The Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store
Bodhisattva (Earth Store Sutra) is a Buddhist sutra on
filial respect. Earth Store King Bodhisattva is the most
filial Bodhisattva among all Bodhisattvas. Reciting the
Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva and this
Bodhisattva's holy name continuously for a week woke up a
lot of people. These cultivators have decided to emulate the
Earth Store Bodhisattva's filiality and free their parents
from numerous past lifetimes from the pain of the three evil
ways and six paths. Many Americans have never even heard of
the word "filiality," let alone practice it. However,
filiality is the foundation to being human, the keystone to
the Way. On the basis of filial respect, the Venerable
Master Hsuan Hua taught and transformed living beings
compassionately. "One becomes accomplished on the path to
Buddhahood as one fulfills the duties of a human being."
Each participant's heartfelt words and experiences are worth
pondering. I hope that readers will bring forth the resolve
for Bodhi as they read these insights. As the Venerable
Master had essentially said, we should repay our parents'
kindness with true filiality, that is, to realize Buddhahood.
Bhikshuni Heng Yue Shi :
Chinese translation by Linda Wang
While reciting the Earth Store Sutra, some lines always
appear in my head, such as those of the Tenth Chapter, "The
merit and virtue of making transferences to the Dharma Realm
is inconceivable." Every time I recite a sutra, I transfer
merit and virtue to everyone. We work on eliminating our
flaws every day and every moment, doing so consistently like
the flowing water during springtime. Last week we saw some
slides on China. It was only then that I understood the
Venerable Master's words, "Buddhadharma no longer exists in
China." That's why the Venerable Master came to the West,
propagating Buddhism so that Buddhadharma flourishes,
especially here in America.
The kitchen manager gave me some old alfalfa sprout seeds. I
didn't use them because the weather's too hot; they'll die
instantly. During the seven-day session, I had planted some
old seeds but no one wanted to eat the unsavory vegetables
grown from the old seeds. We forget that to enjoy blessings
is to expend blessings, to endure suffering is to end
suffering. The Venerable Master said that we should continue
to work hard despite fatigue. In fact, circumstances in
which we're exhausted are genuine tests of our patience.
Everyone should work hard at making Buddhism flourish by the
day, which is to sincerely transfer merit and virtue to the
entire Dharma Realm.
Upasaka Qin Long from Canada:
Chinese translation by Yvonne
My name is Qin Long, I'm part of the Sangha Laity Training
Program, hoping to become a novice fairly soon. I never
really had any special responses from this session, except
for a few insights. I had a dream earlier in the week. My
mom was upset with me but for good reason.
What did I gain through this session? I gained a lot of
insights by reflecting on different aspects of my parents'
kindness and ways that I've been unfilial to my parents.
It's taken a long time for me to realize just how much my
parents have done for me over the years. They've taken a lot
of my suffering away from me and eased the blow of some of
my retributions during my teenage years. I don't think I
could ever repay their invaluable kindness. The only way to
repay their kindness, I believe, is to leave the home-life
here under the Venerable Master.
Through leaving home, doing well in my cultivation and
learning a lot, I may repay my parents by teaching them
Dharma. I see how they can apply Dharma in their everyday
lives. One thing I did during this session was to request a
copy of the Earth Store Sutra to give to my parents so that
they may read it.
Why the Earth Store Sutra? My parents, particularly my mom,
have been asking me about different aspects of Buddhism. One
is reincarnation, the workings of retribution and how our
present life ties into our past and future lives. She's
never encountered these kinds of ideas before. She's had a
lot of questions that I've had a difficult time answering.
The Earth Store Sutra explains this a lot better than I do.
My mom and dad have wondered about why one should have to
deal with things that one doesn't even remember from one's
past lives? Why should one even have to worry about it?
These are questions that someone with little wisdom like
myself can hardly answer sufficiently. So I thought it would
be better to pass on this Sutra with the Master's
commentary. Maybe this would open my mom and dad up a little
more to the Dharma and allow them to understand more of
where I'm coming.
Another reason for getting this sutra in particular is that
it talks about filial piety. "Filial piety" are words that
we don't even hear in this country. I had to get my mom to
repeat these words; she didn't know how to pronounce them.
It's just something that we don't hear. I explained to her
that respect for your parents is very important in Buddhism.
Along with that, before I shaved my head and took the eight
precepts on March 25, I had a real long talk with my
parents. We went to San Francisco for a few days. I ended up
breaking down and crying to my parents about how sorry I was
for all the years of misbehavior and ingratitude. At one
point, I told them that I should've been bowing to them.
They thought that was really strange, but that's how much
appreciation and realization I've had regarding everything
they've done and how I was lacking. In the western world we
don't talk about filial piety much. I haven't watched TV
much in the last year, but I'd imagine that filial piety,
respect for parents, elders and teachers are values absent
from news and different programs. These are values that have
taken a beating in this country ever since I could remember.
At the same time, these are values that we really need to
learn in this country, actually in the world over too. We
need to get back to the fundamentals to rebuild our nature
and ourselves, returning to what's important before we stray
off too far. The best way that I feel I can contribute to
this is to examine the Earth Store Sutra and learn the
Buddhadharma well. Maybe someday I will have the wisdom to
help spread the Dharma and teach Westerners and others about
kindness, etc.—if I ever become an eloquent enough of a
speaker; I'm not quite there yet.
I urge everyone to cherish this time that we've had, to
reflect on filiality and investigate the Earth Store Sutra
deeply because this is an important and good sutra to live
To be continued