THREE STEPS, ONE BOW: LETTERS
More from the letters written to the Venerable Master Hua by the two pilgrims Bhiksu Heng Sure and Sramanera Heng Ch'au as they bow once every third step from Gold Wheel Temple in Los Angeles, California, to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Northern California by Ukiah in Mendocino County—to bring peace and eliminate disasters and calamities for all beings in the world.
Sunday, May 29 (cont.)
Dear Shih Fu,
A little girl coolly glides her hotwheels to a stop, inches from Heng Sure and with wide-open eyes asks, "What are you doing. Mister?" I explain. Later as we stop for a break she comes cruising up again, "Why did you stop?"
Monk: "We didn't stop."
Girl: "But you're not bowing."
Monk: "We're still bowing inside."
Girl: (quietly and thoughtfully) "Oh."
An older girl with an edge, "What is this anyhow?" etc. I'm going nowhere with her. Finally she says, "Well) you believe in what you do and I in what I do. You won't convince me and I won't change you."
Monk: "What do you believe in?"
Girl: "I believe in God."
Monk: "So do I. All of them.
Girl: (emphatically, bothered) "But I believe in my one God only."
Monk: "Does your one god believe in only one you?"
Girl: "Well, ah, ah) ah take care of yourselves..." mumbles away talking to herself.
Monk: "You too."
Flashy car squeals up, "Yoo-hoo, yoo-hoo, hey, hey you guys. What are you doing? Are you Krishnas?"
Monk: "No. Buddhist monks."
Monk: "Buddhist. Buddhist monks."
Girl: "Oh Buddhist. Wow. Far out! Great! I love it. I love it!"
An older man: "They're in a fraternity. That's part of the hazing they have to go through to join the fraternity."
An old woman watched us with a skeptical and discerning eye for about half an hour. Finally she said, "Okay, God bless you," and left. "I think we passed," added Heng Sure. A young photographer, sincere, came and asked to take pictures and for a release. "You know, there is something very beautiful around you," he said. "I can see and feel it."
Two very old ladies leaning on each other for a walk, stop and patiently watch, waiting for a chance to ask. Timidly one asks if they can disturb us.
Lady: "Well, I don't care what religion you are. I think it's wonderful praying like this. We really admire you."
Monk: "There's too much hate in the world. If we can change our hate into peace..."
Lady: "Well, I am sure whoever bothers you will find a little peace." ---a windy day, this one!
Disciple Heng Ch'au bows in respect
Dear Shih Fu,
We are parked in Will Rogers Beach, with the Pacific waving on the left and the metal river of Highway I flowing on the right. As we bow we make our own rhythmic waves, and the mountains come down to the shore in a graceful, waving motion, as if they, too, are bowing in the Dharma-body of Vairocana.
The chance to cultivate the Buddha's Middle Way on a journey like Three Steps One Bow is truly wonderful. One might hope for such a chance and not find it. I have written in the log about making the most of this chance and I will send it (a long essay) when the book is filled. Briefly, it says that to cultivate the Way successfully one cannot be casual or part-time or anything less than totally, completely, sincere all the time. You can't pretend, or fake it, or take vacations. You've got to really want to walk the Bodhisattva path, and want to make the total control of body, mouth, and mind a natural, genuine way of life that comes from the core/nature. Nothing else will do the job. To try to act virtuous at one time and then forget it the next time is not the Buddha's Way. In order to be truly worthy of you teaching, Shih Fu, in order to be worthy vessels of the Dharma, our cultivation has got to be right on all the time. For me this means when bowing, to bow without any false thoughts, without any desires or hopes or wishes. And then when the bowing is done, to act selflessly, to seek nothing, to have no selfish thoughts and to move only in accord with principle, so that every situation reflects the training and the consciousness of a cultivator at Gold Mountain. Our attitude out here on the road is that we are at Gold Mountain, not different.
That is the ideal and it is easy to say and hard to do; and it will take a total transformation of my nature to make it real. Nothing else will suffice. And going slowly as we are, there may be just enough time to crack the "black energy barrel." Not a minute too long and this fact makes me really ashamed. The daily bowing makes me realize that I have enough greed, hatred and stupidity for any three people. And that means I've got to work three times as hard to make the change; but if I'm going to be of any use to the Triple Jewel, that's where the work is at.
Disciple Heng Sure bows in respect
False Thinking Hurts
Bowing along the Pacific Coast Highway this morning (June 7), I started to false think about a letter I needed to write. Suddenly there was this sharp pain in my head--like an electric nail being driven in. Immediately I started reciting again. The pain vanished within thirty seconds.
This happened once at Gold Mountain 'in front of the Gwan Yin altar. The pain was like a bolt and literally almost knocked me down. As I started to recite, it subsided.
It seems when it is quietest outside, it is deafening inside. Bowing along this serene, foggy, misted coastal park you would think concentrating would come easy. But for some reason, my mad mind churned at a high RPM. Trying to remember names of old friends, favorite foods, past romances, my family. Some were "good" false thoughts and some were "bad." It didn't seem to matter. The point was they kept coming and coming, just like the waves breaking and crashing to our left on the beach below. Constant motion: the ocean and my mind. To actually stop the "mad Mind" I can't imagine. "Patience, patience, got to have patience."
It's at this point I can feel it wanting to shoot out. My energy and tension builds up and if I don't pay close attention, anger pops out, or my eyes start attaching to sights, my ears notice and dwell on sounds, I feel irritable and impatient--the "fire goes up;" and if I'm sloppy, more bad karma is set in motion. In some ways the ghetto gangs and hostile construction crews are easier to bow through than a peaceful park. Outside danger forces total concentration--outside pleasant, then inside free to fill with garbage thinking.
SINO-AMERICAN BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION
GOLD MOUNTAIN MONASTERY
1731 FIFTEENTH STREET
SAN FRANCISCO, CA.94103
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