GC: Life was pretty wild when I met him [chuckles]. He grounded me.
TT: Excuse me. She asked you how after you met me you change your habits!
GC: I became legal: I got my drivers license, I paid my taxes.
TT: More! More please! You pay your family debt, your friend debt, you neighbor debt. Now only keep one wife, no more keep girlfriend. No more eat bad food. Now almost vegetable!
GC: Yeah, well, there you go [laughs]. I cop to it in the book.
What did you each hope to get across with "Bones of the Master"?
TT: So special book. Georgie do very good job, put lots of energy into this book. If you read it, you begin to understand Chinese mind, Chinese culture. And then you understand Buddha mind. Chinese mind is very close to Buddhist mind.
GC: More than anything, I wanted people to get to know Tsung Tsai. Second, Iwanted to portray his kind of Ch'an, a very pure Buddhist expression. It's generous, it's earthy, its undoctrinaire. And I wanted to show our relationship, which is not strictly teacher/student-though it is that-but it's also a friendship. This is a buddy book, and I think that perspective opens up a different way of looking at a Zen master.
Rev. Tsung Tsai, do you see a future for monasticism in the West?
TT: This country need big change. Monk, no monk, doesn't matter. People need to learn compassion, first for self, then neighbor, then country. Someday, when American people know more about Buddha, maybe many become monk. Many girl become bhikshuni. Because Buddhism so kindness! So freedom! So special! Never cheat a person. Never say a wrong. Always say the truth. It's just natural. When people see how good it is, people just want to do it. Everyone needs Buddha mind.
And now you're planning another trip back to Mongolia together?
GC: Yes, Tsung Tsai wants to drop down to his teacher's cave, which is perched on top of a very treacherous mountain, in a helicopter. The military would never approve it. But we'll see.
Do you think it can be done? TT: No think. Monk is action. Buddha can do everything. It will be so special!