October 15, 1973 | Monday evening

On Vows 

Ven. Master Hua


Two of the monks at Gold Mountain Monastery [Editor’s note: in San Francisco , mid-October, 1973] want to make a strange vow to go on a pilgrimage bowing once every three steps as a prayer for world peace. They want to bow all the way to Seattle , more than a thousand miles from here. When Guo Yu wanted to make this vow, I didn’t want him to. When Guo Dao asked to go along as a Dharma protector, I didn’t grant him permission either to start with.  However, I myself have a vow which says, “Everything’s O.K.” If I didn’t allow them to go, that would not be “O.K.” And for it not to be O.K. would mean I did not fulfill my vow. Hence, the objection could be made, “You say everything’s O.K., but only the ‘K’ is left, and you’ve dropped the ‘O’.” Due to that consideration, I had to say, “O.K., O.K., go ahead. If Bhikshus want to go, that’s fine, and it’s fine for laymen to go too. Go ahead and go.” 

But Guo Zhan was very upset. Why? He’s going to lose an assistant. He had trained Guo Dao in all the various jobs connected with Vajra Bodhi Sea [Editor’s note: a monthly journal begun in 1970 and still being published to date.] including developing photographs, and now Guo Dao wants to leave the monastery to go on this pilgrimage. Well, Guo Zhan has been inventing all kinds of ways to keep Guo Dao from leaving, so today I thought of a method to retain him. I asked Guo Hui if he would go instead. But, the method didn’t work. There was no way to prevent Guo Dao from walking his Way. The Way must be walked; if it’s not walked, it’s not the Way. Therefore, there was nothing I could do.


[Editors note:

The following exhortations were written by the Venerable Master Hua, Abbot of Gold Mountain Monastery, on the occasion of sending Bhikshu Heng Ju and Bhikshu Heng Yo off on their journey to complete their vows (October 16, 1973).

A Send-off for Dhyāna Cultivator Heng Ju, Who Has Vowed to Bow Every Three Steps Seeking for World Peace

At Gold Mountain Dhyāna Monastery, in the United States of America, the Sangha is young and numerous. They concentrate on safeguarding the proper Dharma, and each one has his particular good points. Now you have made a vow never made before, and will practice the conduct of Sages, which has never before been practiced, bowing every three steps to the Jewels of the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha throughout the ten directions.

Because your sincerity and earnestness in seeking for world peace is genuine, you will certainly evoke a magnificent response. Although your initial resolve came easily, it may be difficult to fulfill your vows. Dont give up; remain firm, sincere, and constant. The thousand miles over which you will pass is only one small step within the Dharma Realm. Be resolved not to cease until you have reached your goal. Raise up your spirits!

I leave you this verse of parting

Practicing what is difficult to practice is the conduct of the Sage;

Enduring what is hard to endure is the genuine patience.

All Buddhas throughout the ten directions have walked down this road,

And the eighty thousand Bodhisattvas have followed right along.

Blow the magnificent Dharma conch, and raise up your cry;

Shake your precious tin staff; transform stingy greed.

Your work complete, the result full, return midst songs of triumph.

Then Ill give my disciple a meal of berry pie.


Instructions to Dhyāna Cultivator Heng Yo, Who Protects and Aids Cultivator Guo Yu as He Fulfills His Resolve to Bow to the Buddhas, Seeking for World Peace for All Living Beings:

From start to finish, dont waver; when faced with difficulties, dont change. Acting as his protector, help him to realize the power of his vows. The ancient worthy ones most esteemed the ability to forget oneself and safeguard others. In the present day, worthy ones are rare. Among the practices of a Bodhisattva, this is one practice. Among the passages into liberation, this is one passage. Never, even for an instant, forget your initial intent; always maintain it single-mindedly right to the end. Be heroic and diligent, and defeat the demonic hordes. If gods or dragons come to pay their respects, dont be pleased. If you meet with obstructions, even less should you become angry. Be without knowing and without attainment, and the wonderful function will be difficult to exhaust. When your studies are put into practice, you will have the translucence of fine jade. Remember these instructions, and dont turn your back on my heart.

I leave you with this verse of parting:

In every step fiercely progress on to victory.

Guo Dao, Heng Yo, act as his guardian and aid!

As Guo Yu passes over three thousand li [Chinese miles],

He will cross, as would a car, eighty thousand steps.

Here in the scientific age, you are practicing as of old.

The evoked response from the Buddhas teaching will shake beings from their confusion.

Strive forward! Strive forward! Ever strive forward!

Dont stop! Dont stop! Dont ever stop!




Timely Teachings, pages 23 - 26.