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Listen to Yourself: Think Everything Over

Volume 1

Willow Branch Hand and Eye 



You have already suffered for one day. If you think it’s suffering, it’s suffering. If you think it isn’t suffering, then it isn’t. Reciting Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name is not really suffering, for it plants many good roots and the seed of Bodhi.  

   You should not only not think of it as suffering, but you should be very happy. Why? Because in a hundred thousand ten-thousand aeons, it is difficult to encounter this Dharma door. How many times have you gone around on the wheel of rebirth, spinning in the six paths, and never encountered this Dharma door? Confused, we have passed through aeons as many as the number of dust motes in the Ganges River. Now, having met the Buddhadharma, we should be happy.  

   The power of the function of reciting Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name is inconceivable. If someone has a demonic obstruction and recites Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, the demons will run away. If someone seeks anything at all, and continually recites Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, he will succeed. In the Universal Door Chapter of the Lotus Sutra it is said that those who have a lot of desire and constantly recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name will be able to separate from their desire.  

   Desire is greed—greed for wealth, sex, fame, food, or sleep. Whether or not greed is good is a matter you must decide. If you think it is good and I tell you it is not, you will want to argue with me and will thereby waste a lot of energy. In the end, you’ll still think greed is good. There is no way that I can convince you it is not good.

   If you think it is not good, and if you want to put it down, you have already found a way. What is the way? Recite “Namo Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva,” and you’ll be able to put down your thoughts of greed and desire, your defiled thoughts, and your ignorant thoughts. Recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name and you will be able to break through ignorance and realize genuine wisdom. If you would prefer wisdom to your present state, you should recite “Namo Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva” and bow to Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva. Constantly reciting, “Namo Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva,” your thoughts of greed and desire will gradually melt away and you won’t even know how it happened.  

   Right now you have many greedy thoughts, but you are not aware of them. In the same way, you won’t be aware of them as they lessen. Although you won’t be aware of them, the lack of greed is actual proof of the efficacy of recitation. Rid of greed and desire, your thoughts of hate will also disappear. It is said, “If someone has much hatred and continually recites “Namo Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva,” thoughts of hate will disappear.  

   Just recite. You don’t have to pay a fee to do it, and you don’t have to do any work. Just repeat, “Namo Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva,” very, very respectfully with all your attention focused on it. You will feel as if Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva is right on top of your head, on your right and on your left, in front of you and behind you. Kuan Yin will give you a prediction of Buddhahood and manifest before you saying, “Good woman, good man, your thoughts of greed and hatred are gone. You’ve brought forth the Bodhi-Mind, and in the future you’ll certainly obtain the Bodhi-Way.” If you truly concentrate and are mindful, Kuan Yin will come to you and say this.  

   Everybody has a temper. If you’re not mad at this person, then you are mad at that situation. Anger can upset you to the point that you can’t even eat or sleep. This is just punishing yourself. You recite Kuan Yin and yet think you suffer, whereas people who suffer from anger don’t feel like they are suffering. Getting angry is much more suffering than reciting. 

   If you recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name, all you have to lose is your stupidity. Stupidity is taking what is right as wrong and what is wrong as right, taking the deviant as proper and the proper as deviant. This happens because you don’t understand, because you are too stupid. Stupidity obstructs wisdom, and anger obstructs compassion. In one thought of stupidity, prajna is cut off. In one thought of wisdom, prajna manifests. If we want to have wisdom we should not be stupid. What is stupidity? It is just whatever you don’t understand.  

   “What don’t I understand?” you may ask.  

   How should I know what you don’t understand? Ask yourself. If you don’t know I will give you a little news. You don’t understand how to cultivate. You don’t understand how to let go of your hate and greed. You don’t understand how to let go of your stupidity. Right? If you really understood, you would have let it go long ago. You wouldn’t have had to wait to recite “Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva” in order to let it go. I think that you probably agree with what I have said.  

   Further, you don’t understand what ghosts are. Many people say that there are no ghosts. Some religions spray poisons in people’s minds, doctrines which seem to be reputable but which in fact are not. They say there are no ghosts. They are able to poison people’s minds with these ideas, because many people are taken in by the persuasiveness of their arguments. And so most people don’t understand about ghosts.  

   We don’t even need to speak of ghosts—they don’t even know about animals. How did they get here anyway? How did animals get to be animals? They don’t know that either.  

   But let’s not even consider animals, after all, they are only animals. But they don’t even know how they got to be people. They don’t know where people came from or where they are going. They don’t know about ghosts, they don’t know about animals, they know nothing about people and even less about asuras and gods.  

   “Oh, yes,” they argue, “I know about heaven. Heaven is up there and God is in it.”  

   Have you ever been there? If so, what did you see? If not, what proof do you have that there are heavenly gardens and God up there?  

   Do you know about Sound Hearers or the Conditionally Enlightened Ones? Do you know about the Bodhisattvas? How much the less do you know the Buddha. Is that anything but stupidity?  

   “Dharma Master,” you ask, “do you know about them?” Don’t ask me. I’m me and you are you. Why should you care about what I know? Isn’t that really just going too far?  

   “Well,” you say, “you brought it up.”  

   Yes, but you don’t have to listen.  

   If you’re stupid, does that mean you will be stupid till the end of time? Must you hold on to your stupidity like it was a treasure? I believe that no matter how stupid someone is, if he realized what he was doing he no longer would hold on to his stupidity like a treasure, but would want to get rid of it. So, those who want to cut off relations with stupidity, anger, and greed now have the opportunity to do so.  

   Now, your good roots are deep and thick. They were in the past, they are now, and they will be in the future, when they will certainly mature. Having met the wonderful Dharma, recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name. In this way your wisdom will open and your stupidity will disappear.  

   Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva will help increase our wisdom, our compassion, and our heart of Bodhi.  

   Not only that, but through our recitation of the name of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva, the people in the four directions can benefit from his kindness and wisdom. When people recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva, know that for a space of forty yojanas, 3,200 miles, there will be peace and no calamities. I don’t want to keep this treasure to myself and so now I wish to transmit it to all who have gathered here to recite.   

Vajra Pestle Hand and Eye  

   Good Knowing Advisors: Why do I call you Good Knowing advisors? If you weren’t Good Knowing advisors you wouldn’t be able to recite Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. Since you have come to recite, you must be Good Knowing Advisors.  

   Where did you Good Knowing advisors come from? In past lives, you created an affinity with the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Think it over: previously in America there weren’t any left-home people, and there was nowhere to go to attend a Kuan Yin Session. Now, here you are.  

   We say we “strike up” a session, and that means that we do battle with our false thinking. Our false thinking is continuous from morning to night; there’s just no way you could count all your false thoughts which are as many as specks of dust in empty space. See the dust on the window? We have just that many false thoughts.  

   “Well,” you say, “I didn’t know that.”  

   Of course not. When everything is black and the sunlight isn’t streaming in, you cannot see the motes of dust. Your recitation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s name has given you the sunlight of wisdom with which to reveal your false thoughts.  

   “My mind is running wild. I’m sitting here reciting Kuan Yin bodhisattva’s name and at the same time I’m having false thoughts about going out for a beer. I recite a bit more and then I have a false thought to go have a steak. I recite a little more and then I think I would like to go out and get stoned.”  

   Now that you know you have false thoughts, where do these thoughts come from? The sun of wisdom shines on your dusty false thoughts so that all of you now know you have them and since you are determined to bring them to a stop, I call you all, “Good Knowing Advisors.”  

   Do you all consider yourselves Good Knowing Advisors?  

   Someone is thinking, “I am not a Good Knowing Advisor.”  

   It doesn’t really matter whether you consider yourself as one, because you already are one. Not only can you consider yourself a Good Knowing Advisor, but you can also become a Buddha. But don’t consider yourself a Buddha already. Don’t be like those stupid people who say, “Hey, everyone is a Buddha. We are all Buddhas.”  

   What kind of Buddha are you? You are a meat Buddha, a bone Buddha. You are a Buddha whose belly is full of hate. You are a Buddha whose belly is full of greed. You are a Buddha whose belly is full of stupidity. If you are greedy, you are a greedy Buddha. If you do not want other people to be Buddhas, then you are a hateful Buddha. If you think everyone is not as good as you and that you are number one, then you are a stupid Buddha. Take a look at yourself. Are you one of those kinds of Buddhas? Take a look at the Buddha: he is not angry, greedy, or stupid. You can scold him and he is still happy; he does not lose his temper. You can hit the Buddha and he still does not get angry.  

   You say, “I think I’ll take a slug at the Buddha.”  

   You have to see him first! If you cannot see him, how can you hit him? Besides, you cannot hit a Buddha. Just thinking about hitting a Buddha is an offense. So don’t follow the demon kings. Don’t be like those faceless people who say, “Everybody is a Buddha.”  

   When I spoke at Redwood City I said that the word Buddha means “BU DA.” “not big.” Don’t think you are as big as Mount Sumeru. If you think that way you certainly are not a Buddha. The Buddha does not have any big status, and he does not have any special style. Although he has thirty-two marks and eighty minor characteristics, that is from the point of view of living beings. It is living beings who think that the Buddha is either present or not present.

   In actuality, the Buddha is not big or small, he is not inside or outside, he is not produced or destroyed, he does not come or go, and he is not defiled or pure. So, if you say that you are a Buddha, and yet when I scold you you cannot take it, when I hit you you get angry just the same, then you’d better not say that you are a Buddha. When you have become a Buddha you won’t have to say that you are a Buddha. To say that you are a Buddha before you have realized Buddhahood is like an old farmer who goes around saying, “I am the emperor.”  

   Really? Who is going to look out for you? If you don’t have any subjects what is the use of being an emperor?  

   I call you all Good Knowing Advisors because in the first thought you had to attend the Kuan Yin Session you were already Good Knowing Advisors. You have now been here for two days and have been extremely reverent and respectful in reciting Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name.  

   You’re probably thinking. “How does the Master know my thoughts? Can he read my mind? Someone was thinking about drinking and the Dharma Master knew. Someone also wanted to go get stoned and the Dharma Master knew. The Dharma Master is probably not an ordinary person, not ordinary at all!”  

   You’re wrong, If you think that, that is a false thought. I’ll tell you some more about your thoughts. I don’t have to wait for you to have your false thoughts, I know them before you even think them! Why? Because in the past I was just like you, and I had false thoughts, too. Now I know your false thoughts without having to read your mind. I don’t need the penetration of others’ thoughts, I just listen to you recite, “Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa,” and it sounds very sincere. This means that in the past you created an affinity with the Sangha.  

   Now, there are genuine left-home people in America who only eat one meal a day. Do they wait until you are not looking and then steal food? I don’t think so. Why? Because in America everything is very democratic. No one forced them to eat one meal a day. They decided to do it on their own. It is very rare for Westerners to be able to cultivate this way. You shouldn’t think that I’m exaggerating. I’m not at all. Also, at night they sleep sitting up. This is very uncomfortable. I have tried this myself and it is not easy.  

   You have an affinity with the Sangha and you have an affinity with the Dharma. Reciting Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name is a dharma, a method for cultivation. Seeking rebirth in the Pure Land and reciting Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name to get rid of your sickness and pain is also a dharma. You also have an affinity with the Buddha. Understanding the Dharma, you will certainly be able to become a Buddha. So I’m very happy. You have an affinity with the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. You will certainly be able to cultivate morality, samadhi, and wisdom.

   Reciting Kuan Shih Yin’s name is called “cultivating the precepts of no-precepts.” In other words, “the maintaining of no-maintaining.” Although you have false thinking, you are still sitting here and being very respectful. You are respecting the Bodhisattva and so are in accord with the precepts. The precepts are: no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no lying and no taking of intoxicants. Since you are sitting here, you’re not going out to kill anyone, and so you are holding the precept against killing.

   You might think, “I’d like to go to the store and rip off a bottle of beer, a pack of cigarettes, a piece of fruit, or some candy,” but although you might think about it, you’re not going to do it and so you are holding the precept against stealing. Reciting, you don’t have sexual desire, and all day long you don’t even talk, so how could you lie? There is no wine here. Although we have a little milk, it’s not going to get you drunk, and the apples haven’t been made into wine, so you are not breaking precepts. Not breaking the precepts is the same as holding the five precepts. Although you haven’t formally received the five precepts, you are cultivating them all the same. If you do not break the five precepts, you will be able to develop samadhi.

   In the past two days some of you may have seen flowers or have smelled a rare fragrance. Although we are all in the same hall, everyone’s state is different. Some people see light and some don’t. Some people see flowers and others do not. Some people may see a big lotus flower in the hall. In the future they will have an opportunity to sit in one of them. Some may see Bodhisattvas; some may see Buddhas.

   But whatever you see, don’t be afraid. It comes from your holding of the precepts. It’s a kind of auspicious state which purifies your body and mind. Kuan Yin Bodhisattva may pour an entire bottle of sweet dew water over your head, and you will be so clean that you won’t know where your false thinking ran off to, but it will disappear. Is that wonderful or not? Some people experience such states and others don’t. If you do, don’t be afraid. If you don’t understand you can come and see me. It’s not for sure that I’ll know, but I may know a little more about it than you—not a whole lot more, just a little bit—and I’ll be able to answer your questions. Then you’ll really be Good Knowing Advisors.  

   Why can you be called Good Knowing Advisors?  

   It is because of holding precepts that you have given rise to samadhi; from samadhi, wisdom has arisen. This is genuine wisdom, not the kind of false, unreal states stupid people obtain from dope. What you have is real. You don’t have to take dope. All you have to do is recite the name of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, hold the precepts, give rise to samadhi, and open your wisdom. The wisdom is genuinely yours; it is inherently yours. To depend upon the strength of a drug is to turn yourself upside down so that you even think to kill yourself in order to get reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss, and is extremely perverted. So you young people should become truly wise. The young people in this country have an affinity with me. When I talk, many of them believe me. Not only do they believe me, but they come along with me to undergo bitterness.  

   You may say, “Not me. I’m leaving tomorrow. I’m not going to suffer with this Dharma Master.”  

   If you don’t want to undergo suffering, I’m certainly not going to force you to do so. But you should know that if you undergo suffering you will be able to put an end to suffering. If you don’t enjoy your blessings you will not destroy your blessings. If you understand what this means, you will follow me. Now we should recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name and do the Great Transference of Merit.  

Tin Staff Hand and Eye  

   To recite the name of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva once can eradicate limitless kalpas of karma of birth and death. But you must recite with a sincere heart. Why? To recite the name of Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva without a heart of faith is just the same as not reciting. The Buddhadharma is like the waters of a Great Sea, but in order to enter it, you must have a heart of faith. Without faith you will be unable to enter the waters of the Buddhadharma.  

   Once you have faith, you then make vows.  

   What vows?  


   Ask yourself, “Have I saved them or not? If I’ve already saved some, I should save some more. If I haven’t saved any, I vow to save some.”  


   Ask yourself, “Have I cut them off? Do my afflictions get less day by day? If that’s the case, then I vow to cut them off more and more day by day.” Do not treat your afflictions as you would eating some very good food, eating too much of it. If you eat too many afflictions they will make you very uncomfortable.  


   The Buddhadharma-doors are limitless and boundless. I vow to study them all. There are eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors. Some people say there are forty-eight thousand but this is incorrect. There are eighty-four thousand Dharma-doors, not forty-eight thousand.  


   Now, we recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name and Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva has even greater spiritual powers than Master Chih Kung and is even more inconceivable.  

   How is Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisttva inconceivable?  

   Kuan Yin follows the sounds beings make when they are suffering, and wipes their suffering away. We recite Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva’s name in order to get rid of all our problems.  

   Among Chinese people husbands and wives must strictly adhere to social mores. If they don’t, they are breaking the law and no one will speak to them. Once, there was a businessman who went out on business trips and left his wife alone. Often he was gone for three or even five months. His wife finally could not bear the loneliness. In China it is not permissible, but she got herself a lover because she was so lonely. The two of them decided that when her husband returned, her lover would murder her husband and then they could get married.  

   It so happened that the businessman sincerely believed in Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva. He made offerings to Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva and kept an oil lamp burning in front of the Bodhisattva’s image in his home. When he returned he travelled by ship and on the voyage he had a dream. In the dream Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva came to him and said, “Good man, you’re very sincere. I’m going to tell you a couple of sentences and you should remember them and when the time comes to use them they will be effective.  

   When you meet the bridge, don’t anchor the boat.
   Encountering the oil, smear it on your head.
   A peck of grain yields three cups of raw rice.
   The houseflies gather on the end of the brush.

And then he woke up.  

   The next day they ran into a heavy rainstorm and the captain anchored the boat beneath a bridge to avoid the downpour. Sitting there, the merchant suddenly remembered the poem: “When you meet the bridge don’t anchor the boat.” He finally convinced the captain to continue, and the moment the boat pulled out from under the bridge, it collapsed. Had they been under it the people and cargo would have all been crushed. “Oh!” he cried, “Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva, you are really something! Really magic! If you hadn’t told me not to anchor the boat under the bridge the boat would have been sunk and we all would have been killed and the wealth lost.” He bowed to Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva most respectfully.  

   When he arrived home, he told his wife, “I just about lost my life today. I had a dream in which Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva said, ‘When you meet the bridge, don’t anchor the boat,’ so when the captain anchored the boat under a bridge I made him move it and then the bridge collapsed. So, because of Kuan Yin, I am able to come back and see you.” He said congenially to his wife.  

   His wife thought, “If he had been smashed beneath the bridge that would have suited me just fine. I’d hoped he wouldn’t come back at all. If he had been killed then I wouldn’t have had to do it now…”  

   Then they had dinner and she managed to get him slightly drunk. However, before the meal he had gone before Kuan Yin’s image to bow and had knocked over the oil lamp. He remembered the second line of the verse. “When you meet the oil, smear it on your head,” and so he did. In those days the men wore their hair in long neat plaits. The women, however, sometimes wore cream dressings on their hair. After dinner and a lot of wine, he dozed off. That night his wife’s lover snuck in carrying a knife. He patted the man’s head and feeling the oil smeared on it, figured it must be the woman. Convinced that the other person in the bed was the husband, he deftly performed the decapitation.  

   The next day he found out that he had killed his lover and not her husband. He wrote a letter to his girlfriend’s parents saying that her husband had returned that night and killed their daughter. The parents had the husband arrested. Although he denied it, the evidence was stacked heavily against him. “You must have killed her,” they said. “Why else did the murder take place on the very day you returned?” He couldn’t talk his way out of it, and they gave him the death penalty. He continued to deny it, but they all said, “If you didn’t kill her, who did?”  

   In ancient times they wrote out the death sentences with a brush, saying when the person was going to be beheaded. Just as this was being written out, however, a swarm of flies gathered on the tip of the brush, making it impossible to write. They brushed the flies away but they kept coming back. Seeing this, the businessman laughed and laughed, and thought, “Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva, you’re really magical.” The jailor said, “What are you laughing about? We are going to cut your head off, and you’re laughing. You’ve killed your wife and even as you die for it you are self-satisfied!”  

   “No, that’s not why I’m laughing,” said the man. “I’m laughing because I had a very efficacious dream in which I heard four sentences, and the first two sentences have already turned out very auspiciously.  

   The jailor said, “What two sentences?”  

   He replied, “I believe in Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva. Two days ago I had a dream in which Kuan Yin told me:  

     When you meet the bridge, don’t anchor the boat.
   Encountering the oil, smear it on your head.
   A peck of grain yields three cups of raw rice.
   The houseflies gather on the end of the brush.

The next day when we stopped under the bridge to wait out the storm, I told the captain to move on. As soon as we pulled out, the bridge collapsed. We barely escaped with our lives! That first sentence was magic.  

   “When I got home, I bowed to Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva and the oil lamp got broken. Remembering the second sentence, I rubbed oil on my head. So when the murderer felt my head he figured I was a woman. Instead of murdering me, he killed my wife, who was lying beside me, figuring she was me. Now, I can’t keep from laughing because Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva is just too magical. See! The flies are gathered on the brush-tip, just like the last sentence says. However, I still haven’t figured out the third line.  

   “What was it again?”  

   “ ‘a peck of grain yields three cups of raw rice,’” said the man.  

   “Oh!” said the jailor, “I know who did it,” and he ordered the sheriff to go find out if there was anyone name K’ang Ch’i (“seven parts chaff”) living in the county. They did in fact find one such man and arrested him. He turned out to be the dead woman’s lover.  

   The police questioned him and said, “We know that you killed this woman.”  

   “Since you arrested me,” he said, “I might as well admit it. I didn’t want to kill the woman. I wanted to kill the man. But I made a mistake. My conscience has suddenly got the best of me, so I’ll plead guilty. But tell me, how did you know it was me?”  

   The man related his dream and the jailor said, “The sentence ‘a peck of grain yields three cups of rice’ gave me the murderer’s name. Peck is ten cups: subtract three cups raw rice and that leaves ‘seven parts of chaff!—Ch’i K’ang.”  

   So we know that Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s realm is truly inconceivable and the response evoked is also inconceivable—too vast to narrate in detail. This is just an inkling. We should now perform the Great Transference of Merit and ask Kuan Shih Yin Bodhisattva to help us eradicate our karmic obstructions.

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