Sramanerika Kuo-ching

Kuo-ching was born January 11, 1952 in Hong Kong. Her parents were well to do and the family traveled extensively for years.

Although her childhood was laced with comfort, Kuo-ching knew from a very young age that the world in which most people dwelt was incomplete. It is as if a certain amnesia had taken over the entire human race, and man wandered astray, stumbling as if in sleep.

She entered Stanford University in 1968, at the end of San Francisco's Flower-Children Period. After numerous encounters with drugs and alternative lifestyles, she knew that she couldn't crack the sky open by induction. There was no short cut to enlightenment.

Becoming disillusioned by a seething restlessness that ransacked the entire country, seeing American's youth torn in a hopeless struggle between an encumbering material wealth and the guild of the Cambodian Warfare, Kuo-jing packed her belongings in a back-pack and embarked upon a one and a half year camping trip across the wilds of British Columbia. She passed a harsh winter living alone in a log cabin lodged some 7000 feet up in the Canadian Rockies. For days she wouldn't see a single human being, pert erring the company of animals and nature.

      On coming back to Asia in 1971, she came upon some Vedic texts and started meditation and yoga. By now she realized she was a bhiksu in her past life who had voluntarily taken on the transformation-body of a woman during this lifetime to teach & transform living beings in an age when people like to hear women speak.
      Once again she plummeted into a whirlpool of mundane activity in the Western world. Upon receiving a degree in Psychology & Oriental Art, she worked as an encounter-group therapist, meanwhile exploring alternative modes of consciousness through neuropsychological research.
      In 1974, while she was working as a news reporter for the local PBS TV station, an invitation came from Hong Kong. She returned in 1975, becoming a talk-show host and TV personality, producing her own documentaries and programs.

Material success and fame came very quickly. And with it a deeper sense of pending decay and death. The illusory nature of the entertainment world intensified her insight into the ephemerality of all dharmas with marks.

Egged on by a curious urgency, she left abruptly to return to America. The causes and conditions were ripening. In May 1977 she met the Venerable Abbot Hua at Gold Mountain Monastery. Awed by the immense purple and golden light that streamed from the Abbot's halo, her heart became constantly flooded with images of the Venerable One. This time she knew there was going to be no escape.

On reading the Buddhist texts, she was struck again and again by the description of certain states therein; they corresponded exactly to many visions and dreams she had had since childhood. When the woodcut illustrations of the Forty-two Hands were shown her the first time, her heart trembled with delight.

The mesmerizing words of the Great Compassion Mantra produced a similar effect: have we all forgotten our original heritage, a collective universe whose scope is larger than anything we can ever imagine?

After this, leaving home was easy. Kuo-jing's head was shaved on August 10, 1977. At present she lives at the International Institute for the Translation of Buddhist Texts, cultivating along with her peers in the Dharmas. She is transcribing and editing the Surangama Sutra together with the Venerable Master's commentary in Chinese.

She says, "The present Avatamsaka Assembly at Gold Mountain is the most wondrous experience. Day by day the sutra expands in its multi-faceted jewel spheres. Nobody ever excelled the Buddha in eloquence and compassion. Just image: the states of inter-penetrating wisdom and transformation, all realized within ineffable, Ineffable Buddha-lands, numerous dust-motes. Isn't that just too wonderful for words?"


THE WONDERFUL DHARMA LOTUS FLOWER SUTRA INTRODUCTION, an 88 page volume which introduces the 25 chapters of this profound Great Vehicle sutra "for realizing Buddhahood." The Venerable Master's commentary elucidates the transcendental principles of this important text. Available in November from BTTS.