Dharma Master Heng Ch'ih
Kuo Hsiu, known as Dharma Master Heng Ch'ih of
the Buddhist Lecture Hall, San Francisco, was born in 1942 in the
rural Midwest. She graduated valedictorian from high school, spent
four years in an honors education program at Ohio State, married and
had a child. She lived in cities, in the Southwestern deserts and
mountain lands, in a beach house near a seaport town, and on a farm
close by the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest. She worked as a
clerk, teacher, secretary, farmer, photographer's assistant, and
mother, was sometimes rich and was sometimes poor.
In March 1968, attracted by stories of the
wonderful Dharma of the Master Hsuan Hua, she went to San Francisco
to attend an intensive seven-day meditation session. After the
session she returned home, made careful provisions for the care of
her son, and in June 1968 made a friendly departure from her husband
and returned to the Buddhist Lecture Hall. From her notes, taken
during the first days of her study and practice of Buddhism, she has
set down some of the principles around which her decision to leave
“Good! You want to realize what this ignorance is that comes with birth and causes you to be born and die.
That which binds you to birth and death
Is simply your six senses.
Eye, ear, nose, tongue, body and mind,
Beckon, and you run out to play.
Who runs out?
What are you running to?
Without dark and light, there is no seeing;
Without movement and stillness; there is no hearing.
Without passage and blockage, there is no smelling;
Without separation and unity; there is no feeling.
Without production and extinction, there is no knowing.
Although it is just the six senses, which are
responsible for the plight, you should not hate nor want to destroy
these senses. Even though the senses are like thieves, we must not
treat them badly, because once they change, they become a great
you are what you do,
whatever karma you make
what the karma adds up to,
you are born,
And when your fate runs out,
You only need not follow:
Cut off the flow.
WHO GOES TO ENLIGHTENMENT? THE SIX SENSES.
It happens like this:
Ignorance is the beginning of love.
Unable to be talked about, it arises and two people come together.
In the midst of the union of two people, a consciousness solidifies:
a dragging in of similar karma.
The eighth consciousness always exists. The
middle yin body like ice; the yang Buddha-Nature like water:
originally they are the same substance. When ignorance moves, the
middle yin body arises, perceiving everything as dark confusion.
Seeing the small light energy expelled by a man and a woman having
intercourse, it moves toward the light, attracted by the magnet of
causal connections. Habit bound and compelled by the ignorance of
desire, the middle yin body gives rise to jealousy based on love and
hate. If it loves the mother and hates the father, it becomes male.
If it hates the mother and loves the father, it becomes female.
NAME AND FORM
The first four weeks of fetal development:
1st. Slippery coagulation;
2nd. Blistering bubble;
3rd. Soft flesh;
4th. Firm flesh.
THE SIX SENSE ORGANS
In the fifth week the fetus becomes a body with six sense organs.
Contact, mutual awareness of mother and fetus.
Love arises between the beings.
Once love arises, there is a seeking after;
like it; grab it; take it; and come into being.
A view of self arises, an attachment to my, mine, this is me.
When the view of self is firmly set, then birth occurs.
OLD AGE AND DEATH
Once born, the body undergoes duration, change, and destruction.
This is the origin of
this whole mass of suffering.
Cut off ignorance, there is no activity;
Cut off activity, there is no consciousness;
Cut off consciousness, there are no name and form;
Cut off name and form, there are no six sense organs;
Cut off the six sense organs, there is no contact;
Cut off contact, there is no feeling;
Cut off feeling, there is no grasping;
Cut off grasping, there is no love;
Cut off love, there is no existence;
Cut off existence, there is no birth;
Cut off birth, there is no old age and death.
This is the cutting off of this whole mass of suffering.
Ignorance of Love and Desire:
The original root of birth and death.
Ch'an Master Chih Kung lived at the time of
flourishing Buddhadharma. He had his five eyes open so he could see
the past, present, and future causes and conditions of living
beings. Following the custom of the times, the Master was invited to
speak at a wedding. He came to the wedding feast, quietly looked
around and then said:
Ancient ancient strang, stange stange ancient.
The grandson takes the grandmother in marriage.
In the past life, the grandmother had loved her
grandson. She died when he was only two, and since she loved him the
most, she was reborn and became his wife.
The daughter eats the mother's meat.
The mother had been reborn a pig and was being
eaten by her daughter.
The son beats the father's skin drum.
The skin, which covered the drum the child was
beating, came from an animal, which in a former life had been the
Pigs ann sheep are sitting on the couch.
The wedding guests seated around the room were
eating the flesh of the kind of animal they themselves had formerly been.
The six close relatives are cookinh in the pot.
All the animals killed for the feast were former relatives.
As I see it, it's really suffering.
Like a worm born in a vegetable
lives and dies there, just so
People born amidst love and desire
never get out.
is from this emotion.
Everyone keeps coming and going
on the road of birth and death.
You should be able to die whenever you wish.
"When I want to die, I'll die."
Sitting, standing, walking, lying down,
You should be able to die any way you want."
Dharma Master Heng Ch'ih alternately fought and
submitted to this intensive teaching which aimed at destroying the
desire mind and rooting out misconceptions about emotions. By the
end of the summer she had taken refuge with the Master, and had made
the decisions to leave home and cultivate the straight road to
Buddhahood. Fundamental to the work which manifests such decisions
and the basis of all Bodhisattva conduct, are the Six Perfections:
giving; morality, patience; vigor; concentration; and wisdom.
After the summer session Heng Ch'ih prepared
herself to travel to Taiwan to take the complete precepts, 348 in
all, of a Bhiksuni. With her teacher's permission she took these precepts in October 1969.
On February 15th, 1970, Bhiksuni Heng Ch’ih
made these vows before the Buddha at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in
- Life after life, day after day, I vow to be
filial to father, mother and the five close relatives.
- I vow to constantly protect and follow my
compassionate teacher, accordingly cultivate and certify to proper
- I vow to cast off my self, as big as Mt.
Sumeru, constantly producing a heart of great compassionate kindness.
- I vow to enter the five sharp, dull, turbid
realms, pulling out all beings, causing them to illumine their bright minds.
- I vow to return the Triple Jewel merit and
virtue of Buddha work to each and every being with feeling.