News From The Dharma Realm


Two Buddhist monks of the Orthodox Buddhist Sangha at Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco are on a 1,000-mile journey from San Francisco to Seattle, seeking world peace. Bhiksu Heng Ju (foreground) makes a full five-point bow after every third step, touching his arms, legs and head to the ground, a non-violent method better known in China than in America.

Heng Ju is being assisted on his journey by Heng Yo, and together the two average about five miles a day, with Heng Ju making an average of about 1,700 bows per mile—over 800,000 since San Francisco—as Heng Yo bows in place before going on ahead.

Some persons have pelted them with debris and obscenities, but most are friendly, with many offering a place to stay or other help. Literally thousands upon thousands of people have been moved by their great vows.

The two monks believe that if they are able to concentrate completely on their goal they will evoke a response from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and other spiritual beings who will prevent violence and maintain world peace.


By Bhiksuni Heng Hsien


"Whatever is he bowing to?" has been the reaction of many people who have seen the two monks from San Francisco's Gold Mountain Monastery bowing first along the coast on Route I and now on Route 101. More informed bystanders and motorists who pass them know that they are bowing to the Buddhas and seeking world peace. The formal Buddhist K’o T’o, with hands, elbows, knees and forehead placed firmly on the ground in worship, is generally associated in the public mind with the carved or modeled golden Buddha images known to grace Buddhist sanctuaries.

"Yet," affirms Heng Ju, the monk whose vow it is to bow every third step from San Francisco to Seattle, Washington, "you must remember that just the image is not the Buddha, for the Buddha is everywhere," and explains that Buddhists do not worship images, but simply use them to represent the Enlightened One in concrete form. One can bow to the Buddha anywhere.

The two Bhiksus (Buddhist monks) have been bowing since October when they both set out on foot from San Francisco to a solemn send-off by their friends from the monastery which is located at 1731 15th Street in San Francisco's Mission District. Bhiksu Heng Ju first made the vow, and then Bhiksu Heng Yo resolved to accompany and protect him on his pilgrimage of over 1,000 miles which could take up to a year to complete. They have now bowed more than 500 miles. Their sincerity is such that even if it rains or snows they bow, averaging five miles a day. At night they stop wherever they find a place, and sleep sitting up, with only the bare minimum of camping equipment. Both strict vegetarians who don't even eat pungent vegetables like onions and garlic, they take Just one meal a day at noon, which is usually food offered them by others. In this, explains Heng Yo, they are following voluntary ascetic practices recommended by the Buddha Sakyamuni over 3,ooo years ago.

It seems such pilgrimages, although arduous, are not unknown in Buddhist countries, such as China, but the practice is totally new to America. The two Bhiksus, who are both native Americans and the first to be ordained as Buddhist monks on Western soil, think this may, however, be not only the first American bowing pilgrimage, but also the very first time such a vow has been undertaken specifically with the goal of "evoking the aid of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions to eliminate wars and disasters in the world." So if you pass two monks bowing along Route 101, you'll now know what they're bowing to and what they're bowing for.


February 28, 1974

International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts

3636 Washington Street

San Francisco, California 94118


Two six-week workshops in Sutra Study and meditation will be offered at Gold Mountain this summer. Both sessions will cover the five primary approaches to enlightenment and the most important practices of each so that participants receive experience in all aspects of Buddhist theory and practice. Several weeks in each session will be given over solely to meditation; instruction in meditational techniques will be based on explanations of the major Sutras. Daily discussion groups, instruction in Buddhist Chinese and Sanskrit, meditation, and practice of traditional techniques, which lead to expanded mindfulness and concentration, will be offered. The Avatamsaka Sutra will be explained.

      The first session will begin on June 23rd and continue until August 3rd. The second session will begin on August 4th and continue until September 14th. Those interested in attending should write or call for more detailed information. The fee for each session is $300.00. Grants and work-study arrangements are available for students without sufficient funds. Application should be made well in advance. These sessions not only provide an opportunity for a thorough introduction to the Buddhadharma for beginners, but offer seasoned adepts an excellent environment in which to deepen their practice.