I thought it was kind of strange that even during the first day of attending the Guanyin Recitation Session, I had a feeling (or maybe a voice) that told me I would be speaking on stage tonight, and that I had to take notes everyday for this session. Of course I didn’t pay much attention to it. This is because my husband and I would come to the Guanyin and Earth Store Recitation Sessions every once in a while, we would stay for only a day or two. We were here for the events more than for real learning. Although this time, it did occur to me that I should stay for the whole session, we weren’t sure that we could make it, because we are quite busy with our lives. Also, we thought we probably didn’t have enough will power to stay. What made our staying for the whole seven days possible was that the trade show my husband had planned to go to was cancelled at the last minute. That we are able to finish the whole session is very meaningful for us.
First of all, I would like to thank my husband for taking seven days out of his busy schedule to cooperate with me. It was surprising that I was able to attend the Shurangama Mantra recitation in the morning ceremony for all these seven days. You have to understand that I had never been able to get up at 3:30 a.m. in the morning. I thought I would last only for one or two days. Although I was tired, sleepy and the weather was bitterly cold, I have pulled through everyday without feeling tired.
Many verses in the Universal Door Chapter are very touching. Every time I recited them, my heart was moved. Guanyin Bodhisattva’s kindness and compassion help eradicate beings’ suffering and bestow on them joy; it makes me feel small and selfish. For eight years, I have been in the banking and finance field, with a little accomplishment. Yet it has also nurtured my selfishness and arrogance. This session enabled me to reflect and come face to face with my shortcomings. Also, when listening to the Six Guidelines in the ceremonies, “No fighting, no greed, no selfishness…” I realize that I still have a long way to go in cultivation.
During the walking recitation, sometimes I tried to listen to my own recitation, or tried to be mindful of my footsteps, in order to limit my false thinking. Sometimes during the fast-paced recitation, my false thoughts also sped up, almost proportionally, as if they were competing with the recitation itself. In brief, to develop a concentrated mind, I need to really apply myself while not over-forcing myself.
The full lotus position is the most challenging. I not only had to try to control my thoughts, I also had to bear the great pain in my legs. I felt fresh in the morning, so it was a lot easier to get through in the morning than in the afternoon during which excruciating pain occurred. My body felt as if it was on fire, and I lost all concentration. As I was enduring all this, there suddenly arose an inner voice saying, “If it comes, it comes, don’t force it. Just let it be, and be patient.” I was amazed on the spot at how I could have uttered words of such profundity, but it bolstered me with vigor for another two days.
Last night when we were circumambulating in the Buddha Hall reciting Amitabha, for no apparent reason tears welled up and streamed down my face. A voice from inside said: “Don’t you feel tired of walking like this, circling around and around? How much farther do you still have to go? No matter how far you go, you still will have to come back…” I don’t know why I would say this to myself, but it came as an inspiring and meaningful message for me!
In conclusion, during this session, I learned a lot. My deepest impression is that, to be a student of Dharma, I must leave behind all my thoughts, ideas, greed, and selfishness to attain selflessness and to accord with living beings. If I can’t even do that, it wouldn’t help no matter how many more sutras I recite. Let’s all learn together. Amitabha.