I was born in a small town north of New York City on April 9, 1949. Both of my parents are artists so I was very fortunate in being exposed to many fine things early in life. When I was twelve, my father got a job over seas so we moved to Rome for about a year. While there I saw things you just don't see in suburban New York. Kids my own age and younger begging in the streets to survive. Many were crippled and maimed and I learned that they were often made this way by their parents so they would have a better chance to get sympathy and money. This was a harsh indication of the workings in the Saha World.

After our return to the States T went through high school and a year of college. This was in the 60's and my experiences were typical, drugs, anti-war demonstrations and the like. I was first exposed to Taoism and Buddhism at this time but didn't really pay much attention to them. They were just something that was far out when you were stoned. About seven years ago I moved to San Francisco following a separation from this lady I had been living with. A year of intense anxiety and confusion followed as a result of my deep attachment to her. It was like something out of a Dostoyevsky novel and the only thing keeping me in more or less one piece was my tranquilizers. This kind of drug dependence I soon found to be very dangerous and illusory. In a search for a better solution I happened upon Tai Chi Chuan and Taoism. What Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu had to say changed everything for me. The more I read and practiced the smoother life became, problems started taking care of themselves, it seemed. I read everything I could get my hands on and this led me to the Sixth Patriarch and Diamond Sutras. This was truly some amazing Dharma. Taoism had calmed things down, but Buddhism started to open things up. Next came the Lotus Sutra and the Vimalakirti Nirdesha Sutra. I had never read anything that made so much sense. In my hunt for Sutras I came across A General Explanation of the Vajra Prajna Paramita Sutra by Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua. I had read different translations of this Sutra before, but this one was so clean and crisp, and the commentary so illuminating the text just came to life. I had heard of Gold Mountain Monastery before so after reading this I decided to find out more and starved attending the lectures. In addition to the Sutra lecture I was hearing things like "Everything's a test to see what you will do. Mistaking what's before your face, you'll have to start anew." This was like being given a sword to chop away afflictions.

One thing led to another and now I am living at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. To be able to study the Buddha Dharma with someone like the Master Hua is a truly precious, opportunity. The Masters' wisdom and penetrations are inconceivable and his method of teaching must be experienced, it's not something you can describe. Just knowing about Buddha Dharma and actually living it are two different things. Everything speaks Dharma and nowhere is that more evident than here at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Practicing the Buddha Dharma isn't easy, it requires a lot of hard work and patience and the place to do it. The quality of life here is unique, and again this something that must be experienced to be appreciated.

The night before I took refuge I had a dream. The Master was walking through a field with one of his disciples; the sky was dark and sinister and winds were howling. Crawling toward them were two men. As they crawled along, the blades of grass would turn to razors and cut them horribly. When they saw the Master they begged him for help in getting rid of the evil thing behind them and pointing to an old ruin they expired. There in the ruin moved a giant shadowy thing, foul in every sense of the word. The disciple was terrified but the Master was unmoved, he told the disciple to relax and handed him a sword. "It's O.K., just do your best." And with that he sent the disciple to meet the shadow. The shadow just laughed and rushed at the disciple who stood his ground. The shadow brought down his own sword on the disciple but nothing happened, it just stuck in mid-air. His laughter turned to horror as the disciple thrust his sword deep into the heart of the shadow and with a hideous scream it was gone.

I didn't know I was going to take refuge the next day but when Dharma Master Shun called and told me the ceremony was being held I didn't hesitate. To study with the Venerable Master is a rare gift and the opportunity is open to anyone with a sincere heart. Through the power of his great vows he has brought the Orthodox Buddha Dharma to America and we are indeed fortunate.