October 15, 1979
As soon as I made this resolve to be more compassionate, obstacles arose. That night, I found myself dreaming of being trapped in a windy cave suffocating in attachments and sticky relationships . I couldn't get free. Everywhere I turned, my desire and selfishness sucked me deeper and deepertm down through the dark tunnels. I said, "I should be bowing be Heng Sure now, not running off anywhere. I don't belong in this cave." That old stifling trapped feeling and heaviness I knew so well as a layman came over me again. I was smothering in my own attachments and ignorance. I started to cringe, "How could I go back to this again when I was free and happy?! No, no, I don't want to go back anymore…!" I yelled in this dream.
Just then, I was awakened from the dream by a "crazy" old man outside the car. We are on a deserted road near a lumber yard and vineyard behind the airport. It's 2:00 a.m. The man is looking in at me through the car window muttering nonsense and crazy talk. I shout at him half awake, "What!?" He is wearing a long robe or overcoat and carrying a big, wooden walking stick that reaches above his shoulders. He wanders off when I shout to him.
Later, I find myself succumbing to the same nightmare and I shout in my dream, "No, no, help me…" I hear a tapping on the window and wake up to the find the old man peeking in and rapping his big cane on the window. He's saying something like, "gotta get out of here, gotta get out of here. But I don't know how to get out…"
"Shhh…" I whisper to him. It's 3 a.m. now.
"Yeah, okay, I'll be quiet…but how do I get out of here?" he mumbles and tapping his stick on the ground slowly walks back into the fog. I don't know who he was, but he saved me twice. Was he "crazy" of just compassionate?
Bowing is the best and hardest things I've ever done. Best, in that it ships away at my mountain of pride, putting me close to the level ground where I belong. Hardest in that my ego wants to be King of Mountain and resists bowing with all its might.
Push over Mount Sumeru, The mind ground is flat. Jealousy and arrogance are ultimately invisible. -Verse by Ven. Master Hua
Cultivators who don't really know their own minds face paradoxes. We know the teachings are right and cultivating the Way is the only thing worth doing, and yet, we resist doing it, oppose instructions, and wriggle out through every crack. The front door to Heaven is wide open, but we won't walk in. The Hells have no door, but we drill right in. Bad habits from Beginningless time stick like a shadow and haunt us like a ghost. Each time we give in to the ghost we regret it. No matter where we run off to, or how long, we always find ourselves returning to the Buddhadharma like gravity pulls all things back to earth. Seeking enlightenment and accomplishing Buddhahood is our natural instinct. If I think about cultivation, I can get immobolized with the second thoughts of my prattling mind. If I follow the path with heart and just do it, then it's wonderful beyond words. So it's said,
What is spoken is false; What is practiced is true.
When the pilgrimage ends at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, we're going to keep on bowing. Isn't that stupid!? Everybody asks us, "What are you going to do when you get there?" They all assume we can't wait to stop this "crazy bowing thing" and get back to "normal." If we told people we were going to bow up and down and all around the streets of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, they might respond as did this person: "You're nuts! Totally stupid weirdos. What's the point?!" A young man stopped his car after trying to run us off the road and just screamed, "Arrgh, yeowoo freaks! I can't stand it!" Later he came back mellowed out to say, "At first I figured you were weird, but there's something to this, ya' know? I mean, I myself would never do it, mind you, but I admire your dedication. It takes guts, or something," shook hands and quietly drove away.
The whole point of the bowing is to get rid of selfishness. All the disasters and calamities and suffering in the world come from selfishness. To truly help the world, the Ego has to die a little first. Bowing is a wonderful chance to die. If we are sincere, maybe we can bow to the vanishing point.
When you reach the point that the mountains are levelled and the seas disappear, and you doubt that there's a way at all, then suddenly there beyond the dark willow and the bright flowers is another village. Peace in the Way Disciple Kuo T'ing (Heng Ch'au) bows in respect