THE BODHI STAND

Introducing Dharma Protector

Upasaka Kuo Sun Cassin
By Sramanerika Heng Chen

Upasaka Kuo Sun Cassin was born on March 17, 1950, into a middle-class suburban life in San Jose, California. Not socially inclined, he spent most of his free time reading. Upon graduation from high school, Kuo Sun enrolled at the University of California at Santa Barbara, but dropped out in mid-1971 after three years. He was disillusioned with systems of learning, which did not go beyond intellectual study.

He then returned to the San Francisco Bay Area and did paperwork for electronics companies, but had no real interest in his jobs. During this time, Kuo Sun investigated all manner of things pertaining to the occult, religious, mystical, or transcendental. Sometimes he would maintain that possessions were a burden and give them away, while at other times he would steal. One day he would concentrate on a mantra, but another day he would take a drug. At one time he would visualize the world bathed in pure white light, but at another time he would investigate black magic.

After quitting his desk job in mid-1973, Kuo Sun launched a career as a street artist designing, making, and selling mobiles. (He is still a street artist as of this writing). Although he found some pleasure in this occupation, Kuo Sun was still restless. He continued searching into the mysterious.

In late 1974 he began delving into theoretical works on Buddhism, and on New Year's Day 1975 he made the resolution to try Buddhist practices. Realizing the necessity of learning from a qualified person, he resolved to find a Buddhist teacher though he didn't know where to look for one.

The sincerity of Kuo Sun's resolve evoked a response, for another street artist (Upasika Kuo Chu Milligan) spontaneously began telling him about her teacher, the Abbot of Gold Mountain Monastery. She portrayed a humble man who put his disciples before himself: a Saint.

      Greatly interested, Kuo sun went to Gold Mountain Monastery. When he saw the awesome appearance of the Master he was very impressed and started to attend lectures often. Two days before his 25th birthday Kuo Sun moved to an apartment within a few blocks of Gold Mountain Monastery and began attending lectures and ceremonies daily without fail. At this time the remodeling of the monastery was in its early phases, and Kuo Sun volunteered to do much of the preliminary work; he cheerfully assisted wherever he could with carpentry and contributed significantly to the morale of the other workers. On May 18, he took refuge, received the five lay precepts, and undertook the ascetic practice of eating only once a day. Since that time he has frequently attended Gold Mountainís recitation and meditation sessions. During the last four-week winter session he kept a vow of silence, a difficult practice even for cultivators of long standing.

Kuo Sun explains why he has made Buddhism an integral part of his life as follows:
     
"Everyday I have the opportunity to benefit from a teacher who provides inspiration during times of laziness and laxity, who provides cheer during times of depression, and who explains Dharma in a clear and comprehensible, yet far-reaching and profound way. These are some of the visible acts of kindness done by a person of vast spiritual penetrations who does not seek for recognition or gratitude. I can only speculate about how much good such a one does for his disciples in secret.

Everyday I have the opportunity to study the Buddhadharma, to leave the many kinds of suffering, and to obtain lasting benefits.

Everyday I have the opportunity to be inspired by the example of the sangha members, who patiently endure the rigors of monastic life, vigorously cultivate purity, and work tirelessly at building, translating, teaching, and other activities to bring these opportunities to other people."

Upasaka Kuo Sun is one who truly practices what he studies and daily progresses in his cultivation of the paramitas. He has clearly seen that giving is a door to liberation and is a generous Dharma protector of the Sino-American Buddhist Association. He holds the precepts strictly and supports the assembly with his constant attendance. He makes cassette tape recordings of all the lectures, and listens to them in his leisure time. After his few years of vacillation Kuo Sun has become a persevering young cultivator of the caliber which cannot fail to bring about the flowering of the Buddhadharma in the West.