In September 1997, Malaysia faced a serious air pollution problem. Due to a forest fire in Indonesia, the atmosphere was filled with smog, which was blown by wind to Peninsular Malaysia. There was a drought since there had been no rain for a long time. The air and everything else were dry. The smog grew thicker and thicker. Many people experienced sore throats, eye irritation, and in severe cases, chest pain. The hospitals and clinics were full.
Malaysia's Prime Minister, Dr. Mahathir, was prompt to seek a solution. He hoped to use "cloud seeding" to relieve the air pollution. Salt and dry ice were sent to the upper atmosphere by airplanes. Modern technology was employed to produce artificial rain. A large amount of money was spent, but to no avail. There was a little rain in the places over which the planes flew, but it stopped soon after the planes were gone. It was clearly an inadequate solution to the crisis.
Dharma Masters at Purple Cloud Cave Monastery, one of DRBA's branch temples, out of pity for those suffering in the dire situation, organized a Shurangama Mantra Recitation session. They hoped to use the power of the mantra to end the disaster and pray for world peace. The session began at 3:00 p.m. and continued for twenty-four hours straight. There was a large downpour at 6:00 p.m. the following day, three hours after the session had ended. The rain came quickly and just in time, averting a disaster that had rendered the government helpless.
When modern technology is challenged by Nature, it is like a grasshopper trying to block a cart. Its strength is nominal. How can we explain the inconceivable, awesome power that ancient Buddhism possesses in the form of the Shurangama Mantra?
If we ponder the teachings of the Venerable Master, we will be able to grasp the principle involved. The Venerable Master said, "There is a ghost behind every illness in our bodies." Likewise, natural disasters aid human catastrophes are just the illnesses of nature. They are also due to the collective karma of living beings. Heavenly demons and externalists use demonic power to stir up trouble and expand their power. They cause chaos in the world and prevent people from cultivating the Way.
For this reason, the Venerable Master encouraged everyone to recite the Shurangama Mantra and the
Shurangama Sutra. The Shurangama Mantra involves the Vajra division in the East, the Jewel-Production division in the South, the Lotus division in the West, the Karma division in the North, and the Buddha division in the Center. These five divisions control the demonic armies of the five directions. As soon as you recite the Shurangama Mantra, the members of these five demonic armies have to hang their heads, flee, and hide themselves. The Venerable Master used to say, "As long as there is one person who can recite the Shurangama Mantra, the Proper Dharma will remain in the world and the heavenly demons and externalists will not dare to appear."
In addition, the Shurangama Mantra contains the dharmas of eradicating disasters, subduing, accomplishing, hooking and summoning, and so forth. All these dharmas can turn disasters into auspicious-ness and deviant into proper. Those were the reasons that the Purple Cloud Cave Temple decided to hold a Shurangama Mantra Session. In response to their sincere recitation, a misfortune was soon transformed into an auspicious situation.
"Everything is made from the mind alone." The mind and the external environment are one. In order to solve a problem, we have to deal with its root cause. To affect external disasters, we must change the minds of every person. To obtain a healthy, good-looking body and a pleasant environment, one must deeply believe in cause and effect and avoid creating evil causes. As Dharma Master Sure said, "The principle of cause and effect is the science of the ancients. As is the cause, so will be the effect. The ten Dharma realms are also the science of the ancients. The Buddha contemplated the ten Dharma realms—the hells, hungry ghosts, humans, gods, asuras, Hearers, Condition-enlightened Ones, Bodhisattvas, and Buddhas--as they truly are. If one plants the causes of sagehood, one will reap the fruit of sagehood. That is true science."
Nowadays, people believe only in science, but they are actually renouncing the root to chase after the branches. Confused about truth, they pursue what is false. They turn their backs on enlightenment and join with defilement, forgetting true science in the process. When we understand what true science is all about, we will be able to turn things around and use our genuine wisdom to eradicate the disasters that threaten humankind and to solve the problems of the world.