Bhikshuni Heng Sheng (continued from last issue):
The Universal Door Chapter also says, "If you're caught in a great fire, you cannot be burnt." The
Shurangama Sutra also mentions that "The fire of the nature is true emptiness; the emptiness of the nature is true fire." What does that mean? It stresses the singleness of mind as you recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name. Thought is very important. For example, when the neighbor's house is on fire, you may sincerely recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva so that your house will not catch fire.
In 1923, Japan had a major earthquake, and a huge fire erupted from within the earth. Approximately 300,000 people died. A Tokyo comforter factory had an empty lot large enough for 20,000 people to take refuge. However, flames were everywhere, coloring the sky crimson. Since the fire depleted much of the oxygen, many people died from suffocation. Another large bank had a wall for sheltering fire victims, yet people who stayed there were all steamed to death.
One area of Tokyo was completely destroyed. In its center was a park with a pond. Of course, all the water was desiccated. In the mid- dle was a Guanyin Hall constructed of wood, which is easily flammable. However, the 30,000 some people who sought refuge there were mostly unharmed because they recited Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name sincerely.
More than ten years ago, Yuantong Hermitage in Taichung, Taiwan, underwent reconstruction due to expansion. As the construction was going on, the rainy season arrived. It rained nearly every day for two months. One day, a wall that held back the mud was about to collapse, so the manager told us, "Quick, recite the Great Compassion Mantra." During that emergency, the three of us decided to take turns reciting the Great Compassion Mantra twenty-four hours a day. After reciting for a week, the rain miraculously stopped. The front part of the large hall also stopped eroding. When we were about to lay the ground- work, watery mud oozed out of the earth. That is soil-liquefaction. The project for resurfacing the ground had to discontinue. The engineer then suggested that we dig a well or a fountain to stabilize the amount of moisture. After digging for more than forty feet, we discovered no water. The manager thought it was strange, "How come there was water on the surface, but not water underneath?"
At that time, she remembered that the Venerable Master had told her, "You know, I have lots of dragons for disciples. When you need help, just recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name sincerely and ask for the aid of the Dragon King Bodhisattva." So she went to pray to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. That night, she dreamt of a white dragon. The next morning, the workers were ready to give up, claiming that there was no water. Lots of money had been spent on the project already. The manager asked them to please continue digging. The excavation continued, and water finally spewed out.
Due to those conditions, there were no protrusions in the earth's surface at all in the recent big earthquake. During the time when we were renovating, since the soil had liquefied, the bricks in the ground welled forth. Like a volcano, a lava-like stream flowed from the ground because the earth needed to release its energy. Inspection results from government agencies revealed that the well and the fountain stabilized the amount of water.
Hence, we know that the Venerable Master's vision is very, very far-reaching. His predictions for the future go far beyond what we can see before us.
The day before the earthquake, a layperson brought two bottles of great compassion water to us. He said that it was requested from Nine Flowers Mountain and for the faith-goers here to drink. We put them in the jugs containing water blessed by the Great Compassion Mantra. When the earthquake struck, we couldn't find a flashlight. Nonetheless, we very naturally began to recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name as we exited, and continued to do so nonstop. After we were outside, the automatic lighting system came on. There was no lighting system at the temple originally, but a month before the earthquake, the government had designated the temple as a public facility and required that it install a lighting system.
Prior to this, a layperson had also offered twenty boxes of bottled water. At the time, you couldn't find any bottled water to buy in the entire area of Dongshi. A few days ago Dharma Master Liang mentioned an old woman who would buy things with 100 Taiwan dollars and whose money would turn into paper for the dead; well, she was buying bottled water.
Since the underground pipes had moved about eight meters in position during the earthquake, there was no electricity for about two months and practically no water. We had to go and gather water from the river and lug it back afterwards. We had to be economical with it, too. Hence, the Great Compassion Mantra water and the twenty boxes of bottled water came in handy.
The "Universal Door Chapter" speaks of "endless misery oppressing beings." What misery is this? When the earthquake occurred, the earth cracked open and many people were buried alive along with their furniture. A family of seventeen had all died, except for one child. Another family had a little girl fall into the large stew-pot used to cook for 6,000 people in the rescue camp. Just like that!
Of course, there were times when people were rescued, too. For example, a woman who was studying Buddhism lived in a twelve- story high-rise. The building had tilted about 30 degrees and everything below the seventh floor had sunken into the ground. When a Russian rescue mission arrived, she couldn't be found. That woman was very lucky. She lived on the fourth floor. Where the floor had collapsed and tilted, there was an opening where the air conditioner had been. She climbed out of that crack. As a result, she also resolved to be a vegetarian.
Another girl was riding her motorcycle on her way back home for some clothes. Since the earthquake loosened the soil, she and the motorbike fell into a ravine. Fortunately, she was caught by a tree. There she stayed for a day and a night until a rescue team discovered and saved her.
At that time, every bridge was in disrepair. A car that drove to the middle of the bridge fell over the bridge. It was fortunate that there was no water in the brook. Another believer lived in a house built out of clay. When the earthquake happened, the house collapsed on top of her, causing her to bleed quite a bit. She continued to recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name and prayed that rescue would come quickly. At the same time, her son-in-law thought about this elderly couple: how their house must have collapsed and they must have been hurt. He went to his in-laws quickly. Since he had no tools, he dug with his hands. When he reached the elders, his mother-in-law was in shock, but still tried to point out where his father-in-law was. Unfortunately, by the time he unearthed his father-in-law, the elderly man was dead.
Another believer recited the Great Compassion Mantra. During the earthquake, the house came down, crushing their entire family of seven. Everything on that street had collapsed. When that man called out for his family members, they answered that they were safe, though they could not turn over. At that time, he and his son began to recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name. Oddly enough, in about ten minutes, he was able to turn over on his own. At the time, many houses had shifted from their original locations. For example, a house that was at Yunlin County had moved five kilometers to Jayi County. When the owner opened his eyes, he couldn't find his home!
Hundreds of thousands of the Taiwanese army went on rescue missions following the earthquake. Everyone volunteered out of the goodness of their hearts. They saw corpses that were so mutilated that they no longer resembled human bodies; for example, some were burnt, some were flattened, and some had swollen to become black and blue. A command in the military is the law. Since the higher-ranking officers had ordered so, the soldiers had to move these carcasses. Some rescuers were so horrified that they later committed suicide. We went to help in the disaster area. The national army asked us what method we had to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder. Every unit had to do this. My fellow cultivator quickly responded, "We alleviate post-traumatic stress with the Great Compassion Mantra!" They didn't know how to recite the Great Compassion Mantra, so we recited the Heart of the Shurangama Mantra. In the end, we gave the water of Great Compassion Mantra to them and also put the wearable Great Compassion Mantra and Shurangama Mantra to good use. They were very grateful.
The "Universal Door Chapter" also says, "If you recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva during a great flood, you will immediately arrive at the shore." A few years ago, my Dharma brother had become seriously ill and was sent to the hospital for emergency care. She felt really uncomfortable, as if she was on the brink of death. At that time,the physician arrived to have her drink half a bottle of medicine. Shecould hardly swallow it. Another fellow cultivator said, "You have to drink it so you'll get better. Just complaining will not do." So she drank it.
At this time, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and the Venerable Master arrived, saying, "You two cannot sleep tonight. You must recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name and the Great Compassion Mantra." If you can't recite it out loud, recite it silently. During the recitation, her enemies and creditors filled the room. The Venerable Master also asked her, "Why did you drink that medicine? That was to take your life!" Since she had already drunken it, what was she to do? She couldn't regurgitate it. She then found that her entire stomach swelled up as if was drowning in the sea. That medicine turned into a great ocean. She then remembered that the Venerable Master had said to recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name. So she recited sincerely. Miraculously, when she woke up, she told us that Guanshiyin Bodhisattva had brought her to shore.
From the above, we know that there are supernatural powers and mystical uses to reciting Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and the Great Compassion Mantra. What's the point of emphasis here? It's to recite sin- gle-mindedly.
Last year, a woman came to the Sagely City to participate in the Ten Thousand Buddhas' Jeweled Repentance. She began to study Buddhism earnestly upon her return to Taiwan. A month before the earthquake, she wrote in her diary that if any misfortune occurs in the future, she wants her plaque and remains at the Yuantong Hermitage. That was her wish. In the end, she was crushed to death during the earthquake. Her elder sister called to tell us this. We read her diary and fulfilled her wish. Hence, we must cultivate as soon as possible; hold on to the present moment, for it is the most real.
To be continued