Universal Door Chapter Lecture 3 — Exploring the meaning of the title

Lectured by Rev. Heng Sure on April 9, 2021

(DM Heng Sure plays the banjo) Good morning, everybody; good afternoon; good evening, everyone; this is Reverend Heng Sure coming to you from Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. Today is Saturday April, 10th here in the Gold Coast; it should be Friday April 9th for those of you in Northern California and other places.

Today we’re going to be looking into the Dharma Flower Sutra’s chapter on Guan Shiyin Bodhisattva, the awakened being who hears the sounds of the cries of the world; and I understand that Ron is going to be our dharma requester; here is our dharma request text, so I’m going to ring the bell three times and then ask Ron to help us request dharma so if you’d like to put your palms together, please do; here we go. 


Gōngqǐng dà dé sēng tīng, wèi cǐ fǎ huì jí yīqiè zhòngshēng, qǐng zhuǎn miào fǎlún,


Jiàodǎo wǒmen, rúhéle shēng tuō sǐ, lí kǔ dé lè, sù zhèng wú shēng.

Will the Sanga with great virtue,

Out of compassion,

For the sake of this assembly

And all living beings,

Please turn the wonderful Dharma-wheel,

To teach us how to leave suffering,

And attain bliss,

And end birth and death and

Quickly realize non birth.

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato, Samma Sambuddhassa

Homage to the Blessed, Noble, and Perfectly Enlightened one

Namo Sa Dan Tuo 南無薩怛他

Su Qie Duo Ye 蘇伽多耶

E La He Di 阿喇訶帝

San Miao San Pu Tuo Xie 三藐三菩陀寫

開經偈 Kāi jīng jì

無上甚深微妙法 百千萬劫難遭遇

Wú shàng shèn shēn wéimiào fǎ bǎi qiān wàn jiénàn zāoyù

我今見聞得受持 願解如來真實義

Wǒ jīn jiànwén dé shòu chí yuàn jiě rúlái zhēnshí yì

Supreme and wondrous Dharma, subtle and profound, 

Rarely is encountered,

Even in billions of eons.

But now we see it, hear it and accept it reverently;

May we truly understand the Buddha’s actual meaning.

Okay, thank you, Ron. That was our dharma request; I appreciate it. And once again, good morning to everybody; it’s early in the morning here in the Gold Coast; kookaburras  haven’t gotten up yet, they haven’t owned the morning with their wake up call, so we know that we’re early when we beat the kookaburras. (a recorded message says: “there’s no wake up call alarm.”

People who would like to hear a translation of today’s talk in Chinese can find the button on the right side that says translation, and they can find Mandarin there,. 如果大家想听中文的翻譯,就那個控制板右下邊有一個叫translation,你可以找中文,有義工幫忙翻譯中文。

(Rúguǒ dàjiā xiǎng tīng zhōngwén de fānyì, jiù nàgè kòngzhì bǎn yòu xiàbian yǒu yīgè jiào translation, nǐ kěyǐ zhǎo zhōngwén, yǒu yìgōng bāngmáng fānyì zhōngwén.)

If someone would like to hear a Vietnamese translation, open your chat box, you see where it says chat, there is a separate link for a Vietnamese translation, so you can listen to the sutra lecture in the language of your choice; very grateful to the volunteers who are making this lecture possible to everyone.

And, as I look at the names of the friends who are online with us today, truly truly we are a global community, this is just amazing. Wow, it’s great and I’m really glad that we have friends dialing in from China as well. I’m expecting our Chinese listening community has really added some new life to our lecture series here. 

In days past, I was really happy to go down the list of all the participants who were here and getting to know everyone that way we’ve grown. And what that does is it makes it kind of slow to mention everyone and just wanted everybody to know how much I appreciate your listening and if I was thinking, how to make everyone’s participation one step closer to the reality of an actual community and certainly open to suggestions about how to do that. 

When it’s a Sutra lecture there’s less opportunity for questions for Q&A. But it that’s still a possibility, if we wanted to think about a way to allow folks to win your move to genuinely have a question that arises, to be able to either open your MIC and ask, unmute yourself or tick the APP by tapping in a note and having moderator on you, your various ways to do it, that would make a chat or genuine conversation. I think that would be ideal so thinking about it. Other things we could do, I have something very special today which I’m going to open right this minute and show everybody, what do we have here we have a new Sutra text, bilingual, actually three languages because it includes bo po mo fo here. 

This is brand new bilingual version of 普門品 Pǔ mén pǐn. Can see the title here in 漢字 (Hànzì) and also 羅馬拼音 (Luómǎ pīnyīn) and also English translation. The translation, first by Dharma Master Kumarajiva back in the fifth century, but then, also, translated by Buddhist Text Translation Society and Dharma Buddhist Realm University, just recently.  

We have a beautiful Buddha image. We have two images of Guan Yin, two awesome thousand -and-thousand-eye Guan Yin, and a stained glass Guan Yin.  And, for those who like to recite the sutra, we have the incense praise in two languages. And, our opening (scrolling) and here’s the sutra.  Isn’t this lovely? Really appreciate the kindness of the volunteer who is on the call today that prefers not to be named. For making the effort to produce these beautiful, beautiful sutra texts.  It’s still work in progress and it’s still not complete.  So, how was I thinking about making the community a tad closer with the idea of making this available for folks to download.  

And, we’re not there yet.  There’s still some issues that have to be resolved because why?  It’s we want it to circulate, but it’s not official.  This is not an official text and once you let it go officially, there’s no calling it back, right? Once you release it to the internet it’s there.  And it’ll go as far as its affinity traveled. So, before we send the sutra out, with our blessings, we want the sutra to go far and wide, but it has to be certified.  It has to go through the various committees of BTTS, the way Shrfu, our teacher set it up.  So, that’s what we’re hesitating about, but otherwise, we have this beautiful trilingual text and it’s to tell you the truth, it’s actually four languages if you read “bo fo mo fo, 輔音字母 Fǔyīn zìmǔ. Beside every character you can also read the han xi. You can also read the pin yin, han pin yin 漢語拼音 (Hànyǔ pīnyīn). The spellings, the ABCs and over here, the English… so we have four language, four writings, four scripts let’s say.  Two languages and four scripts for reciting the pu mun ping, 普門品.

And this translation is substantially different from some of the other ones available. That’s why we would love to give it to you in a pdf, but we can’t quite, not quite yet til we get it certified by BTTS.  Then, we’ll talk about it.  Ok, alright. 

So, I’m going to put my palms together 




Namo bun shi, shi ja mao ni fo. 

Namo bun shi, shi ja mao ni fo.  

Homage to the Fundamental Teacher to the Shakyamuni Buddha. 




Namo Da Bai Guan Shi Yin Pusa.  

Namo Da Bai Guan Shi Yin Pusa.  

Homage to the Greatly Wide Compassionate Bodhisattva, the awakening being who hears the sounds of the world.  妙法蓮華經, Guan Shi Yin Pusa Pu Men Pin.  觀世音菩薩普門品.  Sutra On The Lotus Flower, The Wondrous Dharma, the Universal Door of the Bodhisattva who listens to the sounds of the world.  

We talked about 判教(Pàn jiào) last week. Classification the teachings the Guan Yin Bodhisattva the week before. Today, we actually start our text.  Now one of the issues, how do you translate that name?  And, if I’m going to highlight the Chinese right here, if you see it’s Guan Shi Yin 觀世音.

This is the Chinese translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra transcript name.  And, how people want to translate Guan Shi Yin is a question. 清 Chin translator used Guan – contemplate.  Contemplate means you look with your mind.  Everybody follow that? You’re seeing and the character Guan has that sight radical. We’re looking at , Guan right there. It’s got the Chinese character for vision.  It’s an eye with legs. Your eye runs right out to what you want to look at.  

So guan is you look you see, but you see with the image maker, not with the organ. So, it’s an internal visualize it inside – Guan.  So, that’s good.  In English, what do we do in English?  Well, what does Guan Yin do?  Does she regard? Does she observe? Does she contemplate? Does she see? What is Guan Yin Bodhisattva doing? 

And then you look at the second word and it’s 世 (Shì ). Is it the world that she is looking at, or is it beings in the world? So is it those who or where those who are, right? And that makes a difference when we translate it into English, to want to get it right. 

Okay, third word, Yīn 音, is it voices? Is it sounds? Is it cries? Is it the requests there put into voice, right? So you see the problem, right? So it’s the awaken being,  菩薩 (Pú Sà), the Bodhisattva, do we translate Bodhisattva as Bodhisattva, do we translate as 菩薩 (Pú Sà), one who is awake, do we transliterate? The Chinese translator, what do they do? They transliterate, 菩薩(Pú Sà), right? They could have said: 覺者(Jué Zhě),大覺者( Dà Jué Zhě), the awaken one, they didn’t, they said 菩薩(Pú Sà), so we chose Bodhisattva to follow the Chinese translator. Okay, so that’s a start. We get one, Bodhisattva, what about Listens for 觀(Guān), what about Sounds? Not voices, because why, those who call on Guan Yin Bodhisattva don’t all have voices. Some they are just groaning, right? Some are in sounds of pain, some are joyful, some want to repay Guan Yin’s kindness. Okay, Sounds Of All The World. 

People have tried to translate 觀世音菩薩 (Guān Shì Yīn Pú Sà) into English multiple times, since the 普門品 (Pǔ Mén Pǐn) made it to the west, and some of the translations are curious. Others what do we have? A Cry Regarder, we’ve had Sound here, that’s Sravaka, that’s the problem, so many different ways to translate. What we thought was ‘Go to Guan Yin’s vows’, ‘Go to the function that Guan Yin performs’, which is what her vows say, anyone who calls my name, I will lend a hand, I’ll come to rescue.

So she’s there waiting with a thousand hands, a thousand ears, a thousand eyes, waiting for us to call on her name so she’s there hearing, listening to the sounds of all the world. All right, that was our choice. We could be convinced by somebody else’s interpretation and change it in the future.

So, what about that? 普門品 (Pǔ mén pǐn). How do you translate it? 普 (Pǔ) can mean ‘universal’, it can mean ‘everywhere’; it can mean ‘all’, right, nobody excluded it, 門 (mén) is clearly ‘a door’, this one in the middle. We can look at this one here; there’s a door, it’s like a swinging door, actually that’s one of the pictograms that says what it is, 品 (pǐn) is ‘chapter of the sutra’, so chapter on what? The swinging door? The door to everywhere? The all sided one? People have translated Guan Yin as the all sided one.

Think about a door that opens to everywhere, “wow”, Ray Bradbury, right, “welcome to the twilight zone”, you think you’re going through the door, but you every time you do, you wind up in space. What is 普門 (Pǔ mén); what does it mean? How do you visualize a door that opens to everywhere? and, to my mind, what that means is what? it’s the mind, the mind that opens to the Buddha Nature, so sure enough, Shrfu said, 十法界不離一念心, “all 10 dharma realms are not apart from a single thought of the mind”; so the mind is what leads us into our future rebirth, in thought after thought, to Buddhahood, that’s where we enter through the mind, so that’s the 普門 (Pǔ mén); that’s the Universal Door; hmm, okay, we’re warm now, right, we’re on the trail; so Universal Door Chapter, probably is going to stick, that’s probably going to be our our translation that works.

But, sometimes 普門品 (Pu Men Pin) is even better. I can imagine what Westerners are saying. I would love that, ‘Pu Men Pin’ is Lotus Sutra. So, what will they say ‘Universal Door Chapter, Guan Yin Chapter’. Some people call this what ‘Guan Yin Jing, Guan Yin Sutra. So, you can see the challenge was to work on exactly how to represent 觀世音菩薩普門品 (Guānshìyīn púsà pǔ mén pǐn).

Here are two homages images. One on the left is standing Bodhisattva, sixteen feet tall, made of camphor wood, forty-two hands, thousand hands, loving head, spectacular image stands at City of Ten Thousand Buddha. To the one on the right, red robe, yellow halo and green willow branch is Guan Yin Bodhisattva on the window facing West at the Berkeley Monastery. This is a stained glass image created by Carolyn Hanson, serenity glassworks and was so pleased to be able to offer that to the world, in the Sutra. When the setting sun shines the sugar image on the Chan Hall at the Berkeley Monastery, it is special.

Currently, English translation, we decide our verse for opening Sutra, people know about this verse. 開經偈 (Kāi jīng jì) was calling a story, virginally spoken by 武則天 (Wǔzétiān) – Chinese Female Emperor. The Emperor of China in the Tang Dynasty, who was a Buddhist and quite a controversial character. So, she was the one who first gave voice to 開經偈 (Kāi jīng jì). She was a great patron of Buddhist translation. So, we remember her, I think that’s fascinating, that’s politician. Came up with the devotional praise, nobody does it else. You have to have it, it became custom. So, what kind of interesting karma for the most powerful women in Chinese history at that time certainly, arguably to this day. And she was immortalized not for the decision she made as a ruler, but for the praise she made for Buddhist sutras. So interesting.

Here we are, first paragraph. Are you ready, I am going to put my palms together, here we go.

[reads the first par in Chinese]


(Ěr shí, wújìn yì púsà jí cóng zuò qǐ, piān tǎn yòu jiān, hézhǎng xiàng fú, ér zuò shì yán:`Shìzūn, guānshìyīn púsà yǐ hé yīnyuán míng guānshìyīn?’)

“At that time the Bodhisattva Infinite Resolve rose from his seat, bared his right shoulder, joined his palms, and facing the Buddha said: O World Honored One, how did Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva get the name Guan Shi Yin?”

This is Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra, and it appears right there; it is one of the flowers on the string that is the Lotus Sutra thread and starts right out with a conversation. There’s a Bodhisattva, another Bodhisattva whose name is 無盡意 (Wú Jìn Yì), Infinite Resolve, and what does he do: he stands up, performs the gestures of respect for someone who’s going to ask a question of the Buddha. 

Look at the formality here. “He stands up, bares his right shoulder” And if you visualize how Theravada monks these days, unless the weather is really cold in North America or Canada, or the UK, Theravada monks have a bare right shoulder. It’s a style that comes down from the Buddha. You can see it right here where that form of dress began.

“Bared his right shoulder..” Why? Some people say to show that they weren’t carrying a weapon. Others say it’s a form of respect. Because if you circle — there’s another ritual gesture called circumambulation, walk around. And if you circle, you circle to the right, clockwise. By uncovering your right shoulder it is a gesture of respect. 

I have a picture here, hold on, here we are. 

Here we have two monks. Notice because it’s cold in England they’re wearing lots of clothes but both of them had bared their right shoulders as much as the weather allows. This is Ajahn Sumedho. And he’s got his 袈裟 Jiāshā, is kashaya, his robe. Civara? What’s it called in Pali? Thai? He’s wearing his robe with his right shoulder bare. Shrfu is wearing his precept sash which bares the right shoulder. So, this is Buddhist fashion, right? But it’s the way monks have been doing it in their precept robes since the Buddha’s time:

Infinite Resolve, bared his right shoulder, joined his palms (palms together) and facing the Buddha, said, “O World Honored One – 世尊 (Shī zūn), (it’s a title, Bhagavan)- please tell me, how did Guan Yin Bodhisattva get the name “Guan Shi Yin?”

Okay? Where did Guan Shi Yin’s name come from? 

(Dharma Master Heng Sure plays banjo and chants):

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Guan Yin Bodhisattva 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa

Breaking up the drone of the voice, just a little bit of Guan Yin chanting. 

无盡意 Wújìn yì Bodhisattva is our Dharma requester. He gets the ball rolling, he gets the wheel turning; he gets the Sutra Assembly moving down the road and the Buddha, on the spot, answers:

佛告无盡意菩萨,善男子若有无量百千万亿众生,受诸苦惱,闻是观世音菩萨,一心称名,观世音菩萨,即时观其音声, 皆得解脱。

Fú gào wújìn yì púsà, shàn nánzǐ ruò yǒu wúliàng bǎi yì yì zhòngshēng, shòu zhū kǔnǎo, wén shì guānshìyīn púsà, yīxīn chēngmíng, guānshìyīn púsà, jíshí guān qí yīnshēng, jiē dé jiětuō.

The Buddha answered Bodhisattva Infinite Resolve, “Good man, if all the countless hundreds of thousands of millions of living beings tormented by misery and pain hear of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva, and with all their hearts invoke her name, Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva will immediately respond to their prayers and set them free.”

What’s the answer? He says:

善男子Shàn nánzǐ, it could definitely be 善女人Shàn nǚrén, it could be good woman. The questioner is specifically a male in this case. So the Buddha’s response to him could have responded to a woman equally. If, here’s a number “无量” (Wúliàng), beyond measuring hundred thousand, ten thousand, million? 亿? Ten millions some people say.

Living beings, countless, hundreds of thousands of millions of living beings, 受諸苦惱 who are in pain, who are miserable, who are hurting, “Wén Shi Guan Yin Pu Sa” hear about Guan Yin Bodhisattva and 一心稱名 (Yīxīn chēng míng) with one heart, with one mind, with a focus intention, intently, you can translate as intently. You could also say “really mean it” 一心 “Yi xin” one heart, recite the name Guan Shi Yin Pu Sa, Guan Yin Bodhisattva. 即时(Jíshí) right then on the spot 观其音声 (Guān qí yīnshēng), will listen to their sound, will hear their cries. 皆得解脱(Jiē dé jiětuō). They will be set free; they will be liberated from their pain and worry. 

That’s the story, that’s the theme of the whole Sutra: 尋聲救苦 (Xún shēng jiù kǔ), they say in Chinese, following the cries she saves us from our misery. What about that? So, let’s take just a minute. Where else do you get a promise like that? I can’t consider myself a religious scholar, I’ve studied religions, I’ve read, listened to people talk about their faith and saviors, plenty, messiahs, who come down and carry the believers to salvation. Those stories, a lot of those stories but a Bodhisattva – an awaken being who is entirely focus, whose name comes from her function of chant my name and I’ll save you. That’s rare, that’s really rare, and that’s the whole story. That’s the story of Pu Men Pin. Guan Yin Boddhisatva’s vows say: if you have trouble, if you are grief stricken, I’ll come to you if you call my name, 一心稱名 (Yīxīn chēng míng), you have to mean it and I’ll come and say.

Guan Yin Boddhisatva’s vows say: if you have trouble, if you are grief stricken, I’ll come to you if you call my name 一心稱名 (Yīxīn chēng míng). You have to mean it and I’ll come and save you. How does it work? Well. I have to say, magic isn’t the word, magic is sort of no cause really except in the hands of the wizard. Guan Yin is none-magic. The power is her strength 念彼觀音力 (Niàn bǐ guānyīn lì), the cause of her strength comes from her vows and seeing the situation of the living beings when she was a Buddha. Guan Yin Bodhisattva was already a Buddha and recognized even though she had reached liberation. So many of us were still here in the mud confused and hurting. So she made a vow to return as the Bodhisattva. And took the identity of the Bodhisattva who hears the sounds in the world. 

I recall being in Taiwan. I forget what year it was, but maybe somebody was there with us, remember? We were at a place called Muzha, not too far from the palace museum. It was bad weather, there was a lot of rain that year, but now Taiwan is experiencing the drought. Everybody wants to transfer merit but doesn’t have a place to transfer merit because of their high pressure centre keeping the rain from Taiwan. The reservoir in Tainan is 11% full capacity, 89% empty. Trouble! So, this year it was in the 80s sometime. We have delegations in Taiwan, we were doing the 法會 (Fǎ huì), somebody has scheduled  the 法會 (Fǎ huì) in a high school. It is a municipal high school, the city runs  high school and the rain was falling and it was cold. It was winter in Taipei. And the Sangha is not on-stage, chanting.  The assembly and all the lay people were in the seats of the auditorium, it was a strange place to try to do a 法會 (Fǎ huì); they had to sit in the chairs of an assembly Hall, like a small movie theater in a high school, we were on the stage, the sangha, and the only place we had to rest was the wings of the stage just behind the curtains and there was no place to sit, we had some questions about who booked us into the high school for a 法會 (Fǎ huì), so nevermind; there we were chanting along and in between the hours of chanting, we had to sit on the floor leaning up against the cement wall, while the wind whistled through the stage, from the stage door that was being open and closed, open closed. The result was what? oh, everybody got sick, oh man, it was hard and by day number three, we, sangha members, were all pretty much coughing and we were all sneezing and we had sore throats. And there were only a few of us, you know, our staff there and we looked at each other and said, “can you talk? I can’t talk anymore. I’m chanting and now I have a sore throat, I can’t talk,” sore throat, I can’t talk, and so we said, well, what are we going to do? 

It’s 3pm, it’s dharma talk time, we’re going to exhort the laity and ourselves by speaking Dharma but none of the Sangha had any voice left, what a situation, we couldn’t speak Dharma because we didn’t have any voices so somebody said, “okay here’s what we do. Let’s ask if anybody has a Guan Yin Pusa response story to share, and then somebody else said, “that’s a good idea,” then somebody else said, “no, that’s not a good idea, why?” This is a Taiwanese audience and nobody ever talks, right, you ask a question and they look at their feet. It’s just everybody’s shy, everybody’s modest and they don’t like to talk in public. Well, what are we going to do? We should try it. Okay, so I remember I came out, three o’clock, everybody was back from getting a drink of water, and I said, “we’re wondering whether anybody in the audience might be willing to share with us a story that you might have about how 觀音菩薩 (Guānyīn púsà) 尋聲救苦 (Xún shēng jiù kǔ) heard your cries and came to your rescue. Does anybody have a story like that? It would be okay if you’d share it.”

I thought, “Nobody’s going to say a word.” Hands went up all over the auditorium. “I’ve got a story, I will share.” “I have a story.” Look at that… then from behind us, one of the nuns who was with us, I think it was either Heng Ben or Heng Ran, I forget which one. One of the 老法界 (lǎo fǎjiè), 台北法界 (Táiběi fǎjiè), one of the original women who was part of the first staff at 台北法界 táiběi fǎjiè – the  book distribution Center in Taipei. She said, “Fashr, I could still talk.”

We said, “Okay, you wait, hold your story. Don’t forget next time to raise your hands again. I know who it was.” We’re going to let a Bhikshuni speak first. It was either Heng Ben or Heng Ran that came out. They were kind of sister nuns and she took the microphone and everybody sat in full lotus. We got a chance to take a little break from the chanting with our sore throats and she started telling her story.

She said, here is my story, when Shrfu first came to Taiwan to create the 台北法界印經會 (Táiběi fǎjiè yìn jīng huì )Taipei Book Printing Society. None of us could read, we were all illiterate. Why? Many of us had raised families, we had seven kids, some of us had more, had 10 kids and that’s a full time job, so who had time to go to school? We were all married young and just started making a family. At the same time, however, our kids had now grown up and gone on and started their families, and so we were friends, we were united in our Buddhist faith. We didn’t have any teacher, in particular, who we wanted to follow until we met 宣公上人 (xuān gōng shàng rén) Master Hsuan Hua. 

There was one in particular one lay woman who had discovered Shrfu. She called up all her old friends, “You got to come come and meet your teacher.” We did and Shrfu said I want you all to learn to recite the Shurangama Mantra 楞嚴咒 (léng yán zhòu) and I want you all to recite the the 大悲咒 (Dàbēi zhòu) Great Compassion Mantra.

“We’ll start with the 大悲咒 dàbēi zhòu Great Compassion Mantra, it’s shorter.” We learned our Chinese at the same time we learned our dharma. Somebody who could read it would say look at that, “na… nan… wu…. na mo he la he di… na mo he la da nuo duo la ye ye…”

Sentence by sentence, word by word, character by character, we learned to read off the page. We were set free, it was just like the sun rising in the morning, warming up the whole earth after a cool night. It was just wonderful, the doors open to us and we were thrilled to be able to enter into the Dharma and enter into the world of books, at the same time.

What do we do? She said, we started working, publishing Shrfu’s sutras and talks and we made a group, 台北法界 (Táiběi fǎjiè) began. We found a home, a place called Nong An street. In Taipei, it was an actual warehouse, that’s where we practiced and it was wonderful. Everybody’s like wow we didn’t know this about the nun.

Furthermore, we had a practice group and the practice group would get together on the weekends, when we weren’t working and our kids were all out playing. We would go get a bus and travel up to 陽明山 (yángmíng shān) Yang Ming Mountain and get to the top and pull out our picnic baskets and eat some 泡麵 instant noodles, 炒飯 fried rice and then drink some tea. We’d recite Guan Yin’s name and we would come back down. She said don’t you know that since we’re Shrfu’s disciples, he instructed us that we should recite all the time. From the time we got up in the morning, the time we got on the bus from the time, from the time we got up to the picnic grounds enjoy the view this clear, clean air, all that time we were reciting the 大悲咒 (dàbēi zhòu) Great Compassion Mantra, reciting Guan Yin’s name, “Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva”. She said reciting all the time. And we really did, she said. We really did it. Not like people these days, you know. We recited all the time. And it just felt like we grew wings, you know. We were set free, ‘cos something wonderful was coming through us as we recited Guan Yin Bodhisattva, she said. Now look at me, I’m a Buddhist nun and I know that from the mother and then the grandmother of ten children who had no nothing, no other reason to get out of bed other than to take care of young people; she said to go from there to now being a Buddhist Bhikshuni who is able to transcend the world – she said it was those days of reciting Great Compassion Mantra, I know that propelled me into the sangha. It gave me – really put the wind under my wings. So that I can be home. She said that was the best time. And everyone’s going, yeah. Listening to her.

Then she says, but there is this one day, she said. We got up to the top of Yang Ming Shan 陽明山 and had a really good picnic and everybody was reciting. We got into the bus and anybody who’s ever done that, who’s ever taken those roads up above Taipei 台北 to the, it’s not a big, big, tall mountain, but it’s a big enough mountain. Get up to 陽明山, those roads are narrow. She said we were coming down from the mountain top when the bus lost its brakes. 

And the driver who’s also reciting Guan Yin’s name, stepped on the brakes and stepped on the brakes and stepped on the brakes and there was nothing. There was just no strength in the brake pedals. And the farther we went down the mountain the faster the bus was going, the faster the bus was going, the narrower the road became and he tried his best and we were now in the back because it was a small bus called the 麵包车, a bread bus. We knew there was something wrong and we kept reciting and we kept reciting, a little more sincerely maybe than before, we were all reciting anyway. So we were reciting Namo He Lai Dana Duo Lai and the bus took off into space. She said that the bus flew off the road like it was a bird. And we went over the guard rail. 

The bus flew into space— over a canyon! It did a somersault, we all saw Heaven and Earth switch places, and then “Wah-lah-lah, BANG!” into a tree. And we were still reciting. And I remember, looking around, we were still right side up— the bus did a complete 360 somersault— and it landed in a treetop. And the driver opened the door, and he looked down, climbed down, stuck his hand back up and said, “Let’s all get out of the bus now.”

Sure enough, we all left the bus still reciting; not a single person was harmed! The bus had flown off the road like a bird in space and landed safely in a treetop. Of course we hurt the tree, but the tree saved the bus, and we all just climbed down! The taller ones helped the shorter ones out of the bus, and we kept reciting! Of course there were no cell phones, but we just walked to the nearest house, made a call, and we’re still reciting Guan Yin’s name and 普門品 (Pǔ mén pǐn). She says, “I’ll never forget it, that time. And then, of course, I left home.” Everybody in the hall was like, gasping, “南無觀世音菩薩 Namo Guanshiyin Pusa!”

What an amazing story that was to start off our stories. And then after Heng Ben, or Heng Ran, I forget who it was, told her story, all of sudden somebody said, “我也有。你大家聽我講故事。” (“Listen to my story of Guanyin Bodhisattva.”) And, oh man, I’ll never forget it. I wish we could say that we all got better immediately and recited until the end of the week. Actually we didn’t. Some of us were put in bed because the conditions that we were carrying on—  chanting at the top of your lungs in a high wind on a wet, rainy day— was not the way to keep your ear-throat in tip-top shape. But our hearts were indeed full of Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s incredible compassion. Stories like that. 

The stories, interestingly, were all different kinds of Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s compassionate rescue. Some were stories about seeking children when you were childless and Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s compassion in bestowing children on those who wanted them. Other stories were recovering from illness. That was some of the most common because, as we know, Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s vows have a lot to do with recovering from illness. Other stories had to do with being lost and finding your way home. Magically, somebody shows up to guide you home at night when you were lost.

All kinds of wonderful Guan Yin Bodhisattva stories with tremendous variety in how Guan Yin appeared to save those who recited Her name. In the story about Yang Ming Shan, what we heard was, there were two kinds of reciting: one was the Great Compassion Mantra, and one was Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. 

The other people who shared their stories that day in Taipei, they displayed the whole variety of ways to access, to travel through the “普門,” the Universal Door, the door to everywhere, the gateway to everywhere, as they say. Some recited the sutra, some recited the Pu Men Pin. Others recited Guan Yin’s name. Others recited the Great Compassion Mantra. All of those are equally powerful, effective ways, to have Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s compassion extend a hand to you, to save you from whatever is your problem, whatever situation has arisen.

This is a true response story. I went out online looking for similar response stories and— oh my goodness— there are so many stories of people who, in moments of greatest need, oh boy— you need Guan Yin Bodhisattva to rescue you and there She is, there’s Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s compassion. So just to say, as we go through the sutra, we’re going to be looking at these stories gathered. Most of the sources are Chinese, but not all. We have our own set of Western experiences with Guan Yin Bodhisattva. 

So we’re going to be sharing those stories as we go and I wonder whether some of listeners online here might have Guan Yin Bodhisattva stories that they would like to share.

中華 Chung-Hwa Buddhist Institute has collected several stories about Guan Yin, says Danny, Ok thank you Danny. Let’s see now I’m going to click that, that says Dharma Drum, there we go. 于君方 Chun-Fang Yu, Professor Yu is at Rutgers. Wonderful, excellent, in English, super. Thank you for that, we will look into that resource for sure. (The text Rev. Heng Sure was referring to above: https://chinesebuddhiststudies.org/previous_issues/chbj1114.pdf )

We are going to transfer the merit, see you next week, with the next moving into the stories of seven difficulties that Guan Yin Bodhisattva saves us from. One of the difficulties that we are facing right now is plague, pandemic, a virus that has shut down the world. So if we can recite Medicine Buddha’s Mantra, this is aimed directly at illness. Maybe we can incorporate Guan Yin Dharma as we go, since so much of Guan Yin’s healing has to do with healing illness. Please join if you like to add your sincerity, transfer to wherever you see a need; rain in Taiwan. 

[ DM Heng Sure starts playing the banjo]

Ready? Here we go.

Om namo bhagavate bhaisajyaguru

Vaidurayaprabharajaya tathagataya

Arhate samyaksambuddhaya tadyatha: om

Bhaisajye bhaisajye bhaisajya samudgate svaha om


Kane has asked a question about the difference between the Universal Door Chapter and the Dharani Sutra; we’ll do, we’ll talk about that next week, remind me earlier, make sure you send a note next time a little earlier and we’ll get into it.

Alright, thanks everyone, be safe, be well, keep reciting, Namo Da Bei Guan Shi Yin Pusa.

Amitofo. Bye now.

Contributors of this transcribing this lecture:

Vera Cristofani, Yan Ming, Annie Tran, Zhongni Zhu, Thuy Bui, Bernie Moloney, Susan Chai, Bach Nguyen, Hong Anh Nguyen, Elaine Ginn, Justin Lee, Kelly Lam

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