Dharma Master Heng Yin
Dharma Master Heng Yin of the Buddhist Lecture
Hall, San Francisco, California, was born the eldest of four
children in 1946 in Seattle, Washington. When she was young, she
endured a series of severe, sometimes nearly fatal, illnesses, and
as a result understood what few are able to understand in an entire
lifetime, and then only when they grow old: the cycle of becoming,
dwelling, decay, and emptiness. Through the shock of recognizing her
own body's impermanence she had understood the impermanence of all
forms, and their inherent emptiness.
Although she understood, she also clearly
realized that this was an intellectual understanding, in itself
useless, and that she still carried around a body that would
eventually go bad; but she was still young, and there was time and
with it the hope of finding a way.
She decided that becoming absolutely free and
independent was the only pursuit consistent with her understanding
of things. She investigated Christianity, and considered entering a
contemplative order, but realized that Western religions had not
discovered a method for release from the transitory world of forms.
Having already studied philosophy and Oriental
Religion at the University of Washington, Bhiksuni Heng Yin was
certain that the answers for which she searched lay hidden in the
Buddhadharma, but was discouraged by the impossibility of finding a
true teacher within the American university system. She worked
briefly in the peace movement, but knew that she was just dealing
with the symptoms and not the cause of suffering. One evening when
she was discouraged, tired, and sick, she began reciting "Na
Mo Amit'o Fo" , and .all of a sudden experienced light and peace.
It was at this time that she heard of Tripitaka
Master Hsuan Hua. She had never met the Master, and yet felt a great
deal of respect for him, and knew that she wanted to leave home even
though she could not, at that time, explain why, or find the source
of her certainty. She set out for San Francisco, reciting "Na
Mo Amit'o Fo" all the way along the snowy mountain
roads, and arrived at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in time to attend an
intense seven day meditation session. During her first days at the
temple she saw the sarira of the Great Master Hsu Yun.
During the 1968 ninety-six day Shurangama
Sutra Study and Meditation Session she penetrated further
into the emptiness of worldly affairs. Shortly following the summer
session she informed the Master of her decision to leave home. Many
months of hard cultivation followed however, before she was to
realize her decision, and it was not until the 19th day of June,
1969, that the Master received her as a Bhiksuni.
When Dharma Master Heng Yin arrived to study
the Buddhadharma, she brought with her all the bad habits and
afflictions common to many young Americans, but with these she also
brought a sharp intelligence and uncommonly deep faith. Her primary
cultivation has been the study of The
Shurangama Sutra in Chinese. Meditation, translation,
recitation of sutra and mantras, and listening to lectures on the
sutras fill out each day. She has paid particular attention the
study of the Secret School, and gives lectures on
The Great Compassion Heart Dharani Sutra, which makes
up part of the Secret School teaching. Her study of Chinese, which
began when she was perfecting her calligraphy by writing out
The Heart Sutra over and over again,
has progressed to the point where she is able to deliver lectures
from the Chinese Text.
Dharma Master Heng Yin made the following vows
on February 15th, 1970, at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco:
- I vow to cross over all living beings; that
is why I walk the Bodhisattva way. Only when all beings are released
will I accomplish the right enlightenment.
- I vow to study all Dharma doors, to attain
good skill in means, to penetrate the great Sutra storehouse and
open bright prajna wisdom.
- I vow to maintain morality in every life
without transgression. Morality is the root of enlightenment and it
breaks the chains of greed.
- I vow to eternally study the Buddhadharma,
leading all beings to the joy of Nirvana.
- My teacher transmits the wonderful
Dharma. I vow to be filial to him.