Introduces Sramanera Heng Hsien

Sramanera Heng Hsien was born In Stock-ton, California, but grew up in San Bernadino where part of his family had settled during the second half of the 19th century. San Bernadino is the location of a famous natural arrowhead that exists on the side of the mountain, which figures in the religious stories of Indians and Mormons.

As he grew up, Heng Hsien was interested in both science and religion, alternately wishing to be an inventor and a minister. He eventually obtained a B.A. in psychology from University of California, Berkeley in 1965 and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Washington in 1968.

"I took a position at Fullerton State University so as to be near enough to my mother to look after her properly," relates Heng Hsien, "and there, while meditating on a bowl of water, a scientific proof of several of the Buddhas' teachings suddenly appeared in my consciousness." Records of this have since been verified and published.

Shramanera Heng Hsien

After that experience, Heng Hsien left Fullerton to go to India and find a guru. He spent several years meditating at several centers.

      "My coming to Gold Mountain was most centrally caused by two main occurrences." Heng Hsien goes on. "First, when my grandmother was dying, she went into a coma. Upon being informed of this, I went to her side. Wishing to obtain a good rebirth for her, but not being spiritually advanced myself, I tried to obtain the help of teachers I had known by saying mantras they had taught me. Finally, even though I had never been given it, I began reciting Amitabha Buddha's name. At first recitation Amitabha Buddha appeared above my grandmotherís bed with a form made out of voidness, an even greater clearness in the already transparent air, and at that exact instant, even though she was in a coma, my grandmother opened her eyes. Nine or ten recitations later,

I cannot remember exactly how many, Amitabha Buddha disappeared and at that moment my grandmother closed her eyes again. This shows Amitabha Buddha's great compassion, because I am not spiritually advanced and my grandmother was Roman Catholic.

"Then later while I was out on a retreat in the forest, I was sent a newspaper report describing the serious study and practice at Gold Mountain and wanted to come but decided that my health, which I was having trouble with, could not hold up under the routine. However, I wrote to Gold Mountain about an unrelated matter, and in response a letter was sent to me suggesting I join the Dharma Realm Buddhist University faculty. I decided to take a chance with my health. When I arrived, I immediately knew that the Master was spiritually advanced because as soon as I came into his presence, my mind became much quieter and my meditation suddenly improved."

      After more than a year of study and practice including several intensive recitation and meditation sessions, Heng Hsien was granted permission to leave the home-life. On August 3, 1977, the anniversary of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's enlightenment, he shaved his head, put on the robes of a Buddhist monk, and received the ten novice precepts.

In addition to maintaining the schedule of meditation, worship, and repentance done daily at the Sino-American Buddhist Association centers, Sramanera Heng Hsien has worked on Ten Thousand Buddhas Press publications and contributed his skills to the Buddhist Text Translation Society. He is now teaching at Dharma Realm Buddhist University and joins the Avatamsaka assembly where he intensifies his study to include Chinese as he listens to the bilingual expounding of that king of sutras.