News from the Dharma Realm



As this issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea goes to press, Bhiksu Heng Ju of Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco sets out on foot, hiking more than a thousand miles northward to fulfill a vow to seek peace for the world and all mankind. Although there is little unique in a hike up the coast to the Pacific Northwest, he and his companion, Bhiksu Heng Yo, also of Gold Mountain, have startled more than a few people. Heading up Route One, without regard for his own comfort Heng Ju makes a full five point prostration every three steps, requesting the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the gods, dragons, and others of the eight-fold division of spiritual beings to have compassion on an afflicted world and use their powers to bring peace.

Bhiksu Heng Yo, who has vowed to assist and protect Heng Ju, carries the supplies for the two, and does his bowing by hiking ahead about a hundred yards or so and bowing in place while Heng Ju catches up with him. He then shoulders the pack and hikes ahead again.

The ancient practice of bowing every three steps has been undertaken by only the most tough, dedicated, and vigorous adepts of the past, compassionate Bodhisattvas who have set high examples of cultivation so that men might learn about the unsurpassed vehicle of liberation and peace. It is certainly auspicious that they have appeared in the world now, during the first years of Buddhism in the West, at a time when the world appears to be on the brink of disaster every day.


      The following verses and prose pieces were written by Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua, Abbot of Gold Mountain Monastery, on the occasion of sending Bhiksu Heng Ju and Bhiksu Heng Yo off on their journey to complete their vows.


      At Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery, in the United States of America, the Sangha is young and numerous. They concentrate on safeguarding the proper Dharma, and each one has his particular good points. Now you have made a vow never made before, and will practice Sagely conduct, which has never before been practiced, bowing every three steps to the Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha throughout the ten directions.

Because your sincerity and earnestness in seeking for world peace is genuine, you will certainly evoke a magnificent response. Although your initial resolve came easily, however, it may be difficult to fulfill your vows. Don't give up; remain firm, sincere, and constant. The thousand miles over which you will pass is only one small step within the Dharma Realm. Be resolved never to cease until you have reached your goal. Raise up your spirits.

I leave you this verse of parting:

Practicing what is difficult to practice is the conduct of the Sage;

Enduring what is hard to endure is the genuine patience.

All Buddhas throughout the ten directions have walked down this road,

The eighty thousand Bodhisattvas have followed right along.

Blow the magnificent dharma conch, and raise up the cry,

Shake your precious tin staff, transform stingy greed.

Your work complete, and result full, return midst songs of triumph,

Then I'll give my disciple, a meal of apple pie.

--Translated by Bhiksu Heng Show

More news about the two bhiksus who are bowing for world peace will appear in issue number 44 of Vajra Bodhi Sea. The same issue will contain an account of the opening of the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts.

Shown here on the road for peace are Bhiksu Heng Ju (right) and Bhiksu Heng Yo (left) . Heng Ju has vowed to bow every three steps along a one thousand-mile journey seeking world peace. Bhiksu Heng Yo, who has vowed to aid and protect Heng Ju, carries their supplies.


      From start to finish don't waver; when meeting with difficulties, don't change. Acting as his protector, help him to realize the power of his vows.   The ancient worthies most esteemed the ability to forget oneself and safeguard others. In the present day, worthies are rare. Among the practices of a Bodhisattva, this is one practice. Among the doors into liberation, this is one door. Never, even for an instant, forget your initial intent; always maintain it single-mindedly right to the end. Be heroic and diligent, and defeat the demonic hordes. If gods or dragons come to pay their respects, don't be pleased. If you meet with obstructing situations even less should you become angry. Be without knowing and without attainment, and the wonderful function will be difficult to exhaust. When your studies are put into practice, you will have the translucence of fine jade. Remember these instructions, and don't turn your back on my heart.

I leave you with this verse of parting:

In every step fiercely progress to victory,

Kuo Tao Heng Yo, act as guardian and aid!

As Yu passes over fully three thousand li,

He will cross, as would a car, eighty thousand steps.

Here in the scientific age, you are practicing as of old,

The evoked response of the Buddha's teaching 

will awaken beings
from their confusion.

Strive forward! Strive forward! Ever strive forward!

Don't stop! Don't stop! Don't ever stop!

--Translated by Bhiksu Heng Show

Who would have thought this ancient practice would come to modern mechanized America! Heng Ju bows once every three steps. Heng Yo carries their pack up ahead and then bows in one place until Heng Ju overtakes him.



      In August of this year Upasaka Wong Kuo Chun, a devoted disciple of the Venerable Master Hua for over twenty years, came to pay his respects to the Master and join the assembly in cultivation at Gold Mountain. He had not seen the Master in over ten years, and took the opportunity of a vacation from his job as Director and General Manager of Specomill Textiles, Ltd in Nigeria where he supervises more than 4,000 employees, to stay at Gold Mountain for a week. He was joyful at the opportunity at being reunited with his teacher, and spent many hours receiving instructions from the Master. After his visit to San Francisco he went on to Hong Kong to be with his family there. See the Bodhi Lectern, Issue #42, page 30.


Shown above, the four-fold assembly at Gold Mountain Monastery welcomes Upasaka Wong. He is standing directly behind the Venerable Master Hua.

3,000th Anniversary of the Buddha’s Birth

      The following transcripts of speeches given on the Buddha’s Birthday, may 6th this year, are continued from issue #42.

      Today is the 3000th anniversary of Sakyamuni Buddha's birthday.  When the Buddha was in the world some of his disciples practiced bitter austerities. Among these are the practices of living under trees or living out in the open. Now we live in a highly industrialized society, and you might think that this would be impossible to do, especially in San Francisco. But in fact here at Gold Mountain Monastery, we do have several cultivators who never lie down, and one in particular who sleeps outdoors, which is not an easy task in the midst of a large city. He lives out back in the garden where he planted himself a bodhi tree. By the time it gets big enough I guess he'll be ready to sit down under it and become enlightened. Bodhi trees grow fast. Bhiksu Heng Yo will now explain a little bit about the Dharma for you.

Dharma Master Heng Chu just talked about becoming a Buddha, and I thought to myself, "How does one do that?" The practice of Buddhism is concerned with one thing and one thing only: seeing one's nature, the Buddha-nature. The Buddha said there were many different ways to accomplish this, perhaps sitting in meditation, or reciting the Buddha's name, or bowing repentance ceremonies, or any one of a vast number of Dharma-doors, entrances into the Dharma.

What is the self-nature? Dharma Master Heng Kuan mentioned that today when we bathe the Buddha we are symbolically cleansing and purifying our self-nature, but just what is the self-nature? When Sakyamuni Buddha, the third Buddha of this kalpa, became enlightened he declared that all living beings have the Buddha-nature--have the potential for becoming enlightened--just by virtue of the fact that they are living beings. Now this does not only mean people, but any being with sentience, animals, insects, all are included in this category. When one sees one's original nature and one's inherent wisdom, when one realizes this capacity, he has exhausted birth and death—he no longer has to go through the grueling events of being born from a womb, going through a life, becoming old, getting sick, and dying. This repetitive cycle is ended. And so this is the sole purpose of Buddhism. This is the one purpose of all the different Dharma-doors that exist.

A long time ago in China maybe a thousand or twelve hundred years after the Buddha lived in India, there was an illiterate firewood vendor who was selling wood in a market in the south part of China. He heard a phrase being recited from the Diamond Sutra and he immediately saw through to his nature, immediately became enlightened on the spot. He decided to go to Northern China to Huang Mei where the Fifth Patriarch was dwelling to verify his experience.

When he got there, the Fifth Patriarch immediately saw what his condition was, and decided to test the fire-wood vendor without even letting him know he was being tested.

So putting on a fierce countenance the fifth patriarch asked him, "What do you want and where are you from?" not being very polite or very friendly at all.

Undaunted, the barbarian (as he was called since he was from a borderland), who was later to become the Sixth Patriarch, said, "I'm from Ling Nan (which is South China) and I've come here seeking to become a Buddha. Nothing more."

The Fifth Patriarch did a double take and said, "YOU? That's really close. How can you become a Buddha? You're a barbarian!"

But the barbarian wasn't phased and he said, "Although there are the distinctions of north and south, and those made between people, what distinction can be made about the Buddha-nature? Although my body, the body of a barbarian, and that of the High Master are different, what distinction does the Buddha-nature have?" The story goes on but there isn't time to tell all of it. The point is that when one realizes what one's original nature is, sees through to one's original face, there is no distinction of barbarian or high master, north and south, or any other duality. One exhausts all dualities, reaching all the way to birth and death.

People who have come here for the first time and taken part in this ceremony and cleansed their self-nature have made a really good start. I sincerely ask you now if there is any reason why you shouldn't continue in pursuit of the Buddhadharma. Thank you.

      Many people think that cutting off one’s hair and leaving home is really mean toward one's parents and families. On the contrary, filial piety is very important in Buddhism and Dharma Master Heng Ch'ao is well known here for his filial piety. When several of us went to Taiwan to receive the full ordination, not only did his parents approve, but they accompanied him to see their son become a Bhiksu. Then they traveled with him to other places and other monasteries in Southeast Asia to investigate Buddhism. Not only has he been able to cross himself over to become a Bhiksu, but he brought his parents right along with him. So he'll explain a little about Buddhism for you.

These introductions are really good, all kinds of food for thought.  Everyone's speech today has been pretty funny, so I'm going to break my usual standard of high humor and stick to straight dry material. I'll make it short, and everyone will have something nice and dry to listen to.

The words "follow the rules" are really key to everybody who has left home, who is still at home, or anyone who is interested in Buddhism. Even if you are not interested in Buddhism, each person must follow the rules.

You are probably thinking, boy he's really ambiguous; he does not even say what the rules are. It is true that the concept by itself, "rules," is ambiguous. But this is because every person has to decide for himself what the rules are. He knows the rules are in his own heart.

Each person has the rules, and only has to look into his own heart to find what these rules are. There is no need for the Buddha to come back. You find him. The rules are just your own self-nature, your own Buddha-nature. That's the only standard that exists; it is the only thing that is permanent and doesn't change. It is the only rule there is. So at the end of the Buddha's life he said to the Bhiksus, the gods, and everyone gathered there, "Stop sloshing around in the ocean of birth and death. It's time to get out. The time moves too fast. Work hard."

                                (To be continued)


The four-fold assembly was on hand to welcome Dharma Master Jen Chun when he arrived at San Francisco International Airport on Thursday, October 11th. His visit was occasioned by the opening of the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts at 3636 Washington Street, San Francisco, held on October 14th, 1973, the anniversary of Avalokitesvara’s going forth from home. (The opening ceremonies were held just a few days before this issue was to go to press; a detailed account will appear in November's issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea.) He plans to live at Gold Mountain Monastery and join in the study and cultivation for about a week.

Dharma Master Jen Chun represented the four-fold assembly of Great Enlightenment Temple in New York and the Buddhist Association of the United States, of which he is a member of the Board of Directors, in bringing congratulations to the members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association on the occasion of the opening of the Translation Institute. In a speech before the large assembly of San Francisco Bay Area Buddhists who attended the opening he said: "...if Buddhism is to survive in the world now, people must be able to understand the Sutras, and in order that people understand them, the Sutras must be translated into their own of the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts are continuing this work and cultivating diligently, and it will not be long before a response will be received. On behalf of the Buddhist Association of the United States I would like to congratulate the members of the Institute on the occasion of the opening ceremonies."

During his visit to Gold Mountain, he has given several worth-while speeches to the members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association and other guests, praising their work, exhorting them to continue in their progress, and in general, explaining various points of Dharma. The members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association were very pleased to have Bhiksu Jen Chun in residence as a visiting Dharma Master.


Shown here is the party of Buddhists on hand to welcome Dharma Master Jen Chun (fourth from left) at San Francisco International Airport.