I am honored to share a few thoughts with you tonight. I really enjoy doing the Guanyin Session with so many people. In 1973 we were doing the Guanyin in San Francisco with seven or eight people; in 1974 there were seven or eight people; in 1975 there were ten people; in 1979 there were maybe fifteen people. I remember sitting in this hall doing Chan when I was the only one in the hall during some of the sits. So it is an incredible thing to see so many people.
It would take hours and hours to speak about Guanyin Bodhisattva, but in a couple of minutes I will tell you a spectacular story of Guanyin Bodhisattva. I was travelling with Shr Fu in 1978 in Malaysia and we were giving talks around Malaysia, when I told Shr Fu I would like to go climb the Himalayas--the highest mountains in the world. Shr Fu thought about it for a little while, and the next day he said "I'm not sure it is a good idea, Guo Lei. Do you have any idea what you're doing?"
I said, "Sort of." "I don't think you know what you are doing. You have no idea what you are doing," he said. "Tell me, why are you going?" I said, "Number one, I am going because of money. It will cost less money for me to go from here to the northern part of Malaysia than for me to go down to Singapore." "Guo Lei, I will give you any amount you want. You just name the amount and I will give it to you right now," he said. "No, no. I won't take any of your money, Shr Fu." He said, "Oh, so you have no good reason. So you do not know what you are doing."
I said, "No, no. I actually do know what I'm doing, Shr Fu. If I wait another three or four weeks it will snow when I get up there. Shr Fu said, "I promise you all the time you are up there in the Himalayas, it will not snow. So you see, you have no reason. Are you still going to go?"
I said, "Yeah, I'm still going." And so, being the confused and stupid self I was, I went through a whole lot of trouble to go from Thailand through Burma, India, and Nepal, until I finally got to the Himalayas. I found myself climbing up Annapurna, the third or fourth highest mountain in the world, with no guide, no directions and no equipment. Shr Fu would probably call that stupidity.
Sure enough, as Shr Fu had predicted, there were spirits up in the mountains. Once when I was on a ledge and it was late in the evening, one of these spirits pushed me off the ledge. I had no reason to fall. I looked down and I saw it was perfectly OK. The next thing I knew I was falling forty feet in the air down the mountain. I landed on my head and shoulders. My legs were broken, and my head was all shattered like a watermelon hitting the ground. I was paralyzed on the right side and my whole spinal cord was jammed up. I was bleeding out of my ears, my nose, my mouth and everything. It was a bad situation.
Some local Nepalese hunters found me and dragged me into a cave, where I lay on a rock for seven days. One of them ran back to the nearest wireless to get some help, but it took him three days. I should have been in a lot of pain and fear, but I recited Guanyin Bodhisattva's name constantly. I didn't let it out of my mind. As long as I recited Guanyin's name, I didn't feel any pain and I was not very worried. If my mind stopped concentrating on Guanyin, I would start feeling a little afraid, and then there would be a lot of pain and lots of thoughts like "I'm going to die" and so forth. It was really amazing because for seven days I lay on this rock reciting Guanyin's name, and there was a response which kept me alive. However, I would definitely suggest that you do a seven-day recitation in the Buddha Hall rather than fall off the Himalayas and then recite.
From this experience, I was able to see that the pain is a judgment that the ego is having about the experience. From this I perceived that every emotion and thought that we have is not real, but is just a judgment of the experience. And so these emotions and thoughts are all interchangeable. For example, I could have thought, "Oh! I am very happy I just fell off Himalayas and I am lying here. This is really a wonderful experience." Or you could be sitting there eating good food in a perfect situation and saying, " Oh, I really do not like this." Emotions are just totally interchangeable. They are not connected to experience. On the most fundamental level, they are just our karma.
Our karma determines the way we have each experience. Our feelings and thoughts of each experience is just karma.
The second thing I was able to see while lying there was that nothing was actually going on at all. I was just lying there bleeding or maybe dying, but lying there was not really different from anything else I'd ever done. It was not better or worse, and I wasn't thinking, "I'd rather be somewhere else." I was just there. It was not as if there was a better situation. Everything is equal, and all experience is neither bad nor good.
Finally a helicopter came and took me to a hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal. The first time I was really worried was when the doctor in Kathmandu looked me over, took some X-rays, and said, "I think you are going to die." Fortunately, the American Embassy called my parents and my parents said to send me back to the United States. So they took out four seats in an airplane and laid me there. First they took me to Bangkok, but then they decided it was too risky to do the surgery in Bangkok, so they put me on another plane and sent me to San Francisco.
Fortunately, since I came back on a week that had Friday the13th, there were many surgeons available because no one wanted to undergo surgery on that day. (And it is said that Americans are not superstitious!) This was very fortunate because they needed to do eight to nine hours of constant surgery with a microscope. Because a person's concentration only lasted about thirty-five minutes working with the microscope, they needed a team of seven or eight surgeons to work in forty-five minute shifts.
They had to take out all the specks of skull that had shattered into the nerves in my brain, blocking off the transmission of electrical impulses and making me paralyzed on my right side. While they were doing the surgery the doctors found a miraculous thing, which was that there was absolutely no infection of any kind in my body. Although I had been in a cave in Nepal for seven days, and then in Bangkok, and then in an airplane, and then in San Francisco, and nothing had been treated in these huge wounds all over my body, in all this time no infection had gotten into any part of my body.
One funny part of the story is that the day my parents were informed of my accident was the last day that I could renew my health insurance policy. Being very smart people they rushed down and put an envelope into the Health Insurance Building to renew my policy. It was actually the very last day. Otherwise the surgery and all would have cost a bundle and I would have had no insurance. Another funny thing was that not only was my policy renewed but there was a clause in the policy that said Kaiser Hospital was responsible for taking me from the scene of the accident--if it was life threatening and if it had not been worked on--to the place where the surgery was done. In this case it cost $10,000 to get me from the scene of the accident to San Francisco, because the helicopter cost $2,000 and it cost $ 8,000 to get a plane with four seats pulled out. When the lawyers looked at it, they figured they had to pay me back the whole $10,000. So that was very, very lucky.
About four months later, I ran into Shr Fu again. I was sitting right here in this Buddha Hall, exactly in the same seat as I am sitting now. Shr Fu asked me a whole bunch of questions and finally said, "You know what actually happened? You actually died and now you are here again, so don't make such a mess of your life ever again."
I just want to say something about Guanyin recitation. Shr Fu constantly stressed that the problem with the world right now is that there are very few humans in the world. Shr Fu pointed out over and over again that to be human is to be very contented, very happy and very satisfied, and to have this state without depending upon anything outside. In other words, the state of happiness and contentment is not based on getting anything from the outside or relating to anybody. This is just an internal state that every human being naturally has. Shr Fu always stressed that people who are cultivating should be very happy. Basically, this happiness is your basic state that you are born with.
The best way to get back to this basic state is through Guanyin. Back in 1974 or 1975, I was pretty enthusiastic and young--maybe in my late twenties. I told Shr Fu, "I really want to be a Bodhisattva. I really want to practice. I really want to get there."
Shr Fu turned and said, "You can't even relate to one person, how can you become a Bodhisatttva?" Before we can make any progress to becoming a Bodhisattva, we have to learn to be compassionate, be patient and have wisdom with those people to whom we are already karmically related. Otherwise, becoming a Bodhisattva is just an abstract idea.