我記得當時我也讀著宣公上人及 Ajahn Sumedho（阿姜‧蘇美度）的書。在我所讀的關於宗教及心靈的書當中，蘇美度法師的四聖諦這本書引起了我的注意。蘇美度法師強調說：「信並不是佛教的目的；反之，重點是在耐心地修行，以讓我們透視這世界究竟是怎麼一回事。」他也舉出他在泰國時，在 Ahjan Chah（阿姜‧查）座下學習的經驗來說明修行的重要性。這些都和我非常相應，我覺得這才是合理的心靈之路。
Amitofo. My name is David Yin; my Dharma name is Chin Wei. To briefly introduce myself, I’ve been coming to Gold Sage for a few years now, and feel very much at home here, but I still feel like I do not know the nuns and lay people here that well. Probably the main reason is because my Chinese is not very good yet and so communication is difficult. So this is my chance to introduce myself and gather support from the community here.
First, this presentation began with me speaking to Yun fashi about bringing Buddhism to the West, Dharma Realm Buddhist Youth (DRBY), the roundtable, the Beginning Chan classes, DRBY conference, etc. and I felt Gold Sage could be a starting place that could bring a lot of benefit to the rest of the world. I hoped that everyone, DRBY, lay people, the left home community could all work together as a team and keep the Dharma alive in the world.
I think we often hear people talk about “bringing the Dharma to the West.” This vision captures the heart of many people, for instance myself, but for others, I think it might create a sense of distance because they do not identify so strongly with the West. So, while preparing for this presentation, I came up with a more general vision: Keeping the Dharma Alive in the World. Keeping the Dharma alive in the world then entails not only bringing Buddhism to America, but also passing it on to the next generation which I feel everyone feels a part of. In addition, another element of the vision that is not captured in bringing the Dharma to the West is the idea of bringing Buddhism back to Asia. Although I do not have direct experience with Asian Buddhism in Asia, I feel many of the people who grew up in Asia will find a personal connection there, and so the idea of bringing Buddhism back to Asia resonates.
The impression I get is that Shr Fu’s vision is so vast and inclusive that I cannot truly comprehend it. But at least I know that it extends past the boundaries of America, or even Asia, or possibly even the entire world—the organization is called Dharma Realm Buddhist Association for a reason.
At this point, I feel like I need to say a little bit about my background so that everyone can understand why I think this way. Actually I did not come to Buddhism with this mindset at all, but it was a process of growth and change within myself.
Since young I always felt like I was looking for something. I wished I knew what my purpose in life was—I thought, “Wouldn’t that make life so much easier?” Going back to my old journals, I found that I often posed this question to myself, but I never really actively sought an answer until I got to high school. There were various reasons why my interest in finding a deeper meaning was sparked in high school, but that would lead us off topic. Simply put, I began to research a number of religions, primarily Christianity because many of my friends were Christians and it was so accessible and Buddhism because of my Chinese culture and family background.
I do not know how much exposure to Christianity everyone has had, but there is a very common belief, especially in evangelical Christianity that: “You have to believe that Jesus is your savior.” And not only that, but “Jesus is the only way into heaven.” Although I sincerely tried to believe, I could not force myself to believe this primarily because I felt that it didn’t make sense that people who did not believe would be destined for the hells. And the stay in the hells is not temporary like in Buddhism, but rather is forever.
So at that time, I also remember reading books by the Venerable Master and Ajahn Sumedho. Out of all the books I read on religions, spirituality, etc. Ajahn Sumedho’s book
The Four Noble Truths caught my attention. Ajahn Sumedho emphasized that belief was not the ultimate goal in Buddhism. Rather the emphasis was on patient practice, which yields insight into how the world really is. He also illustrated the importance of practice with his own experiences as a Buddhist monk in Thailand studying under Ajahn Chah, which resonated deeply with me. I felt that this really was a spiritual path that made sense.
At this point, however, I felt very confused and frustrated. I already began to feel that much of what the world was seeking was superficial.
Catcher in the Rye, Ecclesiastics in the Christian Bible, and a number of my own observations of the world outside confirmed this feeling. However, along with this came a deep sense of confusion because I did not know where to go from here. I felt like I was thrown in the sea, and amidst the turbulent waves and darkness could only see two lifesavers, one Christianity the other Buddhism, and I did not know which one to grab onto. I actually began to wish I had only studied one of them so that I wouldn’t have to deal with this inner conflict.
I had many Christian friends and would join them in their Fellowship gatherings, but as I said before I could not accept many of their beliefs. As for Buddhism, I did not have a peer group who were interested in the same questions I was in terms of investigating the Dharma, so I felt like I was alone in my search. I felt that emotionally I was being pulled into Christianity, but the principles of Buddhism which made more sense to me was pulling me the other way.
One night, I clearly remember making a promise to God that if He could show me the right way I will dedicate my life to it, no matter what sacrifices I had to make. It was one of those do or die moments filled with raw, unbridled emotion, but no convincing answer came. There were some dreams that convinced me to be Christian for a little bit, but they did not last. So, I continued to struggle with what I should do in my life, and the question that I felt encapsulated my search for purpose was: “What will happen to us after we die?” My thought was that if I knew the answer to this question then I would know which lifesaver to grab onto.
This is the mindset I came with to the first DRBY winter retreat at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas led by Rev. Heng Sure. Coming to the City, I was overjoyed to find other youth interested in the same questions I was. Although I’m simplifying things a bit, I remember sitting in a room with Marty with possibly three or four other youth and somehow Marty mentioned that he was on his “second life.” He then gave a detailed account of how he got sick and died in Malaysia and his experiences of actually dying. The experience ended with him being brought back by the Venerable Master who went to persuade King Yama to let Marty come back because Marty still had work to do. Marty’s last comment was how it was a good experience because he was always a skeptic and needed to experience something to really believe it. I was quite shocked by the story because I did not expect it at all, and when I looked at Marty, I thought he seemed very straightforward and honest, not one to make up things, so I thought to myself, “Well, I have the answer—time to live up to my promise!”
So, I threw myself into cultivation with a kind of “I’m going to die tomorrow” mentality (like the last Exhortation chanted at night in the monastery), and as you can guess, I was way too extreme. I thought I had to be true to the promise I made to myself along with the sense that if I really could trust this path I had to experience it for myself. So, I found myself trying to apply everything I read or heard from Shr Fu to my practice and found that I got pretty thin and unhealthy because I often heard, “Eat less! Sleep less!” If I slacked off even a bit, I felt that I was no longer being true to myself.
As you can imagine, I not only hurt myself, but caused a lot of unhappiness for the people around me, especially my mother. Another story illustrates my hardheadedness at the time. One night while driving up to Berkeley for Rev. Heng Sure’s Dharma lecture with my mom and Pei Ling, I insisted that we listen to the Great Compassion Mantra in the car. My mother was tired and sleepy and wanted to rest in silence, but I could not bring myself to turn it off, but rather insisted on playing it very softly so that I could recite while driving. I thought I was justified to do so because of all the stories I heard about the importance of reciting while driving. Afterwards, however, Pei Ling told me that I was being too stubborn and should accord with my mother more. Forcing the Great Compassion Mantra on other people was definitely
not the Middle Way.
Over time my experiences at home, at school, and at the City caused me to realize I was becoming too yin. I was too judgmental, self-righteous, and close-minded. Things were pretty much black or white and I found that I was having a difficult time just living with myself. So when I had a chance, I asked Rev. Heng Sure about what I was doing. His answer consisted of telling me that cultivation should not be forced and that I should relax. I should talk to my friends and parents more, and ultimately he asked me to consider what image was I giving others about what Buddhism is? This resonated with me because when I took a step back and really looked at myself objectively, I realized the example I was setting was not very good at all. He emphasized the Middle Way, trying to do too much was the same as doing too little. Taking his advice was hard, but surprisingly, when I let go a bit and became less serious, I found things got better. At least I became a much easier person to live with.
But another effect was that since I opened my eyes a bit, all of a sudden Shr Fu’s vision and vows of keeping Buddhism alive in the world made more sense to me. I began to see how much benefit Buddhism really could bring to America and the rest of the world. I found that this was something I wanted to be part of, although I am not sure exactly how yet.