恆實    一九七七年 五月九日
恆朝    一九七七年 五月九日
Heng Sure      May 9, 1977
My twenty-third vow is not to speak unless the words are in service to the Triple Jewel. This is my chance to fulfill the vow at last. No phones to answer or interviews to give; no one to rap with or shoot the breeze. Silence, but for the necessary words to Heng Chau. To be effective this must be firm. Any kind of busy-bodiness or expression of self will not work. If I want all the energy to go up the right channels I have got to do every minute as I would do in a Chan session. A year-long two-man Chan session. Do it that way. No excess. The Middle Road.
Heng Chau      May 9, 1977
Still pouring through night and this morning. Thunder. Bowed inside again. Waiting for final instructions from Shih Fu. We will leave when Shih Fu leaves.
Bowing: Again the image of the body—one large body—all of us. If one part of the body is sick, the rest doesn't split and ignore it; it works together or breaks down together. There is no self that is immune, that can hide or be private. What goes around, comes around. You must heal yourself and share strength and light. Sick parts resist treatment; it hurts at first to be touched.
7:00 P.M.: Whew! That was the toughest day I can remember. Saw Shih Fu off at the airport. Alone, we are on our own. Heng Sure is trying not to talk. Pouring, pouring rain. Huge threatening clouds. We go back to Gold Wheel Temple, get our gear, and head off in the 1958 Plymouth wagon to solo. Where do we begin? In a tough, rundown main drag of a Mexican-American neighborhood where there are drunks and macho-looking tough kids. Oh, this is really tough. It takes all the courage I can muster. Two scared kids pretending it's no big deal. Before we even start, the groups are forming to check this weird number out. The second bow, I am tapped on the shoulder from behind. A drunken, huge man says, "Hey, what you
makin' with dis?" I feebly try to explain. He's about seven inches from my face. He slowly pulls out his wallet. Ah, our first donation? No. An oversentimentalized picture of Jesus with long wavy hair. He keeps shaking it in front of my nose, nodding and waiting. "A really holy person," say I, "excuse me now, I've got to keep up with my friend."
A car whizzes by, souped up and packed, full of men. "You get till sundown to be out of our neighborhood." Oh, Shih Fu, only three minutes out and already.... We plug on, even though more groups are forming ahead as the word spreads.
"You'll never get anywhere that way." "Hey, Joe, they're blessing your gas station." Some walk by as if we were old popsicle sticks—no notice. As we get closer to each group, they split, go inside, make an opening, watching cautiously. I notice it stopped raining just as we, started bowing. But we are covered with mud and grime and water from the sidewalks.
"Hey, kick 'em in the ... when they bend over! Ha! ha!" One tough runs up and brushes between us. We keep bowing. A big group of the worst has gathered at a corner ahead—two or three carfuls. One stands a good 6' 5". I am fighting all my martial arts training to jack up the ch'i (energy) and take a stance. Instead I bow; no eye contact. Heng Sure walks straight for them, I come to his side. They spread apart. One runs up and pats us on the heads. The others say, "Hey, man, let 'em be; they ain't doin' nothin'." Through we go. Soon the two toughest are stalking from behind. How hard to keep my back to them and go on reciting. Finally the monster comes along side. "Hey, sir, can I ask what you're doin'?" I nod and finish bowing. I explain we're Buddhist monks, and this is one of the ways we pray—it's a pilgrimage to bring some peace to ourselves and the world.
"All the way to Ukiah? How long will that take?" "About a year."
"Wow! That's somethin'. Don't he talk?"
"No, he's concentrating, praying. I carry the gear, cook, talk to folks, drive, etc."
"You got the hard job." They are moved. Something soft and genuine is coming out.
"Well, gotta go, we have to get some rest."
"Peace to you," he says and crosses us with his blessing. "Take care."
I can feel the protection around us. Heng Sure's silence is powerful. If we can keep sincere and careful we'll have a much better chance to deal with things.
→To be continued