Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

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HENG CH’AU: May 13, 1977. My clothes, my body, the sidewalk, the car, the vibes are pretty stinky, but I am happy and light.

When the external scene is tense and threatening it’s on the inside that the work goes on, the balance and the unmoving calm. When the external scene is calm and subdued, it’s on the inside that the work goes on, quelling the noisy, mad mind.

Always on the inside, within. Sometimes, lately, they merge. “I” disappears and there it all still is only it’s nothing: sounds, smells, etc. are without substance and without “me.” Where is “me”?

Demons and Fear: Yesterday all the young toughs – were they demons or Dharma protectors? Just when they lined up behind us to bow in mockery, they caused a lot of laughter among a group of menacing-looking men gathering on a front porch a few houses ahead. Their mockery of us defused the momentum building on the porch. Expedient? Who knows?

Today: Showdown at Taco Corner

Says Heng Sure, “I get weird vibes from the Taco place ahead.”


“”Let’s keep going.”

“Right.” Heng Sure was right. Heavy, but in a different way. Like college football looks flashy, high energy, etc., but compared to pro ball (more seasoned, quietly deadly, no unnecessary frivolities, etc.) so too Taco corner was pro demon.

The nastiest was about 40-45 and really upset about us: jumping, pacing, wild voice and gesturing. Strange physiognomy, winging and whipping a twisted metal strip. Heng Sure, I found out later, sees none of this because he isn’t wearing his glasses. These guys lack even derisive smiles. They are a different cut – kind of crazy, without much in the way of scruples, a bit sociopathic. Anyway at one point I feel the protection king in –hard to explain—somehow the “I” of me melts into it all. I feel no fear. The butterflies melt. At the same time I visualize the Abbot right behind me smiling. Inside a calm, clean field of bright glowing stillness. Right in the middle of them we bow low. Bowing way down like that feels incredibly safe, true. Their sails slack. What can you do to someone who is in full prostration at your feel? Whack! The metal whip hits the table. We don’t move. Get up 1-2-3 bow, 1-2-3 bow. The heavy one is obviously befuddled, turned, the whip handing limply at his side. Just looking. Not even a comment.

On the other side of the street a really interested man starts to ask questions. He is very supportive and interested. “I’ll have to read about Buddhism more.” After the darkest darkness, then light. This is the last of Lincoln Heights – Taco corner. But now it doesn’t matter. Heaven, hell, Lincoln Heights, Beverly Hills – it’s all the same: empty. Everything comes from the mind. Especially gear. We had a lot of “self” scared out of us here, but Lincoln Heights still has a lot of fear. Behind the groupy gangs, the leather Conquistador macho, there is real fear of something. It’s not innate – see the little kids. It’s cultivated. Now we are told Chinatown has Chinese mafia-like gangs. Pretty soon it will be the Beach Boys and commuters. It’s endless when you look outside yourself. The more you look the less you see. The farther you go the less you know. Return the light, look within.

Several upasakas and uapasikas come for lunch in the park. Food, fuel, a stove, a snake bite kit tht the upasika who gave it wouldn’t even touch because the picture of the rattler on it terrified her. “Here take it quick out of the bag. I can’t stand it!”

She volunteered to sew some pockets for insulated pads in Heng Sure’s pants. His knees are really bothering him. We’ll knock off early today because it’s Friday and everybody will be festive with the weekend spirit; we might scratched.

Two kids from Lincoln Heights (“demons”) walked all the way over to watch us bow. They were more genuine and mellow. Heng Sure gave them a press release. “Make them feel like they counted. They do.” They liked that. “See you later. Hope you have a good trip. And thanks a lot for this (press release).” We bowed over the bridge in the park. A upasika came by with a letter they put together for the police to lessen hassles. L.A. is a car town.

Although I started out thinking all sorts of other aspects of the trip were for me, I now realize the bowing, the central core, is the most wonderful part. All else is secondary and sometimes distracting.

Friday PM. Another wind: the press.

1) always get a name and a card (weed out phonies).

2) Don’t reveal our dharma method. Principle: we want to be invisible. State with clear understanding what motivated us, the principle behind Three Steps, One Bow. Avoid speaking Dharma, don’t rap. Let silence talk. Don’t teach and transform. Avoid speaking in general; speak to the specific.

3) Keep out of personal history – not important, past.

4) Don’t talk about your trip. Stress the fact that there is a whole group of cultivators and that this trip is just one part of the orthodox Dharma.

5) Just 2 of 10,000. Going home to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

6) Other groups: all tools, some higher than others. Buddhism has 84,000 methods. Hare Krishna confuse money and the spiritual. Moonies split up families. Look on the press as people, not necessarily friends. Use cool eyes, talk less, protect the invisibility of the trip. Erase yourself!! Protect the Dharma and shed light on the Triple Jewel, not on yourself. Turn your light within.