Continued from last issue:
Upasaka Zhan Shanyong, Dharma name Guo Yong.
During this recitation session I
strongly felt that it is
necessary to penetrate the Sutras deeply and develop wisdom.
Coincidentally, during lunch I heard the Master say in his talk that in
studying Buddhism, we must learn to explain the Sutras. This afternoon
during walking recitation, the following thought came to me:
To be mindful of living beings
in thought after thought
Is true mindfulness of the Buddha.
I wasn't sure what this meant,
so I pondered it for a moment. I felt
that perhaps I was engaging in false thinking, but later I understood:
Yes, to be mindful of living beings in every thought is to truly be
mindful of the Buddha. The Flower Adornment Sutra says that Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas are able to give up everything in order to save living
beings. The Ten Great Vows of Universal Worthy Bodhisattva also
mentions that by making living beings happy, one makes all Thus Come
Ones happy. Why? Because all Buddhas take great compassion as their
substance. Amitabha Buddha set up the Western Pure Land precisely for
the sake of rescuing living beings and enabling them to transcend the
Triple Realm and the wheel of rebirth. Therefore, the constant thought
of enabling beings to leave suffering is true mindfulness of the
Buddha. That is my first insight.
My second insight is this. I
used to think that when I recited the
Buddha's name, the Buddha would come to my rescue. Actually, I had it
backwards. Listening to the Master's talk, I now know that the Buddha
made forty-eight great vows in the causal stage of his cultivation, and
he constantly wants to save living beings. If living beings can be
mindful of the Buddha, they will be gathered in by him. Actually, the
Buddha is like a mother hoping her son will return home. Once the son
thinks of going home, the mother will immediately be there to welcome
In theory, the Buddha's Dharma
body is everywhere. When we recite the
Buddha's name, the Amitabha within us starts to function. Limitless
life and light are our inherent enlightenment. Our initial resolve to
recite the Buddha's name is initial enlightenment. That is what helps
us manifest our inherent nature. When the inherent is not apart from
the initial, we advance straight down the road to enlightenment. This
is the most direct approach. When we understand this principle,
we will feel very comfortable with reciting the Buddha's name.
Lastly, since recitation of the
Buddha's name is such a sublime
practice, I hope the Dharma Masters will be able to arrange for a
regular time when we can all get together to recite. Then the
Buddha Recitation Hall will be put to good use. Amitabha!
Venerable Master, Dharma
Masters, Virtuous Ones, and Good
My name is Zhang Luhuang. I'm a
country bumpkin, so I hope
everyone will forgive me because I don't speak very good Mandarin. My
Dharma name is Zhang Guohuang. My wife and I took refuge with the
Venerable Master in 1992.
I took a plane from New Orleans
to come to this Buddha recitation
session. I came out of great sincerity. I have been practicing walking
recitation and sitting meditation along with everyone else, but I
continue to feel very inadequate. False thoughts keep bombarding
my mind, and it's very difficult to control them. This made me
realize how thoroughly I lack concentration.
When reciting the Buddha's name,
you might see me with my eyes
shut tightly and my back very erect, looking like a great Dharma
Master. Actually, there is an empty hollowness in my mind. This
made me realize that my external appearance is entirely false, and my
mind is extremely hollow. Do you know what I mean? I have not put
any of the Buddhas' and Bodhisattvas' teachings into practice. I
feel deeply ashamed. I have come to this session with a spirit of
remorse, to seek repentance before the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and
As I was reciting and thinking,
a rather peculiar state came into
my mind. I will tell everyone what it is, and you can decide
whether or not it makes sense. I was thinking that as I recited,
I might look very good on the outside, with my eyes closed
and my mouth reciting, but my mind was in turmoil. In our
cultivation, the most important and the most difficult thing is to
subdue our thoughts. How can we subdue our thoughts? I think I
need to beseech the Dharma Masters to instruct me well on this.
It's probably our heavy karma that makes it so difficult to
subdue our thoughts.
During this session, all the
unforgettable events in my life came
up. Attending this session has changed my whole life.
As I was sitting in meditation,
suddenly my chest caved inwards and I
was in great discomfort. I went back to my room. My roommate was
already asleep, and I didn't want to bother him, so I lay down on
my bed. It's impossible to describe the pain I felt. I kept
calling out, "Bodhisattva, Bodhisattva, I can't take it, I can't
bear it. Please help me! Help me!" Gradually, I became fully conscious,
and for the first time in my life I entered a very different kind
of state, from which it seemed I could not return. I felt I could never
come back to see my family again. I was in utter misery and
despair, and I had no way to do anything about it. The waves of
affliction came surging through my mind. I kept asking the
Bodhisattva to help me calm down. At that time I had a flashback
to my years as a young man. I used to run a restaurant, and I saw
myself making all that money and acquiring all those things.
Actually, our whole life is unreal and empty and full of
suffering. People are really too miserable. It's impossible to
express how I felt then. I can only give a rough
At that time, I felt that the
hardest thing for me to put down is
my wife. I owe her too much. I had a lot to tell her, yet she
wasn't here. Under those circumstances, I kept calling out to the
Bodhisattva, saying, "I'm in great distress." I wanted to escape
that situation, but perhaps it was the Bodhisattva testing me,
I'm not sure. I saw our incredible human misery. I saw that,
after all, we are all in a big play that's not
I kept pleading with the
Bodhisattva to help me calm down.
Gradually I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was still in great anguish.
I cried. When my father died, I didn't cry so sorrowfully. This
time I really sobbed. For the first time in my life, I realized
the misery of human existence. Not only did I become aware of my
own suffering, I realized that all living beings are in such
great suffering. The conclusion I drew from all this was that my
love is too deep. How wonderful it would be if I had never gotten
married. If I hadn't gotten married, I would not have hurt myself and
hurt others. So, if you have not found someone to love yet, I
urge you not to get involved in love. It's true agony, true
misery, you know?
I started reciting the Buddha's
name when I was sixteen, but I
have only now realized that I was only putting on a show all that
time. From now on, I'm going to lead my family to do good deeds
and to practice, until one day, I can let go of worldly affairs. Only
when I can truly let go will I be able to resolve everything. The
Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are waiting for us. They are extremely
compassionate. I have seen many states of Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas. I want to learn to be genuinely enlightened and genuinely
pure like the Bodhisattvas, and I hope that one day I will truly
be able to achieve this.
After I go back, I have a lot to
do, because there are many
people involved in the restaurant, not just myself. Today I don't
have much to give everyone, except a copy of this chart of merits
and offenses. I hope you will put it up on the wall or pass it on
to someone else and circulate it. If one person can exhort ten
people to do good, and those ten can exhort ten more people, then
we can turn the world into a Pure Land. That is my wish. I hope
everyone will do this. Finally, I want to wish everyone a Happy
New Year. May everything go as you wish, and may we all reach the other
shore together. Thank you.
Bhikshu Heng Tso Shr:
Someone talked about subduing
his mind. The Twelve Divisions of the
Tripitaka are all written to do just that—subdue our minds. The Pure
Land practice is the easiest of all those. There are over a hundred
volumes in the Taisho Tripitaka, and you can bring it all down to the
easiest method of reciting Amitabha's name. So that's what we did
for the last week. And this is something that can't be taken away from
any of us. Many people have already attended a lot of Buddha Recitation
Sessions. For some people this is the first one. But once you've
attended a Buddha Recitation Session, you know the method, and it's up
to you to continue to recite. You don't have to be with the
group. But it certainly makes it a lot easier. Personally I've been
doing this for about thirty years, and it's always much easier,
and I always find much more clarity and much more understanding when
I'm doing it with a group. So, it's up to all of us now to take
this jewel, this method which is much more valuable than the lottery,
and put it to use. If you use it, it's effective. If you don't use it,
it's like anything else, like a medicine, it's not effective; practice
it and it becomes effective. It's up to each of us individually to
continue to practice it.
Vegetarian Gluten Braised with
Soy Sauce (Serves 8)
From the kitchen of
Chinese translation by Jennifer Kao, Developing Virtue Girls School
1 package frozen gluten
1/4 cup soy sauce
4 pieces rock sugar
1. Cook frozen gluten in boiling water for 15 minutes or until tender.
2.Add soy sauce and rock sugar.Bring to a boil on high heat and add 1/4
3. Bring to a boil again, then lower heat to medium.
4.Simmer for 20 minutes or until sauce begins to evaporate.
5.Let cool to room temperature. Slice diagonally into thin slices.
6.Arrange on plate and garnish with cilantro.