Ballad of the Dharma Doctor

by Rev. Heng Sure -


Before I became a Buddhist monk I considered a career in medicine. I tried pre-Med at UC Berkeley and found the courses too demanding for a science and math-phobe like myself. I volunteered at the emergency room at Highland Hospital and found hands-on healing more to my taste. I asked Ven. Master Hua about becoming a doctor. He indicated that I had been a doctor for many lifetimes past and that this time, I might try advancing beyong fixing the body and try to heal the soul, the mind, instead, beginning with my own. "Even the best doctor has to lie down and die whent the time comes," he said. "Don't you think that birth and death, mortality, is the real disease worth curing?" he asked me.

That question lead to the writing of this song that I finally wrote down during the Three Steps, One Bow pilgrimage for world peace.

Ballad of the Dharma Doctor
by Rev. Heng Sure

I thought I would a doctor be foremost in all the land,
I would eradicate disease with skillful healing hands.
I saw a lot of suffering and began to wonder why
We worry so about our health when in the end we die?

I asked the question high and I asked the question low
Where do we really come from? At death where do we go?
A man said, "Buddha answered that 3000 years ago,
Go ask the Dharma Doctor for what you want to know."

I found the monastery and a monk with merry eyes
"What is sickness?" I asked him, "Why do people die?"
"Everything's impermanent," he said, "I think that you will find,
That birth and death's the big disease. It all comes from the mind."

"It's evil thoughts that hurt," he said, "It's what we say and do."
It's called the Karmic Law. What you send out comes back to you.
As is the seed, so is the fruit; like cause so is effect.
So when you break the rules you hang a rope around your neck."

If you kill and steal and lust, if you drink and lie,
You'll get reborn again until your karma's purified.
Even though the body dies, your suffering's not done.
Until the karmic debt is paid you'll get another one.

Even though the spirit leaves this fragile bag of skin
Until we purge the poisons three we get reborn again
How can we stop our evil ways and do what's good instead?
Just put an end to the poisons three, the Dharma Master said.

The poisons three are greed and anger and stupidity
Greed for wealth and sex and fame and food and sleep, said he,
With Five Desires unsatisfied our angry thoughts appear.
And stupidly we break the rules; all sickness begins here."

Living beings are upside down, our habits hard to break.
The Doctor gives us medicine which we forget to take.
The Buddha tells us many times we walk a risky road
We nod and say we understand, but that's the way we go.

The Buddha left three medicines for living beings to take
Precepts heal the mind of greed, Samadhi conquers hate,
Wisdom is the perfect herb to cure stupidity
That's the Dharma Doctor's way to end the poisons three.

Precepts are the rules we keep to guard our energy
Samadhi means to concentrate. Wisdom sets us free.
So keep the rules and concentrate, wisdom manifests.
When your karma's purified, you've ended birth and death.

Buddha Dharma is a tonic, remedy superb.
It's like a panacea, a cure-all healing herb.
It brings us wisdom and compassion for all living things
That's the state of perfect health the Buddha Dharma brings.

The Buddha is the healing king with cures for all our ills.
But he doesn't sell us potions and he doesn't send us bills
His medicine is Dharma, it's not on the drugstore shelf.
The Dharma Doctor shows us how and then says, "Heal yourself."

Well since that day I met the monk my whole new life began.
I used to want to heal the body, now I've changed my plan.
I'm going to cultivate the Way and leave desire behind.
I'm going to cure the poisons three inside my own mind.

Rev.HengSure2004 - All rights reserved.

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American Pilgrimage - Three Steps, One Bow for Peace
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News From True Cultivators — 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.