"The Universal Door of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva"
|(continued from Part A)
At that time, Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva used verses to ask
"World Honored One, complete with wondrous marks,
I now ask again,
Why is this disciple of the Buddha
Called Gwan Shr Yin?"
At that time, Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva used verses to ask
this question. Verses are used to restate the doctrines of the
previous prose passage so as to elaborate upon them. The verses to this
chapter were not translated by Kumarajiva, the original translator, but
were added later.
World Honored One, complete with wondrous marks, /I
now ask again. The Buddha has Thirty-two Marks and Eighty
Subsidiary Characteristics. The Buddha's Marks are the most complete and
wonderful. Why is this disciple of the Buddha / Called
Gwan Shr Yin? The Buddha is the Dharma King, and the Bodhisattvas
are his disciples. Why is this disciple of the Buddha called "Contemplator
of the World's Sound"?
The Honored One of Perfect, Wondrous Marks,
With verses answered Inexhaustible Intention:
"Listen to the practice of Gwan Yin,
Who skillfully responds in all places,
With vast vows, as deep as the sea,
Throughout inconceivable eons,
Serving many thousands of kotis of Buddhas,
And making great, pure vows."
The Honored One of Perfect, Wondrous Marks, /With
verses answered Inexhaustible Intention. "Perfect" means nothing
lacking and nothing in excess. It also means perfect in both blessings and
wisdom. But here we are not just talking about blessings and wisdom. We
are talking about the perfection of the Thirty-two Marks and Eighty
Subsidiary Characteristics of the Buddha. He is perfect in all
Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva asked in verses, and so the Buddha
answers him in verses.
Listen to the practice of Gwan Yin, /Who skillfully
responds in all places. Gwan Yin Bodhisattva uses skillful
expedients. He contemplates the potentials of living beings and dispenses
the teaching. He manifests in the body of a Buddha, a Pratyekabuddha, and
so forth, to speak the Dharma according to the needs of the living beings
being taught. He skillfully responds to the needs of the person. A
skillful method is not fixed. It varies with the needs of the person. For
this reason, the Vajra Sutra says, "There is no fixed dharma called
To save people, you need to know a lot of worldly dharmas. Let's say
you become a Dharma Master and you want to teach and transform people. You
still have to understand a lot of doctrines. If you see a businessman, you
might talk about business, "How's it going? Making money? How's the
economy?" If you see a laborer, you might say, "How are working
conditions? Are you really busy?" and talk about his work. When the person
finds out that you care about him and his work, he'll be happy. Once he is
happy, you can speak a little Buddhadharma to him, and he will think,
"Hey, that's pretty good!" If you see a student, you can ask him about his
studies, "How is science or philosophy?" And so the saying goes,
Prescribe the medicine according to the illness;
Speak the Dharma in accord with the person.
This is to "skillfully respond" in all places. We also say,
With clever expedients we save living beings,
Skillfully turning the dust of the world into the Buddha's
All worldly affairs are turned, with ingenuity, into
With vast vows, as deep as the sea, /Throughout
inconceivable eons, /Serving many thousands of
kotis of Buddhas. Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva is in all
respects subtle, wonderful, and inconceivable. He has served many, many
millions of Buddhas. And he has been making great,
pure vows in every life-vows of great kindness and great
compassion. The realm of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva is indeed lofty, deep,
"I shall now tell you in brief,
That for those who hear his name or see him,
And who are mindful of his name unceasingly,
He can extinguish the suffering of all realms of
Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva made pure vows. What are pure vows? "Pure"
means that they are not made for one's own selfishness; they are public
Shakyamuni Buddha said to Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva, "I
shall now tell you in brief, / That for those who hear his
name or see him." To hear Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's name, you must
have good roots. If you don't have good roots, you cannot even hear Gwan
Shr Yin Bodhisattva's name, let alone see him in person. Now we have all
heard his name. To see him doesn't mean you necessarily have to see his
physical body. It can also mean seeing a painting or a statue made of
clay, copper, iron, silver, gold, wood, or mani. That's just the
same as seeing him in person.
And who are mindful of his name unceasingly. This means
that you keep his name in mind and you do not let the time slip by idly.
You recite without wasting your time. Time is the most precious thing,
more precious than gold. Don't waste your precious time. Instead recite,
"Na mwo Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva."
What advantages does recitation of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's name bring?
He can extinguish the suffering of all realms of existence.
All of existence refers to the twenty-five planes of existence in the
Three Realms-the realms of desire, form, and formlessness.
"If someone is the victim of another's intent to harm,
And is pushed into a pit of fire,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
The pit of fire will turn into a pool."
If someone is the victim of another's intent to harm.
Let's say you go into business with someone and then the two of you take a
trip together in the mountains. You are way up on a cliff, and your
partner realizes, "If I push him off the cliff, I can have all the
And if a person is pushed into a pit of
fire, /If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan
Yin, /The pit of fire will turn into a pool.
Recitation of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's name has great power and brings a
great response. It is truly inconceivable.
Now that we can hear this chapter of the Dharma Flower Sutra and
understand this doctrine, we should always and everywhere recite the name
of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva. If you recite the name of Gwan Shr Yin
Bodhisattva, in the future he will protect you. Such incidents are too
many to be spoken of in full.
"If someone is being tossed about in the great sea,
And is surrounded by the dangers of dragons, fish, and ghosts,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
The waves will not drown him."
If someone is being tossed about in the great sea, with
no sign of the shore anywhere, And is surrounded by the dangers of
dragons, fish, and ghosts. There are poisonous dragons and
rakshasha ghosts in the sea. Big fish can eat people, too. But
if he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin, / The
waves will not drown him. Somehow, he will find himself in shallow
water, transported to the other shore, or he will be saved by a boat or
something. But if you don't recite the name of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva or
see Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva, it can be very dangerous.
I remember when I was in Hong Kong I had a very bad disciple. In what
way was he bad? He had hurt people. His name was Jang. His family owned a
drug company, and they were very wealthy. He imported Western drugs into
Hong Kong. This was right after the Japanese surrendered. Since it was
right after the war, there was a lot of sickness on the mainland. When he
was on a boat coming back with a cargo of drugs, he pushed his business
partner overboard. The business partner didn't know about reciting Gwan
Shr Yin Bodhisattva's name, and he drowned.
When Jang returned, he made a lot of money. He also sold counterfeit
drugs and made a fortune on them. He was incredibly rich. But, eventually,
the retribution caught up with him, and he got cancer. Six of the most
famous doctors in Hong Kong said that he would surely be dead within a
hundred days; that there was no way to cure it. He advertised in the
newspaper saying that if anyone could save his life, he would pay that
person US$200,000, which was a considerable amount in those days. But no
one could take him up on this offer, and so he came to Western Bliss
Garden and asked me what to do.
I said, "You should do good deeds and make offerings to the Triple
Jewel. The first thing you need to do is take refuge with the Triple
Jewel. Next, make offerings. Then maybe you will get better."
And so, on the eighteenth day of the fifth month, he signed up to take
refuge. I encouraged him to make offerings to the entire Triple Jewel by
presenting a bolt of sturdy cloth to every member of the Sangha in Hong
Kong. At that time, many Bhikshus and Bhikshunis had come from the
mainland and they had no clothes to wear or food to eat. There were two or
three thousand of them. I told him to give each of them US$15. He agreed
to do this.
Now, there were a lot of old Dharma Masters in Hong Kong who, hearing
that Jang Yu Jye had taken refuge with me, manifested their spiritual
powers. What do I mean? They sent their friends and relatives to talk to
Jang to get him to go to their temples instead. The old Dharma Masters all
got people to "climb on conditions," that is, to be opportunistic on their
behalf. All the old Dharma Masters were after him. So Jang went and did
some merit at this temple and some virtue at that temple.
He had agreed to give each left-home person coming from the mainland
$15 as I had told him to, but he didn't do it. He gave them each a bolt of
cloth, though not the good kind he had promised but a kind of inferior
quality, and he only gave them $5 each. Since I had already told the
left-home people about this offering, I had to make up the difference. I
borrowed money and made up the extra $10. Now, not one of them knew I had
done this. Today, they still don't know. Monks know that other monks don't
like to give money away. They prefer to receive money. In fact, there is a
saying, "Left-home people aren't greedy for money; the more the better."
Jang wanted to spend his money on something else, so I didn't say
Anyway, one hundred days went by, and he didn't die. All the Dharma
Masters said, "We did it for you by bowing repentances." Each one of them
claimed that he was responsible for saving Jang's life. "I bowed to the
Buddha every day for you. That did the trick." They all did their bit. I
didn't claim to have anything to do with it, and I had nothing to say to
him about it.
Six years passed, and he hadn't died.
At that time, I was building Tsz-Sying Monastery at Da-Yu Mountain. He
heard I was building a temple, and since he was a disciple, he sent a
servant to me with some money. The servant brought the money and said that
Jang wanted to help me build the temple. I didn't even look at it. I just
threw it out the door. I said, "His money is not clean. It didn't come in
the proper way. Give it back to him."
This scared Jang nearly to death. He went to one of the groveling
Dharma Masters, Ding-Syi by name, and tried to get him to give the money
to me with some compliments. I said to Ding-Syi, "The work here is done. I
don't need any money. He can do some other kinds of merit and virtue with
his money. There are so many Dharma Masters and temples. Take it somewhere
else." The old Dharma Master was a bit embarrassed.
Another two years went by. And then, in the first month of the year, I
announced, "Jang Yu-Jye took refuge eight years ago. He said he was going
to offer US$200,000 to build a temple. It hasn't happened yet, and I am
not going to wait anymore for it to happen. However, after this, no matter
what kind of a problem he has, I am not going to pay any attention to it.
He can kneel in front of me until he dies, but I am not going to pay any
attention to his business."
Less than six months later, his cancer returned. He sent his relatives
to me because none of the other temples could bring him a response at that
time. So he came to me, but I said, "I already announced in the first
month of this year that I was no longer going to pay any attention to Jang
Yu-Jye's affairs." I didn't either, and he died of cancer a few days
later. His younger brother had earlier committed suicide by jumping into
Soon after that, Dharma Master Ding-Syi, who had taken advantage of
Jang Yu-Jye, also got cancer and died about a year later. The laywoman who
had convinced Jang Yu-Jye to go to Ding-Syi also died of cancer. The three
of them were one substance. They stuck together while alive and they all
died of cancer together.
Jang Yu-Jye died because he had pushed his business partner into the
ocean. His partner couldn't recite Gwan Yin's name, and so he became a
hateful ghost and caused Jang to have cancer. Basically, since Jang had
taken refuge with the Triple Jewel, if he had truly brought forth faith,
he wouldn't have died. But his faith was not solid, and so even though he
didn't die after a hundred days, he died eight years later. His family is
still very rich. But when he died, he didn't take any of it with him. All
the money he cheated out of everyone was useless. It all went to his third
Why did his business partner drown? Because he didn't recite Gwan Yin
"If someone is on the peak of Mount Sumeru,
And another person tries to push him off,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
He will stand firm as the sun in space."
If someone is on the peak of Mount Sumeru, /And
another person tries to push him off. Mount Sumeru is the name of
the highest mountain. However, the text here doesn't mean just Mount
Sumeru; it could be any high place. Sumeru is a Sanskrit word that
means "wonderfully high."
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
/He will stand firm as the sun in space. The sun in space
shines for ten thousand miles. Even though this person is left in a
precarious position, still, he will have samadhi power and not be
upset. This is as when,
In praise or blame,
His mind doesn't move.
"If someone is pursued by evil people,
Who want to throw him off a Vajra Mountain,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
The people will not be able to harm a single hair on his
If someone is pursued by evil people, /Who want to
throw him off a Vajra Mountain. What are evil people? They are
those who do not speak reasonably. They specialize in murder. "What's
yours is mine, and what's mine is mine! Your money is mine. My money is
mine even more so." Does that make any sense? Evil people use force
instead of reason.
Suppose a person is pursuing someone. He keeps his eyes on him all the
time and waits for him to fall asleep, so that he can push him off a steep
cliff and steal his money. However, if he uses the power of
mindfulness of Gwan Yin, if the person who is being pursued is
mindful of Gwan Yin, the people will not be able to harm a single
hair on his body. The Vajra Mountain represents a high and solid
place. When meeting with danger like this, if you don't forget to recite
Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's name, you will certainly obtain a great response
and the Bodhisattva will save you. This is called,
Meeting with misfortune, it turns lucky;
Encountering disaster, it becomes auspicious.
The danger will no longer be dangerous. That's how efficacious this
"If someone is surrounded by thieves,
Who threaten him with knives,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
The thieves will all give rise to compassion."
Everything that people encounter has to do with former causes and
latter effects. Now we meet up with thieves. Before it was evil people;
they weren't outright robbers. But robbers are just outright murderers,
and they do all kinds of evil. They will do anything except what is good.
Perhaps they are our enemies because in past lives we stole from them,
killed them, or treated them badly. Thus, in this life, we meet them as
enemies. It is said,
If you kill, you will pay with your life,
If you owe money, you will have to pay it back.
This is all the matter of cause and effect. Since this is so, if we
encounter hateful enemies, we should not hate them in return. We shouldn't
curse the heavens or resent people.
Manjushri Bodhisattva once told this story: "In every life, life after
life, I never stole anything from anyone. How can I prove it? I will take
my most priceless jewel, put it right by the city's gate for three days
without keeping my eye on it, and no one will take it. This will prove
that I never stole or coveted other's goods."
Some people didn't believe him, so they tried it out. They put the
jewel right by the gate, where everyone walked. Three days went by, and no
one touched it. Manjushri Bodhisattva was able to do this because he never
Now we meet with hateful enemies, and this proves that we are receiving
retribution for deeds done in former lives. And so, if you lose something
or take some loss, you shouldn't take it too hard and get all upset. You
are just suffering what you deserve.
If someone is surrounded by thieves, / Who threaten
him with knives. This reminds me of when I was at Nan-Hwa
Monastery for one year. On the nineteenth day of the ninth month, Gwan Yin
Bodhisattva's anniversary, some thieves showed up to rob Nan-Hwa
Monastery. The thieves knocked on the door and I refused to open it.
Finally, they beat the door down, and suddenly I found myself surrounded
by guns. It was a tight situation, but I didn't feel afraid at all. I
said, quite casually, "What are you pointing those guns at me
"Why didn't you open the door?" they demanded.
"If you were I," I said, "would you have opened the door? No! I didn't
open the door because you are coming to steal from me, not to give me a
"Give us your money!" they demanded.
At that time I was wearing a rag robe. I said, "Take a look at this
robe! Do I look like someone with money?"
"Then who has money?" they said.
I said, "I am a teacher here. These are my students. I
have no money, and I am the teacher. How could the students have money? If
you don't believe me, you can take a look in my room. You can take
anything you want, any treasure you find. Go right ahead."
At that time, I really did have two treasures in my room. They were
"living" treasures. When the thieves came, they were so scared that they
couldn't even walk. They crawled around saying, "What shall we do? We're
scared!" I said, "Don't be afraid. You can hide under my bed." Hearing me
tell the thieves that they could take whatever they wanted, these two
"treasures" were terrified. They were so scared that their teeth were
chattering. Well, the thieves didn't go in.
Dharma Master Hwai-Yi saw me talking with the thieves in such an
amicable manner, and so he came out of his room. The thieves turned around
and pointed their guns at him, and he burst into tears. I said, "He
doesn't have any money. Talk to me!" At that point they were surrounding
him, and he led them to his room. They got about two hundred dollars from
him, probably a year's worth of savings.
The next day it was announced to the two hundred monks that I was the
only person who was not afraid. I said to everyone, "I'm not the only one
who wasn't afraid. There were four of us. The first was the Sixth
Patriarch. He sat there in samadhi, 'Thus, thus, unmoving! Take
what you want, thieves. I'm not paying any attention to you.' The second
was the Patriarch Han-Shan. He also sat in samadhi. The third was
the Patriarch Dan-Tyan. He didn't have quite the samadhi power, but
he turned his head to look at me. I said that because his flesh body does
lean forward a bit. The fourth was I myself. I was only number
And so, if a person meets with thieves who threaten him with knives,
if he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin, /The
thieves will all give rise to compassion. The thieves didn't hit
me or shoot me. No doubt that was because I recite Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's
name. They started out very fierce, but eventually, they became subdued
and kind. When they saw me in my rag robes they thought, "This monk is
"If someone is in difficulty with the law,
And on the verge of being executed,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
The knives will break into pieces."
If someone is in difficulty with the law. If you break
the royal law, there's no politeness about it; you get your head cut off.
This happens sometimes by mistake, too. You get arrested and sentenced
when you are actually innocent. And so the law has its advantages and
People may bear false witness against someone who is innocent. That
happens a lot when lawyers get involved. The lawyer can "prove" someone
broke the law, and that person gets executed when, in fact, he is
innocent. Where are you ever going to find the truth in this world? You
will have to look in the Buddhadharma. You won't find it in the world. The
world is ruled by force, not by reason.
The text brings up the hypothesis of a person who is in difficulty with
the law, regardless of whether he is innocent or guilty, and on the
verge of being executed. However, if he uses the power of
mindfulness of Gwan Yin, /The knives will break into
pieces. At such a time, if you can remain calm and can remember to
recite Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's name, the knife will just break into pieces.
Your neck will become stronger than Vajra.
Now, you cannot try out these things as experiments. If you do, you'll
end up getting your head chopped off. In order for it to be efficacious,
you must have faith. If you have no faith and decide to try it out, it
won't work. That's because in trying it out, you show that you have no
faith. If you really believed, you wouldn't need to try it out. You should
simply bring forth a genuine heart of faith in Gwan Yin Bodhisattva, then
everything will be efficacious. Don't have doubts.
"If someone is imprisoned, shackled, or chained,
Or if his hands and feet are in stocks,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
His bonds will open and he will be free."
If someone is imprisoned, shackled, or chained, /Or
if his hands and feet are in stocks. The character for prison,
chyou, is the image of a person, ren, inside four
Let's say you get put in jail, and then on top of that you are forced
to wear handcuffs and chains, and your head is put in the stocks.
Those of you with families should hurry and wake up! Don't be
imprisoned by the three big traps. One's parents are like a cangue around
one's neck. Children are like handcuffs. And one's spouse is like the
chains on one's legs.
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
/His bonds will open and he will be free. Long ago in China,
there was a monk who was captured by one of the Yau tribe. The Yau people
had their own language, which is completely different from Chinese, and
they were very wild. When they took prisoners, they would kill them and
eat them. The monk was captured and locked in a cell. They were going to
The monk believed in Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva, so even though he knew
their intentions, he was not afraid. He just single-mindedly recited Gwan
Shr Yin Bodhisattva's name. The monk recited and recited until a tiger
showed up and tore the cell apart, and so he was set free. In spite of the
danger, he was not harmed.
Reciting the name of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva brings so many responses
that you could never speak of them to the end.
"If someone is about to be harmed,
By mantras, spells, or poisonous herbs,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
The harm will all return to the sender."
If someone is about to be harmed, /By mantras,
spells, or poisonous herbs. Spells are also mantras.
In the section on the twelve types of living beings, the Shurangama
Sutra talks about the wasp, which steals caterpillars and transforms
them into its own young. It puts the caterpillar in its mud nest and for
seven days recites a mantra that says, "Be like me, be like me." At the
end of that period, the change takes place, and the caterpillar becomes
the offspring of the wasp.
There are evil mantras that can kill people, but there are also
efficacious mantras that help and benefit people. Here, in the Sutra text,
we are talking about mantras that can harm people. When these mantras are
recited, the victim gets all drowsy and befuddled.
Suppose a person is about to be harmed by mantras, spells, and poisons,
if he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin, the harmful
poisons and mantras cannot hurt him. Not only that, but the harm
will all return to the sender. The poison or mantras will bounce
back and harm the person who sent it out in the first place.
In China, long ago, there was a very accurate diviner, one who told
fortunes with the Yi-Jing [The Book of Changes]. The reason
he was so effective was that he had a strange demon helping him out. Every
year the demon had to eat a pure youth and a virgin girl, which the
diviner would offer to him.
One year, the young girl who was marked for the sacrifice recited Gwan
Yin Bodhisattva's name in her room. She was used to reciting Gwan Yin's
name, and now she continued to do so. What do you think happened? The
demon came for his meal. It walked up to the bed and shone light out of
its two eyes onto the young girl. Suddenly, light came out of the girl's
mouth, and she heard a loud noise as something fell down from the ceiling
to the floor. Thinking that the demon had come to eat her, she screamed
and attracted the attention of a policeman who was walking by. The
policeman broke the door down, came into the room, and found a huge
python, a mahoraga. It was dead.
The diviner was arrested by the police and questioned about locking the
girl up. He said he had an immortal helping him do his divination, and the
immortal demanded a young girl and a young boy to eat once a year. That
was how he became such an accurate diviner and raked in so much money.
They locked the diviner in jail. He told fortunes for others, but he never
figured his own fortune would turn out so bleak! Therefore, harming others
is just harming yourself.
The line "The harm will all return to the sender" was changed by
the Sung Dynasty poet, Su-Dung-Po. He said, "In Buddhism they teach
compassion. This line doesn't sound very compassionate to me." And so he
changed the line to "For both parties there will be no affair." Neither
the one who sent out the mantras nor the victim will be harmed.
He was wrong, though. Although in Buddhism killing is prohibited and
the liberation of life is encouraged, still, evil people must be
restrained from harming good people. Therefore, the victim who knows how
to recite Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's name will not be harmed, but if there is
"no affair," the attacker will just go on to the next person, who may not
know to recite. There are plenty of people who don't know how to
So Su-Dung-Po's line doesn't work. "The harm will all return to the
sender" is correct. It is fitting that the evil person should undergo such
"If someone meets with evil rakshashas,
Poisonous dragons, or ghosts,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
They will then not dare to harm him."
If someone meets with evil rakshashas, /
Poisonous dragons, or ghosts. Rakshashas are
extremely evil ghosts. They eat people!
Some dragons harm people. They hide out in a pond, a river, or a lake,
and when you walk by, they spit poisonous vapors, which can kill you. They
can even suck you right into their stomachs!
There are many kinds of ghosts. There are rich ghosts, poor ghosts, and
middle-class ghosts. Rich ghosts are the leaders of the ghosts.
Middle-class ghosts aren't too well off. Poor ghosts have nothing at
"Do ghosts use money?" you ask.
Ghosts don't use money, but their bad habits cause them to act like
people, and so they look for more money all day long. Basically, they
don't need money for anything, but their attachment confuses them. Chinese
people burn counterfeit paper money to pacify the ghosts. In the
Shurangama Mantra, many different kinds of ghosts are mentioned. Here we
are talking about ghosts in general.
When a person runs into evil ghosts, if he uses the power of
mindfulness of Gwan Yin, / They will then not dare to harm
"If someone is surrounded by evil beasts,
With fearsome sharp teeth and claws,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
The beasts will quickly run far away."
If someone is surrounded by evil beasts. "Evil beasts"
refers to wolves, panthers, tigers, bears, and all kinds of animals who
eat people. There are no tigers in the mountains in America, but in China
and India there are many tigers. Tigers will eat anything. When I was a
child, I used to roam in the mountains for five or six days at a time, and
I ran into all these beasts. I don't know why, but they never ate
If a person runs into evil beasts with fearsome sharp teeth and
claws, / If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan
Yin, / The beasts will quickly run far away. Because
of the magical response obtained through Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's
intervention, the beasts will be afraid and run far, far away when they
"Poisonous snakes and scorpions,
Have blazing lethal vapors,
But if one uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
At the sound of one's voice, they will disperse."
Poisonous snakes and scorpions, /Have blazing
lethal vapors. The sting of certain scorpions can prove fatal.
Some kinds of lizards, such as a certain species found in Thailand, also
emit toxic vapors.
But if one uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin, /
At the sound of one's voice, they will disperse. When the
lethal creatures hear you recite the name of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva, they
will run off, hide away, and make no further mischief.
"Clouds of roaring thunder and lightning
May send down hail or great floods of rain,
But if one uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
The clouds will immediately scatter."
Clouds of roaring thunder and lightning /May send
down hail or great floods of rain. Sometimes hailstones can weigh
several tens of pounds. They can be so heavy that they can kill a cow, to
say nothing of a person. But if one uses the power of mindfulness of
Gwan Yin, / The clouds will immediately scatter. You
don't have to recite for very long, and the hailstones and storms will
"Living beings are beset with hardships,
And oppressed by limitless sufferings.
The power of Gwan Yin's wondrous wisdom
Can rescue the world from suffering."
Living beings are beset with hardships. Living beings are
born because of a multitude of conditions. There are millions of different
kinds of living beings.
In Chinese, the word for "living being" contains the word jung,
which is the character for four, sz, with three people,
ren, underneath it. It means "multitude."
Among living beings, the most problematical is the human being. People
have to wear clothes, eat, and go to work. It's a lot of trouble. However,
human beings are also the wisest among living beings. Animals and other
living beings don't have as many problems, but they are also stupid. Since
they are stupid, they get pushed around by people. And so in China, they
have a saying,
Among the myriad creatures, people are the most magical.
People are the most intelligent of all creatures. Although we say they
are the most intelligent, they sometimes do stupid things. How is that?
They like to give themselves trouble. They fight with themselves. How do
they do this? "Hardships" arise. It is said,
Under heaven there's nothing happening; stupid people just like to
stir things up.
Stupid people make trouble for themselves.
Now the text says that living beings are beset by hardships and
oppressed by limitless sufferings. They create trouble for
themselves, and so they undergo limitless forms of suffering. If people
don't have food to eat, clothes to wear, or a place to live, they suffer.
With so many conditions on their happiness, they are forced to toil all
day long to get food to eat. They may even steal from each other to
preserve their own lives. They do this because they are tormented by
The power of Gwan Yin's wondrous wisdom /Can rescue
the world from suffering. Therefore, no matter what is bothering
you, you shouldn't worry. Just recite the name of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva,
then gradually the problem will resolve itself. Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's
wisdom is subtle, wonderful, and inconceivable. All you need is a sincere
heart, and the Bodhisattva will help you.
"Complete with the power of spiritual penetrations,
Vastly cultivating wisdom and expedient means,
Going throughout countries in the ten directions,
He manifests everywhere in all places."
Complete with the power of spiritual penetrations. What
is meant by "the power of spiritual penetrations?" There are six types of
1. The Penetration of the Heavenly Eye. With the Heavenly Eye,
you can see at a glance what the gods of the Heaven of the Thirty-three
2. The Penetration of the Heavenly Ear. With the Heavenly Ear,
you can hear all the sounds throughout the ten directions, in the heavens
3. The Penetration of Other's Thoughts. You can know what other
people are thinking.
4. The Penetration of Past Lives. You can know the cause and
effect involved in former lives.
5. The Penetration of the Perfected Spirit, also called the
Penetration of the Complete Spirit. With this penetration, you can fly and
transform at will.
6. The Penetration of the Extinction of Outflows. This is the
hardest one to get.
The ghosts and spirits all have the above mentioned five penetrations.
But they do not possess the Penetration of the Extinction of Outflows.
Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva has all six of them.
Vastly cultivating wisdom and expedient means. "Vastly"
means that the Bodhisattvas did not cultivate just one Dharma-door, but
they cultivated all manner of Dharma-doors. Why are we studying the
Mantras and the Sutras? It's all a part of "vastly cultivating wisdom and
Going throughout countries in the ten directions,
/He manifests everywhere in all places. There's not one
single place where Gwan Yin Bodhisattva does not go. Gwan Yin Bodhisattva
has been everywhere.
All of us living beings have causal affinities with Gwan Yin
Bodhisattva. Anyone who recites Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's name will receive
the Bodhisattva's protection. If you do not recite, Gwan Yin Bodhisattva
won't pay any attention to you. Why not? Because you don't even care to
get acquainted, and you don't even know or recollect the Bodhisattva's
If you want to be friends with Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva, all you have
to do is keep reciting, "Na mwo Gwan Shr Yin Pu Sa." When he hears
you reciting, he will think, "Ah, hah! I have made another friend! Good, I
will help my new friend." If you don't recite, the Bodhisattva will say,
"He doesn't want to be friends. I'm not going to pay any attention to his
Someone wants to know how to obtain the Penetration of the Heavenly
Eye. There are many methods. First of all, you can single-mindedly recite
the Shurangama Mantra. You can also study the Great Compassion Mantra and
the Forty-two Hands. You can also give up sleeping to study the
Buddhadharma. But trying to get the Heavenly Eye by giving up sleeping is
very dangerous, and I hope that people won't use that method. Why
You probably remember the story about the Buddha's disciple Aniruddha,
who used to sleep through the Buddha's lectures. The Buddha scolded him,
Hey! Hey! How dare you sleep, like an oyster or a clam?
Sleep! Sleep for a thousand years, and you'll never hear the
Then after the Buddha scolded him, he became very vigorous and refused
to sleep for seven days. As a result, he went blind. The Buddha taught him
the Vajra Illumining Bright Samadhi, and Aniruddha opened his Heavenly
Eye. He was foremost of the Buddha's disciples in the Heavenly
Aniruddha means "not poor."
Limitless eons, countless lifetimes ago, Aniruddha was a poor farmer.
He had to toil and sweat, and still he had no money. At that time he was a
beginner in the Buddhadharma. Even though he was not a disciple of the
Buddha, he did understand the principle of giving.
One day while the farmer was working, a cultivator happened by. The
Bhikshu had been certified to the fruit and was a Pratyekabuddha, but the
farmer didn't know that at the time. The old Bhikshu was returning from
his begging rounds. It was his practice to beg from only three houses.
Then, if he hadn't obtained any food, he would return to the mountain for
another seven days before going out to beg again. At that particular time,
he was returning with an empty bowl.
When the farmer saw the poor monk, he decided to offer up his lunch to
him. He had no idea the old Bhikshu was a Pratyekabuddha. Now, the
Pratyekabuddha had the Penetration of Other's Thoughts, so when he looked
into the causes and conditions, he saw that this lunch, consisting of the
poorest quality rice, constituted a most sincere offering. He praised the
farmer and said, "So it is, so it is. Your offering is made with a true
heart!" The Pratyekabuddha then returned to his mountain.
Later on, a rabbit hopped along and jumped up on the farmer's back. The
farmer ran home and tried as he would, but he could not get the rabbit
off. Then he noticed it was made of gold. He cut off one of the golden
rabbit's leg and exchanged it for money. The leg grew right back. After
that, he had money in every life. Why? Because he made offerings with a
true heart to a Pratyekabuddha, a sage who had been certified to the
fruit. That was his reward. In every life he was "not poor."
In the Sutra in Forty-two Sections, the Buddha said,
Giving food to a hundred bad people does not equal giving food to a
single good person.
Giving food to a thousand good people does not equal giving food to one
person who holds the Five Precepts.
Giving food to ten thousand people who hold the Five Precepts does not
equal giving food to a single Srotaapanna.
Giving food to a million Srotaapannas does not equal giving food to a
Giving food to ten million Sakridagamins does not equal giving food to
a single Anagamin.
Giving food to a hundred million Anagamins does not equal giving food
to a single Arhat.
Giving food to a billion Arhats does not equal giving food to a single
Giving food to ten billion Pratyekabuddhas does not equal giving food
to a Buddha of the three periods of time.
Giving food to a hundred billion Buddhas of the three periods of time
does not equal giving food to a single one who is without thoughts,
without dwelling, without cultivation, and without accomplishment.
Because Aniruddha made offerings to a Pratyekabuddha with a true heart,
as a good retribution in every life he was extremely wealthy. If he wasn't
a prince, then he was a wealthy and respected individual. And so, if you
want to be "not poor," you too should make offerings to the Triple Jewel;
then in the future you will have a chance to be wealthy.
It is said, "It is difficult to give when one is poor." The reason
Aniruddha was so wealthy is that he was able to give when he was poor. He
gave his own lunch to the Triple Jewel. With that single true thought, he
gained the reward of wealth.
It is also said, "It is difficult to study the Way when one has wealth
and a noble status." It's hard to convince a rich person to study the
The doctrines in the Sutra in Forty-two Sections are extremely
important. Everyone should take note of them.
"The various evil destinies,
Those of the hells, ghosts, and animals,
And the pain of birth, old age, sickness, and death
Are all gradually wiped away."
The various evil destinies. "Various" means
that there are a lot of them, not just one. In general, there are Four
Evil Destinies. What are they? They are the asuras, the
hell-beings, the ghosts, and the animals.
Asuras have been explained previously. They like to
What are hell-beings? How are the hells created? The hells are a
creation of people's karmic obstacles. According to the type of evil karma
one creates, one will fall into that type of hell. There are many types of
hells. They are explained in detail in the Earth Store Sutra, where
it says there are eighteen major hells and five hundred lesser hells.
There are many hells.
Now, are the hells made in advance like the prisons in this world? No.
The hells manifest through the evil karma of each person. If you create
evil karma by killing people, you will fall into the "hell for killers."
The same applies to other evil acts, such as setting fires. The type of
hell depends on the type of karma. It's not fixed. When the karma is
exhausted, the hell is then empty. Before it's ended, the hell is still
In Manchuria there was a man named Mr. Pig Foot Lyou. His family name
was Lyou and he had a hoof instead of a foot. He was able to remember the
events of his past three lives.
In one life he was born into a very wealthy family. When he was born,
his father was in his forties. When the child Pig Foot Lyou was thirteen,
he was married to a wife who was two years his senior. Although the father
was then in his fifties, his lust was still going strong, so he took a
young wife who was about the same age as the son's wife. A couple years
later, Pig Foot Lyou had a son. The son was married when he was about
thirteen, and the wife was also a couple years older than
At that time, Pig Foot Lyou didn't believe in Buddhism. His parents had
both died, and only his father's young wife was left. Pig Foot Lyou
thought she was very beautiful, and he appropriated her for himself. Then
Pig Foot Lyou's son died, and attracted to his son's wife, he took her,
too. So he was carrying on an affair with his stepmother and his
daughter-in-law! He was in his mid-twenties at that time.
When Pig Foot Lyou was in his forties, he woke up. "I have certainly
amassed some terrible, offensive karma in this life!" he thought. "I took
my stepmother and my daughter-in-law as wives." He started believing in
Buddhism and took up recitation of the Vajra Sutra.
In his late forties, after reciting the Sutra for ten years, he died
and went to meet King Yama, the cruel, black-faced Lord of the
"Since you created so much offensive karma," King Yama said, "I'm going
to put you in the Hell of Boiling Oil where you'll be fried." He charged
two ghosts with the task of taking him off to the oil pot, but there was
someone standing by who said, "You can't do that."
"Why not?" asked King Yama.
"Because he has recited the Vajra Sutra, and he has still got it
in his belly. He should first be reborn until he uses up all the Vajra
Sutra, and then you can french fry him."
So he went to be reborn as a person, this time in a very poor
household. His mother and father sold snacks for a living, and from a very
early age he was fond of eating. He ate so much that soon he had a very
big belly. When he was five years old, he died from a bloated stomach.
After he died, his parents were curious to see what was in his big belly,
so they cut him open. There they found a substance as solid as a
vajra rock. At that point, the ghosts standing by said, "Oh, it's
time now. We can take him to the oil pot and fry him."
The ghosts then took him to King Yama who pronounced that he could be
reborn as a pig. As a pig, he was fed until he was plump, and then
slaughtered and eaten.
When he got back to King Yama again, King Yama was ready to send him
through the frying punishment, but the offender spoke up and said, "You
don't have to fry me. Let me go back as a person but give me one pig hoof
as proof. I will urge people in the world not to commit offenses."
King Yama thought that was a good idea, and so that was what happened.
His surname was Lyou, and because of his hoof, most people called him Mr.
Pig Foot Lyou. I met the man personally and talked to him for a long time,
so I am very clear about his circumstances. This is how the evil destinies
get created. People create their own hells. Hells are very
In Harbin, where I am from, there was a Dharma Master named Cheng-Yi
who was once so sick that he thought he had died. After he died, he went
down a road to a place not too far away from his temple and was reborn
there. As what was he reborn? As a pig! When he saw that he himself was a
pig, he refused to suckle, and then he died of starvation. At that point,
his spirit reentered the body of Dharma Master Cheng-Yi.
He then woke up and told people around him about what he had just
experienced. "I have recovered from my illness. I was just reborn as a
pig. Let me take you to the spot, and we'll have a look. There are seven
piglets in the litter. I was reborn as one of them. I was the one who
refused to take milk and starved."
Several Dharma Masters accompanied him to the spot, and sure enough,
they found a litter of seven piglets, and one was dead. I also met that
It's not at all easy to be reborn as a person. A human body is very
difficult to obtain.
The Buddhadharma is not easy to get to hear. You figure it out. Of all
the millions of people in America, how many come on any given night to
listen to the Sutra lectures? Very, very few. It's difficult to meet a
Good and Wise Advisor who really understands the Buddhadharma. Some who
claim to be teachers are not clear about principles, so they say things to
you that are unclear.
Those of the hells, ghosts, and animals. The destiny of
hungry ghosts is also a result of karmic power. Hungry ghosts have bellies
as big as drums and throats as thin as needles. The things
we eat turn into fire when they enter the mouths of hungry ghosts. This
happens because their karmic obstacles are so heavy.
Now, as to this question, the gods see water as crystal. People see it
as water, fish see it as their environment, and ghosts see it as fire.
This shows the power of karma. It influences what one experiences. Beings
see the same thing in different ways.
It's also very easy to get reborn as an animal, such as a pig, a
chicken, or a horse. These kinds of animals were formerly people. What
kind of people? People who were not filial to their parents and who did
not respect their teachers and elders. People like that get caught up in
the animal kingdom.
People who are fond of eating meat also create ties with the creatures
whose flesh they consume. By eating a certain kind of flesh, they
establish a close connection with that animal, and the future is then very
dangerous for them.
"The various evil destinies" then, include the Four Evil Destinies of
hells, hungry ghosts, animals, and asuras.
And the pain of birth, old age, sickness, and death. In
human life, there are Three Sufferings:
1. The Suffering within Suffering
2. The Suffering of Decay
3. The Suffering of Process
An example of Suffering within Suffering is to be penniless and also
without any food to eat or any place to live. This suffering is
experienced by poor people. Lacking the very necessities of life, they
cannot even find work. This kind of suffering is not easy to bear.
But wealthy people suffer even more. They experience the Suffering of
Decay. Having money, they have to calculate all day about it. "I will put
this much in the bank. I'll take this much out and put it into a business.
I'll take that much…" and it goes on like that all day long. They keep on
counting their money until their hair turns white, their teeth fall out,
their eyes stop working, and their ears go deaf. But then trouble comes.
The robbers get their number. They break in at night and pick the safe
People in poverty get accustomed to their suffering, but when the
Suffering of Decay hits wealthy people, they can't take it. It's very
Well, then, if you're neither rich nor poor, there's no suffering,
right? There's still suffering. It's the Suffering of Process. Everyone
goes through the process of aging. From youth, people pass into middle
age, and then become old. Once old, they die. This process never stops. It
continues with every passing thought. This is the Suffering of
Then there are the Eight Sufferings; and even Eight Sufferings aren't
very many, because suffering doesn't stop with eight kinds. There are
thousands upon millions of kinds of sufferings. You could never count how
many sufferings there are.
Well, what's the most suffering? It's being a person. It's much more
pleasant to be an animal than to be a person. So what can you be that
isn't suffering? Well, being a Buddha isn't suffering. Why do I say that
it's more pleasant to be an animal than to be a person? Because, animals
do not have to worry about clothes to wear, food to eat, or a place to
live. Their lives happen very naturally, so they never worry about
anything. But, when one is a person, there's just too much
Now, we're going to talk about the Eight Sufferings. They are:
1. The suffering of birth
2. The suffering of old age
3. The suffering of sickness
4. The suffering of death
5. The suffering of being apart from those you love
6. The suffering of being together with those you hate
7. The suffering of not getting what you seek
8. The suffering of the raging blaze of the Five Skandhas
And among these eight, which one is the worst? I believe the worst is
the suffering of birth; because if you weren't born, then the others
wouldn't happen. And you say, "Well, what's so much suffering about being
born, anyway?" I know you've forgotten, so I'm going to remind
How is it that you got born? Birth comes from the union of the father's
essence and the mother's blood; and there also has to be what is called
the "intermediate skandha body," which enters the womb.
Once you're in the womb, the first few weeks are simply the development
of a jelly-like substance; but after the seventh week, feeling arises. And
once the fetus develops a sense of feeling, then if the mother drinks
something cold, it feels like it's standing on a mountain of ice-extremely
uncomfortable. If the mother drinks something hot, then it's just as if
the fetus is plunged into hot water and scalded. So even in the womb one
experiences the two unpleasant sensations of cold and heat. If the mother
stoops over, then the embryo feels as though it's being crushed by Mount
But the birth is the worst experience; it's like two mountains crashing
together-like the Hell of Crashing Mountains. And so, of course, the first
thing a child does after being born is scream, "Ku a, ku a!" [The
Chinese character for ku means to cry, and it sounds the same as
another word ku that means suffering.]
And so it is said that human birth feels the same as when a live
tortoise has its shell ripped away from its body-it's that painful.
But as you grow up, you forget the suffering of birth. You pass through
your prime and get old without even realizing it. There is also
tremendous suffering connected with old age. For instance, your
hearing goes bad; you don't even know if people are scolding you. And your
eyesight goes dim, so you can't see things clearly anymore. The teeth fall
out; the tongue doesn't, but the teeth do. You never heard of anyone
losing his tongue, and the reason for that is that the tongue is yielding
One time I asked an old fellow about this, I said, "Teeth fall out when
you get old, but have you ever met anyone who lost his tongue?"
He said, "Never. Have you?"
And I said, "Look, I'm a lot younger than you-you're almost ninety-and
since you haven't ever seen it, how would you expect me to
have ever seen it?"
Then I asked him, "Do you know why your tongue doesn't fall out, but
your teeth do? It's because the teeth are too rigid, so they fall out. But
the tongue is supple and yielding, so it doesn't fall out."
And he said, "Oh!"
And I said, "You're awfully old now, you'd better be careful not to be
too rigid. You can take the lesson from your teeth."
Then you say, "What's so bad about having the teeth fall out?"
Well, you lose your appetite-nothing tastes good anymore. It may look
and smell good, but when you put it in your mouth and gum it around, you
can't even chew it up. You have to spit it out, because if you swallowed
it, it wouldn't be digested. So, do you think that's suffering, or not?
And also your face gets all wrinkled. It's said that people have "skin
like a chicken and hair like a crane." If you have ever seen a plucked
chicken, you have seen that its skin is all bumpy and wrinkled. And "hair
like a crane" means that your hair turns totally white. But, of course,
that doesn't apply to Westerners, because when infants are first born in
the West, they're towheaded-they have white hair at birth; they don't even
wait until they get old to have white hair.
Another point of interest is that although Westerners may be born with
white hair, their hair doesn't turn black, and yet black hair can turn
white. But then again, sometimes it does happen. For instance, when I was
in Hong Kong, my hair turned totally white. Why? Because I was overseeing
the construction of a temple. I erected three temples in Hong Kong, and it
was a strain on my mind and my body, so my hair turned totally white. Then
I took a look and thought, "Oh, this is really something. I'd better not
tax my mind so much!" Then I just put everything down, and my hair turned
black again. From this, you can see that nothing is fixed.
There are many kinds of sicknesses. You might get a headache, or your
feet hurt, or sometimes your whole body aches. In general, if your heart,
liver, kidneys, spleen, and lungs are ailing, it's a lot of
Another truly terrible suffering is death; in fact, it's the worst.
It's easy to die, but once you're dead, the important question is where
you will go. After you die, will you go to the hells? Will you become an
animal? Will you be reborn as a person? No one can give you any
And so, that's birth, old age, sickness, and death-they're all
Now we've discussed the sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and
Why was it that Shakyamuni Buddha left home? It was because he came to
realize that birth, old age, sickness, and death are not easy to
When Prince Siddartha was nineteen years old, he wanted to see the
sights outside the palace. So one day he went to the city's east gate.
There he saw a woman in the process of delivering a baby. The Prince asked
his followers, "What's happening?" They replied, "She is giving birth to a
child." Looking at the woman who seemed to be enduring an extremely
painful event and the newborn child crying loudly, the Prince returned
The next day, the Prince went to the city's southern gate. There he saw
a very old man. His hair was totally white and his eyes were dim. His legs
were too weak to stand straight or to walk. The Prince asked in surprise,
"What's wrong with that man? Why has he become that way?" His followers
answered, "This man is already old. He has too many years. That's why he
is that way." Upon hearing this, the Prince became upset and quickly
returned to his palace.
On the third day, the Prince went to the city's west gate. There he saw
a sick person. Being sad, the Prince returned to the palace.
On the fourth day, the Prince went to the city's north gate. There lay
a dead person. "What's the matter with that person?" asked the Prince. The
followers said, "This man already died." The Prince again felt extremely
The Prince himself had witnessed the suffering of birth, sickness, old
age, and death, and he realized that was the process that human beings
have to pass through. He felt very sad and wanted to go back to the
palace. Right at that moment, a left-home person appeared. The Prince
asked his followers, "Who is this person? What's he doing?" They then went
to talk to that cultivator. He told them, "I'm a left-home person. I
investigate and study the Buddha Way in order to be liberated from the
suffering of birth, sickness, old age, and death."
At that time the Prince had not yet become a Buddha. But when he heard
that by cultivating the Way he could avoid birth, old age, sickness, and
death, he said, "Can I cultivate in the same way you do?"
The monk replied, "Anybody can."
Then the Prince returned to the palace, and accompanied by one who was
later known as Venerable Upali, he ran away.
Shakyamuni Buddha was totally disillusioned by birth, old age,
sickness, and death. He didn't know how they arose or where they went. And
so he left the home-life and practiced the Way with the intent to end
birth and death. He went into the mountains and cultivated for six years
trying to avoid birth, old age, sickness, and death.
Everybody who gets born cannot avoid dying. Some deaths are good and
some are terrible. Some people die from sickness; some people starve to
death; some people die from the fatigue of toil; some people die from
quarreling-they have a fight and kill each other; then there's war, and
people die on the battlefield; others die in automobile accidents or get
crushed by mountains or in an avalanche.
There are many different kinds of deaths. Some people die from
accidental poisoning; some people commit suicide by eating poison, or they
may commit suicide in other kinds of ways. Some people have no wish to
die, but they die; some wish to die, but they can't. Just death alone
contains a myriad distinctions.
The kind of death differs, so does the retribution or reward that
follows. In what way does it differ? For instance, if someone dies by
accident-as in an automobile accident, or by drowning, or by being burned
in a fire-he then turns into a ghost or a spirit with either yin or yang
energy, but he doesn't go before King Yama, because King Yama pays no
attention to him. The other ghosts don't pay any attention to this kind of
You say, "In that case, they're really free!" But, they're just free
ghosts, not free people. Of course, if people are free, often they just
take advantage of situations and don't follow the rules. The same thing
happens with a ghost who is free-he tends not to follow the rules. People
who die in this way can try to catch some other persons to turn into
ghosts to take their place. That's why oftentimes when there's an accident
in a certain place, within three days after it, there will be another one.
The reason is that the ghost that died by accident is just waiting for the
opportunity to catch someone else to replace him, because he won't get a
chance at rebirth until he can get someone to take his place. If he
doesn't get another ghost to represent him, then he just remains there
forever, ignored. That's another kind of death.
If you kill yourself, say for instance from taking poison, you go to
the hells. And the punishments are terrible. If, for example, you took
poison to die, then you'll go to the hell where you have to drink molten
iron. You burn up all your insides-your stomach, your intestines-and then
you die. But then a "clever" wind blows and revives you and brings you
back to life. Then you have to drink the molten iron again, and then you
die again from the burns, and then the wind blows and you come back to
life again. This process goes on unceasingly all day. It's unbearable.
But, if you can recite the name of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva, the text says,
the various kinds of sufferings are all gradually wiped away.
Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva can gradually eliminate and eradicate the
sufferings of birth, old age, sickness, and death.
We have already discussed four of the sufferings. Next we will talk
about the suffering of being apart from those we love.
Everybody knows what love is. Some people love wealth; others love
beautiful forms or fame. If people who love wealth are separated from it,
then that is known as the suffering of being apart from what one loves.
How might this happen? Suppose someone is very wealthy-he has a
flourishing business, but, suddenly, due to unforeseeable circumstances,
he goes bankrupt. He loses everything. That's a case of being apart from
what one loves. In his case, he loved money. He didn't ever want to be
separated from money, and then suddenly he's penniless.
Next, let's consider someone who loves beautiful forms. Men love the
looks of women; women love the looks of men. Between them there's a mutual
love. But if in their former lives the causes and effects were not planted
correctly, then the love will not last. Something will happen, and they'll
have to part from each other. That's the kind of suffering that occurs
between men and women when they must be apart from those they
Then there are those who love fame. Some people say that fame is one's
second life. But sometimes your reputation gets ruined. You lose your
fame. Basically, if you are the one who wanted to be well-known and then
you did something wrong and ruined your own reputation, that's a case of
being part from what you love-fame.
But then you say, "Well, there might be a couple who doesn't separate,
and so they don't have to undergo the suffering of being apart from those
But they might have a child who is both handsome and intelligent, and
all of a sudden, unexpectedly, he dies. That's extremely hard to bear. Or
suppose you are a person who is especially filial to your parents, and
then your parents die. That's another example of being apart from those
you love. Or, maybe you have an excellent relationship with your spouse,
and then suddenly he or she dies unexpectedly. That's also an example of
being apart from those you love. The same thing applies to brothers,
sisters, friends-in each case there can exist the suffering of being apart
from those you love.
Once you have experienced this kind of suffering, you should no longer
be attached to love. You should not place all your love in one person.
Instead, develop a kind regard for all living beings. Practice the
Bodhisattva Path and save everybody. Don't only think of yourself. Think
of all living beings, instead. Rescue and protect everybody. Then you will
not experience the suffering of being apart from those you love.
The sixth kind of suffering is that of being together with those one
hates. Of course, some people overreact and think, "Well, since love
entails so much suffering, I'm not going to love anybody-I hate
everybody!" So you detest everyone, and you don't love anything, including
material objects. You feel that since loving is so much suffering, you
don't want to love. But not loving also has its suffering. That's the
suffering of being together with those you hate.
Maybe you find yourself in a circumstance in which you don't like where
you are, or you don't like the people who are around you, and so you move.
But then, who would have guessed, when you get to the new place, the
people are all the same type as in the place you just left, and things are
just as despicable; in fact, it's even worse.
In general, the things that you wish most to avoid and the things that
you detest the most are the very things that come around. It's strange how
this happens. For instance, if you're afraid of cats, then from morning to
night, there are cats hanging around. Suppose you hate dogs with a
passion; then everywhere you go, you have dogs trailing you. Or, you hate
women, but all day there are women wanting to see you. They chase after
you, and you get totally fed up, so you move; but at your new place,
there's another group of women just like them.
Well, how does this suffering arise? It comes from your own nature.
Because your intrinsic nature doesn't have any samadhi, you find
fault with whatever you see. Say you're in one place where you can't get
along with any of your neighbors, so you move to someplace else, and you
still cannot get along with any of your new neighbors. Then that's not a
question of the neighbors-it's probably a question of your lack of ability
to get along. You just don't have any affinity with anyone, so nobody
You can see that the more you are attached to something, the more
likely you will be separated from it. By the same token, the more you hate
and wish to avoid something, the more you are going to get involved with
it. These two-the suffering of love and the suffering of hate-come about
because you don't truly understand the Middle Way. As soon as you get to
an extreme, either too much or too little, you're going to suffer. If you
could hold to the Middle Way, you wouldn't suffer.
The seventh kind of suffering is that of not getting whatever one
seeks. Some people spend their whole lives seeking for an official job,
but in the end they never make it. Some people try to become famous, but
they can't make it either. Some people don't have any children, and no
matter how much they try, they are never able to have a child. That's
another example of not getting what one seeks.
In general, people spend their whole lives trying to get this or trying
to get that, but in the end, they don't get what they want. Some people
would like to get a Ph.D., but it's not their destiny to be students,
because from of old they haven't planted those kinds of causes. For
example, there was Lyang, who became top scholar in China when he was
eighty-two. But not long after he got the honor, he died. If you get
something and then can't enjoy it, that's just another version of the
suffering connected with not getting what you seek.
Then there's the suffering of the raging blaze of the five
skandhas: form, feeling, thought, activity, and consciousness. In
the Heart Sutra, it's said,
Form does not differ from emptiness;
Emptiness does not differ from form.
Form itself is emptiness;
Emptiness itself is form.
The point is, if you can see things as empty, then you won't have any
suffering. But, if you can't see things as empty, then you will be burned
by the five skandhas. The five skandhas are a raging blaze,
yet although they are so much suffering, no one can bear to separate from
The first seven kinds of suffering are from external birth. This eighth
suffering is innate; it's inherent in the five skandhas from birth.
It never leaves you, and even if you want to part from it, you can't get
free. This has been a discussion on the eight kinds of sufferings.
"True Contemplator, Pure Contemplator,
Contemplator with Vast, Great Wisdom,
Compassionate Contemplator, Kind Contemplator,
Constant are your vows, constant is our respect!"
True Contemplator, Pure Contemplator. True Contemplation
is the Contemplation of True Emptiness. True Emptiness is no others, no
self, no living beings, and no life span. There's no appearance of self,
no appearance of others, no appearance of living beings, and no appearance
of a life span. However, "no appearance" is not apart from appearance;
this just means that right within the appearance itself, there's no
appearance. Within the appearance of self, there is no appearance of self;
within the appearance of others, there is no appearance of others;
within the appearance of living beings, there is no appearance of
living beings; within the appearance of a life span, there
is no appearance of a life span.
There is a saying that goes,
The eyes see form, but inside there is nothing;
The ears hear defiling sounds, but the mind does not
It's perfectly clear that shape and form exist, and your eyes see them,
so why do we say that inside there's nothing? It's because there is no
The Contemplation of True Emptiness is just likened to a great, perfect
mirror. In a great and perfect mirror, when things come before it, they
are reflected in the mirror; when they leave, no trace is left. This is
the Contemplation of True Emptiness practiced by Gwan Yin
Pure Contemplation is the Contemplation of Purity. Purity is the
opposite of defilement. What is defilement? Anything you're attached to is
a defiled thing. Anything that you have fond regard for is a defiled
thing. Anything that you are greedy for is a defiled thing.
In the Contemplation of Purity, there is no greed, hatred, or
Take giving as an example. When most people give, they first have to
think about it, "This person is related to me-as a friend, relative, or
neighbor-so I'll help him out by giving him something." You first figure
it all out and decide to give only to the people who are closest to you,
and you pay no regard to those with whom you are unfamiliar. This is
called "taking care of one's relatives first, without having concern for
any others; paying attention to those who are close and ignoring those who
In other words, you make distinctions. You are attached to appearance,
and so your regard is not pure. But Gwan Yin Bodhisattva does not make
distinctions between himself and others. He does not distinguish between
relatives and those who are not related, or between those who are close
and those who are distant. He simply gives.
There are three kinds of giving: the giving of wealth, the giving of
Dharma, and the giving of fearlessness.
Of wealth, there are two kinds: inner wealth and outer wealth. Probably
it would be difficult for most people to figure out what is meant by
"inner wealth," but most people would be able to figure out what is meant
by "outer wealth." "Inner wealth" refers to things inside your body, and
outer wealth refers to things outside your body.
The giving of outer wealth refers to the giving up of one's country,
city, wife, or children. "This whole town belongs to me-I own it all-but
I'll give it away." In some cases, one is able to give away all his
storehouses and treasuries, or even his own wife and children. That's
really putting everything down. That's true giving.
The giving of inner wealth means to give up one's body, nature, mind,
and life to save living beings who are in need. The body refers to the
entire physical body-head, eyes, brain, marrow, and so forth.
When Venerable Shariputra was trying to practice the Bodhisattva Path,
someone came along and said that he really needed an eye to cure his ill
mother. Shariputra then gouged out one of his eyes and gave it to that
person. Who would have guessed that the person would say it was the wrong
eye and then throw it on the ground. At that point, Shariputra retreated
from the Bodhisattva Path-"It's too hard; I can't do it." And so
Shariputra was only able to relinquish half of his inner wealth; he
couldn't quite part with the other half.
In general, the giving of inner wealth means giving up one's internal
treasures-one's own wisdom, essence, and energy.
The giving of Dharma means to speak Dharma in order to teach and
transform living beings. Of the three kinds of giving, this is the
greatest. And so it's said,
Of all the kinds of giving, the greatest is the giving of
In speaking Dharma, you should want to spread it to all people. You
wouldn't even mind not eating or going without sleep in order to speak
Dharma. It has been that way for me in the past. If someone wanted to
study the Dharma, I would explain it to them to the point of missing my
lunch and sleep, until I could help them to thoroughly understand. I hope
that all of you will be my transformation bodies and spread the
Buddhadharma in this way-practice the giving of Dharma. There is much more
value in spreading Dharma than in contributing any amount of money. We
must establish a foundation, and each one of us should personally take
responsibility for the future of Buddhism in the West. Don't just hang
back and say, "Well, it doesn't have anything to do with me. Buddhism is
not my business, it's someone else's."
As far as I am concerned, as long as I have a single breath left,
spreading the Buddhadharma is my personal responsibility. And if someone
else wants to take responsibility for it, too-how wonderful! Don't
procrastinate; stand on your own, and take the job of propagating the
Buddhadharma as your own. That's the first criterion for the process of
The giving of fearlessness is the last one of the three kinds of
giving. For instance, Gwan Yin Bodhisattva saves living beings from seven
difficulties, releases them from the Three Evil Paths, and responds to the
two kinds of seeking. That's an example of the giving of fearlessness.
When people are in a terrifying situation and their very lives are at
stake, if you appear in a fearless body to rescue them, then you are
practicing the giving of fearlessness.
You can also practice the giving of fearlessness in an individual way,
like Guardian of the Earth Bodhisattva, who practiced the giving of
fearlessness on another level. This Bodhisattva knew that people in a
certain place needed a bridge in order to get across a river. If they
tried to cross the river without a bridge, their lives would be in danger,
and it would be a frightening experience for them. Since it was in ancient
times, he had to use primitive techniques. For instance, he could build a
pontoon bridge of logs floating on the river with flat boards on top of
them, so that people could cross the river without incurring any danger
upon themselves. Of course, if there was a flood, their lives would still
be endangered. However, they no longer suffered the fear of crossing that
When the Venerable Elder Master Hsu-Yun came down from Jyu-Hwa
mountain, remembering that there was a bridge at a particular spot on the
river, he went to that place to cross the river. But the river was
swollen, and the bridge had been destroyed by a flood. Since the bridge
was no longer there, he accidentally fell into the river. He floated in
the river for a day and a night-bobbing up and down for a total of
twenty-four hours. Eventually, he was caught by an old fisherman in his
fishnet. Thinking that he had caught a giant fish, the old man started to
pull the fish out. But on closer examination, he discovered that his
"fish" was, in fact, a monk wearing clothes!
Nearby there was a little temple, and so the fisherman went to alert
the left-home people there. The monks recognized the Venerable Master
immediately. They then set about applying artificial respiration and
bringing him back to consciousness. At that point the Master truly gained
a "second life."
After nearly being drowned in the river and escaping death, the
Venerable Master proceeded to Gau-Min Monastery. He had gone there to
participate in the Chan session, but he was still very ill and weak from
his recent experience. However, he didn't breathe a single word about his
mishap, and so nobody knew.
The Abbot then asked him to represent him as the head of the session;
but the Master Hsu-Yun, knowing himself that he was too sick, refused.
Now, the refusal to an appointment by the Abbot was considered a breach of
monastic discipline. And for this, the Master was beaten with an incense
board. Still, he said not a word.
The Venerable Master was the foremost monk, the loftiest good and wise
advisor in all of China, but he underwent tremendous suffering at Gau-Min
Monastery, where everyone looked down on him. "He's just a burden to all
of us," they said, "very useless."
Now, back to the Bodhisattva Guardian of the Earth. He fixed the roads
and bridges. When Elder Master Hsu-Yun went to Hu-Nan, he met a monk who
spent all his time fixing the roads, and this monk didn't speak. That,
indeed, was a transformation body of Guardian of the Earth Bodhisattva.
This Bodhisattva spent all of his time guarding the earth. If there were
rocks or rubble on the roads, he would remove them to one side so that
people wouldn't step on them and hurt their feet. He kept the roads in
good repair. Who paid him for all his hard labor? Nobody. Now, wasn't he
stupid? Wasn't he just working in vain? Well, his working in vain enabled
him to become the Bodhisattva Guardian of the Earth.
Contemplator with Vast, Great Wisdom. Gwan Yin
Bodhisattva uses the regard of great wisdom to cross over all living
beings. Compassionate Contemplator, Kind Contemplator. The
Bodhisattva also has universal compassionate regard for all living beings.
The contemplation of compassion pulls living beings out of suffering; the
contemplation of kindness gives living beings joy. This kind of joy is not
temporary happiness, but an everlasting bliss that transcends the mundane.
The Bodhisattva gives Dharma to living beings causing them to gain the
true understanding of the Buddhadharma and thereby not do any more
upside-down things. That is called the giving of happiness.
Constant are your vows, constant is our respect! Forever
you will gaze up at Gwan Yin Bodhisattva with respect. You wish to always
look upon that virtuous and kind countenance. The more you look, the
happier you become. For instance, bowing the Great Compassion Repentance
is a ceremony to show your respect to Gwan Yin Bodhisattva.
There are those who don't like to bow. They say, "Well, I believe in my
own Buddha." Well, if you truly believed in your own Buddha, then
there wouldn't be any you-there wouldn't be any "your own." It's just
because you haven't found your own Buddha that you cannot recognize an
external Buddha when you see one. If you really believed in your own
Buddha, it wouldn't keep you from bowing.
Bowing-that is, kowtowing, a full bow to the floor-represents the most
respectful of gestures. In Buddhism, this is a kind of
formal courtesy. If you can't even perform this kind of
courtesy, how can you call yourself someone who believes in the
There's a certain doctor who commanded respect from many people; but he
himself told everyone not to bow to the Buddha. When others bowed to the
Buddha, he would stand there like a wooden stick. That's because he hadn't
really broken through the mark of his ego.
The people who refuse to bow to the Buddha are the very first people I
scold, because they have the arrogant attitude, "Me? Why should I bow to
the Buddha?" What I am scolding is their arrogance. If you are
self-satisfied and proud to the point that you can't even bow, then how in
the world do you expect to be able to study Buddhism?
"Undefiled pure light,
The sun of wisdom that breaks through the darkness
Is able to quell calamities of wind and fire
As it shines on all worlds."
These four lines of text are ineffably wonderful. They can cure eye
sicknesses. If you have eye trouble and you constantly recite this
four-line verse, your eye disease will be cured. However, although your
eye disease may be cured, you still have to go ahead and bring forth
wisdom in order to be totally cured. If you don't have wisdom, then even
though you may temporarily be made better, it could crop up again in the
In general, if you truly believe in the power of Sutra text, then Gwan
Yin Bodhisattva's awesome spiritual strength will aid you and bring about
an efficacious effect. But if you don't believe, nothing special will
happen. There won't be any effect. That's why it's said,
The Buddhadharma is like a great sea,
But only through faith can you enter.
The verse says, "Undefiled pure light." Defilement refers
to dust, dirt, and unclean things. Being without any defilement means that
you don't have any polluted thinking. For every polluted thought that you
strike up, you add another layer of dust upon your original pure nature.
The more polluted thinking you have, the dustier it gets.
Therefore, you need to "understand the mind and see the nature."
That's what people who investigate Chan aim to do. To "understand
the mind" is to be "undefiled." To "see your nature" is to see the "pure
light" as mentioned here. Your original mind is your permanently-dwelling
true mind, the Treasury of the Thus Come One. When you understand your
mind and see your nature, the bright light in your inherent Treasury of
the Thus Come One manifests.
The sun of wisdom that breaks through the darkness. The
wisdom-sun means that wisdom is like the sun. The kind of darkness
referred to here is a lack of faith, a lack of wisdom, a lack of vows, and
a lack of a resolve to truly practice.
Darkness also refers to not studying or upholding the precepts, not
cultivating the power of samadhi, and not developing the power of
wisdom. You're walking a dark path if you do not study precepts,
samadhi, and wisdom. If you do cultivate according to precepts,
samadhi, and wisdom, then you're walking on a bright path.
We can also explain it in this way. Your desire to listen to the
Buddhadharma is the light. But someone might think, "I've listened for so
many days and it doesn't really have much meaning. The Dharma Master has
been sitting up there on that platform talking and talking about the same
old thing. I've heard it over and over. He said that people should get rid
of greed, hatred, and stupidity and should cultivate precepts,
samadhi, and wisdom. I'm tired of listening." Some of you feel
tired of listening? That's darkness.
However, there are those of you who do not grow weary of listening. The
more you hear, the more you want to listen, even to the point that you
just listen to the sound of the Dharma Master's voice and the subtle and
incredible doctrines of the Sutra. And when you finish listening, it's as
if the Dharma Master were still speaking in your ear. "From morning till
night, I can hear the voice of the Dharma Master beside my ear speaking
Dharma to me." That's the light.
At this point, I suddenly remember something that happened to me in
Hong Kong. A certain laywoman came to see me, and after she saw me, what
do you think happened? In everything she did, whether walking, standing,
sitting, or lying down, she always saw me. What do you suppose she
thought? She thought, "Oh, that Dharma Master is a demon! Otherwise, why
would I see him all the time?" Here she was, able to hear a Dharma Master
speaking Dharma at all times, and she thought he was a demon. I suppose
that if she saw a demon, she would have thought it was a Buddha. So, she
started slandering me and even wanted to strike me. Inside of a month, she
contracted cancer and died. Basically, I wanted to save her, but she
thought I was a demon. She refused my rescue. And that's the way people
are; they think the true is false, and the false is true.
Gwan Yin Bodhisattva uses the Contemplation of True Emptiness to break
through the delusion of views and thought.
The "delusion of views" is defined as "when faced with a state, giving
rise to greed." You get caught up with something that appears before you,
then give rise to greed and attachment.
The "delusion of thought" is defined as "giving rise to discrimination
because one is confused about principle."
By means of the Contemplation of True Emptiness, Gwan Yin Bodhisattva
breaks through the darkness of the delusion of views and thought. He
brings forth the virtue of Prajna.
When Gwan Yin Bodhisattva cultivates the Contemplation of Purity, he
breaks through the darkness of delusion like dust and sand, and is
certified to the virtue of Liberation.
When Gwan Yin Bodhisattva cultivates the Contemplation of Wisdom, he
breaks through the darkness of the delusion of ignorance, thus attaining
the virtue of the Dharma-body.
When one is certified to the Secret Treasury of the Three Virtues, then
Prajna, Liberation, and the Dharma-body will come about. One has to
cultivate the Three Contemplations-the Contemplation of Purity, the
Contemplation of True Emptiness, and the Contemplation of Wisdom-to be
certified to the Three Virtues, and to cut off the delusion of views and
thought, the delusion like dust and sand, and the delusion of ignorance.
That's what's meant by "the sun of wisdom that breaks through all
darkness." The wisdom here refers to these contemplations-the
contemplations themselves are wisdom.
This wisdom sun is able to quell calamities of wind and
fire. "Calamities" here refers to the three calamities of water,
fire, and wind. Water floods the First Dhyana; fire burns through the
Second Dhyana; wind destroys the Third Dhyana.
At the end of the kalpa, the first of the three calamities
appears. The heavens of the First Dhyana are flooded by water. One doesn't
know where this water comes from-whether it comes from the stars, moon,
heavenly rivers, or earth-but it rises up in massive waves, and not only
does it drown humankind, it also drowns the gods of the First Dhyana
Therefore when the first calamity of water hits, almost everything is
destroyed. Somehow a few people remain, and the population starts to
multiply again. Eventually it gets overpopulated, people's offenses are
redoubled, and things get very complicated.
Then the second calamity, that of fire, hits. This kalpic fire
burns clear through the Second Dhyana Heavens. The gods in these heavens
are burned by this fire. Why is it that fire can reach the Second Dhyana?
It's because the gods in these heavens still have fire affliction, whereas
the gods in the First Dhyana Heavens still have water affliction. The fire
inside their intrinsic nature catches with the fire in the world, bringing
about a huge conflagration. At that time seven suns appear in the sky. The
mountains, rivers, and great earth all turn into burning coals, and people
are reduced to a crisp. Even the seas are all burned dry. The seas turn
into dry land, and the land becomes high mountains. Then the high
mountains become great seas. There are many strange happenings in between
heaven and earth.
After the disaster of fire, a very long time passes, and those people
who are left in the world propagate the species until once again the world
becomes overpopulated. Then the third disaster, that of wind, hits. "Wind
destroys the Third Dhyana." Not only does the wind rip through people's
houses and buildings, but the mountains, rivers, and earth are all ripped
to bits. In fact, the wind reaches up to the gods in the Third Dhyana
Heavens. Even the gods cannot avoid this disaster. So there's a verse that
In the Six Desire Heavens, there are the Five Signs of Decay;
The Third Dhyana has the disaster of wind.
Even if you make it to the Heaven of Neither Thought nor No Thought,
It is not as good as going to the Pure Land and coming back
Therefore, people who cultivate the Way shouldn't do it with the idea
in mind of seeking the blessings of the heavens. Once those blessings are
exhausted, one will fall back into the cycle of rebirth.
In the Six Desire Heavens, when one's blessings are exhausted, the Five
Marks of Decay set in. Just as human bodies deteriorate as death draws
near, so too in the heavens, gods change as their life spans come to an
end. Once their lives in those heavens are over, they will be reborn and
undergo retribution in accord with their karma.
The Five Marks of Decay are:
1. The flower garlands wilt. Heavenly beings have crowns of
flowers that adorn them naturally and stay ever-fresh. But when their
heavenly blessings are exhausted, when their heavenly life has come to an
end, their flower garlands start to wilt.
2. The clothes get dirty. The clothing worn by beings in the
heavens is not at all like the clothes worn by common people in our world.
The gods' clothes never get wrinkled or dirty. They never have to do
laundry. Since their clothes stay naturally clean, they don't have to buy
washing machines and detergent. The heavenly beings do not have to wash
their clothes. They are all spontaneously and naturally clean-that is,
until the second mark of decay sets in. Then the clothes of the gods start
to get dirty.
3. The armpits perspire. Unlike common people who continually
sweat, heavenly beings do not perspire. The reason their clothes stay
clean is that they don't sweat. But with the third mark of decay, they
4. The entire body smells bad. Ordinarily, the bodies of
heavenly beings are always fragrant. But when these five marks of decay
arrive, they start to smell bad.
5. They cannot sit still. Last of all, they can't remain in
their places. They jump up and start walking around, but they're still
uneasy, so they sit down again. But that won't do either. They lie down
but still feel uncomfortable. They jump back up but can't find a single
comfortable position to be in.
At just that moment-all of a sudden-the life of a heavenly being ends.
If they have wholesome karma, then they will be reborn as wealthy and
influential people. But if their evil karma ripens, they will fall into
the Three Evil Destinies-the path of the hungry ghosts, the animals, or
the beings in the hells. So even if you become a god, you still have this
kind of trouble.
The disaster of wind destroys the Third Dhyana Heavens. Where do these
disasters come from? They come from one's anger. If a person has a lot of
anger, then even though he has cultivated significant blessings and is
reborn in the heavens, he must still undergo the retribution of the
disaster of wind. Because the root of anger, resentment, and temper has
not been cut off, one has to take this loss. This is the retribution for
Fortunately, the light of the sun of wisdom of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva can
quell all disasters and break up all darkness as it shines a
universal light on all worlds. The world that we common
people live in now is called the Land in Which the Common and Sagely Live
The great wisdom of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva also illumines the Land of
Expedients with Residue. That's where those of the Two Vehicles live.
"Expedients" refers to clever, provisional means. "With Residue" means
that there's still something left, because the inhabitants of this world
have not yet completely cut off all their afflictions.
Gwan Yin Bodhisattva dwells in the Adorned Land of Actual Reward, which
is the land where all the Bodhisattvas dwell. The Buddhas dwell in the
Land of Eternally Still and Pure Light.
With his great wisdom and great knowledge, Gwan Yin Bodhisattva
universally illumines all of these lands, and so the text says his light
"shines on all worlds."
"Compassionate substance: the thunder of Precepts.
Kind intent: a wondrous great cloud.
He rains down sweet dew and Dharma rain,
Which extinguish the flames of affliction."
Compassionate substance: the thunder of Precepts.
Compassionate substance means that Gwan Yin Bodhisattva takes the
substance of compassion as his Dharma substance. Where does this
compassionate substance come from? It comes from Precepts. When Gwan Yin
Bodhisattva first began to cultivate, he held the Precepts purely, and
from this purity he brought forth kindness and compassion, the kindness
that includes even those with whom one doesn't have affinities. This
Dharma substance is like thunder-it emits a thunderous roar, and living
beings are awakened by it. The blind can see and even the deaf can hear
this sound of thunder. And so it says, "Compassionate substance: the
thunder of precepts roars."
Kind intent: a wondrous great cloud. Gwan Yin Bodhisattva
uses level and equal kindness and compassion to help living beings. The
Sutra said, "With eyes of kindness, he regards all living beings." With
kindness and compassion, he bestows joy upon living beings in a level and
Acting like a wondrous, huge cloud, he rains down sweet dew and
Dharma rain. Sweet dew is actually the water of immortality found
in the heavens. Why are the heavenly gods immortal? Because they drink
sweet dew. So you say, "Even the gods take their vitalizers. It's no
wonder that people these days who want to get enlightened pop all sorts of
pills." But the heavenly medicine is natural-it's organic. When the gods
imbibe this medicine, they never age. Now Gwan Yin Bodhisattva has a
wonderful, great cloud that lets fall sweet dew, the elixir of
immortality, which extinguishes the flames of
People in this world have afflictions, and it's as though they were
being scorched by flames. Why do you not become a Buddha? Because you have
afflictions. Why haven't you become enlightened? Because you have
afflictions. Why aren't you truly free? Because you have
Another name for afflictions is attachments. Where do attachments stem
from? They come from selfishness. Why are you attached? Because you are
selfish and you want to seek private gains. If you have a mind only for
the common good, if you're truly public-spirited, then what attachments
could you possibly have?
If you aren't selfish, you won't be attached; if you don't have
attachments, you won't be afflicted; and if you don't have afflictions,
you will be liberated. Once you are liberated, you're enlightened. To
become enlightened is just to realize Buddhahood.
Afflictions are the very worst thing to have, yet people can't stand to
be apart from them. Whether walking, standing, sitting, or lying down,
they don't want to ever be apart from afflictions.
You say, "Well, I'm happy all the time, and I don't have any
afflictions." Well, if you have attained genuine bliss, then of course
you're not afflicted. But if you haven't attained genuine bliss and you
fake it-you force yourself to believe that you're happy-then it's not true
happiness. Inside, the affliction is still heavy. And one day it will turn
up-it'll explode. It's like smothering weeds with a large rock-the weeds
won't be able to grow. But once you remove the rock, the weeds will
quickly flourish. If you haven't attained true bliss, your afflictions
will still remain.
Of the Four Vast Vows that the Bodhisattva makes, the first one is,
"Living beings are boundless, I vow to save them all." Why does Gwan Yin
Bodhisattva come to this world? Only because living beings are boundless,
and he has vowed to save them all.
The second vast vow is, "Afflictions are endless, I vow to sever them
all." Does Gwan Yin Bodhisattva have afflictions? No, he has cut them off,
but he takes living beings' afflictions as his own. Seeing that living
beings haven't cut off their afflictions, he makes the vow: "Afflictions
are endless, I vow to cut them off." Basically, afflictions are endless,
like waves on water: The wave in front dissipates, and then the wave that
follows rises up. That wave dissipates, and yet another wave rises up in
its wake. This goes on continuously without cease. Afflictions are just
The third vast vow is, "Dharma-doors are limitless, I vow to study them
all." Some people study one or two Sutras, and they become self-satisfied.
They say they already understand Buddhism. But the Buddhism they
understand is not as much as a single drop within the great sea of the
Buddhadharma. These people who become self-satisfied are just like an ant
who goes to the ocean to get a drink of water: He takes his fill and says
that he has drunk up the entire sea. Actually the ant only filled up his
own stomach-he hasn't even drunk a single drop of the great sea.
The last vast vow is "The Buddha Way is unsurpassed, I vow to realize
it." There is nothing higher than the Buddha Way, so everyone should
resolve to become a Buddha. You shouldn't look down on yourself.
Originally you were a Buddha, but that doesn't mean you are a Buddha now.
Basically we were all completely endowed with the Buddha-nature. But now,
because we don't know how to cultivate, we don't possess the Three Bodies
of the Buddha, the Four Types of Wisdom, the Five Eyes, or the Six
Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva bases his teaching on the Four Vast Vows, and
he uses the sweet dew of Dharma rain to cause all beings to become
refreshed and content, so they won't have any more afflictions.
"In the midst of contention, when faced with lawsuits,
Or when someone is terrified on the battlefield,
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin,
All his many enemies will scatter and leave."
In the midst of contention, when faced with lawsuits.
"Contention" means fighting. During the Dharma-Ending Age, contention is
at its height.
When the Buddha dwells in the world, it is called the Proper Dharma
Age. During the Proper Dharma Age, Dhyana concentration is
solid. At that time, everyone likes to investigate Dhyana and enter
samadhi. The Proper Dharma Age lasts from the time the Buddha
appears in the world until one thousand years following his extinction.
After that comes the Dharma Image Age.
During the Dharma Image Age, people are resolute in building temples.
They erect stupas and make images, and they consider that to be the most
important work. Everyone likes to build big temples. That's why in this
world some countries have great temples as a vestige of the Dharma Image
Age. The Dharma Image Age also lasts for one thousand years, and after
that comes the Dharma-Ending Age.
The Dharma-Ending Age lasts for ten thousand years.
"Ending" here also refers to the tip of the branch. At that time the
Dharma has arrived at its termination. We are at present in the
Dharma-Ending Age. During this time, people are not resolute in Dhyana
concentration nor in building temples. They are resolute in fighting. And
that's what we are discussing now in this line of verse-contention.
Countries fight with countries; families fight with families; people fight
with people; animals fight with animals; ghosts fight with ghosts-there is
fighting everywhere. Why? Because during the Dharma-Ending Age, it's
within the nature of people to like to fight.
However, right within the Dharma-Ending Age is the Proper Dharma Age.
And, in the Dharma Image Age, there is also the Proper Dharma Age. What is
meant by this? Even within the Dharma-Ending Age, there are still people
who want to investigate Chan and sit in meditation. For example, many
people here like to take time out in the morning or evening, or even in
the midst of a busy day, to sit in meditation. And this is just being in
the Proper Dharma Age. During the Dharma-Ending Age, these people make up
only a very, very small percentage of the entire population.
The facts that we can still lecture the Sutras and speak Dharma, and
that people vigorously cultivate according to the teachings, and that some
still find time amidst their busy schedules to sit in meditation-even to
the point that some don't eat or sleep in order to come to hear the Sutra
lectures-means that the Proper Dharma Age is found right within the
Now, if all of us come together to build great Way-places and temples,
then we are in the Dharma Image Age that is found within the Dharma-Ending
Furthermore, within the Dharma Image Age, there are also the
Dharma-Ending Age and the Proper Dharma Age. For instance, during the
Dharma Image Age, when people like to build temples, there are those who
don't like to build temples and who don't even believe in the Buddha, and
that's like having the Dharma-Ending Age within the Dharma Image Age. And
again, if at that time people get together and vigorously cultivate, then
that's the Proper Dharma Age within the Dharma Image Age.
Likewise, within the Proper Dharma Age, there are also found the
Dharma-Ending Age and the Dharma Image Age. During the Proper Dharma Age,
if people like to build temples, then they are dwelling in the Dharma
Image Age. There are also those who study the Buddhadharma just a bit and
then stop-they don't thoroughly investigate-and that's like having the
Dharma-Ending Age right within the Proper Dharma Age.
Although this age is generally recognized as the Dharma-Ending Age,
there are those of us in the West who are abiding in and upholding the
Proper Dharma, and who have made vows to propagate the Buddhadharma so
that it will forever remain in the world; thus, we have the Proper Dharma
Age within the Dharma-Ending Age.
Every day we recite and hold the Shurangama Mantra, and in this way we
are helping the entire world. If there is not even a single person who
recites the Shurangama Mantra in a world, then that world is about to be
destroyed. At that time, all the strange essences, goblins, and demons,
the li-mei and wang-lyang ghosts will appear. Why is it that
they don't dare to make a full-force descent upon the world at this time?
It's because in this world there are still people who hold the Shurangama
Mantra and who cultivate the Great Compassion Mantra and the Forty-two
Hands and Eyes. Because of this, the strange ghosts and goblins don't dare
to come out.
Now the text is talking about a time that is strong in fighting, so it
says, "In the midst of contention, when faced with lawsuits." At such a
time you have to go before a judge and argue things out. Then you have to
hire an attorney. Some attorneys have the talent to make it appear as
though you are totally unreasonable, even if you are on the right side of
the law; conversely, the cases of people who are clearly on the wrong side
can be made to look completely justifiable. This is distorting right and
wrong-turning things upside down.
Nowadays if you have enough money, you can kill and still get off
scot-free. This often happens in cases of contention. People go to court
to argue principles, but somehow the lawyers twist the facts around so
that even if you have principle, they make it appear as if you don't; and
if you don't have principle, they make it appear as if you do. People are
manipulated by money to the point that their consciences are completely
Or when someone is terrified on the battlefield. This is
when one becomes petrified amidst clashing armies on the battlefield.
If he uses the power of mindfulness of Gwan Yin, /All
his many enemies will scatter and leave. If you can only recite
"Na mwo Gwan Shr Yin Pu Sa," then your enemies will retreat and
disperse; all the feuding will somehow disappear, and your enemies will
Who are your enemies? Say you have to go to court to argue a case
against another person, or you fall before an adversary on the
battlefield: The reason for this is the resentment piled up over many
lifetimes. An animosity builds up over lifetimes to the point that these
people come together to fight it out. Each person has to undergo his or
her retribution. But if you can at that time be mindful of Gwan Yin
Bodhisattva, this kind of retribution will be lessened-the heavy offenses
will be lightened and the light ones will completely disappear. So the
text says, "All his many enemies will scatter and leave." And so the power
of Gwan Yin Bodhisattva is truly inconceivable and not something that most
people can understand.
During World War II, a man by the name of Fei Fan-Jing lived in
Shanghai. He practiced reciting Gwan Yin Bodhisattva's name every day.
During the war between the Japanese and the Chinese, Shanghai was
constantly being shelled, and so this person decided to move from his
house to avoid the bombing. Right after he moved, his house was completely
destroyed by a bomb. After staying about forty-five days at the new
shelter, he got the notion that this place wouldn't be safe, either. So he
moved again. He moved to the "Concession Zone," an area that was loaned to
foreigners. That was an area that the Westerners leased from China to
dwell in, and the Japanese didn't dare bomb that area.
After living in the Concession Zone for a while, Fei Fan-Jing thought
that it also wasn't safe; but that area was guarded by sentries and he
wasn't allowed to leave. Right at that time, when he was really pinned
down-he couldn't go back and he couldn't go forward-he saw a child. The
child said, "You'd better get out of here quickly; the Japanese army is on
its way!" There was a wire net fencing in that entire area, and suddenly
he saw a place in the net about two feet wide that was broken-just enough
of a space to crawl through. He managed to get his mother, his wife, and
his whole family out of the area through this hole in the wire net. When
they had all gotten out, the guards who had been on sentry duty were
astonished; they couldn't figure out how those people had gotten
Fei Fan-Jing then turned back to look for the child, but the child was
nowhere to be seen. He looked back at the wire net and the hole was not
there. He was really puzzled. In this way he was saved from "the terror of
the battlefield." From this incident we can see that the power of Gwan Shr
Yin Bodhisattva is truly inconceivable.
"Wondrous your sound, Contemplator of the World's Sounds-
A pure sound, a sound like the sea tide,
A sound beyond all worldly sounds,
We shall always bear it in mind."
Wondrous your sound, Contemplator of the World's Sound.
Not only is the Bodhisattva's sound wondrous and subtle, it is also pure.
A pure sound, a sound like the sea tide. The pure sound of
Gwan Yin Bodhisattva is like the sound of the sea-the sea tide, which is
reliable, ebbing and flowing. A sound beyond all worldly
sounds, /We shall always bear it in mind. Everyone
should always recollect the name of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva.
"In thought after thought we have no doubt.
Gwan Shr Yin is pure and sagely.
In times of suffering, agony, danger, and death,
He is our refuge and protector."
In thought after thought we have no doubt. You shouldn't
think, "What use is it to recite the name of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva?
Isn't that just meaningless, reciting it every day?" It is very important
not to have doubts. You shouldn't have doubts for even a moment.
Gwan Shr Yin is pure and sagely. / In times of
suffering, agony, danger, and death, /He is our refuge and
protector. You can turn your very life over to Gwan Shr Yin
Bodhisattva. He will certainly protect and help you.
"Complete with all merit and virtue,
With eyes of kindness, watching living beings,
He is endowed with massive blessings, limitless as the sea.
Therefore we should reverently worship him."
Complete with all merit and virtue, /With eyes of
kindness, watching living beings. Like a compassionate father,
Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva, with the same kind eyes, looks upon all living
beings to see whether they have committed offenses or
not. He is endowed with massive blessings, limitless as the
sea. His equal, great compassion saves all living beings. The
blessed reward he has cultivated is as great and boundless as the sea.
Therefore we should reverently worship him.
At that time the Bodhisattva Guardian of the Earth rose from his
seat and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, if there are those who
hear this chapter of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva, who learn about the
self-mastery of his deeds and the power of his spiritual penetrations as
shown in this Universal Door, you should know that the merit and virtue of
such people will not be small."
At that time, after Shakyamuni Buddha had finished speaking the
verses, the Bodhisattva Guardian of the Earth. This Bodhisattva is
mentioned in the Shurangama Sutra. Limitless eons ago, this
Bodhisattva was illiterate. Although he had never studied the
Buddhadharma, his conduct was very near that of a Buddhist. He was very
strong and powerful. He could lift and move things that no one else could.
His work was repairing roads. Sometimes he repaired bridges. He would help
people move their carts or carry their burdens, and he never took any
payment for these services. He did it for a long time.
Once a Buddha named Vishvabhu came by and said to him, "Leveling the
roads is just casting aside the roots to grasp at the branches. It's
"Then what should I do?" said the Bodhisattva.
"If you want to level the roads, first you should level your
mind-ground. Why are there mountains and valleys, hills and dales? It's
because people's minds aren't level. People's minds go 'up and down,' and
so we have mountains, rivers, and valleys of the great earth. You should
first level your mind-ground. If the mind-ground is level, then all places
Having heard these instructions, Guardian of the Earth Bodhisattva then
cultivated the mind-ground Dharma-door. He leveled the ground of his mind
and cultivated to accomplishment.
From among the assembly, Guardian of the Earth Bodhisattva rose from
his seat and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, if there are those
who hear this chapter of Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva, who learn about the
self-mastery of his deeds and the power of his spiritual penetrations as
shown in this Universal Door-those are his Thirty-two Response Bodies,
Fourteen Kinds of Fearlessness, and Nineteen Ways of Speaking
Dharma-you should know that the merit and virtue of such people will
not be small." The merit from hearing this chapter on Gwan Yin
Bodhisattva's Universal Door is not small by any means.
When the Buddha had spoken the "Universal Door Chapter," eighty-four
thousand living beings in the assembly all brought forth the resolve for
When the Buddha had spoken the "Universal Door Chapter," eighty-four
thousand living beings in the assembly all brought forth the resolve for
Anuttarasamyaksambodhi, the mind for the Unsurpassed, Proper and
Equal, Right Enlightenment.
"Eighty-four thousand living beings" also refers to the 84,000 kinds of
afflictions we living beings have. Each of our bodies contains 84,000
germs. We people are "big germs," and all the little germs live inside of
us, inside our blood, flesh, and internal organs. We are the life-support
systems for the little germs, and the little germs help the big germs.
Each one of the germs is actually a living being. You could never count
them, there being so many, but in general we say "eighty-four
Outwardly, the world is filled with many, many more than 84,000 beings.
"Eighty-four thousand beings" refers to the thoughts in the minds of
living beings, which rise and pass away continually. Each thought is a
living being, rising and passing away, undergoing birth and death. The
84,000 living beings are not separate from your own nature. The 84,000
living beings all bring forth, at the same time, the resolve for
Anuttarasamyaksambodhi is Sanskrit. Anuttara means
"proper and equal." Samyak means "unsurpassed," and sambodhi
means "right enlightenment." There is nothing higher than this
enlightenment; it's equal to the enlightenment of the Buddha. Upon hearing
this "Universal Door Chapter," all the 84,000 living beings brought forth
the resolve for enlightenment. That was an especially rare
Now at the Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco, we have lectured the
"Universal Door Chapter," and over twenty people have heard it. All of
these twenty people have 84,000 living beings inside of them. Ultimately,
how many beings are there? And yet, did they all bring forth the mind of
unsurpassed enlightenment? Even if not all of them did, the majority of
them probably did. Those who attend the lectures on the Dharma Flower
Sutra all have a share in becoming Buddhas in the future. That you
have heard this chapter on Gwan Yin Bodhisattva means that in the past,
for many lives and many eons, you have planted limitless, boundless good
roots, and so now you have this causal condition to assemble together and
study the Buddhadharma. This is a wonderful, inconceivable state.
Anuttarasamyaksambodhi is the highest position, the position of the
Buddha's enlightenment, the Unsurpassed, Pervasive, Proper Enlightenment.
The Proper Enlightenment is the enlightenment of the Arhats, those of the
Second Vehicle. They have not, however, obtained the Proper and Equal
Enlightenment. Who has obtained Proper and Equal Enlightenment? The
Bodhisattva. The Bodhisattva has obtained both "Right" and "Proper and
Equal" Enlightenment. Bodhisattvas are equal to the Buddha, in that sense.
But they have not obtained the Unsurpassed Enlightenment.
Arhats have obtained Right Enlightenment; but they have not obtained
Proper and Equal or Unsurpassed Enlightenment yet.
Bodhisattvas are said to be "Surpassed Knights" because they are
surpassed by the Buddhas who are above them.
The Buddhas are called "Unsurpassed Knights," because none are higher
than they are. They have obtained Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right
Enlightenment, which is like the Perfect Bodhi that returns to
Nonattainment. The Buddhas have attained the Perfection of the Three Kinds
of Enlightenment and also the Ten Thousand Virtues. There is nothing
higher than Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment. This title
applies only to the Buddhas, not to the Bodhisattvas or Arhats. Thus, it
is the highest position.
From what position is this highest state reached? One might think it
was realized from a high position, but that is not the case. The highest
position is realized from the lowest position. Those who cultivate the Way
should be very careful not to become arrogant, because the highest
position can only be reached from the lowest position.
Lau-Dz said, "The highest form of goodness is like water. Water
skillfully benefits the ten thousand things but does not contend. Because
it abides in places that people despise, it is close to the Way."
The ten thousand things include all creatures, flying, walking, and
swimming, as well as all the plants and trees. All creatures need water,
whether they are egg-born, womb-born, transformation-born, or
moisture-born. But even though all creatures are nourished and supported
by water, the water never thinks, "I am benefiting you, supporting your
lives, and helping you out." Water doesn't fight either. It doesn't insist
on taking the credit for what it does, as people usually do. People all
say, "I did this good deed, or that good deed. I built that temple. I
built that bridge." They are always competing. Water never thinks like
that. It's unselfish; it doesn't seek to benefit itself. Water doesn't
fight for fame or profit. Water always flows to the bottom; it doesn't run
upwards nor fight to be on top.
"But rain falls down from the sky!" you say.
That's a very cogent point. The rain does fall down. But how does it
get up there in the first place? It goes up from the lowest place. Then it
falls down and flows into the rivers and the sea, and it still recedes
into the lower places. It just goes up into the sky temporarily. Water
goes to places where no one else wants to go.
Why is it that cultivators don't like to live in fancy houses? They may
even live in caves. The reason is they want to imitate water in dwelling
in a lowly place. Because water goes to places people despise, it's close
to the Way.
If you want to realize Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right
Enlightenment, you, too, must begin from the lowest position. You don't
begin at the top.
If you want to become a Buddha, you must first be a good living being.
How do you do that? You should just do what is good. Don't do evil. Follow
the good and change the evil. Go down the good road, and get off the bad
road. Go forward and pursue what is in accord with the Way. Retreat from
that which is not in accord with the Way. Then you will be able to obtain
Unsurpassed, Proper and Equal, Right Enlightenment.
Today we have finished this general explanation of the "Universal Door
Chapter." The wonderful doctrine of the Universal Door is ineffable and
endless. It's not something that can be completely explained in a short
period of time. The Dharma Flower Sutra is ineffably wonderful. Its
wonderful functions are infinite and endless. Today, I have explained the
meaning in general. In the future, if there is an opportunity, we can go
into it more deeply.
If there's anything that you are seeking for in your mind, you should
pray to Gwan Yin Bodhisattva. I believe that you will get what you
The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra is the Sutra for
becoming a Buddha. Having heard the Dharma Flower Sutra, we each
have a share in future Buddhahood. This is a very rare
*End of the Chapter on the Universal Door *