Heng Sure March 28,1978
"...up to and including accomplishing Great Enlightenment beneath the Bodhi Tree."
Sheer cliffs, barbed-wire on the precipice, poison oak beneath the scrub oak and manzanita. We retreat to the Plymouth at sunset, meditate until Sutra study time. Through the dust-covered window I caught "the flash of green" as the sun disc vanished below the waves.
The Buddha meditated on a heap of straw by the riverbank; the Bodhi tree has a fat, broad trunk and heart-shaped leaves that rattle in the breeze. After 49 days of still contemplation, the Buddha had overcome hallucinations, resisted temptations by demon-women, subdued the myriad states of mind and body. He looked up, saw a bright star, and his mind opened to great enlightenment. He knew everything. He would never again undergo rebirth.
Heng Chau, Tuesday, March 28,1978
"I'm Lost But I'm Really Movin'!"
Cars and campers roar by at incredible speeds, losing control on curves. The frenetic pace of the world gets played out on the highway. Twenty-four hours a day, non-stop, wheels spin and squeal and pound the asphalt outside as we people spin and pound our minds inside.
Bowing slows us down to a natural speed. We have learned wherever we go we are still in the same place, our mind. Fast or slow, L.A. freeways, or in pine woods, we never leave the world of our own minds.
A station wagon bulging with suitcases and screaming kids speeds by. On the bumper sticker it says,
"I'm Lost But I'm Really Movin'!"
"Boy, there's more to that than there seems," says a Park Ranger who stopped to talk. "That bumper sticker says a lot. Running here and there, never finding out who you are or where you're going. We are all lost."
"All beings are on the dangerous road of birth and death..." For example, it is just like a blind person who has no guide and mistakes a dead-end road for a road with an exit. He enters a demonic realm where he is captured by bandits. He goes along with the demon's mind and abandons the Buddha's will. I should pull him out of this danger and difficulty and cause him to dwell in the fearless city of all-wisdom."
----Avatamsaka Sutra (The Ten Grounds) -----
Bicycles, cars, motorcycles, planes,, trains, and roller skates, whiz and spin us into a thousand difficult directions, but the big wheel doesn't stop. We ride our little wheels in circles on the big wheel. Like the song says,
"Little wheels spin and spin,
While the Big Wheel turns around and 'round."
A bicyclist stops to offer us water from his canteen. Hot day, hits the spot. I look down and notice his wheels have stopped, a rare sight on this road. He stopped to give and ask about Buddhism. We are all trying to stop our own little wheels from driving us crazy, and get off the grinding Big Wheel. This is what the Buddha teaches to all Bodhisattvas.
"Smashing completely all existence,
The wheel of birth and death,
Turning the pure wonderful Dharma Wheel,
Unattached in all the world,
He teaches this to all Bodhisattvas!"
|He stopped to give and askad out Buddhism. We are all trying to stop our own little wheels from driving us crazy...
Heng Sure, March 29,1981
". . . manifesting all types of spiritual power. . ."
How broad is the mind? The mind contains everything, but we forget.
We forget the first shock of new experiences. We take for
granted what only yesterday was inconceivable. The towns we
pass through display spiritual powers at night. Every home
lights a dim gray or pastel rainbow lamp; we see the shadows
through the windows as we make camp like nomads on the road
outside. The entire country joins in a celebration of
invisible psychic magic. A national family
comes together to experience the new religion of the world called "watching t.v." Who says it's not psychic powers at work? Are the dancers and cowboys and newmen and halfbacks inside that little box?
Why do they wear white and grey faces on the old t.v.'s and flesh-colored faces on the new sets? Where do they go when the show is over? After seeing a movie, primitive peoples in New Guinea ran up and looked for the actors behind the screen. Finding no people, they concluded there were magical spirits in the "little black box."
My grandparents had no television. They had no notion that such a thing could be. Now everyone accepts t.v. as a part of life. The mind adapts very quickly.
|How broad is the mind? The mind contains everything, but we forget...
Heng Chau Wednesday March 29,1978
Bowing in cold rain. Tall fir and pines line the steep, rocky, Big Sur slopes that plunge straight down into the sea. Quiet, grey outside, lots of time and
room to explore inside.
During our recitation of Gwan Yin's name yesterday, I had an experience that the asphalt, grass, trees, and stars, were our ancestors. The air, water, wind and earth were the children to come. And yet there was no today, yesterday, or tomorrow. The entire substance of the universe was one, without beginning or end, loss or addition. One boundless, ageless body where the many were the one, and the one was the many.
"Deep and wide and interfused, Vast and great and totally complete." (Avatamsaka Preface)
It rocked me for a second, maybe because I couldn't find a "me" in this picture. But something in the chanting," Namo Gwan Shr Yin Pu Sa, Namo Gwan Shr Yin Pu Sa,' made everything okay and turned my fear into a big smile.
Someone watching us clean up the car after lunch comments,
"It must give you a certain amount of satisfaction to have everything neat and in its place."
I remembered our first night in L. A. Heng Sure and I shared a small room in the back of the temple. The Master looked in after morning recitation to see a veritable pig sty. Our clothes, bags and belongings were scattered and draped wherever they landed as we threw them.
"Keep your room clean and orderly," said the Master." A clean Way-place can cause someone to bring forth the mind for Bodhi."
Later in the Master's room, I noticed how peaceful and clear I felt. I observed the Master had few possessions lying about. The room was orderly and simple, not cluttered. There was a sense of expansiveness and room to receive people.
Why would a teacher bother with such seemingly trivial matter as a disciple's messy room?
"Deal with the hard while it is still easy. With the great while it is still small." -- Lao tzu
Small habits and faults soon snowball into major character flaws. A sloppy room or appearance conceals a scattered mind. Left uncorrected while small and close at hand, this messy mind grows to become a major obstruction to one's karma in the Way. It's an outflow. One's energy dribbles away into a thousand loose ends of a disorganized life style. There's no concentration; the mind is unable to be still and quiet. To be successful in cultivating the Way requires a fine and subtle maneuvering in the realm of cause and effect. Every step must be right. Each act, word and thought, cannot be a fraction off the mark. So there's a saying in Buddhism,
"Bodhisattvas fear causes, not results."
The result is included in the cause. The fruit is determined by the seed. Bodhisattvas know that what happens to them comes from the karma they create, so they tread with great care and do not overlook the smallest affair.
"Everything great must be dealt with while it is still small. Therefore, the Sage never has to deal with the great; and so achieves greatness." -Lao Tzu
Another lesson: I'm greedy. I always need less than I want. I always want more than I need. Too much brings regret later. Fear of too little brings worry before. Desire is a lot of suffering. The Sutra says,
"With few desires know contentment."
Heng Sure March 30,1978
"... changes and transformations..."
Caterpillars turn into butterflies; tadpoles become frogs. Darwin suggested that apes evolve into men. We accept these changes without blinking. The mind contains all-knowledge. It's said Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva manifests in thirty-two different response bodies, and appears before living beings to speak Dharma, and teach and transform them. Who believes it? Who do we believe? We were trained to be skeptical, scientific doubters. But science's pioneers are now discovering the universe looks very much the way ancients Sages described it in Sutras so old they cannot be dated.
I walked under the stars to stretch my legs after meditation. Looking up I saw a fiery streak of light and heard a faint, whistling roar. Vandenberg Air Base had released another pebble from Dr. Strangelove's slingshot in a futile effort to conquer space.
We work so hard and run so far away from home, seeking what is originally perfect and complete within. There is more magic and unexpected wonder in an hour of meditation than in any space program. From "Star Trek" to sputnik, from Tom Swift Jr. To NASA, the inner journey into the mind tops them all. Besides, full lotus is peaceful, rockets are not, they scream "Kill, kill!"
|But science's pioneers are now discovering the universe looks very much the way ancients Sages described it in Sutras so old they cannot be dated.
Heng Chau, Thursday, March 30,1978
Big Sur Rain
Rain and stiff winds continue. Big cliff ahead and a small road.
What's it like inside the car on a cold, rainy day? We wash up in a small plastic basin while kneeling and bent over in the back of the car. Hand's are too stiff and cold to pump the stove. We light kerosene lamp to thaw out frigid fingers. Whoever gets circulation back first pumps the stove. Heng Sure meditates while I cook. The stove is propped up on stuffed sacks and clothes bags. We have a space about the size of a school desk top to prepare lunch, eat on, and do dishes. Rinse dishes with rain water by setting them on the roof. A stick of incense burns on the altar in an old Planter's Peanut can. The food is balanced on the wheel wells and in our laps. Before we got a bell and hand bell from Gold Wheel, we used hub caps and beat a kettle top with a chopstick for the meal ceremony gong.
The wet clothes get thrown in the front under the dashboard until the sun comes out again. Wet shoes are stacked against the door, standing on their toes to dry, as a puddle forms inside the car. Every inch is used. What space is left over bugs and spiders turn into winter living quarters. We brush our teeth and put on rain clothes while kneeling: Often banging our heads on the roof and poking each other in the eyes or ribs.
Heng Sure goes back to bow. I drive ahead 1/2 mile, sometimes further on mountain roads, before finding a pull-off. I make a thermos of hot water and wrap it in our winter coats so we'll have something hot to chase the chill after bowing, and the next A. M.
I'm surprised how well we get along, considering the cramped living conditions. We usually just shrug and laugh, which defuses any tension that gathers after a week of solid rain. Pressure builds patience, and patience is what cultivators need most.
"A Bodhisattva is able to bear all manner of evil, And in his mind he is totally level and equal to all beings without any agitation. Just as the earth is able to support all things, so he is able to purify the perfection of patience." (Avatamsaka Sutra)
Heng Sure, March 31,1978
"... transforming all kinds of Buddhabodies which presided over all the Assemblies."
From one photo negative we can print limitless pictures. The moon's light reflects at once on all lakes and rivers. Two mirrors facing each other reflect endlessly into infinity. Transformed bodies may be a bit like these, not so strange.
Beneath my foot is a dented aluminum soda-pop can. It is identical with millions of discarded soda-pop cans that clutter the world's highways and by-ways. Transformations surround us.
The Avatamsaka describes a level of cultivation where all the body puts forth hundreds of thousands of millions of transformed bodies. And yet all of these bodies are one body.
We know so little of the inconceivable and mysterious. But the mind remembers as it learns. There is nothing new under the sun.