The Ten Thousand Buddhas Jeweled Repentance is one of the three major Dharma sessions at the Sagely City. This assembly lasts for twenty-one days, yet every year crowds continue to arrive in droves. Laypeople from Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore travel from afar to personally experience this most supreme Dharma banquet. Laypeople from the United States and Canadian branch monasteries also seize this precious opportunity to bow to ten thousand Buddhas. Some participants travel tirelessly and endure hardships, temporarily dropping everything to bow to the Buddhas and repent of all karmic obstacles accumulated from past lives. The Venerable Master Hsuan Hua had said, "Elder Master Hsu Yun had cultivated this Dharma door of bowing the Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance in the past; I also came by way of this path." From this statement, we see the enormous importance of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance in our cultivation. Having concluded this year's Dharma session on May 21, participants eagerly spoke about their experiences. To benefit those who could not attend, I have organized the Dharma talks for publication. I hope some day we will gather in one hall to bow to the ten thousand Buddhas.
Bhikshuni Guo Zhen:
Buddhism contains an endless number of Dharma doors, especially repentance ceremonies such as the Water Repentance, the Great Compassion Repentance, the Jeweled Repentance of the Emperor of Liang, and so forth. The Ten Thousand Buddhas Jeweled Repentance is the king of all repentances, containing an enormously rich content. Only those who have made firm Bodhisattva vows and have deep and solid good roots are able to participate in the Ten Thousand Buddhas Jeweled Repentance. Today, I'm sure everybody feels a sense of light ease within your body and mind, having eradicated your karmic obstructions and increased your blessings and wisdom. You have undergone a metamorphosis, transforming your entire being. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have already given us predictions of Buddhahood. I'm sure everyone has plenty of insights. Each person knows for oneself the temperature of the water he drinks. I hope everyone will readily share.
We are able to complete such a lengthy Dharma assembly because of the existing Way-place. We are grateful for the Venerable Master's pioneering efforts, the great assembly's accomplishments, and all the disciples in the four assemblies who have contributed their best. The success of this Dharma assembly is also due to the cantors and those
who play the Dharma instruments, and the kitchen staffs plentiful and delicious lunch offerings. We also appreciate the Dharma friends from various faraway branches of the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association; their support allows us to cultivate without worries. Now if everyone will please report.
Bhikshuni Heng Nai:
This is my fourteenth time bowing the Ten Thousand Jeweled Repentance at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. I remember when I joined the Ten Thousand Buddhas Jeweled Repentance in 1985 for the first time, we sang one tune throughout the entire session, which went like this: "Ah..." (She demonstrated the note.) That was an antiquated tune; however, to my utter surprise as soon as we start singing, "Ah...," my tears rolled down nonstop. I saw that everyone around me was also crying like mad and didn't know the reason. I asked my neighbors why they were crying—they couldn't give me an answer. They were just very touched by the sound and continued to shed tears; everyone felt the same way.
Later the Venerable Master told us, "You cried because your enemies, relatives and creditors since endless eons ago have now discovered a path and are deeply moved. You can't stop crying because of such feelings." Every thought and movement of our minds creates offense karma. For example, you may step on ants as you take a walk. I believe it's better to watch the ground while we walk; that way we will not stomp on tiny creatures such as ants. Don't laugh and babble nonsense as you walk.
Back then, I always said "thank you" to the Venerable Master. The Venerable Master said that there's no need to say thank you at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas; we can just say, "Amitabha." My habits are hard to break, however. I constantly forget and keep saying thank you. I hope everyone will follow this guideline because we all want to be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. Thus, we should always be mindful of the Buddha—this is immensely helpful to our cultivation. When there's time, bow in repentance more, bow to the Buddhas more, and recite the Buddha's name more.
In the fourteen years of participating in the Ten Thousand Buddhas Jeweled Repentance, I've only been able to attend one Dharma session in full without missing a single bowing period. This year, therefore, I vowed to bow the session in its entirety again. I'm ashamed to say though, during the second week, I ran into some complications. More than ten years ago I had a stroke and the Venerable Master was most compassionate; the Master had an acupuncturist diagnose and save me. I am very grateful to the Venerable Master for being alive and not disfigured today. At that time, the Master had ordered me to refrain from chilled foods or water. Unfortunately I didn't heed the Master's advice during the second week of the repentance ceremony. At one meal, I was overjoyed to see ice cream and ate quite a bit of it. After I went to bed that night, I couldn't get up for a week.
On the third day of being bedridden, I dreamt that a group of people grabbed and asked me, "Do you know how to recite the Great Compassion Mantra?" I said, "Sure, I recite it every day. Of course I know how." One person said, "Let's hear you recite it then!" I agreed and began reciting the mantra. After I was done, he said, "Oh, not a wrong word from beginning to end. Good. You pass!" Then I woke up. Again, I am grateful to the Venerable Master for teaching me to recite the Great Compassion Mantra. It took me a long time to learn this mantra. One day, as I was scratching my head and wondering why I was unable to memorize the Great Compassion Mantra, I read the mantra over and memorized it immediately. Hence, when you're trying to memorize the Great Compassion Mantra, you should memorize one line before proceeding to the next line; that way you will be able to memorize the mantra. Memorizing sutras and mantras aid our Dharma bodies and wisdom bodies; thus we should value our time at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas and appreciate everything that the Venerable Master has done for us.
I almost forgot one other point. I wanted to remind everybody to not think about any special response from this repentance if you had any. Why? Regardless of the Dharma door I cultivate I always experience an efficacious response. One day the Venerable Master said to me, "The more false thoughts you have, the more efficacious responses you experience." Those who didn't gain any response need not pray for them; otherwise you place a head on top of a head. We should pay no attention to whether we receive responses or not. The Shurangama Sutra is the best sutra for our cultivation. The Venerable Master had wished that his disciples would quickly memorize this Sutra—I hope to memorize the Shurangama Sutra soon.
To be continued