如果留意世界時事，你會注意到當前處處都是可怕的災禍，既有天災，又有人禍。這所有一切，都是由人的惡行所感之共業而引起的果報。就美國而言，你知道東岸有可怕的龍捲風，佛羅里達州有持續兩週的大火、水災、土崩和種種奪人性命的災禍。我們也注意到最近在中國發生的有史以來最人的水災，成千上萬的人因此死亡，蒙受巨大的損失。還有在（加拿大）Nova Scotia 海岸的飛機失事，二百一十九人全體罹難。我們念聖號，發菩薩般的大願，就能幫助這個世界免除這些災難與痛苦。
Today is a special day at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas as we gather here to celebrate the birthday of Earth Store Bodhisattva. In Sanskrit, his name is Kshitigarbha, meaning "Earth Repository" or "Earth Store". Like all Bodhisattvas, he aspires to save living beings wandering in the six paths of rebirth, but he specializes in saving them from the hells. He is second only to Guanyin Bodhisattva in popularity among Asian Buddhists.
One distinct feature that you see in any picture of Earth Store Bodhisattva is that he carries a tin staff with nine rings on top. In the past, people who had left the home-life would carry the staff when they walked, and with every step, the nine rings made a sound warning all tiny insects to get out of the way so that they would not be stepped on. Earth Store Bodhisattva always carries a tin staff and uses it as a key to open the gates of hell. For those who have fallen into the hells, Earth Store Bodhisattva will go there to speak the Dharma for them and wipe away their offense- karma so that they can be born in the heavens or among human beings.
Earth Store Bodhisattva has great vows, great conduct, great wisdom, and great compassion. His vows are deep because he will go the deepest hell to save living beings; his vows are wide because until he has saved all beings and the hells are empty, he will not become a Buddha. His vows should motivate us to do the same: that is, to vow to bring happiness to living beings and to save them. As Buddhists who aspire to cultivate diligently, it is important that we also make vows. Vows are solemn promises to ourselves to do good deeds. With vows, we have a kind of map of where we are going in our cultivation.
Many of you have come a long distance today to celebrate Earth Store Bodhisattva's birthday here and to bow to the Buddhas, while some of you have attended the entire seven-day recitation of the
Earth Store Sutra. The important thing is to truly bring forth the Bodhi resolve—the resolve to do the good deeds that Bodhisattvas do. You should see that there is nothing so extraordinary or desirable about anything in this world. No matter how wealthy you are, when the time comes for you to die, how much of it can you take with you? It is better to take advantage of your lifetime to do useful things with your wealth and thereby accumulate merit. If you put your wealth to good use, then your life will not be a total waste. Since the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are helping you so that everything about your life is going easy, this is one way you can repay their kindness.
People should wake up from their dreams. Don't wait until you are too old to cultivate the Way. The lonely graves are filled with those who died young.
Those of you who follow the world news will notice that there are horrendous disasters everywhere; some are natural calamities, and some are man-made. All these disasters result from the collective bad karma that people have created. In the U.S. alone, you have heard of terrible hurricanes on the East Coast, fires in Florida that lasted two weeks, floods, landslides, and all kinds of disasters that cause deaths and suffering. We've also heard of the recent big flood in China, causing deaths and tremendous suffering to hundreds of thousands of people—the worst flood in China's recorded history. We also heard the recent plane crash off the coast of Nova Scotia in which all 219 people onboard were killed. By reciting the name of Earth Store Bodhisattva and making vows like this Bodhisattva, we can help this world avoid such disasters and sufferings.
Today is a good time to ask ourselves: "Have we made any vows to make ourselves better human beings? Have we made vows to make this a happier world to live in? Have we made vows to not waste our lives away knowing that we cannot take anything with us when our time is up on this planet?"
When we meet again at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas next year, we can then review our vows and our progress in cultivation. May you have a safe journey home. Ami-to-fo.