News from the Dharma Realm


On Sunday, August 4th, 1974, a Dharma Gathering to Liberate the Living was held by the Sino-American Buddhist Association at Berkeley Marina in honor of the anniversary of the enlightenment of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.  Hundreds and hundreds of animals were purchased from slaughterhouses by Upasaka Kuo Kuei Nicholson and other laymen and transported from the edge of death to the ocean where they were set free in a colorful and traditional Buddhist ceremony. The message: oppression, war, and killing can be rooted out without violence if we respect the right of beings to live and be free, and liberate them. We can do this by transforming our hostile, aggressive, and jealous thoughts into hearts of compassion and peace, for in liberating other creatures, we liberate ourselves.

Shown on these pages are pictures taken at the Dharma Gathering for Liberating the Living.



August 5. Monday

Dear Dharma friends,

The Liberation of the animals was really wonderful, extremely moving and inspiring.

May all beings be liberated! And may the Immeasurable Buddha Dharma continue to spread.

Thank you.

      Terry Clifford


      Having done what no one has ever been able to do before, on August 17, 1974, two American bhiksus (monks), the first to be ordained on Western soil, completed an arduous trek which began at San Francisco’s Gold Mountain Monastery and which took them l,150 miles up the Pacific Coast to Marblemount, Washington.

Eleven months ago, on October 16, 1975, Bhiksu Heng Ju, with the resolve of a Bodhisattva, vowed to undertake the practice of bowing, with hands, knees, and forehead placed firmly on the ground, at every third step all the way up the coast for the sake of world peace.

He was accompanied by Bhiksu Heng Yo, also from Gold Mountain Monastery, who vowed to aid and protect Heng Ju and who carried the supplies, joining in the bowing when he could.

Their practices included eating only one vegetarian meal a day before noon and taking no food at other times. They also perfected their meditational skill by resting at night in the lotus-meditation posture and never lying down to sleep. These practices insure vigorous progress in cultivation as they forge indestructible adamantine bodies.

During their trip the two monks rose and broke camp before dawn, and Heng Ju began to bow, regardless of the weather; if there was snow on the ground, he simply put his hands, knees, and forehead in the snow. He continued to bow in the rain, in the mud, through the weeds, the gravel, the thistles, and the roadside poisons.

As they bowed, Heng Ju and Heng Yo perfected their self-cultivation, knowing that real spiritual skill, the development of the entire individual--body, mind, and spirit--comes from study of ultimately true doctrines combined with actual practice.

But most important, their work was directed toward benefiting not only themselves, but all living beings. Heng Ju took bitterness upon himself hoping that he might influence the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and all spiritual beings to take pity on our strife-filled world and bring peace to all creatures. He endured suffering himself so that others might not have to endure it. This is true cultivation, the ideal of the Bodhisattva, which is simply to benefit others with no thought of receiving benefit in return.

Heng Ju bowed from dawn until dark and the two continued to work long into the night, studying and reciting Buddhist scriptures by the light of a single oil lamp, or sitting in Ch’an meditation. Their example of selfless determination has moved thousands upon thousands of people with a message of peace.

They will be welcomed and congratulated in festivities, which are open to the public on September 15, 1974, at Gold Mountain Monastery, 1731 15th Street, San Francisco, California.


August 16, 1974

Dear Sirs:

On August 5 I had the privilege of meeting two monks from your monastery on Highway 9 between Lake Stevens and Arlington, Washington. I have forgotten their names; however, one was pulling a cart and the other had been kneeling and bowing every third step on their journey from San Francisco.

It was a very moving experience to see and talk with these two men who reflected serenity along the busy highway. I have enclosed a short poem I composed about the experience.


August 6, 1974

(On Seeing Two Buddhist Monks on the Road)

The vehicles pound the road with a many-minded drumbeat

Echoing discordance through all living creatures.

Then the gentle flutter of saffron robes in the wind.

And all the noise of creation is muted by

The quiet thunder of Buddha.


Rowland Strandell


By Bhiksu Heng Kuan

      The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, Abbot of Gold Mountain, was invited by students and teachers at the University of Washington to deliver instructional Dharma talks at the University twice a day for three days, on August 19th, 20th, and 21st. He traveled to Seattle on the 18th of August, and was accompanied while there by five of his Bhiksu disciples, including Heng Ju and Heng Yo, who had just completed their remarkable sacrifice for world peace. The Venerable Master took the opportunity of the invitation to speak at the University located in Seattle to travel north to welcome and congratulate his two worthy disciples in the completion of their vows. The Venerable Master also planned to inaugurate the mountain at Marblemount, the future site of Cloud and Dragon Monastery, during his stay in the state of Washington. The new monastery takes its name from a dragon writhing through a cloud in a valley seen from a mountaintop one night by Bhiksus Heng Ju, Heng Yo, and Heng Shou.

Because of the busy schedule of lectures at the University, plans were made to travel to Marblemount, Washington, nearly three hours north of Seattle by car, on the day after the lecture series at the University was completed. Early in the week, however, the Venerable Master announced a change in the schedule. On the last day of the lecture series, he announced, we would travel to Marblemount after the morning lecture (which ended at noon), eating our one meal of the day in the car while riding to our destination. When we arrived, we would hold ceremonies to "open the mountain," and then quickly drive back to the University in time for the evening lecture.

Although it seemed like an impossible schedule, everyone followed in accord. On Wednesday afternoon, August 21st, the Master, accompanied by five bhiksus and three laymen, traveled to Marblemount. The bhiksus were Heng Ch'ien, Heng Shou, Heng Kuan, Heng Yo, and Heng Ju. The laymen included Upasaka T. Pong, founder of the Bodhi-Dhamma Center, an affiliate of Gold Mountain, and his wife Gwendolyn Pong.

I was one of the bhiksus accompanying the Master. When we arrived, the second car had not yet appeared, and so I took a walk down the mountain through the dense foliage toward the river, and saw smoke. Upon closer inspection, I found that about 30 square feet of the forest had been consumed, and would soon break out into a raging fire if we didn't do something. A combined effort of bhiksus and laymen carrying water from the river and turning dirt on the fire, along with support from the local fire department, extinguished the blaze in about an hour.

If we had come to the mountain a day later, as originally planned, instead of a dense green forest we would have found only rocks and dirt.  Everyone bowed deeply to the Master and thanked him for saving the forest land.

The Master then inaugurated the mountain, and we returned to Seattle just in time for the evening lecture. The lecture series in Seattle was widely attended, and many people, in spite of their busy schedules came to all the Master's lectures. Many sought interviews during the day with the Master, and all were delighted to have the opportunity to hear the Dharma.



On July 21, 1974, at a joint meeting of the general membership of the Sino-American Buddhist Association Inc., and the Bodhi-Dhamma Center, Inc. of Seattle, a proposal to merge the two organizations was enthusiastically endorsed by a unanimous resolution to affiliate the Bodhi-Dhamma Center with the Sino-American Buddhist Association. The aim of the Center is to provide a place for the study and practice of the Buddhadharma in the Seattle area, including a city center and a mountain meditation center and monastery to be constructed on land on the Skagit River near Marblemount, Washington. The city center and mountain land are the generous donation of Upasaka Takping Pong, founder of the Bodhi-Dhamma Center.

A fifteen member Board of Directors was elected at the joint meeting including Venerable Master Hua as Chairman of the Board; Bhiksu Heng Ju as Vice Chairman; and Upasaka Takping Pong as Vice Chairman among others.