I came from Taiwan, and this is my third time visiting the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB). It is also my third time participating in a seven-day Guanyin (Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva) Recitation Session. Reflecting as to why I have come here, I realize that it is because of a colleague of mine who has taken refuge with Venerable Master Hua. She introduced me to Master Hua’s teachings, and gave me his books to read. I appreciate the way Master taught the Dharma, and I have come to admire him very much for it. It is tremendously unfortunate for me that the Master has already entered into Nirvana. Why did I lack the conditions to know the Master earlier, meet the Master, and receive the teachings from him in person?
My colleague first invited me to CTTB in 1996, and I happily accepted. It was during this first visit that I began to understand how different life at CTTB can be from life at home. It is quite tranquil and peaceful here, which has the effect of calming both mind and body. Discursive thoughts seem to occur less frequently, and it feels as though the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and the Eight Types of Dharma Protectors are guarding one well. Here at CTTB, one wouldn’t dare entertain a single unwholesome thought, put forth less than one’s best effort, or allow one’s vigor to wane, for it seems as though any false effort may offend the Dharma Protectors. I enjoy participating in the recitation sessions conducted in the Buddha Hall, particularly the recitations of the
Avatamsaka (Flower Adornment) Sutra and the Great Compassion Repentance. These recitations are seldom performed in Taiwan, my homeland. After every session, I find that my mind is so serene and calm that I do not wish to utter words. Days spent here are always fruitful and enriching. Early on, one may feel that the body has become tired from the vigorous effort of cultivation, but in the end, one’s mind is filled with the joy of the Dharma, the spirit is raised, and the need for rest may be satisfied with only a modicum of sleep.
Facing a portrait of Master Hua, I relayed to him that even though I have not officially taken refuge with him, I had done so already in my mind. Since then, I would like to follow the Six Guidelines of CTTB and vow to complete 10,000 prostrations to the Buddha. While at CTTB I completed over 7,000 prostrations, and I completed the 10,000 prostrations after returning to Taiwan.
I am very touched by the gentleness and the smoothness of the recitations at CTTB, particularly the Universal Door Chapter of the
Lotus Sutra. During the ceremony, the mouth and vocal chords are reciting, the ears are listening, the mind is contemplating; one can feel the great compassion of Guanyin. I always become very emotional at the verse,
The true contemplation,
the pure contemplation,
the contemplation of boundless wisdom,
the contemplation of compassion and kindness,
one should often make such vows,
one should often pay homage.
I reflect on the notion and weep that Guanyin Bodhisattva is ceaselessly and tirelessly doing everything in his power to save sentient beings day and night. It is shameful for me to know that I am still in samsara and lack vigor in my cultivation. For these reasons, when I recite the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva to myself, I maintain a grateful, remorseful, and penitent mind.
I would like to relate to you the power that Guanyin Bodhisattva has had in my life. I began reciting the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva when I was still in high school. My family is not a Buddhist family, but there were a few books about Buddhism in our home, and my elder brother introduced me to one that discussed the efficacy of reciting the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva. After reading this book, I began reciting the name of the Buddha and the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva. My mind became extraordinarily serene. One night, while sleeping, my body became paralyzed, and I had the feeling of being crushed. I could not move, nor could I speak. In my mind, I fervently recited the Guanyin Bodhisattva’s holy name as I began to wake. I saw the white-clothed Guanyin Bodhisattva appear beside me, and all of my discomfort passed. When I awoke, I was heartened with joy; more convinced than ever that the Bodhisattva exists.
At that time, my father was not well. In the middle of the night, when my family was asleep, I knelt in front of my window and prayed to Guanyin Bodhisattva for the speedy recovery of my father. My father’s health indeed took a turn for the better, and we both discovered through palmistry that his “life line” had become longer. Now more than ever, I am convinced of the great ability of Guanyin Bodhisattva to help us. One needs only faith and sincerity, and the Bodhisattva will hear you.
During my final year in high school, the stress of the exams was tremendous and everyone was nervous, as only the top 20% of students are accepted. To be accepted in a National University is even harder. Every night before going to sleep, I recited the
Heart Sutra three to seven times, and the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva. I prayed fervently that I might be accepted into a public university in order to reduce my parents’ burdens, because neither of my elder brothers was accepted into a public university and private universities are so expensive. Things would be even better for me if I were accepted into the National Normal University, as it has been my ambition to be a teacher. I was also looking forward to the fact that, in the universities, I could join Dharma camps organized by the Buddhist Society and formally study the Dharma.
There are several advantages to studying at the Normal University in Taiwan. It is one of the top universities. Not only is the tuition as well as room and board subsidized, there are also monthly allowances, and one can become a teacher upon graduation. There are Buddhist Clubs in the universities, and during holidays Dharma camps are organized and students can learn about Buddhism. In the past, I had read about Buddhism on my own, so I hoped that there would be others there to teach me more about Buddhism. With my marks from high school, I qualified to enter a public university, however the requirements for the Normal University were more challenging. So each day I recited the
Heart Sutra, and I felt my mind become more serene and at ease. I was not afraid, and I did not worry. My classmates? They seemed agitated and concerned. Finally, I learned that Guanyin Bodhisattva had granted my wish – I was accepted into the Normal University. My gratitude was immense.
While studying at the college, once I left my wallet in the taxi. Although there were not that many personal documents inside it, I felt sad and blamed myself for being absentminded. The thought of having to reapply for everything only added to my agitation over these events. Why did I find myself in these situations? My mind was in a whirl and unsettled.
I strolled to the garden in the university’s campus trying to settle my mind. I prayed that I might be able to retrieve my wallet. Thus, I would know that the Bodhisattva is mighty indeed, and my faith would increase. However, I felt ashamed that I should trouble Guanyin Bodhisattva over such a small matter. It is for him to test sentient beings, and not for ones like me to “test” his power. I felt terribly ashamed after that, but I suppose, due to my low spirits, he did not consider this too harmful. A few days later, the taxi driver returned my wallet. My friends were amazed! Such a fortunate outcome is uncommon indeed in Taipei!
When I first started being a vegetarian, my parents were totally against it. At the table, my father attempted time after time to make me eat meat. I of course refused and was inevitably scolded. Mealtime became something I dreaded. In the end, my father was so angry that he slandered the Triple Jewel. I became distressed that I had done something unfilial—in order to insist on vegetarianism, I caused my father to commit the serious offense of slandering the Triple Jewel. With tears welling forth, I prayed to the Bodhisattva again. Very inconceivably, my father no longer fiercely opposed my vegetarianism. Meanwhile, a couple of relatives who were vegetarians visited my home and explained to my father the benefits of vegetarianism.
If everything in life were smooth sailing, one would not grow. I often asked to be empowered by Guanyin Bodhisattva, and for his help to enable me to handle affairs in my life with compassion and wisdom. My gratitude to the Bodhisattva is immeasurable. He really does contemplate the sounds of the world, and responds in kind to each and every one of us. Every single individual’s pleas for help will never go unnoticed by the compassionate Bodhisattva. He is like a great vessel in the sea of suffering – never letting anyone down and never giving up on anyone. He helps sentient beings to cross over, and he is indeed a reliable refuge for us in this age.
I believe that in following the path toward Buddhahood, it is one’s own responsibility to cultivate well, and that one can rely on Guanyin Bodhisattva to deal with external factors. Surely, he will shower infinite care and concern upon us, and compassionately aid us in our cultivation. In the Great Compassion Repentance, the Bodhisattva states,
“One who recites the Great Compassion Mantra in his present life,
if all he seeks is not according to his wishes,
this will not be the Great Compassion Mantra.”
Furthermore, for the sake of sentient beings, Shakyamuni Buddha reincarnates in this Saha World 8,000 times in order to teach, convert and cross them over. Guanyin Bodhisattva became a Buddha eons ago, but he transforms as a Bodhisattva again in order to help us. The only way for us to repay the great kindness and compassion shown by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is to now be vigorous and sincere in our cultivation.