Upasaka Cai Guo Hao from Malaysia:
The Dharma assembly has successfully concluded today. I believe everyone is filled with Dharma joy. I participated in every period during the last twenty-one days' session because it's a requirement for those of us leaving home soon. [Editor's note: Upasaka Cai Guo Hao is one of the members of the Shramanera-trainee program.] Although the participation was mandatory, we nevertheless benefited from bowing repentance. Sure our feet hurt when we started bowing, but we got used to it after two or three days, and ended up bowing with much more ease and energy. What do I mean by that? To chant loudly is the wonderful Dharma here. When you turn up the volume of your incantation you will eliminate sleepiness and be full of spirit. The more you sing, the happier you get; the more you sing along, the more energized you become—all your pores and cells seem to chant along too. Isn't that quiet wonderful? On that day you'll also be especially upbeat, a feeling that will last until bedtime.
My personal experience has been that even before I fall asleep, the tune and Buddhas' names from the Buddha Hall ceremony still echo in my head. Sutras such as the
Karmic Difference Sutra elaborate, "By reciting Buddhas' names and sutras loudly, one accrues ten meritorious virtues. Namely, one will: (1) eliminate sleepiness; (2) scare heavenly demons; (3) permeate the ten directions with one's sound; (4) end the suffering of the three paths; (5) prevent the entrance of external sounds; (6) ensure that the mind does not scatter; (7) cultivate courageously and vigorously; (8) delight all Buddhas; (9) bring forth samadhi; and (10) be reborn in the Pure Land. The
Jewel Accumulation Sutra also states, "Reciting the Buddha's name with a high volume causes the demon armies to retreat and disperse." So a sonorous and vibrant voice in chanting, reciting the Buddha's name and reciting sutras makes the Dharma assembly even more adorned and upbeat.
Maybe someone will ask, "Why are you talking about all this? The Dharma session has already ended." Don't worry, everyone can use this method during June's Avatamsaka Dharma Assembly. Amitofo!
Upasaka Sun Guo Wei of Singapore:
The "Chapter of Universal Worthy's Conduct and Vows" explains Universal Worthy Bodhisattva's third vow, to pervasively practice the giving of offerings, by saying, "Among all offerings, the offering of Dharma is the foremost." As Buddhist disciples of proper faith, we should commit our bodies and minds to protecting and upholding Buddhism, propagating the proper Dharma, and giving whatever we can to constantly turn the Dharma wheel; thus we ensure that living beings will always follow the Buddha's teachings. Shakyamuni Buddha has already entered nirvana; although we may be far from the Honored One, the Buddha's teachings remain in the world. Every eminent and virtuous patriarch has relied on the Buddha's teachings to cultivate and certify to the fruit. We should waste no time to follow in the Buddha's footsteps, apply the principles that he taught, deeply enter the sutra treasury and grow and nurture our Dharma body and wisdom life.
"Faith is the mother of merit and virtue." We should be especially confident about Buddhadharma and the Venerable Master's teachings. If not for the Venerable Master's teachings, it would have been very unlikely for us to stumble onto the path of cultivation. However, cultivation depends on each individual; we should boldly and vigorously practice, never retreating. In an excellent environment for cultivation such as the CTTB, we should exhort ourselves to maximize our potential, advancing toward our goal. Beyond feeling fortunate for having completed the Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance Ceremony, I hope once you're home you will constantly admonish yourself to not retreat from your initial resolve, to not languish and to not eat meat again.
I'm particpating in the Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance Dharma Assembly for the third time now. At the conclusion of every session, I'm recharged. I feel this is an efficacious response from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, motivating me to be more vigorous on and not retreat from the road of cultivation. Dharma masters at CTTB now take turns speaking the Dharma every night, a new trend that symbolizes proper dharma in the world. I hope that in the near future, Dharma masters from Dharma Realm Buddhist Association will reside permanently in Singapore and propagate proper Dharma. Lastly, I wish with all my heart that all living beings will soon take refuge with the Triple Jewel, bring forth the Bodhi resolve and quickly attain Buddhahood.
Shramanera Ming Heng:
I was born in Vietnam and came from Belgium. I've been in the U.S. for a year. This is my first Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance, also my first Dharma talk on stage. Having bowed the great names of ten thousand Buddhas, I want to repent and reform all my past evil karma, such as killing, eating meat, violating precepts, etc. I pray that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will bless me, blast away my stupidity and reveal my wisdom.
During the process of bowing in repentance, I encountered various kinds of tests. Sometimes I felt tired, drowsy or physically uncomfortable. My false thoughts fluttered about as well; one ridiculous scene after another unfolded in my mind. Suddenly I wanted to scream, "Turn these movies off! I don't want to watch them!" I can only tell myself to stop resisting and being turned by states. After all, I created this karma. For now, I can only focus on repenting so as to eliminate my karmic obstacles and pave a smoother path for future cultivation.
The Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance has successfully concluded today, I hope that everyone will continue to be vigorous and not retreat, bowing to the Buddhas and repenting when you return home.
June 14, 1999
Bhikshuni Heng Yi:
At the Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance Ceremony in 1984 or 1985, the Venerable Master walked into the hall one day to watch everyone bow to the Buddhas. During a break, the Venerable Master peacefully sauntered out of the Buddha Hall. As he strolled along, he loudly recited the fifth of the "Ten Doors of Meaning in the Repentance Procedures," regarding requesting the Triple Jewel. This made quite an impression on me because I felt as if this verse was praising my teacher. The praise says,
The Buddhas' Dharma body originally has no coming or going;
However, for the sake of crossing over living beings,
He manifests as coming into being and ceasing to be.
He has completed the four wisdoms,
Ascending high in the heaven of the primary truth.
He has perfected a myriad virtues, and
His shadow pervades the ocean of lands in the ten directions.
He is like a great benefactor and an as-you-wish pearl.
He is also like a great physician
And a wholesome medicine tree that one easily detects.
Like an echo in an empty valley,
He responds to everyone's requests.
He resembles the sunlight of spring,
Shining pervasively and benefiting living beings.
Living beings and I sink into and revolve
In the world of the five turbidities,
Always troubled by eight kinds of sufferings.
Thus we are unable to see the Buddha's body.
Now we have a chance to hear the virtuous one's name.
Therefore we prepare flowers and incense as an offering to the Buddha
In this pure and adorned platform.
We bow sincerely and gaze into empty space...
Upon hearing the Venerable Master recite this verse of praise, many people followed suit. "The Buddha's Dharma body originally has no coming or going" is similar to the explanation in Chapter One, "The Wonderful Adornments of World Leaders," of the
Avatamsaka Sutra: "Its body pervades and manifests in the ten directions, yet it does not come from or go anywhere." The
Vajra Sutra also states, "The Thus Come One is without coming and going."
Although the Venerable Master has entered stillness, I feel that the Venerable Master has not come or gone. To save us living beings, the Venerable Master exemplified production and extinction. He warns us that the human body is difficult to acquire, that we should use this body to cultivate well so that we will have no regrets after death. Once we fall, we will not have a human body in which to cultivate.
During this Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance ceremony, worries plagued me. During the last few weeks, for some unknown reason or no reason at all, somebody inevitably scolded me. I immediately reflected at the time, "Maybe I've scolded her in the past, so now I'm receiving this retribution." Yet I re- main temperamental. Strangely enough, on the same day we paid homage to "Leave Hatred, Resentment and Afflictions Buddha," "Always Smiling Buddha," "Having Attained Benefits Thus Always Joyous Buddha." While chanting "Namo Always Smiling Buddha," I couldn't help but smile knowingly. Why concern yourself with someone's insults? That's too stupid! One can only be joyous if one leaves scum behind; one won't be afflicted if one leaves hatred and resentment. Therefore, bowing to the Buddhas is a good thing.
Sometimes I wasn't focused; my false thoughts fluttered about and even the noises that the peacocks made annoyed me. Just at that time, we happened to bow in homage to "Peacock Sound Buddha." Actually, peacocks have the Buddha nature, so they can become Buddhas as well. Sometimes, other obstructions frustrated me so that I didn't want to continue to chant or bow. Coincidentally, we would then chant and bow to, "Namo Emit Sounds Buddha." I immediately chanted aloud the names of the Buddhas, harmonizing with the rest of the assembly. Naturally my mind calmed and was filled with Dharma joy. Imperceptibly, I broke through another impasse of not wanting to bow to the Buddhas.
What was even more amazing was that during the Dharma Assembly when everyone was busy bowing to the Buddhas, someone was even busier. She wasn't busy bowing to the Buddhas, though; she was busy running back and forth before the gathering, distracting people from bowing to the Buddhas. She might move the censer or some other object with her hands. My gaze followed her every motion, and I grumbled, "What the heck is she doing?" Guess to which Buddha we happen to bow at that time? "Namo Unmoving Eyes Buddha," "Namo Impartial Gaze Buddha." What's even more amazing is that we then bowed to "Namo Universally Dispersing Fragrance Bright Buddha," "Namo Boundless Fragrance Buddha," "Namo Jeweled Jalini Hands Buddha" and other Buddhas related to fragrance and hands.
As the Sixth Patriarch's Platform Sutra tells us, "It's not the flag that moves; it's not the wind that moves, but it's the gentleman's mind that moves." You are asking for trouble if you chase after states. Don't look at someone else; don't follow someone's whereabouts; don't track changing states with your eyes—that is the Unmoving Eyes Buddha. At the same time, we should make transference to all living beings, praying that all living beings will enter the "no-fighting samadhi," a samadhi of Unmoving Eyes Buddha.
Every sutra and repentance dharma urges us to work on our own- nature, disposing greed, hatred and stupidity and attaining precepts, samadhi and wisdom. "Namo Relinquishing Contention Buddha," for example, has left all disputes and arguments behind. "Namo Not Following Others Buddha" is unmoved by states. "Namo Protecting Roots Buddha" safeguards his core and does not casually pursue others' inclinations. "Namo Subduing Resentment Buddha" has tamed all diabolical indignation and afflictions.
During the taped lecture on the Avatamsaka Sutra last night, the Venerable Master said that we should desist from ignorance, afflictions and anger. Even if others are unkind to us, we must not be irked. One of the ugliest sights is one of someone getting angry. The Avatamsaka Sutra also says, "A true offering is to have no hatred on one's face." The Venerable Master also said, "The fire of ignorance is the tiger spirit that can burn up a forest of merit and virtue." From this saying you should know how serious bad tempers can be; thus we must regu- late our tempers.
Since I've got an awful temper, I can't stand encountering negative situations or insults. I caution myself with one of my favorite verses by the Venerable Master, which goes:
All things are easy to handle,
But a bad temper is hard to dissolve.
To truly have no anger is to gain a priceless jewel.
If one never holds grudges, everything will go well.
When afflictions never arise,
How can karmic obstacles find one?
He who always finds fault with others is miserable himself.