Prairie Dog Towns
In the Badlands there are prairie dog towns. They are huge communities of tunneled burroughs where hundreds of prairie dogs live. As you approach, the sentry stands on his hind legs and squeaks an alarm. Everybody then pops up to check the scene at a safe distance. Then, like disappearing dominoes, they drop out of sight as you walk through. Once past, they pop up again and watch you leave. People gather in huge, clucking assemblies ahead of us. As we get closer, they scatter into the stores, houses, and behind curtains to peek out. When we pass they swarm back to talk, stare, laugh and wonder. Always they stare and always they wonder, just as predictably as we bow...
Saturday P.M. Hot, real hot. Bowing on black cement is like bowing in a frying pan. For all the ants I burned with a magnifying glass as a kid...
On weekends when the streets are empty, it becomes quite unreal out there (downtown Los Angeles financial district). We could be bowing through the Arabian desert for all I know. Two lay-people rode the bus out to find us and give us some apples, honey, and crackers. They were so alive and refreshing. We had just finished a particularly hot stretch.
More and more the journey goes within. We get less and less moved--bothered by horns, hoots, and conditions. Actually it feels cool, even though it's scorching.
HENG SURE: May 23, 1977.
Heng Sure: "I think I passed that test okay today."
Heng Ch'au: "Which test?"
Heng Sure: "What test was there today besides the demon soprano?"
Heng Ch'au: "Well there was the morning recitation test, the T’ai chi test, the orange juice test, the wash- up test, the getting dressed test, the bowing test, the neighbor lady test, to mention a few."
Heng Sure: "Hmmm. I see what you mean."
HENG CH'AU: May 27, 1977...Cars bumper to bumper as far as the eye can see. An average of one person per car. Sidewalks empty from person to person as far as the eye can see. Bowing once every three steps at a couple of points was moving faster than cars.
Two high school boys run across six lanes of moving traffic to find out what we are doing. En route they almost get run over by a hot motorist. The result: cursing, tempers, and horns.
Boys: "Why are you doing this?"
Monk: "To reduce the hate and bad vibes in us and the world."
Monk: "Like that car back there that almost ran you down. Everybody blew up, got mad. That's the stuff wars come from. We all need to cool off."
Boys: "Yeah, really."
Monk: "What happened to your arm?"
Boy: "Surgery—bone chip from sports."
Monk: "The body just keeps breaking down. Even when you try to take care of it..."
Camped by the ever-rolling, always fuming Detroit River again near Wilshire and Santa Monica
HENG SURE: May 28, 1977.
Voice 1: Real cultivation has to want to do it and nothing else. You must be mindful of your Dharma method/door at all times. You can't take a break, a vacation, a holiday; you can't "reward" yourself for good work by stopping the work. This is defeat. So once you begin you must keep on pushing--right up over the edge. Anything less will not get you there. It is unnatural and difficult.
Voice II: Cultivation when it's real is a gradual natural process, which should come in stages. As you breath in and out, your cultivation should allow for effort and rest, effort and rest, never retreating but not forcing the way either. Excess force leads to a strong reaction just like the circles in T’ai chi: the faster the punch the harder the return punch.
HENG CH'AU: May 28, 1977. If you shut down the T.V., radio, and records; stopped going to movies, reading newspapers and novels; if you could stop eating meat, taking drugs stimulants; lay off sex for awhile; say nothing false or hurtful or even better not talk; if you stop nibbling and snacking and shopping and "going out"--if you could do these things just for a day or a week you would never be the same. Would it be serene and peaceful? No! The noisiest place you'll ever find is your mind. But you would be checking out the mind-ground and be on your way to the most exciting, fulfilling adventure you could ever imagine. At first it's pretty dark so you need to take some light. What kind of light? Your light. The light that's your share, your pure natural wisdom-light. The less leaks you leave the more clarity you'll have to light your way. Reduce outflows with precepts and regain your original magnanimity. Then you can cheek out the mind-ground with minimal stumbling and getting lost.
Oh yeah! Fine a good knowing teacher until you find the one within you. Why? Because you've been away so long you don't even recognize your home when you see it or the false either. With a good knowing advisor you can get profoundly lost and then really find something within nothing; nothing within something.
Do it soon because somewhere inside each of us there is something we know we have to find. If you wait until near death you won't have much say about who goes with you, where, for how long, and you might not get another chance for a long, long time. Hurry, grab the true or you'll be late for your funeral and miss your birthday.
Every bow I can see more clearly.
Every bow I am happier I left home.
The Venerable Abbot of Gold Mountain Monastery and his Eminence Paul Cardinal Yu-Pin are shown above (center) surrounded by members of the Sino-American Buddhist Association and San Francisco well-wishers as they welcome the Good Will Mission of Religious Leaders from the Republic of China at San Francisco International Airport on October 26, 1977
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The Amitabha Sutra, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. Shakyamuni Buddha spoke the Amitabha Sutra to let all living beings know of the power of Amitabha Buddha's great vows to lead all who recite his name with faith to rebirth in his Buddhaland, the Land of Ultimate Bliss, where they may cultivate and quickly realize Buddhahood. 204 pages, $5.95
The Vajra Sutra, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. Prajna transcendental wisdom, the subject of this Sutra, is of central importance in the Buddha's teaching. The Buddha spent 20 years speaking the Prajna Sutras and declared that they would be disseminated to every land. The Sutra says, "One should produce a thought without dwelling anywhere." The Sixth Patriarch, the Great Master Hui Neng, heard this sentence and awakened to the way. 192 pages, $5.95
The Dharani Sutra, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The Sutra speaks of compassion, which relieves us from suffering and gives us joy. The Bodhisattva Who Regards the Worlds Sounds (Avalokiteshvara) embodies this infinite compassion. The Dharani Sutra shows how by the practice of compassion and the recitation of the Great Compassion Mantra we can gain the thousand hands and thousand eyes of Avalokiteshvara and rescue living beings in distress by means of wholesome magic and healing. The first translation in any Western language. Illustrated with woodcuts from the secret school. 352 pages, $10.00
The Lotus Sutra, vol. 1, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The Buddha appeared in the world in order to lead all living beings t understand the teaching of the Lotus Sutra. 'For the sake of all living beings, I preach the One Buddha-vehicle. If you are able to receive these words with faith, you shall all become Buddhas. This vehicle is wonderously pure and supreme. In all the worlds throughout the universe there is nothing more exalted.'
The Shurangama Sutra, vol. 1, with commentary by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. "There is a samadhi called the foremost Shurangama King of the Great Buddha Summit, which is the fulfillment of the 10,000 practices. It is the one door to the transcendent and wonderfully adorned road of the Thus Come Ones of the ten directions." The Sutra explains the Samadhi (state of still concentration) of the Buddha and the fifty kinds of demonic samadhi which can delude us in our search for enlightenment.
Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The power of the Earth Store Bodhisattva's compassion is unusually great, a strength which most other Bodhisattvas cannot match: he alone has made the vow to go to the hells and rescue living beings there. "If I do not go to the hells to aid them, who else will go?" Before he entered Nirvana, Shakyamuni Buddha went to the heaven of thirty-three to speak this sutra on behalf of his mother. It is one of the most popular scriptures in China, describing the heavens and hells, the workings of karma, and virtue of filial piety. The first translation into English. 235 pages, $6.75 paper, $12.75 cloth.
The Sixth Patriarch's Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra, with commentary by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The Sixth Patriarch said, "Unenlightened, the Buddha is a living being. At the time of an enlightened thought, the living being is a Buddha. Therefore, know that the ten thousand dharmas exist within your own mind. Why do you not see the true suchness of your original nature within your own mind?" The Sutra is the founding text of Ch'an (Zen) Buddhism, consisting of the teachings of the Venerable Master Hui Neng, the illiterate Patriarch. Second edition. 380 pages, $10.00
The Sutra in Forty-two Sections, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. "When the Shramana who has left the home-life puts the end to his desires and drives away his longings, he knows the source of his own mind and penetrates to the profound principles of Buddhahood. He awakens to the unconditioned, clinging to nothing within and seeking nothing without." The Sutra in which the Buddha gives the essentials of the path. $4.00
Buddhist Poetry and Fiction:
The Ten Dharma Realms Are Not Beyond A Single Thought. Verses and explanation of the ten realms of existence by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. 72 pages, $3.00
"The way of men is harmony,
With merit and error interspersed.
On virtuous deeds you rise, offenses make you fall.
It has nothing to do with anyone else at all."
Celebrisi's Journey. A novel by David (Kuo Chou) Rounds. Where is the realm beyond the senses? What happens when a modern man sets out to find it? This is the story of a search pursued across the landscape of America from New Jersey to Maine to the Dakotas to California, through despair to understanding, through the cloud of thoughts to the bright stillness, into the mind, beyond the self. 178 pages, $3.25
Vajra Bodhi Sea
The monthly journal of the Sino-American Buddhist Association since 1970, Vajra Bodhi Sea makes Buddhist Writings and Buddhist news available to readers everywhere. Each issue contains Sutra translations, biographical sketches of high masters of antiquity, and biographies of contemporary Buddhists of the Sangha and lay communities. Also included are feature articles, world Buddhist news, poetry, book reviews, a series of Sanskrit lessons and vegetarian recipes. $15 for one year subscription, $42 for a three-year subscription. Subscription free with membership in the Sino-American Buddhist Association.
Records of the Life of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua,
Part 1, "The Master was 19 years old when his mother passed away. At this time, he left the home-life, taking the ten precepts of a Shramanera. He then went to his mother's grave site, and built a 5'x8' hut out of five-inch sorghum stalks. The hut kept out the wind and rain, but there was little difference the inside and the outside. Here the master observed the custom of filial piety by watching over his mother's grave for a period of three years. Clothed only in a rag robe, he endured the bitter Manchurian snow and the blazing summer sun. He ate only one meal a day and never slept lying down." An account of the Masters early years in China. 96 pages, $3.95
Records of the life of Ch'an Master Hsuan Hua, part II. "In the late afternoon, after a day of work at the construction site of Tz'u-hsing Monastery, the master will go back down the mountain to catch the ferry to Hong Kong. Even then he did not rest, but delighted his fellow passengers by giving informal Dharma talks during the 45-minute crossing. With no effort on his part, he attracted and ever-increasing gathering on those ferry boat rides, who listened as the master made good use of the time by expounding the Dharma for them." The events of the master's life as he taught and transformed his followers in Hong Kong, containing many photographs, poems and stories. 229 pages, $6.95
World Peace Gathering, a moving document of American Buddhism in action, commemorating the successful completion of an extraordinary 1100 mile journey made by two American Buddhist Monks in 1974. With Heng Yo at his side, Heng Ju walked from San Francisco to Marblemount, Washington, bowing to the ground every third step, praying for peace for all humankind. With numerous photographs. 128 pages, $3.95
Three Steps, One Bow, "Even before we left San Francisco to begin in pilgrimage, people were in doubtful about how we would obtain the basic requirements for survival. But the Master had said that if one is completely sincere and genuine, survival would not be a problem. The Master has completely proved this is in his own life, and after a while on our trip we two found it to be true without fail. We discovered very quickly, though, that what is tacitly assumed by this principle is equally true: if your heart is not sincere, survival will be a problem." Three steps, one bow is Heng Ju's and Heng Yo's own story of devotion, humor, and hardships overcome on their extraordinary pilgrimage for world peace. $5.95
The Shramanera Vinaya and Rules of Deportment, with commentary by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. The Buddha instructed his disciples to take the Vinaya (the moral code) for their Master once he himself had entered Nirvana. Those who seek to end birth and death and to save all living beings from suffering must base their practice on proper morality. 112 pages, $3.95
Pure Land and Ch'an Dharma Talks, "From limitless aeons past until the present we have accumulated uncountable states of mind in the field of our eighth consciousness. Sitting quietly allows these states to come forth in a way that they can be recognized, just like the moon's reflection in still water." Instructions by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in the practice of reciting the name of the Amitabha Buddha and in the self -investigating meditation called Ch'an. 72 pages, $3.00
Buddha Root Farm, Further instructions by the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in meditation on the name of Amitabha Buddha of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. "The water flows, the wind blows, whispering his name. And when he takes you by the hand to the happy land, you'll be so glad you came." 72 pages, $3.00
Four weeks of intensive cultivation will form the annual winter sessions at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Mendocino County. The combination of Ch'an and Pure Land provides the maximum opportunity for both beginners and advanced meditators.
With both Ch'an and Pure Land
One is like a tiger with horns;
In the present age a teacher of people,
In the future a Buddhist Patriarch.
For information and registration call or write: Gold Mountain Monastery, 1731 15th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. (415) 621-5202 or 861-9672
The Buddhas have begun to arrive at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. How do they come? They are sponsored by disciples and friends of the Triple Jewel. Each Buddha is created through the power of vows of the donor who may dedicate the merit to the welfare of family or friends, to the accomplishment of virtuous deeds, to their ancestors' rebirth in the Pure Land, and so forth to the crossing over of all living beings. If you would like to sponsor a Buddha or Buddhas write to Gold Mountain (see address above) for details.
SINO-AMERICAN BUDDHIST ASSOCIATION
GOLD MOUNTAIN MONASTERY
1731 FIFTEENTH STREET
SAN FRANCISCO, CA.94103
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