Two American Buddhist monks, Heng Sure and Heng Ch’au, undertook a pilgrimage in 1977 with vows to bow to the ground in full prostration every three steps. Beginning at Gold Wheel Temple, the Los Angeles branch of the Sino-American Buddhist Association, the two monks traversed eight hundred miles over a two-and-a-half-year period before arriving at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, California. The following is excerpted from With One Heart Bowing to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, a record of their travels, published by the Sino-American Buddhist Association.


Bowing every three steps, it took Heng Sure (right) and Heng Ch'au two and a half years to complete their pilgrimage from Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, California. Courtesy Sino-American Buddhist Association.
Bowing every three steps, it took Heng Sure (right) and Heng Ch’au two and a half years to complete their pilgrimage from Los Angeles to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in Ukiah, California. Courtesy Sino-American Buddhist Association.

Heng Sure: “How can I get rid of my arrogance?” someone asked the Master at Gold Mountain.

“Bow. Bow all the time to anything and everybody you see. Can you do that?”

Bow not for something—to get something for yourself. Bow to empty yourself, to repent and clean out your mind. With no thought of self, all benefit. With a thought of self, all suffer. Bow to the Buddha-nature in all beings, sentient and insentient. With no self the Buddha appears. Can you do that? Heng Ch’au?

When you bow slowly through these big hills and vast landscape you see that all of it is made up of tiny little particles—dust motes, atoms. Everything either can be broken down to empty space or from empty space built up into an ocean, a person, or a mountain.

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