The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sutra
Chapter 25: The Universal Door of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva
(The Bodhisattva Who Contemplates the Sounds of the World)
“Further, if a person who is about to be harmed calls out the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, the knives and staves of the attackers will break into pieces and he will be saved.”
L4. The difficulty of knives and staves.
This is the difficulty of knives and staves. Further, if a person who is about to be harmed--on the verge of being murdered--calls out the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, the knives and staves of the attackers will break into pieces. Just as they put the knife to your throat or the stick to your head, the weapon will split apart and be useless. Basically, a knife is stronger than your neck, but now your neck is stronger and the knive breaks.
Why does this happen? Because of the great awesome power of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. This power causes your neck to be stronger than iron, so the knife breaks. And in this way he--the person who is being attacked--will be saved from the difficulty of knives and staves. This is all because he recites the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva.
"Is it that magical?" you say.
It is even more efficacious than that! All you have to do is sincerely and faithfully recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva.
“If yakshas and rakshasas enough to fill the three thousand great thousand world system come to torment a person, if they hear him call out the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, all those evil ghosts will not even be able to stare at that person with their evil eyes, how much the less harm him.”
L5. The difficulty of ghosts.
This is the difficulty of yakshas and rakshasas. If yakshas and rakshasas enough to fill the three thousand great thousand world system come to torment a person. Yakshas are "speedy ghosts." There are flying yakshas, space-travelling yakshas, and earth-bound yakshas. Yakshas are extremely fast. They can run faster than rockets. Rakshasas eat people's essence and energy.
Both these types of ghosts specialize in harming people. The more you try to bring forth the Bodhi resolve, the madder they get and the more they try to torment you. They think of all kinds of ways to obstruct you so you cannot cultivate. They cause you to retreat. You may bring forth the Bodhi resolve and be cultivating with great vigor and then they will come along and say, "What are you cultivating for? Why do you study the Buddhadharma? Do not do it. It is plain useless."
They can cause you to have doubts. They will bore into your mind, and say, "Do not study the Buddhadharma. Go somewhere else, where you can be free, where you can dance and listen to music whenever you want to. The Buddhadharma is just 'do not do this, do not do that, don't, don't, don't!' You cannot watch movies, cannot drink, cannot smoke. So many things that you cannot do! The more you study it, the more trouble you will have." The yakshas and rakshasas cause you to think like that.
You may want to leave the home-life and be a monk, but these ghosts will say, "That is too bitter. You have to work all day long. You never get enough sleep, enough clothes to wear, or enough food to eat. You have to work your head off, practically. Forget it! What bother?"
Someone else might want to be a Bhikshuni, but the yakshas and rakshasas come along and say, "Get married. You will have a husband to keep you company and you can do whatever you want." That is just the work of yakshas and rakshasas. They specialize in ruining your Bodhi resolve, your mind of cultivation.
If they hear him call out the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, all those evil ghosts will not even be able to stare at that person with their evil eyes, how much the less harm him. The yakshas and rakshasas will come along to torment you. But as soon as you recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, you will emit light. This light will make it impossible for them to open their eyes and look at you. If they cannot even open their eyes, how can they harm you? If you always recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, you will receive help and protection.
“If a person, whether guilty or not, who has been put in stocks or bound with chains calls out the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, his fetters will break apart and he will immediately be freed.”
L6. The difficulty of stocks and chains.
If a person, whether guilty or not, who has been put in stocks or bound with chains calls out the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, his fetters will break apart. This is the difficulty of stocks and chains. A person gets arrested and locked up; perhaps he is guilty or perhaps it is a case of mistaken identity or a frame-up. In any case, he is locked up. However, if he can recite "Homage to the Greatly Compassionate Guanshiyin Bodhisattva," very sincerely, the fetters will fall off. And he will immediately be freed. I have seen many such responses.
At Nanhua Monastery, there was a monk called Ti Hui. He was captured by the Japanese and locked up in jail, wearing handcuffs and chains. In jail, he recited Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name all day long. Then one night, all of a sudden, all the chains and handcuffs fell off. The door opened up by itself, and he ran away. There are many, many other such incidents. And so I know this is really true.
“If bandits enough to fill the three thousand great thousand world system infest a dangerous road on which a merchant chief in charge of costly jewels is leading a group of merchants, but among the merchants there is even a single person who says, ‘Good men, do not be afraid! You should all single-mindedly recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. This Bodhisattva bestows fearlessness upon living beings. If you recite his name, you shall surely be saved from these robbers,’ and if upon hearing that, the merchants all cry out together, ‘Namo Guanshiyin Bodhisattva,’ then they will immediately be saved because they recited his name.”
L7. The difficulty of bandits.
If bandits enough to fill the three thousand great thousand world system infest a dangerous road. These are malicious and hateful robbers. Because they have grudges against people from former lives, in this life they become bandits and rob other people. Suppose these bandits lie await on a perilous road on which a merchant chief in charge of costly jewels is leading a group of merchants. Naturally, the bandits are going to want to rob their jewels. But if among the merchants there is even a single person who says, 'Good men, do not be afraid! Friends! Brothers! Colleagues! You should all single-mindedly recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva.' Use one mind, not two minds, to recite Guanyin Bodhisattva's name. This Bodhisattva bestows fearlessness upon living beings. If you recite his name, you shall surely be saved from these robbers. And if upon hearing that, the merchants all cry out together, 'Namo Guanshiyin Bodhisattva—Homage to the Bodhisattva Who Contemplates the Sounds of the World--then they will immediately be saved from their predicament because they recited his name. This Dharma-door is especially efficacious. Everyone should believe in it. Do not have doubts.
“Inexhaustible Intention! The awesome spiritual power of the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Guanshiyin is as lofty and sublime as that!”
K2. Concluding praise.
Shakyamuni Buddha, having explained the above doctrine, now calls out, "Inexhaustible Intention! The awesome spiritual power of the Bodhisattva Mahasattva Guanshiyin is as lofty and sublime as that!" The power of his awesome virtue and spiritual penetrations is great, supreme, and magnificent!
What are Mahasattvas? Mahasattvas are Bodhisattvas, and Bodhisattvas can be Mahasattvas. Regular Bodhisattvas refer to young Bodhisattvas, but Mahasattvas refer to old Bodhisattvas. They are the senior ones. By way of analogy, ordinary Bodhisattvas are like compact cars; they cannot carry too many people. Mahasattvas are like big vans that can carry a lot of people.
“If living beings who have much sexual desire constantly and reverently recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, they will be separated from desire.”
“If those who have much hatred constantly and reverently recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, they will be separated from hatred.”
“If those who are very stupid constantly and reverently recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, they will be separated from stupidity.”
J2. Response to mind karma.
K1. The three poisons.
If living beings who have much sexual desire. Some people study Buddhadharma on one hand, and entertain lustful desire on the other. The more they study the Dharma, the stronger their desire is. They think about sex all day long, until their desire thoughts are like flowing water. This is the worst of thoughts and the worst kind of behavior, a very bad sign. What should they do? They do not have to get nervous or worry. They should just constantly and reverently recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. It is not good enough just to recite it; you must also be reverent. You should bow more to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva.
Bowing to the Buddhas is just paying great reverence to the Buddhas. Most people do not understand what bowing to the Buddhas means. Adherents of other religions say it is just bowing to wooden idols. Blind people speak blindly. They do not have eyes, they cannot see the Buddhas' light, and so they say it is idol worship. But bowing to the Buddhas represents the reverence in our heart.
In order to respect the Triple Jewel, we must certainly bow to the Buddhas. Take care not to be arrogant and think, "I am so great. I am greater than the Buddhas. Why should I bow to them?" That is a mistake. If people always bow and recite Guanyin Bodhisattva's name, they will be separated from desire. It is gone!
You say, "But I like sexual desire. What am I going to do without it?"
If you like it, you do not have to recite Guanyin Bodhisattva's name. That's all. It is simple enough. If you do not want your sexual desire, you can get rid of it. If you want to keep it, you do not have to get rid of it. Either way, it is up to you.
If there are those who have much hatred, they should recite Guanyin Bodhisattva's name. Hatred manifests as overt angry. Anger is a kind of affliction, and affliction is just ignorance. Hatred is like fire.
It is said, "One spark of fire can burn up a forest of merit and virtue." Therefore, there is an ancient saying that,
The firewood gathered in a thousand days,
Goes up in a blaze started by a single spark.
You can gather firewood for a thousand days, a long time; but one little match can burn it all up. This describes how ordinarily we may try to do good and virtuous deeds. We may do this over a long period of time, but then we get mad and the fire of ignorance rises. All that merit and virtue is burned right off. If you have a big temper, you will produce ignorance whenever you open your mouth.
What kind of people like to get mad? Asuras! Everyone has come down a particular path. Some have come down the Buddha path. Some have come down the path of immortals. Others have come down the path of humans, asuras, animals, or ghosts.
Those who have come down the Buddha path are, for the most part, compassionate. Those who have come down the ghost path, for the most part, are cheap and lowly. They never take a loss. They are really sneaky and slimy--not reliable. Unreliable people are said to be ghostly. Those from the path of humans have affinities with everyone. Those from the animal path are insatiably greedy for everything. The more the better! Asuras like to get angry. Those from the immortals’ path like to be pure and carefree.
So now we are talking about asuras. Have you noticed how there are some people who are just miserable all the time? They are always on the verge of "blowing their tops." They are just asuras; they have asura-natures. Can they change? Yes. How? The Dharma Flower Sutra tells us in detail. All you have to do is constantly and reverently recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. This means reciting all the time, without ever stopping. Recite constantly and be reverent by going to temples and bowing to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. But you cannot just bow today and not tomorrow, or bow in the morning and not bow at night. If you have no work to do, then spend your time bowing and reciting. Gradually, they will be separated from hatred. Your temper will vanish.
You would not know quite how it happened, but strangely enough your temper will have disappeared. It is just that mysterious. You do not know about this, but I have had personal experience and I know. I used to have a terrible temper. I used to hit and scold people. When I was very young, twelve or so, I liked to fight with others. No matter how big a person was, he had to listen to my orders or I would clobber him until he submitted. That is just an asura-nature. Later, when I studied the Buddhadharma, I realized that anger was wrong and I changed. I always recited the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. So now, sometimes even when my own disciples bully me, I still do not get angry. My disciples may get mad at me, but I practice patience and endure it. I know that eventually they will understand that they are wrong. Before, I used to get mad at people; and now, my disciples get mad at me!
"Which ones?" you ask.
"You know who you are," I say.
Before, I got mad at others; now others get mad at me. This is just retribution. I have received these bad disciples who bully their good teacher. But the good teacher does not get angry anymore. I do not know where my temper went, but I am not going to look for it. If I find it again, it will be even worse!
If those who are very stupid. We have already discussed greed and hatred. Now we will discuss stupidity. These are the three poisons. They poison our Buddha-natures and put them to sleep. Why haven't we awakened yet? Why is it that we live as if drunk and die in a dream? It is all because of the three poisons.
The primary form of greed is sexual desire. Sexual desire is extremely harmful to people's natures. But most people think it is very enjoyable and so they engage in all kinds of impure conducts. Day by day, the original Buddha-nature becomes covered with filth so that its light does not manifest. This is all because of greed for sex.
Hatred is the same way. Now we are talking about stupidity. What is that? Stupidity just means that you feel that you are not stupid. That is stupid! A person may think he is intelligent and wise, but then you ask him, "Where did you come from? Where are you going to in the future?" and he cannot answer. He does not know where he came from or where he is going and yet he says he is intelligent. He would not admit that he is stupid.
In this world, everyone is concerned about such petty affairs as fame and profit. People toil for fame and profit all day long. They hurt each other, kill each other, and cause mayhem--all just for profit. If you put all the people in the world together, how many would there be? Two. One who seeks fame, and one who seeks profit.
Fame and profit turn people entirely upside down. They do not wake up. From birth to death, they fight and struggle. Some seek to get elected to office. Others seek to get rich. Some run after the opposite sex or some other kind of happiness. But this happiness fades, and at the time of death people have no idea where they are going. And yet they still think they are incredible geniuses with great wisdom! "I am the smartest. I have the most wisdom. I was first in my class every year. I am ahead of everyone in everything!" But how is it really? As long as you have not recognized your own original face, no matter how smart you are, yours is a false intelligence. People with genuine wisdom will not think that they are wise.
Will they think they are stupid, then?" you ask.
No, they would not think they are either stupid or wise. On the outside they appear to be pretty much the same as everyone else, but their thinking and attitudes will be clear. They are clear about the fact that everything is like an illusion; like a bubble, a shadow, a dew drop, or a flash of lightning. Knowing that everything is like a dream, they will not be greedy for glory, wealth, or position. Knowing that everything is an illusion, they will not be greedy for sex, power, or profit. It is all impermanent, all of it. And so the Vajra Sutra says, "All conditioned dharmas are like a dream, a bubble, or a shadow."
What are conditioned dharmas? They are all those things with marks, all the things we perceive. All are like illusions, dreams, or bubbles. Would you say a bubble in the ocean is real? If you say it is real, it will soon pop and disappear. If you say it is false, it is still there! But although it is there, it has no real substance. A shadow is also false. It is like dew in the morning. It is there, but as soon as the sun shines on it, it is gone. And a lightning flash appears for just an instant.
If you can look upon everything as being like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow, dew, or a lightning flash, then what attachments could there be? None. Without attachments, you will have genuine understanding. You will not let your thinking wander as it will to the north, east, south, or west. You will put down deluded thinking and involvement with the dust of the world. Having put it all down, you could not avoid becoming a Buddha if you tried! You would have wisdom whether you wanted it or not; you would be naturally wise.
When you do not have wisdom, you may think, "I am pretty wise." But once you have true wisdom, you will think, "Oh, originally, this was mine all the time. It did not come from the outside." At that time you would not be arrogant. You would not think, "See me? I am the smartest one around. I am the prettiest one around. I am the most talented, incredible, unusual person around." If you think like that, you are attached to appearances.
“Appearances” just mean your stinking skin-bag--the dream, illusion, bubble, shadow, dewdrop, and lightning flash. All day long you wear your nice clothes, eat your fancy food, live in your fine house, and enjoy your amusements. You do all of this for your body, but when the time comes to die, your body will pay no attention to you. It will not help you out at all.
Besides, in order to satisfy their stinking skin-bags, people are busy all day long smoking, drinking, stuffing themselves with food, and trying to fill that bottomless pit. You cannot fill a bottomless pit: it all keeps leaking right out! The more it leaks, the more you fill it; the more you fill it, the more it leaks. It certainly keeps you busy.
Why do I eat one meal a day? Because three meals a day are just too much trouble! Most people think that eating fine food is a real pleasure. I think it is a lot of trouble. If you over-eat, your stomach hurts. If you do not eat enough, your greed is not satisfied. You think, "That was good. I would like to have a little bit more!" If you do not eat such good food, you would not be so greedy; and it is a lot easier on your stomach.
It is just a lot of trouble and it all comes about because of stupidity. Being stupid, one seeks after pleasure, wealth, enjoyment, and fun with the opposite sex; it is all upside down. You can be as greedy as you want, and then what? When the time comes, you are still going to die. When the time comes to die, you will not have control over the situation at all. Isn't that stupid?
Now, being so stupid, what should we do? We should rely upon the method given in the Dharma Flower Sutra. If people constantly and reverently recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, they will be separated from stupidity. Recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and your stupidity will disappear as your wisdom comes forth.
If you know that you are stupid, you have recognized yourself. You have to have some wisdom to be able to realize that you are stupid. People without wisdom would not have any idea that they are stupid. The farther they run, the farther off they stray. And as if being stupid was not bad enough, people insist on doubling their stupidity by thinking they are intelligent!
How do we get rid of our stupidity? We must constantly and reverently recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. This is the most wonderful and efficacious method. It is a money-back guarantee, wonderful beyond words.
Speaking of stupidity and wisdom, what is stupidity? What is wisdom? I will tell you something you will not believe. Stupidity is wisdom; wisdom is stupidity! Why do I say this?
Take a look at the Heart Sutra, "Form does not differ from emptiness; emptiness does not differ from form. Form itself is emptiness; and emptiness itself is form."
True form comes from true emptiness. True emptiness comes from true form. They are two, and yet not two. If you know how to use it, it is wisdom; if you cannot use it, it is stupidity. Stupidity and wisdom are not two. It just depends on whether or not you can use it. If you can use it, stupidity turns to wisdom; if you cannot use it, wisdom turns to stupidity. They are two and yet not two. If you obtain genuine wisdom, you will know, "Oh, originally it was like this," and you will not be upside down.
“Inexhaustible Intention, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva has great awesome spiritual powers such as these and confers great benefits. Therefore living beings should always be mindful of him.”
K2. Concluding praise.
Shakyamuni Buddha calls out, “Inexhaustible Intention, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva has great awesome spiritual powers such as these. He is able to rescue us from the seven difficulties and the three poisons, and he confers great benefits.” There are many, many ways in which he benefits living beings with his spiritual powers. Therefore living beings should always be mindful of him. Living beings should always keep his name in mind. The text makes it very clear here. It is not good enough just to recite with your mouth. You must keep his name in your mind. Your mouth does not necessarily have to recite, but you must keep his name in your thoughts.
“If women who seek sons bow and make offerings to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, they will give birth to blessed, virtuous and wise sons. If they seek daughters, they will give birth to upright and handsome daughters who have planted roots of virtue in previous lives and who are regarded and respected by all.”
J3. Response to body karma.
K1. Answering the two requests.
If women who seek sons bow and make offerings of fruits, flowers, and so forth to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, they will give birth to blessed, virtuous and wise sons. If they seek sons, they will have sons. If they seek daughters, they will give birth to upright and handsome daughters. Their noses will look like noses, their eyes will look like eyes, their ears will look like ears, and their lips will look like lips.
"Well, could somebody have eyes that do not look like eyes?" you ask.
Some people have triangular eyes. In China we say these eyes are Zhang Shigui eyes. Zhang Shigui was a treacherous official during the Tang dynasty in China. He had a very bad character and cheated everyone, and he had three-cornered eyes. Most people's eyes just go straight across, but his were triangular. So you should remember, if you become friends with such people, then you will have a hard time. Zhang Shigui eyes make a person very hard to get along with.
"Can a nose not look like a nose?" you ask.
Sometimes people have a nose that sticks in instead of out, or it looks as if someone had bit it off. Some people's ears look like a little mouse's ears, really tiny. Some have ears as long as rabbits'. Is that good-looking? If one's earlobes hang down like the Buddha's, they can be said to be good ears. But if one's ears are long in the other direction--that is, they stick way up in the air--then they do not even look like ears, except maybe rabbit ears. Some people's lips do not look like lips. Some people have their noses and mouths stuck right together with their ears. They do not even look human. Even dogs are not that ugly and weird. Some people like dogs and they want to look like dogs, too. But these people with their noses, mouths, and ears all grown together, do not even look as good as dogs. They may have hare-lips or be bow-legged. If a daughter looked like that, no one would like it because she would not be proper and attractive.
In general, women who are deformed have a hard time getting married, or even getting a boyfriend. Everyone is afraid of them. However, upright and handsome daughters are those who have planted roots of virtue in previous lives. Why are they upright and beautiful? Beautiful people in their former lives made offerings of flowers and other things to the Buddhas.
During the summer session, one of my disciples said, "No wonder all the women are making offerings of flowers to the Buddhas. They want to be beautiful!" These attractive daughters under discussion are ones who are regarded and respected by all. Everyone is fond of them.
“Inexhaustible Intention! Guanshiyin Bodhisattva has powers such as these. If there are living beings who reverently bow to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, they will be blessed and their efforts will not be in vain.”
K2. Concluding praise.
Having talked about the two kinds of seeking--seeking for a son and seeking for a daughter--and also having talked about the seven kinds of difficulties and the three poisons, the Buddha now calls out, "Inexhaustible Intention! Guanshiyin Bodhisattva has powers such as these--as just described above. If there are living beings who reverently bow to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, they will be blessed and their efforts will not be in vain." If they can very respectfully pay homage to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, their will certainly be rewarded with blessings.
“Therefore, living beings should all receive and uphold the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva.”
I3. Encouragement to uphold the name.
J1. Encouragement to uphold.
Therefore, living beings should all receive and uphold the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. "Receive and uphold" means to recite, to keep the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva always in mind. If you can recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, there is inconceivable power there.
“Inexhaustible Intention! If a person were to receive and uphold the names of Bodhisattvas in number as the grains of sand in sixty-two kotis of Ganges Rivers, and in addition were to exhaustively make offerings to them of food, drink, clothing, bedding, and medicine, what do you think---would that good man’s or good woman’s merit and virtue be great or not?”
Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva replied, “Very great, World Honored One.”
The Buddha said, “If another person were to receive and uphold the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and bow and make offerings but once, that person’s blessings would be equal to and not different from the other person’s. They could not be exhausted in hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of eons.”
“Inexhaustible Intention! If a person were to receive and uphold the names of Bodhisattvas in number as the grains of sand in sixty-two kotis of Ganges Rivers. Receive and uphold means reciting the name not of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, but of other Bodhisattvas, an incredible number of them. And not only that, if that person in addition were exhaustively make offerings to them of food, drink, clothing, bedding, and medicine, what do you think?” Suppose this person throughout his entire life presents those four kinds of offerings to the Triple Jewel. Would that good man or good woman's merit and virtue be great or not?
Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva replied, "Very great, World Honored One."
The Buddha said, "If another person were to receive and uphold the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva and bow and make offerings but once--he does not have to make offerings for his entire life, he only has to do it once, just for a moment--then that person's blessings would be equal to and not different from the other person's. His blessings would not differ from those gained by the first person who made offerings to Bodhisattvas as many as sands of sixty-two kotis of Ganges Rivers. They could not be exhausted in hundreds of thousands of myriads of kotis of eons.
“Inexhaustible Intention, one who receives and upholds the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva obtains the benefit of blessings and virtues as limitless and boundless as those.”
J3. Concluding praise.
"Inexhaustible Intention," Shakyamuni Buddha continues, "one who receives and upholds and recites the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva obtains the benefit of blessings and virtues as limitless and boundless as those--countless and measureless."
Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, how does Guanshiyin Bodhisattva roam through this Saha world? How does he speak the Dharma for living beings? How does he carry out this work with the power of expedients?”
G2. Second question.
Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, how does Guanshiyin Bodhisattva roam through this Saha World?"Saha is a Sanskrit word which means "worthy of being endured." We say "worthy" because although this world is filled with suffering, living beings find it worthy of being endured. It is not easy to bear this pain. There is so much suffering in the Saha World. How can Guanshiyin Bodhisattva teach and transform living beings here? How does he speak the Dharma for living beings? How does he carry out this work with the power of expedients?
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