Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

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October 14, 1979
Ukiah, California

Dear Shih Fu,

There is an atmosphere of kindness and compassion that surrounds the Ven. Abbot. After each roadside visit a little of it rubs of on us. Following each visit I am deeply aware of having witnessed true empathy, and I always feel shame at my own harshness and striving. Yesterday the Master visited and although few words were spoken I learned a great deal.

I watched the Master rub Heng Sure's head and soothe his worried mind outside a little motel on the edge of the town. I saw compassion. As I stood and watched, I began to realize how hard and insensitive I have been to the person I vowed to protect and take care of on this trip.

Everybody wants to be a Buddha. Everybody suffers. The Bodhisattva Who Regards the Sounds of the World helps everyone end suffering and become a Buddha. How? Compassion, Great Compassion. Kuan Sh'ih Yin Bodhisattva's compassionate heart is so full and rich, a thousand hands and eyes blossom from it to help and support living beings everywhere.

We have heard a lot of the world's sounds over the last two-and-a-half years. And because of greed, anger, and stupidity, even the sounds that seem like happy sounds conceal the sounds of suffering. Living beings are unfilial and hurt each other, often without knowing, and so the sounds of suffering are everywhere. We hear them in angry yells, in empty whiskey and beer bottles, in hunters' rifles, in rush hour horns, squealing tires of a pick-up truck, a crying child, a laughing cocktail party, passing sirens, in the smell of hamburgers at a Drive-in, a lost sheep, a nursing home, a football game, in the roar of a motorcycle, and on and on. We are forever apart from those we love and can never get away from those we don't like. No one ever gets what they seek. And so all suffer. Birth, sickness, old age, and death and the "blazing skandhas." It's all suffering. Until this trip, I never say this so clearly.

	Of all the happiness in the world,
	there is none which is not suffering.
			-Avatamsaka Sutra 	
			(Ten Transferences Chapter)

So, is there no happiness, then? Yes, cultivating the Way is happiness. But it doesn't look like happiness. Some say cultivation looks bitter and boring. Yet, things are not what they seem: cultivation looks like suffering, but it's sweet; worldly happiness looks sweet, but it is bitter and boring.

I've been really uncompassionate. The sounds of the world are the cries of suffering. Our faults are just our afflictions and pain. Faulting others while covering our own faults and flaws hurts us. It is like being sick: sick people need pity and care, not rejection and criticism. Faults are the same. They are the sounds of suffering and cries for help of living beings. Bodhisattvas of great compassion listen to all the sounds of the world and only hear, "Help me! I want to be a Buddha, but I can't find my way. I hurt. Please, help me, please…" And in every face, friendly or unfriendly, beautiful or ugly, the Bodhisattva sees the face of a future Buddha.

This way why I came to Gold Mt. Monastery and became a Buddhist: I was deeply inspired to tears upon seeing an image of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva on a poster and reading the words:

	A thousand eyes see all,
	A thousand ears hear all,
	A thousand hands keep and support
	living being everywhere.

But it's so easy to get lost in selfishness and forget the vision. It is so easy to get caught up in the small of "every man for himself." Seeing the Master's kindness and compassion, I realized how I had once again let the measure of my own heart shrink. It was time to unroll my spirit and let if fill the Dharma Realm with kindness, compassion, joy, and giving. Non-dual means being one with everyone.

Disciples of the Buddha, the Bodhisattva's heart of kindness is vast and big, measureless and non-dual. It is without blaming, without opposing (adversaries), without obstacles, without troubling. It pervasively reaches all places exhausting the Dharma Realm and the realm of empty space throughout all worlds. And in this same way, he dwells in compassion, joy, and giving.

-Avatamsaka Sutra
Third Ground of Emitting Light