HENG CH’AU May 10, 1977
2:30 A.M. I wake up reciting a mantra. The mantra wakes me up. I hear voices and feet outside. My senses come alert. A shadow passes on the right of the van. Bang! An arm breaks through the front window vent and grabs for the door handle. Heng Sure, asleep, now jolts up. Dogs outside are barking wildly. "Hey!" I yell. The arm retreats. I can make out four big dark figures with nightsticks and a dog walking away from the car and down the street. Drunk and roaming. A little later I hear rocks hitting the pavement. They are mustering for a return. Tossing rocks, hitting their sticks, they draw nearer. I've got to move quickly. I jump over the seat and throw the car into gear. Where's the ignition key? In the ignition. Hope it starts. It does. They keep coming and I pull out. One tries to stop the car. We made it!
Went back and slept till 4:00 A.M. at Gold Wheel Temple in the driveway. We both feel tightness at what we are doing. Here there is potential for great accomplishment and for big mistakes. We need to be very careful with outflows. We must stick to a schedule, concentrate, and not move or retreat. Work hard and be sincere. There's no room for indulgence or error on these streets. We both feel the adrenalin crash. This was a big day, a hard one.
From early morning till fall of night,
All living beings should look after themselves.
Should you lose your life beneath my feet,
I vow that you will be reborn immediately
In the Land of Ultimate Bliss of Amitabha.
Nan. Yi di lyu ni swo he (3x)
HENG CH’AU May 10, 1977
Less flack this morning. The gas station we used for toilet purposes had a kindly old man who turned out to be a close-minded Bible man who tried to convince me I worshipped false gods. In between toilet breaks he had obviously put together a monologue and was ready to deliver come hell or high water. It was like talking to your radio—all transmission. Luckily I found an escape. "Excuse me but I have to stay close to the other monk. Take care." Zip!
Phuong Kuo Wu, Woo Kuo Hsiang, and Leonora Tsiang brought lunch to an abandoned lot. They are so gracious and kind. They were out last night looking for us. Receiving their food and bows makes one ashamed of not working harder and spurs one on. The next three or four days we will be passing through one of the roughest neighborhoods in L.A. An Upasaka has offered his driveway for evenings. We accept rather than cause more trouble like last night. To put ourselves in a situation where it's real likely someone is going to try to do us in does no one any good.
One Upasika is 69 years old. For years she was a devout Buddhist, but then she got sent to an Episcopal school and was made into a Christian. She never believed in Buddhism again because she couldn't find any true practice or cultivation. She says: "Then I met the Venerable Master. He doesn't talk much. His thought is deep. His eyes do the talking. For me to bow to anyone is hard, but to the Master it's easy. There's something there. I can't explain it." Beyond words, the heart and the true substance merge.
Boys come by and pelt us with a rock offering. Macho. If I had been more on top of it, I would have noticed the rocks and bottles in their hands and offered them the marshmallows. I've got to keep my eyes open. These were just kids with rocks, but next time... Can't relax! There is no clearcut rite of passage in this culture from boy to man, from girl to woman. So they get uptight and real difficult in the teen years. Looking for tests, ways to measure independence, strength, maturity. They know too much, so they get perverted—put on a false macho front, and try to be tough. They have no real models or heroes with any virtue or substance that they can look to. It must be weird for them to watch those women bowing and offering food to two roadgrubby monks in an abandoned parking lot they drink and grow up in.
Bowed through a tight, mellow Mexican neighborhood with no bars. Together family and community here. No questions, no hassle. It's just like we weren't there or like a gentle wind passed through.
Hsia Ching-shan and his family, the Woos, Alice Wong, etc., help us a lot. They drive back and forth, buy food, wash clothes, get a key from the Upasaka so we can bathe in his house, etc. They got us a permit sticker from the police for the car to be on the streets overnight, but we can't sleep in the car. The cops know about us and told one upasika that they would look for us if we did try to sleep in the car and bother us until we leave.
- To be continued