萬佛城金剛菩提海 Vajra Bodhi Sea


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Hah! My Dream-Life Awakened
(How about you, Michael?)

Upasaka Kuo Chan

Dharma Master Heng Ch’ien

Dharma Master Heng Ch’ien was born in Idaho but spent most of his life in Washington. When 14 years old, he had an accident; while jumping about on a floating log he slipped and fell into the lake. It was January, and the water was bitter cold. The icy chill shocked him and he thought of nothing but getting out the water and going home. He pulled himself out and walked up to his house, about 300 yards from the lake. When he arrived and began to remove his wet clothes he was surprised to see that one of his socks, originally white, had become bright crimson. He removed it and found his leg spurting blood from a deep gash in the knee. Before discovering the gash he was solely concerned with getting warm and had felt no pain. When he discovered the wound, however, it began to hurt. It seemed strange and he still remembers clearly that before he had given rise to the thought "my leg’s been injured", there was no pain.

After graduating from high school he moved to Ellensburg to attend Central Washington State College. He planned to major in English and to teach school after graduation. Not long after the school year began he began experimenting with drugs. As his infatuation with drugs soared, his interest in school plummeted. What was at first a simple curiosity soon became a way of life, overpowering all other interests.

Drugs slowly turned him inside out and upside down. Sleeping all day and staying up all night, he often just lay on his bed, staring like a burnt-out TV tube at the wall in front of him. When the alarm went off in the morning, he undressed and went to bed, while his roommate got up and went to school. He slept all day, arising only to eat dinner in the evening, or to take occasional lunch. This routine drove him ever deeper into a state of gloomy depression. As the yin in his body overpowered the yang, his very breath turned black.

One night around 9 p.m., while daydreaming on his bed, he thought about getting up but found that he could not move, as if he were covered by a heavy sheet of glass. After running his hands over the surface of the glass, he opened his mouth and tried to call his roommate, whom he saw sitting not more than ten feet away, but although he heard himself scream as loud as possible, not the faintest sound was heard in the room. He was becoming more frightened by the minute, but was totally powerless, trapped beneath an invisible force field. Finally, after 20 or 30 minutes, he was able to move again.

"At the time," comments Heng Ch’ien, "neither I nor anyone else could explain what had happened. I was not under the influence of drugs. Two years later, however, after studying Buddhism, I found that I had encountered a Kumbhanda ghost who, attracted to my deep state of depression, took advantage of the opportunity to try and kill me. Had I known the Leng Yen Mantra, I would have been able to dispense quickly with the ghost."

After this first encounter with ghosts, Dharma Master Heng Ch’ien had many such encounters with both ghosts and demons, which occurred quite regularly while he was living in Seattle. "As I lay in bed I heard some of my friends coming down the stairs to my room, but when they filed in I saw that they were not real people. Other times I saw their shapes and could hear them talking, urging me to ‘come along’. They had a strange power. When they concentrated it on me, I felt as though sinking into a vibrating pit of quicksand. It was not so much a physical feeling as something which happened in my mind. A few times I thought about letting them take me along, but always before it was too late, the threat of unconsciousness caused me to use all the energy I had to pull myself back into the room from the pulsating blackness into which my mind had been drawn. Now that I have studied the Buddhadharma I realize that they were not really friends, but demons manifesting in familiar forms who had come to subdue me, hoping to increase their rank to increase the forces of evil in the world."

There are those who, when reading this, will not believe. But there are others who will recognize what is being discussed. Ultimately, whether you believe it or not, ghosts and demons exist.

In the summer of 1968, weary of "false and impermanent highs" obtained through drugs, and wishing to understand the principles behind his existence in this world, he accompanied several friends to the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco, intending to spend the summer meditating and studying The Shurangama Sutra. It was quite different front his previous way of life and he had to undergo some major changes in order to remain. Strangely enough, most of the people who came to study that summer are still at the Buddhist Lecture Hall. Why? The work is hard and the days are long. Why would anyone wish to spend his time in this way?

When Dharma Master Heng Ch’ien first met Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua, it was as if they had met a long time ago and a certain feeling arose, a feeling of trust which increased every day. Heng Ch’ien found that he could not put down the principles of the Buddhadharma which the Master taught and at the end of that summer he requested the Master to accept him as a Sramanera (novice monk). The Master consented and Disciple Ch’ien began devoting all of his time and effort to the study and practice of those principles. He not only began studying that which required solid concentrate effort, but also had to part with many of his old friends such as sleep, food, and laziness.

In the fall of 1969, Dharma Master Heng Ch’ien, together with four other young Americans, traveled to Taiwan and was formally ordained as a Bhiksu. When asked about his reasons for doing so, Dharma Master Heng Ch’ien replied: "If I could cause others to understand my reasons for becoming a Bhiksu, they too would do the same. Understanding comes from one’s own mind, it cannot be found elsewhere. Were I to talk of ‘my understanding’ until the exhaustion of empty space, it never would become ‘your understanding.’ Although understanding belongs to he who understands, the principles which are understood do not belong to anyone; all may possess them. It is possible then to speak of principles which one understands, and which cause others to produce their own understanding. This is the Bodhisattva path–helping yourself and then helping others. This is my work.

"To understand what is outside, you first must understand what is inside. Thus The Avatamsaka Sutra says, ‘Everything is made from the mind alone’. This is where the work must be done, in the mind of man. If effort is not applied inwardly man will never transcend his outer environment, but rather the outer environment will overpower and enslave man."

Dharma Master Heng Ch’ien eats only one meal a day, sleeps five hours a night, and fills his day with meditation, recitation of mantras and sutras, study, translation, and other work. He is also lecturing The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra in an effort to awaken other sentient beings and to cause them to look inward.

On Feb. 15, 1970, Dharma Master Heng Ch’ien made the following vows before the Buddhas and fourfold assembly:

  1. Until the exhaustion of empty space, if there is one sentient being in the nine Dharma realms who has not yet accomplished Buddhahood, I vow to not obtain the utmost, right, and perfect enlightenment.
  2. Until the exhaustion of empty space, I vow to constantly be reborn in the Saha World, to leave home, and propagate the Buddhadharma, teaching and transforming sentient beings.
  3. Until the exhaustion of empty space, all the blessings and happiness which I ought to receive, I vow to transfer to all sentient beings so that they might early accomplish Buddhahood.
  4. Until the exhaustion of empty space, I vow to manifest in all the realms of sentient beings and cause them to study and cultivate the Buddhadharma.
  5. Until the exhaustion of empty space, I will protect and support all those who study and cultivate the Buddhadharma.
  6. Until the exhaustion of empty space, I vow to translate the Buddhas’ sutras into the languages of all countries, so that the inhabitants of those countries may study the Buddhadharma.
  7. Until the exhaustion of empty space, I vow to teach and transform all my fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and relatives of the past, present, and future, causing them to produce the Bodhi mind.
  8. Until the exhaustion of empty space, I vow to obtain unobstructed eloquence in speaking the principles of the Buddhadharma, causing all those who hear me to produce the Bodhi mind.
  9. Until the exhaustion of empty space, if sentient beings are due to receive suffering because of my errors, I vow to receive that suffering for them.
  10. Until the exhaustion of empty space, I vow to always make these ten vows.


--- Vajra Bodhi Sea, all the Bodhisattvas read it. ---


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