- Part #1 -

Excerpts - "Three Steps, One Bow" journals

With One Heart, Bowing to the City of 10,000 Buddhas
Records of Heng Sure & Heng Ch’au Bowing

Part -  1  |   2   |   3

"Press Release - American Buddhist Pilgrims"

Two American Buddhist Monks from San Francisco’s Gold Mountain Monastery are making a bowing pilgrimage from Gold Wheel Temple in Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas near Ukiah.  Bhikshu Heng Sure has made the vow to bow to the ground in a full prostration every three steps along the road.  Heng Ch’au has vowed to accompany him on the journey, to protect him and to assist in the work.

Their purpose is to influence humankind to cease all hatred and hostility, to stop the creation of destructive weapons and to work to prevent disasters, wars, and suffering of all kinds.  The monks are dedicating their work to all beings everywhere.

“Our goal is to endure a bit of hard work on behalf of others,” said Heng Sure.  “Our job is to turn our own greed into balanced, moral behavior, to change our own anger and hatred into compassion for others, and into inner concentration, and to transform selfish, stupid actions into enlightened awareness and wisdom,” said Heng Ch’au.

“We hope to generate a response in the hearts of men and women and among the spiritual beings in the universe.  If our bowing is sincere, then afflictions, calamities, and suffering will gradually disappear, and hatred, hostilities, and wars will be reduced,” said Heng Sure.

The monks began their pilgrimage May 7, 1977, at Gold Wheel Temple, the Los Angeles branch of the Sino-American Buddhist Association.  They expect the journey will require a full year to complete.  Their destination is the Sino-American Buddhist Association’s new center for world Buddhism, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.


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.”


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 Bodhisattvas 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.”

“Go home.”


May 8, 1977 -  Pouring rain.  We are instructed to bow inside surrounded by the Sangha who recite the Great Compassion Mantra, as they did all day yesterday while we bowed on the road.  “Don’t force it, that’s not proper Dharma.  It’s dangerous today.  Cars might hit you; they can’t see well.  When rain stops continue where the equivalent of what you bowed yesterday would be.”

State while bowing: I understand deeply all the countless beings within Shih Fu being crossed over.  Be a container to carry living beings, to repent, to take on suffering for living beings, because you can.  You can because countless others have for you.  Filial piety.  We are all one; keep the string connected.  Give ceaselessly.  Both days while bowing I was on the verge of tears throughout.  Inconceivable.

Advice:  Don’t fight with anyone.  Yield!!!  Use your wisdom, your kindness, compassion, joy, and giving.

Hard work, patience, be straight (sincere).  No desire.  Be humble, not arrogant like an emperor.  Forget about states.  Chase any demons, and transfer merit constantly.  Don’t float off into samadhi.  You’re the Dharma Protector.  But don’t be moved.  Accord with conditions and don’t change; don’t change and accord with conditions.  Forget yourself; no self means no mistakes which in turn means no retribution.  Then you are in a position to be of some help.


Instruction, May 8, 1977.

Bowing once every three steps is not the kind of method that anyone wants to do.   Why?  It’s too difficult.  To bow along the road once every three steps is very dangerous.  So at all times you want to be very careful.  Don’t enter samadhi while you are bowing.  If you enter samadhi, the cars won’t and they will come and bump into you, smashing you to smithereens.  Without any choice, you’ll be off to the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.  Basically going off to the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss is a good thing, but we haven’t finished what we’re doing here; we haven’t fulfilled our responsibilities in this land of ultimate suffering.   So you can’t be selfish and go off first to the Pure Land.  This is very important.  Especially on the curves of the road or narrow places where there’s only room for cards and not for pedestrians, you can bow alongside in the grass off the road if the road is dangerous.

Also when people ask you questions, you should have one person assigned to answer.  Just one of you needs to answer, not two.  Now Kuo T’ing (Heng Ch’au) you are the Dharma protector.  It would be best if you answered the questions.  Kuo Chen (Heng Sure) you don’t need to answer.  Don’t get involved with people and they will think it’s even more wonderful.  If you explain it all very clearly and everyone understands what you’re doing then it’s no longer wonderful.  Inconceivable means just not letting them know.  Don’t explain to them.  Kuo T’ing you can answer, but don’t talk too much no matter what’s doing on.  Don’t lecture sutras and speak Dharma for people.  Don’t give commentaries.  This is important.

You should take along a good pair of pants so you don’t end up naked from having them rip to shreds.  You should always wear your long robe and then if your pants rip it won’t matter anyway.  Don’t be like the one who bowed before, the “old cultivator” whose pants were so old that they weren’t very strong and after bowing for a while on the road he didn’t have any pants to wear.  Fortunately there was a response at that point and suddenly in the middle of the road a pair of pants appeared.  That is something that happened in the past.  And this time you should take along toilet paper; don’t be like the one who used poison oak leaves instead. He got laid up so bad he couldn’t bow; couldn’t even move; couldn’t do anything but cry “Maha!” like a little lamb.  This is important too.

Other than that, the two of you already have an identical vow not to drink cola.  That’s not a bad condition set up.  If you drink cola then people will want to give you beer and once they’ve given you beer they’ll want to give you whiskey.  And once it’s whiskey it will be brandy.  So there’s an interconnection.  If you don’t drink cola no one will give you beer, or whiskey, or brandy.  That is a good way.

The things Kuo T’ing experienced today were very good.  You could say that on this first day of bowing he has opened an enlightenment.  Having opened an enlightenment on the first day, then on the second day he opens more and the third day, the forth day, and so forth to the end of your bowing and you will have great penetration and enlightenment.  When you have great penetration and enlightenment you will be able to propagate Buddhadharma in the world in a useful way.  So in doing the most stupid of things you two should obtain the loftiest of wisdom; then you will not have bowed in vain.

Now at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, the ten thousand Buddhas are still not complete.  Kuan Yin Bodhisattva is finished but Kuan Yin can transform into ten thousand Buddhas.  And when you arrive there, then thousand Buddhas will welcome you.  I know that as you bow there, the ten thousand Buddhas will fly there.  They will all arrive so you can see the wonderful adornments of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, matchless beyond compare.

In the world the source of Buddhism is about to expand.  When you get there the ten thousand Buddhas will rub your crowns and give you predictions.  “Good indeed, good indeed, this is called true vigor.  You are true cultivators.”  They will praise the two of you.  Don’t forget when you get to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in the future that the ten thousand Buddhas will rub your crowns and give you predictions.

So although this is said to be the stupidest of things, on the other hand the rewards are the very highest.  When you grow into a dolt, that becomes the esoteric.  When you’ve studied to the point you’re as if stupid, you become rare in the world; then you are a true cultivator of the Way.


May 9, 1977 -  My 23rd vow is not to speak unless the words are in service to the Triple Jewel.  This is my chance to fulfill the vow at last.  No phones to answer or interviews to give; no one to rap with or shoot the breeze.  Silence but for the necessary words to Ch’au.  To be effective this must be firm.  Any kind of busy-bodiness or expression of self will not work.  If I want all the energy to go up the right channels I have got to do every minute as I would do in a Ch’an session.  A year-long two-man Ch’an session.  Do it that way.  No excess.  The Middle Road.


May 9, 1977 -  Still pouring through night and this morning.  Thunder.  Bowed inside again.  Waiting for final instructions from Shih Fu.  We will leave when Shih Fu leaves.

Bowing:  Again the image of the body--one large body—all of us.  If one part of the body is sick the rest doesn’t split and ignore it; it works together or breaks down together.  There is no self that is immune, that can hide or be private.  What goes around comes around. Yu must heal yourself and share strength and light.  Sick parts resist treatment; it hurts at first to be touched.

7:00 PM:  Whew!  That was the toughest day I can remember.  Saw Shih Fu off at the airport.  Alone, we are on our own.  Heng Sure is trying not to talk.  Pouring, pouring rain.  Huge threatening clouds.  We go back to Gold Wheel Temple, get our gear, and head off in the 1958 Plymouth wagon to solo.  Where do we begin?  In a tough, rundown main drag of a Mexican American neighborhood where there are drunks, and macho-looking tough kids.  Oh, this is really tough.  It takes all the courage I can muster.  Two scared kids pretending it’s no big deal.  Before we even start the groups are forming to check this weird number out.  The second bow I am tapped on the shoulder from behind.  A drunken, huge main says, “Hey, what you makin’ with dis?”  I feebly try to explain.  He’s about seven inches from my face.  He slowly pulls out his wallet.  Ah, our first donation?  No.  An oversentimentalized picture of Jesus with long wavy hair.  He keeps shaking it in front of my nose, nodding and waiting.  “A really holy person,” says I, “excuse me now, I’ve got to keep up with my friend.”

A car whizzes by, souped up and packed, full of men.  “You got till sundown to be out of our neighborhood.”

Oh, Shih Fu, only three minutes out and already.  We plug on, even though more groups are forming ahead as the word spread.  “You’ll never get anywhere that way.”  “Hey, Joe, they’re blessing your gas station.”  Some walk by like we were old Popsicle sticks—no notice.  As we get closer to each group they split, go inside, make an opening, watching cautiously.  I notice it’s stopped raining just as we started bowing.  But we are covered with mud and grim and water from the sidewalks  “Hey, kick ‘em in the ass when they bend over!  Ha! Ha!”  One tough runs up and brushes between us.  We keep bowing.  (Typist’s note:  4 lines are missing from the book at the end of page 6 – Volume 1). spread apart.  One runs up and pats us on the heads.  The other say, “Hey, man, let ‘em be; they ain’t doin’ nothin’.”  Through we go.  Soon the two toughest are stalking from behind.  How hard to keep my back to them and go on reciting.  Finally the monster comes along side.  “Hey, sir, can I ask what you’re doin’?”  I nod and finish bowing.  I explain we’re Buddhist monks and this is one of the ways we pray—it’s a pilgrimage to bring some peace to ourselves and the world.

“All the way to Ukiah?  How long will that take?”

“About a year.”

“Wow!  That’s somethin’.  Don’t he talk?”

“No, he’s concentrating, praying.  I carry the gear, cook, talk to folks, drive, etc.”

“You got the hard job.”  They are moved.  Something soft and genuine is coming out.

“Well gotta go, we have to get some rest.”

“Peace to you.” He says and crosses us with his blessing.  “Take care.”

I can feel the protection around.  Heng Sure’s silence is powerful.  If we can keep sincere and careful we’ll have a much better chance to deal with things.


May 10, 1977 -  2:30 A.M.  I wake up reciting a mantra.  The mantra wakes me up.  I hear voices and feet outside.  My senses come alert.  A shadow passes on the right of the van.  Bang!  An arm breaks through the front window vent and grabs for the door handle.  Heng Sure, asleep, now jolts up.  Dogs outside are barking wildly.  “Hey!”  I yell.  The arm retreats.  I can make out four big dark figures with night sticks and a dog walking away from the car and down the street.  Drunk and roaming.  A little later I hear rocks hitting the pavement.  They are mustering for a return.  Tossing rocks, hitting their sticks, they draw nearer.  I’ve got to move quickly.  I jump over the seat and throw the car into gear.  There’s the ignition key?  In the ignition.  Hope it starts.  It does.  They keep coming and I pull out.  One tries to stop the car.  We made it!

Went back and slept till 4:00AM at Gold Wheel Temple in the driveway.  We both feel tightness at what we are doing.  Here there is potential for great accomplishment and for big mistakes.  We need to be very careful with outflows.  We must stick to a schedule, concentrate, and not move or retreat.  Work hard and be sincere.  There’s no room for indulgence or error on these streets.  We both feel the adrenalin crash.  This was a big day, a hard one.

Verse and Mantra in Case of Harm

To Creatures when Walking
From early morning ‘till fall of night,
All living beings should look after themselves.

If I should harm any creature or crush an insect beneath my feet,
Know that it was an accident, a mistake.

I vow that any such creatures will be reborn immediately
In the Land of Ultimate Bliss of Amitabha.

Nan.  Di li tze li swo he (3x)


May 10, 1977 -  Less flack this morning.  The gas station we used for toilet purposes had a kindly old man who turned out to be a close-minded Bible man who tried to convince me I worshipped false gods.  In between toilet breaks he had obviously put together a monologue and was ready to deliver some hell or high water.  It was liking talking to your radio—all transmission.  Luckily I found an escape.  “Excuse me but I have to stay close to the other monk.  Take care.”  Zip!

Phuong Kuo Wu, Woo Kuo Hsiang, and Leonora Tsiang brought lunch to an abandoned lot.  They are gracious and kind.  They were out last night looking for us.  Receiving their food and bows makes one ashamed of not working harder and spurs one on.  The next 3 or 4 days we will be passing through one of the roughest neighborhoods in L.A.  An upasaka has offered his driveway for evenings.  We accept rather than cause more trouble like last night.  To put ourselves in a situation where it’s real likely someone is going to try to do us in does no one any good. 

One upasika is 69 years old.  For years she was a devout Buddhist but then got sent to an Episcopal school and was made into a Christian.  She never believed in Buddhism again because she couldn’t find any true practice or cultivation.  She says:  “Then I met Shi Fu.  He doesn’t talk much.  His thought is deep.  His eyes do the talking.  For me to bow to anyone is hard, but to Shih Fu it’s easy.  There’s something there.  I can’t explain it.”  Beyond words, the heart and the true substance merge.

Boys come by and pelt us with a rock offering.  Macho.  If I had been more on top of it I would have noticed the rocks and bottles in their hands and offered them the marshmallows.  I’ve got to keep my eyes open.  These were just kids with rocks, but next time…  Can’t relax!

There is no clear-cut right of passage in this culture from boy to man, from girl to woman.  So they get uptight and real difficult in the teen years.  Looking for tests, ways to measure independence, strength, maturity.  They know too much so they get perverted—put on a false macho front, and try to be tough.  They have no real models or heroes with any virtue or substance that they can look to.  It must be weird for them to watch those women bowing and offering food to two road grubby monks in an abandoned parking lot they drink and grow up in.

Bowed through tight, mellow Mexican neighborhood with no bars.  Together family and community here.  No questions, no hassle.  It’s just like we weren’t there or like a gentle wind passed through.

Hsia Ching-shan and his family, the Woos, Alice Wong, etc. help us a lot.  They drive back and forth, buy good, wash clothes, get key from upasaka so we can bathe in his house, etc.  They got us a permit sticker from the police for the car to be on the streets overnight, but we can’t sleep in the car.  The cops know about us and told one upasika that they would look for us if we did try to sleep in the car and bother us until we leave.

Our car, which we must use until we get out of the city, serves us in this way:  the ashtray and glove compartment are our wooden fish, incense burner, and altar.  The back end of the van is our Ch’an hall, Buddha hall, sleeping room, and library.  We camp in the garage behind one upasika’s house.  We do evening recitation on the way there--the 88 Buddha repentance--me at the wheel, incense going in the ashtray, and Heng Sure in back hitting a thermo cup to keep the ceremony going.  We are really into maintaining a pure and scheduled Bodhimanda.  It’s the nucleus and source of our going and coming--it’s just like at Gold Mountain, but it’s up to us to maintain it here.

This is the rap I give people who ask what we are doing:  1) Personal--getting rid of greed, hatred, and stupidity; 2) Larger perspective--getting rid of some bad vibes.  Take on suffering to end suffering and disasters of all.  3) Larger scope--top the creation of weapons that kill millions.  4) Bowing to the Buddhas to be compassionate.

New stuff:  I am finding it easy and important to be a monk.  To be reverent and mindful every minute.  Not the “wham bang bust ‘em” vigor like I am sued to, but rather like the quiet, calm but ceaseless constancy of a quiet ocean beach (waves keep coming).  It is easier with less attachment now.  I feel less and less doubtful, even at 4 a.m.  Hardly any fear and more stillness, patience, and evenness of energy.  Bowing is my method now and it’s wonderful!

Young people are open to our trip and to Buddhism.  Had a good exchange with some boys yesterday about celibacy, parents, kung fu, precepts, one meal a day, etc.  They poke and tease the male in you; if you don’t move then they respect and draw near.  If you move, it’s all over and they have a circus.  “Hare Krishna!”

People think Heng Sure is physically ill, worry he won’t be able to find San Francisco, and wonder, always wonder… People are touched somewhere inside beyond it all in a mysterious and subtle way.  I see it in their faces, how they gather to watch, the ways they move and leave as we pass.  It is deep.


May 11, 1977 -  Bowed through a tunnel consisting of commuter traffic on one side and Huntington Elementary School on the other.  One was pure and a “bathing of good energy” as Heng Sure felt it.  The other was busy and divisive.  It doesn’t take long for one side to move to the other.  The wheel turns and we are steering down the middle.  Too many kids to talk with; the teachers and police are watching so we decide to be quiet and bow.  Thanks, kids.  See you again.

The Circle Game or How One False Thought Brought the Rain

Three lay Dharma protectors tell us how heavy and dangerous Lincoln Heights will be.  “Be very careful.”  Having the appearance of a self, we feel fear.

First mistake:  Fear = false thought – crack, hole. 

Second mistake:  To overcome fear and danger you can rush through, push it – about two hours straight of bowing in the hot sun.  “There, we got rid of that stretch!”

Third mistake:  Heng Ch’au feels angry about this, holds on to it.

Fourth mistake:  Leonora comes out and tells us it’s closer to her house than to Alice Wong’s.  Not being on top of it because of false thinking, I say, “OK.”  But after she leaves I remember our commitment to Alice.  It’s getting sticky.  I spend a wasted hour trying to phone Alice.  She’s not home.  I’m spent from physical exhaustion, can’t find phone numbers, rush hour traffic is honking and hooting.  Then a group of boys do a pea-shooter attack.  We go to Alice’s house.  Just finish reciting the Shurangama Mantra (first 27 lines) 49 times when police drive up.  “What do you guys think this is, a park or something?”  Hostile.  Neighbors gather, there is a big to-do.  “Name Heng?  How do you spell ‘San Francisco’?  What color is your hair?  How would you describe your clothes?”

“T’ang dynasty monk’s garb.”

“How do you spell ‘monk’?”

- The following is printed on page 10 of Volume One -

In addition to the monks’ daily records, this volume will include excerpts from their letters
to the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, placed chronologically throughout.

May 11, 1977

Dear Shih Fu (Master),

Homage to the Venerable Master,

May he lend his compassion to all beings!

This work is very much like a Ch’an session.  Constant mindfulness is hard work and we are making slow and steady progress.  Three steps, one bow.

Heng Ch’au is a good protector.  He has already saved us from one nasty situation, which he will tell about below.  Leonora Chiang, Phuong Kuo Wu, Alice Wong, and the Woos have protected us and show us great care.  I am not talking very much at all.  This is a wonderful chance to practice my vow to speak only words in service to the Triple Jewel.  I am forever grateful for the opportunity to cultivate the way.

Heng Sure

Fifth mistake:  I miss the chance to teach Alice about anger and patience because I’m still caught up in a chain reaction set off by one false thought.  We drive back to Leonora’s house.

Sixth mistake:  I separate from Heng Sure and allow myself to be alone in conversation with Leonora in the secluded laundry room.

We decided to start bowing at 5:00 AM to get through the rough area early.  Wake up in the AM and what?  It’s raining!  Problem solved (The monks bow in one place when it rains and then pace off their progress when it clears-ed.).  What a waste!  Lots to learn.  Don’t false think.  Don’t hold on to it.  Be careful of involvement with lay people.  They help tremendously; without them we couldn’t make it through L.A.  Don’t fear.  Don’t be moved by false thoughts.  Don’t be alone with women.  We should proceed from what we experience, not from other people’s fears.  The whole trip is “rough.”


May 12, 1977 -  The loss of innocence is the beginning of the world’s troubles.  We bowed past 1200 young children at Huntington Drive School in East L.A.  They all pressed against a tall chain-link fence that kept them on the playground just inches from us on the sidewalk below.

We covered the entire 400 foot section of playground and the kids came in waves to stare at us with open, pure warm curiosity--no difference between boys and girls yet.  “Sir, what are you doing?”  Twelve hundred pairs of brightly-colored 8”-long children’s shoes, eyes, and open mouths, silence regarding the Avatamsaka Sutra.  We bow past between the fence on one side and the roaring, whizzing cars on the other.  Great health, energy, purity, not yet full of thoughts and desire, is focused on us in waves.

Later when the high school let out, cars full of defiled boys and girls shouted and honked past us, yelling obscenities.  “Get off the god damn street!”  All off base, looking outside, desperately pushed ahead by lies and by the deceit of movies and music.

What happens at that age when the sap ripens and the channels to receive it do not run straight?  Where does the twisting take place?  How to change the harm already done?  How to remove the evil pressure, break through the brittle growth of habit, and show the way to new health?  How to get back to the elementary, wholesome completeness of childhood?

(1)    No more TV.

(2)    No more alcohol or dope.

(3)    More athletics.

(4)    More religion:  young monks and nuns who cultivate.

(5)    Lay families who cultivate and practice giving.

(6)    A teacher.

Putting your head down on the concrete, in the mud, the bubble gum, the gasoline, the glass and gravel, standing, kneeling, and doing it again, for no visible purpose, is just the thing to knock whole chunks of the ego away from the Buddhanature.  Here’s how this process appears to the mind’s eye:  at first part of your mind watches you do it.  Holding the breath, you do it anyway.  The action purifies itself; the mind-picture fades, works on proper effort until there is no watcher, only a doer, and concentration-advance.  And the mind’s eye opens or shuts, I don’t know which.


May 11, 1977 - White Universe

A verse by Master Hua (spoken after a Kuan Yin Session)

Ice in the sky,
Snow on the ground,
Numberless tiny bugs die in the cold
Or sleep in hibernation.

In the midst of stillness you should contemplate,
And within movement you should investigate.

When you wrestle with dragons and subdue tigers in continual playful sport,
Ghosts will cry and spirits wail; surrounding transformations are strange.

True and actual meanings
Are cut off from words,
Not thought about or talked about;
You ought to advance with haste.

With the great and small destroyed,
With no inside or out,
Every mote of dust
Is an infinite Dharma realm
Complete, whole, and perfectly fused,
Interpenetrating without obstruction.

With two clenched fists break to pieces the cover of empty spaces.
In one mouthful swallow the source of seas of Buddhalands.
With great compassion rescue all, sparing no blood or sweat and never pause to

Three Steps, One Bow Intensive Session Schedule

4-4:50  - morning recitation

5-6:30  - t’ai chi

6:30-7  - clean and move

7-8  - bow

8-8:20  - rest

8:20-9:20  - bow

9:20-9:40  - rest

9:40-10:30  - bow

10:30-11:30  - study, write

11:30-12:30  - meal

12:30-1:00  - write, meditate, study

1:00  - bow

2-2:20  - rest

2:20-3:20  - bow

3:20-3:40  - rest

3:40-4:40  - bow

4:40-5:00  - rest

5-5:45  - bow

6-7  - rest, meditate

7-9   - evening recitation and lecture

9:00  - meditate, read, write.


May 12, 1977 -  To Dr. & Helen Woos for lunch.  Hsia family, Art, Carol, & baby there.  Up here in the heavens in comfort and polite company, we are above the dust.  Heavenly beings above, don’t move; demons below, don’t move.  Their baby kept bowing to Shih Fu’s picture and to us.  Another hot lunch extravaganza, Bankamericard.  “If the heavenly spirits bow to you, don’t be pleased; and if demons come don’t be angry.”

Feel very much like I am climbing on conditions.  I have no virtue to accept such offerings, bows, etc.  I must cultivate more sincerely, what use is anything else?  Of what benefit is anything save attainment and rescuing?

So after lunch (heaven was empty, no rain, that is) we went back to Lincoln Heights and what?  School was just letting out.  So the crisis confrontation we had with fear been dreading and which had caused so much false thinking was smack in our faces.  We were going to bow right through throngs of the toughest gangs in the city.  Kids drinking brown paper bags on the corner clustered.  It was heavy. 

We were ready for the worst.  At first there was nothing--too shocked.  But then the boys began.  “What de hell you doin’ man?”  “Two more blocks and you’re gonna be shot.”  “What you boys doin’ in our ghetto?”  No response.  I think of Shih Fu, can feel enclosure of protection.  Two wood bricks fizzle five feet short of me on the right.  A large group gathered on the corner is smoking joints.  It finally parts as Heng Sure spearheads through, unswerving.  They don’t miss a thing.  “Hey, man, those are $15 Converse.”  They shout obscenities about us to one another.  No response.  “What’s with these guys, anyhow?  They’re serious?”

We are encircled for the last block by about 40-50 of them.  In mock imitation of us a string of 10 or more is bowing once every three steps behind us.  Lots of laughs.  Lincoln Heights gang toughs bowing to the Triple Jewel and the Avatamsaka Sutra.  Truly inconceivable.

Bowing states:  1) I lose my body.  I feel as if there is this body bowing but it’s not me.  I’m 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, it’s 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 déjà 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.


May 13, 1977


The sidewalks of America are clean.  Concrete, cement, macadam, gravel and tar.  They are uniform, common, straight, and flat.  After you put your head down on ten days of sidewalks, they begin to feel soft, responsive cold or hot, but essentially the same.

On top of American sidewalks, Americans deposit the litter and refuse of our disposable, throw-away culture.  This is dirt. It proceeds from the human mind. Degrees of greed can be seen on the walks.  In Lincoln Heights the merchants sweep their sidewalks.  In Chinatown the grime of greed and false thought is caked on until the rough concrete turns slick and shiny.  The sidewalks of L.A. City Center are rough, pebbled, and unused.  The dirtiest sidewalk yet was outside a Chinatown meat market.  There they wash off the meat trays and a layer of grease and gristle and veins covers the walk.  This is truly filth.  But again, even this could be swept away by conscientious cultivation and effort.

The streets are clean below this thing smudge of refuse.  When the thoughts disappear, the mind is clear; when desires reach out, the streets grow dirty.  We must bow across every street to purify the garbage-topped walks and to return the nature to its original purity of clean mud and stone.  The earth is clean. There is no dirt in nature.  Dirt is all man-mind-made.  It’s the people who are dirt.  When you head touches the pavement there is a bit of honesty, a total submission, a release of pretense, and exhaling.  An honesty right down in the dirt.

There’s no one from the top-brass office executives and the fanciest fashion models to the dirtiest panhandler and the slimiest gas station pump jockey who doesn’t feel himself to be superior an better off than the pair of bald-headed robe-wearing monks who bow past them below their feet on the sidewalk. As the monks put their heads on the ground and turn their palms up in total submission and repentance, the hookers, the bums, the bus drivers, the car dealers, all stare and stare, put themselves in the monks’ place, laugh at the impossibility of it and then either ignore them or try to break them down.


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 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 pres 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.

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.


May 14, 1977 -  We are parking at different places each night and trying to avoid contact with people.  Last night it was a laundry on Sunset Drive.  Tonight we finally find a place, but I hadn’t done standing meditation yet.  Where in this crammed, speed-city at 9:30 PM was I going to find an inconspicuous place?  I wanted to sleep. Fought it.  Got out of the van and right across the street was an empty log, gradated levels protected by a retaining wall in high rear. Ideal!

This a.m. Tai Chi and exercise near L.A.P.D. Academy overlooking Dodger Stadium.  Bowing into Chinatown today.  L.A.P.D. cam out and photographed us on N. Broadway. No contact.

We do 379 steps per hour which equals 126 bows per hour or about one bow sequence every 30 seconds. Did this calculation allowing for bridges, delays, detours, etc.

Lunch: Picnic with laypeople. Lots of food, lots of change for meters, phone, etc.  Where are we in the group with all their rituals, protocol, and unabashed candor?  In Chinatown an old Mandarin couple see us and exclaim, “Why, they’re foreigners!” No, you just forgot to bring Buddhism with you when you came…

Heng Sure’s padded pants are back.  Wow! Bright Hawaiian flora – nightclub circus hobo.  Thank god for the long robe.  The kids in Lincoln Heights would have eaten us up if we went through with those on. Steering the Middle Way regarding offerings is not always easy.  When you get junk you fix it; when you get fold, you tarnish it.  I think we’ll dye the pants…

Layperson: “Well, I think you are going to be out of L.A. in a month.”

Monk: “Oh?”

Layperson: “Yes.  The hardest part is passed (Lincoln Heights). Chinatown is not so rough. Beverly Hills is easy.”

Monk: “The hardest part is inside.”

Layperson: “Oh.: (smile of recognition.)

All the laypeople are talking about rejoining at the end near the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.  One upasika says she will walk ten blocks.  Another says if that one can walk, ten, she can bow ten, etc.  Such fine people. It shows in their kids – bright, sharp, well-behaved, spontaneous.

Bowing: Sometimes after countless coming and going on the cement there is simply nothing.  Sounds, conversations, smells from restaurants, cigarette butts – not problem.  Every now and then my “self” gets unimportant, lost, blended into it all and yet untouched and separate.  Patience and humility come easy when I’m bumping noses with ants in between lumps of welded bubble gum and broken wine bottles.  It’s just fine.  Just the place to be now.  Cleaning house inside out.

Chinatown:  weird!

1)  It is in some ways the least Buddhist of all. Even Lincoln Heights yielded a 33 cents offering…

2)  On main corner comes together all at once, a funeral parade send off, the band playing a dirge “Will We Not See You Again?” motorcycle cops, crowds, circus peanut grinder scene on right, strawberry cake on a chair in front of us, a Chinese TV newsman.  Heng Sure and I bow right under and through.  Maybe a handful notice.

3) Bowing two feet from fish in window tank at market waiting to be killed. Blubbering with their mouths, watching Heng Sure and I bowing in our tank.

4) Crazy lady in blue, laughing maniacally kicks me in a key acupuncture point between scrotum and anus.  Lights and tingling shoot up my body and but my head. Her laughter echoes. I don’t move, keeping bowing, hoping there’s not more. Time to stop.

5) Drove around the corner, passing through an intersection and pulled over the curb space to park.  Screech!  Bang! Big accident in that same intersection.; we just missed it by seconds.  A Chinese street gang swaggers by in Chinatown.  Be sure to see Chinatown when you come…


May 15, 1977 -  Our pace is slow in the 3 PM post-lunch afternoon.  False thoughts drift in and out.  How glad I am that the first protector who volunteered did not come along.  He was someone people disliked out of the blue, so negative were his affinities with people.

We get our share of potential fights, but they fizzle out even though it’s close each time.  I start to get uptight fantasizing a kick in the head or someone pulling up in a car and a gun going off or hordes of Christian shouters giving us a hard time, teasing and yelling, “Do you believe in Jesus?” into the air.  Then a suited, briefcase-carrying businessman passes by and says, “Peace be with you, brother,” and he meant it.  I had been tugging on my robe, getting annoyed with it and irritated at the wind and the heat when his words came and totally penetrated my mood.  I realized how unpeaceful I had been.  My head opened like a window.  Yes, just be at peace with all of it, the cars, the fear, the wind, the crushed ants, the lunch situation, the work.  Thanks, mister.  If you had stood still I would have bowed to you.  Are you by chance a transformation body of the Abbott?


May 15, 1977 -  Sleep next to a Coalition Church in Chinatown last night.  Heng Sure and I had a good conversation about early a.m. being like the original nature--still, pure, blissful, genuine.  The zero opens and from the one comes two and so forth, myriads of things, movement, karma, etc.  Each day a chance to try again, each second the same. In every move, thought, contemplate thus.

Also talked about how many institutions, etc., are necessary because the family doesn’t do its job.  Military, psychs, scouts, clubs, police, etc.  Ultimately one must start at the source to eliminate the widespread, begin with the small, at home.  We see this in Three Steps, One Bow and all around us.

Story of Garuda (Great Golden Winged Peng Bird) ties to exercise #15 of t’ai chi.  The garudas flapped their wings over the waters of the oceans and parted them revealing the dragons on the ocean beds.  The action was so deft that the dragons didn’t have time to disappear and were subsequently sucked up by the garuda like we down a plate of noodles.  Fearing extinction, the dragons went to the Buddha and asked for his compassionate protection.  The Buddha consented and called the garuda in, ordering it not to eat any more dragons.  The garuda countered that the Buddha’s decree was unfair because without dragons to eat the garuda would starve and in turn become extinct.  The Buddha reassured the garuda that it would be provided for and then told all his disciples to place a bit of food outside before each meal as an offering to the garuda.  With so many disciples in the world, the garuda would be able to eat its fill.  The Buddhadharma is unique in that even ghosts and spirits, etc. are treated with compassion and acceptance.  Yet there is clearly evil in the mind.  The way to stop evil is to eliminate your own greed, hatred, and stupidity.  All things come from the one and return to the one.

Bowing along, an Old Chinese lady offers $2.  Background music is early Diana Ross and the Supremes.

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.

Fear, Speed and Looking Outside:  The last few days in response to danger of neighborhoods, fast traffic, hassles, etc. we have unconsciously speeded up.  Bowing and rushing like everything around us.  It’s very difficult not to be moved (literally) by it all and yet not to block it out so you’re unaware.  Today we slowed and ‘constanted’ our pace--much better.

Everything in turn looks and feels different.  It’s not gone or blotted out, it just doesn’t turn and toss us.  At one point this a.m. I experienced the unlimited, undifferentiated Buddha-nature through and within all the cement, traffic, roses, honking horns, dressed-up church-goers, and bowing monks.  Feeling very warm and peaceful.  Everything’s ok.

Alice Wong came with her two children to inform us of road hazards ahead and see if we needed anything.  I think she is opening up, partly because she’s so close to kids and comes out to express that and shares in the Three Steps, One Bow.  She always bows three times saying, “You are bowing 700 miles, the least I can do is three.”  Her face shines genuine and clean.  Her smallest, still in red pajamas, bowed in the wrong direction, got up, turned around, and shines us a grin I’ll never forget.

Change our schedule:  We stick to it.  If we start late, we finish on time.  Then evaluate why we were late.  If for cultivation or necessary talk, ok.  If not, then don’t do it again.

Winds, limitless winds:  This AM bowing right on and then what?  Blew it at the meal offering.  Inundated with offerings, bows, good “birthday” food in park a la picnic, etc.  Meant well, joy of giving, but 1) we don’t deserve it 2) to enjoy is to end blessings and we have nothing to transfer, 3) it’s an outflow.  Afterwards the momentum, ch’i, shot.  Bloated saturated with family vibes of sex, laughter, flatteries, mama’s tending and fussing over us, etc.

More Hawaiian pants and a carpeted van full of bananas, donuts, bottled drinking water, nuts, new pens, bread, lantern…”could you use” “take this”  “How about very important not to project and see laypeople as a problessness, desire, and laziness.

Solution:  No more park picnics.  Eat on the road.  Take less, not all, especially sweets.  Talk less, hold eyes down, listen to less.

Offerings:  tons of food, two gal, drinking water, pen and paper folders.

Call upasika and tell her that tomorrow we are eating leftovers in the van enroute, not in the park.  We can’t waste food.  Heng Sure can’t bow when full and can’t say no to all the good food.  The enjoyment of blessings ends them.


May 16, 1977 -  It is hard to blend with the rhythm of this land because it has no rhythm.  It is like a river of gas-fired metal on paved stone paths.  No sound; one roar.  No smell; one stink.  No light; one haze.  No time; pure morning when the zero is pure and then the one comes into being and the 2 and the 3 and the millions.

No human can live here.  We have made a hostile environment at great cost.  The World Trade Center runs on electric power, is adorned and sanitized costing millions of dollars for the few hundreds of people who will never see it and the millions of ghetto Chicanos who will never see it or dream of it.  It is like Versailles.  It is a thin reality, disposable, ready to be abandoned.  Dead.  With Muzak.  We come in off the street to relieve ourselves and return to our lively hells of streaming metal.

“Do you believe that praying and bowing can affect disasters and catastrophes?”

Yes, we do, don’t you?  Where do disasters come from?  They come from the accumulated heaps of bad karma that you and he and I pile up and after a while the scale is unbalanced and nature erupts or a plane crashes and human suffering results.  But it starts with us first; we make our fate with every present action we do, with every thought.  So by working directly with the mind and by concentrating a prayer for no harm, no hatred, no weapons, no suffering, we are seeking a response right at the source of the problem--our own minds.  Do you see the link?

Yesterday and this morning, I experienced a shrinking of desire to this point:  I recognized that I was not looking forward to today with any pleasure in mind.  I did not have any expectations of pleasant, pleasing, or position events.  At the same time I was not hoping to avoid any unpleasant events--those come as part of the work we do.  Whether it is a honk, a laugh, the constant sneers, the verbal attack, the physical attack, or actual polite interest, all that sort of attention is just one test after another, to measure our depth of sincerity and to remind us of our goal.

The end of expectations is an added gift, a bonus.  From that point of view, everything is a gift, a surprise, a mystery, a point of wonder, a chance to snap the chains of self.

The truth about bowing seven hundred miles is the same truth as making one solitary bow.  If you are sincere, if your mind is clear and if your heart has no expectations, then you can be anywhere and it makes no difference where you are.  The Gold Mountain Buddhahall is the same as the noisiest downtown ghetto; the highest isolated mountain crag is the same as the busiest highway roadside.  The Dharma rests unchanging.  In other words, the bowing practice cuts through time and space.

Sincerity is the key, however, and patience, and desirelessness.  If you are not looking ahead to a better time, to lunch, to being finished bowing, to enlightenment, then your bow will be sincere.


May 16, 1977 -  Bowing through downtown business.  Myriads of ants scurrying on the sidewalk.  Myriads of people going to their jobs.  I remember when I was married--a secretary, fine clothes, perfumes, good salary, living for weekends and 5:00 p.m. fighting depression by buying clothes, toys, etc., and always wondering, “Is this it?”

All of us put so much between our true heart and the true substance, the Buddhanature.  Fame, food, wealth, sex, and sleep are the big ones.  From the one comes many--needless afflictions.  Commuters have one kind, Lincoln Heights another, myself another.  None better or worse.  Buddhism cuts across cheap wine and Porsches, babies and the aged, the monk and the monster.  All of us are one, each is all.  There is no room for arrogance or condescension.  Heng Ch’au, your afflictions affect others.  Others’ merit and virtue teaches and transforms you.  Compassion is the truth of no self.  If you are not a Buddha you are not better or worse than any common person.

Bowed through a construction crew--no problems.  Progress and affects:  Business financial district grew up and down.  Grew the trees and grass.  The birds now have to nest on overpasses and on buildings instead of trees.  We bowed past dead baby birds and shells under the overpass, knocked loose from the vibration of the traffic above.  As the construction crew digs and churns the earth, countless little bugs are rooted out of their homes into the freeways to be smashed by cars.  Driving you, you would never notice these little things.

Go in to use the facilities at the World Trade Center.  Futuristic façade, carpeted tennis courts, muzak, polished, manicured, crisp, and assured.  As empty as Lincoln Heights, our fear, and our self.

My eyes keep opening.  I feel light and clean, like I can see and know for miles--cool breeze through my mind.  Passing through L.A…passing through…no more words.  Three Steps, One Bow.  An upasika brought a light lunch, incense from women at a beauty parlor.  Her husband tends a bar at this mirror-glass hotel ahead.  Elevators on the outside.  The latest, the same.


May 17, 1977 -  The time is going fast.  Every bow is priceless, a gift, borrowed time from the Gold Mountain Assembly.  I cannot waste an instant in false thinking.  Every bow is a chance to scrape off part of the mountain of past bad karma, to give away some of the bad deeds, to pulverize the negative vibes that keep the old destructive habits of this planet going around again to destruction.  When my share is reduced I have done a good job of working to aid the world--to actually do the hard scrubwork of making this a better, light, and cleaner place.

Good work that needs doing.  No one else wants to do it.  Who has the time, the interest?  Who sees that it needs to be done?  Few people.  So it proceeds from this.  Who believes that this is possible, that this method actually works to reduce bad vibes, that it really matters?

I think today is going to be heavy.  I’m ready for it.  I have been training for this encounter for years.  As I bow I vow to absorb the bad karma of the area we pass through.  It is a small amount that I take in and purge, but it counts and besides I am not pumping any more hatred out.  The ones I want to influence the most are right here--the bankers, contract signers--are all on this street.  You can’t affect them personally.  You have got to change their spirits, their ghosts, the pool of evil so that when the big evil needs to be stopped it will weigh one drop less and our heroes will have one drop more strength.

Every joint is sore.  Big toes, palms of the hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders, biceps, neck, back, waist, thighs, knees, ankles all speak up when I bow--all complain of the hard work.  Only my mind and my heart are not sore, happy to be free and working in L.A. for what I believe in.  This is freedom.  Step, step, step, bow.  Creak the joints and recite a repentance, breathe, stand and straighten up.  Step, step, step, and down again.  It is like the Gold Mountain Buddhahall, like requesting the Dharma before the Venerable Abbot.  They are not two.  The scenes change like channels on the T.V.  All illusions.  We’re pretending to be serious about changing other holy man.  You’re a big phone,” I think.  “You’re not a holy man.  You’re just lucky no one has called your bluff in public.”  “All I can think of in reply is, “That’s absolutely right.  There is nothing genuine in any of this.”

It’ working through a dream, hard work.  It’s like waiting for the dawn and the awakening.

“Do you believe in this?”

Yes.  I do, because it is good and pure and not harmful.

“Why are you doing this?”

I don’t really know except that it needs to be done right now and no one else is doing it.  I’m doing it for the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.  I couldn’t imagine working just for myself.  When I bow I repent all past bad karma done out of greed, hatred, and stupidity with my body, mouth and mind.  I now repent of it all.

Passing through an area it is also possible to act as a screen, a filter for all the bad karma of a place.  Take it on and purge it through your repentance on behalf of other people.  You are their confessor, their karmic grinder, the voluntary sewer.

Everyone wants freedom to do what he wants, usually tied up with sex, fame, food, wealth, or sleep.  When you get these “freedoms” they don’t satisfy you.  Even the richest men and women can’t buy freedom.  They still fear discomfort, suffering, pain, sickness, old age, death, unhappiness.  As we left-home monks pass through the many class of society in L.A. we witness the various cages and limits to freedom that people chase, capture, cling to, and settle for.

Even the most free, most powerful, wealthy 9-th floor penthouse businessman is not free to control his life in the face of natural or man-made disasters.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, plane crashes, train wrecks, wars, and now missile or death ray attacks can snap the guise of freedom.

So as Bhikshus who have gotten free of every material desire, our job is to eliminate the other un-freedoms and work only in the area where it can help, in the realm of the spirits.  We pray, prostrate our bodies, and leave all creature comforts,

So that everyone can benefit.  Already free, we accept the bonds of misunderstanding, the chains of three steps one bow, three steps one bow, and the burden of ridicule.  This is a small price to pay for the result of no disasters, no catastrophes, and no holocausts.

If we are successful, nothing will happen.  You will notice our success by the lack of disaster.  Our work has a negative counting reward meter.  The Bodhisattva is the freest being.  Heng Ch’au and I could have taken any of the conventional roads to social success but we did not choose them  They do not lead to freedom.

This and all such essays are merely footnotes to the story of Shakyamuni Gautama Siddhartha, the price who abandoned all wealth and glory to seek ultimate freedom which he attained after many years of bitter practice.  Our stories are but pale echoes of his.


May 17, 1977 -  Notes from the business district:  “It’s still the same old story/ the fight for love and glory/ a case of do or die…” I feel like a huge x-ray eye, a ghost from another century or planet.  Floating slowly along the ground, all my senses are hyper-tuned and receptive.  In the market, sex and power are foremost. Each day, especially in the morning, the understanding deepens.  This is all an incredible theatre--props, make-up, effects, curtains; behind it all is the original pure nature.  All of this and all these beings are just the Buddha-the trips, the attachments, are manifest false thinking, just coverings over it.

Here we are closer to home, closer to the lives we were destined and groomed for--business, smarts, etc.  Harder than Lincoln Heights, more threat, more hostility.  It could be your husband or partner bowing.  They see and we see and feel the affinities.  It is much like one’s family reacting to one’s leaving home.  Too close.  The hardest to put down is the closest.  Wilshire Blvd. doesn’t like these two monks at all!

I feel so free and clear, my eyes like cool high Sierra lakes, my heart empty, without fear or hate.  It’s all the same, empty and wonderful.

- Two letters to the Venerable Master Hsuan Hua -


Saturday, May 14

Dear Shih Fu,

            We continue to bow about one and a half miles a day, averaging five hours of bowing and one and a half hours of 20-minute rest periods in between each hour.  We rise at 4:00 for morning recitation and finish by 6:00 PM to wash up and recite evening recitation as always.  They day also includes a t’ai chi ch’uan lesson from Kuo T’ing (Heng Ch’au) in the morning and a short reading and translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra at night before we recite the first lines of the Shurangama Mantra 49 times and then pass out.  We are living in one of the upasaka’s old Falcon van, sleeping out on the streets of L.A. and washing in the park.  Our lunch comes from several Dharma protecting upasikas.  The upasakas and upasikas are watching over us with some care.  They are really working to make our trip go smoothly--getting letters from the police giving us coins for parking meters, etc.  The other morning when it rained we bowed in one of their garages and ate lunch there.  It seemed like a cave in the heavens and then when we descended down into Lincoln Heights, a tough Chicano ghetto, it seemed like we were talking through the hells.  Bhikshus must be the freest men on earth or in any world to be able to know both heaven and hell and not be bound to either realm.

May 18, 8:00 AM

Dear Shih Fu Shang Ren,

We appreciate the wonderful weather that the dragons are sending Los Angeles.  It’s not too hot and not too cold.

We are very tired in body, but very happy in mind.  Every joint, muscle, and limb is speaking its own pain dharma but this will gradually disappear as the work progresses and our bodies adjust.  We fall asleep every night after mantra, totally exhausted but the next morning wakes up at 4:00 feeling energized and ready to work again.  We have increased the bowing time gradually each day:  yesterday was six and three quarters hours.  The problem in the city is trying to find a parking place for our Bodhimanda/Van and then walking back to the bowing site.  It really eats up the rest periods.

Although we are tired, it helps keep us mindful.  It is a small problem and it feels good to be working.

Yesterday we received lunch offerings from the L.A. lay disciples and each time it is a humbling experience.  We have no merit and virtue of our won.  We are simply borrowing the Venerable Abbot’s merit to receive the treatment we get.  Truly if it were not for the faith these lay people have in the Venerable Abbot, this trip would be impossible.  We would have starved already, or been robbed and eaten each night we stop to rest.

By returning the light this way it makes clear the responsibility for us to be left-home people at all times--to learn how to behave correctly with lay people, with other left-home people, with Americans, with all people.  It is time for us to learn how to stand up for Buddhism on our own, to take responsibility for the teaching we have received and to do it correctly.

Proper conduct is hard work, just as hard as bowing and we are happy for the chance to learn it.

Disciples Heng Sure & Heng Ch’au

Bow in Respect

(Continuation of Heng Ch’au’s record on May 17, 1977)

Be very careful of arrogance and feelings of superiority.  Cultivate compassion and humility.  The biggest outflow and downfall is self-glorification, the feeling that, “I, alone, am honored.”  Don’t cash in the chips for the small self.  Aim big and lose the “self.”  Don’t wear a high hat.  Don’t go back to the palace and be an emperor again.  Your twelve incense scars remind you to keep the crown off.

An upasika keeps telling us happily that we are “through the worst part.”  We keep telling her that there is no good or bad part.  It’s all made from the mind.

Comments on Wilshire Blvd. (the good part)

“Hoo!  Hoo!  Hey!  Honk!  Honk!” from passing cards.

A drunk in a well-tailored suit, “Could you tell me how to get to Broadway?”

Monk, “Let me see…”

Drunk, “What are those #$%&* gloves for?”

Monk walks away.

Drunk, “I’m talking to you #$%&*!”

Bankers, “Every three steps!  Every three steps!  You will never get anywhere that way!”

Lady, “Where do you think you are, Mecca?  That’s disgusting in the U.S.”

Heng Sure: 

“That’s the point.  Until it isn’t disgusting, we’ve got problems.”  Lady proceeds to stir up some delivery men at a warehouse dock to clean up the sidewalk of us.  Oh, oh; I see an image of Kuan Yin--visualize the large wooden statue.  The men are getting an audience together to break the boredom.   Just as we approach the truck pulls up for unloading and we are saved.  By the time the unloading is finished we are gone and they are looking for us.  “Which way did you go?”


May 18, 1977 -  The laypeople are too generous, supportive, and kind.  The Dharma protectors, gods, dragons, and eight-fold division have worked on the baddies and we have seen the responses.  The Gold Mountain community is solidly with us; we can feel their presence.  Heng Ch’au makes it possible to forget all kinds of problems, the work of survival is split in half.  But ultimately it is our very own trip--there is no one to rely on, no help to look forward to here or on any other plane.  Buddhas merely show the way.  You must walk the path yourself.

Comments from Wilshire Blvd.:

From car passing north, “Bravo!  Honk!  Honk!”

From car passing south, “Get off the streets, freaks.  Honk!  Honk!”

From passerby through clenched teeth:  “What are you doing?  Why are you moving so slow?  (anger and rage)  If you didn’t go to college you wouldn’t be going so slow!”

“What’s Buddhism all about?  What are you guys doing?”  This from a car window.  “Give me your basic philosophy before the light changes.”


May 18, 1977 -  Another break-in attempt about 4:15 this morning.  Maybe because we overslept and started morning recitation late?  Feeling scattered and doubtful--better after our first hour of bowing.  A little feeling of homesickness for friends, etc.  Sometimes it is very hard to go out on the edge, to give up securities, comforts.  When you have them you are constantly trying to find something beyond.  When cultivating something beyond, you look back and miss them!  Quite foolish, but real.  Doubts are a test like everything else.  Non-retreating can be hard when you don’t know what’s ahead but clearly know what’s behind--is this faith?  We are relying on some inner-strength to keep keepin’ on.

Morning thoughts.  The energy, clarity, and response for bowing is at its peak in the morning.  The last hour for bowing is at its peak in the morning.  The last hour is the very best.  The yin energy is the lowest, the nastiest aren’t out, and nature is undisturbed.  After lunch it changes and by 4-6 it can be pure hell.  Over a period of time, hopefully, I can level these two peaks.

MacArthur Park:  Bad vibes.  Lots of yin, alcohol, defilement.  What we do with our “share”--original light--never stops amazing me.  When people pass, scream out, etc, I change them around somehow and see them enlightened, pure and realized.  They are all really interesting and charming that way.  The slowly the marks start to show and all the retribution distorts and transforms each in proportion to his karma.  I can see how and what happened, the causes and results working like a sculptor on the original block and--presto!--I can see the buildings, the air, the landscape, and countless things fall into this transformation chain reaction.  Everything starts from the mind.  It’s there where the real change must take place; the rest is just waves.

Old people and kids so far have been the most tolerant and relaxed about our trip, less attached, and closer to birth and death.  They seem to be comfortable with change and impermanence, things and life are filled with wonder and the unpredictable.  Also money, fame, and sex are not so almighty for them. The less you hold on to the more you can pick up.  If you are full and tied up, then two monks bowing on “your” sidewalk present a great assault and shock.

Very few understand,  Spiritual life is weak and dying.

Comments and encounters:  Businessman:  “Peace be with you.”

Old man with big white eyebrows and neat eyes (third time I have seen him).  “Buddhist, huh?  How strong are you?”  I missed the point.  Could have said, “As strong as you, and as weak as you.  No difference between you and me.  All is Buddhism--the ten realms.”

“Well, good luck to you.  A whole year, eh?” and eyebrows lift.

Big UAW conventioneer, “You guys sick or somethin’”  Is that what you do?  Too bad.”  Really looking to bust heads.  No response.  He mellows, watches, fades, no hook to catch, no place to steer.

Offerings:  (lunch, two bowls, incense jar, curtains, pads on pants, mangoes, apples…)

“Don’t mix animals with the vegetables.  The animals are poison--blood.  Eat fruit and vegetables and grains.  God said so.  After five months your blood and nerves and marrow will change and you’ll be as soon as me.”--old man on Wilshire.

Two Moslem women appear, “Oh, Buddhists!  We really like your dress!”

Motorcyclist, “Try Jesus?”


May 19, 1977 -  Feel like I’ve taken something on--cramps, lower back pain, eye irritation, diarrhea--can’t think straight.  Hoping the press doesn’t show up.  I am inarticulate and muddy.  I feel like I could not handle an interview.  Case of fire gone up--yin gone down?  Need to sit more to balance new surge of ch’i I feel.  Have been irregular with Ch’an on the trip.  It’s hard to fit everything in.  The vibes in this area of Wilshire are subtle but heavy.  Such pomp and pretense over money, power, prestige--unquestioned and undoubted.  The contrast here is the most pronounced.  All the things we rejected (clothes, hair, appearances, money, sex, display and consumption) are heralded and cultivated.  Stepping out of our rusty beat-up van between a Cadillac and a Rolls Royce with two manicured poodles starting blankly at us…

One upasika keeps insisting that we are in the best neighborhood now.  “All nice beautiful buildings like this the rest of the way.”  Heng Sure and I see it differently.

There is an anesthesia here, dulling and veering people’s eyes and hearts.  We are like smelling salts and the treated respond to us like iodine to an open cut.  The twelve conditioned links and the four truths are all hidden, carefully kept out.  Only young handsome secretaries and men are hired.  Sensual delights everywhere.  No old people, no poor people, no dead animals or even dying trees.  Lots of green, artificial grass.  No edge, no challenge.  Sit back, relax and enjoy.  Who’s steering the ship and where are we going?

“We are riding ona railroad singing someone else’s song.”  Come along. “You’re lucky it’s like this--nice and easy--all the way to Santa Monica.”  Oh, no!  Easy street U.S.A.

All these beautiful, well-dressed people--and a crazy lady with hair like a mop and fraying tennis shoes, in an old man’s coat over a T-shirt, a faded pale green skirt—a body like a defensive tackle, walks up, gives us 14 cents saying, “God bless you, you holy men.”

A couple of days ago Heng Sure and I were “talking overtime” in the van.  Got a parking ticket.  Good lesson.  Today, sitting in the van, I suddenly got a flash to check the meter.  I ran out to see the meter maid twenty yards away and closing in fast.  Just in time!


May 20, 1977 -  Yesterday shao-lin was really powerful. I felt a surge of ch’i and power like never before.

When your mind is moved by states, the precepts keep a perimeter around you.  This is the palace, the Imperial Court of America.  Emperors of old never had palaces like the multi-national corp. plazas, fountains, closed circuit T.V., security fences, entertainment…Man on bicycle stops and watches us carefully.  He is not disapproving--open.  As we get closer he places his palms together in prayer as we pass.  Then he rides off into the smog.

Bowing states:  What a wonderful, honest, and free thing to be--a monk!  Passing through the smog my nose gets clogged and I can’t smell too well.  The constant drone of traffic smothers other sounds; the sidewalk is one homogeneous spread:

What happens when the wind stops?
In the center movement, stillness.
In the center of sights, blindness.
In the center of sound, deafness.
Enclosed in scents, flat.

Skin and sidewalk blend without distinction.  From cold ashes the fire is kindled and the light warms and illumines all directions.  Which is moving, the flag or the wind?  What happens then when they both stop?

When I am bowing low to the ground, completely vulnerable, I feel totally safe and ok.  With all my martial arts training and experience, bowing s number one kung fu.  When prostrated, everything is ok. Sock me, stab me, spit or swear--it’s all the same.  No problem. I must be crazy, but it’s then that I feel safe and contented from my guts out.  They don’t teach that in martial arts yet.

Fiery, hostile people harass us.  “What the hell you doin’?”  “I saw you peek at me!”  “Go do that in a church.”  “Stop disgracing people!”  “You’re going to be arrested.”  More anger.  “What are you doing?  Stop it!”  Screaming, wailing, mad laughing.  All those years working in mental hospitals takes some of the edge off these jabs.  When it gets real thick I imagine us in fire.  Pretty hard to start a lake on fire.  They throw matches into the fire.

We’ve noticed that when situations start getting sticky, either a bus arrives and takes a crowd away or at least eight or nine times fire trucks have come roaring by, diverting the storm. Most interesting is a wonderfully refreshing cool breeze from the West that seems to sedate and mellows us and our antagonists.  Through all of this we keep bowing and getting stronger and trying harder to plug our leaks and laugh at ourselves.

Prairie Dog Town

In the Badlands there are prairie dog towns.  They are hug communities of tunneled boroughs where hundred of prairie dogs live.  As you approach, the sentry stands on his hind legs and squeaks an alarm.  Everybody then pops up to check the scene at a safe distance.  The, like disappearing dominoes, they drop out of sight as you walk through.  Once past, they pop up again and watch you leave.  People gather in huge, clucking assemblies ahead of us.  As we get closer, they scatter into the store, houses, and behind curtains to peek out.  When they pass they swarm back to talk, stare laugh and wonder. Always they stare and always they wonder, just as predictably as we bow.

Question:  “What are you bowing to?”

Answer:  “To everything, everybody.”

Question: “To Allah?”

Answer:  “No, to you.”

(afterthought:  Yea, to Allah too.  It’s all the same.  Everywhere in everyone is the Buddhanature.)

When we started bowing, it’s hard to explain but we are enclosed in a magic circle.  Everything stops and nothing bothers or disturbs.  The circle is open to sincere questions and honest comers but closes out troublemakers and the clowns.  Really inconceivable.  While bowing I saw Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and for some reason tears welled up.  Why?

We decided to all bow to Shih Fu when laypeople want to bow to us.  At this carpeted ultra-modern bank building with outside elevators there was a circle of people and two monks bobbing up and down and mumbling.  A man got off the elevator and froze in disbelief and shock.  “This is the 20th century America!  Is nothing sacred--not even banks?”

Heng Sure is learning to use a straightedge.  Less wasteful of metal (blades) and less danger to the men who mine the ore eventually.  Not necessarily less danger to Heng Sure.


May 21, 1977 -  The newspaper announces “Arms Sales Reduction”  “Carter to Limit Weapon Sales.”  Not that we claim direct credit for this event, but here are the facts:  (1) the bowing trip is dedicated to an ending of disasters, catastrophes, and calamities (including nuclear holocausts).  We are out to influence people to stop making and selling destructive weapons.  We want people to end their karma of hatred and fighting.

(2) When the trip was well underway through L.A., Jimmy Carter also showed up in town.  He was here for three days while we bowed.

(3) There are some powerful spiritual beings on our side.  We have witnessed their responses to our work.

(4) The Venerable Abbot has told his disciples that the heavenly dragons and others of the 8-fold division of ghosts and spirits and Dharma protectors are all out protecting us and furthering our mutual aims.

So is Carter’s response merely a coincidence?  Or have we already achieved one of our major aims of the trip?

Our instructions on the phone yesterday from Gold Mountain:  Don’t get angry, no matter what.  If people scold you, swear at you, or hit you, don’t be moved.  Don’t get angry.  Don’t be happy, don’t be sad and most important, don’t get angry.  This feature about Buddhists, that they don’t get angry will have a great deal of significance in the future of Buddhism in this country.

Also, do not false-think!  Do not have false thoughts!  Do not strike up the tiniest idle thought.  If you do a good job and don’t talk, then you can have a response and get some accomplishment.  If you don’t have to talk, don’t.

What the sage said was do not relax your vigil on your mind.  Do not let it think.  What a non-thought that is!  Stop all movement of dharmas.  Plug up all the doors!  Don’t let it out.  Wipe the mind clean.

Why is the teaching on anger so important?  Because life after life we have killed to eat and been killed to eat until the aggression and resentment have grown into a world-wide war which pits us against ourselves.  Therefore, patience, patience, gotta have patience, don’t get angry, swo pwo he is the #1 mantra of our age.  Reduce the fire.

Can I apply this to meditation?  Can I relax this totally and still be awake?  Is sleeping during meditation a function of tension?

Heng Ch’au and I have decided that we don’t have what it takes to receive bows from laypersons, so when they come to visit, if they wish to bow, we say “bow to Shih Fu” or “bow to the Venerable Abbot” and we face away from them and all bow 3 times.  This resolves the situation and we get to bow three bows to the Master.


May 21, 1977 -  Camped by small park in a well-to-do black exclusive neighborhood.  Huge stately houses.

Dreamed of Kuo Chou last night.  He was very excited, a glowing bright-eyed boy joining us on Three Steps, One Bow.  But just as we were ready to go Kuo Tsai showed up with another woman.  She and Dave had many agreements and commitments that Dave had forgotten about.  In any event, he suddenly became bent, wrinkled, and lost his spark.  I’ve had two or three dreams about Kuo Chou like this.  Some affinities there…

“Children remembered, but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew.”

e.e. cummings

I wonder how many people here in this neighborhood, in L.A., in most of urban America, remember--remember how family with uncles, aunts, grandparents nearby and close; to grow some or all of your food; to can, eat together, say goodnight and wake up to the same reality every day.  Who remembers?  The divorce rate in California is higher than the marriage rate.  Child abuse and neglect is off the wall and the walls are covered with graffiti and vandalized by kids who can’t articulate their sufferings.  The family is key and Heng Sure and I are every day being bombarded with the results of a people who traded their keys for self and a few dollars.

Basically kids gravitate to the truth.   The street gangs, early sexual clinging, clutching relationships, drugs, child prostitution, alcohol owes its rise in no small part to the failure of the family to do its job--to tend the sprouts--to meet the basic needs.

So now Buddhism is seen as “Disgraceful, disgusting in America.”  Right!  This is a time when the false has become true and the true is seen as false.  My own family, roots, and the small family farm in the Midwest keep me going at times like these, and Buddhism, true cultivation of Buddhism is just the fruit of those roots.  I hope I don’t ever forget that.

P.S.  More people would feel free to leave home, if the family gave them what they needed.  They wouldn’t have to attach to husbands, wives, kids, jobs, clubs, etc. to fill the holes.

The fire in my body is under better control since sitting Ch’an again.  We try to sit two hours a day.  T’ai chi and standing meditation have improved too.  They are more powerful--like a waterfall--than I’ve ever experienced.  It must have something to do with bowing and leaving home; nothing else has changed much.

Heng Sure is doing t’ai chi every morning even though it’s really hard, especially at the beginning of the day when it’s cold and dark outside.  We are getting along--no fighting, no anger.  That makes tight quarters and tight situations a lot easier.  It also does not leave a hole for our energy to run out.

Our concentration is getting sharper and stronger.  I can’t explain it too well in words, but just in that concentration, just by focused mindful action, incredible clarity, ease, balance, and “seeing” are coming forth.  What a wonderful chance:  bitter practices, Gold Mountain, Three Steps, One Bow.  I have so much to repay.

Sat. a. m.. The streets are deserted, just smog lingering from last night. People always look so yin and wasted on weekend mornings. What is it about "having fun' "goin'out and doing something" that leaves people so flat and vacant after?

Line from song by Incredible String Band:

"I used to follow happiness I used to follow pleasure But I found a door behind my mind And that's the greater treasure."

Bowing and moving this a.m. I can't remember feeling so peaceful. My feet barely touched the ground. I don't weigh any less but my mind feels a lot lighter.

Heng Sure looks so natural and at home bowing down this cement fjord of banks and corporations••a tiny speck in a flowing robe••somehow he stands out, doesn't get buried or submerged like everything else. This is the Triple Jewel in America••not Hong Sure and me but the Sangha according and not moving, not moving and according with conditions. Ancient, modern, dated and now, it doesn't matter as long as the source is cultivated, penetrated, kept alive through practice. Then the true and orthodox will be healthy. So even though people look askance, in the long run, all people seek the truth.

They won't be tricked or sold short. It's only a question of time, sincerity, and true practice, This is where the Moonies and Krishna's miss the boat. Their practice doesn't penetrate through to their own true nature, the source, so they underestimate and compassionlessly try to "convert" others. "No one saves us but ourselves; Buddhas only show the way." How is it the Way if you don't walk it?

Ordinary people don't know to look within. But having looked long and hard outside without finding what they ultimately seek, some are, even if reluctantly or defiantly, beginning to return the light. One can only "go West" so long. Eventually there is nowhere left to go. This is no clearer than here in L.A. We'll all get to the heart of this sick body together, eventually. So it's important to keep the proper Dharma, the medicine•antidote, safe and available. The way to make it safe is by turning the light around••by cleaning up our own act. We must renounce the "self" through hard work and patience. All these people are watching••watching with fear and a little hope.

I just don't have my rap down. I can't seem to make people wonder and understand what the Sino•American Buddhist Association is all about. There's a right time and place to say the right thing. Mostly I discover it after the people have gone. This a .m. a carful of sincere questions from a family. They wanted to know about Hong Sure's and my personal background. That's not the point, but it's hard to talk to a larger issue without seeming to pitch and expound. That's because of no wisdom. Anyway, after I walked away and started bowing I realized the handout release would have been just the thing. So swallowing some doubts about proselytizing I ran back and slipped them one.

God bless the grass that grows in the cracks.
They roll the concrete over it and try to keep it back
But the concrete gets tired of what it has to do
It breaks and it buckles and the grass grows through
God bless the grass.

•Pete Seeger

Who looks best on a Saturday morning? The kids and the grass. "how can you pick up what's true if you don't put down what's false?" If you didn't mess with anything in L.A. (just leave everything be, still) in a short time the grass and natural environment would reclaim break through the cement and smog. So too with myself and the cement I put around my true nature.

Offerings: pen filler, lunch, three log books.

Group karma and upside•downness:  In L.A. people are starting to buy drinking water••the tap eater isn't palatable.  "Only five or ten cents a gallon..." says one upasika.

"We saw it at the supermarket for ten cents a half gallon." says a monk.

"Oh'. It's going up. Better go out and stock up. Next month gas will be $1.00 a gallon." In L.A. gas is as important as blood. It's going to be a hot, angry summer in L.A. for people who can't afford gas or water. "Pretty soon you'll have to buy air." Ha, ha, weak laughter. How far can you drive down the wrong road before you admit you're lost? California, here we come... "The answer my friend, is blowing in the ‘within.’"

Buy a new hard now and Jim White Ford
will throw in free••get this••a free
20-gallon tank of Rocky Mt. Springtime
Air Oxygen and a month's supply of
Bottoms Up pure spring water. Is that a deal, or not?

In a thousand ways in everything we see••within and without••the Dharma speaks. "I guess I won't be able to shower everyday anymore," adds the upasika. Connection! Cause and effect.

Saturday PM. Hot, real hot. Bowing on black cement is like bowing in a frying pan. For all the ants I burned with a magnifying glass as a kid…

On weekends when the streets are empty, it becomes quite unreal out there. We could be bowing through the Arabian Desert for all I know. Two laypeople rode the bus out to find us and give us some apples, honey, and crackers. They were so alive and refreshing. We had just finished a particularly hot stretch.

More and more the journey goes within. We get less and less moved••bothered by horns, hoots and conditions. Actually it feels cool, even though it's scorching.

A strange zombie character appeared from somewhere and pressed close to drone, "What can you tell me about religion?" All I could tell him was my little rap about Three Steps, One Bow. After I thought about it I realized I could have said, "I can't tell you anything but I know someone who could answer every question and tell you anything you want to know."


"You. Cultivate morality and concentration and you will find your answers." Simple. Always too late, Kuo T'ing (Heng Ch'au).

Question: "What are you doing?"

Answer: "Who is doing the asking? Answer that and you'll know what we're doing."

Removing false thoughts and afflictions, enter the Avatamsaka sea.

The pure source Boundless, beyond words
Limitless, without measure
No you or me--only thus.

Watch your holes
Plug the leaks
Let it swell
Wave and water
Disturbed and pure
Afflicted and awake
A single thought.

Almost every pay phone and toilet in L.A. so far has the sign "Out of Order." So true. Upside down. No order, no harmony. Soon The airports and roads to L.A. will be blocked with signs reading "Out of Order." 90% of America's T.V. and movies are made here••"Out of Order." "Out of Order." "When the universe of a billion worlds is contemplated in stillness, one sees that bad karma has welled up and filled it all." ••Master Hua. "Out of Order."

Excerpts - "Three Steps, One Bow" journals
With One Heart, Bowing to the City of 10,000 Buddhas
Records of Heng Sure & Heng Ch’au Bowing

Part - #1,  #2,  #3

" Three Steps, One Bow" --  Photo Album

American Pilgrimage - Three Steps, One Bow for Peace
352 Pages - Text & Photos - (1.6 MB) - Free Download

- Rev. Heng Sure -

News From True Cultivators - (eBook / Free Download) — Heng Sure & Heng Ch'au.

The letters of Heng Sure and Heng Ch'au... Three steps and a bow. That's how they walked it. Two monks on a pilgrimage of peace that took them through a series of wide-ranging encounters and extraordinary experiences -- within and without. These letters and photos are a record of their amazing journey.

Two American Buddhist monks on a journey of a lifetime, from downtown Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talamage, California. A journey of more than 800 miles that took two years and nine months to complete. They bowed in peace, and for peace. Touching their foreheads to the ground, opening their hearts with one wish for the world. Peace. For everyone, everyday, everywhere.

News From True Cultivators
- (Hard Cover Book) - Second Edition


$13.95 - Hard Cover - ISBN 0881394254

To Order ->  http://www.bttsonline.org/product.aspx?pid=144

Letters from Bhikshus Heng Sure and Heng Chau to Venerable Master Hua written while on their bowing pilgrimage in 1977. During the 2-1/2 years pilgrimage, the monks traveled from Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Talmage California, bowing once every three steps.