艾拉 · 哈佛 敬上
This is a story of my experiences at the
City of 10,000 Buddhas in Talmage, California.
My sister Rebecca has lived in the
monastery for 17 years. Every summer, en-route to our
mother's home in Mississippi, my sister would stop over in
Texas and spend a week with me. She'd leave literature and
books; I read some of them, but they never really interested
me except as an education. When Rebecca moved to the City,
our family went berserk and feared that she'd joined a cult
of some sort. For many years, her newly chosen life was of
great concern; her life that had always been one of glamour
and worldwide travel now changed to something alien and
austere. I thought I should visit her in the City try to
understand why she had chosen this path of life, and so I
could report back to my mother.
Relieved, the report to my mother was
that we should not be concerned-there was abundant food,
comfortable accommodations and everything was legitimate...
no cults, no slavery.*
Over the years, when I visited Rebecca at
the City, I followed her around participating in the
ceremonies and helping her work, trying not to do something
that would be considered disrespectful. Although I enjoyed
the visits-the lectures, the place, the people-my purpose
for coming to the City was to see Rebecca. The last visit
was different from the rest.
After the ceremony, I was leaving the
temple hall, moving slowly with the crowd toward the exit.
The crowd slowed to a stop and I was standing at the foot of
one of the three grand and very tall bronze Buddha images. I
noticed that the bottom of their robes was carved to emulate
them as flowing gently, and it gave me a feeling of comfort.
My eyes followed the first image to the face and I noticed
the lips were carved into a smile; I gazed at the faces of
the other two images-likewise, they were smiling. I had
never noticed before that Buddha images have smiles. I
stared in wonderment at the kind, smiling faces staring
With people talking and moving all around
me, there was total silence. Time stood still. I
February 19, 2002
*I have to explain my description of the
accommodations as being comfortable: we grew up on a small
farm in Mississippi and our livelihood was completely
self-sufficient with no luxuries, so my comparison of the
living conditions at the City would be one of comfort,
whilst a person from the city or from current middle class
values, would likely describe the conditions as austere or