Universal Door Chapter Lecture 6 — helping in the midst of seven difficulties (Part 2)

Lectured by Rev. Heng Sure on April 30, 2021

(Dharma Master Heng Sure opens up playing and singing, Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva)

Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa

Namo Guan Shi Yin  Pusa

Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa

Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa

Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa

Good morning, everybody! Good afternoon to you all! Good evening if the sun is already set. This is Reverend Heng Sure welcoming you to the first day of May. This is May day in 2021, and we’re going to look into the Lotus Sutra’s Chapter on Guan Yin Bodhisattva, Universal Door Chapter, 普門品 Pǔ mén pǐn. It’s 5:30 here in Queensland, Australia and whatever time it is wherever you are, it’s just the right time to request Dharma. Brian Conroy is going to be our Dharma requester today. Here’s what is going to happen: I’m going to ring the bell three times and make three half bows and invite you to join in with me and then we’ll ask Brian to do the Dharma request. Here we go.

Dharma Master rings the bell and says: First bow

Dharma Master rings the bell and says: Second bow

Dharma Master rings the bell and says: Third bow

Brian, would you do the Dharma Request for us right now? 

 恭     請   大  德   僧    聽,

Gōng qǐng dà  dé  sēng tīng,

 為   此 法 會 及 一 切     眾       生.

wèi  cǐ   fǎ huì jí  yī  qiè zhòng shēng. 

  請     轉     妙   法 輪   教   導  我   們,

qǐng zhuǎn miào fǎ lún jiào dǎo wǒ men, 

如 何  了     生     脫  死 離 苦  得樂,

rú  hé liǎo shēng tuō   sǐ  lí   kǔ dé lè, 

速    證    無    生。

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.

[Rev. Heng Sure]

Namo Tassa Bhagavato, Arahato, Samma Sambuddhassa

[Brian Conroy]

Namo Tassa Bhagavato, Arahato, Samma Sambuddhassa

[Rev. Heng Sure]

Homage to the Blessed, Noble, and Perfectly Enlightened one

[Brian Conroy]

Homage to the Blessed, Noble, and Perfectly Enlightened one

[Rev. Heng Sure]

南  無  薩  怛    他

Na mo Sa Dan Tuo 

蘇   伽   多  耶

Su Qie Duo Ye 

阿 喇 訶 帝

E  La He Di 

 三     藐    三  菩  陀   寫

San Miao San Pu Tuo Xie

[Brian Conroy]

南  無  薩  怛    他

Na mo Sa Dan Tuo 

蘇   伽   多  耶

Su Qie Duo Ye 

阿 喇 訶 帝

E  La He Di 

 三     藐    三  菩  陀   寫

San Miao San Pu Tuo Xie

[Rev. Heng Sure]

          開    經  偈 

          Kāi  jīng jì

  無   上      甚    深    微    妙  法

Wú shàng shèn shēn wéi miào fǎ 

  百  千    萬  劫  難   遭    遇

 bǎi qiān wàn jié nàn  zāo  yù

我   今  見    聞  得  受    持   

Wǒ jīn jiàn wén dé shòu chí 

 願    解   如  來   真    實  義

yuàn jiě   rú   lái  zhēn shí  yì

       Verse for Opening a Sutra

Supreme and wondrous Dharma, subtle and profound,

Rarely is encountered throughout billions of eons.

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

May we truly understand the Buddha’s actual meaning.

Thank you Brian. One would think you’ve been speaking Chinese your whole life. [chuckles]. Quite an accomplishment. So, again, good morning, good afternoon, good evening around the planet. Those of you who have made the time to look into the Dharma Flower Sutra 法華經 (Fǎhuá jīng), known as the Lotus Sutra. Welcome to you, May 1st today 2021! We can hear today’s lecture in 3 languages thanks to our kindhearted volunteers who are busily translating. It’s interesting; the speaker and the translator today for English and Chinese are both in Australia. They don’t want their names mentioned, but I will express my gratitude to them nonetheless and say, “kind of you, thank you for taking the time and the chi breath to share.” Certainly, I appreciate having my words go further into Mandarin.

So today, for my opening, to the one that went like this. 

[Play on the banjo Guan Yin Bodhisattva]

That’s Guan Yin Bodhisattva, and I chanted it the first time. Usually, I just play it as an opening theme song, but today I want to add the lyrics so that people…  I would be thrilled if people felt comfortable reciting Guan Yin’s name with English lyrics. And how do we do it? We say Na mo Guan Yin Bodhisattva. We say 南無觀世音菩薩 (Námó guānshìyīn púsà). 菩薩 (púsà) is Chinese, abbreviated Chinese for Bodhisattva. 菩提薩托 (Pútí sà tuō) is too long. The Chinese had a genius for decentralizing, so they say 菩薩 (púsà). 

We can definitely do it. When I’ve been in times of great need, I say 南無觀音菩薩 (Námó guānyīn púsà), 觀音菩薩 (Guānyīn púsà), 觀音菩薩 (Guānyīn púsà), 觀音菩薩 (Guānyīn púsà). Quick, easy, easy on the tongue, but Bodhisattva, interestingly, is a new English word. It’s not an original English word. It’s Sanskrit! So Buddhism came from the East to the West now. So Bodhisattva, awakened being. So I like it, now that’s English. It’s English Sanskrit. So we say, 

[Play the banjo chanting]

‘Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva, 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva, 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva, 

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’ 

And the way this name has been cultivated, observed, and cherished in Asia, there is a shorter version where you drop the ‘Namo,’ ‘I return to, I take refuge, and I find my safe harbor, find the homeland security through homeland security;’ that’s all 南無 (Namo). You can even drop the 南無 (Namo), and just do the Guan Yin Bodhisattva. 

[Play the banjo chanting] 

‘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’ 

…like that!

I was leading today with that sound and maybe we’ll do that from now on instead of just the melody as our opening tune, we’ll include the lyrics so people feel comfortable with the lyrics. And you can hear the rain here in Queensland, my goodness! It’s been raining for days, so you can send some to California. Meteorologists will tell you that it came from Australasia and that this is what’s happening the drought in Cali. No, I said it is wrong. The rain falling here in Australia came from what according to the normal weather patterns that would be falling in California. We have been telling stories. Here this is the 普門品 Pǔ mén pǐn, Universal Door Chapter, the Universal Gateway from the Lotus Sutra telling the story of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. 

We’re in the section called Rescuing from seven troubles – seven dangers rescuing from seven dangers, seven situations that can arise to trouble us. Because the Buddha Dharma is meant to be adapted to your current situation, there are dangers and disasters these days that didn’t exist when the Buddha first spoke the Lotus Sutra and there are people who will tell you, he never stops; the Buddha is still speaking, explaining the Lotus Sutra.

So, we need to update the dangers. I told a story of an auto accident slipping on the glass blur.. black ice in Canada heading from Calgary to Golden BC. I actually re-lived that the other day just in the morning, I was just quite awake, I remembered that feeling of doing two 360º climbing up the bank and then BAMMM… landing on the side of a Chewy panel van. It was a Ford panel van, right on the Queen’s Highway, outside the Banff of Alberta. Oh, scary, scary! And having to crawl out of the car with a broken rib. 

The part that I recalled in my kind of lucid dreaming, the part that came back to mind was how everything slowed down while the van was in wrong motion, while the van was in flight; its wheels had left the highway and my experience from my very subjective point of view as I was in the process of flying through the air, everything slowed down; it was as if the world had gone into slow motion. Why? I was reciting, “Namo Guan Yin Pusa, Namo Guan Yin Pusa, Namo Guan Yin Pusa.” 

What I was reciting was not very elegant, Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa, (reciting it slowly) not like that. It was, “Namo Guan Yin Pusa, Namo Guan Yin Pusa,” (reciting it fast rushing) and time slowed down and motion slowed down. It’s just if I had taken my camera phone and switched it from photo to video and then from video to slow mo, how interesting! 

So people talk about that. That under times of stress like that, your perceptions change. Well…mine did! I was reciting Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name and the van climbed up the walls of the tunnel left by the snow plows as they pushed the snow off the surface of Queen’s Highway— Trans-Canada Highway—and just made a great wall of snow and ice, our van very faithfully drove up it; it shouldn’t, right? It got up to a certain degree, a certain height and physics took over and slammed the van down on its side, ah! Not recommended. So you have to learn if you’re in a place, if you’re in a winter climate and you’re driving your vehicle, take the time, go to an empty shopping mall parking lot where there’s slippery road conditions and learn how to steer on ice; it ain’t the same. Nope! Californians like ice, road, steer, what? Yeah…but if you’re anywhere where there’s snowy conditions in the winter, if you’re going to venture out in your vehicle, do some self-defense driving training and learn how to steer into a skid, oof. 

So the driver of the car I was in, had never learned and wasn’t interested. He figured, “No. I can handle anything.” I felt it’s a skill; it’s definitely a skill unless you learn, so, yeah, Namo Guan Yin Pusa, Namo Guan Yin Pusa. And I am sure that I am talking to you today because Guan Yin Pusa stepped in and allowed us to climb out of our van safely without anything more than fairly superficial injuries. Boy oh boy! So we need to update, it is not only floods and fires these days, right? There are seven difficulties. 


ruò yòu chi shi guan shi yin pú sà ming zhe

shè ru da huo huo bú néng shao yóu shi pú

sà wei shén li gu

If those who hold the name of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva should fall into a great fire, the fire will not burn them, because of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s awesome spiritual power.

That first line says:


ruò yòu chi shi guan shi yin pú sà ming zhe

If there is someone who habitually, it doesn’t say that. It doesn’t say usually or often or always but that’s implied. If you usually recite the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, when a situation arises and you find yourself surrounded by fire, the fire won’t burn you because you’re calling Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, you’re invoking Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s vows to save those who call her name and the fire won’t burn you. 

We have a member of our community, a Bhikkhu, a Taiwanese Bhikkhu actually who came to CTTB, cultivated long and his relatives were back in Taipei and I don’t have all the details, but I know his parents were either already passed away or they were in a senior’s home, but his sister was a faithful Buddhist disciple who lived with husband who was, if I’m not mistaken if I got it right, a husband had kind of moved on. The couple were not together at the time and they had kids; they lived in an apartment building and was in 新竹 perhaps, I don’t have the detail, but a busy urban neighborhood where they lived, big city and a fire broke out in their building, in their apartment. 

Now, the sister of the monk was a good Buddhist, had an altar and kept the altar regularly—did the basics so kept it clean and kept water, foods, flowers and incense in front of the altar on a regular basis. Did what good Buddhists do who keep a spiritual presence in their home. Further, there was a bookcase next to the altar where the good, holy books are kept, sacred scriptures including not a few that were explained by Master Hsuan Hua, so there were publications from 台北法界 Taipei Fa Jie in Chinese published by our group in Taiwan. So it’s a good standard Buddhist home, Buddhist altar and the fire broke out in the building and it burned up six floors and down into the basement where the cars were parked and it was a disaster. That nobody was killed; they got everybody out, but the building itself was just a total loss and the monk, I won’t mention his name, came and so excited he said, “FaShr, take a look. Look.” He showed me photos taken by family members who came the next day after the fire to see what could be saved and there was ash and just the things you see after a fire—beams, charred and blackened and ashes—just devastation, post-fire debris, except in the center of his sister’s apartment was a table and a bookshelf.

It was the Buddha altar and the bookshelf that have been singed and discolored by the heat, but it was intact! And the photos showed it! You could tell just by looking at the photos. It was intact! It was as if nothing had happened in the immediate vicinity of the Buddhist altar and the bookshelf. 

I remember looking at those photos and just the reality of what I was looking at just was breathtaking because everything around it had burned to cinders. Nothing, but black and white—black remains and white ashes except this altar and bookshelf right in the middle was untouched. 

So, people who are skeptical and who would prefer to just keep their own ideas about, no worries, no worries, you certainly can, but I could not deny what my eyes were showing me that if those who hold the name of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva should fall into a great fire, the fire will not burn them, because of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s awesome spiritual power. 

Now, people in the building—his sister was not there beside the altar reciting personally Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa, but she did everyday; she did her practices around the altar and the energy of that recitation and devotion to people keeping the altar was enough to invoke the awesome spiritual power. 

Now, was it Guan Yin who was saving the altar? Was it the Dharma protectors? The answer is yes! I don’t know otherwise. I can’t tell you. I wasn’t there, but to talk about 威神之力 (Wēi shén zhī lì), the awesome spiritual strength of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva was on display. Next, 


Ruò wéi dà shuǐ suǒ piào, chēng qí mínghào, jí dé qiǎn chù.

If they are being tossed about in deep and treacherous waters and call his name, they will quickly reach the shallows.

Now last week, I told the story of Abhayagiri Forest Monastery during the forest fire of already it was 2019? 2018? And their fortunes and those of the Catholic Monastery right next door—how both the Buddhist monastery and Catholic monastery came through devastating fire unsinged, unburn whereas the monastery right next door that has no one home, no one to cultivate there, burned to the ground. The rough and tumble firefighters who were not Buddhist in any way from New Mexico and Los Angeles, looked at that place and said: ”We’ve seen a lot of places burned, never seen a forest reject a fire before. Whatever you guys are doing, keep going. You got some good mojo.” That was last week’s story. True story. Seeing is believing. 

So I got a story for us today and here it is. Right there. 

[Display Chinese text on screen]

So the Chinese translator, you got an easier job today because it is in Chinese. So, those of you who can read it off the screen, please go ahead. I’m going to give you my line-by-line English translation of the original Chinese, but this is a great story. So, this was summer of 1935 and it was in the city of 韶州 Shaozhou in Guangdong province down in the South and there was a flood, a big flood! Just in kind of the snap of a finger just before you knew it, all of the houses were swallowed up by the raging flood waters in Shaozhou. There was a villager there whose name was 雲 Yun, Mr. Cloud who had a family of 15 people. All 15 of them had been pushed onto the roof of the house.  

So we remembered pictures of Katrina swallowing New Orleans. Just at the moment when everybody was frantic, they were panicking, they were terrified, there was a child, a four-year-old child among the family gathered there on the roof who on the spot suddenly, loudly began to say, “南無觀世音菩薩 Ná mó Guān Shì Yīn Púsà, 南無觀世音菩薩 Ná mó Guān Shì Yīn Púsà” from the mouth of baby four year old. Hearing that sound on the spot, these desperate people together began to recite 南無觀世音菩薩 Ná mó Guān Shì Yīn Púsà. 

What else is she gonna do? Our Songwriter, Lonnie Bauer, said, “might as well cultivate.” How amazing it was! That, just as all of these desperate trapped people with all of their hearts recited the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, the entire 雲 Yun family gathered on the roof of their home, the roof suddenly 雲家人的那棟木造房屋 (Yún jiārén dì nà dòng mùzào fángwū) that the wooden house that they were crouched on the top of, suddenly righted itself and got settled right 方方正正 (Fāng fāngzhèng zhèng) as if it were a boat traveling on the top of the water. The whole house just like that 慢慢地飄到 (Màn man de piāo dào) floated downstream like a ship and touched a large tree, righted itself and traveled floating on top of the flood waters like a boat until it hit a tree and everybody in the family was able to, one by one grabbing the branches, climb down the tree to dry ground. 

The next thing that happened was the house floated away just after everyone was able to climb the tree. The big ones helping the small ones down to the ground. The house floated away. Everybody in the family was, oh, I said made it to the ground. No, they all were clinging to the tree and the tree was rooted in the water, in the ground and safe.  The entire family, clinging to the branches of the tree, reciting the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva were able to save their lives until the flood water receded. 

This story, this miracle of rescue 是雲某在水災過後 (Shì yún mǒu zài shuǐzāi guòhòu) after the disaster was over, 前往南華寺燒香(Qiánwǎng nánhuá sì shāoxiāng),向虛雲老和尚訴說的一段經歷(Xiàng xū yún lǎo héshàng sùshuō de yīduàn jīnglì), was the story told at Nan Hua Monastery after they lit incense and bowed to the Master Empty Cloud in person. This was their account.  

You know people are no longer saying climate change. That’s a very neutral friendly word. The words that people are using these days are climate disruption because the changes are not seasonal or normal or balanced or harmonious; the changes are now disruptive and disastrous; floods where floods shouldn’t be and forest fires where forest fires shouldn’t be so often and so big, right? Climate disruption. 

So, this is one of those stories. China has been keeping records for so many thousands of years. The Chinese are such great historians that record everything that happens and has done so since the Han Dynasty. So, we remember according to the Chinese record what happened. How many floods? So, seemily that China has a seasonal history of floods as well as droughts as well as locusts and infestations by crop eating insects and so forth; all the things that can befell, befall, bedevil a community, the Chinese have written it down. So, it seems like there are more, but they keep better records. 

Now, in Australia, people all were recalled this time last year, the new story that captivated the eyes and ears of the planet was wildfires in Australia. And, guess what happened to a unified response and correction, course change after the wildfire in Australia? Well, a pandemic happened, COVID-19, arrived! Australian climate issues vanished from the collective consciousness of people worldwide.  It’s like Australian fires?  Alright! That happened, didn’t it? The Koalas, yeah! 

Well, COVID-19 became the only news with good reason, but we here in Australia have not forgotten the suffering of the lands and the bushes and the critters. They say billions of animals and snakes lost their lives during those fires. Well, not a lot has changed in terms of efforts by the humans to put us in a better place for the next round of fires. The news to change geography; the news in California is certainly drought, not enough rain. One third the normal amount of rainfall in California this year.  

So, go back to Europe? Well, Europe is a story of increasingly unlivable summers. Summers are so hot, so long that elders just can’t survive in their upper floors, rooms, in their poncion, their places, apartments. My goodness! Climate disruption is real. Indeed! 

So, what do we do? What do we do? Well, one thing we can do is after if it touches our neighborhood, if it touches our city, if it touches our lives, then recite the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva. 

Right outside my door at this moment, I have bush turkeys who are scratching away telling me that I should be out there feeding them. Now, here in Queensland at the moment on the coast are, we’re green and there’s been an abundant rainfall this year. We’ve been blessed by dragons this year. We don’t want to complain when things are good. At the same time, we don’t want to forget that we’re here surrounded by abundant ancient forest, serene and green. It could turn into drought ravaged bush in a number of months. 

What we’re looking forward to is a balance. We’re looking for balance. Not too cold, not too hot, not too dry, not too wet.  Heaven, earth, and humanity,  天(Tiān),  地(Dì),  人(Rén), each doing their part to bring the balance that our planet—this blue marble in a ocean, a black space is capable of producing when everyone does their part, right? 

Ruò yǒu bǎi qiān wàn yì zhòngshēng,

Wèi qiú jīnyín, liúlí, chē qú, mǎnǎo, shānhú, hǔpò,

Zhēnzhū děng bǎo, rù yú dàhǎi,

Jiǎshǐ hēi fēngchuī qí chuán fǎng

Piāo duò luó shā (chà) guǐ guó, qízhōng ruò yǒu nǎizhì yīrén,

Chēng guānshìyīn púsà míng zhě, shì zhū rén děng,

Jiē dé jiětuō luó shā (chà) zhī nán. 

Hundreds of thousands of myriads millions of men go to sea in search of gold, silver, lapis, lazuli, moonstones, carnelian, coral, amber, pearls and other precious treasures, may run afoul of violent squalls that blow their ships to the lands of Rakshashas. But if one man among them calls the name of  Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva, then the entire group will be saved from the throes of the Rakshashas.  


Yǐ shì yīnyuán, míng guānshìyīn.  

For this reason she is called “The Enlightened One Who Listens to the Sounds of All the World.”  

The text is very specific talking about merchants, largely.  

People who for a living, leave their homes, get on conveyances, in this case, oceangoing. Our planet is mostly water. That’s the blessing of the planet Earth. Spaceship Earth is the water that we have. If we want to cross that water, our bodies can’t sustain it. We need a vessel. We need a conveyance and ships have been part of human history forever especially suppose you grew up in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. Have a friend who grew up in North Uist, which is the island extreme, the extreme islands surrounding the Northwest of Scotland, and that community absolutely depends on boats. 

My ancestors, many of those listening today have Irish ancestors, who when Ireland could no longer sustain humans because a blight killed a potato crop and Ireland being an island in the North Atlantic has a very sensitive climate that doesn’t allow people to grow other kinds of foods. Potatoes, prátái, do just fine so when the prátái go bad, there’s starvation and people left Ireland. 

How did they leave this small island? Ships. They got on board ships. So taking into the sea is part of human history. And the ocean is a hostile environment for lung breathers. If you have gills, you are fine in the water, but if you breathe oxygen, oh my goodness, what do you do? You have to go onboard a ship and it’s dangerous to go to sea. 

The Chinese, the Vietnamese are famous mariners, right? The Chinese have been navigating ship bound travels all around the world. There is talk that before Columbus reached Barbados or wherever it was that his ships touched down, meaning discovered America, et cetera…long story there, before that happened, there is some evidence that a Buddhist-led expedition reached Mexico from China first, they say. So historians will tell you that America was not discovered by Europeans, but indeed by Asians. The other side and the lower part of the continent. 

But, they made it. They crossed the Pacific first before the Atlantic so we can talk about that and those are fascinating stories. But in general get in a ship across the ocean, safe? Well, if you go out looking to get rich and your ship is blown to the lands of Rakshasas? Rakshasas are called ghosts, flesh devouring ghosts. They’re demonic ghosts that feed on human flesh and blood. However, knowing how dangerous this can be, there’s more than just fish in the sea. All it takes is one person to recite the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva and the whole group will be saved from demons. 

Here is the story in 江西 Jiāngxī, China. A place called 樟树镇 Zhāngshù zhèn, close to 樟树镇 in the province of 江西, which is in central northern China. There was a man named 余敬西Yújìngxī, Mr. Yu. He was a buddhist layman who was a traveling physician. He was a doctor who used to, itinerant doctor and his mother, Mr. Yu’s mother was a faithful Buddhist. Very devoted, devout and the Mr. Yu took his mother’s influence and took refuge in the Buddha dharma. Furthermore, every day Mr. Yu had a practice of reciting the Buddha’s name. This was his daily homework, his buddhist practices. 

When he was out doing his medical rounds, whenever he encountered a disease like some sort of a virus, for example, Coronavirus type, whenever he met a person who had an illness or a complaint that was difficult to cure beyond using medical treatments, besides using medicines to cure the person’s illness, he would often ask the sick person to recite the Buddha’s name. He would encourage the patient to recite the Buddha’s name. And so his medical cures were not only using medicines, but also spiritual medicine. 

So in 1931, on the 17th day of March, the third lunar month, in the afternoon, a wind blew up in the town of 樟樹 (Zhāngshù). This might be – I didn’t look at that – the town of 樟樹 (Zhāngshù) camphor wood. A wild wind blew up, a gusty windstorm blew up. The wind was so strong that 200 residences were blown over, were blown away. The wind simply took down 200 homes. The wood and bamboo and all of the house materials that were blown into the air… 被風吹倒空中(Bèi fēngchuī dào kōngzhōng)… so the wood was blown in the air as well as the bricks and the roof tiles flew into the air widely in all directions. 

Furthermore, right at that time, hailstones, hail started to fall out of the sky. The smallest of the hailstones were the size of pigeon eggs. The largest of the hailstones were the size of goose eggs. There were a number beyond counting of people and animals who alike were injured by the falling pieces of ice out of the sky. So this was a frightening natural disaster.

As this wild wind was blowing, all of the family of Mr. Yu, our itinerant doctor, including his 87 year old mother were out in the rapeseed. R-a-p-e is a seed for producing oil. They were out in the rapeseed field harvesting. It was harvest time. All of the tools they were using, all of the carts, all of the scythes, and the knives they were cutting the rapeseed with as well as all of the harvested plants were blown away, in an instant by the wind. And everybody who was watching the strength come out of the sky, this natural disaster, was speechless with terror. Because why? Scary! Anybody who has been in that situation knows how terrifying it is.

So just then, while everybody was frantic and petrified, the 87 year old mother of the Yu family, the devout Buddhist practitioner, with a large voice, started to say:

救苦救難觀世音菩薩  jiù kǔ jiù nàn Guānshìyīn púsà

Guan Yin Bodhisattva who saves us from suffering and troubles.

And everybody started to recite along with her. The whole family started to recite the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva.

Shuō shí chí nà shí kuài 說時遲, 那時快 [Eng: ‘in an instant’… not translated by DM]

That’s a good idiom. Before long, they kept at it and the gusts of wind, the tornado force winds blowing around the house, blew elsewhere, just changed direction and blew away and the hailstones that were falling on all sides blew out to another field, blew away, stopped falling, so the disaster was over, was passed and the family gathered up all of their remaining, had to walk out into the fields to find their hoes and their rakes and their size and their trucks and put it all back together, went home and found their house standing solid and safe, no troubles. 

Yeah, so true stories from the 30s. Notice these stories that are filling in for Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s troubles here, recorded stories are contemporary. They are not the Sung Dynasty, they are not 500 years ago, 800 years ago, they’re 1930s, they’re within 20th Century memory. Man oh man! We are in the accounts of the Seven Troubles that Guan Yin Bodhisattva saves us from. 

Ahead, we are going to find out about the Two Requests for Sons and Daughters, the Three Kinds of Poisons—greed, anger, and delusion—and the other human experiences where Guan Yin Bodhisattva, a Buddha who decided not to retire, but instead to return and get to work right where we need the most, we humans, and gave us a method to rescue ourselves from disasters.

So it’s poignant, isn’t it when we’re talking during the time of pandemic to give us this method to know how one person who can recite the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva in a family, in a neighborhood, in a city, in a community, in a country, how powerful this can be? 

So Bernie and Xing Fei from Sydney are saying, “read Tim Severin’s book, The China Voyage,” excellent! Okay, we’ve got some actual data. Some facts to back up my story about Chinese exploration discovering the West; Tim Severin, The China Voyage, will do. Thanks Bernie.

Time to recite on our own, not Guan Yin Bodhisattva this time, but Medicine Buddha Mantra. Same intention, which is to say, now in a time of pandemic as the plague ravages the planet, India is suffering the most previously at the moment. We can put our hearts, our voices, our minds into a Dharma practice using the mantra of 藥師佛 Yàoshīfó, Medicine Buddha to send out good vibes, to use our consciousness, our breath, our warmth, our hearts to send goodness out to the world, to benefit all and that’s what the Mantra of Medicine Buddha can do.

[Dharma Master Heng Sure starts playing his banjo]

So that’s it today for me. We will recite the mantra three times and see you all next week for more stories on Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s vows to save us by getting us to recite the name, Namo Guan Shiyin Bodhisattva.

Okay, here we go; let’s use this to transfer the merit.

[Dharma Master Heng Sure plays and sings Medicine Buddha’s Mantra]

Om namo bhagavate bhaisajyaguru

Vaidurayaprabharajaya tathagataya

Arhate samyaksambuddhaya tadyatha: om

Bhaisajye bhaisajye bhaisajya samudgate svaha om


Thanks for joining everyone. Look forward to being with you again this time next week. Amitofo

Contributors of this transcribing this lecture:

Alice Cheng, Lin Lau, Wenbo Yin, Peggy Yeh, Thuy Bui, Vera Cristofani, Bach Nguyen, Hong Anh Nguyen, Yan Ming, Annie Tran, Bernie, Susan Chai

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