"We come into this world and we don't know where we came from and we don't know where we are going. We don't know what's really happening at present and we can't foresee the future. This is a lot of trouble, isn't it? For a. long time I wondered, 'Is there a way not to come and not to go? And what is more to even be happy to come and not sad to go?" Sramanerika Heng Chai wondered and wondered until finally she found Gold Mountain Monastery and heard the Venerable Abbot speak Dharma.

      "I'm really lucky to have this unexpected opportunity to meet a Bright-Eyed Good Knowing Advisor who shows us the Way. Now I know that originally from

beginningless time onward we have reveled in greed, hate, and stupidity; we have stubbornly hung on to our own opinions; we can't see through and put things down; we are confused and controlled by our false thoughts. This is the burden of human existence. It binds people up so they can't get free."
      Faced with the realization that the suffering in the world and even the world itself is a manifestation of one's own karma, Heng Chai saw that her fun-loving attitude and enjoyment of "pleasures" was really not the best way to spend her life; that more important was to leave home and cultivate the Way.

"When we leave home we leave the ordinary home, the home of afflictions, the home of birth and death, and the home of the Triple World. Leaving the ordinary home means leaving your family-life and going to a temple to cultivate. But still, in our minds, there is a lot of affliction. If we don't cut off this affliction, then although we wear the robes, our minds will not be at peace. So we must cultivate the mind-ground to leave the home of afflictions.

"From beginningless on we have turned in the cycle of birth and death without cease. 'The aim of leaving home is to end birth and death and when we leave the home of birth and death we also leave the home of the Triple Realm, get off the turning wheel of rebirth, and can certify to the bliss of Nirvana."

Heng Chai left the home life under the Venerable Master on January 6, 1977, the Anniversary of Sakyamuni Buddha's Enlightenment. As a novice she perfects deportment and truly puts all her heart into the establishment of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas Bodhimanda so it can become an orthodox place of practice. Before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas she bows, recites sutras and mantras, and performs the Great Compassion Repentance to eradicate karmic offenses. Within the community she does administrative duties, gardens in the Field of Blessings and prepares the vegetables it yields, works in the library, and is always ready and willing to do whatever task is at hand.

"The most important part of leaving home is to leave home in your mind. You have to cultivate your mind with whatever Buddhadharmas your teacher guides you to study. The path of cultivation is not easy to walk because as we go we have to pull out all our overgrown habits and faults. It's really not easy! As soon as we get rid of one bad habit another crops up in its place!"

Heng Chai has memorized the Surangama Mantra and studies the Daily Vinaya and precepts and rules of deportment in preparation for her full ordination.

"Sooner or later, no matter who you are, you have to walk the Way. Otherwise you won't ever stop turning in the wheel of rebirth where it's easy to go from being a person to being an animal or even a hungry ghost. The whole process is very frightening.

"The entire extent of our human lifespan is but a few decades, how pitiful if we merely spend it on fending for a day-to-day existence. Better that we prepare for where we're going next. Don't be one who doesn't ordinarily light incense (before the Buddhas) but who on the verge of death nervously clutches at the Buddha's feet.

"We can be fun-loving and goof off in some ways, perhaps, but whatever you do, don't take birth and death lightly. If you're not careful you can fall into the three evil paths and then if you want to cultivate it will be too late. As the ancients put it:

If you don't save yourself in this life,

In what life do you intend to do so?

"So it would be better to cultivate a little earlier and attain liberation sooner."