In April 1970, twenty-four years ago, a group of young American disciples at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco first published a modest little magazine called Vajra Bodhi Sea. Although the beginnings were simple and unassuming, it was the best they could do at the time. They saw that their Venerable Teacher, Master Hua, was not displeased as he beheld that first golden-colored issue they respectfully presented to him. At their request, he had given it the name, Vajra Bodhi Sea. Historically, it was a sign of the beginning of Proper Dharma in the Western Hemisphere. For this reason, the name should never be changed, even though the look and content of it have evolved somewhat through the years.
What exactly is meant by " Vajra Bodhi Sea"? "Vajra" is said to be the hardest substance in existence. The nearest thing to Vajra that's known in our world is diamond, which is extremely hard crystalline carbon. How then could a "sea" be "diamond"? It is adamantine in its immutability; and moreover, the light of Prajna sparkles upon the waves like the facets of a diamond, reflecting light endlessly. "Bodhi" is the awakened realization of Buddhas. Thus the Diamond Sea of Bodhi is no less than the infinite ocean of enlightenment; the brilliant, magnificent, timeless Buddha-nature.
The cover-poem of that beginning issue, in Chinese characters written by our Venerable Master, encircles right-to-left the first of the Forty-two Mudra-eyes, the As-You-Will Pearl:
Pure incense from jeweled censor transforms the three-thousand;
The golden wishing-tortoise swims thru nine abysses;
Sudhana and the Dragon Girl laugh aloud;
You should quickly investigate Buddhism's wonderful Dharma!
In these fascinating images are glimpses of the mysterious, cosmic realm of the Avatamsaka Sutra, spiritual power, and the inconceivable compassion-mind. The Venerable Master has been most compassionate to bring to America the matchless jewels of unsurpassed insight and thorough understanding of Absolute Truth. An important vehicle for distributing the priceless Dharma-treasure is this magazine, which is why we must continue to support and promote its circulation.
Its Evolution, Its Future
From a brochure-sized publication in English to a glossy-covered bi-lingual magazine, the structure and format have changed with the advent of computerized word-processing and superior paper and printing quality. What has not changed about it is that : 1) for those involved in the process, it's still a "labor of love" in the classic sense of unselfish devotion, an all-volunteer, non-profit endeavor; 2) it's still published monthly; and 3) it continues to broadcast the life-affirming good news of Right Dharma, the Buddha's true message.
Sutra commentaries, Buddhist sermons, Dharma essays, Sangha stories, verses, news, announcements, contests, biographies, testimonies to the miraculous effectiveness of cultivating The Way--where else in the world could you find such tasteful, wholesome material? I ask you, is there any other magazine which can help you end birth and death but this one? In my opinion, the quality of the translations and the bi-lingual format alone are worthy of a prize.
What's more, it's still all volunteer, from start to finish. There is no worldly profit-motive here: only the wish to share the Universal Truth with other people. Any Buddhist friends who're willing to participate with a little time, talent; or whatever, in any phase of the publication shouldn't be shy about lending a hand. Keep up the good work, Vajra Bodhi Sea, in the service of humanity; you'll live long, and benefit the nations of the world.
Suggestions for improvement: The only thing missing, perhaps, is the vegetarian recipe column that the Master originally suggested, naming it in English, "Vegetables (for a) Long Life." Also, a nice ongoing question-and-answer column for far-flung disciples to ask sincere questions of the Venerable Master would be a welcome addition.