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Brad, cliff, Vicky and their crew came out with a meal offering and to recite gwan yin bodhisattva's name and listen to Avatamsaka. (" What's your dharma body?' asked Vicky last week.)
Cliff said," I've tried to fit into a lot of different religions and groups, but they were never for me. But Buddhism is different somehow, you know? It feels like home."
Brad told the story about how he was caught in a bad storm and heavy winds last week." I was driving a small car. It was very dangerous. Tree limbs were falling and the road washed out in places. Then I hit a bird. I saw it in the mirror roll on the highway and die. I felt real remorse and empathy. For some reason without thinking I said, 'namo gwan shr yin pu sa' about 5 or 6 times. It felt like the tight thing to do. I remembered that gwan yin helps in times of suffering and disasters. Suddenly the winds dies and the sun came out. The skies cleared out. I felt sorry for killing the bird, but now everything was okay."
"When he got home", said Vicky," brad was all glowing and happy. I've never seen him like that before. Strange, huh?"
"Always practicing great kindness and compassion, He constantly has faith as well as reverance. He is replete with the merit and virtue of repentance and reform. Night and day increasing wholesome dharmas." -- Avatamsaka sutra " Ten grounds chapter"
Brad had never recited gwan yin's name before. Out of faith and "feeling of compassion and reverence" for a dying being, he repented while driving down the highway. He felt a change and added something wholesome to his life.
A family on a panic outing stopped as we were writing alongside a small creek on their land." Oh you're the monks. Will you accept some food?" they opened their panic basket and offered some cheese, bread and fruit. " Stay as ling as you like. It's very peaceful here."
The Mackenzies drove out with food, gas and water. Someone asked if there's anything we would like. We explained that the offerings are not for us bit made through us. It's not that we "would like," rather the Sangha is a pure field where people can plant blessings. Making offerings is a chance to support bad adds to what Buddhism stand for: enlightened wisdom, peace, compassion and ending suffering of all kinds.
"As the earth is all one, Yet it puts forth sprouts each according to the seed, And it doesn't reject or favor any of them. So it is with the Buddha's Field of blessings." -- Avatamsaka sutra "The bodhisattvas Ask for clarification chapter"
"It's like seeds, huh?" said Mrs. McKenzie. "Like planting good seeds. I don't understand a whole lot, all I think about when I give is up there (city of 10000 buddhas). I visualize all those faces, land, and fine building and what they represent and I send it up to help it grow."
The Mckenzies both work to support a family of 4 children. They're moving house and yet take time to drive out to put gas in out four wheeled friend" as they call the Plymouth, and ask about Buddhism.
"Every day I try to do a little better and learn a little more, and when I saw those pictures and the people at he city of 10000 Buddhas I said, 'hot diggity!" The Mckenzies tell their story:
"We lived in s. Pasadena had a Cadillac and a color TV and all the rest. But it became not whether you had a color TV, but how many. So we sold the Cadillac and moved to the mountains with the kids. We lived near sequoia for 3 years." " I learned to save rubber bands and felt like I was in kindergarten again," laughed Mrs. Mckenzie.
"But the children needed schools and scouts so we moved to Morro bay. John got a job with the forest service. I'm a college graduate hopping tables now." She says.
"We like coming out to make offerings. It's my way of meditating and we appreciate the chance to give," she said.
As the kids filled our gas tank and water jugs, their mother quietly sat staring off through a grove of tall trees off highway I. W are all looking for a way out of the long dark night, a way back to the land of eternal brightness. The most breathtaking virgin paradise ever experienced is right in our laps. The wonderful dharma jewel is within our own self-nature. What we seek and find outside is just a reflection of that we uncover within. The flower store world and pure land are produced from our thoughts; the Avatamsaka sutra is being spoken right now in our own minds. We just forget and get lost sometimes in the shuffle. With a single thought of purity the millions of wonders reappear even on a single tip of a hair. In just sitting still and quieting the mad mind we find the perfect spot.
"Within each and every hair pore Are many kinds of adornments And marks That have never before been Cause to appear….. Contemplate the nature of the Dharmarealm, It's all made from the mind alone." -- Avatamsaka sutra "Flower store world chapter"
Harold, a mayoral candidate in Morro Bay, stopped with his daughter.
"I'm happy and surprised to learn there were still some people dedicating their lives to doing good and ending suffering for others," he said.
"I do not seek liberation for my Own body, But only to save all living beings, so that they all attain the Mind of all-wisdom, And cross over the flow of birth And death, And gain liberation from all their suffering…. I should stand in for living Beings amid all evil paths, And cause them to be liberated From those paths." -- Avatamsaka sutra "Ten transferences chapter"
"Buddhism has always impressed me," said Harold." Buddhism's not narrow. There's lots of room. I like that. It takes it inside, you know, an inner experience that doesn't leave anything out."
"In the ten directions with nothing left out, Measureless, boundless within the Dharma realm. Without beginning or end, neither Near nor far, Is revealed the independent strength Of the well gone one." --Avatamsaka sutra "Ten transferences chapter"
"Keep the developers out!"
As I bowed, a comment Harold made struck in my mind. He said, "My campaign is this: Keep the developers out." Who are the developers? They are just my own thoughts of greed and self-seeking, my desire mind that's like a bottomless pit. The developers outside come from the developers inside. In my mind I'm always scheming for a better deal for myself: a bigger hunk of this, a better piece of that. Whether food, fame, wealth, sex or sleep, I never feel I have enough. Not content with what I have, my busy mind runs all over the dharma realm, even in dreams, day and night, climbing on conditions and "looking for some action." My body and mind are choking with progress and over-development. And so the world I live in reflects my greed and confusion, because everything is produced from the mind.
It is like Morro Bay: on the edge of the continent with no more room to grow. Outside the land's gone. We are hungry and got the itch to move to greener pastures but the pastures are all gone. We feel like the last peregrine falcon clinging to the rock in Morro Bay with no place left to fly. "It's the developers fault" I want to say. But the "developers" are me. The sixth patriarch said:
"People of the east want to be reborn in the west. So where should people of the west go to be reborn?"
His meaning was " go within " and don't rely on external conditions. Develop the mind ground and return to your original home. Don't forever seek outside and not be able to stand on your own.
I don't want to continue frantically developing into outer space. Why not develop inner space? There are men on the moon but there's still no peace of mind.
"The further one travels, The less one knows." --Lao Tsu