Dear Shih Fu,
As you often tell us, Shih Fu, everything speaks the Dharma. In this case, even thieves have become our good and wise advisors, helping us break our attachments. Your instructions at Gold Wheel were quite clear: "If you can't do a good job of putting down your false thoughts about the mundane, daily dharmas of food, clothing, and sleep, then your efforts will not carry you along the Way, Cultivate what is close by, cultivate the basics. Be patient with what you cannot endure."
In fact we have not done a good job of putting down our false thoughts of the basic, before our eyes. We often keep our eyes fixed on the high, profound distant Dharma and stumble over the, daily matters that we take for granted. So what was stolen from the car? One third of our food, our eating bowls, our alarm clock, and clothes. Really uncanny how if one does not do a good job of reciting one's own sutra. Bodhisattvas disguised as thieves will appear to point out the shortcomings and attachments. Clearly the effort must go first into everyday, ordinary concerns of existence; "The ordinary mind is the Way: The straight mind is the Bodhimanda." As National Master Ching Liang put it, "...it is the common mind which sees the Buddhamind...cultivating both principle and specifics one relies on basic wisdom to seek the Buddha's wisdom.
I recall how as a child I was drawn to people who spoke principle. Those really "adult" grown-ups-I met were people who knew the rules and built their daily behavior on a solid foundation of principle. One of the things I like most about the Buddhadharma is the way everyone responds to its truth, people from all walks of life hear the Dharma deep within their heart of hearts and it never fails to bring out the best in all of us.
Kuo Ch'en Anderson came down yesterday and told briefly about his discovery of the Buddhadharma and what it meant to him. Kuo Ch'en took refuge with the Triple Jewel on the Master's birthday at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. He received the lay precepts on the Buddha's birthday just last week. He said, "I felt like I was home at last. In the sky I saw the most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen. And you know what else? I saw the end of the rainbow the pot of gold it was right there with us at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas." Kuo Ch'en explained that "before I met the Master and Buddhism everything I did always let me down life was a long series of disappointments. I would carry out some new plan for success to its end and find myself nowhere again. Then after I heard the Venerable Abbot speak Dharma I looked into it for myself. I suddenly realized that my life is not worthless after all. I do have an important part to play in things—just keeping the precepts is a big job. What's more I see now that all along, the problems I faced came from me, from my own mind. The answers to those problems come from the same place."
Kuo Ch'en was worried that his parents would have some difficulty accepting that their son was now part of an unfamiliar religion. Heng Ch'au said, "Be really patient with your folks, don't' try to convince them. You don't even have to talk about your changes. Just hold your precepts really tightly. You will get a good response according to your sincerity. The precepts naturally clear up and help us go to the good. Your parents want you to be happy and when they see you growing more pure and light everyday, they will naturally come to recognize the true principles of the Buddhadharma. Most of all don't force anything and don't get angry! That's really important. After all, you're not killing, you're not using dope or liquor, you're really happy. How can you go wrong?"
Everytime we see a fellow disciple of the Master's we recognize a quality of light and goodness shining from the eyes and the heart. It makes us truly glad lobe working within the Dharma and trying our best to "step by step make tracks for the good."
Disciple Kuo Chen (Heng Sure)
Bows in respect.