay, and death. Thank you.
Our next speaker will be Dharma Master Heng Ch'ih. Several years ago she was one of the many people who began a ninety-eight day meditation session, and one of the few people who was still there at the end, and she is well versed in the practice of Buddhism. She is an active translator and a diligent cultivator of ascetic practices. She has been here a long time, and can certainly speak better for herself than I can.
Hopefully I won't speak for myself at all. There's a story about two deer which I decided I wanted to tell today, and you'll see why at the end, so I'll just start telling the story now.
The two deer unfortunately lived in the beautiful, beautiful gardens of a Prince. I say unfortunately because although the gardens were beautiful the Prince was a meat-eater who particularly liked venison. He sent his hunters out every day to kill some deer from his herd.
Actually there were two herds of equal size, and they each had equally strong male leaders. These leaders saw that their herds were soon going to be destroyed by the meat-eating prince. The hunters came out every day and killed half a dozen head, and the prince could only eat maybe a third of a buck, so much meat went to waste and much life was lost. So the two deer about whom this story is told, got together to decide what they could do to remedy this critical situation.
This story took place a long time ago and the deer were a little bit special because they could talk. They talked to one another and decided to go to the Prince and suggest that instead of the daily random killing from their herds, that they would volunteer themselves, one at a time, because he certainly couldn't eat more than one deer a day. They took this proposal to the prince.
The Prince, believe it or not, was not too taken aback when his messengers came in and said there were two deer who wished to speak with him. Although there are many, many wonderful things in the world, very often people don't recognize them as wonderful. They fail to see the wonder, and so the Prince, although it was very special to have two deer who could talk, didn't find it unusual, and gave them an audience.
Not only did he listen to them, but he found their proposition quite reasonable and together they resolved that every day one deer from alternate herds would offer itself to the Prince. Starting the next day there was great rejoicing among all the deer because they knew that they would not be killed off nearly as quickly, and that their herds could prosper. So the plan went along very well. Admittedly it was very difficult for the volunteer for that day to relinquish his life; nonetheless, every day one went willingly because he knew that it might save half a dozen lives on that day because he did it.
Finally one day from the black buck's herd a pregnant deer, her belly swollen, went to the head buck and said, 'Oh leader, could you please have somebody trade with me just for a day or two until after my baby's born because then I can save its life. Then I'll take his turn.'
But the black deer wasn't black for no reason. His heart was not very pure and he didn't have very much compassion, and so he said, "Absolutely not, now just stop and think about it, lady, who would want to give up his life for you?" So she was very troubled and finally her leader 'said, 'Well, you can go over and try the other herd, maybe there's somebody over there who'd be foolish enough to give up his life in your place.'
So she went over and spoke to the white deer, who as you can guess by now, had a Pure and compassionate heart, and he said, 'Well, I really doubt that there would be anyone who would be willing to sacrifice his life for you so that you could wait and have your fawn, because everybody likes to live and nobody likes to die. But since that's the case, you don't have to worry, because I'll go for you today. I'm a deer, too, and I'll go in your place.'
And that's exactly what happened. Now think about it, the head of one whole herd of deer, who wouldn't have had to go for years because the herd would have kept propagating and there always would have been somebody to send, were in place of a young doe.
When he arrived the Prince said, 'What in the world are you doing here?'
And the white deer said, 'Well, I've come for you to eat me today because that's the way we made our agreement. It's my turn.'
'What do you mean, it's your turn?' asked the Prince. 'You're the leader, don't you know the order of things? Don't you know that the highest people go last in a case like this?'
The white deer explained what had happened and the Prince was very ashamed and recited a poem which went something like"
'I'm a man with a deer's head,
You are a deer with the head of a man.
From now on I'll never eat meat again.'
What he meant was that although he was a man, he ate meat all the time, and so he was like an animal, part animal. But the deer, although he was an animal, had great compassion, very much like some worthy people do, and so although he was a deer, the Prince said that he had a man's head. After that he never ate meat again, and all the deer were very happy.
Now the white deer, as you probably have guessed, was Sakyamuni Buddha in a former life, the Buddha whose birthday we are celebrating today. The black deer was Devadatta, who was a rival of Sakyamuni Buddha's. In many, many lives they came together and had contests. Thank you.
INTERNATIONAL BUDDHIST TRANSLATION INSTITUTE ESTABLISHED
Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery announces the establishment of a new branch, the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts, which will be located at 3636 Washington Street, San Francisco. This new center will be dedicated to translating and training translators, and will maintain the intensive and comprehensive practices for which Gold Mountain is noted. The Institution will be operated by members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association under the auspices of the Monastery.
The facilities for the translation school have been made available through the generous assistance of Upasaka C.T. Shen, whose efforts and accomplishments on behalf of the Dharma and the study of world religions in general are widely known. Seeing that the time is ripe for adepts from all over the world to devote their energies to gaining an understanding of Buddhism, Dr. Shen has worked to provide the necessary prerequisites. To this end, much of his effort has been directed to the translation of Buddhist texts.
In addition to having research and translation facilities, and living accommodations for serious practitioners, the Institute will house a Buddha hall to insure that cultivators will have the opportunity to put the fruits of their research into practice. An image of the Thousand Handed Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva will be installed and will preside over this hall.
The goal of the Institute is international, the union of Buddhists of all nationalities and sects in one great council to work for the cause of enlightenment and peace in the world. The methods to be employed to arrive at this goal involve translating and training others to translate Buddhist texts. The scope conceived is not narrow; with backing from the Sino-American Buddhist Association, the Buddhist Text Translation Society plans to translate Buddhist texts into all of the world's languages, so that within the next hundred years vast numbers of people will have the opportunity to understand the ultimate principles of life. Gold Mountain already offers courses in German, Spanish, Portuguese, Sanskrit, Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and French as a step toward making the principles of Buddhism universally known.
To reach this goal, the Sino-American Buddhist Association has trained several tens of translators, many of whom are Bhiksus and Bhiksunis who seriously practice the path to enlightenment and thus profoundly understand the principles they translate. Both in-depth study and practice are necessary before accurate translations of Buddhists texts can be made without mistakes such as the one made by a famous professor and translator who rendered "doubly complete" (that is, in blessings and wisdom), as "two-legged" in reference to the Honored One in his version of the Lotus Sutra.
From a nucleus of Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, Upasakas, and Upasikas, the Buddhist Text Translation Society was established, and the four-fold assembly has worked together for many years on translations and are now qualified teachers of translation. The results of this intensive preparation is not only a staff of experts ready to train others, but a wide range of translated works on Buddhism, many of which are in the process of being published. Among these is included the important Lotus Sutra which will be published for the first time with commentary in English.
As the notion of enlightenment and the image of Buddha frequent the thoughts of Westerners more and more, there is a need for a united council of world Buddhists and a large and active center which will provide the necessary prerequisites, so that the initial resolve of many of the young in the West will not be lost. This is especially important since Buddhism is rapidly fading in Asia, and the contemplative experience and the vision of enlightenment, not to speak of enlightenment itself, are threatened with extinction there.
ceremonies will be held on Sunday, October 14th, 1973, at 3636 Washington
Street, San Francisco. The spiritual essence of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara
will be activated at this time. All are welcome to attend.
The International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts, 3636 Washington Street, San Francisco.
Oct. 10 Great Master Ch’ang Jen Left the Home Life
11 Venerable Master Hsuan Hua Left the Home Life
12 Great Master Ch’ang Chih’s Enlightenment
14 Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Left the Home Life
Nov. 5 Medicine Master Buddha’s Birthday
30 Patriarch Bodhidharma’s Birthday