PRECEPTS ARE BETTER THAN CANDY
By Bhiksuni Heng Yin
Gold Mountain Monastery, 1731 15th Street, San Francisco, December 30, 1976--A1 Gold Mountain Monastery, everyone is vigorous in their cultivation of the Way, even little children! Six-year old Kuo T'ou (formerly Joshua Gray) today received the five lay precepts in the Buddhist tradition at Gold Mountain. On the day previous, he requested of the Venerable Abbot of Gold Mountain that the precepts be administered to him and the following conversation took place:
"Teacher, I want to take the precepts."
"You're just a child. Do you really want to take the precepts?"
"Well, you can take them on the condition that you give up eating candy. Can you do that?"
In cultivating the Way, it is said that one must renounce that which one cannot renounce, and do what others cannot do. Kuo T'ou was questioned several times about his decision to give up candy. Each time he answered emphatically that he would rather take the precepts than continue to eat candy. Considering his age—and what small child doesn't love to eat candy—this can't be counted as a small sacrifice.
But Kuo T'ou is not new to cultivation. He and his mother (See Bodhi Stand previous page) both reside at the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts in San Francisco and for the past year have involved themselves in the activities of the Sino-American Buddhist Association. Kuo T'ou attends the Gold Mountain Instilling Virtue Elementary School, a Buddhist sponsored primary school, and in addition to his studies, maintains a high level of Buddhist practice.
Recently we conducted an Interview with Kuo T'ou, excerpts of which follow:
How old are you, Kuo T'ou?
KT: Six. I was born August 4, 1970.
And what did you do before you and your mother came to Gold Mountain?
KT: I was a Buddhist then.
How did you get interested in Buddhism?
KT: My Mom just brought me here and just before we came here when we went to McDonald's she said we couldn't have hamburgers anymore.
So you are a vegetarian?
KT: Yes. My mother taught me how to bow to the Buddhas. We had a little altar in our house.
What did you do before you came to Gold Mountain?
KT: I went to preschool and kindergarten. Now I go to Gold Mountain School and then I'll go to School at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
What do you study in school?
KT: Reading and math, 2+2=4. Heng Ch'ih teaches us Chinese and calligraphy. It's fun, but it's hard because you have to hold the brush in a certain way.
What made you decide to take refuge with the Triple Jewel?
KT: Because I want to listen to Shih Fu and not be bad.
When you asked to take the precepts, were there conditions given you?
KT: Yes. I could take the precepts if I didn't eat candy, didn't whine, and if I cultivate.
Most children really like candy, don't you?
KT: It's a little too sweet. I can tell you what the five precepts are.
What are they?
KT: No killing. No stealing. No sexual misconduct. No lying, and no taking dope and drinking wine and stuff.
How did you feel when you took the precepts?
KT: I was happy.
What are your plans for the future?
KT: I'll be an ambulance driver or a Dharma Master.
If you become a Dharma Master what are you going to do?
KT: Save people.
How are you going to do that?
KT: Open my five eyes.
How are you going to open your five eyes?
If you could say something to all the children in the whole world, what would you say?
KT: I’d say I wouldn’t force the, but I would say if you want to cultivate, it's okay.
What are your practices?
KT: I meditate, once or twice a day, an hour at a time. I'm learning the Great Compassion Mantra, I know about half of it by heart. And I recite Namo 0 Mi To Fo on my beads every night till I fall asleep.
KT: I go to the sutra lectures and deliver papers to the Dharma Masters (see pg. 61 this issue) and I bow to the Buddhas.
Obviously, in spite of his age, Kuo T'ou has a very good grasp of the fundamentals of cultivation of the Buddhist path. His decision to give up candy and take the precepts is a most auspicious sign for Buddhism in the West. If he keeps up his cultivation, he will quickly be able to open his five eyes, gain spiritual powers, and repay the kindness of his Teacher by saving many living, beings in the West!
The following is an essay by six-year old Kuo T’ou:
THERE'S ONLY ONE VEHICLE IN THE WHOLE WORLD. WHEN SOMEBODY COUNTS--ALL THEY COUNT TO IS THE BUDDHA. THE BUDDHA IS THE COMPASSIONATE FATHER OF EVERYBODY. GWAN YIN IS THE MOTHER OF ALL BUDDHAS AND THE BUDDHA IS EVERYWHERE. GWAN YIN TURNS INTO TRANSFORMATION BODIES TO HELP PEOPLE. AT MY HOUSE THERE'S A WHOLE BUNCH OF PICTURES OF THE TRANSFORMATION BODIES. SOME LOOK LIKE THIS: