Gwan Shr Yin Sessions Are Special Occasions
News From True Cultivators (Page 142 - 148)
March 18, 1979
Dear Shr Fu,
We’re holding a Gwan Yin Session this week. I’ll bet you have thoughts of greed, wanting to run up to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and join in, don’t you? Well, don’t worry. For you two bowing once every three steps, every day is Gwan Yin’s Birthday and every day you’re at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas…
…said the Venerable Abbot when he visited this Friday. How right he is. Gwan Shr Yin Sessions are special occasions. The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion bestows happiness and plucks out suffering in miraculous ways. Single-mindedly reciting Gwan Yin’s name turns anywhere into the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
Everyday, cultivators experience a rich treasury of learning that is the study and practice of Buddhism. In the heart of it, the big lesson is learning to be a good person.
Disciples of the Buddha, the Bodhisattvas take great compassion as foremost… through increasing their faith… through becoming sympathetic… through accomplishing great kindness… through adornment with repentance and reform…
Although the Buddhadharma contains supreme, subtle, profound, wonderful perfection of wisdom, its highest application is in the realm of living beings. By going towards the good in everyday life, by using kindness to make beings happy and compassion to end suffering, every day becomes a Gwan Yin Session.
The same day of the Master’s visit we were bowing on the rainslick Shoreline Highway in Tamalpais Valley. An old woman came walking down the road, bareheaded and alone. She wore scruffy slippers and hunched her shoulders against the cold drizzle. Cars passed going much too fast on the narrow road, missing her by inches. She made a purchase at the local “convenience” food store and then shuffled by us again on her lonely way back home. My heart went out to this old lady. Why did she have to risk her life and her health on this treacherous road just to get food to eat? Where was her family? I knew that she could have been my own kin.
There are millions of old people in the world in her situation or in worse straits. I reflected that establishing the Buddhadharma here in the West will certainly have a great deal to do with changing our attitudes towards old people. This old lady needed caring for. She needed the basics of food and shelter against the elements. By making homes for our elders and providing care for the lonely old people of the world, we will be doing good and repaying a part of our debt of kindness to the Buddhas, our parents, our teachers, and 144 Just watch how it grows elders. This is the work of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva. This is the promise of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
I recalled the Hyatt family of Cambria, a young couple who made space in their home for old Pappa Joe, their invalid father. The Hyatts came to visit us and brought old Joe along, bundled in blankets and full of smiles. He was a happy man, despite his infirmities and failing health. The Hyatt’s model of compassion shines a light of goodness. It made that day very special. Every day was Gwan Yin’s day for the Hyatt family.
As I saw the old lady on the road, I thought how good it will be to bring all our lonely old folks together and teach them about the Pure Land, to share with them the peace and joy of reciting the names of Amitabha and Gwan Shr Yin. By doing this work, Buddhists will make a great contribution to the world.
This morning I had a dream. It was like a T.V. commercial in style, like a message from the United Nations. A man and a young boy stood together. The boy’s eyes were wide and full of wonder. The man said, as if to a teacher on the first day of school, “Here is my son. Please train him well. Take good care of him in your school and show him how to be a good person.”
Following him were four more men, each with his son and they repeated the same message, one in English, one in Chinese, one in Japanese, one in French. The Master has always stressed the importance of education and making schools into places to provide wholesome training in the basics of growing into good people. This is the path to Buddhahood.
The Bodhisattvas… have vast, great intent and inclinations which cannot be destroyed. They intensely and diligently cultivate all roots of goodness which become accomplished… through seeking learning without satiation…
Instilling Virtue School, Dharma Realm Buddhist University, and the middle schools and high schools that will be established at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas are really important to the world. The children we have met on the bowing pilgrimage still have pure light and great trust. If these children can grow into adults with the guidance of True Principles in their education, if they can pass the difficult years of adolescence in a community of people who believe in and practice kindness, righteousness, propriety, wisdom and faith, then the world will naturally turn into a better place. By following the light of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva and cultivating the Dharmas of Great Compassion, we can make education the total transformation of the heart and spirit that it should be.
With the elders happy and praying for peace and with the youngsters excited by their discovery of the world, of great ideas, and of true principles, and with the middle-aged people busy as Bodhisattvas cultivating the Way and transferring the roots of goodness to the Dharma Realm, then every day is a Gwan Yin Session and everywhere is the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.
This is not just a dream. It’s as real as the next thought in our minds. Before many years pass, the world will know the Proper Dharma has found it’s new home in the West. People like the Iowa farmer we met on the Great Highway near the San Francisco Zoo will no longer say, “Buddhism? I thought that was in Asia. But you’re Americans? Ever been through Iowa?” I wanted to say, “Yes, I have, Pop. I grew up in Ohio. And before long you’re going to be proud to tell your neighbors in River City that your sons and granddaughters have taken refuge with the Triple Jewel, or even left the home life to study the Way. Soon your friends will be investigating vegetarianism and Ch’an meditation. You may be reciting Gwan Yin’s name yourself before you know it. Just watch how it grows.”
Conversation We’d Like to Hear: 1984
“Buddhists? Oh, yeah, they’re the ones with the big hearts, right? Educators aren’t they? They take care of the old folks, I 146 Just watch how it grows understand. They’re the ones who don’t fight, right? Yeah, I’ve heard of them. In fact, I’ve been thinking of subscribing to that magazine that they put out and looking into it for myself. What’s it called? ‘Yankee Buddha Sea,’ or something like that. I heard about it on their radio show that comes on every week. Real decent listening, I’ll say. I like best the sing-along part when they chant that Homage to the Bodhisattva tune. Yes, I used to think the Buddha was an Oriental God, but kindness and compassion, happiness and giving, why that’s as American as cornflakes, yes, indeed.”
The Bodhisattva gives rise to happiness because he is mindful of the ability to benefit living beings.
Signs We like to See:
(Posted on the fence outside Pigeon Point Lighthouse)
Notice: No hunting, fishing, killing, trapping, or disturbing of any creatures allowed.
by order of the Commandant U.S. Coast Guard
* * *
Dear Shr Fu,
I had my mind blown three times today by the Avatamsaka Sutra and by “Vajra Bodhi Sea.” Each time I picked one of them up for a quote to add to my writing, I turned to lines that read my mind and mirrored my thoughts exactly! It was just as if the words on the page were speaking to me, using my own thoughts. It felt totally uncanny. We disciples are used to the inconceivable way that a Good Advisor can know our thoughts even before we think them, but when magazines start to mirror our minds it’s something else again!
Flower Garland Round
Everything is made from our minds alone.
Everything exists within the Dharma Realm.
The Dharma Realm is contained within the Flower Garland Sutra.
The Sutra came from the mouth of the Buddha.
The Buddha lives in the hearts of all beings.
All beings live within the Ten Dharma Realms.
The Ten Dharma Realms are fathomed in a single thought.
Everything is made from our minds alone.
(repeat until the mind falls silent)
From compassion and kindness and the power of vows
Appear and enter the practices of the ground;
Gradually there is perfection of the mind.
Wisdom’s practices are not reflections’ realm.
We have learned that nothing we have thought, or written, or said matters as much as a single, silent, sincere bow. The visions, the insights, the dreams, and the revelations all bear on the actual practice of the Dharma in the same way a match reflects on the sun. It’s the doing, the effort, the faith in following instructions, and the giving that tell the story, wordlessly. What a discovery. Reality is totally empty, real and true. But it’s also totally the Dharma, the truth of reality like it really is, a gift from the Buddha’s great kind heart.
I return and rely in reverence to the Triple Jewel of all time and space. May all beings remember their original home within the Proper Dharma. May all beings return to their roots and go back to the source of original purity.
Disciple Kuo Chen
bows in respect