Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Excerpts from their letters/journals ...


Young man on the street corner: "So what's in it for you? What do you get out of this work? What's your payoff!?"

Monk: "When you give your parents a present or take care of them when they are sick and getting old, what do you get out of it? What's your payoff? How do you feel?"

Young Man: "Well, nothing. I mean, you just feel happy and peaceful inside because they're ... well, uh, you know ..."

Monk: It's the same way with the Buddha's work -- the same way."

Young Man: "Hmmm. I think I get it now. You just like to do giving."

		Towards all living beings he attains
		undestructable faith and therefore with
		kind eyes he regards them all equally.
		And he transfers the good roots for their
		benefit.  He gathers together blessings
		and virtuous conduct and practices great giving.
				-- Avatamsaka Sutra, Ten Transferences Chapter


On bowing: "Sometimes after countless ups and downs, coming and going on the cement, there is simply nothing. Sounds, conversations, hecklers, restaurant smells, cigarette butts -- no problem. At times, even the "me" gets lost, unimportant, blended into it all, yet untouched and separate. Patience and humility comes easier after bumping noses with ants in between lumps of welded chewing gum and broken bottles. It's just fine. The place to be now. Cleaning house, inside-out."


Lay disciple: "Well, you'll be out of LA in a month."
Monk: "Oh?"
Lay disciple: "Yeah. I figure the hardest part is over (Lincoln Heights). Chinatown is a little better, and Beverly Hills, no problem."
Monk: "The hardest part is inside. It's never easy."


There's so much to learn about being a monk: deportment, rules, ceremonies, when to speak and when to shut up, who to talk with and who to avoid. It all comes slow and hard. Usually I learn quickly but here it's not simply a question of imitating, but of transforming from the inside out. In other words, the understanding has to come from within. Can't fake it. The heart and mind have to change, and that take time, a good teacher, hard work, and patience. In the meanwhile, I blunder along from sloppy mistakes to gross errors. A phony monk would be transparent to anyone, especially himself.


I turn everything into a contest and a game; everyone becomes an opponent and rival. Driving the freeway, getting the best deal, always racing and beating the clock, making a hit and a score -- bigger, better, higer performance ... the Winner! It is said that breaking the rules wins wars. But breaking rules cause wars, too. Always trying to win, "by hook or crook" is waging war in my mind. Soon, it spills out and fills up the universe with conflict and destruction. Fighting inside brings wars outside.

The little war with the rock-throwers is just a scaled down version of the bigger war going on in the world. It all starts right in my upside-down heart. "Gotta make it big! Get to the top. Be a somebody. Be looked up to and admired." So I get back what I put out. [...] When I stop competing and scrambling for (money,) name and fame, then people will stop fighting with me. How will the world get better if I don't change myself?"

  Bowing states: 1) I lose my body. I feel as if there is this body bowing but its not me. Im watching but I am not it. Feels strong, real. No fear. 2) I am in a dream. Literally I feel as if I am dreaming this bowing through these kids. No injury or death matters, its a dream. 3) This a.m. parked in front of a blue dumpster on Solana in the beginning of Chinatown and had a flash beyond dj vu and realized that my dreams all week include Shih Fu and lots of people and that the trip is more a dream than my dreams. What I am doing in L.A. I have seen or done it before, all of it. There are no surprises. I am just in the dream doing what I am. No problem.

HENG SURE: May 14, 1977. To make peace on earth we must want it. To stop harm and fear in the world we must change our ways. To change our ways we must change our minds, think peaceful thoughts, leave anger behind. To change your mind is the biggest and most powerful commitment to peace you can make.

The world as it now exists, full of hate, pain, inequality, and suffering is a product of what we do. We made it. Our minds choose what we live in and we can control our worlds within a single thought. The power is ours. Evil and good, selfishness or compassion all come from the mind first. If more people care for other s the world will spontaneously grow brighter.

  Offerings: My understanding of offerings has been: how do the leaves thank the root for the water, or the sun for the light? How does the root repay the leaf for nourishment, the mulch? No giving or taking. Who receives; who gives? Cultivate the Way; end the self.