Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s Blessing
amidst a Blazing Fire
Compiled by Bhikshuni Jin Xiang
From March 2013 issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea
(Meg Solaegui Photography)
Since 2011, Diann Sommers has participated in three Guan Yin Recitation Sessions at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Her affinity with Guan Yin Bodhisattva began about twenty years ago in San Diego, before she moved to Lake County in northern California. Many years later, reading about Guan Yin Bodhisattva in a pamphlet at CTTB’s Jyun Kang Restaurant triggered that affinity again, and she started to take the hour-long drive to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for Guan Yin Session.
On August 15, 2012, three days after participating in the Guan Yin session, Diann experienced the blessing of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. At the time, there was a wildfire raging in the vicinity. When she saw the flames advancing toward her house, she barely had enough time to get her horses out of the barn before the fire burned it down. There was no time to evacuate. The fire consumed everything in the surrounding area except a circular perimeter around her house. When interviewed by a reporter from CBS, who asked her how she had survived the fire unscathed, Diann expressed her feeling of awe at why she was spared by the fire. Despite the loss of her barn and the solar panels*, she was still amazed that she had escaped the disaster without any injury. She was totally blown away by the miracle that she just experienced. She believes that it couldn’t have been just good luck and that Guan Yin Bodhisattva saved her house. Diann now believes in the Universal Door Chapter, which says: those who recite Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name will not be burned by fire.
Diann has three Guan Yin Bodhisattva statues, one of which is a thirty-inch standing Guan Yin that she placed at the entrance to her garden. Several times a week, she circumambulates her property, which has a circumference of about half a mile, while chanting the names of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, Amitabha Buddha, and Shakyamuni Buddha, as well as the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.
She dedicates one circumambulation to each and recites them 100-150 times. Four years ago, when her mother passed away, she ordered a four-foot seated Guan Yin statue from a factory in Hayward, and placed it on a small hill near her house as a memorial for her mother.
Besides practicing the Guan Yin Dharma-door, Diann also reads and studies the Avatamsaka Sutra. Whenever financially possible, she buys new books from CTTB’s bookstore to read and take notes. Using Buddhism A to Z, she tries to grasp the meanings on her own. She has read through the Preface to the Avatamsaka Sutra once, and is currently reading it for the second time. Aside from the sutra study, she practices meditation with a local group as well.
Recently, during a rainy night in late November, a big tree fell on her house; the sound from the collision was so loud that it woke her up. She said it was unbelievable that the force from the impact did not smash the roof or break the windows. She thinks it must have been the protection of Shakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha Buddha, whose statues resided on the altar placed right underneath the spot where the tree had fallen.
When she bought her ranch in Clearlake Oaks in 2001, she had a vision of creating a place where people could find peace, a place surrounded by nature and away from technology and distractions. She rescues abandoned or unwanted animals like cats, dogs, and horses, and find homes for them. Three years ago, Diann became a vegetarian. She understands that she still has a lot of things to learn, and plans to take refuge with the Three Jewels and take five precepts in the future.
(*The barn and the solar panels were outside the path where she does her chanting routine.)