BHIKSHU HENG SURE:
Good morning everybody! Now that all of you have recited the Flower Adornment Sutra, participated in the bowing pilgrimage, and seen the sun rising from Wonderful Enlightenment Mountain, our program today is to share our insights about the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the memories of the Venerable Master Hua.
The first person to share his experience is Professor Tom MacMillan. He is one of the people responsible for founding Mendocino College and guiding it as an administrator and teacher for all of these years. He is also a Baptist minister from Ukiah Valley and other places. He is personally responsible for teaching and training many of our young people... putting their minds into the critical analytical view of the world...preparing them to look at the surface and go below it...to try to find the truth underneath the superficial. Professor Tom MacMillan has been a friend of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association for years. He received personal instruction from the Venerable Abbot and exchanged views on many different occasions. And whenever there is an interfaith gathering, Tom MacMillan is usually found in the center of it. I think it is rare for a Baptist minister to do a bowing pilgrimage from the Mountain Gate to the Buddha Hall, three steps, one bow. Thus, let us invite him to speak a few words.
DR. TOM MACMILLAN:
It is a great honor to be invited to share with you on this very, very auspicious observance of the 25th Anniversary of the founding of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The Venerable Abbot, Dharma Masters, honored guests and dear friends, I bring you the greetings of the religious community of Ukiah; of the city outside the gates of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas this morning.
Over the course of the last 25 years, it has been my great honor and privilege to have become more deeply associated with the work of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. It was my privilege also to have met and to have spoken with Master Hua on several occasions. We spoke of the relationship between bowing and helpfulness and growth and strength. This morning in the brief time that I spent taking three steps and bowing over a total of four hundred yards in perhaps forty minutes, my respect was deepened for the great accomplishment of my dear friend Heng Sure and his companion. That was a two year, nine month journey. So I believe that I probably have two years, eight months, twenty-nine days, twenty-three hours and twenty minutes to go to be able to strengthen and deepen my understanding of the benefits and what can be gained through the process of submitting oneself in this very clear manner of three steps and one bow. It was an honor to participate with you this morning.
It has also been my great honor to have received from you many gifts. The most important gift has been the gift of your children. As they have grown and matured, it has been my privilege to have taught some of them at Mendocino College...to see some of them complete their work here in our community and go on to Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley, McGill University, and to universities throughout the nation and the world, and to begin to distinguish themselves in productive ways, representing the foundation of education and most importantly the foundation of character that they have received here in the school system of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. You have nurtured these youth for all of these many years.
The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas has combined religion and education together. Presently, it is working hand in hand with the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. I have been extremely proud of the scholarship, of the quality of work, of the quality and character of those who continue to lead that educational venture. Heng Sure Shr has taken a visible leadership in the united religions initiative movement to improve and increase interfaith understanding and to make bridges of compassionate mutual understanding across the boundaries of religious faith and tradition. I'm looking forward to that initiative being extended locally as well, as we begin to work to establish an interfaith communication circle even in our own community, and to continue that work beyond the gates of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas here in Ukiah and in Mendicino County.
Sometimes I am introduced as, and sometimes I think of myself as the resident Christian scholar to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. That's a place of unique responsibility, for it has always been my desire to represent my faith as honestly, as forthrightly, and as transparently as I see the practice and cultivation of Buddhism being presented to me. I have been so deeply enriched in my understanding, and continue to appreciate the opportunity to represent that same presentation (of faith) as we continue our dialogue of so many years. That is a challenge that I would continue to place before you, the challenge of interfaith dialogue. It is also important to be authentically who we are with mutual respect and deep regard; with compassion for one another and understanding of one another. To join hands and to serve our community, whether that community be envisioned as merely the one just outside the gate or the larger community of our nation and our world. We should join hands together and, in mutual understanding, be able to portray with honesty the traditions that we represent to one another and with one another as we speak for ethical religious force in the world.
Today on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, I renew my commitment to stand with you, to be an honest broker between the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and the larger community of which you are a part, to extend whatever intellectual, emotional, and spiritual effort I can on behalf of the work that is being accomplished....whether in very practical ways, concerning building programs and representing the interests of the City before the county planning commission, or whatever way we can be of service. We renew our commitment, I renew my commitment to you, and we look forward to the privilege of standing with you in the next twenty-five years, in the twenty-five years beyond that, and the twenty five years beyond that, as the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas continues to flourish.
BHIKSHU HENG SURE:
For the Venerable Master, wherever there is a Way Place, there will be a school. He felt that now in this country, education and cultivation are inseparable, thus, he put a lot of effort on education. The elementary school, secondary school, university and graduate schools are his aspirations.
If the school at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas is a tree, then we have some fruits on education. Today, we have many boys and girls who had studied at the City or underwent some training before. We'd like to invite them to share their insights with everybody and talk about some learning experiences this month and next month?? (It's not really clear in Chinese either).
Amitabha! I just want to say that today, a few of us will share our stories. First of all, we will talk about how we learned and grew up at the City and our teachers and principals. In the end, we have a video tape about the activities we had this year for the Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth.
I attended the school at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas when I came in 1986. This year, I'm going to spend my summer vacation here. I feel really happy like I'm going home. The City is like my home. I had that kind of feeling when I first came here. Now I'd like to share a little story that happened when I studied here.
he City of Ten Thousand Buddhas gave me an education, it was a really valuable experience. I had a very strict Chinese teacher when I was nine years old. All the students thought that she was so mean. When this teacher was about to leave the home-life, I thought, "Oh, no! Whenever I see her, I'll have to put my palms together and respect her now!" I learned a lot in this Chinese class. During that time, I had some difficulties in my academic work and sometimes I would cry at home because learning was hard for me, especially mathematics. In every math class, I would raise my hand since I always had problems.
Once during a self-study class, that strict Chinese teacher who had left the home-life called me and talked to me. I was quite afraid and wondered what I had done wrong that the teacher wanted to talk to me, "Is she going to scold me?" But the teacher just showed me a string of recitation beads and said, "Have you seen these beads before?
They were really rough and unpolished with a light color. But now, they are really bright and have a darker hue. Do you understand? It's after many years of handling them in my hands that the beads became polished and very nice to look at."
I didn't quite understand and thought to myself, "Why did she mention that to me? Is she telling me that she practiced a lot?" Then the teacher looked at me once and told me to go back to my seat. She didn't explain why she mentioned her recitation beads.
After a period of hard times, at the age of fifteen, I finally understood why the teacher wanted to transform me and showed me the beads. I realized that the teacher was telling me, "No matter what you do, you should cherish it and have a resolute mind."
The last thing I want to bring up is: when someone doesn't treat you well, scolds you or fights with you verbally, no matter how frustrated you are, don't use the same attitude toward that person. I learned how to be patient and tolerant. Once we have this attitude when facing different matters, everything will become smooth.
To be continued