On Sunday, July 24, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas in northern California celebrated Guanyin Bodhisattva's Accomplishment of the Way. Over six hundred Buddhists came from San Jose, Los Angeles, Vancouver, and other places. The merit of this Dharma Assembly was dedicated to world peace.
Before the celebration, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas held a one-week Vigorous Guanyin Recitation Session. Over two hundred people set aside their daily chores and came to the session instead of taking their usual vacations. They avoided the fatigue of traveling. Attending the session is truly a good way to spend a vacation and give the body and mind a thorough rest.
There were more participants in this Guanyin Session than in past years. The schedule was a little different from previous years. Every day from 4:00 a.m. until 9:40 p.m., the assembly recited The Universal Door Chapter and Guanyin Bodhisattva's holy name, sat in meditation, and circumambulated the Buddha. The merit derived from vigorous cultivation was dedicated to parents, teachers, relatives, enemies and creditors, and also to world peace, four times a day. Nowadays, the world is increasingly chaotic. Wars and crimes reveal the cruel and violent side of people. Yet they also inspire many people to pursue the pure land of the mind.
According to a Buddhist sutra, Guanyin Bodhisattva vowed to listen to sounds and save those in suffering, vastly rescuing living beings. Thus the verse goes, "Prayers depart a thousand hearts; in a thousand hearts he answers, sailing the sea of suffering, crossing people over." Buddhists reverently call him "Greatly kind and compassionate Guanyin Bodhisattva, who saves living beings from suffering and hardship with vast miraculous responses." In the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas at the City, there is a statue that is over ten feet tall of Guanyin Bodhisattva with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes. Many Buddhists have experienced inconceivable responses from sincerely bowing to and single-mindedly reciting the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva. Not only have their prayers been answered, they have also received responses which came without being sought.
On July 24, the celebration began with the over six hundred Buddhists dividing into two groups to bow every three steps from the mountain gate of the City all the way to the Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas. This was followed by sutra recitation, circumambulation, meditation, and bowing. During the luncheon, students from Instilling Goodness Elementary School and Developing Virtue High School recited The Rules for Being a Student in English, and young novice nuns recited The Song of Enlightenment for the assembly, hoping everyone would soon attain the state of "taking Dhyana bliss for food and being filled with the joy of Dharma." One Dharma Master explained that before Guanyin Bodhisattva cultivated and became a Bodhisattva, he was also an ordinary person. To emulate this Bodhisattva's spirit, we should respect all living beings, regard every living being as a Bodhisattva, and help all beings walk toward the path of wisdom. Then everyone will be able to leave suffering, attain bliss, and certify to Bodhi together.
After lunch, there was a liberating life ceremony. Lives are liberated in every Dharma Assembly at the City to reduce the violent energy in the world. About a hundred birds were liberated this time. After the recitation was done, the wire cages were opened, and a hundred birds flew out at the same time, happy to obtain new life. Participants from different countries were all moved by the scene. As the birds regained their freedom, many children cheered and clapped, jumping for joy. This was the first time Kate, an American, attended a Buddhist liberation ceremony, and she kept saying, "This is great! This is great!"
The celebration of Guanyin Bodhisattva's Accomplishment of the Way was concluded after the transmission of the three refuges and five precepts, and the Great Compassion Repentance. Buddhists from various places headed for home, to get busy with their careers and families again. However, after being recharged and renewed by the Buddhist ceremony, many people felt their stress and anxiety reduced. They could handle things and deal with people with a more open and gentle outlook. The myriad difficulties and frustrations in life no longer seemed unbearable. It was exactly as the Venerable Master Hua always says: "A hundred difficulties are dispelled with a peaceful heart; all things become auspicious with a calm mind."