Gwo Yeh, from Singapore
The Ten Thousand Buddhas repentance ceremony at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in America has been famous throughout Asia for years. The ceremony as conducted here is quite rigorous and strict. The Master of Ceremony's voice is quite pleasant to listen to, and the two sides of the hall bowing in sequence one after the other. All in all, it creates a truly delightful sound. We bow for more than twenty days, starting from eight in the morning until five at night, with each period lasting one hour, and a fifteen minute break in between. Bowing in respect to the Buddhas can eradicate karmic obstacles piled up for millions of eons. We can contemplate that we are bowing on behalf of our families, our kinfolk, and our friends. Some participants contemplate that the Buddhas are releasing lights that wash over and purify the Assembly, taking away all their defilements and impurities, so that their bodies, mouths, and minds are made pure. Other people come with serious illnesses, hoping that the aid of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will quickly pull them from the sea of pain and misery.
People who do not yet believe in the Buddha can also come bow in the ceremony, because it makes for excellent exercise. The slow, gentle rhythm of the bowing is quite suitable for especially for the elderly as well.
Friends, since the Ten Thousand Buddhas' Repentance has so many advantages, I hope that you will all come take part next year.
Ni De-eh, from Singapore
Before I came to the CITB I had never bowed for such an extended period of time. So the first few days of bowing took a lot of effort to get through. It felt like getting back in shape to exercise after too long a period of inactivity. My kneecaps ached, and my legs were sore. I heard someone say that we should contemplate each one of die Buddhas' separate physical appearances, but to me all Buddhas look alike, and I didn't know how to contemplate diem in that way. So I wound up simply contemplating the various features of Nature, like forests, flowers, rivers, mountains, ancient temples, the ocean, colored clouds, the stars, and the moon.
Sometimes I would contemplate that my mother and my father, my sisters and brothers, my family and friends were all there bowing alongside me. Otherwise, I would simply concen trate on each Buddha's name that appeared in the text.
The voice of the Dharma Master who lead the ceremony was nice to hear, seeming to be ethereal and light. The bowing during the last few days of the ceremony were joyful. I used to think that the ninety minutes of the Great Compassion Repentance passed very slowly; it never seemed to end. But now after having bowed the Ten Thousand Buddhas' Repentance, when we bow the Great Compassion Repentance, I feel elated and blissful in body and mind.
I hope to use this experience of the Ten Thousand Buddhas' Repentance to gain a pure mind and clear spirit; I also hope that this merit and virtue will bring the world to peace and put an end to wars.
Moreover, the "Style of Cultivation", the spiritual atmosphere here is different from other places.
Gong Hwei Jen from Singapore
This was my first visit to the CTTB. I feel there is something special here that you won't find elsewhere: the young schoolchildren, even the young Americans can all recite sutras and mantras. It makes me happy to see that Buddhism is going to flourish here in this country. Moreover, the "Style of Cultivation", the spiritual atmosphere here is different from other places. The Sangha members eat just once a day at noon, yet they work hard all the time. I feel that the ascetic practices that are practiced here ought to be learned by monks the world over.
The first day I arrived, the Guest Prefect nun was very friendly, and helped me move a heavy suitcase upstairs. What a shame, I don't even know the right way to address monks and nuns, so I call them all "Shr Fu". and I still don't know the name of the Guest Prefect who helped me out. The CTTB is a large place, and to this day I'm not sure which part of the campus is restricted to men and which to women. Some of the guests here didn't even know how to find the worship hall, nor did they know the difference between the Long Life Hall and the Rebirth Hall. Others couldn't even recognize Shr Fu's face, if they saw it, they knew him only by reputation.
Some people came here only to bow to the Buddhas, they paid attention to nothing else, while others wanted to get the whole picture before they began to bow. The Ven. Abbot's comings and goings are not our business; but the one thing that I do regret was that I didn't join in on the Three Steps, One Bow pilgrimage to the Buddhahall. I'm really sorry I missed it!
Lucille Hui (Gwo Hsuan) from Hong Kong, currently a resident of Florida
Finally I got my long-held wish to come to the City Of Ten Thousand Buddhas! I was happy to learn that the CTTB was going to hold the Ten Thousand Buddha's Bowing Repentance in order to celebrate the Buddha's Birthday. In order not to miss this splendid chance, I bought a plane ticket from Florida to San Francisco.
Time flies and I've been here for two months now, the first month was spent in bowing to the Buddhas and climaxed by celebrating the Buddha's birthday.
I enjoyed the entire period spent bowing the Repentance. It passed in a daily state of "Dharma-bliss". I would like to share my experiences at the time. It was really exciting the first day, with everybody wearing their tidy robes and standing in straight lines in front of the Buddhas. Then after we made our first offering of flowers and incense, we got down to business bowing to the names of all the Buddhas. Everything was arranged according to Dharma, and stayed under control. The ceremony proceeded in orderly fashion. The nuns who worked in the kitchen were so kind to prepare us drinks everyday to soften our voices.
Once I read in a sutra that when we finish reciting we should transfer the merit to all living beings, and we should not be greedy for the virtue ourselves. So the first thing I did was to pray to the Buddhas to make transference to my parents. But then later on I realized that I wanted to transfer to every living being as well. So I did that very happily.
While we bowed and chanted, I tried hard to concentrate and focus on each Buddha's name, and if some other false thoughts arose, I would put them aside immediately.
My left leg has given me trouble for a long time, and for years it would hurt me from time to time. During the bowing the pain really got serious. It began to bother me, since we did so many bows each day. I worried that I might not be able to finish the Repentance. A friend gave me some medicine but it didn't change anything. Therefore I could only pray to the Buddhas and try the best I could.
The time passed, and one day I was kneeling down on a cushion to make a bow, I saw a Bhikshuni's face appear before me. She looked pretty and adorned, and she smiled. The vision lasted only an instant, and then disappeared. I recalled that the Ven. Master said that if we see anything, no matter whether it is the Buddha or a demon, we should just ignore it. So I continued to focus on the bowing. And a few days before the ceremony was over my leg was suddenly released from pain, and the soreness was all gone. I felt comfortable, and nothing bothered me.
It was quite incredible, but from then until now, I feel really fine. I pray and give thanks to the Buddha.