The 1970 98 Day Lecture and Cultivation
Session, held at the Buddhist Lecture Hall, began with a week,
called a Kuan Yin Seven, devoted solely to the recitation of the name of
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva. Following this session, students dug in
for 10 weeks of mediation and Sutra study, every day spending six
hours in class, and eight hours on the cushion. The remaining
was spent in recitation and study.
Upasaka Kuo Kuei happily receives his diploma from Professor Lancaster.
Following these ten weeks, on September 13th,
an Ch'an Seven was held to complete the summer's work. Students
arose at four every morning for seven days, and spent seventeen
hours in meditation until the evening's rest period, which began at
ten p.m. After the conclusion of the Ch'an week, graduation
exercises were held. Professor Lewis Lancaster, noted scholar from
he University of California at Berkeley, honored the graduating
students with some of his thoughts on cultivation (see speeches,
this issue) and then delivered diplomas. A vegetarian feast and
Dharma meeting during which the Master Hsuan Hua lectured followed
this on The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower
Graduation speeches, addressed to the Four-fold
Assembly of Bhiksus, Bhiksunis, Upasakas. Upasikas, honored guests
and friends, follow:
● Bhiksu Heng Ch'ien
of Publications, V.B.S.; Buddhist Text Translation Society
Once we received an excellent Dharma called the "Three Ons": "on the
pillow"; "on the road"; and "on the john". Those of you who have
studied here this summer may be going other places to do other things, but you
should not forget the Buddhadharma, you should not forget what you have learned here this
So, here is the dharma of the "Three Ons". When
you are "on the pillow"...Usually when you go to bed, you think only
of sleep and rest, how wonderful it will be until
morning. But when your head hits the pillow, before you sleep you
should think of the Buddhadharma. You should not just think about
the Buddhadharma for certain hours each day, from 11 to 12 or 3 to
4, but should be mindful of the Buddhadharma at all times. So when
you are on the pillow you should recall what you have studied, run
it through your mind again, and you will
certainly understand more each day. Every night review your actions
of the day. Were they in accord with Dharma or not? Did you get
angry? Did you get upset? Did you get jealous? In this way you can
correct your conduct and change your erroneous thoughts.
When you are "on the road", wherever you are
going, you should remember what you have studied, recollect the
Buddhadharma, be mindful of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Cause
your wisdom to daily increase.
The last is "on the John", a place most people
do not even consider cultivating. Every day we spend a certain
amount of time on the toilet; if we would use that time, it would be
just that much more time studying the Buddhadharma. It is just in an
instant that one becomes enlightened, but to meet that instant one
must be mindful of the Buddha, mindful of the Dharma, and mindful of
the Sangha. If you constantly think of worldly difficulties,
worrying about future problems, or bemoaning past mistakes, that
instant of enlightenment is difficult to meet. But if you are always
cultivating, then that instant of enlightenment will surely come.
The Buddhadharma is the Dharma
of the minds of living beings, and so we should constantly pay
attention to our own minds, and look inward to our own self-natures.
It is not that you only study Buddhadharma here; you should use what
you learned here as a foundation for your study of Buddhadharma.
Study Buddhadharma at all times and in all places. This is very
important. If you are able to study like this, to the point of
having no free time at all, many wonderful results can be obtained.
Wherever you go, you should not only yourself
be mindful of the Dharma, but should tell others about it as well.
In these last few days of The Lotus Sutra
lectures we have heard of the merit obtained from teaching
Dharma to other living beings, even the
very smallest bit of Dharma; this merit is
extremely great, greater than that obtained from any gifts of
material wealth. So it is important always to be mindful of the
Dharma when talking to other people, to
tell them about it, so that they might understand what you have
understood, so that they might see what you have seen, and realize
the wonderfulness of the Buddhadharma.
I hope you all study well and quickly
● Bhiksu Heng Ching
of Translation, V.B.S.; Buddhist Text Translation Society
This summer we have heard a portion of
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra.
What is this "wonderful"? One day, one of the students said, "The
text constantly praises The Lotus Sutra,
talks about The Lotus Sutra and
tells about the wonder of The Lotus Sutra
But, aside from all these praises, just what is
The Lotus Sutra?" This inability to put your finger on
it is the "wonderful". You may look forever but you cannot quite
touch the "wonderful". Its very elusiveness is its wonder, it is
everywhere you look and yet you can never quite get hold of it.
Ultimately everything is Buddhadharma, and everything is
"wonderful". To understand this is to know what is meant by
"cleverly making Buddha doings out of worldly dust".
One day this summer the two pigeons came in for
food and everyone was laughing at their antics as they pecked
through a glass jar. We were told that it was not quite such a
laughing affair and that while two people may both be feeding birds
in similar ways there may be a world of difference between them.
This is the wonder of the Buddhadharma.
What else is "wonderful"? The Mind Dharma;
"I know, I know," you will say, "there are eight mind
Dharmas and they did nothing but give me
headaches all summer as I tried to learn them." It is just this
headache over mind Dharmas that is wonderful. Certainly you all
experienced a regular barrage of wonder from all the ten directions this summer.
This is the wonder of the mind Dharma. Both Buddhadharma and mind
Dharma are equally wonderful because there is no way to quite get at
them and yet there is no place to avoid them.
Living beings are also wonderful. Bodhisattvas,
about whom The Lotus Sutra talks a
great deal, are a kind of living being. Bodhisattva means either an
enlightened living being or one who enlightens living beings,
In one part of The Lotus Sutra we saw billions of Bodhisattvas
well forth from empty space beneath the earth. They were all wonderful
Bodhisattvas and what is more, no matter how many of them there
were, they did not crowd each other. This is just like the summer
session at the Buddhist Lecture Hall, so many of you welled up out
of empty space and came together to study and practice Buddhadharma.
No matter how many people there were studying here, there was
infinite room; for those who were not here to practice there was no
room at all. This is an example of the wonderful dharma of living
beings. Buddhadharma, Mind Dharma, and Living Being Dharma are
all wonderful, and they all come with the wonder of this Wonderful Dharma
Lotus Flower Sutra.
The first summer session was wonderful but we
did not yet know it and so there were still a few afflictions and
problems. The second year was a bit more wonderful. But this year,
since you had to deal with people who were fresh from receiving
hundreds of precepts and regulations you had a chance to really be
immersed in "wonderful". There was not a moment free to run into the
streets, to lounge in coffee shops, to take naps or be the least bit
lazy. From every side someone was constantly throwing something
wonderful in your way.
Now that the summer is over and you are going
back to school, to work and to spread Buddhadharma, wherever you go
you will be able to spread wonderful Buddhadharma.
You are a very rare thing now. While many
people have heard of the Buddhadharma, few have come to know its
wonderful aspects. Wherever you may be, on the road, on the pillow,
and on the john, remember the essence of the wonderful, show other
living beings too how to learn that the Buddhadharma, the Mind
Dharma, and the Dharma of living beings: all truly wonderful.
Last night we were given a poem and it
"Sudden awakening in a ksana,
Obtain the rest within the wonderful."
Hoping that you've attained it, you'll now get
a chance to rest.
● Bhiksu Heng Shou
Director of Administration,
V.B.S.; Buddhist Text Translation Society
Now I have heard two people say that all of you
will soon be leaving, that you will be scattering in the four
directions, and rushing to far-away places. "Everybody is going to
be leaving now!" I don't believe a word of it, because, try as you
may, there is no way to leave what you have been taught here. There
is not one single way to get outside of the Buddhadharma. I would
really like to let this speech cease at this point and give you all
a rest, to let you all enjoy a bit of silence. Perhaps that silence
would really be wonderful! But, as the Abbot said last night when he
closed the Ch'an Session, "When it is your turn to speak, only if
you have true understanding may you remain silent." It is solely
because of those words that now I feel compelled to continue
talking. If you don't try and get outside of Buddhadharma, you will
soon discover the wonderful. You will really obtain your rest and
finally enjoy genuine understanding of the vastness within silence.
This summer, each of you had ample opportunity
to learn. I can't say how well you have taken advantage of it,
because in each case, there is a difference according to your vigor.
Ultimately, only you and the Buddhas know. But now, you shouldn't
consider the greatness of your learning so much as the overwhelming
degree of ignorance, which still remains. That is a most important
issue, because if there is still even a single principle, which you
don't understand, there is still work to be done. There is still
study to be accomplished and Dharma to be cultivated, for you must
strive and certify to the perfect enlightenment of the Buddha, This
is what we have attempted to teach you as a guide in cultivation and
you must certainly understand. The enlightenment which we seek in
Buddhism leaves nothing out and is totally complete. It is nothing
short of Buddhahood. We must continue to work, for every moment is a
There is a poem, which has been spoken many
times here, but I don't think it hurts to repeat it once again
because no matter how often it is repeated, if it aids progress on
the way, it is justifiable. However, if you say it even once and
ignore the principle, it has been spoken far too many times. It is
Everything's a test
to see how you will do;
Mistaking what's before your face,
You have to start anew.
If one fails his tests, he must start anew
toward the enlightenment of the Buddhas. So, it is really necessary
in every single thought, in every single move, to recognize the
situation as a test, and not be fooled. Every state of mind is a
test to match your actions with your understanding, to act
consistently and thus serve as an example for fellow cultivators.
Recently, as The Lotus Sutra was being
lectured, it was suggested that one should act in cultivation as if
the Buddha were atop the head, to the left and right, in front and
also behind. With such awareness, there is no way to neglect your
cultivation or fall back from previous accomplishment. If you apply
this principle you won't be a disappointment to yourself, to your
teacher, or to the living beings you meet each day.
It is really important to apply in action all
that you have been taught, and not be concerned solely with useless
displays of word and thought. You must spread the teaching by
example. Why? Simply because you are among the few Western people
who have had an opportunity to study the proper Buddhadharma. There
are many ideas which pass for Buddhadharma here in the West, but how
many of them are really the Buddha's true teaching? Since you have
had such a wonderful opportunity it would certainly be too selfish
to hide your understanding and not spread it to the people you meet.
If you vigorously spread an understanding of the principle of karma,
just that is not trying to get outside of the Buddhadharma, even
though you may have wandered far beyond the walls of this hall. It
is necessary to apply this principle, whether in the Buddhist
Lecture Hall or out in the world. With such an attitude and
understanding, you may be like the Bodhisattva who remains in the
world but is not defiled by the world.
That is all I really care to say. I hope that
you all progress well wherever you go by not turning your backs on
the inescapable principle of cause and effect. I hope that you will
instead bravely use the principle to have a wonderful use and yet
remain free of the great hazard of worldly delusion.
● Bhiksuni Heng Yin
Text Translation Society
A disciple once went to the Sixth Patriarch and
asked, "What man obtains the principle of the Fifth Patriarch?" The
Sixth Patriarch replied, "He who understands the Buddhadharma
obtains that principle." "Have you obtained it?" the disciple asked.
The Sixth Patriarch replied, "I don't understand the Buddhadharma."
Now when all of you came here I think you
probably came here because you understood that we live in a desire
world. As such it is the world of Mara, the world of demons. The
demons are thieves, and they steal from you. Only the Buddhadharma
can teach you not only how to get completely out of the desire
world, but out of the form world and the formless world as well.
Other ways and religions do not take you that high. They can take
you to some groovy formless heavens, but you are still stuck because
you still are you.
I didn't spend much time in the great hall this
summer, but every time I crawled out from where I was and came in
here, I saw that people were working hard, compared to the other two
summer sessions, people here now worked much harder. I was really
impressed when everyone spoke at the end of the session.
In The Heart Dharani Sutra, Kuan Yin
Bodhisattva relates how he got his thousand arms and thousand eyes.
Hearing the Great Compassion Mantra he felt so joyful that he
produced a vow and said, "I vow to help all living beings in this
world forever. That’s all I am going to do, and if it is possible,
may my body have a thousand arms and a thousand eyes". The instant
he made that vow his body manifested a thousand arms and a thousand
The instant you decide to help others at that
instant you are capable of it. It is not to say that you just study
so many days, and know so many things, and when you are able to help
somebody else. Practicing the Bodhisattva Way starts in your own
heart because that is where the Buddhadharma is, that is where it
originates. "The Way is awakened to from the heart." Start right
now, and do not think about the past, present and future, because
there is nothing to be attained, and nothing to lose. Bodhi is
something we all have, it is just that we don't use it. The more
study Buddhism, the more apparent it becomes that we have it, and
the more important it becomes that we use. If we only study and do
not practice we are wasting our time. Remember the Sixth Patriarch,
and try to imagine what he looked like when he looked down at that
guy who was heckling him and said, "I don't understand
the Buddhadharma." And if you can do that, then you probably do
● Bhiksuni Heng Ch'ih
Buddhist Text Translation Society
"Unite the light and welcome all living
creatures." What does this mean? Well, over there are two lights,
and up there is a light, and here there is a light, and up there is
a light. Now all of these lamps are shining light, have you ever
know a lamplight to fight with a lamplight? Have you ever known one
lamp to look over at another lamp and say, "Wait a minute, your
light is righter than mine? This will never do. We can't co-exist
here together. I will have to put your light
out." Or have you ever
heard a lamp look at another lamp and say, "Your light is really
small. If you don't make your light bigger then you can't be here
with me. You can't be a light here." Lamplight and lamplight, all
light, goes together somehow, wonderfully.
"Welcome other living beings." Welcome means
two things. It means to receive them and make them happy, and it
means to induce them—to beguile them with those Dharmas you have now
so that they can cross themselves over.
● Upasaka Kuo Ti
Chairman of the Board of
This year has been the beginning of the push
toward a strong Vinaya—the establishment of the rules, and the
practice of the rules. But if you don't follow those rules, if you
don't do what you have been taught this summer, what good is it? If
you don't take that Buddha and put him up on top of your head and
pay homage to that Buddha and behave as if there was a Buddha
watching your every little move, what did you learn, an what good is
what you learned going to do you? You have to do the
them right into practice.
There is a little trick, a little secret in
this point. You don't even want to tell anybody what you are doing,
and you do not even want to talk about what is happening to you. Pay
no attention to it, like the Sixth Patriarch who said, "I don’t
know." "I don't know, but do it." Pay no attention to any freaky
thing that comes along. It is like building a haystack one straw at
a time, one recollection of the Buddha at a time, one observance of
a Dharma at a time. Eventually the haystack becomes a big one.
I'll change that around and get right in your
pocket a little bit. There is a bank and most people like money.
And when you have a little money in the bank, ahh, it feels good
doesn't it? A penny here, a penny there, fifteen dollars there, you
put the money in the bank. What about that cosmic bank, that great
Tathagata Store? You recite "Namo Bodhisattva Who Contemplates the
Sounds of the World", that is just like taking a penny out of your
heart and putting it in the bank. Which bank? You have to do what
you have been taught, or you might just as well have not been
taught, it was just wasting your teacher's time. It is almost an
insult to say that your teacher sits on top of your head if you
don't do what your teacher has taught you.
● Upasaka Kuo Jung
M.A., University of
Washington; President, V.B.S.; Buddhist Text Translation Society;
presently in the doctoral program of the Dept. of Oriental Languages
and Literature, University of California at Berkeley
First, for everyone here, I would like to
welcome back Professor Lancaster from his trip. We are extremely
pleased and grateful that you are able to be here with us again. Now I
would like to say a few words about conditions here in the past and
how they are now is especially encouraging that now everyone is able
follow such a rigorous schedule so well. Everyone has clearly come a
long way. I remember that during the first summer session we had the
great pleasure, which is of course, also the great suffering, of
establishing all kinds of bad precedents such as sneaking out and
drinking coffee, instead of meditating. During that first summer
nobody knew how to do much of anything. In the week meditation
session which took place in the spring before the first summer
session, many of the people here now first came to meditate. Then
most came to the summer session. We all came probably for pretty
much the same kinds of reasons that all of you came: we probably got
a flash sometime—there was something that we had seen, or something
that we had seen through which we wanted to get into focus a little
more clearly. Since we didn't really know quite how to do this by
ourselves, we came here to try and find out.
I remember that was quite a week of sitting. We
didn't know what we were doing to such an extent that it only did
the Abbot have to babysit us all week by sitting here with us and
talking to us about every two hours so that we wouldn't get totally
discouraged and flee out the door, but he also had to cook for us
because nobody knew how to cook properly. But slowly from that time,
things have come around so that the Abbot doesn't have to spend all
his time in the kitchen and when he babysits, he doesn't have to
babysit out here in the hall all the time. People are slowly
learning how to do things; people are slowly learning that if we
just do what he tells us that it really does make everything a lot
All this summer you have heard about all the
rules, the precepts; you have all heard over and over again that if
you follow the precepts then that is the way hat you get samadhi,
and from samadhi comes the wisdom of the Buddha. And so very slowly
everyone has been learning to follow the path of Buddha here. Last
summer was a lot better than the summer before and this summer is a
lot better than last summer and I am sure that next summer will be
Now the summer session is over. When you
graduates go out there, it is going to be a lot different world that
faces you. If you decide to go out the door, if you want to go out
the door, and you pretty much have to be crazy or a Bodhisattva, or
maybe one moment crazy and the next moment a Bodhisattva. I think
you will be pretty surprised with the way things seem when you go
out there; especially if you go back and visit any of your old
worlds, your old states. I don't think that there is anything to be
afraid of, but I think that you will just find that it is all a big
shuck> out there and there really isn't much else for you to do
anymore but cultivate. You have learned enough about what it is all
about here, so that you just can't fall back into that kind of stuff
because you will know that it is all a big shuck. The wonderful
thing about the Buddhadharma is that it helps you wash away all that
sticky stuff that is attached to you out there, all that sticky mess
out there and all that sticky mess inside. It is the kind of stuff
which helps you do away with your old friends, Mr. Affliction and Mr.
Karmic Obstacle. And so if you get out there and you have some
difficulty dealing with some people, dealing with some sticky
situations...like was said before, just shine a little light on them
and don't get upset. Shine a little Buddha light on them and what
could possibly go wrong. If a little Buddha light won't do, then
shine a lot of Buddha light on them. Well maybe you are saying,
"What if I can't find a little Buddha light to shine?" If you can't
find a little Buddha light to shine on them, then what are you doing
paying any attention to them in the first place? You ought to be
looking inward to see where the Buddha light disappeared, and
forgetting about the outside, then maybe suddenly it will be bright
So now the summer session is over and some of
you are staying and some of you are going. That those of you who are
going will certainly be back I am sure. And I wish you all the very
quickest path to success in your cultivation. I hope you all come
back and help us in our work here, because there is plenty for
everyone to do. Right now there are few people and a lot of work. So
now that your set tasks are over and you can decide for yourselves
what you want to do, please stay and help. Thank you.
● Upasaka Kuo Chan
Buddhist Text Translation Society
Not everyone here today who attended the summer
session is as fortunate as you who have made it all the way through.
And some of the things which you probably see, which those who
didn't stay perhaps don't, is that people don't always speak and act
out of the same face, that people have different faces. Not only do
people have different faces but they also have different places in
which they rest when they are still.
Although there are probably as many of these
places as there are human beings, they have been summed up basically
into six paths. There are some who suffer the torments of the hells,
the afflictions of alienation, frustration, anxiety. There are those
who suffer the cravings of hungry ghosts, going around with bellies
like barrels and throats like needles, not getting enough to eat.
And there are those who suffer the craving of animals, constant
desire. There are those who are supremely human and use their
reflective thought to seize on all the false thinking in their heads
as real. There are others who are asuras and are continually
fighting. Finally there are those heavenly beings who enjoy vacuous
mindlessness for thousands and thousands of years until they finally
You, unlike your companions who left the
session early, not only are able to pick up on the six paths, but
also see that there is another way, that it is possible to turn
one's attention toward a different way, the Bodhisattva Way.
But now the summer has come to an end...this
seems to be the theme...the summer has come to an end and some will
split and some will stay. Those who are going to leave are perhaps
worried about what will happen, and how they will maintain the
vision of the Bodhisattva Path and not lose sight in the six paths.
This problem perhaps can be lightened:
When beings in the hells read Vajra Bodhi Sea,
their afflictions are cast away.
When animals smell Vajra Bodhi Sea they forget
When hungry ghosts read Vajra Bodhi Sea, their bellies are filled.
When human beings read Vajra Bodhi Sea, they seek out the Bodhisattva Path.
When asuras read Vajra Bodhi Sea, they forget about fighting.
When heavenly beings see Vajra Bodhi Sea, they bow to it all day.
I would like to add...this is a graduation and
it seems appropriate...that when scholars read Vajra Bodhi Sea,
their wisdom becomes clear and bright. When professors read Vajra
Bodhi Sea, their students are obedient and attentive. And when
students read Vajra Bodhi Sea they get what they want.
I would like to wish all of you great success
in your cultivation.
● Upasaka Kuo Tsun
Upasaka Kuo Tsun has done
graduate work at the University of Washington and is
Honored guests and honored hosts...that is not
to discriminate between those who have obtained the host position
from those who have not...we are all here today as testimony and
proof that Buddhism has indeed come to America. Some people, when
they meet with the orthodox Buddhadharma as it is practiced here at
the Buddhist Lecture Hall, say, "This is very strange stuff, this
inscrutable. Oriental religion which has invaded our peaceful
shores. It is indeed alien to our country." This is not so. After
studying Buddhism for a few years I think it can be truly said that
Buddhism is more American than apple pie.
In defense of this view let us look back over
the history of this country. America has been populated by
Europeans. Originally people came here seeking freedom and peace.
America became the country in which people could express their own
way of life and experience a new sense of liberation. Perhaps these
early Americans were ignorant people who did not know deep truths,
but their intentions were sincere. More people came and populated
this country, the cities grew into oppressive monsters and people
now experience suffering in a place where they thought they could
find bliss. The people moved out of the cities and kept searching to
escape oppression and find peace. They weren't exactly clear about
what it was they sought, but they thought it might be found in the
open spaces of the great land of this country. This movement has
been historically called the Manifest Destiny. Folks traveled north,
south, east, and west, they looked high in the air and they looked
low in the ground. They went everywhere searching for the best this
country could offer. Many thought they had found the answer when in
1848 gold was discovered in the eastern part of this state. When
others heard that there was something extremely valuable here, they
dropped everything they were doing, left everything behind,
deserting families, friends, and jobs, because they thought this
gold was the real treasure, and there might be some for them. Gold
was one of the most valuable things that men could conceive of and
they sacrificed everything, even their own lives, for it.
Well now Sutter's mine is exhausted and the
Comstock Lode is a dribble, and the people who made fortunes in gold
and silver are now dead. As a consequence of the gold rush this
state came to be populated, and the West Coast cities sprang to
life, and the people were oppressed. There appeared to be no way.
Had the Manifest Destiny exhausted itself and failed to fulfill the
hopes of the American dreamers? All the land is gone. There is no
place to go. Yet this restless, searching spirit is still active and
growing anxious and nervous. Then a light appeared to the darkening
America. The Dharma of the Buddha revealed a new land, a virgin soil
that has been completely overlooked before. The mind ground of all
Buddhas present in each living being promises to be the real land
sought by Europeans coming to this country. The treasure to be found
in the True mind of each individual is far more valuable than all of
California's gold and silver. Mind treasures are more lasting and
durable and they certainly don't attract thieves.
And it just happens that there is no other
place than right here at the Buddhist Lecture Hall that this
valuable mine is being excavated and cultivated. The minds of all
the people who come to the meeting place are the wealthiest minds
that this country has ever known, and the seeds of Buddhadharma that
are planted here will produce the richest fruit this country has
The Manifest Destiny has indeed been fulfilled,
yet there are very few people who know about it. Now that we have
discovered real treasure, what else can we do but tell everyone else
that the promise that America held 400 years ago has now come to
realization, and that what Americans have died for can now be
enjoyed by their children. It is needless to say that the
Buddhadharma that can be found here is far more valuable than any
gold or any jewel for that matter, because it will buy your way to
Buddhahood and no sack of gold can do that. In fact all a sack of
gold can do is invite thieves and other troubles.
Deep Dharmas always reveal a paradox. Most
people in confusion and ignorance think it is this way: the more a
man can amass and control, the greater man he is. It turns out now
that it is quite the opposite. It is not, in the Buddha teaching,
how much a man can amass and control, but how much he can offer up
and go without that makes him truly a man.
Although today is the end of the summer
session, it is really another beginning. When we leave here and go
back into the world, we are armed with something we did not have
before. The truths and skillful devices of the Buddhadharma are our
weapons against enemies and our jewels and gold to use against
poverty. We have a mission, and that is to let everybody else in
America know that what our forefathers came to this country to find
has now been found.
● Upasika Kuo Hsun
presently serving as a Director in the Dept. of Recreation and Parks,
San Francisco City Government; Editorial Staff, V.B.S.
First I would like to say that it is almost
inconceivable how so many of you have completed the summer session.
This was not an easy thing to do; in fact, it was probably one of
the most difficult things in this world to do. When you came here,
whether you knew it or not, you were like someone in a labyrinth,
lost in a maze. It was dark and you occasionally bumped into things,
but it didn't make much difference if your labyrinth was made out of
steel or of marshmallow, or of anything in between.
When you came here you started meditating, and
slowly, through your meditation, you have been able to see a little
light, sometimes here and sometimes there, and you have found that
the labyrinth is not completely dark. You have also been taught,
through the Sutras, and a lot of Dharma, which has told you what
these objects are that you have been bumping into, how they got
there, where they are going and what they are doing. And thirdly you
have met a guide who can lead you out of the labyrinth, the Abbot,
So you have everything you need to find your
way out, all you have to do is the work. You've got the light, the
names and the guide. That is all you need. You have already started,
you have been at it now for about three months.
I would like to congratulate you on your hard
work and say that I hope you continue.
● Upasaka Kuo T'ung
Graduate of the 1970
Lecture and Cultivation Session
"Being a student of the Buddhadharma gives me a joyous feeling."
says Upasaka Kuo T'ung. Here her receives his diploma from Professor Lancaster.
Being new to the Buddhist Lecture Hall, I did
not think that I would be chosen today. I find that everything in
the Buddhist Lecture Hall is done for a reason however, and even
though the reason might not be immediately apparent to my
discriminating mind, it is really there. Basically I do not have
anything at all to say. I am trying to put into words that which
cannot be put into words, and perhaps in doing this I can uncover
some of what can't be said from the minds of all of us who attended
this summer session.
Being a student of the Buddhadharma for the
very first time gives me a joyous feeling. It is as if I have always
been a student of the Buddhadharma. Now in my own past affairs I can
see nothing but confusion, nothing that ever happened for any other
reason than the reasons, which led me to come here. When I try to
think about what I am doing, there is difficulty. I feel as though I
am trying to drive a bulldozer down a tight-wire. But when I try to
turn off my thoughts and be mindful of the true self-nature within,
somehow all things become easier. There is no bulldozer, there is no
I am sure that all of us who have come to this
session, even for just a short time, even the people who were unable
to stay for various reasons and left, have accomplished a beginning.
Something to help us begin what is real and end what is false. This
Dharma, this gift of Dharma which we have received, is really
wonderful, and I am sure that if we cultivate as has been suggested
in many, many ways, that we will achieve success. The world that is
without and the world that is within: all the same. We just have to
turn our light inward and contemplate.
● The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
Everything I have to say to you has already
been said; there is no more to say. I hope that you don't conduct
yourselves in accord with what I have said; and that you don't
follow your own thoughts either. Listen to and obey the Buddha.
Listen to and obey the Dharma-doors and principles which the Buddha
taught in the sutras. If you can cultivate according to the Dharma
spoken by the Buddha, you will make no mistakes. You want to study
the Buddha's Dharma, you want to understand the Buddha's Dharma, In
the future you want to accomplish Buddhahood—you must cultivate in
accord with the Buddhadharma. Apart from the Buddhadharma, there is
nothing. This is what I have to say to you today.
I will tell you a bit more of importance. But I
said there was nothing to say. Can there yet be something of
You are still young and need supervising. Now I
will introduce you to a supervisor. Professor Lancaster, of the
University of California. In the future, when you meet with
irresolvable problems, you may request his guidance. You must,
however, be most respectful, not muddled and confused. You can't
conduct yourselves as you did before, wagging your heads, and
shuffling about, shouting, "Hey! I want to ask you a question."
Don't be like that. You must be courteous and respectful, Desiring
understanding, you must first be respectful. From today onward,
whatever principles you don't understand you may ask of this
Professor who will hand out your diplomas. This is very important,
and should not be forgotten, because Professor Lancaster, despite
his busy schedule, has come to tie up Dharma conditions with you,
and in the future you should not forget the advantages to be gained
from this. Therefore, whatever problems you have you can ask his
advice. This Professor is a transformation body that has come; in
the future he will be a transformation body that goes.
There are also two Dharma Masters who have come
today. I had requested them to give you some Dharma food, but they
said you were full, and they did not want you to overeat. So they
will wait for another opportunity to serve you Dharma food. One is
Dharma Master Tsu Yin whom I have known for a long time. The other
is Dharma Master Chih Hai. Both of these Dharma Masters are my
supervisors; therefore, I am unable to make mistakes, and am very
happy. It is all due to their instruction and help.
Once I begin talking, there is no end. At first
I decided not to speak; however, once begun, there was much to be
Professor Lancaster has been on vacation. When
he departed, I wished that he would quickly return and not go other
places, but return and tie up Dharma conditions with the students of
Buddhadharma. And after I had thought this way, he returned.
Therefore I said he was a transformation body come.
This thought of mine was a false thought. I did
not write a letter, or send him a telegram, nor telephone him;
however, he returned. So now it's out in the open. This is an
inconceivable state and you should not forget it.
Now we will request Professor Lancaster to
first speak the principles you wish to know. Afterwards we will
request him to hand out the diplomas to all of you.
Professor Lewis Lancaster
Oriental Languages & Literature, University of California, Berkeley
Since I spent the summer, not as many of you
have in meditation, but rather in travel and some study, I have not
a lot to offer but should listen to you instead.
There is one thing, which I have been thinking
about this summer, and that is, "How does a man reach enlightenment;
and what is the process by which he does it?" For a long time I have
been working with one of the stories in the Prajnaparamita about a
Bodhisattva named Sadaprarudita, which means the "Ever Weeping
Bodhisattva", and I have continued to think about the process by
which he reached enlightenment.
It seems to me that first people, for whatever
karmic reasons, decide that the world in which they live is not as
they thought it was, and that the world in which they live is in
essence an illusory world. This produces in them a great feeling of
despair, a feeling of wishing to turn away from the world that is
the illusory world. It was this feeling, I think, that Sakyamuni had
when he left home.
After leaving home, after, for some reason,
being led to start this thing of meditation and practice, for all of
these individuals there has then come a feeling of great inner light
and joy. And then I think the most unpredictable thing in Buddhism
happens, something, which I have always thought about, a conclusion,
which I don't believe we could arrive at through normal logical
reasoning. At the very moment when they realize that the world
around them is illusory, that it is not what they have thought, that
it is not some precious thing, that it may, in fact, be a great
burden, a burden which they are unwilling to lay down, they do not,
at the moment of awakening, hate it, have a great revulsion for it,
but instead they have compassion. There is no way to predict that
this will occur.
I believe therefore, that there is no way to
predict what happens to anyone when they seek enlightenment, There
is no way that I, a person who reads the texts and studies, can
predict what will happen to any of you if you do the practice. The
result of practice, the end result of it, is something, which comes
through the insights gained from the practice itself. And whatever
it is, it will be an experience, which occurs to you and which you
may then tell someone like me about. So, for those of you who have
begun the practice, wherever you are along the way, whether it is
with the revulsion of the world around you, whether you have first
experienced this inner joy which comes, whether you have begun to
experience the feeling of non-attachment, someday perhaps you put it
all together as the Bodhisattvas seem to have done in the past, and
arrive at a feeling of non-attachment, of joy and compassion. How
these three go together I can't tell you, I can only say I think
they do go together.
So for those of you who have gone through this
very arduous summer, you are doing something, which is rare in the
world. There are very few places, even in the Buddhist countries in
Asia, where people are practicing at this kind of level. There are
very few teachers in Asia who are the equal of your own. I hope that
as you come to the end of this particular session, you recognize
that it is part of a journey. I have no way of knowing where that
journey leads you because I am not enlightened. But I believe it is
a good journey.
Upasika Kuo Hsu
Graduate of the 1970
Lecture and Cultivation Session
After rigorously studying the Buddhadharma, many students awakened to the vast wisdom and universal compassion of the Buddha's teachings, and decided to further their progress along the way to Buddhahood by taking refuge in the Triple Jewel.
Here, (l. to r.) Upasikas Kuo T'ung, Kuo T'ung, Upasaka Kuo T'ung, and Upasika Kuo Hsu, kneel in front of the Buddha and receive refuge in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.
Good knowing advisors. Well, I learned a lot
this summer, the most important of which can't be put in words. So I
would like to say, more than anything else, something I am sure we
all feel, that is that we are very, very lucky to have met with the
Buddhadharma, and to have met with such a very good teacher, such a
compassionate teacher. I think that as time goes by and the aching
in our legs subsides a little bit we will appreciate this even more
and more. I am especially grateful to Professor Lancaster who
introduced me to the Buddhist Lecture Hall.
What should we do with all this really good
luck? We can't keep it, nor hide it away, because it is not
something which can be held on to. The only way we can keep it is by
passing it on to others, because that is the way it works. That is
the way that we practice.
So I would like to say again, because it cannot
be said too often, thank you. Thank you to all of these good knowing
advisors, good Dharma masters, honored guests, and all of the people
who have been here for several years and made all of this possible.