Here is an article I read in The Star today. It’s a short story about Ven Heng Sure. Here is a brief insight into an interview with him. Before we start, just a little about him.
Borned Christopher R. Clowey in 1949, in Teledo, Ohio, he took the name of Ven Heng Sure in 1976. He attended the University of California in Berkeley in the 60s and attained Masters in Oriental Languages. Later, he attained a PhD in Graduate Thelogical Union in Berkeley. He’s 58 now and has been in robes for 30 years.
Back in 1977, a young monk in his full robes of 7-piece sash and the Avatamsaka Sutra tied to his back, took 3 steps and then made a full prostration by the roadside. He got up and repeated the procedure – “san bu, yi bai” meaning “3 steps, 1 bow” – Throughout the day, every day, for 2 years and 9 months!!
That was the bowing pilgrimage undertaken by Venerable Heng Sure from May 1977 till the end of 1979. He covered some 1,280 km of the California Costal Highway from Pasadena to Utah. At the same time, he took a vow of silence for 6 year.
Rain or shine, snow or hail, this young man remained steadfast to his religious practice despite being viewed as weird by the American public at the time.
The following are some of his answers in a recent email interview.
“Why the vow of silence during the bowing pilgrimage?”
The bowing pilgrimage helped me to begin to see through the illusion of self-importance; the silence vow taught me that my inner wiring was crooked. I couldn’t tell the truth from a lie because my motive for speech was so often a wish to make others like me. If a joke or an exaggeration could get laugh then I would twist or embellish the truth without a care. When one person prevents one arrogant thought and one crooked word from entering the mainstream social interchange, then that’s a wholesome deed. Our minds touch each other; when my mind is free of anger and cynicism, I’ve benefited the world.
“After 30 years in robes, what is the most gratifying things you’ve gained?”
A growing awareness that my thoughts matter a great deal to the well-being of the planet and our larger human and non-human family. If i can refuse to get depressed or frightened by what people do, if I can resolutely bring my chaotic thoughts back to stillness, and wonder at the marvel of the infinite conditions swirling around me, and if I can vow to never harm a soul with thought, word, or deed, then my feet are on the path to awakening.
For more wisdom, visit Ven Heng Sure’s blog by clicking HERE.