宣公上人座下參與的弟子有恆實法師、恆持法師、恆良法師、維果廷博士，易象乾博士和艾克比那博士。代表日本禪鈴木(Suzuki) 法師傳統的有Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton、Rev. Shosan Victoria Austin、Rev. Paul Haller、Norman Fischer、Alan Senuake；日本禪代表Maezumi法師傳統的有Roshi Jan Chozen Bays；代表Uchiyama法師傳統的有Shohaku Okumura法師；代表Aitken法師傳統的有Sensei Daniel Terragan。以及比丘尼Yeo Kwang Sunim 來自韓國傳統。
由三藩市主教John Wester所帶領的天主教神父包括：克摩德利神父Robert Hale OSB ，克摩德利神父Joseph Wong，聖荷西神父Thomas Hand； 聖職者包括教士Thomas W. Devereau博士，教士James Fredricks博士，教士Rafael Luevano，執事人Thomas McGowan ，教士Gerry O’Rourke，教士Francis V. Tiso 博士；居士包括Debbie Mellin，ALorraine Moriarty，及此次座談會的發起人－－來自華府的John Borelli博士。
天主教彌撒於星期六和星期天下午各舉行一次。這是令人感動的一幕，使人不禁回想到過去漢堡大學的神父John Rogers帶大學生來聖城時，上人總是請他到佛殿作彌撒。這次律法師則邀請主教和所有的神父在道源堂內作彌撒。道源堂臨時稍作改裝儼然化為教堂，居士Matt Hodson做了一個直到屋頂的大十字架，是經律法師親自監督的；因為放置聖檯 ，釋迦牟尼佛像則轉移至道源堂的另一端與孔子像共迎嘉賓--天主教徒。
星期五晚大家聚於道源堂參加對外開放的講座，題目是「近代佛教與天主教的關係」。主講人為主教John Wester、恆實法師、Joseph Wong神父、艾克比那博士和John Borelli博士。演講人皆談到天主教和佛教的密切關係及友誼。主教John Wester細說了梵帝岡和佛教的友誼與近代史；恆實法師風趣的述說上人和樞機主教于斌的相遇；艾克比那博士則是探索基督教和佛教自古以來的聯繫；Joseph Wong神父訴說天主教修士傳統和佛教的類似處，尤其有趣的是雙方幾乎吻合的靜觀法。他認為近期天主教徒已遺忘了這個法門，如今正可藉與佛教僧人的接觸來彌補此一缺漏。John Borelli博士在華府的天主教大學教宗教關係，也以他的工作和研究作出清晰的描述，他們的演講內容將會陸續在金剛菩提海雜誌登出。
From March twentieth through the twenty-fourth the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas hosted the Northern California Chan-Zen-Catholic Dialogue. The topic was “Walking the Bodhisattva Path/Walking the Christ Path”. It was organized by the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery and the Institute for World Religions together with the Roman Catholic Incarnation Monastery of the Camaldolese order of monks, also located in Berkeley. It was a very vibrant and exciting event. It is no exaggeration to say that all thirty participants left the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas enriched, satisfied and at peace with themselves and their coparticipants.
From the lineage and disciples of the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua the participants were: D.M. Heng Sure, D.M. Heng Ch’ih, D.M. Heng Liang, Professor Verhoeven, Dr. Epstein, and Dr. Akpinar.
From the Suzuki Roshi Lineage there were five participants: Rev. Taigen Dan Leighton, Rev. Shosan Victoria Austin, Rev. Paul Haller, Norman Fischer and Alan Senuake.
From Maezumi Roshi Lineage: Roshi Jan Chozen Bays. From Uchiyama Roshi Lineage: Rev. Shohaku Okumura. From the Aitken Roshi lineage: Sensei Daniel Terragano, and from the Korean lineage: Bhikshuni Yeo Kwang Sunim.
The Catholic participants were headed by the Bishop of San Francisco, the Most Reverend John Wester, Father Robert Hale, OSB Camaldoli; Father Joseph Wong, OSB Camaldoli; Father Thomas Hand, SJ.
The following members of the clergy were also present: the Reverend Thomas W. Devereaux, the Reverend Dr. James Fredricks, the Reverend Rafael Luevano, Deacon Thomas McGowan, the Reverend Gerry O’Rourke, the Reverend Dr. Francis V. Tiso.
Representing the Catholic laity were: Debbie Mellin, Lorraine Moriarty, and last but in no way least, the organizing spirit of the dialogue: Dr. John Borelli from Washington D.C.
The Dialogue was limited to the participants in order to cover as much ground and get to know each other in a more intimate circle. Each participant was invited to bring along a favorite text from their tradition, read it and discuss it with the rest, thus inviting comments from the whole group. That proved to be a very productive way of warming up to each other, appreciating and understanding both the similarities and the differences among the traditions represented at this dialogue.
The Dialogue opened on Thursday afternoon. The participants were met in the Guest Building, welcomed and briefed by the staff. Then, after a hearty dinner at Jyun Kang Restaurant the Dialogue was officially opened with a Welcome Address by our Abbot Dharma Master Heng Lyu and Bishop John Wester. It was a jolly and cordial occasion with a lot of good cheer. Heng Lyu Shr kindly distributed gift packages to the participants, among which were the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas key chains with the Six Principles. These quite spontaneously became the main motif of the weekend, referred to as “Key Chain Wisdom” and most of the participants decided to use the principles and the explanations as offered by the Abbot and Heng Sure Shr in order to enhance their traditions, since all traditions represented at the Dialogue believed and upheld the same principles, but not all were able to explain them in such a clear as well as terse manner.
The participants introduced themselves, the monastery staff gave an orientation, and the facilitators gave an introduction to the dialogue, explaining how it would all work.
Each participant was given a fifteen minute time slot in order to deliver a presentation, based on a favorite text, after which a question and answer session followed. This pattern was interspersed with meditation, chanting, walks, and Catholic liturgy.
The Catholic Mass was served both on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, a very touching event, reminding us of the days when the Venerable Master Hua invited Father John Rogers to serve Mass in the Buddha Hall, whenever he brought his students from Humboldt State.
This time Heng Lyu Shr invited the Bishop and all the priests to serve Mass in a somewhat transformed Daoyuan Hall. Heng Lyu Shr himself supervised layman Matt Hodson as he built a huge cross that was hung from the ceiling on one end of the hall, as the statue of the Buddha was wheeled to the other side, in order to make room for the altar. Thus Buddha and Confucius were there, near the entrance, smiling and welcoming the Christians. That same evening, after another wonderful dinner, an event open to the whole City of Ten Thousand Buddhas took place. It too happened in the Daoyuan Hall. The topic for the evening was “Buddhist Catholic Relationship: A Recent History”. The four speakers were: the Most Reverend Bishop John Wester, Dharma Master Heng Sure, Dr. John Borelli, Father Joseph Wang and Snjezana Akpinar. The talks will be published in the coming issues of
Vajra Bodhi Sea. The topic that ran through the evening presentation was the interconnectedness and friendship between Christianity and Buddhism. Bishop Wester gave us a detailed story of the more recent history and friendship between the Vatican and Buddhism. Dharma Master Heng Sure entertained us with the story of the Venerable Master’s encounter with the Cardinal Yu Bin. Snjezana Akpinar delved back into ancient history trying to trace ancient connections between Christianity and Buddhism. Father Joseph Wong explained how the Catholic monastic traditions had similar, if not identical, contemplative practices with Buddhism, but these were forgotten over time and now in the more recent past, Catholic contemplatives are reaching over to Buddhist monastics in order to fill this void. Dr. John Borelli, whose task is to develop and teach interreligious relations at the Catholic University in Washington D.C., gave us a vivid description of his work and his field of studies.
On Saturday we all continued with the sessions, meditations, walks, panels, questions and answers, as well as the good food. The heavens were also smiling at this event, and in spite of meteorogical prognostications the weather remained sunny and cheerful. Saturday evening ended with an interfaith musical interlude.
Some suggestions were made for next year’s dialogue.
On Sunday the last six participants gave their presentations. By then we were all good friends and our respective guards were down. We dared probe some difficult questions, but we also made great strides in understanding each other and shedding a new light on common topics. It was unanimously agreed that next year the topic of the conference will be “Transforming the Heart and Mind: Zen, and Catholic Approaches”.
There is much more to say. We all came back from the Dialogue with copious notes as well as passages that resonate across our traditions, but to explain all that one needs more time to sit and process the whole event. Time is too short, and this article is getting to be too long. Amitabha!