KUAN YIN RECITATION WEEK
by Bhiksuni Heng Yin
June 21st, 1970
In the Buddhist Lecture Hall, the things we do are different from those of ordinary people. In what way are they different? They are especially intense. They are not the slightest bit sloppy. If you'd like to be a bit lazy, you can't. If you'd like to take it easy a little, that's even less permissible. As to speaking, this year there was probably less talking than in years previous, because there were two who did not speak at all and so they influenced everyone else not to talk so much.
I remember when Kuo I came first several people said to me, "Kuo I talks too much." But this year he didn't talk so much. That's a good sign. Do you remember this or not? I remember. People came to complain to me and said, "He just talks too much." Also there was a student who sent $25.00. He was like a wild horse, one who had never undergone any restraint at all. Later, he became very well behaved.
At present the sound of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva has manifested in America; the sound of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva has manifested in America and the basic substance of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva, his Dharma-body, has also just arrived. Therefore we are here reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and you can see Kuan Yin Bodhisattva in empty space holding a bottle of sweet dew, on the one hand smiling and on the other sprinkling the sweet dew; Those of you who have attended this Kuan Yin session have had your karmic obstacles greatly diminished. However, although your karmic obstacles have been greatly diminished, the karmic obstacles you started out with were not few, and so now even though a great many have melted away, there are still a lot of them following you. If you can attend more Kuan Yin sessions your karmic obstacles can be entirely melted away.
This has been the first Kuan Yin session in America. Never before was there a session in which the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva was recited for seven days in such a rigorous manner, beginning early in the morning and going straight through to nine at night. This is the first time and so I give you all a good name--I call you all Good Knowing Advisors. You may all be called Good Knowing Advisors, since you understand how to recite the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. If you can't recite, then you are non-knowing advisors. Why? If you don't even know how to recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's name, isn't that a case of being stupid, "not knowing," of having no genuine wisdom, no intelligence? So this time, those of you who have attended should take care to keep on being Good Knowing Advisors and, wherever you go, don't do upside-down things anymore. That's my hope for you.
What is more, when you see your relatives and friends you should advise them to recite the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. This is the best advice you can give anyone, the best present. This kind of merit and virtue can be practiced without using money, and anyone can recite. Later, when you leave, those of you who have attended this Kuan Yin Bodhisattva Dharma Assembly can introduce Kuan Yin Bodhisattva to everyone. This is an inconceivable circumstance. If you can recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's name, you are a Good Knowing Advisor. If you can't recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's name, you are a "non-knowing" advisor. If you want to be a "non-knowing" advisor, do as you please. If you want to be a Good Knowing Advisor, then introduce Kuan Yin Bodhisattva everywhere, and teach people to recite his name. That's the very best gift there is. If you give Kuan Yin Bodhisattva to people that's the best gift because it can cause them to plant good roots and to melt away all of their karmic obstacles. This is very important and, whatever you do, take care not to forget it. You should know that you are all the first participants in a Kuan Yin Bodhisattva Dharma Assembly. Don't take your good roots lightly, but go everywhere and teach people how to have Kuan Yin Sessions.
In the Buddhist Lecture Hall, not only has there been a Kuan Yin Session this year, but I believe that after this there will be such a Dharma Assembly every year. The Summer Session lasts 96 days. Although we can say it's 96 days, it is really 98 days if you count the day when we sprinkle the boundaries clean and the last day when we finish up.
The Winter Ch'an Session will also last 98 days. Here we are: 96, 98, 2x9=18, 2x8=16. If you can't do large figures, you can force yourself to count small ones. If you were to talk about limitless hundreds of thousands of tens of thousands of millions of aeons there, there would be no way to get a count on that, or limitless asankhyeya aeons, for that matter. So here every year it is 98 in the winter and 98 in the summer: 98 is just two days short of 100, and this means that we work with 100% effort; It signifies that we most certainly are not sloppy, we are certainly not like other places where they tell you to work hard in order to get your money. In China if they have a Kuan Yin Session or a Summer Session, their schedule is not as rigorous as ours. They begin at 8:00 in the morning and call it a day at 8:00 in the evening.
But now you met someone like me--actually although it's a "me" it's really not a "me," it's just a "you"--and because our lives are bitter, we should endure a bit more bitterness. Therefore the Summer Sessions begin at 4:00 in the morning and end at 9:00 in the evening.
The Winter Ch'an Session will begin at 3:00 in the morning and run until midnight. If you think you can take this discipline, then come and refine your vajra. If you can't refine it, you'll turn into mud. You can go right ahead and be mud, no one will bother you. Consider how much smelting time in the fire it takes to get steel; we are smelting vajra, and it can't be done unless we take a little bitterness.
So the Summer Session is now preliminary practice for the Winter Ch'an Session. If you can make it through the Summer Session, then you'll be able to make it through the Winter Session. Although we said that the Winter Session would be 98 days, it will actually be longer. In China in the Ch'an halls they begin on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, but we will not do it that way. We will enter the hall and begin on the fifteenth day of the ninth month. If you wish to attend you must sign up ahead of time, and once you have signed up it is not certain that you will be accepted. We are panning gold from the sand. Whoever wants to be gold can come and become gold; whoever wants to be sand can go right ahead and be sand. This is the personal message I have for all of you tonight.
Those who are unable to attend, perhaps because they are working or going to school, should not regret it. When you have finished school for the day, you can come and attend just the same. When you get off work, you can come and join in, too. These are special cases. Those who are actually attending must stay here all day. So there are two categories: the ordinary and the special. If you are not afraid, try it out. If you are afraid, then hurry up and run away. This is the truth. If you want to end birth and death, you should not be afraid. If you don't wish to end birth and death, if you want to turn in the six-path wheel of rebirth, then run away a little further.
Ahh...There are some who are doing my worrying for me. One, or perhaps two people, are thinking in their hearts, "Ah, it can't be done. Why not? Already the Kuan Yin Session was held in such a small place with so many people attending. If more people attend the Winter Session, where are you going to put them all? Will we have to move the tables aside? Otherwise where is everybody going to sit?" So they are nervous on my behalf concerning this problem.
They are worrying for me, afraid that this thing can't be done, but I will tell you, there most certainly will not be a lot of people coming. Why not? It's too difficult. Besides, I'm looking for a place, which can seat four or five hundred people, but if only a few people come, if only one person comes, we will cultivate all the same. If one hundred people come, we will cultivate all the same. If there are a lot, that's okay. If there are a few, that's okay. If there aren't any, that's also okay. If no one from outside dares to come, we insiders can cultivate. So don't worry. However, I wish to thank the person who has worried and been nervous on my behalf because he is really a Dharma Protector. He was nervous for my sake, takes special note of every move I make and wants to be my Dharma Protector. So now, in front of everyone, I thank this person.
I now have something else important to say. What I just said before was useless. What is the useful speech? This first year it was very informal and there was only me to watch over these people. So, there were several people who made trouble and they all threatened to walk out, to go on strike. The translators went on strike. They thought they could bully me because I didn't know English. So when they went on strike I translated for myself. That was the first year—would you say that was difficult or not?
The second year there were several disciples who helped out and together turned the Dharma Wheel; among them was Kuo Jung, the present president of Vajra Bodhi Sea. They all lectured, but even so they were sloppy about it. They said, "If you follow the rules, that's okay; if you don't follow the rules that's okay too, we don't care as long as you are quiet when the Abbot comes. When the Abbot's not here we can do as we please because we are just the same as you." So they got Kuo I to talking so much, very casually talking, as well as that student. Why was this? It was because they had not taken the precepts and didn't know that they should follow the rules.
You could say that those of you attending this year's summer session are very fortunate; you could also say that you are very unfortunate. In what way are you fortunate? You are fortunate because the rules will be better than those of last year and the year before last. That is what I think. Ultimately, whether you do a good job of it or not only time will tell.
But, you could also say this was unfortunate. How so? Because the rules will be too strict. This year it will be very difficult. So if you want to follow the rules, it's fortunate; if you don't want to follow the rules, then it's unfortunate. The fortunate and the unfortunate are the same when there is no discrimination. You shouldn't make discriminations. I will put a stop to your discriminatory thoughts in advance so that you can think, "This year I am going to do a good job at my cultivation. I am going to work hard and study the Buddhadharma, study the genuine Buddhadharma."
This time is as precious as gold, even more valuable than gold, so you shouldn't waste it. You shouldn't unconcernedly let the gold get lost. Every minute, every second you should spend in working hard investigating Buddhadharma and I hope that you will have success.
These are just a few general remarks tonight regarding the rules. Tomorrow you can explain the rules to them in detail because I speak in general and you speak in detail. This year we certainly are going to forge every single one of the Session's participants' bodies into vajra indestructible ones; their bodies will be stronger than vajra and will never decay. This is our hope for this Summer Session.
You can run into the Vajra Bodhi Sea and in the future reap a Bodhi Fruit. Okay, now the talking is finished and we will bow three times.
Share Vajra Bodhi Sea with a friend: those who enter the Sea of Vajra indestructible Bodhi enlightenment wash away ignorance and affliction to reveal the light of wisdom inherent in all beings.