Urban Dharma Newsletter...
January 13, 2004
This Issue: Rev. Heng Sure - 3 Steps and
"How will the world be better if I don't change myself
2. With One Heart - An Evening with Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au
...by Pavithra Krishnan
3. A Page from the Diary of a Walking Pilgrim ...Disciple
4. A Photo Album of Bhikshus Heng Sure and
Heng Ch'au - 3 Steps and a Bow
5. A Buddhist Approach to Dreams - Jung and Junti - Dreams
West and East ...By Rev. Heng Sure
6. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week:
Wonderfully Absurd Temple - (Miao Miao Miao) - Chinese Avant-Garde
7. Book/CD/Movie Review: With One
Heart Bowing to the City of 10,000 Buddhas (Nine Volumes) -
$63.00 - ISBN 0917512553
"How will the world be better if I don't change myself
will the world be better if I don't change myself ?" As
American born Buddhist disciples of Master Hsuan Hua, Rev. Heng
Sure and Heng Ch'au took a 800 mile bowing pilgrimage, starting
from South of LA. Every three steps, one full bow to the ground
to spread compassion in the world. Every three steps. "We
get up at 4 am and pray and meditate till 10 pm. We eat one
vegetarian meal a day."
awe-inspiring account of their journey, from encounters with
violent minds to compassionate minds to beer bottles and eggs
thrown at them to meals offerred to them everyday, their story
speaks volumes to many issues we face in our daily lives! And
their response of compassion in all situations is nothing short
of amazing. Heng Sure was silent throughout and Heng Chau spoke
little to the outside world but they wrote journals and letters.
Compassion comes when you stop picking and choosing among living
beings you cross over. What are these beings? How do you take
them across? The Sixth Patriarch's Sutra explains that
the living beings you take across are just the thoughts in your
mind, the thoughts that arise from your self nature. WHen the
Bodhisattva really does his work he crosses over all his thoughts
without discriminating among them. He can't take a vacation
at any time. He has vowed to take all beings (thoughts) across
to emptiness. The bodhisattva separates from thought and leaves
sentient one when enlightened
leaps out of the dust.
six perfections and myriad practices
are nurtured at all times.
-- Master Hua
Ten Dharma Realms
compassion can manifest when one realizes that the self nature
is basically without any differences. It's all one and the same
substance and he is part of it; it's in the self-nature that
he connects with all that lives. This is where he does the work
of taking all beings across, taking all thoughts back to their
a single thought is not produced
The entire substance manifests.
Bodhisattva practices Great Compassion, and as he practices,
his realization increases. There is no realization without practice,
guided by vows. When he vows to take all living beings across,
his vow is the beginning of compassion. When he sends all thoughts
back to the self nature, that is actual practice. Why? Because
living beings are thoughts and thoughts are living beings.
master wrote this verse:
recognize your own faults;
Don't discuss the faults of others;
Others' faults are just my own.
of the same substance
is called Great Compassion.
own faults from failing constantly to take across living beings.
Being lazy and not working diligently is a big fault; it is
not the practice of the Bodhisattva.
discuss the faults of others. "Others" are just thoughts
in your own head. What you see as a fault in someone else comes
from your discriminating mind.
faults are just my own. You should return the light all the
time. Shine the light on the projections of the mind and get
to work crossing them over.
of the same substance is called Great Compassion. All thoughts
come from the self-nature. When they filter up into the mind
they get discriminated into good and bad, right and wrong. When
the Bodhisattva practices Prajna wisdom and wipes away all thoughts
as they arise, he is returning to his self-nature, to the original,
fundamentally pure substance that he shares with all living
beings. This is truly taking all living beings across.
all times he nurtures them." He must do it constantly for
Great Compassion to manifest.
all times" in the Buddhist sense means from thought to
thought, minute to minute, hour to hour, day to day, week to
week, through months, years, life to life, kalpa to kalpa. Time
loses its meaning. For the Bodhisattva who has vowed to save
all living beings, one thought of purity, one act of Great Compassion
extends throughout all time and space to the ends of the Dharma
realm. What could be more liberated, more independent than the
scope of Great Compassion?
are the measure of the Bodhisattva. In order to stay on the
Middle Way he must maintain his Dharma-methods no matter what
circumstances arise. If a good state appears he cannot turn
from his practice. If an unpleasant scene develops, the Bodhisattva
nurtures his practice all the same, taking tender care of his
most valuable possession, the jewelled Dharma-raft that can
ferry all beings from suffering to the other shore of bliss.
With One Heart - An Evening with Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au
...by Pavithra Krishnan
Heng Sure ordained as a Buddhist monk in 1976. For the sake
of world peace, he undertook a "three steps, one bow"
pilgrimage from South Pasadena to Ukiah, traveling more than
eight hundred miles, while observing a practice of total silence.
Rev. Heng Sure obtained an M.A. in Oriental Languages from UC
Berkeley and a Ph.D. at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.
He serves as the director of the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery
and teaches on the staff at the Institute for World Religions.
He is actively involved in interfaith dialogue and in the ongoing
conversation between spirituality and technology.
Berkeley Buddhist Monastery & Institute for World Religions
2304 McKinley Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94703
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.
May of 1977 Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au started their unique journey
from downtown L.A. to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talamage
near Ukiah. 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,
steps ... and a bow.
than 20 years later, they sit in a living room amidst a small
gathering. And for the first time since that journey ended,
they speak of it together, sharing the stories and the wisdom,
the joys and the frustrations. What shines through is a compassion
and humility beyond words.
Heng Sure begins speaking, he asks one question: "What
brings us here tonight?" He answers it himself. “Curiosity
from the heart,” he says. And he is right. All of us came
with questions inside. Insistent internal questions -- But why?
But how? Because what these two did is not easily or immediately
comprehended by our minds.
Sure tells us it was their introduction to the Buddhadharma
through practice. "Road- tested you might say," he
twinkles. He talks of the pilgrimage having been a space where
they could more closely follow how the microworld of the self
influences the macroworld -- not only the one you encounter,
but the world that extends beyond. On their travels they took
no food with them, relying instead on the compassion of strangers
in strange towns. It was a humbling exercise in dependence and
vulnerability that led to a kind of trust and sensitivity. A
heightened awareness of what you're putting out and what's coming
tells us a story then. Heng Sure is a wonderful storyteller
-- warm, funny and self-deprecating. This was the story of Heng
Sure the Sacred Monk out on the highway, bowing for world peace
and ... thinking about chocolate cake and a can of Pepsi. It
is the job of a meditator to watch his thoughts, and Heng Sure
watched them through a cycle of greed, anger, stupidity and
repentance. There was greed in his desire, anger in the can
of Pepsi that came flying out a car window making straight for
his head, stupidity in the broken glass in which it resulted,
and repentance in his heart as he came closer to understanding
how the choices we make determine the quality of life we encounter.
that a play written by the Universe for Heng Sure the Angry
Monk?" he asks. "I don't know."
the story isn't about crime and punishment. It is about recognizing
causes and their effects. It is -- to me -- about an awareness
and attentiveness to one's thoughts and actions and how they
come back to you. Marty would later say that the more peaceful
they became inside the better people treated them.
Verhoeven -- Heng Cha'u -- no longer in a monk's robes but with
the same wisdom and compassion. Where Heng Sure stopped, he
took over. A beguiling, irrepressible speaker -- and a keen
mind. Very. Heng Cha'u was the Dharma Protector on the journey.
As Heng Sure was under a vow of silence, Marty handled the provisions,
the press, the police -- the details. Man Friday, he calls himself.
Marty is also highly skilled in the martial arts. "Yes,
I was the Hu Fa," he says, "the Dharma Protector.
That means you protect ... with Dharma," he chuckles. "I
didn't really understand that." Thinking it only necessary
and natural to take a weapon or some form of protection with
them, Heng Cha'u approached his teacher. He was instructed to
take with him the Four Hearts. No dazzling defense moves or
surefire weapons. Walking into a troubled world of rage, violence
and turmoil, Marty's protection was ... the Four Hearts.
that's what this black-belt and his companion walked forth with.
"If you use these you will find them inexhaustible,"
their teacher said. And they were sorely tested on this. Again
and again and again. People threw stones, punches, insults,
threats. Walking through some of the toughest parts of town,
they encountered dope-pushers, alcoholics, hardened street gangs
-- troublemakers at large -- aching for an excuse, any excuse
to fight. Looking down the barrel of a gun and meeting it with
the Four Hearts, that takes a certain sort of strength, an integrity
of spirit and unwavering conviction. That is what Heng Sure
and Heng Ch'au took with them. They say that is what kept them
you're bowing, everything is in a different time," says
Heng Sure. "Things look different. Things change. And for
sure the Dharma comes alive when you need it." How else
to explain the timely interventions, the woman who stepped out
of a bar announcing that the drinks were on her just as a crowd
of aggressive drunks were getting ready for some roughhousing,
or the man who drove up to point out that the fennel being gathered
for fennel tea wasn't fennel at all but hemlock -- and enough
to drop a cow at that, or the Hells Angels waylaid in the nick
of time by the teacher himself, who spent a couple of hours
in the monastery and came out saying, "We promised the
old fellow to take care of you, so not to worry." How to
explain the children who gave them their lunches on their way
to school, or the people who drove miles to give them a bag
of groceries ... the stories go on, they are endless. They illustrate
how remarkable, how very unique this pilgrimage was.
then Marty says something that brings you to a dead halt. "Sitting
here, one of the things I felt was that none of you guys is
any different from us. You wrestle with the same things."
that in can take your breath away. Because it's one thing to
look at the two of them in wonder and awe of their journey and
its motivations, but it's quite another to realize that your
life and your road are not that separate from theirs. That yours,
too, from this perspective, is a bowing pilgrimage.
is no distinction between bowing on the highway and the lives
we are leading now," he says. At the start of their journey
they were told to be on the road as if they'd never left the
monastery. When they returned they were told to be in the monastery
as if they'd never left the road.
would later ask about renunciation, about spiritual desire,
and whether that too had to be overcome. "Desire's a single
flavor," says Marty. And Heng Sure recalls how early on
his teacher would tell him repeatedly: "Forget the harvest.
As much as you seek, that's how much you'll be obstructed. Don't
seek Enlightenment. Just bow."
the close of the evening, there is the Dedication of Merit.
Heng Sure tells us it is a gesture of grace, where you share
the blessings all the goodness the merit you have within. You
send it out to the world with a wish for wherever you see need
for wholesome change -- specific, general, personal or universal.
"The spirit of giving sends the gift, the prayer for well-being,
throughout the world, to all creatures as far as our minds extend."
his guitar Heng Sure plays the tune to which the Dedication
has been set. I am not sure what I am feeling, but it’s
overwhelming. This is what they did; at the end of every day,
these two, having walked long hours in their microworlds, they'd
turn it back, dedicate it outwards, give it to the greater world.
who were not part of that journey, listened to them; and listening,
it became impossible to remain untouched, unmoved – not
realize that they walked for the people you meet on the streets,
and the one's you've never seen and never will, they walked
for people they knew and the one's they didn't. They walked
for me -- and for you. And in that sense all of us were a part
of their journey.
is a rush of bewildered gratitude and a stunned feeling that
comes from trying to hold the enormity of what they did in your
head and in your heart.
are many ways of bowing," Heng Ch'au has said. "You've
got to be creative."
caught a glimpse of a deep and true wisdom tonight. And there
seems to be only one thing left for us to do.
January 16th, 2002 - Santa Clara, CA
A Page from the Diary of a Walking Pilgrim ...Disciple
steps and a bow, walking pilgrimage," wants to stop
wars, disasters, calamities, and suffering of all kinds. Our
handout sheet that explains our work says, "If our bowing
is sincere, then calamities and suffering will be reduced, and
wars and destructive weapons will gradually disappear.
are not unique in the mental preparation for killing. Ever society
has respected the soldier castes: India's Kshatriyas, Japan's
Samurai, Rome's Centurions, the British Navy--all have maintained
the sanction for bloodshed. Civilizations without armies are
the exception. One can make a case that people are violent and
savage by nature. I took killing for granted until a few years
ago, when I began to question it. "Where did all the disasters
and misery of this world come from? I wondered. "Is it
our lot as people to kill? I found my answer. My heart awoke
to the Buddha's way of kindness and compassion when I read these
words written by Ch'an Master Hua in Water-Mirror Reflecting
Heaven: "There are so many wars! How sorrowful!
How painful! Every single disaster comes from acts of killing
... and acts of killing from the mind ... What is the present
time? It is the time of the imminent extinction of living beings.
As we look around the Dharma Realm, we see that countries battle
each other, families contend with each other, individuals struggle
against one another, on and on until great wars between world
systems arise ... I hope that the leaders of all countries will
embody the preference heaven and earth have for life, establish
good government and dispense justice, banish quarreling and
dispense with greed, ignore themselves and help others, benefit
themselves by benefiting others, see the Universe as one family,
and see all people as one person. An ancient Worthy said - If
anyone is killed, it is as if I killed him myself..."
a powerful statement against war! Here was the solid principle
I sought. How clear-cut and simple: don't kill. See all people
as kinfolk. It illumined our upside-down preference for death
Kuo Chen (Heng Sure)
A Photo Album of Bhikshus Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au -
3 Steps and a Bow
Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au who made a "Three Steps, One Bow"
pilgrimage from Gold Wheel Temple in Los Angeles to the City
of 10,000 Buddhas, located 110 miles north of San Francisco,
from May 1977 to October 1979. Their purpose is to influence
humankind to cease all hatred and hostility, to stop the creation
of destructive weapons and to work to prevent disasters, wars,
and suffering of all kinds. The monks are dedicating their
work to all beings everywhere.
A Buddhist Approach to Dreams
- Jung and Junti - Dreams West and East ...By Rev. Heng
graduate school, I wanted to look deeper into my dreams so I
joined a Jungian dream circle in Berkeley. A group of ten dreamers
kept journals and told our dreams to each other. The group was
moderated by a Jungian analyst who dispensed insightful guidelines
for us to use on our own. The experience was moderately enlightening;
my dreams became a wider door to enter and explore for self-knowledge.
Later I was thrilled to discover discussion of dreams in the
Buddhist texts I was translating. The excitement was initially
short-lived, because the sutras said, “Dreams are false
and illusory.” Trying to build a bridge the West to the
East and merge Jung’s ideas with the Buddha’s approach
to dreams was, no matter how unwise, nearly irresistible. Both
Jung and the Buddha were consummate psychotherapists, both were
compassionate and practical teachers of dreamers. The major
difference seems to be that Jung lacked religious faith; he
was bound by his senses and he saw dreams as a means of achieving
peace and psychic wholeness in this life. Dreams for Jung opened
a door into the individuated Self. For the Buddha, dreams opened
a door into the ultimately empty and selfless nature of all
dharmas. This emptying out of the self in turn made possible
the liberating vision of Great Compassion, which sees all beings
as sharing the same body and substance.
know how the Buddha and certain Indian Buddhists in the past
dealt with their dreams because detailed writings still exist
in the scriptures and commentaries. This article will present
a section from a particular Buddhist scripture, The Sutra on
the Junti Bodhisattva Dharani, Spoken by the Mother of Seven
Kotis of Buddhas (T.1077), which lists specific dream images.
To put the Buddhist treatment in context, I will present dream
categories from a Buddhist commentary, the Great Perfection
of Wisdom Sutra, called the Ta Chih Tu Lun, (T. 1509) “The
Great Wisdom That Crosses Over,” by Nagarjuna Bodhisattva
(dates uncertain), and his Chinese translator, Venerable Kumarajiva
(343-413 CE). Nagarjuna explains the Buddha’s wisdom-texts
by drawing from an encyclopedic knowledge of the traditional
lore of Indian culture, customs and literature. His presentation
of dreams represents the available knowledge of third and fourth
century India. After translating and investigating some of the
methods that appear in the Junti Sutra and the Ta Chih Tu Lun,
I will present some of the material the ancients passed down
surrounding dreams and draw some conclusions. I will mention
only in passing the ideas of Carl Jung regarding the value and
the purpose of dream analysis. The exercise can make the dream-wisdom
of the ancients relevant to us who seek to awaken today.
One: Two Methods of Dealing with Dreams
European Approach to Dreams
is said that the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung in his lifetime
analyzed over 80,000 dreams–. Dreams for Jung played an
important complementary role in the psyche. The general function
of a dream is to try to restore our psychological balance by
producing material that reestablishes, in a subtle way, the
total psychic equilibrium. Jung approached dreams as living
realities that must be experienced and observed carefully to
be understood. He considered Freud’s method of “free
association” as incomplete. “Free association will
bring out all your complexes, but hardly ever the meaning of
a dream. To understand the dream’s meaning, I must stick
as close as possible to the dream images.” During analysis,
Jung kept asking the dreamer, “What does the dream say?”
answer comes from Jeremy Taylor, a well-known authority on Jungian
dream work who postulates five basic assumptions about dreams:
1) that all dreams come in the service of health and wholeness;
2) that no dream come simply to tell the dreamer what he or
she already knows; 3) that only the dreamer can say with certainty
what meanings a dream may hold; 4) that there is no such thing
as a dream with only one meaning; and 5) that all dreams speak
a universal language, a language of metaphor and symbol. The
thrust of Taylor’s and Jung’s approach to dreams
is individual-centered, a particularly Western concern. For
serious-minded seekers of truth via dream-work the Jungian approach
helps you puzzle out the integration of your individual psyche
with the analyst as best you can, for a happier and more fulfilled
life in this world. This goal is, nonetheless, far more sophisticated
than the superficial “good and bad fortune” question
that the great majority of people in the world ask their dreams.
An Indian Approach to Dreams
Buddhists in India dreamed they dealt with their dreams in a
variety of ways. Certain types of dreams occurred frequently
enough to the ancients to merit listing as separate categories
for dream-analysis. The categories show the following different
kinds of dreams. The most distinctive use, for Buddhists, was
seeing dreams as a simile for emptiness, sunyata, the ultimate
nature of all things.
seeing dreams as portents of things to come, which overlapped
with another type of dream:
as messages or teaching by the gods, spirits or bodhisattva.
Buddhists in India and in China thought, like Freud and Jung,
that it was possible to diagnose aspects of the dreamer’s
mental and physical health from the symbols of dreams.
The theoretical psychology school of Buddhism, the Vijnanavada
(“Consciousness-only”) school called dreams “monkey-sleep,”
a function of the “isolated mind-consciousness”.
Buddhist psychologists saw dreams as the return at night of
things thought on during the day.
Finally, Nagarjuna explained dreams as a standard for testing
the quality of a bodhisattva’s vows.
appear in the earliest Buddhist writings, and played no less
an important role in Buddhism than in our lives today. Being
human, Buddhists have always slept; and when asleep, they dream.
While dreaming they perceived the same disembodied shadows and
disconnected images as we do. After waking they sought the meaning
of their dreams. The diviners and prognosticators of India and
China, being culture-bound individuals, interpreted the dreams
according to the modes and methods available to them. Those
methods were in some respects suggestive of methods used today,
in some respects they were quite different. Dreams are very
democratic; both rich and poor alike dream at night. But when
trying to analyze what dreams meant, it is important to know
who the dreamer was. The educated, literate, elite certainly
had more options in their systems of dream analysis. Dreams
could be messages from ancestors and Sages more often for a
prince or a scholar because they had a concept of history. Uneducated
individuals seemed to turn to formula-books of ready-made dream
interpretations to explain the symbols of dreams. Generic do-it-yourself
recipes, such as Aunt Sally’s Dream Book and Horoscope
Love Advisor that we find at the supermarket check-out counter
had its counterpart in most cultures. Dream interpretation formulas
answer some superficial questions, to be sure, but they tend
to center on love, money, and bad luck. Nagarjuna’s Ta
Chih Tu Lun gives us the following important patterns that occur
regularly in dreams:
Dreams as a simile for emptiness.
most common use of dreams in the literature of the Mahayana,
or “Northern School” of Buddhism in China, Tibet,
Japan, Korea, and Vietnam is to see dreams as a simile for sunyata,
(emptiness) the hollow core at the heart of all component dharmas
(things). For example, in the well-known Vajra (Diamond) Sutra,
the Buddha taught that:
conditioned dharmas, are like a dream, like an illusion, like
a bubble, like a shadow, like a dewdrop, like a lightening flash;
you should contemplate them thus.”
symbolize the changing and impermanent nature of all things
known to the senses. Sights, sounds, smells, flavors, sensations
of touch and thoughts are all dream-like, fleeting, and ultimately
unobtainable. By pursuing and grasping material things or ephemeral
states, we create the causes for misery and suffering. Those
desire-objects are not real and permanent. When they break up
and move on, we will experience grief, if we can’t let
go. The hallmark of living beings is that we are “sleeping,
“ unawakened to the truth of the emptiness and impermanence
at the nature of conditioned things. This covering of sleep
and lack of awareness is called “ignorance,” and
it makes us in our waking state, from the Buddha’s viewpoint,
look as if we are dreaming.
burst, shadows run from light, dewdrops vanish by noon without
a trace, lightning roars and vanishes, and dreams leave us at
dawn. To continually perceive such things as real locks us into
the endless cycle of birth and death. The Buddha was not simply
giving us an evocative metaphor, a literary device or a philosophical
point. He felt related to all beings, and in his compassion
he was pointing out to his family a way to escape the prolonged
misery of affliction and death. The dream simile occurs over
and over in the sutras to teach about emptiness.
the Ta Chih Tu Lun dreams occur as a didactic teaching device.
Sariputra, the foremost Arhat in wisdom, learns the true application
of the emptiness theory through the simile of dreams. Dreams
are like ordinary waking reality in that both are empty and
false. There is nothing gained by seeking out or clinging to
any thought or mark that distinguishes the two states.
the exception of message-dreams and portent dreams, two categories
that we will look at below, for the Buddha’s monastic
disciples who were intent on cultivating the mind full-time,
dreams were considered as illusory and false, no different from
the illusions of waking-time reality.
Message-dreams or teaching by the gods, spirits or Bodhisattvas;
can be a message from a Bodhisattva, an ancestor, or a god,
The intent of the dream may be to test the dreamer’s resolve:
is he non-retreating (avaivartika) from Bodhi (enlightenment)
even when sleeping? The purpose of the dream visit may be to
communicate information vital to the dreamer’s well-being.
The Buddha himself had five dreams of catastrophes, falling
stars and worlds in collision just before his enlightenment.
The dreams were sent to him not by a benevolent Dharma-protector,
but by an malevolent sorcerer, intent on disrupting the Buddha’s
samadhi and preventing his awakening.
Prescient or Portent Dreams
or portent dreams that predict the future are the only category
of dreams that the ancients considered real or valuable in itself.
Based on the records we have, it seems that dreamers in the
past wanted to know more or less what dreamers want to know
now: whether their dream augured good luck or misfortune. The
office of dream diviner was esteemed, and nobility and commoner
alike, waking after a dreamy sleep, sought to know the meaning
of their dreams.
Aspects of the dreamer’s physical and mental health
according to the sutras, dreams were considered ultimately false,
Indian Buddhists also used dreams as an aid to diagnosing the
dreamer’s state of health. According to ancient Indian
Ayurvedic medical systems, dreams of fire indicate an imbalance
of the fire element, dreams of flying indicate an excess of
water, etc. This methods of diagnosis suggest similarities with
Chinese dream interpretation systems found in one of the earliest
Chinese medical texts, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of
Internal Medicine. (Huang Ti Nei Ching Su Wen). The symbols
of the dream have value as indicators of health or illness.
“Monkey-sleep,” a function of the isolated consciousness;”
Consciousness-only School (Vijnanavada) looked into the nature
of mental phenomena. That school assigned the function of dreams
to a part of the mind they called the “solitary intellectual
consciousness.” Dreams share that classification with
insanity, twilight sleep, “monkey-sleep” the marginal
consciousness of drowsiness, and the mind in samadhi.
The return in dreams of things experienced during the day
were understood from a psychological perspective, as a replaying
of the contents of consciousness. What the dreamer experienced
during the day could return at night as a dream image. Dreams,
although considered as empty and false can still produce a physical
reaction, as when a dream-vision of a romantic encounter can
produce a wet-dream in sleep.
A standard for testing the quality of a cultivator’s vows
visions of suffering, such as the sight of beings in the hells
will move a true Bodhisattva to make compassionate vows to rescue
those beings. Great Bodhisattvas would sometimes send dreams
on purpose to novice Bodhisattvas, to stimulate them to make
the great Bodhi Resolve. If a Bodhisattva cultivates compassion
in a dream, then the dream vision of rescuing from suffering
may return to him when he/she is awake. The dream reminds the
Bodhisattva of his ability to endure suffering on behalf of
others. Since dreams and waking are thought to be the same,
then the Bodhisattva gets inspired to repeat his dream-performance
during the day. In light of the Perfection of Wisdom, the theory
of emptiness is merely a raft, an expedient device to help us
ford the river of suffering ourselves and to then to help others
interpretation as an index to the integration of one’s
character, dreams as clues to mental health, or as the high
road to self-understanding was not unknown, but seems to have
been, as it is today, an answer to a question that relatively
few people were asking.
category of dreams as a test of the dreamer’s good roots
is evidenced by the Junti Bodhisattva’s Sutra. Now we
will look at a selection from the sutra that deals with dreams.
Two: A Section From the Junti Bodhisattva Sutra on Dreams
Junti Dharani Sutra, Spoken by the Mother of Seven Kotis of
Buddhas Thus I have heard, at one time, at one time, the Bhagavan
was in the city of Sravasti, In the Jeta Grove, in the Garden
of the Orphans and the Solitary, together with a great gathering
of Bhikshus, and Bodhisattvas, as well as the gods, dragons,
and the Eight-fold Pantheon, who encircled him on all sides.
Out of sympathy and pity for living beings of future times,
who will be poor in blessings and full of bad karma, he entered
into the Junti Samadhi and spoke a mantra that came from the
mother of seven ages of Buddhas of the past. The mantra runs
Mwo, Sa Dwo Nan, San Myau San Pu Two, Jyu Jr Nan, Da Jr Two,
Nan, Je Li Ju Li Jun Ti, Swo Pe He.
there are Bodhisattvas among the clergy or the laity who commit
the heaviest of offenses for limitless eons, even be it the
Ten Evil Deeds, the Four Unpardonable Offense, the Five Cardinal
Sins, and offenses that merit retributions, if they cultivate
the practice of reciting and holding mantras, and can recite
this mantra fully 900,000 times, all such offenses will be wiped
away. Wherever they live, they will meet the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
they will enjoy abundant wealth, and will meet many opportunities
to leave the home life and enter the Sangha.
they are Bodhisattva’s practicing at home, and their cultivation
of the moral precepts is firm and non-retreating, should they
recite this Dharani, they will always be reborn in the heavens.
If they appear in the human realm they will always be part of
the kings clan. They will avoid falling into the evil destinies
and will get to draw near worthy sages. They will be revered
and respected by the Devas, who will protect them and bless
them. If they get involved with worldly matters, they will not
encounter disasters. Their appearance will be proper and handsome,
their voice majestic and calming. Their mind will be free of
the person is a Bodhisattva among the Sangha, they will be replete
with pure precepts. They will recite sutras in the three periods
of the day and they will practice the Dharma as it is taught.
The Siddhis (states) that they seek in this life will appear
before them in samadhi and wisdom. They will realize the (Ten)
Stages and the (Six) Paramitas will be complete. they will certify
straight-away to Unsurpassed, Right and Equal Bodhi.
they recite this mantra ten thousand times, then in their dreams
they will see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and they will dream
that they spit out a black substance. Even if the dreamer has
committed serious karmic offenses, and they can recite the mantra
twenty thousand times, they will see the heavens and the celestial
monasteries and halls, or perhaps they will see themselves climbing
a tall mountain, or climbing a tree; or see themselves bathing
in a large pool; or see themselves soaring aloft; or playing
together with maidens from the heavens; or see themselves speaking
Dharma, or shaving away hair and beard, or eating “milk-rice”;
or see themselves drinking white sweet dew. They may in a dream
see themselves crossing a great ocean or river or stream; or
ascending a lion’s-throne; they may see a Bodhi-tree;
or see themselves riding a boat.
may see a Shramana, or a layman, or a white-robed person wearing
a yellow turban. Or maybe they will see the sun and moon, or
virgin lads and maiden girls, or see a ripe fruit tree over
head. They may see a black-hued hero whose mouth spits out flames
and smoke, and in a struggle with him, they emerge victorious.
He may see an evil-tempered horse or cow, that wants to gore
him. The mantra recitor, whether he hits or scolds, will cause
the animal to run in fear. Or he may see himself eating milk-porridge
or butter-porridge, or he may see Sumana Flowers, or a vision
of a king. If someone fails to dream of visions such as these,
you should know that this person in a past life committed the
five cardinal sins. He then should recite anew, 700,000 times
and then these visions will occur to him. Then he can be assured
that his karma has been dispelled. Once the karma is over, he
will accomplish the former practices. If he then paints an image
according to the Dharma, and as is appropriate to the Dharma,
makes offerings to it either three times or four times or six
times, seeking mundane or world-transcending siddhis, up to
and including Unsurpassed Bodhi, all such wishes will be completely
Discussion of The Junti Sutra
Junti Sutra is based on a Bodhisattva’s vows. The purpose
of the Sutra is to provide an expedient method to erase evil
karma and to create good roots. Junti is a powerful, compassionate
Bodhisattva who lives in the heavens and is known primarily
by the mantra that is associated with his/her name. Like Bodhisattva
Guan Yin (Japan: Kannon, or Tibet: Chen Re Zi), Junti Bodhisattva’s
iconography shows many hands and eyes, each one holding a tool
for crossing over the afflictions of living beings. Like Gwan
Shr Yin, Junti’s image transcends gender. Neither male
or female, Junti blends both compassion and courage. Junti is
called the “mother of seven kotis (myriads) of Buddhas.”
In many respects Junti’s practice seems to belong to the
esoteric, Vajrayana school, in fact her great compassion makes
her a favorite of the Mahayana School as well. Junti explains
dreams, and Buddhists turn to her to find out what last nights
explains dreams in connection with a mantra that is associated
with her Dharma-door. Mantras are sounds of power, seed-syllables
spoken in Buddha-language. When you recite any of the syllables
, for instance, Om (Chinese. “nan”) or Namah (Chinese.
“namo”) the sound acts like a password, like a command,
to grant any positive wish. The spiritual beings associated
with that syllable act on your behalf to do your bidding. Mantra-sounds
were said by the ancients to have the power to create or destroy.
There are certainly positive, “white magic” mantras,
as well as not so wholesome, “black magic” spells.
Junti Bodhisattva’s mantra is decidedly wholesome and
positive. When one recites her mantra, If the reciter’s
mind is pure and unselfish, Junti guarantees that the desired
results will come to pass.
sutra exists because the Buddha Shakyamuni knew about the vows
made by Junti Bodhisattva. Out of compassion, the Buddha spoke
the mantra. He knew that living beings in the future (i.e.,
us, now) will have spent our bank account of blessings and will
pile up bad karma. By judicious and vigorous use of the mantra’s
power we can reshape our karmic balance, reverse the debit of
evil retribution, and engineer a future of blessings, wisdom,
connection with dreams occurs with the teaching that whoever
recites the mantra the right number of times will be able to
eradicate bad karma. The sutra gives us dream symbols that will
be seen by one who recites Junti Bodhisattva’s mantra.
Heavy, bad karma can obstruct a person and prevent the vision
of the dreams. Once the person cultivates the mantra and neutralizes
the bad karma, the dream symbols should appear.
need to recite or “hold” the mantra over and over
from Na Mwo to Swo He. Junti’s mantra is to be recited
while visualizing its Sanskrit letters revolving on a two-sided
metal mirror. One side is Sanskrit devanagari writing, the other
side is Chinese characters that represent the sounds.
are the sign that indicates the invisible balance of good and
evil on our karma-ledger. The dreams symbols that the Buddha
lists include visions of purging, bathing, good companions,
transformation from defilement to purity, passage over boundaries,
ascending in space and climbing mountains. One sees the eating
of pure foods, healing, auspicious visions of nature, escape
from danger, and scenes of beauty. The feelings that accompany
the dreams will be completely soothing, there will be a sense
of blissful relief, free of anxiety, alarm and doubts.
the types of dreams that we found listed in the Ta Chih Tu Lun,
the series of dream images that appear in the Junti Sutra clearly
belong to the category of dreams that index good roots, and
show the dreamer’s state of cultivation. By using the
Dharma-door of the mantra, one puts the beneficial and pure
sound of the mantra in one’s mouth and ear; one visualizes
the symbols of the letters in one’s eye. One brings the
compassionate energy of the Bodhisattva into one’s mind
and plants the ancient seed-sounds in the eighth consciousness.
The power of the mantra neutralizes evil, transforms it to good
and brings about healing in the mind, which is the source of
good and bad karma. This is a transcendent use of dreams. Dreams
become an expedient means to aid one’s spiritual progress
towards Buddhahood, and ultimate liberation.
A Comparison of Western and Eastern Methods
Jung believed that because the dream deals with symbols that
have more than one meaning, there can be no simple, mechanical
system for dream interpretation. All attempts at dream analysis
must take into account the attitudes, experiences and background
of the dreamer. It is a joint venture between dreamer and analyst.
The dreamer interprets the dream with the help and guidance
of the analyst. The analyst may be vitally helpful, but in the
end only the dreamer can know what the dream means. We may wind
up frustrated if we expect the Buddhist's use of dreams in the
Junti Bodhisattva Sutra to reflect a Jungian approach.
present the sutra in the context of a Buddhist method that was
in vogue seven centuries after the Buddha spoke the sutra. This
method is closer in time to his culture and steeped in the culture
of monastic cultivation, but not given only to the monk or nun.
The challenge to contemporary analysis is to search out the
kind of questions a Buddhist might ask of these dreams.
the list of images from the Junti Bodhisattva Sutra were to
appear to a dreamer in analysis with Jung or Taylor, the Western
analysts would likely investigate the meaning of each symbol
with the dreamer. They would attempt to map out the shadow,
the anima/animus, the self and the various archetypes of the
unconscious as they emerge over a lengthy series of encounters.
Ultimately, like Jung himself, at life’s end one may have
a highly auspicious dream that augurs an individuated character
and a rebirth in the desired heaven.
find the Buddhist use of dreams profound and broad in scope.
No matter how well we intellectually grasp the patterns and
the symbols of the unconscious, if our karma is still as heavy
as before we began to discuss the dream, then no matter how
thoroughly we penetrate the dream-symbols, we will still be
turning on the wheel of rebirth, bound to endless rounds of
suffering. Buddhist dream analysis says that the images of dreams
themselves are empty and false; but properly understood, they
can serve as another door to liberation.
Sutra includes a fail-safe; if one follows the Buddha’s
formula and does the right number of recitations, and it doesn’t
seem to work; i.e., the dreams don’t come, then the Buddha
gives a power-booster. Paint or draw an image of Junti Bodhisattva
(I will leave it to the reader to judge whether pixel-based
computer-drawn or painted images qualify) and then make offerings
to the image (virtual offerings probably show less sincerity)
three, four, or six times a day of pure vegetarian food (pure
means no killing involved) and along with the requisite recitations.
The for certain all the good results that one seeks, up to the
realization of Buddha-hood will come to pass.
a Buddhist example, how are we supposed to deal with dreams?
Do we dismiss them as empty and false, do we diagnose our health
from dream symptoms, do we systematically analyze their symbols
as an index of our religious practice? Dreams used as a teaching
device pointing the way to enlightenment takes a negative approach
to a positive goal. The emptying out of both dreams and reality
frees the mind from duality and attachments to conditioned states.
Perhaps the Buddhist approach to dreams is identical with the
path to understanding the purpose of waking life: transforming
ignorance by the brilliant sword of Prajna wisdom. We must wake
up from our “dream within a dream,” before we can
know that we are actually sleeping through our lives. After
awakening there is no need to dream any longer.
Louise von Franz, Dreams. Boston, Shambala, 1969.
Taylor, Where People Fly and Water Runs Uphill: Using dreams
to Tap the Wisdom of the Unconscious, New York: Warner Books,
Wonderfully Absurd Temple - (Miao Miao Miao) - Chinese Avant-Garde
With One Heart Bowing to the City of 10,000 Buddhas (Nine Volumes)
- $63.00 - ISBN 0917512553
moving journals of American Bhikshus Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au.
moving journals of American Bhikshus Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au
who made a "Three Steps, One Bow" pilgrimage from
Gold Wheel Temple in Los Angeles to the City of 10,000 Buddhas,
located 110 miles north of San Francisco, from May 1977 to October
1979. Nine Volumes.
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