News from the Dharma Realm

On April 23, 1974, Bhiksu Heng Shoou departed from Gold Mountain Dhyana Monastery on his way to Tz’u Hsing Monastery in Hong Kong where he will translate the Surangama Sutra and protect the translation work from those who would see it fail. Here he is shown with some of the Gold Mountain assembly who were on hand to wish him a sage voyage. (Seated center)

Upasaka Chu Fei (seated left) is welcomed by some of the four-fold assembly of cultivators at Gold Mountain during his recent visit to San Francisco. See story BODHEDRUM EDITOR IN CHIEF VISITS GOLD MOUNTAIN


Written on the occasion of Dhyana-cultivator Heng Shoou's departure for Hong Kong with the hope that he will take special care to protect the translation efforts from outside interference.

Alas! How exceedingly unfortunate we are to have been born in this age of fierce fighting. Should we persist in creating the karma of violence, who knows where it will end? Bhiksu Heng Ch'ien and the others, while translating in Hong Kong, have encountered all manner of obstacles which have delayed the work. For this reason I send you to Hong Kong to assist in its completion.

Magnificent is the responsibility of gods and sages, but many demons lurk about the works of goodness, and deeds of excellence are difficult to finish.

Rouse your spirits: Remain unruffled in the face of opposition. No matter how bitter the conditions, do not change. Should adverse circumstances arise, meet them with strong samadhi, patience, and reason. If, even when being reviled or beaten, your heart remains unmoved, then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions will praise you with delight.

I leave you this verse:

The demons are strong and the Dharma's weak in the time of strength in fighting.
Part the clouds; see the sun and the clear sky will appear.
Wearing the armor of vigor, destroy the five turbid realms;
With the mai1 of irreversibility, transform the trichiliocosm.
When opposition comes, receive it with the paramita of patience.
Blow the magnificent jeweled conch, startle the deaf and dumb,
And then the sage's teachings will endure for a billion years.

April 23, 1974
Hsuan Hua

(Translated by Bhiksuni Heng Yin)


On his recent visit to the United States Upasaka Chu Fei took advantage of a stop-over in San Francisco to visit Gold Mountain, where he resided for a short time and drew near the Elder Master. While in residence he joined in the cultivation and participated in the Great Avatamsaka Dharma Assembly. The four-fold assembly at Gold Mountain welcomed him and he was extraordinarily happy throughout his visit. The evening before he left San Francisco he tied up dharmic conditions with the Gold Mountain assembly with the following talk:

I have come to San Francisco and have been extremely honored by the opportunity to draw near to the Elder Master and to cultivate the Buddhadharma with you all. This has been the most rewarding and delightful part of my trip to America.

Although I have studied Buddhadharma for twenty to thirty years, I have learned very little. Of the Buddhist Sutras, the one I most revere and delight in is the Avatamsaka Sutra, especially the Chapter on the Conduct and Vows of Samantabhadra. The ten great vows were made by Bodhisattva Samantabhadra in the Avatamsaka Dharma Assembly. Every one of the vows has a specific scope, and brings a particular benefit.

From these ten vows we will take two vows by way of example. The first vow, "Worship and respect the Buddhas" takes all the Buddhas, World Honored Ones, in number as motes of dust in the Buddha-lands of the ten directions and the three periods of time to the end of the Dharma Realm and the end of empty space as its object.

The second vow is "To praise the Thus Come Ones." It's object is also "Buddhas equal in number to the dust motes of all the worlds, each Buddha surrounded by an ocean-wide assembly of Bodhisattvas..." These are the objects of Samantabhadra is worship and praise.

Worshipping the Buddhas is done with the body, and praising the Buddhas is done with the mouth. These two great vows represent the karma done with the body and mouth.

The object of the vows includes all the Buddhas throughout the three periods of time. We should pay especial attention to this. The three periods of time refer to the past, present and future. The Buddhas of the past should be worshipped and praised. All of us know this. Although the most recent Buddha, Sakyamuni Buddha, has already entered Nirvana, we should worship him.  Presently, Amitabha Buddha, although not in the Saha world, resides in the Land of Ultimate Bliss and there speaks the Dharma as it says in the Amitabha Sutra, and we should worship him as a Buddha of the present time.

We should take special note of the Buddhas of the future. Why? The Buddhas of the future are those who have not yet realized Buddhahood. Who are they? They are all living beings. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva tells us the importance of worshipping and respecting the Buddhas of the future, which means not only people, but all beings with sentience. When we see the Buddha we bow; when we meet any living being we should do so with respect. We may not necessarily bow to them, but we should be respectful to all creatures. That means that we should not harm them. So in Great Vehicle Buddhism one especially good point is that one does not eat the flesh of living beings. Why? Because all living beings are future Buddhas, and so we must respect them as we would the Buddhas.
      As to the second vow, if we praised all living beings, there would be no gossip among men. You would praise me and I would praise you just as we would the Buddha. Amitabha Buddha is praised by the line, "His fine marks are bright without compare." We should praise all living beings as we would the Buddha, speak kindly to them, not scold or berate them. This is to praise all the Buddhas of the future. We should take special note that the object of our worship and praise includes the respect and praise of all living beings. To further illustrate, Samantabhadra's ninth vow is "to accord forever with living beings." We should be in accord with and be respectful to all living beings. This vow proves that the first two vows, and also the third through the tenth are concerned with all the Buddhas of the ten directions and the three periods of time which means, as future Buddhas, all living beings are included. We should thoroughly understand these ten vows. I believe that if we are respectful of each other, and of all creatures, the problems of the world will soon be resolved. The reason the world is in disorder and full of war is because people don't respect each other, and are violent and harsh with each other. Thus there is no peace in the world.

I have discussed these vows for you. I often bring them up when I speak on Taiwan to students, especially the concept of "all the Buddhas of the future" which I find especially important. If we put the vows into practice I believe that it will be of great benefit to mankind.

Translated by Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih


American Buddhists on 1000 Mile Peace Pilgrimage

       Heng Ju and Heng Yo, two American Buddhist Bhiksus (monks), the first to be ordained on American soil, have now completed over 800 miles in the arduous trek which began in San Francisco and will take them 1000 miles up the Pacific Coast to Seattle, Washington. Over nine months ago Heng Ju resolved to undertake the traditional Buddhist practice of bowing (in full Chinese k’ow t’ow-style, with hands, knees, and forehead placed firmly on the ground in worship) at every third step all the way up the Coast. He is accompanied by Bhiksu Heng Yo, who has vowed to aid and protect Heng Ju and who carries the supplies.

      People hear a great deal these days about KUNG FU, but the real meaning of the term is not fully understood; it is not only a highly refined kind of physical skill, but demotes as well that the one who possess Kung Fu has made the attainments of Buddhist practice his own. You might call it "spiritual skill" as it covers the development of the entire individual—body, mind, and spirit.
      As they bow, HENG JU and HENG YO perfect their Kung Fu. As members of the Buddhist Sangha (clergy) at Gold Mountain Monastery, 1731 15th St, San Francisco, they have learned that true skill comes from the study of Buddhist doctrines combined with actual practice. As all Sangha members at Gold Mountain, the two eat only one meal a day before noon, taking no food at other times, and are strict vegetarians. They also perfect their meditational practices by resting in the lotus-meditation posture and never lying down to sleep. These practices insure vigorous progress in their practice, as they forge indestructible, adamantine bodies.

      The two monks rise and break camp before dawn, and Heng Ju begins to bow, regardless of the weather. If there is snow on the ground, he simply puts his hands, knees, and forehead in the snow. He continues to bow, in the rain, in the mud, in the weeds, in the gravel and the thistles. With every bow he repeats the invocation, "HOMAGE TO THE AVATAMSAKA GATHERING OF BUDDHAS AND BODHISATTVAS AS VAST AS THE SEA." (The Avatamsaka is a Buddhist Scripture.)
But, most importantly, their Kung Fu is directed towards benefiting not only themselves, but all living beings. Heng Ju was greatly moved when he read of a similar journey made by the great Ch’an (Zen) Master Hsu Yun in the last century who walked and bowed across China ---5000 miles in three years ---and who died recently at the age of 120.

Heng Ju takes this bitterness upon himself, hoping that he can influence the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and all spiritual beings to take pity on our strife-torn, greed-filled world and bring peace to all creatures. He endures the suffering himself so that others may not have to endure suffering. This is the true Kung Fu, the ideal of the Bodhisattva, which is simply to benefit others with no thought of receiving benefit in return. 
      Foremost in this kind of Kung Fu is the observance of five basic moral rules which prohibit killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, and taking intoxicants or drugs, for these actions only increase the obstructions of greed, hatred, and stupidity that bind one to misery when the necessary consequences of such actions must undergone. With moral conduct as a foundation, one then undertakes practices—meditation, study, recitation, good works—and gradually the clouds of delusion melt away and the sun of wisdom shines forth. This wisdom, or enlightenment, is inherent in every one of us, but like a priceless diamond incased in rock, it must be cut and polished by diligent cultivation. This is why Heng Ju has said, “Everyone can become a Buddha. You don’t have to look outside. Seek it in yourself."

      Heng Ju bows from dawn until dark and the two continue to work long into the night, studying and reciting the scriptures by the light of a single small lamp, or sitting long hours in Ch'an meditation. As they continue to perfect their Kung Fu, their example of selfless determination has already moved thousands of people. It is indeed auspicious that they have appeared at this time, when the world is so full of strife, for they are living proof that there is an alternative to the troubles which beset us—that alternative being the Bodhisattva ideal, the True Kung Fu.

Bhiksuni Heng Yin
International Institute for the
Translation of Buddhist Texts
San Francisco/ March, 1974