THE BODHI MIRROR
Introducing SRAMANERIKA HENG JYEH
Sramanerika Heng Jyeh was born July 14, 1951, the fourth of six children. During her youth she attended three elementary schools and five high schools, and generally preferred to be alone in the meadows and woods than to join in the social scenes.
Crystallized moments of her early years revealed to her the elusiveness of the "real" world--as once on a hill gazing across a bay at the lighted other shore, she felt herself simultaneously looking into the future and communicating with herself in the here and now; and again when her closest friends suffered a fatal accident and she was drawn away one night by the confused souls only to be dumped unceremoniously back into her bed and more mundane existence.
to fit the pattern, she took up home-keeping, gardening, cooking, and canning
and found some tranquil moments while working with great energy. But the
transience of emotional ties was all to clear to her and she began to meet the
comings and goings, the meetings and partings, the births and deaths which
riddle samsaric existence with more and more reluctance and with a guarded
| attraction for what they were
doing, where they were from, and what they were, arose in her and she asked her
friend to go out and invite them in. The monks marked the place where they had
stopped bowing as the accepted the invitation. When they came in, Heng Jyeh
recognized the bowing monk as a friend from former days when they both lived on
a communal farm. The monks introduced themselves as bhiksus from Gold Mountain
Monastery and Heng Jyeh burst out, “Do they take women?” meaning are women
allowed to leave the home life, too? She was assured that all four assemblies:
monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen participated in the activities at Gold
Mountain, and was invited to go there to see for herself.
The monks went on their way, but they had made" an Indelible impression on Heng Jyeh's mind. Conditions finally ripened, and Heng Jyeh made her way to Gold Mountain for an evening lecture given by someone close to her own age who was a student Of the Dharma.
The next time she went she was greeted by someone at the door of Gold Mountain who exclaimed, "You're really lucky; The Master just returned from Asia and is due here any minute." As soon as Heng Jyeh saw the Venerable Abbot she was thoroughly overwhelmed by his virtue. She realized instantly that he could read her every thought and was ashamed at how much garbage there was in her mind. In a desperate attempt to keep her own defilements screened from the Master's purity she kept herself hidden behind one of the nuns, realizing all the while that this was a ridiculous thing to do and being unable to resist peeking around to gaze at him.
The impressions of Gold Mountain were stronger now and the next time she went it was for a week of recitation. She worked with such intensity that she was drained by the end of the first day. Gradually regulating herself into the rhythm of the session, she soon found the chanting and walking and sitting familiar and meaningful. After taking refuge, she began to attend more and more regularly and to simultaneously unwind herself from the karmic threads that were binding her to lay-life. Soon she moved into the convent and was ready to shave her head and take the novice precepts.
On August 8, 1976, the anniversary of Great Strength Bodhisattva's accomplishment of the Way, Heng Jyeh became a sramanerika. She now resides at Great Joyous Giving House at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas where she is Director of Agriculture for the City. Among her vows are ones to recite the Amitabha Sutra every day and to eat only one bowl of food for her one meal a day.
Heng Jyeh's firm faith has moved members of her family as well. Her mother and two sisters have also taken refuge with the Triple Jewel and they have all attended sessions and celebrations at Gold Mountain, as well as maintaining the practices of reciting the Buddha's name and the Great Compassion Mantra daily as part of their activities.