- Part #2 -

Excerpts - "Three Steps, One Bow" journals

With One Heart, Bowing to the City of 10,000 Buddhas
Records of Heng Sure & Heng Ch’au Bowing

Part -   1   |   2  |   3



May 22, 1977 - For the first time I'm feeling a build•up of concentration like an engine that slowly warms up during the first morning hour of bowing and then maintains its heat through lunch (This is new!  Halleluiah!) and then continues to run strong in the afternoon. I look forward to when Heng Ch’au and I have our routine down so we can maintain a pure, silent cultivation and concentration.

We are into wealthy neighborhoods: each house is a fantasy of elegant noble living memorialized in stone. Each arched•top carriage house a picture, the Mercedes parked lust so, the expansive lawns green despite the water•rationed drought. The slate roofs and marble porticos frame the baronial splendor of the gardens and walks. Everything is perfect••all drawn from "House and Garden.” But the residents are not so finely built, especially the children. Two young boys owning the street we audaciously crept along••one on a 20•speed bike and one on a $30 skate board move languidly out of the way to allow our van enough room to pass. Young boys 12•14 years old, their play clothes bought at Bullock’s••from tousled hair to racing shoes all the finest••but their faces? Ghost•like, pale and puffy. Their eyes have no spark, no wonder, no interest. They represent a dull challenge to authority. They are children off the edge. They do not seek knowledge of the world. They have been swamped in materiality••been given every possible toy and game and food and tool. They are overstuffed with protective concern but undernourished on love and learning. Dull, yin, passive, and angry, the boys had no masculinity, no Mars, no humor: only the blank mouth•open sniffle of a child. They need a father, a grandfather, older brothers, a neighborhood, a day and night without color TV, pajamas, the kitchen, interviews with parents, etc. They need love and life. If they grow up without it, the world will suffer when they come into power.

Sometimes I am aware of the weight of the vow is bring the Sutra home to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The work ahead is easy if you go straight, and hard if you slip off.

We are adrift in Los Angeles, Dharma fugitives in a sea of Saha suffering.

The job for us is to learn to be left•home people all the time. We must learn to behave as models of deportment for left•home people and for lay people.

We have to face our own situations, apply correct principles, and set up the proper dharma.


May 22, 1977 - Last night I was set and sat upon by two something or others. In my sleep, a "dream", two beings were holding me down, smothering me.  I could not get free. I was trapped••overweighted••almost like
being caught in a heavy sticky spider web, only it was these two people. Suddenly I became aware that they were after my essence. Involuntarily, without pleasure, and despite my wild struggling, I could feel myself losing. I yelled, "Shih Fu, Shih Fu." Just as I had no more strength to fight it, Shin In appeared. "You can't do that. Stop! This is not allowed," he commanded the two beings. They split. I was free and still intact.

I need to be more careful about false thinking, about leaving cracks or holes for outflows. It is very difficult and subtle••so fine can be an outflow.

offering:  two pairs of shoes, four pairs of socks, lunch, alarm clock, and cheese.

Food and Cultivation. On weekends especially the lay people inundate us with food and goodies. It's real easy to blame others for your own greed. For awhile there were lots of donuts and pastries showing up. We gobbled them. They kept coming. At first we looked outside and said, "Now this is no good. This sugar is messing up our bowing and desires. How can we tell them. They wouldn't really understand and might feel insulted." etc. But if we had taken one donut, split it and said no thank you to the rest, there would have been no problem. Because we ate them, they concluded, "They like sweets." So we turned the eyes within and stopped eating the sugar treats and what? Haven't seen even a cookie since. We are in part what we do and people see and trust this more clearly than what we say.

Had cheese for lunch and in first bow after I couldn't concentrate for diddle. Felt like my head was coming off. Scratch cheese. My temples were bursting.

In general, the lay people here are really excited about giving; creating blessings and merit through giving and supporting the Sangha. The amount and intensity of this sincere giving far exceeds what Heng Sure and I need and at some point obstructs our cultivation, because we let it. It was time to say something but not something that would stop the flow. Rather we wanted to do it in a way that would enlarge and expand it to where it was needed. Don't cut it off, channel it. A delicate issue for sure. We put together some ideas and waited for the right time to say it. Sunday was the birthday of Shakyamuni Buddha and everybody came ready to hear some dharma after lunch. Here's how it went:

On Shakyamuni Buddha's birthday I felt it would be appropriate to say a few words to all of you. Being a good Dharma Protector is very much like being a good gardener. The most important jobs are keeping out pests and predators and caring for and nourishing the plants and flowers to insure their continual healthy growth.

You people have made this trip possible through your good care of us in Los Angeles.  Most likely we could not have come this far if it were not for your generosity and concern. But we can not settle for the small and forget the bigger picture. In this regard I am reminded of a story about the time my grandfather asked me to water the flowers. I went out to the garden with the water and found the flowers, big white mums, and I gave each blooming flower a dose of the water. I returned and grandfather said, "Did you water the flowers?"

"Yes, I did," I replied.

Several weeks passed and I became the regular gardener. Before long I noticed that the flowers looked sad and droopy. I asked grandfather what was wrong and he watched my method just once and said, "Look here, you can't just water the blooms; you've got to water the whole plant, especially the roots. If you water the roots, the blooms will grow lust fine. But if you water just the blooms then the whole thing will soon die."

This was the principle of good gardening that I learned from my grandfather: water the roots and the whole plant flourishes. And we can apply this same principle to the work of spreading the Dharma in America.

Heng Sure and I are like two flower blooms. We are the visible part of Gold Mountain Monastery. Our needs are very few. We are out here doing this work so as to endure suffering. It is said that "to endure suffering is to end suffering, but to receive your blessings is to exhaust your blessings." We must take this chance to cultivate and really endure some bitterness so that there will be more merit to transfer to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. That is our work.

Now your work of Dharma protection is also very important. Of all the perfections, giving is foremost. Here in the frontier of the Proper Dharma in the West there is an unexcelled chance to create great blessings and to make measureless amounts of merit.

So like a good gardener we must not just water the blossoms and forget the roots which are the Venerable Abbot and the entire Sangha of Gold Mountain Monastery. We must expand our compassion and giving and work in a garden of larger scope.

Don't settle for the small and just use energy to give to these two flowers when there is a whole plant to nourish and protect and help grow. When the plant of the Dharma grows into a healthy, broad Bodhi tree, then all living beings can enjoy its fruit and take refuge in its shade. Find the big plant and nourish its roots and in this way be a Dharma Realm gardener.

As the Buddha Shakyamuni, the Tathagata, was known as the "doubly complete one," complete in blessings and complete in wisdom, his blessings came from his perfection of giving and making others happy. His wisdom came from cultivation and as we are all going to be Buddhas in the future, we should recognize the importance of working hard right now on our own cultivation. Whether you recite the Buddha's name or Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's name, or whether you recite a mantra or read sutras or hold the five precepts: no killing, no stealing, no lying, no sexual misconduct, and no taking intoxicants, all of these are excellent ways to cultivate wisdom. Precepts come first, then concentration comes from regular practice and then wisdom is produced. It appears from your own Buddha•nature.

So we should put these principles into practice and resolve to cultivate a big Buddha•garden and grow ten thousand doubly•perfect ones and not rest until the work is complete and all living beings end their suffering!

Sunday P.M. Just finished bowing. There was a lot of anger and hostility in these last 6 or 7 blocks. People have got to be sitting on some kind of huge powder keg to be that stirred up by a couple of bowing monks.

You know how it hurts to be touched when you have a really bad fever? I think it's something like that. But how can you get better until you're sick of being sick?

"Get up you fools, you sick or something?" and a squeal of rubber.

Paying money for drinking water end to use a toilet and air raid sirens every four blocks, now that makes sense, but bowing and seeking to reduce hostility and disasters, now that's just stupid and embarrassing.

Young boys, "Do you believe in God?"

Monk:  "Sure. All of them."

Boy:   "Do you believe in Jesus?"

Monk:  "Believe what?"

Boy:  "That he was the Savior."

Monk: "Did he save you?"

Boy:  "Yes, he did."

Monk:  "Then he must be, right?"

Boy:  "What do you believe in?"

Other boy: "Do you believe in the devil?"

Monk: "Yep. I believe in everything: you, me, the ants, the air, Jesus, Allah, the grass, your parents... 1 believe all gods and devils are inside of you, too."

Other boy: "What?"

Monk: "When you're really good and peaceful isn't that  like God?"

Boy:  "Sure."

Monk: "And when you're full of hate and anger, who's that?"

Other boy: "The devil!"

First boy: "No, no, no! God is all forgiving."

Monk: "Mostly it's important to be peaceful.”

Boys:  "I can dig that••see ya mister."

Monk "See ya boys.'

Interesting thing happened while bowing. A group of hays gathered across the street building up for some amusing assault.  Just then a police car passed, slowed and stopped••waiting. It was clear they were watching to see that we were not molested. Far out! Bit different from our first run•in at that upasika's garage! With the L.A.P.D. protecting Three Steps, One Bow••well, who knows...


May 23, 1977

Heng Sure: I think I passed that test okay today.

Heng Ch'au: Which test?

Heng Sure: What test was there today besides the demon soprano?

Heng Ch'au:  Well there was the morning recitation test, the t'ai chi test, the orange juice test, the

wash•up test, the getting dressed test, the bowing test, the neighbor lady test, and others, too.

Heng Sure: Hmmm. I see what you mean.


May 23, 1977 - After a humorous, mad, crazy, chaotic dream 1 am feeling incredible. I keep understanding "seeing"••it's like I’ve got eyes all over my body••they smell and feel, see through walls and for miles and the tip of my nose.  I feel such a sense of freedom, ease••light of heart and spirit. Nothing matters, it's all ok. Just fine.  The harder I work, the more difficult it is, the happier and more free I am and the more “seeing” occurs.  The funniest and most empty of all is “me,” my “self.”  The humor begins there and then expands.  Where are the words to describe this-- can’t find them.  It’s too large, too mobile and fluid to be held and looked at.  Just then it’s gone.  Try to catch it, it’s gone.

Its truth is no self and it flees my mad grasping mind.  And yet it’s right here now all of us, awake or sleeping, thus.  Very funny, deadly serious.

Laughing so hard I step into dog excrement.  I’ve got to be careful not to float away.  Humus (ground), humor, humility.

The Cadillac dealership on the corner has an armed guard by the front door loaded and deadly 45 cal., waiting.  Now what’s that about?  Nobody’s going to shoplift a 3-ton car.  Is it part of the exclusive mystique?  To protect what?  How many times have we been killed by angry eyes?  What would happen if when all this repressed hate and anger spilled forth there were guns with it?  Who could you kill?  Most murders in the U.S. are between relatives.  But who isn’t a relative--part of the family?  If you would kill for a Cadillac then what would you do if your spouse or favorite T.V. shows were killed?  If you stubbed your toe or were ridiculed by a bunch of kids?          

It’s an escalating circle, this anger and revenge, pride and fear.  It starts with a single false thought in our hearts and ends up in a holster of a guard in a car showroom.  On a larger scale it’s floating overhead right now in huge bomber planes and in the hills nearby in ICBM’s.  It all comes from the mind.  We need to work harder on Three Steps, One Bow:  I got angry over a parking ticket and the armed guard thinks we are positively stupid.  That’s the stuff wars are made from, and droughts.

“Meter Man” who collects coins shows up.  We saw him last week too on Wilshire and talked briefly then. Today he says, “Somebody else did this bowing thing.”


“Yea.  All the way across the country.”

Us:  “Somebody’s more stupid than us?”

Man:  “Oh, no.  Not stupid, just devoted.”  A big change from last week’s smirk.  Don’t take any wooden nickels.

Twenty or thirty men in various jock outfits are waiting anxiously outside Jack La Lanne’s Health Spa this a.m. as we bow by.  In the preface to the Bodhisattva precepts it says, “A strong body in good health is like a ragingly wild stallion for it is impossible to retain it long.  The passing of a person’s life is as fleeting as the bounding waters of a mountain stream.  Although one may be alive and healthy, it is impossible to guarantee even one more day of survival.”

L.A. isn’t exceptional really.  It’s just a concentrate and a few degrees more extreme than much of America and the world.  Looking outside for solutions and escapes from the inevitable death and birth, birth and death is as timeless as birth and death itself.  In L.A. the search for outside ways is pushing the limits.  Fad food, bottled immortality, health spas to retard and even stop decay and aging abound.  In Forest Lawn Cemetery nobody is really dead—they’re resting, waiting, vacationing, meditation, listening to music, etc., anything but rotting and returning to the elements.

This frantic last minute clutching and seeking is what happens when there’s no other way to investigate death and dying.  Even your new car won’t keep out King Yama when it’s time.  It was on this issue:  what happens when you die and before you’re born that my sister and I were finally able to connect and talk truly and Buddhism and cultivation.  Ultimately that’s what it’s about.  She knew it.  I knew it.  The men at the health spa know it and I suspect all the “loved ones” at Forest Lawn know it best.  There’s a lot of people looking, wondering, and hoping to stop the wheel.

Lunch conversation:

Upasika:  “There are a lot of Jewish people in this area.  Have you noticed any differences from the last neighborhood?”

Monk:  “We don’t see many people--I mean we don’t meet any people because we’re invisible.”

Upasika:  “Huh?”

Monk:  “Well, we are going s slow and everybody else is going so fast they don’t see us.  We are right there but can’t be seen.”

Other monk:  “We could probably sit in full lotus in the middle of a street and nobody could see us unless we went as fast as they were going.”

Monk:  “Probably is we could slow ourselves down more we might be able to see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Upasika:  “Eat some more.”


Upasika:  “How long did it take you to learn the Great Compassion Mantra?”

Monk:  “It depends.  If you hear it a lot and work hard maybe three months--otherwise longer.”

Upasika:  “It’s really hard.  I’ve been doing a couple of lines a day--but it’s hard.”

Monk:  “That’s really good.  The Great Compassion Mantra is a wonderful Dharma door.  Do you know about Kuo Kuei (Nicholson’s) father?”

Upasika:  “No.”

Monk:  “Well, Kuo Kuei’s father had cancer and was dying, so Kuo Kuei made a vow that his father wouldn’t die of cancer and recited the Great Compassion Mantra everyday many times.”

Upasika:  “Did he die of cancer?”

Monk:  “No.  If you are really sincere, the mantra is very powerful.”

Upasika:  “Hmmm.”  (obviously moved.)


May 24, 1977 -  Just as the absence of sexual desire has helped my cultivation immeasurably (less moody, more vigor, concentration, ch’i (energy), “seeing” light, ease, etc.) so the loss of essence hinders it.  This a.m. more aware of that than ever.  Feel cold, yin-dejected, hard to ignite, very much not “seeing”--a loss of lightness and vigor.  Common.

I can’t overemphasize how important this is.  It is the key and sine qua non of my cultivation.  The “reverse turning” being here--in getting rid of sexual outflow.  Unable to get rid of the, there is nothing.  With it?  Well, I’ve only tasted a little so far but it’s truly wonderful.  The real freedom and joy lies in transcending and transmuting sexual desire.

There’s no place in the world like Wilshire Blvd.  Real live Ben and Barbi dolls, all manner of endless things to buy and forget with.  It’s very every street in America grown wild, colossal.  People drop with heart attacks on the sidewalk while shopping or after lunch.  An ambulance picks them off the street and they’re gone, just like the broken-down cars towed away by a tow truck.  Impermanence everywhere.

The pigeons and shoppers hustle and jump about--endless hunting, endless needs.  I used to think I could never avoid this when I was a kid—that this was the world one had to grow into and take over, to inherit.  But there’s another heritage waiting for anyone who wants some truth--cynicism ain’t it.  When you play all these dharmas through and through, over and over, some day or other, some morning half awake after the alarm rings or just before you fall asleep, it hits hard--this is nowhere!  But what else is there?  Well, I’ve done all these trips and games and thought they were it and watched them all deflate into this void.  Take refuge within, in the Triple Jewel.  It’s here that the answer lies.  Alive in America, how rare!

- Two letters to Shih Fu follow -

Tuesday, May 24

Dear Shih Fu,

We are just  about to pass through Beverly Hills.  We are making slow but steady progress.

Although we could not be with the Master on Buddha’s birthday, Heng Chau and I wish to bow nine times to the Master on this occasion and to be mindful again of how grateful we are to have met the proper Dharma here in the West.

Thanks to the Master’s great compassion we have this chance to use our effort to bring good medicine to this ailing land; our lives have a useful purpose and a positive direction to travel.  This is a priceless treasure!

As we bow we recite the repentance verse and hope to take on to ourselves and then purge out via the repentance, some of the negative energy and hateful vibes that we encounter as we crawl from block to block.  When we are sincere, the results are immediately visible--anger disappears from faces--the tension dissolves from street-corner groups that gather to stare at us, and even the heat in the air seems to cool slightly.  If we are false thinking or have any anger or fear in our own minds, then nothing happens as we bow into a crowded area or worse, the tension builds up and people get hot or uptight, anger and fear from the crowd.  The pressure makes a rare chance to cultivate.

The Dharma Protectors make it possible and the pressure makes it real, good, hard work.  There is a lot of magic on this trip and the Master’s presence is always close by.

Wednesday, May 25

This experience is rich in learning, tests, and exposure to all kinds of people and situations.  Heng Chau and I talk about the states we encounter and apply the principles we have learned to solve our problems.  Each time we trace a problem back to a flaw in our own perception of reality, to a hang-up, an affliction, or an attachment, we know we have found the source of the problem and then the state almost immediately resolves itself.

The mindfulness of a cultivator is not easy to maintain all the time--especially these three:  patience with all states, compassion for all beings, even the demons who come to provoke us, and also a sense of shame--keeping my faults and short-comings in front of me at all times, in all places.

When these three mindfulness stations are before my mind, a kind of vajra resolve takes over and people look right past me and see the Avatamsaka and the Triple Jewel.  This is what I’m working for and I have to make it clean and pure like this all the time.  It’s time to learn how to behave properly as a Bhikshu.  This trip will be not wasted!

Disciple Heng Sure - Bows in Respect

Sunday, May 29

Dear Shih Fu,

Please do not worry about us--Heng Chau and I are doing okay--we’ve hit a regular pace--and bow about 5-1/2-6 hours each day.  We start bowing at 7:00 A.M., take one hour off at 10:30 to write and repair our gear or meditate--start again at 1:00 P.M. and bow until 6:00, taking twenty minutes stillness breaks each hour.  At 6:00 we find spot to park the van for the night, wash up, meditate and prepare for woan keh.  We listen to the Avatamsaka each night--I recite and translate from Chapter One--we haven’t got a tape recorder yet so we haven’t been able to listen to the Master’s tapes--and then we say the Leng Yen Mantra 49 times (the short version) and then rest, as tired as young boys after a full day outdoors.  I forgot to add that we get up at 4:00, do zao keh and exercise and get ready to start by 7:00 A.M.  As we leave the city behind we will be able to add more bowing hours each day.

Our bodies have adjusted to the work slowly.  We are exhausted each night and ready to go again each morning.  We took off our gloves last week because it looked insincere to others--these sidewalks are pretty smooth and we don’t need gloves until we get into glass and gavel on the highway shoulders.  We took off our sunglasses too because people thought we were Muslem and Arab hijackers.  I started using kneepads several days ago after I developed a deep aching bruise on my left knee from so much bowing.  With the kneepads I can bow all day--we did 6 hours and 20 minutes yesterday.  As soon as the bruise heals I’ll take the pads off.  Heng Chau is still wearing his hat to cover his leaving-home burn scars but they will be all healed in a week.  We have stopped all useless talking--plugged that leak. 

The two of us are really looking forward to the master’s visit to L.A. next week.  We need to hear the proper Dharma-wheel turned the way young babies need their mother:  out thoughts turn to the Venerable Abbot and to the Avatamsaka Assembly the way bees turn to honey.

We have bowed through Beverly Hills and we are nearing U.C.L.A. in Westwood.  By next weekend we should be out of Santa Monica and on Highway 1, ready to trade our van for a cart and ready to start the long road North to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.  Each time I think of Wan Fwo Cheng I visualize a bright torch in the gloom.  The Master’s vision of a Buddhist city based on true, wholesome principle is the very best medicine for our sick nation.  Sometimes while bowing along through L.A., which is surely the center of the cancer, I feel myself on the point of tears--happy tears at the hope and the goodness in store for the West--we can turn our lives around and go towards the good and we now have a road to travel on, a road that will carry us, our parents, our friends, young and old, back to a place of purity and light and balance and harmony.  I wouldn’t care if the road from L.A. to Wan Fwo Cheng was 70,000 miles instead of 700.  I’d still feel it to be my sacred trust to bow and pace every step of the Way to make it come about.

Disciple Heng Sure

- End of Letters to Shih Fu -

When pending down to bow I feel like a full pitcher emptying--pouring out all the junk and afflictions.  All day pouring, flushing, filling, emptying.  At the end, I am squeaking clean inside until the first false thought.

Bowing near Beverly Hills today I looked up and saw mountains in the Northwest ahead.  They were exactly like a dream of thee or four years ago.  In fact, the temperature, strong wind, sky cover--everything was the same.  The direction of the route and the feeling also identical.  In the dream another person and I were on a journey to a city called 10,000 Buddhas, high in the mountain plateaus to the north.  The city we were in and going through was dying, falling.  Nobody there knew anything beyond the craziness of the city--quick pleasure, wealth, parties, drugs, etc.-- a kind of spiritual despair hiding behind a gay front.  The road was in need of repair and not used for a long time, but walkable.  The city of 10,000 Buddhas was like a ruin, old and dormant.  At one time it had flourished and thrived, but for some reason through neglect or catastrophe had been uninhabited and not visited for years and years.  A noxious gas or something had covered it and the surrounding country.  But now it was ok--in fact cleaner and more pure than anywhere on the globe.  Waiting to be discovered and rekindled.

Flashes like this happen just about every day.  I don’t know dream from real, past from present, here from where anymore.  It’s ok..

Déjà vues and similar-type non-ordinary experiences are happening with such frequency I can’t keep track of them.  More and more the dimensions break down--time, space, etc.--merging, turning inside out and upside down.  I just reached to grab the door of the van and looked on the ground outside standing next to Heng Sure and had an incredible déjà vu.  Before or in the future, in a dream or is this a dream?  I don’t know.  I don’t really care.  At first I used to take interest in occurrences, but they’re only some kind of state and happening so often that I hardly notice anymore.  Every once in a while a particularly strong one hits and it freezes me to halt for a few seconds--like if I continued or kept going I would walk right into another universe and time.

I’ve been ready old Vajra Bodhi Sea commentaries on the Prajna Paramita Sutra by the Master.  They’re better than lunch.

T’ai chi this morning was really strong.  I can feel a new strength, power in the tan t’ien, lower back, and along the spine--really like electric water; light and potent.  Having left home and Three steps, One Bow are making unbelievable difference inside with my ch’i and my “seeing.”  Really hard to explain, I am so grateful and happy for a chance to cultivate the true--it’s so obviously the Way.  Each day I realize how rare and inconceivable it is to be this close to the ultimate.

“If the Way grows an inch,
the demons grow a foot.

If the Way grows a foot,
the demons are really on top.”

Master Hua

This a.m. Heng Sure started bowing alone.  I meditated and had some writing to finish.  When I caught up he was bowing on a traffic island below a sign “Welcome to Beverly Hills.”  I couldn’t find a parking space so I circled and came back.  I noticed a woman on her knees next to and in front of him. “That’s neat,” I thought, “she’s being moved to bow along.”  A closer look, however, exposed that dream.  The woman was hassling and mocking Heng Sure, blocking his way and screeching.  I was going to put on my robe but my alarm bells were ringing so I just grabbed my sash and ran (quick walk) over.  As I approached, I “saw” and felt a lot more.  It was heavy.  About 50 years old, the woman was singing opera and pulling up her skirt while kneeling in front of Heng Sure, trying to break his recitation and concentration.  He advanced, she made way and came again.  As he was prostrated, she turned, pulled her dress above her waist (getting more and more agitated) doing obscene gestures over his head, trying to move him.  She danced around, dressing and undressing, mocking, defiling, getting louder and more outrageous.  A couple nearby watched in disbelief.

Intuitively what I felt and saw was:  the woman was crazy i.e. not to be moved by reason or feeling--unpredictable and possessed, out of control.  She wasn’t what she seemed and wasn’t alone.  I could feel the bad vibes and sickness she emanated.  Her colors were black, grey, off-blue.  Her face was grotesque, contorted, asymmetrical, splotchy make-up and rouge.  Her hair matted, wig-like.  Her eyes were gone--no contact, glazed.  I’ve seen these faces, felt these vibes many times working in mental hospitals.  But this was different even than that.  It’s hard to explain; it was really demonic.  On the other hand, she was just a confused lady doing her thing.  Still I felt more to it than that.

I had been reciting the Great Compassion Mantra since getting out of the van.  Walking between her and Heng Sure, I threw my sash over my shoulders and took my regular position right behind him.  She walked away, crossed the street and was gone.  The Great Compassion Mantra, I’m sure, subdued her.

The other day when Heng Sure was bowing in front of the Cadillac dealership his awesome demeanor and sincerity struck me and also the salesmen inside.  Together and upright, he looked like a perfectly aligned stack of coins.  Today he still looked pretty good considering, but I saw a few coins out of place!

Two or three months ago Heng Sure had a vision of a demon woman lying down in front of him on the road.  He moved left, she moved left; he moved right, she moved right-block and mocking.  Today this vision came to him on the traffic island.  “My only regrets are that I wasn’t totally clear; I moved a little.  I didn’t have compassion.  That would have been the way to deal with it.  Instead I thought, “this is one I have to wait out--inconvenient.”

“Welcome to Beverly Hills,” just like the sign said.

An old lady with sparkling eyes came up wondering what we were doing.  I explained briefly.  She was impressed, “Golly you sure do have a big work.  Good luck you, now.”

Later she returned and I gave her a release.  “Are there thousands of you?”  she asked.

“No,” I said, “Just two here, but many more at the monasteries.”  I could have said, “yes, thousands, tens of thousands in fact,” but as usual I missed.

Then she asked, “Do you not get married.”

“No,” I said. 

“We don’t marry but we have a huge family—countless relatives, parents, brothers and sisters.  And Buddhists don’t stop working until the whole family is happy and together again.”  Too late, Heng Ch’au!  Only seconds instead of minutes though--getting closer to being “right on time.”

As she started to leave she began to say, “But you are so young not to marry…” instead she saw how happy we were and concluded, “Well, you are so happy, lots of luck to you.”

I was waiting for the delivery man with bottled water to ask, “What are you doing?”

“Trying to put you out of a job.”


“Not really, but kind of.  The reason you’re delivering bottled water is because of pollution.  And water pollution begins with mind pollution.  Clean up the mind, clean the water.  Simple.”

A upasaka stopped by to have us sign a form so we could use his BankAmericard.  We politely refused saying that would be too easy.  “To endure suffering is to end suffering.  To enjoy blessings is to end blessings.”  Besides if we ran into trouble and had the card there would be no chance for other people to meet the Dharma and plant in the field of blessings.  The card like the car insulates us from people.  The car is unfortunately necessary.  The card isn’t.

Winds are winds (i.e. A problem) only if there are cracks for them to blow through.  Seal the cracks, the winds blow but can’t move you, you move the winds.

A free lance photographer appeared to take pictures.  “I’ll probably never see anything like this again in my life.”  If you’ve seen it once, you’ll see it again…

Q:  “Are you American or Chinese?”

A:  “Yes.”

Q:  “I mean I’ve seen some Chinese that tall (he indicates Heng Sure.)”

A:  “We’re Chinese, American, Swiss, Chicano, Martian, you.”

Q:  “It must be rough--you guys have trouble finding motels at night?”

A:  “I forget; it really doesn’t matter.  It’s all on the inside--the journey.”

Q:  “Well, I’d like to give you some money to help.”

A:  “It will be put to good use.”

He shakes hands and leaves.

There are some police, another photographer and businessmen talking and watching in a nearby doorway.

“Are you praying?”

“You’re kidding.  All the way to Santa Monica on their knees like that?”  And then some…

We took an hour off to do the ceremony for Shakyamuni Buddha’s Birthday in the Park.

Some lay disciples contacted the Beverly Hills police letting know of the trip and our route.  They were really receptive.  “Just call in for Lt. Zenter at night and let him know where you are parked--no problem.”  A number of officers were stopping and reading our release.  Later that night as we were trying to find a phone to call in our location, we ran right into a squad car.  It was one of the officers who had read the release.  “We’ve been looking for you,” he said.  Turned out to be really friendly and it was an interesting exchange.  He and the police woman with him were really interested in monastic life, training, the principle and especially how they apply to social problems, etc.  “Are you related to the Krishnas?”

Us:  “No.”

Police:  “What’s the difference?’

Us:  “Day and night.  But simply, we don’t hit people for money in airports.”

Police:  “Right!  How do you get by?”

Us:  “We don’t need much and if people offer money or things we accept, we don’t beg or ask.  We don’t try to convert.  Basically Buddhists believe that all the ills and problems, everything, starts with individuals--with the mind.  If you want to really end suffering, crimes, and problems you have to clean up the source.  It’s like in families.  Kids learn from the parents and these kids pass it on to their children, etc.  Now if the parents get their act together then there’s a lot of good folks.  If they don’t you’ve got 25 or 30 people causing problems and suffering.  Basically you clean up your own act first, not other’s first.”

Police:  “For sure.”  (nodding in agreement)  “What did you do before?”

Us:  “Slept; we were dreaming.  Unlike a lot of other groups, Buddhists at Gold Mountain work hard.  You don’t bounce in off drugs or whatever without having to clean up your act.  You have to climb and use effort and actually be able to do the work of a nun or monk.”

Police:  “What do you do when you’re done?”

Us:  “How many lifetimes will it take to be done!”

Radio:  “Armed robbery at a gas station.”  They brace and stiffen.  What a hard job!  Constantly on the edge.  Dealing with effects, never the source.  Frustrating and dangerous.  For those few minutes we all understood and respected each other and without saying it we sensed it.  Real warm and genuine.  All of us went away feeling refreshed.

Police:  “We’ll give your location to the next shift.”

Us:  “Thanks.  Hope you have a quiet night.”

Man in Laundromat could have been me.  Same build, coloring, life-style (once).  When?  When I was married and running fast and heavy the movie called “I’ll find Nirvana with Love.”  It was the thought (false) that ultimate truth and fulfillment was to be found in a one-to-one relationship, romantic love forever--trying to hang on and maintain the high of “new love.”  What always happened was--birth, dwelling, decay, and emptiness.  Birth was new love.  Dwelling was the living together.  Decay, the realization that the ultimate wasn’t to be found here.  Emptiness, the disappointment and void of separating.

Everything returns to the one--even the two (couple).  And the one?  Buddhas only show the way; you must talk it yourself.

The man in the Laundromat and his wife were in state three (decay).  Both of them were looking out, hardly talking or glancing at each other.  Looking depressed and waiting for the show to end.  They kept stealing glances at us like maybe we had something to say that would break their spell, crack the bad dream.  Lots of people here are looking, wondering if maybe someday this will all seem like a bad dream “when their ship comes in.”  They don’t know, don’t remember, that they are on their ship.  Like the man frantically looking for his head because he could see everyone else’s but not his own.

As they languidly put their laundry in their Mercedes, they both kept looking at us, not disapproving, just expectantly; in no hurry to go back home.


May 25, 1977 -  At 2 p.m. we came swinging out to bow on a crowded shopping street--the “Miracle Mile” thick with tension (both the street and me) people recognize us buzzing about our pre-noon bowing in that place.  Immediately they pick up on us:  “What they doing?”  “What the hell?”  “They’re prayin’.”  “What are they praying to?”  “They’re praying to themselves, not to anyone else.  They don’t belong to this world.”  (Pretty profound, although he doesn’t know it.)

Twenty feet further I bow in front of a driveway.  Suddenly a fancy car slides out, stops, and a silvering templed middle-aged executive totally uptight with himself and with me fumbles for words to vent his anger:  “Ah, ah, you’re ah, interrupting the street, gentlemen.”  (Curious:  who did he see?  I was bowing along at the time).  I stood up to pace across the drive and continue to bow on the other side but as I rounded his car he deliberately threw it in reverse and backed up, trying to knock me down or run me off the walk.  I walked wider and quickened my pace but he came on back, slowly or else he surely would have knocked me down.  I made it around and continued my bowing.  He revved his engine and slid out into the traffic river.

More May 25 -  The street is high-charged with negative tension.  We bow through the center of it.  Trying not to cause more tension; instead of purging it through our work.  Suddenly a big wind blows up.  High gusts rip at our sashes and robes, blowing hard against our eyes and legs so even walking is difficult, but we continue our pacing and bowing.  Before long the people ahead of us and on all sides just disappear before the wind. All the junk in the air--all the tension--is blown away down the street.

Once the street is clean, the wind dies, too, and the bowing continues as always.

Voice I:  Real cultivation has to be a determination to do it and nothing else.  You must be mindful of your Dharma method all the time.  You can’t take a break, a vacation, a holiday; you can’t “reward” yourself for good work by stopping the work.  This is defeat.  So once you begin you must keep on pushing.  Right up and over the edge.  Anything less will not get you there.  It is difficult and unnatural.

Voice II:  Cultivation when it’s real is a gradual natural process which should come in stages.  As you breath in and out, your cultivation should allow for effort and rest, effort and rest, never retreating but not forcing the way either.  Excess force leads to a strong reaction, just like the circles in t’ai chi:  the faster the punch the harder the return punch.


May 26, 1977

There Are No Laundromats In Beverly Hills

We spent a good hour driving around Beverly Hills last night trying to find a Laundromat.  We ended up at Lou’s Speedqueen Mat just outside the Beverly Hills boundary.  We asked the police, “Hey, where are the Laundromats?”

Police:  “There aren’t any.  Everybody sends their dirty clothes out and has them washed.”

Us:  “Or throws them away and buys new ones?”

Police:  “Right.”

Our dirty laundry is just the same as our bad habits our afflictions.  Having someone else take care of your dirty clothes is climbing on their conditions and not seeing principle.  Sometime or other in order to end suffering you have to take your own stinking laundry, say “Yup, this is mine” and then wash it yourself.  Just that is returning the light within.  Sending your dirty clothes out is attaching to outside, not internals.

The world is full of laundry maids--people who specialize in washing others’ clothes:  police, psychologists, teachers, doctors, nurses, gardeners, etc.  If we all took care of our own afflictions and bad habits, what need of police, shrinks, doctors, etc.?

This a.m. we got pulled over by a police car, flashing lights.  I started to get out of the car but heard hard commanding instructions:  “Shut the door and don’t get out of the car.”  As soon he made the connection that we were the ones he had read about at the station he said, “Oh, you’re the Buddhist pilgrims.”  Suddenly he smiles and relaxes.  Another good conversation follows with lots of questions and some recognition.

So far the people who have recognized and responded to what we represent (the Dharma and the Sangha) have been kids, old people, crazy ladies on the street, and the police.  I think it has something to do with doing the same work--reducing and eliminating hostilities, disasters, and bringing some peace and harmony.  We try to work with the causes, they with the effects.  There’s a sense of both working with nitty gritty reality out in front on the street that’s shared.  But more than that.  All the years I spent working with disturbed kids, mental patients, counseling families, kids on probation, in hospitals--there was an incredible sense of frustration and futility.  Why?  Because I was limited to putting Band-Aids on gaping wounds.  Constantly dealing with effects, never able to work directly with the causes of all this disturbance and suffering. 

That’s what the police do.  Buddhist monks and nuns don’t withdraw and hide from the world.  They go to the root, the cause of the world--inside out.  Working on the mind-ground is where it’s at and somehow the police know it.  The most dreaded call a copy has to respond to is family arguments, domestic problems.  Why?  Because that’s close to the root--it’s the most volatile and because they’re only trained to deal with effects.  You don’t ask a hospital orderly to do surgery.  But because of their work they make the connections and see cause and effect in every call they answer.  They clearly see how kids get taught and nurtured into criminals.  And they are powerless to stop it.  They know what drugs and alcohol do to minds and families.  They see it all day long--the results of greed, hatred and stupidity-karma.  Like kids, old people and the crazy ladies, police have an eye for the true and smell a phony blocks away.

Buddhism is common sense, direct and straight.  You can’t help but recognize it. You see it’s as plain as your own face.

Everything we see we reflects
See the monks, see yourself

See who?  Who sees?

Mirrors everywhere around and round
And behind the mirrors?

Not even empty space.

Laypeople:  “Do you have any dirty clothes that need to be washed?”

Monks:  “We’ll do them ourselves when we are bowing.”

Laypeople:  “You won’t have time.”

Monks:  “We’ll find time.”

Laypeople:  “Oh really it’s nothing for us to do it.”

Monks:  “It’s everything to do your own laundry.”

The Black Spire

Is everyday, every minute, every single thought an endless outflow?  There is no attaining, just maintaining.  There is no end, no beginning, you never get “there.”  No final judgment or location, just hard work, patience until there is just hard work and patience.  We can’t relax Saturday because Friday was good.  No days, no boundaries, every minute without thought is enlightenment; every minute with thought is affliction.  “Every day is different, not the same.  Three Steps, One Bow is outside the Hilton or in Lincoln Heights or at Gold Wheel Temple--all is thus.  Three Steps, One Bow is just a single thought--how far?  How long? Are no questions, of no matter.

That’s what the writing on the black spire is--a test!  Only not a single test, an endless all-the-time test.

A single thought=single failure.
A single pass=single thus.

I’m so happy I cry.  Heng Sure says, “That’s a relief.  That makes me feel free. Takes the pressure off in a way.”

“Let’s bow.”


Two very old ladies leaning on each other out for a walk, stop and patiently watch, waiting for a chance to ask.  Timidly they ask if they can disturb us.

“Well, I don’t care what religion you are, I think it’s wonderful praying like this.  We really admire you.”

Us:  “There’s too much hate in the world.  If we can change a little hate into some peace and touch others to do the same then…”

Lady:  “Well I am sure whoever sees you will find a little peace.”

On hate:  This angry man tried to back right over Heng Sure a couple of days ago.  I could hardly believe it.  With clear premeditation he said, “You’re interrupting the street, gentlemen,” got in his car and came within inches of crushing Heng Sure!

Busy, windy afternoon in Beverly Hills.  Two older women circle us, friends.

1st woman:  “Ridiculous!”

2nd woman:  “Bless you.”

1st woman:  “Ridiculous.”

2nd woman:  “Bless you.”

A very sincere young photographer asked to take pictures and for some information.  He said he would send some to Gold Mountain along with his card.  “You know, there is something very beautiful around.  I can see and feel it.”

Three hyped kids buzzed up spewing questions:  “What are you doing?”  “Where are you going?”  “Why are you doing it so low on the ground?”

Answer:  “So we don’t get lost.  If we get too high, we get lost.”

“Where do you sleep?”

“In sleeping bags.”

“Why don’t you take a car, it would be faster.”

“Too easy.  Anybody could do that.”

“That’s a long time…”

“Is it?”

“Are you with Krishna?”


“They shave their heads too.”

“That’s the only thing the same.”

“What are you doing it for?”

“to clean up our act and hopefully help get rid of all the hate and bad vibes, disasters on the planet.”

“Good luck.”

Answer:  “Don’t get lost.”

An elderly businessman eager and bright asks for a release, “How many blocks do you do?”  “Thank you.”  I couldn’t get a reading on him.  He liked to watch and be near but didn’t like to talk.

Little girl rides hot wheels right up to Heng Sure with wide open eyes.  “What are you doing mister?”

I explain.  We stop for a break and she comes cruising up again.  “Why did you stop?”

“We didn’t stop.”

“But you are not bowing.”

“We’re still bowing inside.”


Older girl with edge:  “What is this” etc.  Going nowhere with this one.  Finally she says, “Well, you believe in what you do and I in what I do.  You won’t convince me and I won’t change you.”

Me:  “What do you believe in?”

Girl:  “I believe in God.”

Me:  “So do I.  All of them.”

Girl, emphatically:  “But I believe in my one God only!”

Me:  “Does your God believe in one you only?”

Girl tailspins.  “Well, uh, uh, take are.” Mumbles away, moved.

Flashy car pulls up:  “Yoo, hoo, hey, hey, You guys!”  What are you doing?  Are you Krishnas?”

Monk:  “No, Buddhist monks.”

Girl:  “What?”

Monk:  “Buddhists.  Buddhist Monks.”

Girl:  “Oh, Buddhists.  Wow!  Far out!  Great! I love it!”

Windy day!

“They’re in a fraternity.  That’s part of the hazing they have to go through to join it.”

An old woman watched us with a skeptical and discerning eye for about a block.  Finally she said, “Okay.  God bless you,” and left.

“We passed,” added Heng Sure.

The doer and the deed are both empty in nature
The response and the practice of the Way are intertwined and hard to conceive of.
This Bodhimanda of mine is like a priceless pearl.
The Venerable Master manifests within it and I appear before the Master.
Bowing my head in obeisance to his feet, I return my life in worship.

“If I told you I saw them you wouldn’t believe me.  I told you I didn’t I would be lying.”

Sequence:  Police conversation and connecting Dharma with social problems.  Know how to speak, they help many groups integrate Dharma with their work.  Lunch. “Understand” the dark spire.  Feel refreshed, ready.  No high or low, just right now always hard work and patience.  So obvious.  Then comes the first hour of bowing after lunch.

U was just doing the work of bowing, real comfortable. Not excited or down, thinking and feeling nothing, just there working.  Coming up from a bow I “see” all these beings like the Great Compassion Mantra all around us on all sides and feel them behind for along distance.

Specifically, they are a little smaller than us, vajra-bodied, not at all the same as our flesh bodies.  Their eyes, wisdom, power is not physical.  They are weathered but graceful, straight, slow-moving, professional, unmoved, centered, whitish, and I am aware of their appropriate seriousness and joy.  They are tough, sinewy gentle sages.  Internal.  They are timeless, of another realm, neither on air or ground.  They are not of the four elements, and have no desire or anger.  They have joy from no afflictions of anger, fear, distraction, laziness, too much talk, jealousy--all these are absent from their being.  They have a focused steady even pace, not too excited or lax.  They were carefully checking things out, observing, ready for anything but not tense.  There was a sense of a universal mind “discussion” about working, territory, job assignments.

I feel a large Kuan Yin Bodhisattva somewhere behind like a huge statue--happy and calm.

There is no hurry and now wasted motion about these beings.  Some have shaved heads, some not.  Their clothing is old (robes, white all).  They are very quiet.

I sense that certain ones specifically are coming through “me”--like “me” of a different time and place.   I recognize them and feel affinities but also not exactly them, not especially now.  Most of them are martial-like.  Dharma protectors.  They could fight but their strength is from inside out.  They had real gung fu in “heart.”

The trail they were setting was a line of purity and light.  We (Heng Sure and Heng Ch’au) were like young pups--learning, not too important, but trying.  It was mostly due to the power of what we had taken on and what it represented that they were there--not for us personally--and also by the virtue of our Master and our recitation.

The eyes seeing this were not really flesh but not either.  There were no words.  I could see why anything that gets close to them would mellow and become peaceful.

There are 25 or 30 on each side.  It felt important not to have any false thinking and no anger!!--they would leave over that.  Small errors were excusable if worked indulgence.  No time for that.  They were really awesome, wise, indestructible, patient, and professional.  They had been together for a long time.


May 27, 1977 -  Said through clenched teeth, almost as if spat onto the pavement:  “What a fantastic show of devotion, and right here on Wilshire.”  Totally sarcastic in intent.  The answer might have been:

“So you would suggest no prayer at all is the utmost sincerity?”

If every moment is a test then the pressure is all off.  You can be totally free to be your best all the time because there is no ultimate judgment or final curtain call.  There are no judges, ultimately.  Any time you are unhappy, any time some unnecessary load is on you, it has nothing to do with anyone else but you.

I spent years worrying about a great future punishment and a great reward banquet.  Now I know they don’t exist nor are they created.  It happens in a single thought:  “One thought enlightened is the Buddha, one thought confused is a living being.”

If you got it, it’s there.  If you don’t, it’s not there.  Right now, let the ext thought take care of itself.  And don’t blame your unhappiness on what your mind sets up because it’s still all your own trip.


May 27, 1977 -  A young woman, follower of Guru Maharaj Ji, stopped to try to figure out Three Steps One Bow.

“Why do you do such a hard, difficult practice?”

“Hard?  It’s great!  It’s easy.  I’ve never been more peaceful or happier.  You ought to try it, it’s easy.”  (To endure suffering really is to end suffering, but I’ve got to do it.)

Woman:  “Well, I know what you mean.  Even though I don’t actually physically bow, I feel it’s important to keep that kind of devotion here in my heart.”

(This is like me before I left home rationalizing, “Well basically I’m a left home person even though I haven’t actually left home” or ”Well in my heart, you know, I’m really enlightened even though I haven’t really cultivated the Way yet.”)

“How is it the Way, if you don’t walk it?” – Master Hua

“Practice and understanding mutually respond.” – Master Hua

Woman:  “Exactly what are you looking for?”

Monk:  “Ten thousand Buddhas, enlightened beings.”

Woman:  “I’ve always felt close to what I read of the Buddha’s writings and sayings.  Made me feel warm.  They sounded true.”

Bow, bow, bow--all the time bow.  I have so much arrogance I don’t even see it until I start bowing.  Like breathing--so unconscious, automatic--when you stop breathing you realize the importance of breath.  When I start bowing I realize how huge my affliction of arrogance is.  The bowing lifts that weight off my body.  Lightness always follows bowing--bowing in one magic circle.

As kids it was so easy to tell the false from the true.  It was obvious which kids shared and who was greedy, who looked for fights, and who had a chip.  When you would get all dressed up, polished, permanented, you and everybody else knew it was an act, a play, a game.  No one was deceived by curls and new clothes especially when they were used to flaunt for one upmanship.  But it didn’t take long to get sophisticated.  We cash in our share, our section of true nature, so easily.  “Like a drunken sailor” my father would say, “you throw away the treasure and keep the trash.”

Heng Sure and I are becoming real slobs, lacking taste and refinement and Three Steps One Bow is responsible.  Everything is starting to blend into one hug conditioned dharma--perfumes, gas fumes, beautiful women, ugly men, beautiful mean, ugly women, rich and poor, fine food and scraps, ourselves, our fears, our fantasies--the same, all the same.  The less we move the farther we go, the closer we get.  The closer we get to what we never left. 

Broken mirror, broken rules

Stupid and sloppy.  Heng Sure and I have been getting sloppy, careless.  Rapping too much, too long.  Taking too long for lunch, starting ceremonies half an hour late at times.  An attitude also of mine--one of arrogance and distancing, lack of compassion-crept in through the cracks.  I left open by not following the rules.  It shows up when I start identifying instead of identifying with, when I lose my mirror that allows me to see my faults when I see others, and others to see their faults when they see me; the same with virtues.  It’s an old habit and a hard one to break.  The way to control it is to first shut my mouth and then cultivate every move and minute like my life depended on it-not to be lax or indulgent or relax for a second.  I can find all sorts of excuses for letting down (the tension of Three Steps One Bow, fear, pressure, physical fatigue) but they are just excuses covering the truth cop outs.

I feel deeply ashamed of wasting this time and opportunity as much as I have and resolve to keep tightening up and smelting until there is no residue of ego and affliction left.  This can be done without losing a sense of humor and joy or blaming others (Heng Sure) for my mistakes.  I know I can do it.  How can I not?

As I was realizing all of this a black van roared by, hitting and smashing the outside mirror on the van.  It didn’t stop.  The incident confirmed feeling of having lost my mirror (compassionate eye and heart).  Moreover, I knew that my sloppiness in following the rules left the hole for the black van to enter.

I want to join the ranks of the beings I saw yesterday, my teacher, the eternally dwelling enlightened beings of the ten directions.  I better start acting like it.  A single thought--Bodhi or botch.

Cars bumper to bumper as far as the eye can see.  An average of one person per car.  Sidewalks empty from person to person as far as the eye can see.  Three Steps One Bow at a couple of points was moving faster than cards.

Two high school boys run across six lanes of moving traffic to find out what we are doing.  En route they almost get run over by a hot motorist.  The result:  cussing, cursing, tempers, and horns.

Boys:  “Why are you doing this?”

Monk:  “To reduce the hate and bad vibes in us and the world.”

Boys:  “Huh?”

Monk:  “Like that car back there that almost ran you over.  Everybody blew up, got made.  That’s the stuff wars come from.  We all need to cool off.”

Boys:  “Yeah, really.”

Monk:  “What happened to your arm?”

Boy:  “Surgery--bone chip from sports.”

Monk:  “The body just keeps breaking down.  Even when you try to take care of it.”

Camped by the even rolling, always fuming Detroit River again near Wilshire and Santa Monica.


May 28, 1977

Voice I:  Real cultivation has to want to do it and nothing else.  You must e mindful of your Dharma method/door at all times.  You can’t take a break, a vacation, a holiday, you can’t “reward” yourself for good work by stopping the work.  This is defeat.  So once you begin you must keep on pushing--right up over the edge.  Anything less will not get you there.  It is unnatural and difficult.

Voice II:  Cultivation when it’s real is a gradual natural process which would come in stages.  As you breath in and out, your cultivation should allow for effort and rest, effort and rest, never retreating but not forcing the way either.  Excess force leads to a strong reaction just like the circles in t’ai chi:  the fast the punch the harder the return punch.

Met a young California blue jay, a teenage who was out to break the rules and draw near the humans.  He sat on the open door and squawked squarked at us--not so interest in the food we gave him, rather he seemed to want to talk and listen--so we gave him the Three Refuges and the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows and told him to come back and save all the other jays next time.  He ate a Ritz cracker and listened hard.


May 28, 1977 -  If you shut down the T.V., radio and records; stopped going to movies, reading newspapers, and novels; if you could stop eating meat, taking drugs, and stimulants; lay off sex for awhile; say nothing false or hurtful or even better not talk; if you stoop nibbling and snacking and shopping and “going out”--if you could do these things just for a day or a week you would never be the same.  Would it be serene and peaceful?  No!  The noisiest place you’ll ever find is your mind.  But you would be checking out the mind ground and on your way to the most exciting, fulfilling adventure you could ever image.  At first it’s pretty dark so you need to take some light. What kind of light?  Your light.  The light that’s your share, your pure natural wisdom-light.  The leas leaks you leave the more clarity you’ll have to light your way.  Reduce outflows with precepts and regain your original magnanimity.  Then you can check out the mind-ground with minimal stumbling and getting lost.

Oh yeah!  Find a good knowing teacher until you find the one within you.  Why!  Because you’ve been away so long you don’t even recognize your home when you see it or the false either.  With a good knowing advisor you can get profoundly lost and then really find something within nothing; nothing within something.

Do it soon because somewhere inside each of us knows we will have to do it.  If you wait until near death you won’t have much say about who goes with you, where, for how long, and you might not get another chance for a long, long time.  Hurry, grab the true or you’ll be late for your funeral and miss your birthday.

Every bow I can see more clearly.
Every bow I am happier I left home.

My mother used to can and pickle most of our food for the winter.  We wore fireman red underwear to save on the expense of more coal for the furnace.  Most of our clothes were made by friends or relatives or were hand-me-downs.  We didn’t have a T.V. at first and before the radio we used to just go for walks after dinner, wrestle in the back yard, or fight for the bathtub.  The huge McIntosh apple tree in the back yard was for pies, cobblers, apple sauce, a tree house, swings, shade, bird houses, watching huge black ants, wasp nests, apple blossoms in the spring and colored leaves in the fall to take to school, and the dirty job (cleaning up molding apples from the yard).  One car got everything done including a weekly trip to the farm for fresh eggs, vegetables, berries, gossip, and a chance to watch a chicken die and a calf get born.  We could walk to any store; our grandparents could hear us play and watch us get in trouble.  We went “swimming” and watered the lawn and garden all in one shot; and ate left-overs on Fridays and Wednesdays.

When the bank bought the house for business and rezoning the apple tree went along with the maples, the tree house, wasps, birds, black ants, and blossoms.  The house was leveled for a parking lot and a very nice “new” one was offered in the suburbs.  A lot more had changed too. Electric appliances and frozen foods replaced canning and trips to the farm.  Supermarkets wiped out smaller family-run shops and markets and my father’s job too.  He went to work in a factory without a complaint but heard him cry at night and knew.

The T.V. was colorchrome and soon replaced the fireplace and dining room table as the center of the house.  Joe sold almost all his farmland to an insurance company and now bitterly watches commuters and an office building where the sun used to set behind a lone withered elm tree in the pasture.

The last time I was home I was talking to my father about cultivating the Way--how it’s really just getting rid of all the things that keep you from your originally bright and pure nature.  It’s always there, the same, we just cover it over, chase a lot of empty pleasures and forget about it.  “The false became the true and the true got lost in the shuffle.”  - Master Hua

“You know,” my father said, “if I had a million dollars, do you know what I would do?”

“I’d put together piece by piece our old house on Lawrence Street--every crayon mark and crack.  I often sit here and I can still see it so clearly.  Things were much simpler and happier then.  I’m not just sentimental--something basic was there.”

“I know what you mean.  That’s why I am studying Buddhism.”

I left home to find home.


Excerpts - "Three Steps, One Bow" journals
With One Heart, Bowing to the City of 10,000 Buddhas
Records of Heng Sure & Heng Ch’au Bowing

Part - #1,  #2,  #3

" Three Steps, One Bow" --  Photo Album

American Pilgrimage - Three Steps, One Bow for Peace
352 Pages -Text & Photos - (1.6 MB) - Free Download

- Rev. Heng Sure -

News From True Cultivators - (eBook / Free Download)— Heng Sure & Heng Ch'au.

The letters of Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au... Three steps and a bow. That's how they walked it. Two monks on a pilgrimage of peace that took them through a series of wide-ranging encounters and extraordinary experiences -- within and without. These letters and photos are a record of their amazing journey.

Two American Buddhist monks on a journey of a lifetime, from downtown Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talamage, California. A journey of more than 800 miles that took two years and nine months to complete. They bowed in peace, and for peace. Touching their foreheads to the ground, opening their hearts with one wish for the world. Peace. For everyone, everyday, everywhere.

News From True Cultivators
- (Hard Cover Book) - Second Edition


$13.95 - Hard Cover - ISBN 0881394254

To Order ->  http://www.bttsonline.org/product.aspx?pid=144

Letters from Bhikshus Heng Sure and Heng Chau to Venerable Master Hua written while on their bowing pilgrimage in 1977. During the 2-1/2 years pilgrimage, the monks traveled from Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage, bowing once every three steps.