Torch of Certainty

Dr. Juan Bulnes

I met Yogi Chen in 1974 and our friendship grew by and by. It is not easy to say exactly when I committed myself to being Buddhist and declaring so: it happened by and by. I often drove with him to the Pujas. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to help my revered friend (Yogi Chen) with a university computer in a project. I published a paper as a result. He helped me to get unstuck in the quagmire of writing a Ph.D. thesis -- I don't believe I would have made it without his help. In 1977 I took his advice to put a Buddha image over my bed and to pray to it daily. A couple of years later I took his advice to take refuge from H.H. the 16th Karmapa. Each of these steps deepened my experience of the benefits of Buddhism.

President Reagan used to say that he began to live when he married Nancy. I can say that I began to live when I began following Buddhism!! It unlocked the floodgates of life! Before, my life had been a sorry case of stanched water that does not flow anywhere; one is just trying to protect the misery and does not know anything else, like the frog at the bottom of the pond who thinks that is the ocean. From the moment I started praying to Buddha, it started flowing more and more -- very rapidly -- to a very surprising extent.

At about that time, perhaps around 1979-1981, I cannot be sure, Yogi Chen told me something very important. He told me about his own experience: how, from the moment he became Buddhist and started following his guru, every important event in his life was inspired by Buddha. The teaching was clear: when we sincerely tread this path, there are no accidental events any more! He told me to have faith that whatever difficulties I encountered -- no matter how awful they seemed -- were in fact not troubles but a divine plan of Buddha. He explicitly told me so! Without that certainty, I don't know how I would have been able to bear the troubles that I soon encountered. But with this certainty, they were not troubles; I was just following a plan towards a better future. Sometimes I had to wait long for resolution of very undesirable situations: to wait many months, even years in some cases. And the final results were always most unexpected, surprising, and in the end much better than what I could have wished for myself. So in retrospect I had it very easy!! Everything was resolved for me by the Dharma protectors!!

August 28, 2003
Mountain View, California

Dr. Yutang Lin's comment:

Juan told me the above reflection many times in the past. Recently, due to worldwide economic downturn, many Buddhist friends are experiencing hardships. So I asked him to write down his experience of following the Buddhist path for over twenty years, in order to share it with other Buddhists and thereby help them to cultivate their faith and overcome the hard times.

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