Abbot Bhikshu Heng Lyu Shi:
Venerable Master, all good advisors, good evening!
How long does it take to complete the Jeweled Repentance of Ten Thousand Buddhas? Twenty-one days? No, it takes twenty-three days. Some people prostrated so much that they've forgotten. Some did it by bowing once to each Buddha, while others did "Three Buddhas One Bow" [a pun on "Three Steps One Bow"]. They bowed so much that they could hardly get up anymore. However, with each passing day, we became one day closer to perfecting the Repentance. In total we performed the Repentance for twenty-three days. For the concluding program, we shall share our afterthoughts and personal stories, so that we will become even more diligent in cultivation. Let's begin with the women.
Bowing the Repentance Ceremony to Repent and Reform;
Eliminating Offenses to Attain Purity Bhikshuni Heng Sheng Shi:
All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, Venerable Master, faithful devotees, Amitabha!
Tonight, let me, Heng Sheng, speak about my thoughts and personal encounters from performing the Jeweled Repentance of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The Buddha Speaks the Names of Buddhas Sutra states, "Should there be someone who upholds and recites the names of these Buddhas, this person shall never fall into the evil paths and will ascend to be among heavenly beings. This individual shall constantly accompany all the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and wise teachers, as well as part with all anxieties, thereby attaining great Bodhi." The Buddhas have constantly practiced the Bodhisattva Way during times past, becoming adorned with the myriad virtues and successfully ending karma and emptying emotions, thus benefiting all beings.
Take the example of the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva before us, whose former title was Proper Dharma Brightness Tathagata. She now manifests as a Bodhisattva and compassionately rescues all beings caught in pain and suffering. In contrast, the ordinary human being has heavy karma and is confused by emotions, such that he incessantly revolves through incarnations within the Six Paths. To realize the Buddha Way, we must first repent for our offense karma. To repent is simply to be remorseful for past faults and vow not to commit future misdeeds. It is exactly as Upasaka Yuan Liao-Fan stated, "Let us regard the deeds of the past as if we died yesterday; let us view the deeds of the future as if we were born today."
Let me talk about the foolishness of my own mundane self. In 1994, I was afflicted with sciatic pains, and it became difficult for me to walk, sit, or lie down. It felt like a bunch of buckets that were stuck together and could not be pulled apart. What made it even more agonizing was that everyday I still had to confront my students with a grimace. Although I consulted doctors everywhere, it was futile: one day I would visit the doctor, the next day the aching returned. It was not that they were inept; instead I was the one too foolish. In the past, I ate the flesh of living beings, drank their blood, gnawed on their bones, and swallowed their marrow. I had relentlessly hurt living beings, so I fully deserved this retribution.
Therefore, during the Repentance, I sincerely paid respect to the Triple Jewel of the ten directions. Contemplating in accord with the text, I remorsefully sought forgiveness and begged for the Triple Jewel to compassionately accept me. On the night of the Venerable Master's birthday, I dreamt that I saw an immense mirror, which was the same mirror that I use when I practice the Forty-two Hands and Eyes. Slowly and clearly, as if on a movie screen, I saw my mother's brother. I reacted by saying, "That's my uncle!" A voice responded, "Yes, it is your uncle who is bringing you pain." "The plaque for the 'Jeweled Repentance of the Ten Thousand Buddhas' has already been inscribed, but I cannot receive the Precepts for the Deceased on his behalf until end of May." "That is fine," was the reply. Then someone led me to another chamber, where another person brought pen and paper for me. I wrote down my uncle's name: "Liang Hai-Po" and then woke up.
The next day I spoke to a fellow cultivator about this dream, and she said, "You should do as instructed by the Great Compassionate Heart Dharani Sutra." Normally I also recite the Great Compassion Mantra. The Dharani Sutra states that Moonlight Bodhisattva spoke the Moonlight Bodhisattva Dharani Mantra for the sake of cultivators, instructing one to reverently recite the Moonlight Bodhisattva Dharani Mantra five times and then tie the five-colored thread around where it hurts. This mantra was spoken by all past Buddhas as numerous as the sands in the Ganges River, for the sake of protecting cultivators from severe pains.
Inconceivably, after I did as instructed, I felt an absolutely ineffable, refreshing feeling. The verses of praise for the Great Compassion Mantra say:
The great mantra of great compassion penetrates heaven and earth.
One hundred recitations for one thousand days causes ten kings to rejoice.
Its great compassion and kindness cure all disease;
And so an announcement is projected high upon the offense screen.
We are very fortunate to have met the Venerable Master, who is such a great kind scholar. These things I mentioned thus far show us that if we do not bring forth a repentant mind, wishing to achieve Buddhahood would be like cooking sand and hoping to get rice. Even if we cook for as many eons as there are sands in the Ganges River, we still would be unsuccessful. Therefore, we must be diligent in repenting. We must follow the example of the Venerable Master and uphold the pure precepts. Furthermore, we must emulate the spirit of the Bodhisattvas in cultivating all meritorious virtues and traveling to all lands to benefit all living beings. Amitabha!