The Earth Store Sutra was the first Buddhist Sutra that I read. That was eleven years ago. Even then, I felt a sense of great security (from the first recitation). Even in the hells, there is still such a compassionate and kind Bodhisattva to save and protect us. Every year on my birthday I recited the
Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva for seven days for my parents. When my grandmother and other relatives passed away, I also recited the
Earth Store Sutra and transferred the merit to them. I considered myself a disciple of the Pure Land School.
Last year I turned forty and decided that I would not live for myself any more. After being laid off from work, I wanted to devote myself to creating affinities with many beings, so I went back to my home country. Because of my heavy karma, I did something wrong. I returned to the US and I felt extremely fearful that my life might be short and it might be hard to evade the consequences of bad karma. With such a defiled mind, I knew that I was no longer in accordance with the Pure Land. I had retreated from faith in the Pure Land. Hence I ran about everywhere trying to find a place to rely on. Finally, I realized that I could only beseech great compassion from Earth Store Bodhisattva. Earth Store Bodhisattva can best understand beings such as I, who have heavy karmic obstacles and cannot yet vigorously contemplate impermanence, impurity, and non-self. These beings lack self-restraint, and therefore it is difficult not to create new obstacles. Even though I always wanted to bow the Repentance for Divining One’s Offenses, I succeeded in doing so each day only after April 1st this year. The Repentance for Divining One’s Offenses is a Dharma-door taught by Earth Store Bodhisattva. There is a detailed method for contemplation for each bow. It can rapidly eliminate one’s karmic obstacles and increase and reinforce pure faith.
I lack strong nerves and concentration and my mind is very scattered. I have not had any auspicious states yet, except for one night, I dreamt of a small peach tree in my backyard. There was no peach on the tree, yet the corn in the ground was growing fast. I knew that the tree represented the cleansing of my bad karma, and the fruit had not ripened yet. On the other hand, the prerequisites were growing fast.
More and more I felt the great compassion of Earth Store Bodhisattva when bowing the Repentance for Divining One’s Offenses. Since infinite eons, I have been saved by the Bodhisattva infinite times. From this seven-day session, I finally realized the mental power that helped me bounce back from the bottom of my life was from the great vow power of Earth Store Bodhisattva. Each small good root and proper wish of mine was all planted by Earth Store Bodhisattva when he saved me from evil destinies in the past. Thus deep in my heart a solid faith in Earth Store Bodhisattva has arisen which I have never had before. At that moment, tears filled my eyes and my knees were trembling.
During the repentance, I never had such a sincere desire for Dharma and knew that only the Dharma can bring purity to my mind. Even though the essential nature of sin is empty, sin originates from the false mind and there is nothing real and substantial to grasp onto. However, we should still cultivate continuously. Only then will the pure Dharma appear gradually. Sometimes I wonder if I can really eliminate all my karmic obstacles. For example, one day as I walked into the Buddha hall, I sighed: “Enlightenment and Nirvana are still far away”. When I sat down and read the
Sutra for Divining One’s Good and Bad Retributions, I came across how Earth Store Bodhisattva comforted weak beings: “All dharmas are like dreams and illusions. Afflictions, birth and death are of little power, and easy to eliminate. They are originally no afflictions, and birth and death are only the inherent nature, and that is Nirvana.” Sometimes I was disappointed because I did not see good signs. However, when I thought about it, no merit could be greater than the vow of the Bodhisattva to save all living beings. No matter what, I must rely on Earth Store Bodhisattva’s great compassion; only then can I hope to leave suffering with all other living beings.
In the Sutra for Divining One’s Good and Bad Retributions, Earth Store Bodhisattva teaches the “mind-&-consciousness-only contemplation” for dull beings like me. All the surroundings manifest as a result of my own mind. If we encounter good people or events, that is because our mind is gentle and kind. If the surrounding people and things feel unbearable, we should be aware that our mind has problems—it is time to do a seven day session!
On a final note, I sincerely praise people in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas who devote all their hearts and bodies, with such a selfless spirit to protecting the Triple Jewel. I understood for the first time that I have missed the genuine benefits of Venerable Master Hua’s Dharma-teaching because of my previous pride and negligence.
I should always bear in mind that only Earth Store Bodhisattva can be counted on during the most difficult times. Earth Store Bodhisattva taught me how to repent and study the “mind-&-consciousness-only contemplation”. Even when I was on the airplane on the way back to my home country, I recited his holy names 10,000 times and did not have jet lag. Bodhisattva takes care of me and teaches me anytime and anywhere. I am full of gratitude whenever I think about his great help and generosity. Thus, it does not matter whether or not I see auspicious signs during this lifetime. I will maintain the pure faith I have now and continue to repent sincerely and accumulate merit, learn to protect the Triple Jewel, quickly practice stopping-contemplation, gain rebirth in the Western Pure Land, and then follow the greatly compassionate Earth Store Bodhisattva to save suffering beings in all directions.