萬佛城金剛菩提海 Vajra Bodhi Sea


Vajra Bodhi Sea: HomeMain IndexIssue Index




It's Really Different:
The Venerable Master and the Birds in Golden Gate Park in 1975

比丘恆佐 文 By Bhikshu Heng Tso
王青楠博士 中譯 Chinese translation by Qingnan Wang, Ph.D.



有許多年了,上人外出時都帶一個藍色的粗帆布袋。這種袋子是為買副食品而做的,和店裡的大牛皮紙袋相當。(當時尚未改用塑膠袋。)我們三個人下了車,上人打開布袋,我沒想到裡面全是麵包頭。上人告訴我們要來餵鳥;我們走到塘邊唯一的一把椅子旁,上人告訴我們他要鳥 來吃麵包,我們要念大悲咒,於是我們就坐下來開始念咒。




In the mid 1970s, California suffered through a severe two year drought. During that time, I had many opportunities to act as the Venerable Master's chauffeur. Once, as the Master climbed into the car at Gold Mountain Monastery in San Francisco, he asked, "Do you know of any good ponds in Golden Gate Park?"

Because I lived near the park and had visited it many times, I replied, "Yes, I know of a few."

The Master said, "Good; let's go," and off we went to explore Golden Gate Park. In the car there were three of us, the Venerable Master, Gwo-Ching, my daughter, who was three or four years old and I. When we arrived at the park, it was about nine in the morning, and we went straight to what I thought was a perfect pond. It was large enough that some might consider it a small lake, where men sailed their model boats. As we drove up to the water's edge, the Master said, "This one isn't right. We need to find another one." We continued to drive until we found ourselves at the edge of a much smaller and more isolated pond, surrounded by trees and bushes on a small one-lane road. The Master liked this pond and told me to park the car.

For many years the Master carried a blue canvas bag whenever he went out. This bag was made for people who might need to walk to the store when they went grocery shopping, because it was just the right size to accommodate a large brown paper grocery bag (this was a time when grocery stores hadn't made the change to plastic bags). As the three of us got out of the car, the Master opened up his bag to reveal something I hadn't expected to see. It was full of heels of bread, and he told us we were going to feed the birds. We walked over to the only bench in sight, which was appropriately facing the pond, and the Master told us what he wanted to do. He said we should recite the Great Compassion Mantra as the birds take the bread. Then we sat down and began reciting.

What happened next was one of the most magical experiences of my life. The Master reached into his bag and pulled out some bread to feed to the few birds that were there. Instantly, from all directions, came many birds including gulls, loons, cormorants and pigeons, which swarmed us like bees in a hive. The Master threw some bread in the air and the most aggressive gulls swooped down and grabbed pieces in their beaks even before they hit the ground. Then he tossed morsels on the ground and the birds fought over them. As the birds got more and more bold, the two of us also joined in feeding the hungry creatures, trying to find ways to get bread to the more timid among them. We were both laughing at their antics and trying to remember to recite the mantra. More birds kept arriving until some of them even landed on our shoulders. There must have been more than one hundred of them.

The Master was teaching the birds in much the same way he taught us humans. He would tease an aggressive one by offering it bread with his hand, and then pull the morsel out of reach just as the bird had committed to making a grab for it. Then he would laugh and do the same thing again to the next bird that came forward. During all of this Gwo-Ching and I were having a wonderful time but I still knew inside we were just like the birds driven by greed and desire. We continued the feeding for probably about 15 minutes until all the bread was gone. Then the Master picked up his blue bag, and we got up to leave. On the way to the car, or maybe it was in the car, the Master said that the birds were really hungry. I assumed it was because of the drought.

In a day or two, we picked up the Venerable Master and did the very same thing and got the same response. About a week or two later I thought to feed the birds without the Master. So Gwo-Ching and I took a loaf of bread and went to the same pond, but this time the response was much different. Very few birds showed up, and the ones that did, lacked the enthusiasm of the birds that came when the Venerable Master was there. Someone asked me why I thought this last time was so much different. I said that it was obvious to me that the birds, just like humans, were attracted to the Venerable Master's presence including his virtue and compassion. He took time out of his busy schedule to feed them, and these birds sensed that he was someone special and wanted to be near him.


法界佛教總會Dharma Realm Buddhist Association │ © Vajra Bodhi Sea