TALKS DELIVERED BY THE
VENERABLE MASTER HSUAN HUA
DURING A SEVEN-DAY KUAN YIN
by Bhiksuni Heng Yin
by Upasika Kuo Chwan Baur
#1: June 14, 1970
TO THE GREATLY COMPASSIONATE KUAN SHIH YIN"
is Sunday and this evening we will purify the boundaries. Tomorrow we will begin
the Kuan Yin Recitation Session.
all the Bodhisattvas, Kuan Shih Yin has the most compassionate heart and so we
say "Namo to the Greatly Compassionate Bodhisattva Kuan Shih Yin."
Namo is a Sanskrit word. Translated it means "to return the life and submit
respectfully." To return your life means to offer up your heart, mind,
body, and nature to Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva. To submit respectfully is to bow
reverently to the ground to Kuan Yin.
Compassion is great kindness and great sympathy. It is great kindness towards
those for whom you don't have an affinity, and great sympathy for those with
whom you are of the same substance. You might also say there is an affinity even
with those who have no affinity because there is not a single living being who
does not have an affinity with Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva. Even those who have no
affinity are recognized by Kuan Shih Yin as having an affinity. Most people say,
"I can be compassionate towards the people I am close to." This is not
the compassion of Kuan Shih Yin.
the Dharma Talks which have appeared in past issues of Vajra Bodhi Sea have
recently been published in their entirety (BTTS, August, 1974, available through
the Sino-American Buddhist Association) in a book called Pure Land and Ch'an
Dharma Talks, this series has been discontinued. It has been replaced by
lectures given by the Venerable Master Hua during an intensive recitation
session in June 1970. This series of instructional talks begins with this
great compassion towards those of the same substance means that Kuan Shih Yin
Bodhisattva is united with all living beings; there is no discrimination between
this and that, no you and no me.
word "compassion" includes the two concepts "kindness" and
"sympathy." What is kindness? Kindness bestows happiness on others.
This is not to say, "You should invite me to lunch so I can get full and
bliss out." That's not it at
all. True kindness means that even if you have to give your own lunch away and
go hungry, you do it just to make someone else happy. Great kindness differs
from the limited kindness of ordinary people. Kuan Shih Yin has no limits, no
is having, pity on all people under heaven. The Compassionate Lord, Kuan Yin,
pities all people and relieves their suffering. That which can get rid of all
the suffering of living beings is great sympathy. So, in general, the two words
"kindness", and "sympathy" combine to make up the word
the name Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva, "Kuan" means "to
contemplate." It refers to a
kind of wisdom, which enables one to contemplate. Most people can contemplate,
but they don't have wisdom. Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva has contemplative Prajna
second word of the Bodhisattva's name, "Shih" means "world."
Kuan Yin Bodhisattva contemplates all the sounds of the world. What sounds? All
the sounds made by living beings'-sounds of suffering, sounds of joy, sounds of
right, sounds of wrong, good sounds, bad sounds, happy sounds, and sad sounds.
Kuan Shih Yin follows the sounds, seeking out the living beings who make them,
in order to rescue them from their suffering. If you are undergoing suffering,
Kuan Yin Bodhisattva will contemplate the causes and conditions and say,
"Why is that person suffering? It's because in the past he did not do good
deeds. The retribution he must suffer has not yet ended, so I'll have to wait a
bit." Then, after a while, when the suffering is just about to come to an
end, if there's not a lot left over, Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva will bring it to
an end and pull that living being out of the sea of suffering.
are beings happy? It is because in the distant past they cultivated good roots,
cultivated many blessings. So Kuan Shih Yin thinks, "I should go and cross
him over and then he'll be even happier. He will bring forth the resolve for
Bodhi and eventually realize proper enlightenment."
Shih Yin is a Bodhisattva; "Bodhi" means "enlightenment,"
and "sattva" means a living being." A Bodhisattva is an
enlightened living being; a Bodhisattva is also one who enlightens living
beings. If you are able to enlighten yourself then you will be able to enlighten
living beings, Bodhisattvas are enlightened. Basically, they are living beings,
just like you and me, but they've chosen to cultivate the four infinite hearts:
kindness, sympathy, joy, and giving, and as a result they have become
Bodhisattvas. If you and I and all living beings cultivate kindness, sympathy,
joy, and giving, and if we practice the six perfections and the ten thousand
conducts of a Bodhisattva, we, too, can become Bodhisattvas, and we will be the
same as Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. Why haven't we become Bodhisattvas? Simply because
we do not cultivate. Today we cultivate, but tomorrow we don't. The day after we
want to cultivate again, but the following day, after lunch, we begin to
retreat. We go forward a bit, then back a bit, forward a bit, then back a bit,
back and forth, and we don't become Bodhisattvas.
Shih Yin Bodhisattva is Amitabha Buddha's foremost disciple. If you recite Kuan
Shih Yin Bodhisattva's name, the merit and virtue derived from the recitation is
the same as if you had recited Amitabha Buddha's name. If you recite Amitabha Buddha's name you will be born in the Land of
Ultimate Bliss; the same is true if you recite the name of Kuan Shih Yin
Bodhisattva. Reciting Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva's name for seven days is the
same as reciting Amitabha Buddha's name for seven days.
now begin a Kuan Yin Bodhisattva recitation session and will recite the
Bodhisattva's name for seven days. In the Amitabha Sutra, it says, "If a
good man or good woman hears spoken 'Amitabha' and holds the name, whether for
one day, two days, three days, four days, five days, six days, as long as seven
days, with one unconfused heart, when that person approaches the end of life,
before him will appear Amitabha and all the assembly of Holy Ones. When the end comes, his heart is without inversion; in Amitabha's land of
Ultimate Bliss he will attain rebirth." Reciting the name of Amitabha
Buddha for seven days is the same as reciting the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva
for seven days and both lead to rebirth in the Land of Ultimate Bliss.
one of the people attending the summer session asked me a question. I replied,
"Don't ask me. I'm not paying any attention to such matters. The Americans
here can speak English and they know what's going on. I have given my authority to them, just like Amitabha Buddha gives his
authority to Kuan Yin Bodhisattva." The summer session combines study and
cultivation. If you cultivate but do not study, you are practicing blindly and
you will never manage to cut off the "affliction obstacle." If you
study but do not cultivate, you will never cut of the "obstacle of what is
known." If you can't cut off
the "affliction obstacle," you still have a self, and if you can't cut
off the "obstacle of what is known," you still have dharmas. If you have dharmas, then you have the dharma-attachment; if you have a
self, you have the self-attachment and you have not realized that basically self
and dharmas are empty. Therefore, you must combine study and practice. The
understanding derived from study aids us in our practice and the practice aids
us in our study. They harmonize. You shouldn't cultivate your whole life away
and then find that when someone asks you how to explain a sentence of Dharma,
you don't know what to say: On the other hand, you shouldn't simply study and
listen to a lot of lectures on the Sutras and then find that, when someone asks
you how to cultivate, you're speechless:
Kuan Yin Recitation Session will last for seven days. The Amitabha Sutra
"...whether for one day, two days..." but we will change it slightly.
The Chinese word for "whether" looks like this:We are going to move
the middle line
a bit to the left so that it turns into the word
"suffering" which looks like this:So the text now reads,
"...suffering for one day, suffering for two days..."
you don't suffer for seven days, you'll never be free from suffering. If you
suffer through these seven days, you'll be able to end it. If you're afraid of suffering, you should say so right now. If you aren't
afraid, then don't be lazy for even a second. Those who don't want to suffer for
seven days can back out and be happy for seven days. But if you are happy for
seven days, in the future, you won't be happy. On the other hand, if you suffer
for seven days now, later you'll be happy. Whether you want to be happy for
seven days now and then be sad, or suffer for seven days now and then be happy,
is all up to you. I won't offer my opinion because we talk about true freedom
going to suffer for seven days reciting the name of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva.
You may wonder, "What is the advantage of all this suffering?"
answer, suffering itself is an advantage. If before you couldn't stand to
suffer, but you learn to endure suffering, that, in itself, is an advantage.
Some people say that when the suffering ends, the advantage is obtained, but I
don't agree. I say that suffering is itself an advantage. If you're able to be
patient and bear weariness and suffering, you'll find it is a great help in your
cultivation of the Way. When the weariness is over, the sweetness comes. During
these seven days, perhaps you'll be enlightened. I shouldn't tell you this
because if I do, on the one hand you will be reciting and on the other hand
you'll be greedy. If you are greedy, you won't be sincere in your recitation and
you won't become enlightened. So I'm not going to talk about how many good
points may be obtained. You should find them yourself. I don't want to say too
much because I don't want you to get greedy.
general, cultivate according to the Dharma and you will obtain a response. When
you're done reciting, Kuan Yin Bodhisattva will always protect you and say,
"This American isn't bad at all. He recited my name for seven days and so I
will protect him because I protect the Proper Dharma."
telling you just a little bit. If I spoke in detail, I'd never finish. I
wouldn't want you to get arrogant, either, and think, "I've recited for
seven days and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva will certainly protect me. I'm not afraid of
anything. I'm really fine." If you indulge in that kind of pride, a demon
will come to hassle you and Kuan Yin Bodhisattva won't do anything but say,
"He's really worthless. Look how arrogant he is."
who cultivate must not be arrogant or self-satisfied. So it is said, "You
can go ahead and eat too much. It's not important. But if you talk too much,
you're in for trouble." If you eat too much, at the very most you'll be
uncomfortable and have to make arrangements to move the food. But if you talk
too big, say you brag that you can lift five hundred pounds, you'll go to lift
it, strain something, and spit blood. What I'm getting at here is, if you have
not yet realized the karma of the Way, do not talk arrogantly, whatever you do.
Don't say, "I can do everything," because as soon as you say it, a
demon will come to test you. The demon, however, is really an aid to your
progress on the Way. As soon as you say that you have put everything down, the
very thing that you can't put down will arrive to test you; it will come to see
what you will do at that time, if you've really put it down, you will know. If
you haven't put it down, you'll be pretty clear about that too.
I said a very arrogant thing. I said, "I'm not afraid of demons. Cultivators fear demons, but I don't. I don't fear any demons at
all--earth demons, heavenly demons, human demons, or ghostly demons." As
soon as I said it, a sickness demon got me so sick that I didn't know anything
at all. After that, I under stood that you have to be careful in everything you
do not to boast.
I have something I say that's very arrogant, but I don't pay attention to how
arrogant it is; I just go ahead and say it: "Everything's okay." Good
and bad, birth and death--I see them all as the same. They are no problem at
all. Whether people believe in me or not makes no difference. Even sickness and death is no problem. I just don't see them as problems.
I've said this many times, and have run into no difficulty.
we will begin the session. This is the first time a Kuan Yin Session has been
held in America and the participants must all be number one. No one can be number two. Everything I do has to be tops, with no
runners-up. And I don't want anyone
else to trail behind either.
may think, "You just like to be No.1!"
course I do! If I didn't like to come out on top, how could I teach all of you
to be Number Ones, too?
letís begin the session!
OF THE VENERABLE MASTER YUN
is this useless fool doing here?"
it is the Dharm-ending age -
must be mistaken,
without rhyme or reason
stick out my neck.
the Sagely Pulse is in danger,
dangles by a single thread.
care not for myself;
am concerned only for others.
with a straight hook
atop a lonely mountain peak,
to the ocean's floor
stoke up a fire and boil the sea...
one understands what I do.
so I laugh at this mournful lament,
empty space is pulverized.
bark, "Don't talk that rot!
don't you just forget it?"
the suffering of every being is ended
then will I rest.
in the spring of the year Wu Hsu (1958) by the imaginary Bhiksu Hsu Yun, age 119
years, at Yun Ju Mountain.
by Bhiksu Heng Yo