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HENG CH’AU: May 6, 1977. We arrive at the San Francisco International Airport to begin with. We are on the way to Los Angeles. The cart is being taken down by car and Heng Sure and Heng Shun and I accompany Shih Fu (The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua) by plane. At the airport we encounter Quentin Kopp, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
“Where are you going, Venerable Sir?” Kopp asks the Master.
“I am going to ascend to the heavens and order the dragons to make it rain,” was the Master’s reply.
In the air I sit between two people and feel hot and tired (nodding out). Shih Fu walks up from behind and throws his scarf and sash in my lap. I snap up, feel cool all of a sudden and alert, bright. Rain clouds gather was we approach Los Angeles.
It was raining when we arrived in L.A. Good, strong, Dharma protectors came to meet us. Say it just started raining before the plane came in. “Dragon’s birthday present to Shih Fu.”
HENG CHAU: May 7, 1977. Shih Fu was at my door this morning. “No sleeping; get up. There’s no such thing as a lazy novice. Go to bed after everyone and get up before anyone.” As a kid I hated getting up early, serving mass, dark cold Wisconsin mornings. I still hate getting up early. I hate bowing. Not really, but the hardest two things in my cultivation are just those. Everyone here for morning recitation; like a family in this small Bodhimanda. I can’t understand or appreciate the scope and energy of this trip. It’s too much to handle. So I am fairly thoughtless and unemotional. But I can feel excitement in the eyes of others. What’s the big deal? A lot of hard work—to make it, I can’t allow myself to false think too far ahead or behind. Must think some, however, or we’ll end up bowing in Tijuana, as Heng Sure takes off his glasses when bowing. Cuts off eye outflows and also vision. Stay on the right Way. Don’t make mistakes. Try your best.
I call on all the Buddhas and Bodhisattas of the ten Directions to help and support me, Heng Ch’au, to uphold my vow to protect and aid Heng Sure so he can fulfill his vow to bow once every three steps from Los Angeles to Ukiah, California, to repent and reform of all the suffering, disasters, and wars set in motion by our greed, hatred, and stupidity; to purify our hearts, body, mouth, and inspire others to do the same so that peace and harmony come to all living beings.
Heng Sure shows me a picture of Tathagata Monastery. “That’s where we’re going.” Three steps, one bow. If I don’t get my trip together with monk’s clothes it will be three steps, one fall!
After the morning ceremony and Shih Fu’s parting words we’re off, in, on… Well, it ain’t what I thought. Very hard; very wonderful.
Fire trucks hold us up awhile. Bow in place, count them up, move on when the trucks leave. Lots of stares.
I have an overwhelming feeling of oneness with all things. Bow and repent of past karma of mine. Who is “me”? All one substance. All benefit, all suffer from “my” karma. I grasp, understand the inseparability of everything, all beings. I see the empty false mark of self. Self is one huge empty obstruction.
At lunch Shih Fu says to me: “Whenever your stomach is hungry, don’t cry.” What’s that about?
Afternoon: More flack from “cruising” demons. “What a beer? Hey! Want a beer?” says a stumbling, confused guy getting out of a car. The Sangha really is sincere and supportive. Shih Fu said: “The gods, dragons, and eight-fold division of spirits are happy today. They are working too. They didn’t sleep, watching you.” We Haven’t Finished What We’re Doing Here
“Get off the goddam street.”